POLITICS

Bedford lawyer Alan Young to brief senators on prostitution bill rewrite

09/17/2014 01:13 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 00:56 EDT
Alan Young, one of the main lawyers behind retired dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford's decade-long battle to overturn Canada's prostitution laws, will get the chance to tell a Senate committee what he thinks of the government's proposed rewrite this afternoon.

The Osgoode Hall law professor, who served as counsel to Bedford and her two co-appellants, Valerie Scott and Amy Lebovitch during their Supreme Court challenge, is scheduled to testify before the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee this afternoon.

Follow Kady O'Malley's live blog coverage of the hearing starting at 4:15 p.m. ET.

In an interview with CBC News last month, Young warned opponents of the proposed new law that they may have to be patient in waiting for the right moment to launch a legal challenge.

"It's a lot trickier than people think," he told CBC News.

"There are a lot of people jumping up and down, and saying that it's unconstitutional, and will lead to worse results, but the government was fairly tricky in terms of how they designed it, by at least nominally addressing the Supreme Court concerns, and then grafting on an advocacy concern from a certain abolitionist group."

The reality, he said, "is that what they were left with is basically incoherent — but people who think you're just going to run back to the Supreme Court and get this invalidated don't understand the process."

Like other witnesses who testified before the Senate committee last week, Young predicted that it could take years to successfully shepherd a new challenge through the courts, something he'll almost certainly be asked about during today's hearing.

Police association president also set to testify

His former client made a brief, but memorable appearance during last week's hearings as well.

Midway through her one-hour speaking slot, Bedford was ejected from the committee room after she refused to stop talking on the order of the chair.

Even so, she managed to deliver a not so veiled threat to politicians.

"If this law passes, I'm going to make you guys forget about (suspended senator) Mike Duffy," she told senators before being removed by security.

"Because I got more information and proof on politicians in this country than you can shake a stick at. I promise."

The committee will also hear from Canadian Police Association President Tom Stamatakis and lawyer Georgialee Lang, who both appeared before the House committee in July.

The Senate committee is scheduled to wrap up its pre-study after hearing from Wednesday's final panel of witnesses.

The bill is currently awaiting final approval of the House, which will likely happen early next week.

Senators have already suggested that they'll hold more hearings once the legislation is officially referred to the committee.