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Supreme Court strikes down Canada's sex work laws in historic Bedford case

Stunning news this morning from Ottawa as the Supreme Court of Canada struck down all of Canada's anti-prostitution laws in a unanimous decision. The ruling will take effect one year from today, giving Parliament one year to rewrite the laws if they wish.

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  1. The 83-page ruling came quickly and the news was stunning, if predictable, to most following the case.
  2. Others, like University of Toronto law professor Brenda Cossman, were more direct:
  3. But as Canada's legal minds began to analyze the case, the shock began to wear off. The unanimous decision dealt exclusively with Section 7 of the Charter: "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice."
  4. And of course, Terri Jean Bedford was ecstatic. She was quoted as saying to reporters "My Name? The Bedford in BEDFORD vs. Canada!"
  5. Not everyone will be happy with this decision -- many see sex work as inherently patriarchal and harmful to women. Conservative MP Michelle Rempel objected immediately.
  6. Aboriginal women are disproportionately vulnerable to predatory and survival sex work, and the NWAC opposed the earlier Ontario decision.that this SCC ruling upholds.
  7. But whether or not you support the decision, as writer Jeet Heer reminds us, the context for the critical mass of support that led to today has a dark and shameful genesis.
  8. But in their Vancouver office, @PivotLegal, who intervened in the Bedford case with two other Downtown Eastside community groups, were celebrating.
  9. Heady days indeed.
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