Dear Prime Minister Dreamy (AKA Justin Trudeau),
It’s ok that I call you Prime Minister Dreamy, right? I know that you’re not Prime Minister yet, but I think we feel close enough that I can call you by pet names, because, as I’m sure you remember, we almost met twice.
I’m writing to your eminent good-lookingness in regards to a variety of comments you made these past few weeks on a subject near and dear to my own heart, the legal status of sex work in Canada. We should go through a short recap of events leading up to your comments, just to make sure we’re on the same page before we get to the climax of my letter.
I’ve been following your non-threatening boyish good looks, boxing matches with Conservative politicians, and targeting of the gay vote for some time now with rapt attention. So, of course I was curious about what your response would be to the Supreme Court of Canada’s brilliant decision in the Bedford v. Canada case this past December that unanimously struck down three key passages in the Canadian Criminal Code around sex work. I’m sure you’re very busy campaigning while maintaining such perfectly sculpted hair, so I’ll just remind you that these three passages are:
• Solicitation in a public place (CC s. 213(1)(c)): the act of giving a specific price for a specific sex act in a public place (cars and mobile phones being included in this definition of public place).
• Running a Common Bawdy House (CC s. 210): the act of having sex for money more than once in the same physical location.
• Living off the Avails of Prostitution (CC s. 212(1)(j)): receiving any money, directly or indirectly, from a sex worker for services rendered, including security, drivers, and even landlords.
Following the supreme logic of Justice Susan Himel, who ruled that these laws unnecessarily increased the risk of violence against women working in the sex industry (we’ll just set aside trans people and men here, like everybody else does when we discuss sex work), the Supreme Court of Canada agreed completely that these laws were unconstitutional in a country in which sex work itself is technically legal. Everyone around me rejoiced to hear this news! But, all good things must come to an end, as the Supreme Court also gave the Government a one year stay, meaning that the laws would remain in effect for one year so that the Government could create new, constitutional laws in their place.
I anxiously awaited news from the various political parties about what their stances would be, like a child on Christmas Eve unsure if they would be getting presents or coal in their stocking. Unsurprisingly, the Conservative Party was quick to jump on the Nordic Model bandwagon that’s taking more and more ground internationally, which purports to target clients of sex workers for criminalization in an effort to “end demand.”
And your own Liberal Party began discussing, in typical centrist fashion, the legalization and taxation of prostitution similar to the legalization of marijuana that you yourself, Prime Minister Dreamy, have advocated for. So, I’m sure you’ll understand that it was quite a shock for me when I heard your stance. Here’s what you told the CBC:
For now, I’m just very, very mindful that the Supreme Court came down very clearly that the current approach is not protecting extremely vulnerable women and sex workers and we need to make sure that we are finding a way to keep vulnerable Canadians protected from violence that surrounds prostitution but also is intrinsic to prostitution.
It’s that word intrinsic that’s throwing a wrench into what was a beautiful, blossoming relationship between us, Justin (can I call you Justin?). And then, as if this wasn’t already a stab to my heart, you continued in French to say, “prostitution itself is a form of violence against women.” Oh! What sorrow! What anguish I felt when I read your stigmatizing words!
I am barely able to compose myself enough to even respond to the cruel ignorance of your position. I want to believe that your politically royal handsomeness is coming from a place of good intentions, but this is really getting between us. We might have to break up.
For you see, your dreaminess, framing all forms of sex work as being intrinsically violence against women not only willfully ignores the lives of trans and male sex workers but also takes away all agency from women selling sex to have any kind of control over their lives, bodies, and work. And that, Mr. President of Handsomeland, is itself violence against women. If you take away women’s ability to make choices, however limited those choices might be, then you are essentially doing that human trafficking thing you politicians are so obsessed with talking about.
To mend our broken relationship, I really urge you to contact sex workers’ rights groups such as Maggie’s (Toronto), POWER (Ottawa), and Stella (Montreal) and let the voices of sex workers influence your political position and policy decisions.
I do hope that we can overcome this issue that’s coming between what I feel confident in describing as our deeply mutual feelings of love and admiration for each other.