I Spoke at The Law Union of Ontario – Part 4 of 4

This is the fourth of four instalments.

Professor Young remained active for me, and when I reopened in downtown Toronto just after my conviction he asked the police if they had any objection to what I was doing, which was identical to Thornhill – which resulted in a massive raid and trial. I was open 4 years. No raid, no trial.

Another lawyer, Pierre Cloutier, advised me on and assisted me in the handling of the administrative matters of my business, like registration and minute books and so forth.

Just after I closed Professor Young told me he was considering challenging the constitutionality of some of the prostitution laws in court and wanted me to be one of the plaintiffs. Want to know what is involved in a Charter challenge? Try it some time. Half a million dollars for starters. Add to that tons of volunteer legal time. The work involved with the experts. Try 3 years of hearings and related preparation. Try dealing with government lawyers who do not hesitate to offer crap as evidence and argument. If you don’t believe it was crap ask Judge Himel and the Supreme Court. Try to deal with a government that orders their lawyers to make it go away by any means necessary and then orders them to appeal, when there are no grounds to appeal, simply to make the issue go away. A government that has no regard for Charter challenges.

Then try dealing with a portion of the media who in one breath points to the downsides of the sex trade, whatever that is, while turning a blind eye to the finding of the courts that the very laws they are fighting to retain are largely the cause of those evils. Try dealing with commentators who bring in obscure new studies or reports, not tested in court, to attack legalization of the sex trade, while ignoring the findings of a virtual 3 year public inquiry, with evidence tested in court, that resulted in the Himel decision and what it had to say about other countries. Barbara Kay and Margaret Wente are two recent examples of such cherry pickers who don’t even say in their columns if they have even read the decision. Rosie DiManno said “read the damn decision”, out of frustration with such lousy journalism.

It was never our intent to work our way to the Supreme Court. If Mr. Harper and his justice ministers were doing their jobs, they would have said that even if Judge Himel was partly right the laws needed changing, and not defending. They had the choice of acting all along. But they put themselves first.

In 2011 I published my memoirs, where I tell all about my legal battles. I got help from, you guessed it, a lawyer. Sender Herschorn and his staff were wonderful in ensuring I was within the law in writing the book, in what I said in the book and in advising me on drafts. He wrote to those mentioned in the drafts and sent them copies and made sure that no one had grounds to sue me. He also helped me with the writing and was encouraging throughout. He assisted me in private legal matters as well.

So you see, there is a great deal that lawyers can do for their clients in the sex trade, or those considering entering it, other that just react to charges or arrests. Lawyers can act proactively. Chanelle and Karen are going to talk about that, and believe me, they know their stuff and I am so grateful to share this time with them tonight because what they have to tell you is very important. 

I want to conclude by sharing just one last thing about lawyers with you. It’s the same lousy joke I tell whenever I speak to audiences of legal professionals or law students. The one good thing about the joke is that it’s so bad it ensures I have to shut up and sit down immediately. Here’s the joke.

Question: What’s the difference between a dominatrix and a woman lawyer?

Answer: The dom returns phone calls.

Thank you all very much.

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