Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Supreme Court has reached too far

Last week the Supreme Court ruled an ad hoc group of existing and former sex-trade workers has the right to challenge Canada's anti-prostitution laws on constitutional grounds.
At first blush this seems like a sensible decision. After all, who has a better reason to challenge such laws than a group representing sex workers in downtown Vancouver?
However, this seemingly sensible result is based on a significant change in the way the courts approach litigation and that change signals a shift in the role of Canadian courts; a shift with real implications for democracy in Canada.


Anonymous said...

So, could I approach the courts to determine whether I should have the right to sell a kidney or some other organ before I even start the process of looking for a buyer?

Great article btw.

Anonymous said...


The Rat said...

While I am not supporter of the courts' self-appointed expansion, generally, in this case I will support them. The issue is prostitution and the laws surround communication and bawdy houses. The police, courts, and our ever intrusive community activists have done a wonderful job of shifting the focus of prosecutions away from the prostitutes and onto the johns.

The prostitutes are the one's being endangered by the laws but they are not being charged. The problem then is the johns, not wanting to be arrested, demanding unsafe practices which deny the prostitutes the ability to screen a potential customer before moving to a private setting. The johns, the one's being charged, have no complaint or standing to make a constitutional argument regarding safety and the prostitutes just aren't charged.

In a situation like that how else can a prostitute make a case for her own safety except as a "public interest" case?

Anonymous said...

I doubt this would make the trade safer for prostitutes. Legal businesses pay taxes and provide receipts for GST etc.

Guys probably don't want to pay GST for head. Prostitutes probably won't charge it. The battle then becomes tax evasion.

I suspect that the most vulnerable women will be forced to remain underground. Does anyone really believe otherwise?

James C Morton said...

Well Rat, as usual you make a good argument but the answer is Ontario -- where actual prostitutes facing (potential) charges brought the application and won. As for the substance, I agree that the prostitution laws are totally screwy but again it's a democracy and so we should vote to elect people to change em!