February 18, 2014

Harper government asks for help rewriting Canada's prostitution laws

The Harper government wants to hear from the Canadian public about how to rewrite the nation's prostitution laws that were struck down by the Supreme Court late last year - why? Because they don't know how to write a new law to replace the old laws which were struck down, a new law which would not violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and not be struck down immediately for violating the charter.

In a December 20th 2013 ruling, the high court unanimously struck down laws against street soliciting, living on the avails of prostitution and keeping a brothel.

Since then the Harper government has been searching for a solution that will make his government look good on paper, but won't violate civil rights.

So instead they are turning to the Canadian public for their ideas and holding a month-long, online consultation period on the Justice Canada website. The consultation began yesterday (Monday February the 17th) and runs to March 17th 2014 (St Patrick's Day).

What is funny is the percentage of male Conservative MPs in the Harper government who regularly use prostitutes as sexual aides, both when they are on the road and lonely, and also when they are closer to home and having marital problems.

In other words we are talking about the kind of people who cheat on their spouses, but because they are politicians and don't want to have any messy affair they use prostitutes because they are more discreet. (It is a well known fact politicians use prostitutes more than the average person.)

A 1998 poll suggested 7% of Canadian men have paid for sex at least once in their life. The % for male politicians is unknown, but we know it is significantly higher - likely around 25% - because politicians value discreetness.

But at the same time, because it is the Harper government, they have to at least pretend that they are against prostitution even though they and many of their colleagues use prostitutes regularly. It is all about optics and what the public sees.

“Our government is concerned about the significant harms that flow from prostitution to communities, those engaged in prostitution and other vulnerable persons,” said Justice Minister Peter MacKay in a release.

Oh really? What harms would that be? Husbands that stray from the marriage bed would still stray from the marriage bed even if they could not find a prostitute. They would find a mistress, a servant, a willing woman of somekind - and that would cause more messy affairs in the media.

If MacKay is referring to STDs we should remind him that prostitutes are more paranoid about STDs than any other profession. They are not taking risks in that respect.

Or maybe MacKay is referring to the "moral decay of society" by the mere presence of prostitutes? (As if they are to blame for society's woes, as opposed to being a product of those woes.)

"Doing nothing is not an option," says MacKay. "We are therefore asking Canadians right across the country to provide their input through an online consultation to ensure a legislative response to prostitution that reflects our country’s values."

So here is a solution for Peter MacKay.


Don't bother with trying to eradicate prostitution, governments have been trying to do that for millenia with absolutely no success.

But if you teach feminism + gender studies in high schools, make it part of the curriculum, then you will be raising young women who see themselves as more valuable to society than a $300 per hour mistress for wealthy men.

But lets face it, asking the Conservative government to promote feminism is like asking a Republican to promote gay rights. It just isn't going to happen.

Another solution would be to make Johns (the men who go to prostitutes) illegal (as opposed to solicitation, which is still illegal). But that would probably get half the Conservative Party arrested in police sting operations, along with many of their big donors.

Prostitution is a whole big can of worms. It has religious issues, feminist issues, legal issues, public health issues, civil rights issues, economic issues. The government is not going to solve this with any quick fix.

Long term promotion of feminism in schools, designed to bolster the self-esteems of young women, would over time eventually eradicate much of domestic prostitution - which leads us to the problem of imports, women who are brought into Canada for the sole purpose of working in Canada's sex trade in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal. Calgary and Edmonton are apparently the two biggest importers of sex workers, because of all the oil company executives there who want exotic women.

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