I don't have a strong opinion on legalized prostitution one way or another. Victimless crimes are not something that I spend much time worrying about. So as long as the prostitute isn't underage, or a victim of sex traffickers or an abusive pimp (the punishment for whom I think spending decades in jail would be appropriate), and it's done in private and not on my street corner, I couldn't care less.
Having said that, the federal government has just proposed a bill to regulate prostitution that must be the most ridiculous and confusing crime bill in the history of Canada.
It makes the selling of sexual services legal, but not in public places where it remains illegal, and it makes all advertising and communication for the sale of sex illegal. But wait, it gets more confusing by making all purchasing of sexual services illegal.
So what that means is that the only way sex can legally be sold in Canada, other than the traditional way of marrying a rich husband, is if a prostitute, in a private location, telepathically realizes that the person they are with wants to buy sex, and removes the money from that client's wallet or purse without their knowledge.
Yeah, it's that preposterous.
But more worrisome, while reading through the proposed bill, was something I'd never heard of before with its references to the illegality of "crime comics."
The new prostitution bill refers to them as part of Section 163 of the Criminal Code, so I went and looked it up and here is the relevant section:
- 163. (1) Every one commits an offence who
- (a) makes, prints, publishes, distributes, circulates, or has in his possession for the purpose of publication, distribution or circulation any obscene written matter, picture, model, phonograph record or other thing whatever; or
- (b) makes, prints, publishes, distributes, sells or has in his possession for the purpose of publication, distribution or circulation a crime comic...
That is just about the most subjective, preposterous and unenforcable law I've ever read.
Motives irrelevant(5) For the purposes of this section, the motives of an accused are irrelevant.
- (6) [Repealed, 1993, c. 46, s. 1]
- Definition of “crime comic”(7) In this section, “crime comic” means a magazine, periodical or book that exclusively or substantially comprises matter depicting pictorially
- (a) the commission of crimes, real or fictitious; or
- (b) events connected with the commission of crimes, real or fictitious, whether occurring before or after the commission of the crime.
Obscene publication(8) For the purposes of this Act, any publication a dominant characteristic of which is the undue exploitation of sex, or of sex and any one or more of the following subjects, namely, crime, horror, cruelty and violence, shall be deemed to be obscene.
What exactly is "undue" exploitation of sex, crime, horror, cruelty and violence, as opposed to say, the amount that the government and courts would consider "due"???
This law seemingly makes graphic novels like Frank Miller's Sin City series, which is both brilliantly creative and rife with all those elements in extreme and egregious amounts, illegal in Canada. The same might be said for HBO's wildly popular Game of Thrones. Are we going to see RCMP raids on Chapters/Indigo bookstores now? The library at my son's high school is filled with Japanese Manga graphic novels which would easily be considered illegal by the Criminal Code's definition. Does that mean that we can expect a mass arrest of the leadership of the Toronto District School Board? As appealing as that prospect may be considering the other forms of child abuse the TDSB perpetrates, jailing them for stocking school libraries with "crime comics" is absurd.
It's understandable, and even laudable that the government would want to discourage prostitution. But the new bill by which it is attempting to achieve that goal is obviously a predestined failure. Even more significantly, the silly new bill highlights an urgent need to get rid of the deadwood in Canada's legal system.