Just months after Canada’s Supreme Court struck down almost all of Canada’s prostitution laws, Prime Minister Harper defied all expectation and announced new anti-prostitution laws. And what a set of laws they are.
Canada’s prostitution laws were always fairly liberal. Prostitution was legal, but open solicitation, living off the avails and running a bawdy house were illegal. After the Supreme Court decision, prostitution was, basically, all legalized. At the time of the decision, political pundits were predicting that this would be the end of prostitution laws in Canada.
This put Stephen Harper in a tough spot. As a tough on crime conservative, he didn’t like the courts striking down criminal law. As a conservative christian, he really doesn’t like prostitution. As a quasi-libertarian you would think he would not like state intrusion into what is, fundamentally, a private exchange between consenting adults.
Well… if you are a socially and religious conservative with a libertarian bent, you probably think his new law is just about right. For anyone else it seems misogynistic and plain nuts.
Canada’s new prostitution makes prostitution illegal. It will also be illegal to advertise and profiting from prostitution.
The law is terrible.
Firstly, it will never survive a constitutional challenge. The infringement on sex workers right was deemed too severe under the old law and this is far more extreme. Constitutional scholars appear near unanimous in their belief that this law will be struck down.
Secondly, nobody wants it. Both liberal and conservative pundits are coming out against the law. To be fair, the far right religious groups like it and this is Harper’s political base.
Finally, and most importantly, it is dangerous to sex workers. It forces sex worker deeper underground, where we all know it is more dangerous.
And, in this, is revealed the truth. Stephen Harper doesn’t care about sex workers and he doesn’t care about johns. As a libertarian, in his heart he believes that evil, sinful people should be free to pursue their evil sinfuls acts, as long as it is completely hidden from god-fearing decent folks. Whether this sets up a circumstance that endangers those sinners — who cares… they’re going to Hell anyway.
How did we elect this guy??