Yesterday’s immediate opposition to Justice Minister Peter MacKay’s prostitution bill wasn’t exactly nuanced. Sex-work advocates said the new measures were unconstitutional and would endanger sex workers. The condemnation set the stage for typical drama in the House of Commons. But NDP Deputy Leader Megan Leslie’s opening question on the file was rather measured.
“In less than 24 hours, the justice minister’s new bill already has legal experts predicting long court battles over whether or not it respects the charter, the Constitution, and the Bedford ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada,” she said. “Will the minister skip his divisive talking points? Will he do the sensible thing and refer this bill to the Supreme Court of Canada immediately?”
No outrage. No mention of endangered women. Only a suggestion that the Tories might want to ensure the bill’s constitutionality, just in case. NDP MP Francoise Boivin raised the issue twice more, but that was it. Perhaps the Official Opposition is finding someone to review the bill before it joins a chorus of condemnation. Maybe the party is sitting out much of this fight. For now, sex workers don’t command the attention of the Commons.