I would like to ask Peter MacKay, the federal Injustice Minister, some questions about the federal government’s proposal for regulating prostitution out of existence, Bill C-36. The immediate inspiration for these questions is the story of Mike Allen, a Progressive-Conservative member of the Alberta legislature, who pleaded guilty in Minnesota to charges resulting from his attempt to hire two sex workers while visiting the state. Unfortunately for him, the women to whose ad he responded were undercover police officers. Mr. Allen had had to leave the PC caucus, but his colleagues have now voted to allow him to rejoin them.

My first question is whether Mr. MacKay would be brave enough to call Mr. Allen a pervert ― which is how he described people who use the services of sex workers ― to his face, and not just to moralize in the abstract. A second, related, question is what Mr. MacKay thinks of Mr. Allen’s caucus colleagues, who presumably have concluded that his actions were not especially reprehensible. Are they perverts too? Or do they just lack Mr. MacKay’s especially fine moral judgment?

Another set of questions concerns police investigations like that which ensnared Mr. Allen, involving women officers posing as sex workers. Are such tactics going to be used in Canada, if Bill C-36’s provisions criminalizing the purchase of sex become law? If not, what in Bill C-36 makes it so? If yes, does Mr. MacKay think that this is a good thing? More specifically, does Mr. MacKay think that these tactics comport with the dignity of the officers who have to pose as prostitutes ― as persons, as women, and as police officers? Do they respect gender equality, which he purports to advance by prohibiting the purchase of sex?

In a somewhat different vein, I would also be curious to know whether Mr. MacKay thinks that it is a good idea to expend police resources on such investigations. Is it worthwhile to employ officers to lure potential consumers of sexual services? Is it a better use of their time than, say, investigating actual human trafficking or other cases where people are actually forced into sex work? Or a better use of taxpayer money than helping actual victims of such practices?

I would like to know, in a nutshell, what it is that Mr. MacKay thinks that we as a society gain by having a Mr. Allen prosecuted and condemned, except assuaging a lust for what Jonathan Kay, of all people, has described as “punitive, obsessive, politically cynical moral absolutism” ― a lust which even people who might be expected to support the government do not share (as Mr. Kay’s example shows). This lust, indeed, makes me think that the real perverts who threaten us are not the Mr. Allens of this country, but the Mr. MacKays.


Author: Leonid Sirota

Law nerd. I teach public law at the University of Reading, in the United Kingdom. I studied law at McGill, clerked at the Federal Court of Canada, and did graduate work at the NYU School of Law. I then taught in New Zealand before taking up my current position at Reading.

2 thoughts on “Perverts”

  1. I’m more interested in why the Honourable Minister feels it is a legitimate activity to eat Parliament’s time, and soon enough the time of many lawyers’ (including many on the taxpayers’ dime) promoting legislation that no one other than the Minister himself (and allegedly some unnamed government legal experts) seriously believes will survive the inevitable Charter challenge.

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