Playing into your Enemy's Hand
The Young Liberals of Canada are putting forth what is certain to be a controversial measure at this weekend's Biennial Liberal Policy Convention -- a motion to decriminalize prostitution.
Prostitution is not technically illegal in Canada. Rather, it is illegal to operate a brothel, communicate for the purpose of prostitution or procure customers for a prostitute. The Young Liberals claim removing those barriers would improve the safety of the sex trade.
"We believe that what this does is it forces sex trade workers into a position where they have to hide themselves and try to avoid the public eye and put them in dangerous situations," Jason Cherniak, a Young Liberal National executive member, told globeandmail.com.The Young Liberals specifically cited recent tragedies in Vancouver and Edmonton as a motivating factor for the motion, but one must wonder if there is not a better way to make prostitution safer. Vancouver police have already enacted numerous measures in an effort to protect the city's sex workers, why not give those time? Why not simply invest more in such programs?
While decriminalizing prostitution would certainly improve the safety of such a vulnerable demographic, this motion certainly carries a downside. The political ramifications of this discussion are likely to be disastrous. The Conservatives have tried for months to make inroads in the gay marriage debate without success. Despite spending a small fortune, working in cooperation with religious groups and receiving beneficial media coverage, the Conservatives have been unable to convince the public as to the merits of their case. Now, the Young Liberals have gone and done it for them.
Stephen Harper should phone young Mr. Cherniak and tell him 'thanks'.