Dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Court: Day 5 – Last Day

Well, the appeal hearings are finally done. They ended this morning after just a short sitting. I was home for lunch. Today the lawyers for the federal and provincial governments and our lawyer Professor Young replied to the intervenors. As I have said before, the intervenors, in my opinion, just reinforced or reiterated the arguments made by us and the government lawyers. However, the judges wanted them to be heard.

Yet again, these hearings were about Judge Himel’s 131 page decision and the evidence presented to her. New arguments and evidence were not relevant. The question is whether the judge erred. But of course so many commentators and even lawyers wanted to speak to the issues as if the issues were being raised for the first time. They just don’t get it.

I have made many comments in public this week and last. Some have taken offence at some of my remarks and some have pointed to factual errors I may have made. Others have praised what I have said, and of course some have disagreed. I apologize if I made any factual errors or poor choices of words. I assure all of you that I would never intentionally do so. I am not a lawyer or professional spin doctor, so I don’t have the presence of mind that they do. Yet, if I was not to speak publicly, I would be condemned as too scared to do so, just like Prime Minister Harper (even though I haven’t even touched him yet). I am doing the best I can. I am so grateful to all the other activist gals who are speaking to support our side.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Court: Day 4

I was in not at the court today. I am following the plan to attend on the Monday, Wednesday and Friday of the week. My health will not stand going every day. And it works out well. Monday was the first day, so significant decisions might have been made on how to proceed or whatever, and it was wise to be there. Wednesday was our presentation by Professor Young, which I told you about in my previous blog. And tomorrow, Friday, there are the replies to the presentations of the intervenors the day before, and a scheduled ruling on the extension of the stay on Justice Himel’s strike-down of the prostitution laws.

Today, Thursday, the numerous intervenors were heard. It is important to keep in mind that the judges were presented with materials by the intervenors well before today. The issue is whether the lower court judge erred, not further arguments or evidence about the issues. A knowledgeable supporter watched the full proceedings from the media overflow room and told me that there was nothing unexpected in the proceedings. Judge Himel ruled against having any intervenors, excepting the Province. However the Court of Appeal overruled her and there were three intervenors in the main hearing, all opposed to our motion. Yesterday there were many more, about half in favour and half against.

I hope they added something to the question of where the first judge might have erred, if at all. But let us not lose sight that the present laws are the worst laws we can have, whatever your views on prostitution, whatever that is. And further, almost all commentators seem to agree that Parliament, not judges, should make the changes. That brings us to Prime Minister Harper, as usual. As I said before, he is clogging the courts so he can hide from leading on this issue. Impressive? More about that another time. Much more.

Day 3 in Court

I was in court for the entire sitting on day three of five scheduled. The seats were hard and narrow and my back was killing me. On day one I was only there half the day and yesterday, day two I was not there at all. However it was so interesting I often forgot the discomfort. Alan answered back for our side. He answered the judges more directly than the federal and provincial crowns. His summary was so on point and moving that after we rose I went outside and wept tears of joy.

Reporters approached me outside but I asked them to give me some time. A couple did interview me as I sat on a bench in the shade after the hearing. But, as I said before, the focus must now be on the lawyers, judges, other activists and the issues – particularly whether Judge Himel erred or not in the decision now under review. But I wasn’t going to miss our day in court, and Alan’s presentation, for the world. He answered back so well that I had to cry. It was one of those times when one has the feeling that the fight is worth it and right can triumph in the end.

It seems to me that the editors of the Globe and Mail support our side. The Toronto Star also seems headed in that direction. My view is that Parliament should bring in new laws. I will have plenty to say about that in the future. Tomorrow, Thursday, the interveners will be making presentations. My understanding is that fifteen groups have submitted documents to the judges who will question all their lawyers briefly. I don’t know how that is enough time for so many groups to be dealt with, but if it is the appeal concludes Friday. On that day the judges will decide if the stay on the striking down of the laws continues, and what the terms of the continuation will be. Or, they may say the laws fall on Friday night or shortly after. We will see.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

After 2 days at the Ontario Court of Appeal

We have now had two days at the Ontario Court of Appeal and both the federal and provincial governments have been questioned by the panel of five judges. I was not at the court today, but from reports and from what I saw yesterday it appears that the judges are having problems with the appeal. Tomorrow my lawyer, Professor Young, will respond. I am hoping to be there. On Thursday the intervenors on both sides will make their presentations and on Friday final replies and discussion on possible extension of the stay on Justice Himel’s decision striking down the prostitution laws.

I am struck by the crown attorneys on the one hand saying that the government has no responsibility to protect prostitutes (prostitution is legal while activities surrounding it are not) yet at the same time arguing for the present laws because they say they want to protect prostitutes (which is nonsense).

Already there is widespread acceptance of the need for Parliament to act. The National Post today called for Parliament to overhaul the laws to make them more logically consistent. I found it amusing that their editors noted that prostitution is legal and then concluded their editorial by saying that prostitution should be legalized.

When Parliament does get around to acting the important thing is that the laws are clear, equitably enforced and recognize that this is a free country; and that what consenting adults do in private is not under the control of Prime Minister Harper

Monday, June 13, 2011

Prostitution Appeal after 1 day

Today was the first of five scheduled days before the Ontario Court of Appeal, who are reviewing Justice Susan Himel’s striking down of Canada’s prostitution laws in Ontario. She issued her decision in September 2010 and there is a stay on the strike-down until at least June 17.

I attended most of the day and then went to the CBC for interviews. Now I’m back home and here I will stay until, I think, Wednesday. On that day Professor Young, my lawyer and head of our lawyers will reply to the federal and provincial governments’ arguments.

From what I saw and what I heard the federal government lawyer was not doing well with the judges. That comes as no surprise. The issue is whether Justice Himel erred. She took a year to prepare her decision. It was 131 pages. There were 88 volumes of evidence and transcripts. Hers was not a whimsical utterance. From what I and the press have seen so far it appears that it is standing up on appeal.

In my comments to the press I attacked the Prime Minister Harper. I believe he can stop deferring dealing with the fact that the present laws are a fiasco, whatever your views on prostitution, but I think he is afraid to do it. I look forward to when Parliament considers new laws, as I think they will. That is what I have fought for. But I am mad at Mr. Harper for his determination to keep intact the laws the Liberals kept intact for so long at such a high human cost. Nothing can be worse than what we have now, whatever your views.