I have been reading and viewing the Web to see public reaction to the decision. By this I mean how the public responds to the issue of what the federal government should do now. A clear majority says prostitution should not be made illegal. Those who do actually want restrictions on the private behaviour of consenting adults in private advocate the so-called Nordic model, where customers are charged. Those of us who worked to strike down the laws know that this approach drives prostitution underground because the girls do not want to lose business. It is also under-enforced in countries that have adopted it. The judges in the case examined the experiences of other countries and concluded that other laws now in place in Canada address the worst aspects of prostitution. The only argument for making prostitution, whatever that is, illegal, are moral arguments. Such arguments have no place in a free country and those who make them should be ashamed of themselves.
I have been reading many stories in the media where members of the government are quoted or appear in interviews when the decision was released and after. My first reaction is to tell the public that these are the guys who announced they would appeal the initial lower court decision without reading it properly (if at all). Then they appealed the parts of the Ontario Court of Appeal decision (that upheld most of what the lower court ruled) to the Supreme Court, insisting that they still believed the laws were unconstitutional. After a unanimous decision of the Supreme Court, it meant that 15 judges told the government that they were wrong. Are these the guys we are going to trust to bring in new laws? If they really believed the laws were constitutional then they were and are stupid. If they were just saying this to make the issues go away for a while they are are liars. Either way, they cannot be trusted to legislate on this issue. Therefore they should either not bring in new laws, or resign and let others who can be trusted do the job.
Some of you may have seen me say on television that the Prime Minister called and offered to appointment me to the Senate as the government “whip”. I have turned him down because I don’t like to engage in behaviour that upsets the police.
It has now been a few days since the decision has been released. On Saturday December 21st I put up a blog where I asked readers to keep some things in mind as we go forward. Please have a look at that by going to terrijeanbedford.com. Today I want to tell you what I think will happen if the Canadian government lets the laws fall and does not bring in any new laws. First, as Judge Himel ruled from the evidence, there will not be a significant increase in prostitution. This is because men who want to buy sex from women, or smoke marijuana, are already doing so. Massage parlours are all over the place, as are escort services. Secondly, the existing laws are under-enforced, to say the least, anyway. New laws likely would be under-enforced as well. Third, if the so-called Nordic model was brought in (where only clients are charged), the harms the judges found with the current laws would reappear, and those laws would not be enforceable in court. Remember, the countries with the Nordic model don’t have the constitutional protections we have in Canada, but the laws may fall in some of those countries as a result of our case anyway. Fourth, those who say the buying and selling of women for sex is wrong are wrong themselves. First of all, they don’t define sex. Can a man pay for a massage, or to kiss a woman’s feet? I could go on. I think you get the idea. I will have more to say in the new year about how laws must be specific to be enforceable – to say nothing about constitutional – to say nothing about enforceable. A happy holiday season and new year to all.
It was a victory in all respects. I have examined the decision. I have now read many media reports and heard and read a number of commentators. You can also get my early comments that way. I want to add a few things here. In the first place, the fifteen judges have made it very clear that Mr. Harper and his government, and the provinces, must bring in laws that are clear, specific and do not discriminate against or endanger people. Second, if people point to some prostitutes as victims they should realize, as the judges did, that the very laws in place were much of the cause of that: which is why I keep saying that the prime minister is doing what organized crime wants him to do. Third, when people point to other countries, they should first look at the decision of Judge Himel, who had weeks of testimony and cross-examinations of experts about other countries and what their experiences teach us. In other words, as Rosie Dimanno of the Toronto Star said: “Read the damn decision”. Fourth, anyone who says prostitution (assuming their definition is clear) is always bad, is making a moral judgement and is a fool. I say that because we allow people to smoke, drink, overeat, not exercise, and so forth. We also allow promiscuous, anonymous pre-marital sex and fantasy role-play for free. Fifth, let the people who want laws against prostitution tell us how to enforce such laws and whether there are better uses of public resources than to interfere in the private behaviour of consenting adults when those adults are permitted to take precautions. And sixth, all prostitutes are someone’s daughter. My daughter has worked for me and if you want your daughter to be a soldier or be sexually harassed in the RCMP or in an office or to work for the minimum wage while having sex for free I would rather she do what she wanted and not what you wanted. And finally, seventh, if Mr. Harper is really interested in getting tough on crime let him crack down on wife beaters and dads who don’t pay their child support. Have you heard him talk about that? Anyway, enough for today. The debate is beginning and I look forward to being part of it and am so very grateful to my fellow plaintiffs and Professor Young and his legal team, and all the activists who are too numerous to mention. Truly a great day for Canada.
Margaret Wente is a bad girl. Margaret is a high profile regular columnist for the Globe and Mail, often called Canada’s National Newspaper. On Saturday, June 22, 2013 she wrote an article critical of attempts to, in her words, legalize prostitution. Among other things she said the current case being made before the Supreme Court, Bedford Versus Canada (I am Bedford – one of three plaintiffs), cannot change the fact that legalization would, in her opinion, mean more sex sold and that this is always bad for the women involved and for society as a whole. I do not expect the members of the media to be fair, or even properly informed when they write or speak. They have so many issues to follow, deadlines to meet and advertisers to satisfy. But when someone of Margaret’s stature descends to an uninformed rant, and her editors publish it, it cannot be allowed to stand unanswered. My supporters have asked me to respond.
To begin with, I am not a poster girl. Not one of we three plaintiffs are poster girls. Margaret has spent time with me and said many positive things about me. The other two plaintiffs are dedicated and long time activists against the current laws. I am covered in the media a great deal because I have been before the courts for years. I have been to jail for prostitution and have been fighting the laws for two decades. I have walked the walk. Margaret mentioned none of this. Nor did she say that the court is not making decisions about the right or wrong of prostitution or its legality. It is legal. Margaret did not say any of this in her article either. The court is examining whether the preceding courts, six judges, erred in striking down laws or not doing so, because the laws are in not in accord with fundamental justice.
Margaret also did her readers a terrible disservice by failing to mention that the evidence considered by the courts exceeded 25,000 pages, heard with cross-examinations over three years. Within that evidence was comprehensive court tested evidence of the experiences of other countries and their prostitution laws. That debate about the experience of other countries is over. Margaret’s comments are not court tested. Margaret writes as if she did not read the two judicial decisions, a frightening thought.
I might add that Margaret did not tell you that any attempt to outlaw the sale of sex means the government telling people what is legal and not legal between consenting adults in private. She did not tell you how government is supposed to go about enforcing correct private consenting behaviour. She did not tell you that the judges said that the worst aspects of prostitution are already addressed by other laws. She did not tell you that on numerous occasions the editors of her own paper called for removal of the current laws. As to the good and bad of prostitution, whatever that is, or other acts between consenting adults, people should inform themselves, and others, before giving opinions.
This month there was an article about my book, Dominatrix on Trial, in the Thornhill Post. Some of you may recall that this is the town right at the top of Toronto where my Bondage Bungalow was raided in 1994, giving rise to many of the matters dealt with in my memoirs. I hope of course that book sales result from the article, but above that I hope that my book will remind the residents of Thornhill to be vigilant in ensuring local officials are not corrupt. When you add official corruption and incompetence to bad laws which are subject to arbitrary enforcement (or non-enforcement) it is an open invitation for our society to backslide to the dictator-like conditions so common in other parts of the world.
After the raid on my bungalow it was discovered that the Chief of York Region Police was corrupt, and that many officials and police officers had acted inappropriately in my and other matters. Julian Fantino, who is now a member of parliament for a riding near Thornhill, was brought in to clean up the York Regional Police. Numerous investigations led to corrective actions. When he became Chief of Police of Toronto around the year 2000, I was back in business there. I had no police problems at all.