Abortion and Liberty

Monday, 30 April 2012 09:13

When Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth introduced a private member's motion on the status of the fetus last week, the government was expected to distance itself. But when Conservative whip Gordon O'Connor stood to deliver the government line, he did far more than that.

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So Whose Bloody Job Is It?

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 15:47

At a recent town hall, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff took a question from the audience about the prostitution laws.

Almost two months ago, an Ontario judge ruled that Canada's prostitution laws put prostitutes at greater risk of violence and therefore violate Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The government immediately announced it would appeal. If the ruling stands, it will strike down laws against "living off the avails" of prostitution, keeping a "common bawdy house," and communicating in public for the purposes of prostitution. So what does Ignatieff feel about this?

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On Tuesday, a judge in Ontario concluded that the three most important criminal laws forbidding activities related to prostitution prevent prostitutes from taking simple safety precautions that would reduce their risk of violence at the hands of clients. Hence, the laws make it much more likely that prostitutes will be assaulted, robbed, raped, and murdered. Thus, Madam Justice Susan Himel concluded that the laws violate Section 7 - "security of the person" - of the Charter of Rights. They would be struck down 30 days from the delivery of the judgment.

The next day, MPs gathered for Question Period. According to a tally made by journalist Aaron Wherry, 38 questions were asked. One dealt with the court's decision: The government announced it would appeal.

Now, stop and think about that for a moment. After a long trial and the careful examination of heaps of evidence, a judge concluded that the law is actually helping misogynistic thugs to terrorize some of the weakest people in society. And the next day, most MPs shrugged.

Oh, they talked lots. They talked about this. They talked about that. They talked about all the usual crap. They even found the time to pass a ridiculous motion condemning Maclean's magazine for publishing something they didn't like.

But members of Parliament did not talk about the very real possibility that laws passed by Parliament were aiding and abetting savage crimes against vulnerable women.

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Misdirected Moral Righteousness

Friday, 14 March 2008 12:10

Ah, doesn't that feel good? Moral dudgeon is such a pleasant sensation. Thank you, Eliot Spitzer.

Having availed himself of a call girl's very expensive services -- and gotten caught -- the governor of New York has shocked the conscience of a nation. It seems that prostitution, a practice once believed to have vanished with the fall of the Roman Empire, is actually going on right now.

What a horrible and delightful turn of events for bluenosers everywhere. Nothing swells the righteous hearts of moral crusaders like a thundering denunciation of the evils of prostitution. Thanks to Eliot Spitzer and a dedicated team of FBI agents with nothing better to do, they have their chance.

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Sex, Data And Ideology

Friday, 31 March 2006 12:44

Readers of the New York Times will be familiar with columnist Nicholas Kristof and his crusade -- one of several -- against sex trafficking.

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Skid Row

Saturday, 08 June 2002 16:04

*originally published June 8, 2002*


VANCOUVER -- "I get yelled at a lot by people driving by," says Jason, staring into his coffee cup. They "come down here from the suburbs and from their houses and they treat the people down here as subhuman."

"Down here" is Vancouver's notorious downtown eastside. Years ago, the neighbourhood was known as Skid Row but things have gotten much worse since then. Today, the downtown eastside is infamous for its drug addicts, prostitutes and despair. From these streets 50 women have vanished since the 1980s, and the neighbourhood is Ground Zero for one of the biggest police investigations in Canadian history that has already seen six charges of first-degree murder laid against Robert William Pickton, 52, a Port Coquitlam pig farmer.

"They're like young kids, young men in from wherever looking for a working girl," says Jason. "And they yell at me and throw things at me. It's their night on the town, I guess."

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