The Cheap Morality Play Over Prostitution Laws
If anyone had told me a week ago that two days before Christmas I would be writing about prostitution, I would have laughed at them but then, if anyone had told me five years ago that this nation would sink into sheer and utter madness, I would have laughed at them too.
Last week, the Supreme Court of Canada overturned three laws related to prostitution in Canada and many on both sides of the issue have relinquished whatever tenuous grip they may have had on reality. Some are hailing it as a victory for women’s rights while others decry it as the underpinning of our society.
It is neither and you will note that I said the court overturned three laws that were ‘related’ to prostitution and not prostitution itself.
That’s because prostitution was not illegal in Canada before the ruling despite what many are trying to claim now. It was, and remains, legal for an individual to sell sexual services to make a living. Whether that is a good thing or not is open for debate and there are valid arguments on both sides of the issue but that isn’t the issue the Supreme Court was asked to consider.
The three laws the court reviewed and overturned have to do with the avails of prostitution.
It was illegal to live off the profits of another person’s prostitution; in other words – an anti-pimping law. It was illegal to solicit on the streets – an anti-nuisance law by admission by former Conservative Justice Minister John Crosby when he introduced the legislation in 1985 and it was illegal to operate a brothel.
Those were the three laws that the Supreme Court of Canada has determined violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and are, therefore, bad law.
That, of course, has set off the hard-core right who yet again jump into the fray without thought or even a momentary attempt to get informed about the issue.
“It’s an assault on morality and democracy,” claimed Brian Lilly at Sun News Network and by an unelected judiciary.
To that I say, thank Christ we don’t have courts that are elected by unthinking, poorly-informed lynch mobs.
Neither Canada nor the United States elect the justices to their Supreme Courts and with good reason. The Supreme Court has a specific purpose and that is to ensure that the law before it is constitutional and does not violate the rights guaranteed to every Canadian citizen in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Supreme Court will not even grant a case standing before it unless there is proven to be a new question about the law involved.
It requires judges that are highly schooled in the law and who bring a considerable amount of experience to the bench. It does not require a bunch of people whose only qualification was that they got elected by winning a popularity contest.
It is not undemocratic for our duly elected government to appoint judges to the Supreme Court. It is our system of government and it has worked just fine for 149 years in Canada and hundreds of years in Britain.
One can only imagine the damage that would be done by a Supreme Court that saw a Rob Ford, a Justin Trudeau, a David Suzuki and a Mike Duffy elected to it simply because they won an election. The simple reality is that the Supreme Court is one of the few real checks to protect us from government tyranny caused by bad law. This is especially true considering how ineffectual the Senate has become.
In the case of the three laws related to prostitution, the court ruled that they violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms although I believe a case could be made that they also violated common sense.
It should also be noted that the court did not – let me repeat that for the more obtuse – did not legislate morality. In fact, the ruling was specific in leaving that legislative responsibility to the elected Parliament. The ruling gave the government a year to revise and fix or repeal the laws as it saw fit. The court merely ruled that in their current form, these three laws violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The current conservative government made bold statements about changing the law more than a year ago but has done nothing and it’s a little specious to be now blaming the Supreme Court for its own failure to act.
Of course you won’t learn any of that at Sun News Network which believes in forming an opinion first and then supporting it with whatever distortion of fact it finds inconvenient to that opinion. But then, as I’ve said before, Sun News Network is to news what McDonalds is to food.
There are valid arguments both for and against legal prostitution but there are no valid arguments that justify poorly drafted legislation that is constitutionally invalid and that causes unnecessary harm. Instead of one more cheap morality play in the media and online, Canadians need to stop with the sanctimony and have an honest and informed debate, come to a decision and then have Parliament draft the appropriate laws that are constitutionally valid.
Now let’s all calm down and in the spirit of Christmas get back to what’s truly important; endless carping about Justin Trudeau and how he is the real threat to Canada, to democracy and the free world.
Of course, he was elected so maybe this democracy thing is more complicated than some think and definitely no guarantee necessarily of substance or ability.
Who’d a thunk it?
© 2013 Maggie’s Bear
all rights reserved The written content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it may be of interest to others
Let’s connect on Twitter: @maggsbear or send a friend request on Facebook to: Maggie’s Bear