09.30.2010 08:52 AM

Thursday morning bits and pieces: blowback

Lotsa stuff going on.  Here goes:

61 Comments

  1. Blair Shumlich says:

    What’s the opposition to trying to make the world’s oldest profession a little more safe and regulated?

  2. Will M. says:

    I thought this was interesting from EKOS

    In a separate EKOS survey, respondents were also asked whether they would prefer a Conservative government led by Stephen Harper or a coalition government made up of Liberals and New Democrats and led by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.

    Forty-one per cent of respondents said they would prefer an Ignatieff-led coalition, while 39 per cent said they preferred a Harper-led Conservative government.

    Harper, keep playing the coalition card, that way we don’t have to pay for the advertising!

  3. DL says:

    I’d much rather have a brothel in my neighbourhood than a fundamentalist church full of creationists and homophobes. That being said, I don’t think its the place of government to legislate against either.

  4. Paul R. Martin says:

    Good Morning Warren. There have been some interesting and slightly different poll results in the last 2 days. Today EKOS had it C 33.1%, L 29.9%, and NDP 13.5 This was quite similar to the earlier Ipsos Reid poll which was c 35%, L 29% and NDP 12% . Yesterday, Angus Reid had it C 34%, l 26% and NDP 18%. This week’s CROP Poll of federal Quebec voters was BQ 32%, C 23%, l 23% and NDP 18%. CROP finds more C support and less BQ support in Quebec than does the national pollsters. I conclude that the Conservatives would win an election if it was called now and that the other parties have no reason to try to force an election.

  5. David says:

    Coalition.. I suppose the Cons. are guilty of the same mistake the Libs made (are making?) with the hidden agenda nonsense. It does work to some degree though.

    Macleans.. I have no doubt that a lot of people dislike their headline.It seems a bit ridiculous they could only show displeasure in the safe confines of the HofP. I am willing to bet that most of those MP’s showing objections did not even read the article. Parliament should not be used for this.

    Kudo’s to Independant MP Andre Arthur for understanding this. This is why we need more independant MP’s in Ottawa. Sadly he won’t get a subsidy on election night like his competitors.

    Hookers..No one (I hope) would be proud if they knew their daughter were doing this for a living. Most women in prostitution are already victims. They are either addicts,abused (sexually or physically) or were neglected. I suppose it is easier to ignore all of this.

    Nothing on Rossi on this fine Thursday morning?

  6. Cow says:

    I know I’m saying nothing new here, but … the reason I’m not happy with Harper and McGuinty’s decision is that our current laws don’t work, and defending them doesn’t work. I agree with you; I oppose trafficking in human beings. But our current laws make prostitution legal while forcing it to happen in the most unsafe ways possible. Let’s either outlaw prostitution entirely, or work out ways to have it be legal but regulated and protected. Let’s not have it be legal but unregulated and forced to be as unsafe as possible. (But that would take *actual* leadership on the issue, and no party seems interested in actually doing that.)

    • Namesake says:

      Yeah, it turns out there was a half-hearted attempt to take an all-party approach to this in 2004/5, to figure out how to address the various terrible realities of the current legal framework that the Pickton case brought to light…

      (e.g., the laws greatly increase the chances of sex-trade workers getting beaten & murdered (and ignored or victimized by the police, as well, if they try to report that), since they can’t legally work in the safety of their own homes, or talk to/screen their prospective clients enough, or hire bodyguards),

      …when the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness established a Subcommittee on Solicitation Laws to review the Criminal Code provisions relating to prostitution.

      But although it canvassed the issues, it seems their Report stopped short of doing what it was supposed to: make any recommendations on appropriate legislative changes.

      There’s a good 7pp. presentation of the issues and what was wrong with that report at http://www.aidslaw.ca/publications/publicationsdocEN.php?ref=665 which cites 3 reports which apparently _do_ make substantive & evidence-based rec’s**

      This seems a bit like the “Safe Injections Site” issue: most of us are understandably disgusted by and are loathe to enable the behaviour, but turning a blind eye to the problem may amount to being complicit in the additional deaths the existing laws cause, so maybe the responsible thing to do is to plug our noses and do an all-party overhaul of those laws.

      BTW, I gather the recent Conservative law made matters worse re: making the ‘determined to do it anyway’ sex-trade workers more exposed to danger by increasing the severity of the bawdy house offense to a max. sentence of 2 years less a day to up to 5 years, when they reclassified it as an organized crime if there’s at least 3 people sharing the profits.

      * http://www2.parl.gc.ca/content/hoc/Committee/391/JUST/Reports/RP2599932/justrp06/sslrrp06-e.pdf

      ** Pivot Legal Society. Voices for Dignity: A Call to End the Harms Caused by Canada?s Sex Trade Laws. Vancouver, 2004,
      on-line via http://www.pivotlegal.org.
      – Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. Sex, work, rights: reforming Canadian criminal laws on prostitution. Montr

      • Namesake says:

        oops, tripped up by an errant accent again; the last 2 citations that were submitted to that Subcommittee were:

        Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. Sex, work, rights: reforming Canadian criminal laws on prostitution. Montreal, July 2005. This report, as well as a concise plain-language version of its findings and information sheets on sex work and the law, are available via http://www.aidslaw.ca/sexwork.

        Sex Trade Research and Advocacy. Safety, security and the well-being of sex workers: A report submitted to the House
        of Commons Subcommittee on Solicitation Laws (SSLR). 2006, on-line via http://www.uwindsor.ca/star.

  7. Cow says:

    That said, what amuses me even more than Andrew Coyne continuing to be mock everyone is how tonedeaf he is about it. See also http://twitter.com/acoyne/status/25977766602 and my response (which he unsurprisingly ignored) here: http://twitter.com/criacow/status/25979189826

  8. Anonymously Posted says:

    Will Harper be judged by history as being the worst Prime Minister ever? Probably, but the census decision will surely be judged as the worst public policy decision ever.

  9. Johnny Tuna says:

    Kooky libertarian fringe? Social Engineering? Hardly think so. That sentiment is a little aggressively socially conservative for me. The wanting a bordello in your neighborhood bit is just intentionally missing the point. Why are all those supporting the decision more reasonable sounding than those who oppose?

  10. Northbaytrapper says:

    Prostitution is vile. It is the degradation of and discarding of broken women and girls. For anyone reading this who has bought a prostitute…shame on you. You make me sick to my stomach.

    • David says:

      I suspect though that the percentage of men who have “bought a prostitute” is higher than you think. No doubt there are more than a few sitting as MP’s in all parties.

      There are too many whores out there to believe that it is just one or two percent of the population that are Johns.

  11. billybud says:

    Johnny Tuna would be good name for a cat-house.

  12. Lance says:

    “…….and the public isn?t scared by the Con scaremongering.?

    Why? They were scared by YEARS of Lib scaremongering.

  13. Warren,

    I have worked day in and out with street prostitutes for years now. One thing that libertarians don’t understand is that most street level prostitutes don’t have a choice. In Saskatoon, according to the police, there are 600 known street prostitutes and 90% of them are being trafficked by the gangs or the dealers. According to public health, 99% of them “have something that you don’t want to catch”. From my own interactions with them, most have acquired brain injuries, FASD, serious drug problems, are really low functioning or are all of the above. One prostitute we tried to work with was being pimped out by her mother, had serious mental challenges and one night wandered out in on a cold January night for walk in her nightgown and was found in the spring.

    Since we are open 24.7, we see them come in after their bad tricks and beaten all up. What’s sad is that they don’t want the police, they don’t want medical help, they want the staff’s help in getting their $60 back. They don’t care about themselves but are just afraid about what is going to happen if they can’t pay their pimp (which is usually a street gang). Our Centre’s corrections coordinator used to drive taxi years ago and he said that often that guys would ask him to tell them where the “kiddie stroll” was.

    This isn’t Julia Roberts or even Heidi Fleiss performing a sex act between consensual adults, this is the exploitation of people that can’t defend themselves. Even worse, if left unchecked, it creates a culture where it is okay. Some schools in Saskatoon have 1/2 hour lunch breaks because 13 year old girls are recruiting each other as a way to make some “good” money. I have heard stories of Saskatoon prostitutes that start with “lost virginity at 12 [or 13] to a john”.

    You also have the other issue of what it does to a neighborhood. Street prostitution has creeped into my neighborhood at home over the last couple of years as women struggle with rent and also look for less violent street corners to work. We also have a bawdy house four houses down. All evening when I am outside we have cars circling and circling and circling. Sometimes the johns come to our house looking for a girl in the middle of the night. Then you have them racing away as fast as they can as they zip up and deal with their guilt.

    My wife works two blocks away from our house at Safeway. She can’t walk home now. Her 16 year old coworker did a month ago, was dragged into an alleyway and sexually assaulted. She was wearing a SAFEWAY UNIFORM and it was still light out.

    Prostitution is complex. Ashley Dupre/Spitzer and whatever it is that Tiger was doing is one part of it and is more or less regulated one way but street prostitution is something else. The girls and the neighborhoods need the protection from the johns that can think of nothing else other then pleasing their penis.

    • Terry says:

      Interesting perspective from someone with actual background in this area (I readily admit to having none); your views on how horrible prostitution, and street prostitution in particular, can be (with which I assume no sensible person would disagree) are compelling. But what does that have to do with whether the legislation in question was unconstitutional? In fact, the judgment seems to endorse your very point: street prostitution is horrible and not only have the government’s laws not improved this situation, they’ve actually made it worse. I don’t know if I agree with the decision or not, but it does appear that the existing laws were utterly hopeless in protecting the women in question, and not just in the high profile Picton murder cases, but also in the grinding, day-to-day existence of the average hooker.

      • There is a difference between bad laws and selected enforcement of those laws. A drive down on street this summer showed guys dealing drugs on the street corners and underage girls walking the streets. The issue is lack of resources for enforcement, an apathetic culture that doesn’t care when another girl is found dead by the railway tracks on the outskirts of town.

        The other part of it is that laws in any culture are not enough. A shortage of mental health professionals, rehab beds, and support services make life awfully hard on someone without the skills to function well in society. The women we deal with are very low functioning and need protection both from the law and the politicians who often cut their services first because there are not a lot of advocates for them.

  14. Namesake says:

    Thanks for the frank ground-level report, and thanks for doing what you can to help your community.

    Any suggestions for what, if any, changes should be made w/r/t the 3 laws at issue (keeping bawdy house; living on the avails; communication for the purpose), in addition to or instead of just appealling that Ontario ruling & waiting for it to proceed to the Supreme Court?

    • It’s awfully complicated. In Saskatoon the stroll is between 19th and 22nd Street. I have heard vice say that if they crack down too much, it moves to another area (like where I live) and doesn’t really stop it. It’s frustrating. Also, if you crack down too much on prostitution like Regina tried some years ago, politicians make short term political game on the rising crime stats.

      I really think the solution is political. I don’t know if it is realistic but I think you need all of the parties plus the media and city council members working together to sell the narrative that yes arrests are going up but we are protecting the most vulnerable in our society. So far I don’t see that happening. Until you do, you have a situation like in some cities (that are gorgeous but will remain nameless) where they go out on Thursday night, pick up john’s so they can be arrested, have their car seized and get it back Friday morning after they register for John School. The same amount of guys get picked up each year.

      As far as increased legislation goes, I think it still is a social problem rather than more laws. A mother obviously knows she should not pimp out her mentally handicapped daughter but she does because it helps her get by. The girls working the streets in my neighborhood are doing it to pay rent. The women we see at work who have mental health problems need to be in a group home. I know there are is a level of prostitution that exists by attractive women who are doing it for a career with the hope of one day ending up on the Jerry Springer show but these girls are different. I saw a bunch of young girls on the street one night over Easter break and I couldn’t figure out why. They weren’t jonesing for drugs and seemed ashamed. Then I realized that there are no school feeding programs over the break and they were doing it for food.

      If you are going to take it up a notch legislatively, toughen up the living off the avails of prostitution and go after the street gangs that are doing it. I keep being told there are almost no pimps anymore, it is the gangs who run it. Make it really, really clear that if you are going to profit from prostitution, there is going to be a big price to pay… expand it to the repeat offender cabbies and cab owners (take away their licsences to the cab companies who employ repeat offenders) who take johns to the “kiddie stroll” as well…. that is until a judge strikes that law down.

  15. James Bow says:

    You know, a very wise man once said that “the state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation”.

    You need to be more careful about the arguments tying prostitution to human trafficking. If we take it as an article of faith that whatever two consenting adults do in the privacy of their own home is out of reach of the state, then the state has no business stepping in if these two consenting adults decide to pay for the services of sex. That’s prostitution.

    Human trafficking, however, is another matter entirely. By definition, the actions here involve people who very clearly do NOT give their consent — in fact, do the precise opposite of giving their consent. And in this respect society should come down hard on these activities through the full force of the law. And — and this is important — the full force of the law is still available here, in spite of the judge’s decision which only removed impediments to the activity described in the paragraph above. Not this paragraph here. If there is an adult involved who does NOT consent, that is by definition rape, and criminal charges can, should and will continue to be enforced, here.

    Whatever laws we have with regard to prostitution should treat the prostitute as the victim and not the criminal, and that was the problem with the laws that were struck down.

    You ask, would I be willing to put up with having a bawdy house in my neighbourhood. I answer that, if I don’t know that it’s a bawdy house, I have no problem with it whatsoever. I don’t care what consensual activity goes on behind closed doors. Society can, however, maintain a say in how that activity is advertised out of doors. Zoning bylaws and other laws unaffected by this decision can protect the shared space of the neighbourhood.

    I should point out that I personally don’t approve of prostitution. And to show that I don’t approve of prostitution, I don’t avail myself of a prostitute. But if I don’t know that a prostitute is operating near me AND that prostitute is engaging in activity that she herself freely consented to, and which she can do safely, I don’t see that it’s any business of me what business she chooses to do.

    • David says:

      Wow James! That?s a fair load of Liberalism.

      This ain?t going on in bedrooms. Alleyways, cars, bus depots but not in the bedrooms, at least not that often.

      Pay for the service of sex? Not gov?t s business? Well first there?s GST, PST, Income tax, health care tax, licence for a bawdy house,? Well you get the drift.

      So, you say that prostitutes should be regarded as victims but then suggest they are consenting adults minding there own business.

      Not quite. Many whores are addicts, under aged, or abused. They cannot in good conscience give consent. So, yes they are victims and it is not ?none of the states business?.It damn well is the states business.

      But don?t worry. These ones won?t be in bawdy houses anyways.The changes in law won?t help them. They won?t have those nasty billboards either.Whew, what a relief.

      It is just the smart sophisticated whores with rich client

      • James Bow says:

        You obviously haven’t read the whole of my post, just skimming enough to attack with your manufactured righteous anger. I said: “If there is an adult involved who does NOT consent, that is by definition rape, and criminal charges can, should and will continue to be enforced, here.” That more than covers underaged prostitutes, who by definition legally did not give their consent, and those who engage them have, by definition, committed rape, and should be charged as such.

        If you took a few minutes to stop and actually think things through, you could channel your indignation towards a productive policy which actually punishes the criminals, while leaving truly consenting adults alone.

        • James Bow says:

          P.S. To my mind, this is a fairly libertarian position. The Liberals, as far as I know, haven’t advocated for this recently — as evidenced by how the McGuinty government is standing behind the feds in appealing this. You should know that in the ten elections that I’ve participated in since 1993, I’ve voted Liberal exactly three times. I’ve voted Green more often, as well as NDP and Conservative. So, this isn’t a partisan issue for me. I’m not saying this because I’m a follower of the Liberal party. I’m saying this because I honestly believe that the laws recently struck down actually did more harm to the prostitutes themselves, than the human traffickers that you and me both despise.

          A prostitute operating independently, in the safety of her own home, acting of her own volition, is no threat to my spiritual or physical health. She does not need to be criminalized. The gang bosses that flourished under this prohibition should be the real target, here.

  16. David says:

    Wow! That’s a fair load of Liberalism.

    This ain’t going on in bedrooms. Alleyways, cars, bus depots but not in the bedrooms, at least not that often.

    Pay for the service of sex? Not gov’t s business? Well first there’s GST, PST, Income tax, health care tax, licence for a bawdy house,… Well you get the drift.

    So, you say that prostitutes should be regarded as victims but then suggest they are consenting adults minding there own business.

    Not quite. Many whores are addicts, under aged, or abused. They cannot in good conscience give consent. So, yes they are victims and it is not “none of the states business”.It damn well is the states business.

    But don’t worry. These ones won’t be in bawdy houses anyways.The changes in law won’t help them. They won’t have those nasty billboards either.Whew, what a relief.

    It is just the smart sophisticated whores with rich client

  17. DK says:

    So is there an actual argument against the judge’s decision on prostitution? Rather than just knee-jerk social conservatism?

    Nobody wants a brothel next to their house, just like they wouldn’t want a strip club, or regular bar, or quite a few other businesses starting up next door. But that’s what zoning is for.

    As for trafficking, how does keeping prostitution underground and criminalised help to fight it?

    Have you actually read judge Himel’s reasons for the judgement? She’s goes through the evidence, the pros and cons, that lead to the ruling. Based on that evidence, I personally can’t see how she could have made a different decision.

    Incidentally, you may want to check the facts in the Toronto Sun article you linked to before you support it wholeheartedly. Some of the statistics they quote, such as the incredibly high rate of human trafficking in Finland, have been utterly discredited. Just the kind of thing that got some of the Crown’s expert witnesses labelled “liars and alarmists” during the case.

  18. Dave Ruddell says:

    I have prostitues working the corner right outside my condo. I’d be happy if they were able to move indoors.

  19. V. Malaise says:

    As I write this three hookers are patrolling the sidewalk in front of my condo. Their pimp is parked across the street smoking crack.

    Sooner or later he is going to pass out and his tires are going to get very flat.

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