Read Terri-Jean Bedford’s complete speech to the Senate committee

Terri-Jean Bedford’s speech at the C-36 Senate hearing was cut short after she supposedly exceeded her allotted time.

Photo credit: Terri-Jean Bedford

Bedford was cautioned by Senator Bob Runciman but refused to remain silent, at which point she was escorted from the building by security. In a press release, she apologized for the outburst, stating, “I apologize for losing my temper. I was barely able to read my speech because I was so angry at the government for parading victims with repeated irrelevant information and then organizations who were shilling for government handouts on which they are dependent. The shameful use of victims by the government in this process, and their disregard for life by ignoring court findings, refusing to listen to their own legal staff and refusing to answer questions from legitimate sources made me snap.”

Bedford also sent us a copy of her complete speech:

Prime Minister Harper called me again. He offered to appoint me to the Senate. As a government whip. I turned him down. I might run into former clients on Parliament Hill.

I am the Bedford in Bedford Versus Canada, the constitutional challenge striking down the prostitution laws. I know the sex trade in Canada as well as anyone. I learned about the issues by working in and managing almost all aspects of the sex trade over 30 years. I have fought the prostitution laws for many of these years. I have been in jail because of the laws. I have been in court as a defendant or appellant more times than I care to remember. I am Canada’s most famous dominatrix and perhaps Canada’s most famous prostitute. I was in attendance for most of the sessions of the 3 years of the constitutional challenge. So, maybe I know what I am talking about.

In these brief remarks I will make only a few points of my own. You have a library of evidence against Bill C-36, and I don’t want to repeat or submit briefs saying what so many others have said so well.

First of all, Senators, when it comes to consenting adults, the state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.

Second, the national debate currently under way has not given enough attention to sex trade workers who don’t want to exit and are there by choice. If you ask me today, I will tell you about some of them. These women, and indeed male sex workers, should not be grouped in with those who want out.

Third, what exactly is Bill C-36 supposed to outlaw? What exactly would be illegal between consenting adults in private for money? The response from some supporters of Bill C-36 are words to the effect that “everyone knows” or “the courts would have to decide.” If everyone knows, why not answer the question? If the courts have to decide, why not refer the bill there immediately?

Fourth, why does the government claim they are making the purchase of sex illegal. If it was legal to purchase sex before, where did all the John Schools come from? This new law changes nothing in that regard.

Fifth, the Justice Minister was wrong to call the sex trade degrading. The clients are there by choice. They are half the transaction. Many are pillars of the community, often business leaders, professionals and politicians. Most sex trade workers do not consider their work degrading. Lumping them in with those who want out is not acceptable in a free society.

Sixth, those who ask if you want your daughter to be a sex worker might also ask if you want your daughter working in any number of poorly paid, dangerous or menial jobs while getting sexually harassed in the bargain. And while we are at it, I want my daughter to work in the sex trade, but it should be her choice. Not only that, I may want your daughter to work in the sex trade and for it to be her choice. If you don’t like that, I suggest you mind your own business and move to a country where the choices of women in the bedroom are controlled by the government.

Senators, it is bad policy to direct scarce law enforcement resources to stop consenting adult behaviour in private, while tax evaders, wife beaters, terrorists and what have you go unpunished.

So Senators, please don’t allow Bill C-36 to pass. Stand up for your country first. Use laws you have to help those most in need, in and out of the sex trade.

Senators, please, please don’t allow Parliament to force Canadian women to only have sex for free.

Thank you.

This speech is also available on Bedford’s blog.

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