Message From Terri-Jean Bedford

I am the Bedford in Bedford Versus Canada, where Canada’s prostitution laws were struck down. Many have been in touch to ask for my reaction to the results of the recent federal election. I have as a result prepared the following remarks for activists and others. I confine my remarks to how the new government should proceed to change the federal legislation, Bill C-36, now in place to regulate the “sex trade”.

The landscape for the future of Bill C-36 has changed. The political party supporting Bill C-36 was rejected by voters. The party that voted against C-36 was elected. The new prime minister has pledged to listen, and to make evidence based decisions, instead of imposing laws which reflect some specific morality.

The new Parliament must withdraw C-36. Nothing should be passed in its place, but if anything is it should promote the safety and dignity of sex trade workers, and allow them to protect themselves. Morality based considerations should have no place in the discussions where consenting adults are concerned.

To that end there should be no doubt about who at what age is entitled to do what in private, for money or not. Aid for those wishing to exit the trade should be available. It could be made available by enhancing various federal programs. Human trafficking or forced entry into the sex trade should be stopped and can be enforced via laws not specific to the sex trade. At the same time any harassment of consenting adults buying or selling sex acts should be stopped. The government has no business interfering in the sex lives of consenting adults.

A national deliberation on how these goals can be achieved should occur. This would clear away the myths, selective or unverified evidence, and stories that cloud proper discussions.

So it is understandable that time will be required, if something like a round table or public inquiry or further parliamentary hearings occur.

That requirement for time does not diminish our astounding victories these last few years. Let us remain active in the national debate to come, and move beyond the bumps in the road that may remain. We owe that to those who fought for our cause before we did and when we did. The cause of advocating for sex trade workers is now in good hands and, if I am able to, I will continue to help when asked.

Terri-Jean Bedford

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