There is a $175,000 poll the Harper government commissioned seeking the actual views of Canadians about prostitution. Peter MacKay has steadfastly opposed releasing the contents of that poll, despite the fact that the information contained might have been helpful to the Justice Committee's deliberations. Department of Justice Official testified that the poll contained "useful information" in crafting the bill. At the parliamentary hearings last week, I once again asked Minister MacKay about this poll. Here is the official parliamentary record of that exchange.
Pity poor Peter MacKay. He looks like he's having about as much fun rewriting Canada's prostitution laws as he would be having if he had to perform a root canal on himself using nothing but a crochet needle and a compact mirror. Who could blame him? Trying to find the right law to reflect current attitudes on prostitution isn't exactly easy. The odds are good that Canada's prostitution laws will be back before the country's highest courts soon enough. Why? Because the new legislation fails to address the fundamental problems that caused Canada's prostitution laws to be challenged and struck down in the first place.
The Government released a report on its consultations regarding Parliament's response to the Supreme Court decision last December striking down several prostitution-related offences in the Criminal Code. Regrettably, the information made available about the consultations raises more questions than it answers, and leads one to query whether an informed debate will occur.