Dear Premier Wynne:
Today is a sad day in Ontario. It is disappointing that you and Attorney General Meilleur have made this assessment, and beyond regretful that you have done so without any consultation with the people most affected by this flawed piece of legislation. Sex work activists and allies have continuously attempted to arrange meetings with you and your staff, and have been repeatedly rebuffed. This is not merely discourteous, but downright insulting.
I am not a legal scholar, nor am I as educated as the lawyers who have spoken out on this issue. However, I know that when 200+ lawyers and legal experts sign a letter concerning the potential unconstitutionality of these laws, I can have faith that they know what they are talking about. Yet, Ms. Meilleur states there is “no clear unconstitutionality” in these laws, as if that were a legal certainty? The only thing certain about these laws is that they are certain to put sex workers in danger.
Premier Wynne, when you claim there is “no clear unconstitutionality” in these laws, even a layperson such as I can read between the lines. Just because something is not clearly unconstitutional does not mean that it is, indeed, constitutional. In fact, one of the very reasons I and my colleagues have requested a legal reference is because the laws are so unclear.
Sadly, any politician who blindly enforces an unclear law is engaging in poor public policy. Mark my words, this is not over – the laws will be contested in the highest courts in the land, and they will fall, just as the last laws did. Premier Wynne, you could have shown the courage to bring this issue to the courts, to seek clarity and help sex workers stay safe. Instead, you will now be the one to argue for the right of the state to control the behaviours of consenting adults, just as your predecessor Dalton McGuinty did. Ms. Meilleur will have to stand up in court and defend Harper’s laws, and argue for their constitutionality, just as her predecessors Chris Bentley and John Gerretsen did. But along the way, sex workers across the country will be victimized, violated, and violently harmed because of these laws.
Your refusal to meet with any sex workers before forming your opinion is insulting. Your refusal to refer these laws to the courts, when you yourself spoke of your “grave concern” regarding the effect of these laws, is disappointing. We expected better of you, and apart from a few well-scripted platitudes, you have let us down. Today is indeed a sad day in Ontario.