The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights has been listening to witnesses this week (July 7-11, 2014) as it relates to Bill C-36, Protection of Communities and Exploited Person’s Act. The media has been reporting on the hearings, but the coverage has not been all that balanced. Just as we saw with the Bedford v. Canada court case where only Ms. Bedford and other privileged prostitutes had their voice heard in court, it seems the media wants to undermine the voices of those who worked in the industry but who did not have a positive and empowering experience.
Typically, when we ignore the voice of the vulnerable and only want to support the privileged, society gets angry (the Occupy Movement, for example). In an effort to show a balanced view, please read the essay of former sex worker of 15 years, Katarina McLeod who attempts to have the voices of the silenced sex workers heard in the public sphere.
Thankfully, there are voices willing to speak against the tide. Margaret Wente does so with her article in the Globe and Mail, Is there a moral case against prostitution?
This week’s hearings on the government’s proposed new prostitution law represent a priceless opportunity to bash the Harper government for its clumsy, moralistic, ineffective and possibly unconstitutional attempt to suppress the world’s oldest profession. Opposition politicians are gleefully on the attack, and so are a fair number in the news media.
So let’s concede that the law is flawed, and let’s further concede that eradicating the sex trade is impossible. So what kind of law do the critics think should we have instead? Er, long silence.
When asked about his views on the core issue – whether prostitution should be more fully legalized – Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau ducks and weaves. “What we feel is that the government in its approach right now isn’t living up to what the Supreme Court asked it to do, which is to make sure that the most vulnerable people – the workers in the sex trade – are protected from violence,” he told Sun News last month.
In fact, Mr. Trudeau’s views on the morality of the sex trade are remarkably similar to those of the Conservative government.