Carleton University Speech

It’s good to be back in Ottawa again, and I’m pleased to be part of this important conference. The students and staff from The Carleton Human Rights Society and The Womyn’s Centre, and others, organized it. Those others include The Pauline Jewett Institute for Women’s and Gender Studies. They include the Department of Anthropology and Sociology, and the Department of Law and Legal Studies. And also the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies. Please join me in thanking them for all they have done. 

Then there are the sponsors of the conference. Thanks to Ottawa Public Interest Research Group Carleton, The Rideau River Residence Association, The Graduate Students’ Association, The Carleton Disability Awareness Centre, and the other clubs and departments who helped out.

Wow. Carleton certainly has much to boast about. And, I’m told their dominatrix courses are first rate. Here’s a riddle for you. What do a dominatrix and a woman professor at Carleton have in common? Answer. They both give you marks.

I have been to Ottawa before. I have been to Ottawa several times to fight the laws against the sex trade. In 1994 I was charged with running a bawdy house, The Bondage Bungalow. The charges were thrown out of court in 1995. The Crown won their 1996 appeal and in 1997 I was at the Supreme Court, which threw out my appeal. We went to trial in 1998. I was convicted, but to this day cannot tell you why. I lost my appeal in Ontario in 1999. That decision was legendary for how bad it was. In 2000 the Supreme Court in Ottawa refused to grant leave to appeal. Of course during and before all that I was in court many other times, and in jail, all under the old laws, which were finally struck down as unconstitutional. And remember, most of what happens is not publicized. I wrote a book about that called Dominatrix on Trial.

After the hearings and decisions in Toronto on the constitutional case from 2007 to 2012, I was back in Ottawa again in June 2013 for the hearing day for the final appeals in Bedford Versus Canada, the case that struck down the old laws against prostitution once and for all. You probably remember the pictures of demonstrations by sex workers and those against sex work in front of the court. Reporters told me they had never seen anything like it at the Supreme Court. I came to Ottawa again in December 2013, when the decision was released. It was a day that made headlines around the world – just like in 2010. I came to Ottawa yet again, in September 2014, to testify about the proposed new law, Bill C-36, at the Senate. I got thrown out for not shutting up. In November 2014 I came to to Ottawa again, to the University of Ottawa campus to speak to the Ontario Civil Liberties Association, who made me the recipient of their award for 2014. They didn’t throw me out.

And now I’m here again, this time at Carleton, but what a difference. Instead of me getting thrown out the government got thrown out; just under 2 years after their prostitution laws were thrown out. The new law, Bill C-36 is doomed one way or the other. And, at long last, we may finally have a fair and open discussion in this country about the sex trade, and about who decides what, before any policies are adopted. 

But before I tell you what I think should be allowed and not allowed, I want to speak to you about why there is a sex trade and what it means in the real world.

I’d like to begin by talking about the motivations of sex trade participants and activists, for and against. Why motivation? Well, it explains so much.

Let’s start with the clients, and here I will focus on heterosexual men paying women. There are of course several reasons why men pay women for sex acts, whatever that means. Let’s take married men. After a while most of them crave some variety. They see women on television and the Internet, at work and on the street or when they socialize with friends. They are attracted to some of these. They remember what it was like at the beginning of their relationships, and miss that excitement. They miss being physical with a woman without knowing her baggage. The then and there. And if the woman is discreet, like a sex worker, he can confide in her the way he can’t confide in his wife or girlfriend. He can tell her the kinky things he wants to do but is afraid, often with good reasons, to tell his partner. It’s a lot of pressure to keep deeply felt desires secret, let alone have them fulfilled. It may be something as simple as having sex without worrying about satisfying his partner or being pressured about commitment.

Then there are clients who have no partners. They may be handicapped. They may be shy. They may be too poor to marry. They may be separated or divorced. Or, they may simply not want to live with a woman or have a steady girlfriend. A man who has sex with a sex worker once a month is as sexually active as many couples married for several years, at least those couples that even stay together for several years.

So, our clients have a piece in the puzzle of their lives available to them. Many have told me that knowing they were going to have a session with me once a month or whatever seemed to make the rest of their lives much better. It was a wonderful secret to have. And keeping it secret protected them from ridicule or damage to their relationships with their partners, if they had one, or their families. It is unfortunate that we have to live secretly so often in what we say and do, but that is reality.

Now, on to the motivations of the sex trade worker. Well, why does anyone do anything? Usually it’s because they need an income, or more income. How many women want to clean toilets for low pay or want to work in a factory for low pay? How many want to serve in the armed forces and get sexually harassed, and persecuted if they complain about it? The point is that few people would do their jobs for free, even if they had big savings. And they often choose to follow the money.

Sex workers can make good money. You may only need a few hours a month for the administrative parts of the job and seeing a client once a week might provide enough income to get by. It may not be the only thing you do for money, or the only thing you do. Some students work their way through university, and some of them see only one client or a few. Some have sugar daddies. They can work around their class schedules and so forth. Other sex workers work for agencies. Others are in business for themselves.

Women want to be desired and pursued. Being paid for their time and attention is very flattering to some. Some women enjoy sex with multiple partners. I could go on with examples of why women may be attracted to sex work. But at the bottom of it is money. If the government wanted to reduce sex work among those less inclined to it the best way is to invest in higher welfare for single mothers and in daycare centres, and in collecting court ordered payments from dead-beat dads.

Now, how does one go about being a sex worker in a safe setting? Well, for one, have a steady location, with others on the premises who can act as security. When I had my houses I had a baby monitor hidden in the room with my security employee in another room who was on the alert when I had clients. The clients never knew, although they were told security was on the premises. You can hire expertise about advertising for such clientele as you wish on the Internet and elsewhere. You can also join an agency where these services are shared. And of course you can meet men in bars and hotels, among other places, aside from the streets. I won’t go into any more details now, but I think you get the idea.

Now get this. From time to time the law may, repeat may, be a minor factor, repeat minor factor, in what you choose to do. The old laws were rarely enforced, the new law almost never has been and is going the way of the dodo one way or the other. The authorities only have the resources to concentrate on clear cases of human trafficking and underage sex workers and clear violence against women that comes to their attention. Even if the new law was upheld and vigorously enforced, the trade would just go further underground, and its worst aspects would proliferate.

Prior to 2010 the prostitution laws were a mess. The sale of sex was legal, as was its purchase. But if it was done from the same location repeatedly, or if someone earned an income helping a sex worker, or if people communicated for the purpose of paid sex, they were breaking the law. Not only that, but sex acts were not listed. For example, if I tied up and whipped a client, and I have done plenty of that, especially to professors, under what circumstances is it a sex act? I think you get the idea. Not only that, but the laws themselves endangered people engaged in a legal activity – paid sex. Professor Alan Young organized and led a constitutional challenge to the prostitution laws. I was one of the 3 plaintiffs. Val Scott and Amy Lebovitch were the others.

In 2010, after almost 2 years of hearings and one year of deliberation, Judge Susan Himel, issued a 131 page decision. I quote from my book what she said. “She found that our application was right. The laws against communicating for the purposes of prostitution, living off the avails of prostitution, and keeping a common bawdy house were unconstitutional for a number of reasons. For one thing, they did not achieve their objectives but in fact worked in the opposite direction. She agreed that the laws prevented prostitutes from protecting themselves, and that the laws protected the perpetrators of violence against women more than they inhibited such violence. She agreed that indoor prostitution was safer than street prostitution. She agreed that the current prostitution laws were only minimally enforced. She agreed that the laws were too broad, leading to unelected officials distinguishing right from wrong. She agreed that striking down the laws would not lead to a dramatic increase in prostitution. She pointed out that numerous other laws are already on the books to combat the worst aspects of the sex trade.” So, the judge was saying the laws themselves were illegal.

The government fought our application. They spared no expense. They appealed when there were no grounds to appeal. They offered crap as evidence and arguments. Above all they wanted the issue to go away as long as possible. They did not want to be in the position of having to tell women when and under what conditions they could engage in sex acts. They did not want to define what are and what are not sex acts. They knew that women were being abused and killed because of the laws. They knew from the evidence in our case. But they also knew from the Pickton Inquiry, where the judge said the laws were much of the cause. They knew because of the epidemic of missing and murdered Aboriginal women into which they refused to call an inquiry. They knew but they put themselves first and kicked the can down the road. They lost right down the line and the Supreme Court laid down guidelines for any new laws that might come along.

The government, as we predicted, brought in a variant of the so-called Nordic model, which penalizes purchasers of sex acts and those such as advertisers who assist sex trade workers with their business, but does not charge those selling sex. As predicted the new law was not constitutional in the view of independent legal experts. Professor Young, in his testimony before the Senate annihilated the law’s constitutionality. The witnesses appearing in support of C-36 gave the same crap that was rejected by the courts. Conservative commentators prostituted themselves to support the bill. Overpaid and under-worked trained seals. C-36 replicated the flaws of the old laws and was no less unconstitutional.

So, why did the Harper government bring in Bill C-36? Why did they spend endless dollars on lawyers, biased witnesses and other lackeys to appeal the findings of the trial that struck down the prostitution laws, or to defend the shameful Bill C-36? The answer is that they were pandering. Religious Christians and others did not want women to have the freedoms they now  have. These same donors to Mr. Harper and his party fought access to abortion that we now have. They fought against same sex marriage.
Mr. Harper pandered to these types of people when he fought court rulings on safe-site injections, medical marijuana and mandatory minimum sentences. He said he was being tough on crime. He lied. 

For example, if Mr. Harper was really interested in protecting women, as he claimed, he would have at least spoken out against wife beaters, dead-beat dads, lack of daycare or affordable housing, high tuition for women students from non-privileged backgrounds or the shortage of women’s shelters or shelters who accept family pets so the wife-beaters don’t use the pets as hostages. On these matters, and on matters like prison overcrowding and the wrongly convicted, or backlogged courts, or the cost of legal representation, he was silent. He talked about the rights of victims. What about the victims I just mentioned. Again, pandering to a base of donors and a base of voters. It was no different with the sex trade. He acted like he was promoting more missing women. No wonder he refused to call the inquiry into missing aboriginal women. The courts had already told him that the laws he was advocating were part of the cause. And then, with C-36, he doubled down. Under Mr. Harper human trafficking has become rampant. Tough on crime? Please. 

He and his so-called justice minister were even caught up in their own lies. Mr. MacKay and his officials were testifying in support of C-36. When he and his officials were asked about the constitutionality of C-36 being questioned extensively by reputable legal experts, they said there was no need to refer the law to the courts. Then, within minutes, when asked what acts were sex acts under the law, they said the courts would have to decide.

I have spoken elsewhere about Mr. MacKay’s record regarding sexual and minority harassment in the armed forces when he was minister. Mr. MacKay is a national disgrace, as is Rob Nicholson his predecessor as justice minister. I have spoken about him before as well. They have got part of the fate they deserved when their party was humiliated in the election. But enough about them. 

Now that Mr. Harper and his lackeys are out of office I believe this new Parliament can do better. They can tell Canadians to take their moral judgements and shove them. Instead, crack down on corporate crime. Crack down on tax evasion. Crack down on those traffic in undocumented foreign women as nannies or men as farm workers. Crack down on terrorists. Crack down on polluters. And like I said before, have the authorities help women who are forced to do what they do or stay where they are, and not on women who are are acting freely. Stay out of the private sex lives of consenting adults. Show some courage on that issue. The people will approve. Not all of them – but enough.

Tomorrow the new Parliament will meet for the first time and in 2 days the Throne Speech will be delivered. We may hear more of the new government’s pending decisions on what to do about the sex trade. They have already committed to repeal or amend C-36. I think the federal government is right if it calls for a task force report before telling Canadians under what circumstances they may be paid for sex acts. And the Supreme court also said that for any new law to be legal it must not be vague. It must tell me, as a sex worker, as a dominatrix, and as a woman, what I may or may not do in the privacy of my bedroom. I believe they must begin by setting a time-line for the repeal of Bill C-36, and call for its non-enforcement until that happens.

In other countries liberalization of the laws restricting the sex trade has been a success. In every area of society and the economy laws are broken and things happen underground, and the sex trade is no exception.  Yet, for their own purposes, governments or journalists cherry-pick the so-called evidence. The most blatant and frightening examples in the debate on C-36 were when Margaret Wente and Barbara Kay, two somewhat prominent conservative journalists, ignored even mentioning judge Himel’s exhaustive review of court tested evidence about other countries and cited a recent study each, neither of which were court tested, and both of which have been discredited, to support C-36. Their lack of integrity in debating this issue is frightening. They have sunk to the level of hate groups on the Internet. Fortunately both of them are old and I don’t think anyone takes them seriously any more, if they ever did, or if they have even heard of them.

But even more of a danger than lies and funded propaganda, is morality. We must never allow policies to be driven by morality – as opposed to the considerations of freedom, safety and privacy. That’s the Canada I want.

In the sex trade that means I can operate a brothel or dungeon in full view and with full protection of the law. It means that I can’t force anyone to enter or stay in the business against their will. It means I obey the labour laws obeyed by a restaurant or factory. It means I pay taxes. It means I do not assault anyone. It means my employees do nothing they are not comfortable with. It means my customers are free from harassment and their privacy is protected. It means I can advertise my services. It means that any restrictions on where I locate and where I advertise and who I hire are the same as, say, any other adult entertainment facility. It means that people who have a moral objection to my line of work can go to Hell. These are the same people, all too often, who objected to birth control, equal pay for women, homosexual relations, same sex marriage, interracial marriage and more. These are also the same people who in one breath condemn sex for sale and within hours buy it. If you want to know who is on that list, a good guide is to look at who is most sanctimonious.

I hope historians and other researchers will tell the stories of those who, for decades, fought for the freedoms and protections that sex workers and members of the LGBT community have been and are now in the process of achieving. The names that make the media are the tips of icebergs. Great changes take time, money, effort, perseverance, savvy and many good people to come about. 

As you hear the presentations over the next day or so and read the materials you are being provided, you will see that some things are getting better in Canada, and you will find out more about how and why that has come to pass, and share your findings. We are obviously at a landmark time in deciding the most crucial questions on issues relating to the sex trade.

But in my view the most crucial question should be asked the most often. The question is 2 words. It is the question at the heart of almost every level of almost every issue. Here are the 2 words. 

“Who decides?”

I want to thank you again for having this important conference and for inviting me to speak here tonight. 

Prostitution Law Mr. Harper’s unenforceable act

Globe and Mail Lead Editorial
December 12, 2014

Prostitution Law
Mr. Harper’s unenforceable act

Canada’s new anti-prostitution law came into effect this week, but it’s doubtful anyone involved with the so-called “oldest profession” much noticed.

Citing concerns over constitutionality, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says her province will not rigorously pursue prosecutions under the new law, which among other things criminalizes advertising sexual services and soliciting near schools, parks and houses of worship.

“I am left with grave concern that the so-called Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act will protect neither ‘exploited persons’ nor ‘communities’,” said Premier Wynne.

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark expressed similar intentions in a meeting with the Globe’s editorial board this week when she said she supports the Vancouver Police Department’s decision not to make the law a priority.

Now come reports that the Montreal police service’s vice unit is in no particular hurry to enforce the law either. Like police in Vancouver, they will focus their efforts on sex worker safety.

So after Ottawa disregarded initial objections from many experts over its proposed bill, then ignored the possibility the legislation would swiftly be struck down in court, it is now confronted by the reality the law is unlikely to be enforced in the places where the sex trade does its briskest business.

Quite the trifecta.

When the Supreme Court invalidated the core provisions of this country’s out-dated prostitution law in late 2013, the government had an opportunity to address the human tragedies caused by prostitution.

Instead, we are left with a text devoid of authority.

This government has a history of selectively heeding advice on matters of criminal justice and policing, and the Globe’s reporting has also uncovered a worrying pattern of presenting sub-standard, error-ridden legislation to Parliament.

Evidence is mounting, then, of a surprisingly slipshod approach to what is claimed to be a core priority.

As a result, the government finds itself confronted by a vexing question that is entirely of its own making. When does a law cease being a law?

Maybe it’s when nobody feels obligated to submit to it.

Kathleen Wynne has ‘grave concern’ about new prostitution laws

Today, Kathleen Wynne addressed the so-called “Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act” formerly known as Bill C-36. She claimed that she has “grave concerns” over the constitutionality of this act, and has asked the Attorney General of Ontario, Ms. Madeleine Meilleur, for an opinion on the constitutionality of the Conservative Government’s new law.

Sex workers have consistently maintained that this law puts us in great danger, and I applaud Kathleen Wynne for showing respect for the consitution, something Stephen Harper has consistently refused to do. I am confident that the Attorney General will recommend referring it to the Ontario Court of Appeal immediately.

In doing so, Kathleen Wynne can spare sex workers of this country the burden of time-consuming and costly legislation, and more importantly, will prevent sex workers from being targeted for violence and abuse while a constitutional challenge works its way through the courts. I am certain that the Supreme Court will see this “law” for what it truly is – an unconstitutional, partisan piece of nonsense that should never have been tabled in the first place.

OCLA 2014 Acceptance speech

I see some former clients in the audience. How was today’s caucus meeting? It’s good to be back in Ottawa. Maybe this time I won’t get thrown out. But in case I do, I want to first thank the Ontario Civil Liberties Association, executive and members alike, for this award and this event.

Yet, I have to admit I was surprised by the honour. After all, you guys believe in freedom. I believe in bondage. You like free speech. I gag my clients. You support equality. I preach female superiority. You promote humane treatment of prisoners. I torture mine. But why fuss over details?

Tonight I’m going to tell you about my journey through the criminal justice system and how and what I learned about civil liberties. The main point of my talk is that I did not travel and learn alone. I had and have a group of supporters who are steadfast. None lawyers. I will have some words about them. I will also talk about activists, activism, and those who govern us. And I have certainly had lawyers at my side. I’ll talk about them first. 

Val Scott, Amy Lebovitch and I probably got too much credit for striking down the prostitution laws. Our legal teams got too little credit. Let me drop a few names: Professor Alan Young, Marlys Edwardh, Ron Marzel, Stacey Nichols, Sabrina Pingitore, Kendra Reinhardt, Katrina Pacey, Daniel Sheppard and other lawyers, and law students, many law students, who fought for our side directly and indirectly. The amount of work they did was staggering. They were hardly paid, if paid. They could have made money hand over fist using their talents elsewhere. Their opposition, acting as lackeys for the governments of Canada and Ontario were overpaid, under-worked and accumulated defined pension credits indexed to inflation.

For 20 years I have been fighting, and my lawyers have been fighting on my behalf, against the laws that were struck down once and for all last year. In my youth I was too poor and lacked the support to contemplate challenging laws, or even defending myself in court. But in 1994, when I was raided in Thornhill that changed. I had support. I took a position. I was selling role play and refused to sell sex. Yet I was raided and charged as a prostitute. I, and I might add, my four fellow defendants, entered not guilty pleas. That alone got their charges dropped.  I was able to fight on.

David O’Connor represented me at my bail hearing and did a good job. The late Ken Danson began my defense preparations and Morris Manning took over from him. My supporters recommended that change and Ken was supportive. Ken told me, even after he was replaced, “Terri, you can’t plead guilty. Promise me you won’t”. Morris had the charges thrown out because they were too vague. Unfortunately that did not hold up on appeal. Murray Klippenstein took over. Murray has since risen to prominence. He worked with the highly regarded Charlie Campbell and was advised by Paula Rochman and assisted by Wendy Snelgrove. That was in part because I and my supporters felt that lawyers with a reputation as activists were going to be important as the matter became a high profile battle of attrition. During this time corporate lawyer George Callahan, a true gentleman and pit bull as the situation required, assisted me in ensuring my private affairs were in order. He also joined Klippenstein’s team. At trial the team was disqualified. They were ruled in conflict because they represented all the accused together, but only after the charges on those other than me were dropped.

Fortunately, Osgoode Professor Alan Young signed on as an advisor to the team and was ready to take over if the Klippenstein team was disqualified, and he did. He was assisted by lawyer Leah Daniels, who taught at Seneca, when my trial finally got under way in 1998. They spent all summer on the case and had a team of students assisting them. They flew in experts and prepared an elaborate defense.  

It was a barn-burner of a trial. All the major networks staked out the courthouse in Newmarket, wherever that is. The trial went on for weeks and the questions to be decided, as some reporters said, were as fundamental as those raised over a decade later in the recent Supreme Court decision – in my view more fundamental. The media treated it as front page news, and many of the spectators attended the entire trial for research purposes. Judge Bogusky had a landmark case and the country expected a landmark ruling after a twelve day trial, probably a long written decision which would work its way through the higher courts. He had a few weeks after the close of the trial before he gave his decision.

So what did Bogusky do? He gave a short oral decision. He said the reporters and spectators there had to make a living and were in a hurry to leave. He said there was no reason to rule on what was illegal between consenting adults in private that supported my conviction. The reasons he gave for convicting me were so weak that he was ridiculed in the media. No appeal court that was not rigged would uphold such a disgusting miscarriage of justice. He said the misuse of the search warrant was an understandable reaction of young bucks. Rosie DiManno finished off his reputation for good in her column in the Toronto Star. When I went for my sentencing I faced a broken old man who was angry and humiliated because he got what he deserved. He had become a laughing stock. But it was no laughing matter. He ran his court like it was the time of Stalin. To this day, I do not see a basis for the conviction. 

But wait, it gets worse. Professor Young and Paul Burstein did the appeal in 1999. Well, Judge Finlayson of the Ontario Court of Appeal wrote the worst decision in its history. Read it some time. It was so poor, lawyers told me, that it meant that a stripper or waitress could be charged as a prostitute and it was almost impossible to have a search warrant that could be challenged. It was so poor that judges afterward threw out prostitution and bawdy house charges simply because my conviction and appeal decision were such garbage that they became precedents to cite when acquitting. He lied about evidence. He saw absolutely no merit in my appeal. Lawyers were alarmed by his decision. So were judges. Ever wondered why prostitution convictions have fallen steadily since, despite a rising population and growth of the sex trade? Answer in part, Finlayson’s decision.

Some of this was pointed out by now Judge David Corbett, who sought leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. He worked with Lucy McSweeney and Timothy Banks, then an articling student, when David prepared his masterful factum in 2000. Unfortunately it was not heard. Corbett needed all his abilities just to find the words to explain why Finlayson’s decision was so appalling. The Crown’s Reply was as bad as Corbett’s appeal factum was good. No justice. But wait. Look at what happened in the years after.

Professor Young remained active for me. When I reopened in downtown Toronto just after my conviction he asked the police, in writing, if they had any objection to what I was doing, which was identical to Thornhill. Well, I was open four years and even gave media tours. No raid, no trial. What a contrast. In York Region the police tore my place apart, broke laws and so on. The Crown came at us with full force in a battle of attrition. The judge, and the appeal court, in a manner Stalin would have approved, produced a conviction and fined me $3,000. The legal fees and legal time amounted to a king’s ransom. The property values in the area of the raid fell by hundreds of thousands of dollars per house. I had no place to live and no means of support. Compare that to the Bondage Hotel in Toronto. No investigation. No raid. No trial. And so forth. Who, I ask you who, decides the difference?  And there were other civil liberties issues that arose during all this. But I have spoken about those in my memoirs.

But lawyers were not only at my side to fight charges. When I was in business again 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. In 2011 I published my memoirs and 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 than just react to charges or arrests. Lawyers can act proactively. So can non-lawyers with legal training, such as paralegals or law students or case managers from law offices.

All this moves me to speak about what I call secret rules that exist in the Canadian criminal justice system. Here are a few. Secret rule: search warrants are not just to gather evidence. Secret rule: each defendant must have his or her own lawyer to fight a charge, so if not rich likely cannot fight. Secret rule: legal aid given to those charged is not viable in court for a proper defense. Secret rule: if you do raise the funds or help to fight they come after you with all guns as punishment. Secret rule: your resources are better spent anticipating and on moving on after a bust and ensuring those busted are expendable. Secret rule: laws are left vague so authorities don’t have to account for their actions. Secret rule: constitutional challenges are so expensive that it can be decades before long due challenges are ever brought forward. The prostitution laws ruled unconstitutional in 2010, 2012 and 2013 were unconstitutional 20 or more years before they were challenged. Secret rule: there is window dressing to obscure all these secret rules. Things like credit for time served, legal aid, charges not standing up because of civil liberties violations are all cited by governments like Mr. Harper’s as evidence that the system favours those charged. 

Secret rules gave rise to a new organization: The Harper Brotherhood of Overpaid and Under-worked Trained Seals. Unless pressed by a scandal they do not speak out against wife beaters, workplace harassers, bullies of all types, dead beat dads, corporate thieves, polluters and I could go on. Organized crime has never had it easier because institutions and organizations that speak for people without means do not have the ear or heart of the Harper Brotherhood.  Anyone belonging to a union, or who is a sex worker, or who is part of an anti-poverty groups, or who belongs to an environmental group, or who is an intellectual, or even who is a judge is not being listened to. The Harper Brotherhood does not believe in accountability. They do not believe in transparency. They do not believe in open debate. They are creating a Canada where young people see laws made for the wrong reasons and so are all the more tempted not to respect or obey the law.

I say again and again that I cannot comment on the government’s policies on external affairs, the economy or on what it is doing to protect the environment. I only comment on their policies in areas where I am informed properly. But if what I see in those areas is going on elsewhere, I have to wonder how patriotic Mr. Harper and his brotherhood of trained seals are.

Is it patriotic if laws passed are unconstitutional, or contrary to Canada’s values as laid out by the Supreme Court? Is it patriotic to focus on length of sentences and ignore overcrowding in prisons? Is it patriotic to ignore the misuse of warrants? Is it patriotic to ignore the underfunding of legal aid? Ignore spousal abuse? Ignore the shortage of shelters for women, or of shelters that accept family pets so the wife beaters can’t use the family pet as a hostage?  Is it patriotic to be caught by surprise by the sexual harassment scandals about women and minorities in the armed forces and the RCMP? And, my friends, is it patriotic to tell women they can only have sex if they have it for free?

We have seen, in Canada, not too many years ago, morality and vice squads arrest drinkers, gamblers, gays, lesbians, readers of adult pornography, and sellers and buyers of sex acts in the absence of a list of prohibited acts. 

Since then we have also seen changes. Now, governments sell alcohol, sell lottery tickets, gays are openly gay, lesbians are openly lesbian, adult pornography is part of cable television packages and now, thanks to Bill C-36, legalization of the sale of sex acts has been formalized. Maybe one day, we will even get a list of what constitutes a sex act under Bill C-36. Until then, we may have to learn by trial and error.

These freedoms did not fall from the sky. They were fought for. But by whom? I dedicated my memoirs to The Dozen. None are lawyers. They are citizens who saw wrongs being done to someone they knew. So, first of all, they were mad at those who did it. Second, it alerted them to the broader issues and they got angrier. Third, they realized they could make a difference individually and collectively. Here is what I learned from them, and from the lawyers and activists with whom I have fought.

If there is a wrong committed by the authorities, find the enemy of your enemy and become their friend. Find people with money, time, numbers or compromising information. But above all, above all, make sure the effort is in the hands of capable, reliable people. We don’t have lawyers doing court cases only because they care. They also have training on how to win and create change. The same must be true of the activists. I am an activist, but I am not a professional organizer or administrator. But I have around me people who have track records not only of activism, and maybe not even that, but of corporate success, community leadership, academic and administrative expertise and political experience. Some have money. Some have time. The lesson is to put together a winning team to guide and even head the committed activists.

Let me also put it this way. If something is wrong and you want to do something about it, don’t be shy or ashamed to ask everyone to ask everyone else. If the cause is just you will be surprised at how often you get what you want simply by asking for it, asking for it and asking for it. When enough good, capable, reliable people are asked enough they will attract more such people. 

Let me come back to the lawyers for a moment. I have had about 20 lawyers represent me and/or my fellow defendants or plaintiffs. One of them, Professor Alan Young, should get the Order of Canada. Another, David Corbett, became Canada’s first openly gay judge. Most of the others have distinguished themselves in ways too numerous to mention. But they all have had something in common, something very important. They fought for what was right, not profitable or career enhancing. Lawyers will devote part of their time to the high ideals of their profession, if asked. Lawyers get angry about some things too. I have many recollections of how incensed many of those representing me were at how the authorities have behaved. It is good to have a skilled and angry lawyer on your side, and one skill that is crucial is that he or she works well with the activists and supporters.

Now, sadly, one lawyer is the polar opposite of all that. Former justice minister Rob Nicholson. I want to tell you about one single moment in his life. I think it was a defining moment for both him and Canada. In March 2012 the Ontario Court of Appeal basically upheld Justice Himel’s 2010 decision striking down the key laws against prostitution. A few weeks later Nicholson stood up in the House of Commons and said something to the effect that he was pleased to say that the government would appeal to the Supreme Court and would not discuss the matter further until the court had ruled.

Now let me tell you why I think that was a defining moment.  

Reason number one. I think he knew there were merits to what Himel’s decision contained, merits that he could have acted upon immediately – like allowing sex workers to hire off-duty police as security or work in groups from fixed locations, or support spouses and children who lived with them. I think he knew the laws were void for vagueness and could have made them clearer and fairer. I think he knew that other laws could, as Himel said, be used to control the worst aspects of sex work. And I think he knew the laws themselves created dangers for women and resulted in deaths. I think he knew all this yet, with pleasure, as he put it, appealed the whole package.

Reason number two. He knew or should have known that it was against every principle his party stood for to lump consenting harmless adult behaviour in private, like women paying younger men for sex, men keeping women, women like me who enjoy punishing and humiliating men who pay me to do it, in with trafficked or abused women. That is not allowing for individual autonomy and responsibility for one’s own decisions. I think he knew all this, yet, with pleasure, he appealed.

Reason number three. If I am wrong about the first two reasons it was definitely an even more defining moment. Perhaps he actually believed his stated position that the laws were constitutional, and that no changes were needed. If that is true, if he believed that nothing being said by all the judges, experts, sex workers and others had any merit at all  he is a mental defective.

So, my friends, it was a defining moment because it was then and there that the justice minister proved himself and his government to be either liars or mental defectives. Three levels of court are there to show it. 

Did, Nicholson, the country’s highest legal official, who swore to defend our constitution forget, or even know, what is involved in mounting a constitutional challenge? How many has he done? He should try it some time and see what it involves. For instance, big bucks. 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. A government that dismissed with a wave of a hand tens of thousands of pages of court tested evidence that should have been an alarm bell to any reasonably intelligent person.

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.

Mr. Harper has replaced Mr. Nicholson with Mr. MacKay, the former defense minister. Women and minorities being harassed in the armed forces is more of a problem than enemy fire. That will be the MacKay legacy. Let me speak for a moment about Peter MacKay. He recently said he was not aware of sexual harassment in his party or in parliament and so forth. He of course conveniently forgets to mention a few things. One is the problem of rape and sexual harassment in the armed forces during the time he was defense minister, as I have just mentioned. It is also an epidemic in the RCMP. But with Vic Toews as minister, who is surprised? But why be surprised at any of this. Elmer MacKay, Peter’s father, was a prominent conservative. When it comes to father and son ask around. Ask Karlheinz Schreiber. Ask David Orchard. Ask Belinda Stronach. Ask Brian Mulroney’s former staffers. Ask the women in armed forces about the culture of blame the victim, blame the women who come forward. Ask around about the fecklessness of the Integrity Commissioner’s office. Ask about the iron grip the government has taken on the internal audit process and destroyed it. Ask about Mr. MacKay’s appearances before the Senate and Commons justice committees where he skated around legitimate questions about C-36. Why didn’t he get thrown out? And this, this is the guy who is talking about zero tolerance for abusive behaviour towards women? Good heavens, he is the only guy in Ottawa who doesn’t know what is going on if he is being honest. His notion of accountability and zero tolerance would scare Joseph Stalin. Well, enough about Mr. MacKay. Believe me, you’ll be hearing plenty more about him and his in the months to come.

Well, regardless of what he knows I also know a few things. I and my supporters and many others have been asking around. You wouldn’t believe what I am being told and shown. I will not take up any more time tonight about what we have been told and provided with, except to say that I will not accept criticism if I, and my fellow activists, refuse to keep to the high road in the debate on the new sex trade laws or in dealing with this government and its supporters. The government and its trained seals hit bottom long ago. They deserve everything they are going to get. They don’t deserve fair treatment. If sex workers are worried about the code of confidentiality, and we are, we must remember that the Harper Brotherhood has disregarded all sorts of codes of honour and we should not, in a fight for the lives of our sisters, feel compelled to hold ourselves to a higher standard. 

Canada faces some threats from terrorists and hate groups. Our men and women in uniform are fighting for us here and abroad. We know what they are fighting against. But let me respectfully say to Canadians what I think our troops are fighting for as well. They stand for security, yes. But security for what? I think they are fighting for our freedoms, meaning, yes, our civil liberties. We disrespect our citizens in uniform when we allow people with power to act arbitrarily, the way Mr. Harper and his lackeys are doing with the sex trade. We disrespect them when we allow Mr. Harper’s government to disregard prominent citizens – judges, professors, leaders in unions, churches, community organizations and other bodies in society that speak for people without money or political power.

So my friends we must all be soldiers, and each do what we can to ensure our governments at all levels are held to a standard of accountability that ensures they respect truth and properly justify their actions. For that matter, governments can hold other governments to such a standard. For example, Vancouver wants the federal government to refer C-36 to the Supreme Court and has indicated that C-36 will work against the guidelines of the Supreme Court decision

In Ontario, Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory must now speak. She has a majority government in Canada’s largest province. He was just elected mayor of Canada’s largest city. I believe how they act, not just speak, in response to C-36, will define their level of integrity. 

Thank you again so very much for this honour, and for having me here tonight.

All Bill C-36 Opponents

October 5, 2014

To All Opponents of Bill C-36

I am the Bedford in Bedford Versus Canada, the case that overturned Canada’s prostitution laws. I am writing to you today to update you about part of what is being done to oppose Bill C-36, which is the new law before Parliament to replace the laws struck down.

This law, like the old laws, will fail to be enforced much. This law will eventually be deemed unconstitutional. This law will cause a major loss of credibility for those who supported it. What is being done to oppose the law is being done and I want to tell you about part of that and what you can do.

I wrote to Premier Wynne of Ontario. I asked her to refer the law to Ontario’s highest court, if and when it becomes law, to see if it is constitutional. In the interim I asked her to publicly state she would do this. I also asked her to instruct her crown attorneys not to enforce the law. All this is within her power. She has a majority government.

She spoke about my letter at a press conference and said her main concern is safety. I have been in touch with her since, but our correspondence is confidential. I am writing to ask all activists to state in any way to Premier Wynne, and indeed to all premiers, the consequences of remaining silent and doing nothing.

The consequences of this new law will likely include more missing and murdered women, sex workers forced out from safe locations and into the streets, the increased presence of organized crime in the sex trade and widespread entrapment as a way of enforcing the new laws.

Please put the focus of the debate on Premier Wynne. She has a choice. She can speak up and act, or let Mr. Harper impose his will on her. Help her and the other premiers decide. Write to them. Premier Wynne’s e-mail is Tell the media the premiers have a choice. Demonstrate if necessary. Your efforts matter. 

Yours truly,

(Signed in the original)

Terri-Jean Bedford
terrijeanbedford @

Bill C-36 Opponents

September 28, 2014

Dear Opponents of Bill C-36,

I am writing to many of the groups and persons who have stood with Valerie, Amy, me and our legal team against the prostitution laws that were struck down. These groups and persons have voiced their support in so many ways and their messages were heard across the country again and again. I thank all of you for that support. I have done so in person when able. 

The new law, Bill C-36 is of course an outrage. It will of course fail before the courts, fail in its implementation, and in the process its supporters will again be discredited. You and all the others have already been to helping to ensure that failure will happen.

Recently I testified before the Senate and in the question period after opening statements I was ejected. This got a lot of attention. One of the things I said, which also got much attention, was that I would expose some clients of sex workers. Everyone thought I meant politicians who supported C-36.

I have an advisory group working on the legalities and mechanics of that process. Part of that process, if in fact I do follow though, is determining what sex workers think about exposing some clients, and I am writing to ask you to tell me what you think. Please ask your colleagues to tell me as well by sending me an e-mail at the address below.

One reason for exposing some clients is to show how unfair the law is when sex workers can report clients to the police and only the client is charged. This means, it would seem, that blackmail and entrapment have largely been legalized. This would probably add fuel to constitutional challenges.

Professor Young also pointed out at the Senate that immunity from prosecution has until now only been given by prosecutors, not in legislation, as C-36 does. So exposing clients would show how irrational the law is, as well as illegal itself. Exposing would probably also add this fuel as well to constitutional challenges.

Another obvious reason for exposing is to show the hypocrisy of those who want to impose their will on others while themselves engaging in the very behaviour they want to others to stop.

Yet another reason is to ensure the public remains aware of this issue and of the dangers and are unfair hardships the government’s approach would create for those in the sex trade. Nothing attracts media attention as much as politics combined with scandals of this kind. I could mention other reasons, but enough for now.  

However, concerns come to mind too. Does exposing set a bad precedent for the sex trade overall, even if the law is not implemented to any extent or frozen in the courts right away? What other negative repercussions there be for sex workers if I did release part or all of my list? What would the consequences be if I just released one or two or a few names? What should be the criteria for names chosen for release? Would you and your members and colleagues prefer me to back off exposing clients altogether, and if so why? I seek your help in answering these questions. 

Please share this with all you wish to share it with. I will read all e-mails sent to me and take all advice very seriously when I decide what to do. I appreciate that feedback every bit as much as the support shown over these years which, I say yet again, I am sincerely grateful for.

Yours truly,

Terri-Jean Bedford
terrijeanbedford @


This afternoon I testified before the Senate Committee on Justice and Constitutional Affairs. I gave my speech and then was ejected from the question and answer session for failing to stop speaking when the Chair asked me to. I apologize for losing my temper. I was barely able to read my speech because I was so angry at the government for parading victims with repeated irrelevant information and then organizations who were shilling for government handouts on which they are dependent. The shameful use of victims by the government in this process, and their disregard for life by ignoring court findings, refusing to listen to their own legal staff and refusing to answer questions from legitimate sources made me snap. I have already been told that people are sympathetic to the points I made and even to my outburst. They seemed to agree that the government can’t handle the truth. They have repeatedly shown disrespect for various institutions, processes and persons. The truth will win out.

Speech to Senate Committee

Prime Minister Harper called me again. He offered to appoint me to the Senate. As a government whip. I turned him down. I might run into former clients on Parliament Hill.

I am the Bedford in Bedford Versus Canada, the constitutional challenge striking down the prostitution laws. I know the sex trade in Canada as well as anyone. I learned about the issues by working in and managing almost all aspects of the sex trade over 30 years. I have fought the prostitution laws for many of these years. I have been in jail because of the laws. I have been in court as a defendant or appellant more times than I care to remember. I am Canada’s most famous dominatrix and perhaps Canada’s most famous prostitute. I was in attendance for most of the sessions of the 3 years of the constitutional challenge. So, maybe I know what I am talking about.

In these brief remarks I will make only a few points of my own. You have a library of evidence against Bill C-36, and I don’t want to repeat or submit briefs saying what so many others have said so well.

First of all senators, when it comes to consenting adults, the state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.

Second, the national debate currently under way has not given enough attention to sex trade workers who don’t want to exit and are there by choice. If you ask me today I will tell you about some of them. These women, and indeed male sex workers, should not be grouped in with those who want out.

Third, what exactly is Bill C-36 supposed to outlaw? What exactly would be illegal between consenting adults in private for money? The response from some supporters of Bill C-36 are words to the effect that “everyone knows” or “the courts would have to decide”. If everyone knows, why not answer the question? If the courts have to decide, why not refer the bill there immediately?

Fourth, why does the government claim they are making the purchase of sex illegal. If it was legal to purchase sex before, where did all the John Schools come from? This new law changes nothing in that regard.

Fifth. The Justice Minister was wrong to call the sex trade degrading. The clients are there by choice. They are half the transaction. Many are pillars of the community, often business leaders, professionals and politicians.  Most sex trade workers do not consider their work degrading. Lumping them in with those who want out is not acceptable in a free society.

Sixth, those who ask if you want your daughter to be a sex worker might also ask if you want your daughter working in any number of poorly paid, dangerous or menial jobs while getting sexually harassed in the bargain. And while we are at it, I want my daughter to work in the sex trade, but it should be her choice. Not only that, I may want your daughter to work in the sex trade and for it to be her choice. If you don’t like that I suggest you mind your own business and move to a country where the choices of women in the bedroom are controlled by the government.

Senators, it is bad policy to direct scarce law enforcement resources to stop consenting adult behaviour in private – while tax evaders, wife beaters, terrorists and what have you go unpunished.

So Senators, please don’t allow Bill C-36 to pass. Stand up for your country first. Use laws you have to help those most in need, in and out of the sex trade.  

Senators, please, please don’t allow Parliament to force Canadian women to only have sex for free.

Thank you.

Dominatrix Slaps Government

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“Dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford on the Proposed New Prostitution Law”

In 2007 I was one of three women who began a constitutional challenge of the prostitution laws. I am the Bedford in Bedford Versus Canada. Before that I was wrongly convicted under these laws, which were struck down in 2010 by Justice Himel. In 2012 the Ontario Court of Appeal basically supported her decision and in 2013 the Supreme Court, Chief Justice McLachlin writing, voted unanimously to support it as well. They said the laws were arbitrary, too vague, worked against stated objectives, endangered specific groups and put unfair restrictions on a legal activity, the sex trade. Unfair because no similar restrictions exist on other legal activities.

All through this Mr. Nicholson, the Justice Minister, insisted the laws were constitutional, while Mr. Harper hid from the media and said he didn’t know who I was. Who were they kidding? Perhaps the legal advisors they had then were the ones who are advising them now. 

Finally Mr. Harper dumped Mr. Nicholson and replaced him with Mr. MacKay, possibly to reward Mr. MacKay for making the RCMP a hotbed of sexual harassment and coverups. Mr. MacKay, with Mr. Harper out of the country of course, tabled new laws to replace the ones struck down and made other amendments to the Criminal Code.

That was over a week ago. I have been reading and hearing a lot of reaction since that time. In fact, so much has been written and said about the proposed new law in recent days that I don’t need to tell you about it here, except to say again that it will not survive the courts, is not enforceable on any significant scale and is a gift to organized crime if it does stand up.

Word is getting around already that these new laws will bog down. In my opinion, the end result is in sight. The government will once again, as in the past, fail to legislate private sexual behaviour of consenting adults, abortion rights, rights to safe injection sites, mandatory minimum sentences, same sex marriage, inter-racial marriage, and so forth. This is just more politics at the expense of the vulnerable to kiss up to religious nuts. This hopefully last chapter is no surprise to me at all given the government of the day.

I don’t know to this day if any of these men have even read the 2010 judicial decision. If they did they would have realized that a three year trial of such depth would have provided some insights about needed changes, and they could have changed the law back then. Instead it is only now that they decide the purchase of sex should be illegal. They had three years to arrive at this brilliant insight. The judge in 2010 told them to act then if at all. They chose not to act, but to run, and they are doing it again. 

This is because these new laws are actually designed to fail, and they know it, but it makes the issue go off their desk for a while. They do not seem to understand or care that the new laws create the same harms and injustices as the old ones, probably worse. Instead, they want to oppose prostitution, or appear to do so, at all costs – and the costs will be high.

If they were seeking to assist vulnerable Canadian women they would, as I have said, have read Justice Himel’s decision, which said, after a three year trial, that no new laws were needed. She said existing laws that were not challenged, laws against human trafficking, assault, confinement, coercion, and so forth, addressed the worst aspects of prostitution. The higher courts agreed because it is a waste of law enforcement resources to punish consenting women for not having sex for free.  You would need a camera in every bedroom. 

Yet, Mr. Harper and Mr. MacKay said more study and consultation, under their supervision, where the outcomes could be controlled, was needed. They were wrong, they never even said they looked at the evidence from the three year trial, or the recent submissions of hundreds of Canada’s leading intellectuals.  They are fooling almost no one with their cynical and malicious partisanship. They don’t seem to care that they are throwing law enforcement into chaos and creating an open field for terrorists, child pornographers, burglars, drunk drivers and the like – by having the police chase after consenting women and their customers for not having sex for free.  

Mr. MacKay called the sex trade degrading. He is wrong. For starters, the customers are there by choice. They are half the transaction. Most of the women who work in it are there by choice. How many people who clean toilets for minimum wage at a burger joint while getting sexually harassed in a poor job market are doing that by choice? The sex trade business is booming.

The fools who ask if you want your daughter to be a sex worker might also ask if they want their daughters joining the army abroad, changing bedpans in a nursing home, selling shoes, collecting garbage, or working in menial jobs while getting sexually harassed in the bargain. Or do you want your daughter to get married and be one of the ten percent of women who are battered by their partner – an issue Mr, Harper won’t get tough on for fear of offending his base. The people who use the “Do you want your daughter?” argument are fools, because they single out the sex trade.

And while we are at it, I want my daughter to work in the sex trade, but it is her choice. And on top of that, I want your daughter to work in the sex trade, for it to be her choice, and for you to mind your own business and move to a country where women are controlled very strictly so you can have your way there.  Many women in the sex trade work their way through college, support their kids without daycare, do not work long hours and are their own boss – despite the laws that reduce safety, which were struck down despite the opposition of uninformed religious nuts and others.

Mr. MacKay said the sex trade has been around for thousands of years. So it appears he is a historian as well as a sex therapist. Sex is indeed very popular, as he and his father know. More brilliant insight. Unfortunately, if women don’t have sex for free they are, in his view, degraded. Sounds like Reverend Jimmy Swaggart and Reverend Jim Bakker, two television evangelists who preached like Mr. MacKay and Mr. Harper while being adulterous to say the least. The most sanctimonious usually have the most to hide. All in due time.

Did I mention that Mr. MacKay was minister in charge of the armed forces of Canada, where sexual harassment, assaults and coverups were rampant? Did I mention that women who came forward became victims of Mr. Harper and Mr. MacKay as well as of the abusers? Never have whistle-blowers been so persecuted in Ottawa. Now to top it off they are seeking to limit the conditions under which women in Canada can have sex in private with another consenting adult. All this while sending our troops abroad to fight for freedom, or criticizing non-democratic governments! Wow!

Oh, and did I mention that under the proposed new law a man will likely have more chance of going to jail for paying a woman for sex than for raping her on a date or beating his wife? Many women like being sex trade workers. Many women in other occupations don’t like what they do and dream of exit strategies from other occupations. Many more women, women with choices and means, would go into the sex trade if Mr. Harper and Mr. MacKay would allow them to protect themselves and stop calling the free choices of women in the bedroom degrading.

All that being said, I view victory as inevitable for our side. This outburst by the government at the expense of more dead women is one thing on the list of their criminal justice program. Like the others it will fail, and our police will be able to get back to dealing with real criminals, and not just chase after women who don’t have sex for free or the men who pay them. 

I am asked if Mr. Harper is still calling me and asking me to accept a job in the Senate, as a government whip. I had to tell him to stop calling. I could not accept the job. I was afraid I would run into too many former clients on Parliament Hill.

Terri-Jean Bedford’s memoirs, Dominatrix on Trial, are available on line and at Chapters-Indigo stores.

About Dominatrix on Trial Again

I have a couple of signings for my book Dominatrix on Trial during June. People have been so kind in their comments. People who report on the media to me are surprised at how little people who normally attack me cite the book, even though book store clerks have reported to us that they bought it. If you want me to name names I thank you for your interest. A good dominatrix never tells.

Terri-Jean Bedford

The Unfairness in Canada’s Prostitution Laws

I was asked in a recent on-line interview how the current case involves fairness in the prostitution laws. The judge who struck down the laws in 2010 was clear. The laws discriminate against women. The laws allow a segment of society engaged in legal activity from protecting themselves, while participants in other legal activities are not prevented. The laws are vague as to what, prostitution, is and is not. Laws also need to be clear to be fair. The judge also said it is up to Parliament to write and pass laws telling people what they can and cannot do in their sex lives or fantasy role play, and what they can and cannot do to protect themselves in doing so. I have written about this in my book Dominatrix on Trial.

Terri-Jean Bedford

Is Prostitution an Issue? – Dominatrix on Trial

In a recent on-line interview I was told that people call prostitution an “issue”. They wanted to know what I thought of that. I told them that prostitution, whatever that is, is booming. It will boom no matter what public policy is. A significant portion of the population wants the freedom to pay for and be paid for acts of prostitution and do so with the safety and choices available to participants in other legal activities. So prostitution is not an issue in that sense. The issue is Canada’s Prime Minister – Steven Harper – and his unwillingness to tell consenting adults what they can and cannot do in private. He lacks courage. He says prostitution is bad, yet won’t define it or make it illegal. He seems to lack the ability, as well as the courage, to deal with this. He just wants the current laws, ruled unconstitutional, to remain in place.

Terri-Jean Bedford

The Remaining Legal Battle – Dominatrix on Trial

I was recently asked in an on-line interview what remains of the current legal battle. First of all the term sex work is too vague. Exactly what acts are we talking about? The current case before the courts has all parties agreeing that prostitution (whatever that is) is legal. It was legal going into the case. The government wants to keep some of the things prostitutes and those who work in the business do to conduct prostitution illegal. What is likely to happen is that the courts will tell the government to be more specific about what people can and cannot do in private with full consent for money or other payment? Then the real fight begins.

Terri-Jean Bedford

Questions and Comments about Dominatrix on Trial – XIII

I have one further thing to say about the reactions of those women at the Christmas party to my book. They told me they did not realize how much in the way of resources and resolve is involved in a legal battle. They told me that it is terrible when innocent people are pressured into pleading out because of what it takes to fight. They realized that too many innocent people are convicted. Some of them said they were very depressed and frightened by this.


Questions and Comments about Dominatrix on Trial – XII

As I mentioned in the previous blog the women at the Christmas gathering had so many questions and things to say about my book. One of the interesting things was the variety of women who worked for me. Indeed. As I pointed out in ‘Dominatrix on trial‘ women of almost any size, shape, age, colour or ethnicity can succeed in the role. The variety of role play and players sought by clients has never ceased to amaze me. The gals at the party said that was one of the things about the book they found surprising.

Questions and Comments about Dominatrix on Trial – XI

When I was at a Christmas gathering some women who had read my book were very kind in their praise about how long I fought and what I fought for. Naturally they had many questions. One of them was whether I missed running a dungeon. My answer to that was that in my current state of health the thought of having to keep appointments and prepare for them is now simply beyond the pale. It has now been almost a decade since I have run a full facility. Even when I was in good health and younger, as I pointed out in the book, it was a tough grind – though it certainly had its moments.

Questions and Comments about Dominatrix on Trial – X

On this message for Christmas Day I want to wish people of all faiths the very best of the season. In my early life this was a special time of year for many reasons. It brought some happiness to my otherwise sad life at that time. May you receive the best gifts of all: good family, good friends, good health and good prospects in your work. These are things worth seeking as well as wishing for. That being said, helping others may be the most important and rewarding of all things.

Questions and Comments about Dominatrix on Trial – IX

Someone who had read my book Dominatrix on Trial asked me an interesting question. He wanted to know whether, when I was in business, we were open on Christmas. Let me expand a bit on that and say that on most statutory holidays I just operated my dungeons like any other day. I needed the revenue, and clients often had more time those days. However on Christmas Eve, Christmas and Boxing Day I would be closed so as to spend time with family and friends and allow my staff to do the same. It was also a welcome break.

Questions and Comments about Dominatrix on Trial – VIII

In my last blog I told you about how some doms who worked for me for a short time and then left the business felt about that experience looking back. I have also spoken to some professional dominatrices who have been at it for many years. Believe it or not, some of them have done nothing else since being teenagers. Most of them would not have made another career choice. When they expressed regrets it was about specific decisions made while working within the field, such as which facility they set up, who they hired and that sort of thing.

Questions and Comments about Dominatrix on Trial – VII

Some more comments about the doms who worked for me. Here I am going to speak about the ones I have spoken to who did it for a while in the past and moved on. I asked them if they regretted the experience. None of them did, and they were fully in agreement with my comments in Dominatrix on Trial, my memoirs. Next time I’ll tell you what the doms still in practice told me.