First pot, now prostitution: Liberal party to debate legalization


OTTAWA – First it was pot; now it’s prostitution.

Liberals broke new ground at their last national policy convention, becoming the first federal party to advocate legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana.

And now some Grits want the party to take the same approach to the world’s oldest profession.

British Columbia Liberals are proposing a resolution for the party’s next national convention aimed at ensuring sex trade workers are legally able to run a “safe and successful business,” which would be licensed to safeguard employees, employers and clients and taxed just like “any other commercial enterprise.”

The resolution was initiated last year by Young Liberals in B.C. and was later adopted by the provincial branch of the federal party as one of 10 priority resolutions it would like to see debated at the national convention in Montreal next month.

It’s not certain at this point that the resolution will ultimately make it to the floor of the convention for a vote, although it will at least be debated in a policy workshop. But it would seem an opportune time to gauge the mood of the party on the subject, given that the Supreme Court last month struck down the country’s prostitution laws as unconstitutional — a development the drafters of the resolution had not anticipated.

The top court ruled that the prohibition on brothels, living off the avails of prostitution and street soliciting imposes dangerous conditions on prostitutes and thus violates their right to life, liberty and security of the person. It gave Parliament one year to come up with a new law, thrusting the hot potato firmly into the court of federal politicians.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has signalled its intention to ensure prostitution remains a matter of criminal law, perhaps by adopting the so-called Nordic model of penalizing those who purchase sex, rather than those who sell it.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has not articulated his views on the subject as yet and the B.C. young Liberals are hoping debate on their resolution at next month’s convention will help shape his response.

“I think it’s good for us to continue to be bold,” said Justin Kaiser, B.C. young Liberal president when the resolution was adopted and now a candidate to become national young Liberal president.

“I think young Liberals have always pushed the party to be bold.”

Indeed, it was young Liberals who successfully pushed the party to officially support same-sex marriage and legalization of pot.

Trudeau, who initially preferred the less dramatic approach of decriminalizing marijuana, eventually embraced the party’s official position on the matter and, as leader, has become a champion for outright legalization.

And some of his arguments for doing so — that the war on drugs has failed and has helped create a criminal underworld — could apply equally to the war on the world’s oldest profession, as the resolution makes clear.

“The judicial and criminal systems over the years have consistently marginalized the most vulnerable people in our society,” the resolution says.

“Limiting sex trade workers to the street puts them at a greater risk of human trafficking, assault, murder and other violent and malicious crimes.”

However, prostitution is a more divisive issue than pot, raising questions about morality and exploitation of women. And, as such, it would likely be much riskier politically for Trudeau to advocate legalization, especially since he’s already fending off Tory attacks that he’s soft on drug crime.

Kaiser dismissed suggestions passage of the prostitution resolution, combined with the party’s stance on pot, could prove a lethal political combination.

“I don’t think there’s that risk,” he said in an interview. “I think what many people see is we’re not afraid to take on tough issues, that we’re willing to stand up for Canadians from all backgrounds and not just lawyers from downtown Toronto.”

Still, Trudeau’s wariness on prostitution — he’s said nothing about the Supreme Court ruling — speaks volumes about his own assessment of the risk.

His office neatly straddled the fence when asked about the B.C. Liberal resolution to legalize prostitution.

“What the Supreme Court has unanimously said is that our laws do not do enough to protect some of the most vulnerable in our society,” Trudeau spokeswoman, Kate Purchase, said in an email.

“Ultimately, the government must respond in a way that addresses both community safety and the security and safety of all those involved in the sex trade.”


First pot, now prostitution: Liberal party to debate legalization

  1. This is an obvious winner policy plank for the Liberals and should be embraced, nay, trumpeted by all true progressives.

    • While I like the Liberal talk, I have been round long enough to know Liberals, like Conservative and NDP are just a pack of political liars and deceitful bunch too.

      What Liberals need to do is put some skin in the game. Say post a $10 bond. If they get a majority and don’t deliver on the promises inside of a year, the $10M goes to disabled and research charities.

      Time for our politicians to deliver on promises or pay some price for their deceit and lies.

  2. This is called having an adult conversation with the country. When citizens become adults, they should have the right to do most things as they please as long as it hurts no one else. End of life treatment(euthanasia) should come right after this, or maybe we can have the Troika(end of life, prostitution and pot), don’t have to be in that same order. Time to get some progressive voices and thinkers back in Parliament and get rid of this crowd of dino clowns(cons). This government treats Canadians taxpayers like we are all children, don’t do as I do, just do as I say.

    • So you’re saying prostitution is a victimless crime?

      • I’m saying, I am an adult and don’t need people like you to tell me how I should live. Time to put the bible away !

        • It has nothing to do about the bible. Prostitutes are usually the victims in this world. I even saw the other day on CBC about 13 year old girls prostituting themselves on Craigslist in Ottawa. So in that case you’re saying pedophilia is victimless and therefore you should be able to do what you want with them?

          • There are laws against having sex with a minor, right? So how many laws do we need, or are only some of them worth applying? Who do you see as the perpetrator in your scenario: the 13-year old or the adult who hires the 13-year old for sex? And we’re talking about prostitution not pedophilia.

          • At 13 years old, with the other an adult, it s pedophilia sex slave trade.

          • It seems like it should be easy for police services to bust if it’s on Craiglist?

          • I’m not talking about kids you idiot, I’m talking about adults.

          • But the cops are out busy busting of age consensual prostitution….as its lawyer and fine revenue.

            When they could be going after pedophile prostituion and bust real criminals.

      • I rather think (s)he’s saying it’s not a crime.

      • It is victim-less if it is of age and with consent of both parties without duress.

        And best part of prostitution is it leaves smiles and the money is a one time payment. For the Ottawa screwing payments there is no smile and no option not to use the services.

        One could even say politicians are prostitutes, lobby money to buy a liar for favors. Isn’t consensual on the taxpayer, but I digress.

        Good part about it being legal is legal prostitutes can report the real criminals and not get busted for it. Then cops have to stop ignoring, and protecting them and go after real criminals to get PR.

        Too easy for cops to bust consensual prostitution to give the false illusion of effective law enforcement.

    • I thought the troika was sex, drugs and rock’n’roll

    • We are well brainwashed by public schools and media to not question big fat corrupt governments. A lot of people have real problems in questing and examination of governemtn spending and how little they spend on people who support the whole system.

      Taxation has become modern day slavery. Boston Tea Party, American Revolution and Magna Carta occurred for lower taxes than we pay today. We are collectively a politically and economic complacent bunch of sheep.

  3. Politics = Prostitution
    LoL !!!, it’s already legal.
    No-brainer here, “Prostitution” is one area of expertise, that every political party in Canada, (be they Liberal, Conservative, …) knows about in detail.

  4. And some of his arguments for doing so — that the war on drugs has failed and has helped create a criminal underworld — could apply equally to the war on the world’s oldest profession, as the resolution makes clear.

    I love that Liberals think since any particular law that hasn’t completely eradicated the problem it seeks to rid of society of, should thus be considered a failure and completely abandoned.

    Next thing they’ll be proposing we legalize and regulate murder because these dang laws haven’t been able to end murder.

    But all in all, I support the Liberals debating this idea. It goes to show how few ideas these clowns have.

    • “It goes to show how few ideas these clowns have.”

      Definitely, stupie. When it’s one of 10 proposals from one subgroup of one province’s Liberals, you know it’s all the party has.
      Well done. It’s always good to getting the self-beclowning out of the way first thing in the morning.

    • That’s the thing about the Trudeau Liberals, they have a team that knows how to debate issues about the law(the libs are full of ideas), not like Steve Harper(one man ideology)and the con MPs who tow the line, whos expertise is in how to break the law and get away with it.

    • Well about the murder rate, in 2012 its the lowest its been in 50 years

      In any case, any proposals on pot and prostitution are predicated on free choices and no harm being done to others, by those who would under present laws be committing a crime.

      I somehow think murder kinda falls short on the whole ‘no harm to others’ thing.

      But hey, don’t let simple logic stand in the way of a great argument.

      • Except that prostitution harms many people. Many prostitutes aren’t doing so of their own free will. It’s almost guaranteed that legalized prostitution would lead to increases in human trafficking, drug use, and serious health issues. All of which have a cost to society.

        As for murder rates going down, so what? If it goes up in 10 years, should we legalize it then? The point is that we don’t pass laws strictly so they can be 100% effective, we pass laws to deter people from doing things that are harmful to society.

        By the way, thanks for your thoughtful and courteous response. It’s nice to remember that there are commenters here who have a bit of civility, unlike @lenny below. (BTW – am I the only one who think’s he’s probably EmilyOne’s roommate?)

        • “Many prostitutes aren’t doing so of their own free will.”

          Of course not . . .but those coercing them into doing so would be breaking laws. The idea of making prostitution legal is not to penalize those who have chosen to do that.

          “It’s almost guaranteed that legalized prostitution would lead to increases in human trafficking, drug use, and serious health issues.”

          Not sure on what facts or data that is based on . . . but those are illegal and we have laws on the books that can be enforced

          For murder rates, its an illustration that the laws we have in place have been generally effective to reduce its incidence, therefore a policy response to legalize it would make no sense . . . can we say the same about pot and prostitution? In those cases, because we appear to be losing ground that a different tack may be needed.

          And thank you for the compliment, I can be snarky I am sure, but generally I find that snarkiness begets the same.

          • Not sure on what facts or data that is based on . . . but those are illegal and we have laws on the books that can be enforced

            Right. But how long until Justin Trudeau realizes we have increased human trafficking, comes to the conclusion that the laws against it “don’t work”, and decides it should be legalized too?

            Just look at drug use. He’s already wanting to legalize weed because the laws “don’t work”. If there’s a massive increase in heroin use among legal sex trade workers, why wouldn’t he come to the conclusion that heroin should be legalized as well? There are Liberals in the HoC who already think the government should buy heroin for addicts. We’ll just end up with more addicts.

            And we don’t have laws against the adverse health issues that come with working in the sex trade. How do you outlaw disease?

          • I don’t think anyone would seriously suggest heroin be legalized. It clearly causes a great degree of harm to its users (unlike marijuana) and therefore should not be available.

            With some of the reduced enforcement costs for marijuana, and the revenue stream, we could devote greater resources to combating enforcement and treatment against hard drugs and human trafficking.

            As for the claim about Liberals in the HoC wanting to buy heroin for addicts, I suspect you may be playing silly bugger as in that instance the treatment program was developed and is monitored by medical professionals with expertise in addiction treatment, and in any case would apply to only a tiny slice of the addict population for which standard treatments do not work.

            I don’t know about you, but I don’t understand why, when it comes to issues like that, politicians are always ready to overrule known experts who know what they’re talking about . . .I mean, would we want, say, Jason Kenney with his educational background and work experience to decide, say, on appropriate aviation safety issues without expert opinion?

            For adverse health issues, much of that can be attributable to working under the radar; if prostitution is recognized as a legitimate job that is regulated, the spread of STD’s can be more effectively countered.

          • Yes, the free heroin was intended to go to addicts who didn’t respond to other treatments. But let me present a hypothetical situation:

            You like heroin. Heroin is expensive and dangerous to get. So you go to a doctor who tries various treatment regimens. But you’re not looking to quit heroin, you’re just looking to get it for free, so all those other treatment methods fail. The doctor is then left with no choice but to prescribe heroin for you.

            When heroin addicts know that failing kicking the addiction will simply result in them being prescribed government heroin, there’s a HUUUGE disincentive to kick the habit. It would be like your doctor offering a chronic smoker either a prescription for the Patch, or a prescription for a carton of smokes. Which one do you think he’d take?

          • “The doctor is then left with no choice but to prescribe heroin for you”

            I would not believe this is a matter of “no choice” on the part of the treatment team. I would expect that the team would be assessing the patient and only applying such a treatment if it was deemed to be the only option available.

            But if you can cite any material where this scenario played out, I would be interested to see it

          • I don’t know about you, but I don’t understand why, when it comes to issues like that, politicians are always ready to overrule known experts who know what they’re talking about

            Because the reason we have politicians is to balance priorities. In this case, the experts are only concerned with the patients health, and nothing else. When in reality our healthcare system has limited resources, and even treating a patient like a heroin addict with free heroin is going to have wider societal repercussions. All of our provinces health budgets are tight. There’s not enough money to go around as it is. I can only imagine the outrage if the day were to come that someone weren’t able to get their cancer medication because the government had devoted resources to giving heroin addicts free heroin.

          • Fair enough that we entrust politicians to balance priorities. But would that balance extend to operational matters like specific treatment programs? Don’t we pay professionals to manage these?

            For an organization as large and complex as a healthcare system,my expectation would be that specific individual addiction treatment programs would be included in an overall budget covering substance abuse treatment programs in general, that itself being part of some other budget . . so I would really doubt that initiating this program would be a case of denying someone else cancer treatment (which of course would have its own budget). And bear in mind, this treatment would be very rare and the resources involved so minimal . .. perhaps the cost of redirecting resources to cancer treatment might exceed the amount transferred!

            One constraint of course is the law, that is, any treatment program needs to conform to the laws in effect but the government can take steps to waive that, as the previous government did for Insite.

            Furthermore, it may be more advantageous from a cost perspective to try such a treatment if it can accomplish its goals at a lower cost than other treatments that otherwise proved ineffective for the subject involved.

          • You do understand that giving herion addicts a safe place to inject themselves, and clean needles (prevents the spread of disease as between addicts and between adicts and non addictcs), and giving them heroin (prevents the addict from committing crimes to pay for their drug habit) IS balancing priorities.
            In this case Harper is balancing the health and safety of people with the political payout of catering to his base.

        • ” It’s almost guaranteed that legalized prostitution would lead to increases in human trafficking, drug use, and serious health issues.”
          Where is your evidence?

    • You do realize our government has just taken over regulating the growing and distribution of medical marijuana because of the fear that criminal elements are becoming involved?

    • You missed the part about creating a criminal underworld.
      Criminalizing murder has not created a criminal underworld of murderers. Criminalizing prostitution has created a criminal underworld of human trafficking, and living off the avails of prostitution.
      Legalizing prostitution gives consenting adults a safe and legal place to go to hire prostitutes. They will not have to rely on the criminal underworld to provide them.

  5. I’m looking forward to Justin Trudeau explaining to us how legalized prostitution will somehow protect children. Or result in reduced prostitution. Why does Justin Trudeau want to turn Canada’s daughters into whores?

    • Well done, stupie! It only took you another 3 hours to come up the killer zinger, “Why does Justin Trudeau want to turn Canada’s daughters into whores?”.
      Of course, seeing as it’s a proposal from one of the provinces youth wings of the party, it’s clear that you are lying. But if not for lies, what would you have left to say?

      • It’s a proposal from the same group of people who gave Trudeau his main policy plank, which is legal government weed.

        And I see you’re unable to answer the question about why Liberals love whores so much. Are you a whore? Or do you just frequent whores? What’s your preference? Are you like Jack Layton and got a bad case of yellow fever?

        • Maybe you’re too stupid to understand that “Why does Justin Trudeau want to turn Canada’s daughters into whores?” is a lie, in which case I guess you would just be wrong, rather than lying.
          Does it matter?

          • Wow. You’re calling a question a lie? Do you realize that a lie has to be a statement of fact, and question isn’t a statement of anything?

            Seriously, go find a doctor and get diagnosed. You’ve got serious mental health issues.

          • Do you beat your wife once or twice a week?

          • I’m not married.

          • Sigh, I knew you wouldn’t get it.

          • Of course you’re not. What wife would tolerate all the money you spend on underage prostitutes?

          • I know you think posing a lie as a question is really clever, but sadly, it’s not.

          • Your question is bogus as it is based on an assertion that JT wants to turn Canada’s daughter’s into whores, which is false.

            Personally I do not disagree with prostitution, people prostitute themselves by marrying people they wouldn’t have otherwise for money or position or anyone of a number of other reasons. People also take other jobs that they would not take if they didn’t need the money to survive. That said, I do have an issue of people (men and women) who turn to it for lack of any other way of getting the money needed to eat and have a roof over their heads or to sustain drug habits or because of mental, emotional or sexual abuse.

            The issues isn’t black and white, and there will never be an answer that satisfies everyone. Whatever solution is chosen it should be one that allows people to make choices, keep children safe and which minimizes the harm that can result from prostitution. Clearly our current approach does not do that.

    • Well, he doesn’t support legalization and he hasn’t met with the party to get their views. In light of that how can he explain what you are waiting for him to do? As for your question… he doesn’t, but then you know that already.

  6. Legalize pot.
    Legalize prostitution.
    Get some more no harm, no crime liberalism…

    Toss in less income and hidden taxes with less governemtn waste and bloat, and I as a small c conservative might have to eat my words and vote Liberal.

    In fact, if Liberals can put some skin in the game such as a written binding contract to the people to deliver on above cheap talk and lower federal income and hidden taxes and price fixing….. As it isn’t the first time a Liberal has lied to Canada, still waiting for GST to be elimiated.

    I will eat crow, send the Liberals $1000 and vote Liberal if they can make it a contract where they have to resign to an election if they don’t deliver in a year.

    Or post a $10M bond to a good charity if you don’t perform.

    As people are sick and tired of talk a lot saying little and doing even less for us but roll us over for taxes.