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Should Terri-Jean Bedford name names and out politicians?

Former sex worker and dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford is challenging Canada’s prostitution laws and threatening to out politicians who pay for sex.

Terri-Jean Bedford, one of the three people who brought down Canada’s anti-prostitution laws last year, was asked to sit on the panel of the Senate committee meeting and share her thoughts on the Conservative government’s proposal to criminalize the buying of sex in Canada.

The intention of the Supreme Court bill is to eliminate the sex trade by targeting and impeaching those who buy sex. But supporters of the decriminalization of consensual sex work worry that the new bill could compromise sex workers’ abilities to assert their rights.

Criminalizing the buyers of sex would “make Canada the laughingstock of the world,” Bedford said, adding it’s the “pillars of the community — often business leaders, professionals, politicians” who hire sex workers — and threatening to make public a list of politicians who engage in such activities.

“If this law passes, I’m going to make you guys forget about (suspended senator) Mike Duffy. Because I got more information and proof on politicians in this country than you can shake a stick at. I promise,” she added.

Bedford was warned by Senator Bob Runciman that she had gone over her time limit and was to remain silent. “You pet everybody else on the back, but when you know I’ve got a bombshell to deliver, you want to try to avoid me at all costs,” Bedford went on before being escorted out of the meeting by security. Reporters were waiting outside for her response.

“They’re on the attack against strong, independent women who can think for themselves,” she said. When asked whether she knew of any other politicians who use sex workers, Bedford said, “What do you think? I’m not going to answer any more stupid questions.”

Valerie Scott, a legal coordinator for Sex Professionals of Canada, who also appeared at the Senate meeting and assisted in the bringing down of Canada’s anti-prostitution laws with Bedford, earlier said she believed the bill is flawed and will erode sex workers’ rights.

“It is flawed in that it will make things worse for women. Its passage will be a victory for human traffickers and organized crime.”

But if Bedford outs politicians who have used sex workers, then it could put many prostitutes out of a job.

“Discretion is essential in the sex industry, and the only time clients would be outed is to protect other sex workers,” said Emily Symons, chair of Prostitutes of Ottawa-Gatineau Work, Educate and Resist (POWER), about what could occur if women came forward to release their own lists of high-profile clients. “It would be career suicide for them — no one would want to use their services.”

Symons added that a sex worker who releases names of politician clients would be “literally martyring herself for the movement.”

Responding to her actions in the Senate meeting in a statement released later, Bedford said she was overcome with anger.

“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,” she said.

“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 continued.

“The truth will win out,” she concluded.

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