Elizabeth May: MacKay’s Prostitution Law Fails on All Counts

5 06 2014

@kylefarq Party policy favours legalization. We need to keep sex workers safe.

I agree w : Peter MacKay’s prostitution law a failure on all counts

Reading prostitution act I wonder if Harper plans to run an election based on attacking the Supreme Court. So clearly ignores Bedford.

John Ivison: Peter MacKay’s prostitution law a failure on all counts

John Ivison | June 4, 2014 | Last Updated: Jun 4 7:39 PM ET
More from John Ivison

Peter MacKay's new prostitution  law tarnishes the reputation of the office of the Attorney-General, John Ivison writes.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian PressPeter MacKay’s new prostitution law tarnishes the reputation of the office of the Attorney-General, John Ivison writes.

Peter MacKay’s role as Attorney General of Canada requires him to be the guardian of the rule of law. He is mandated to protect the personal liberties of Canadians and advise Cabinet to ensure its actions are legal and constitutional.

Jesse Kline: The state re-enters the bedroom with new prostitution legislation

Pierre Trudeau had many deeply flawed ideas, but he was right about one thing: “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.”

The way this country deals with prostitution has traditionally followed the idea that the government has no business interfering in Canadians’ private sex lives, so long as economic transactions for sexual services are conducted in private. Before the Supreme Court stuck down many of Canada’s prostitution laws late last year, selling sex was perfectly legal, but practices that took place in public — such as negotiating on the street and running a brothel — were illegal.

Continue reading…

By introducing a new law on prostitution that is all but certain to be struck down by the courts, he has failed on all counts.

The new law makes it an offence for the first time in Canada to purchase sexual services, or to communicate in any place for that purpose. It makes it an offence to receive a material benefit from sexual services and it prohibits the advertising of sexual services in newspapers or online.

The main targets are “the perpetrators, the perverts, the pimps,” according to Mr. MacKay. But it also takes aim at prostitutes, if they try to sell sexual services in “public places” where people under 18 might reasonably be expected to be present.

Last December, the Supreme Court struck down the existing law on prostitution, on the basis that it diminished the security of sex workers, in violation of section 7 of the Charter of Rights.

There have been a number of studies conducted, before and since the Supreme Court decision, on the impact of shifting the guilt burden from sellers to purchasers, including one conducted in Vancouver and published in the British Medical Journal. None suggest the well-being of sex workers is enhanced – the key ingredient of any constitutional law.

When johns are targeted, prostitutes continue to take steps to avoid police detection; they are unable to screen clients and remain at risk of violence, abuse and HIV.

Prohibition of the purchase of sex is as likely to violate sex workers’ rights of security in the eyes of the Supreme Court, as prohibition of the selling of sex.

This bill is likely to make life even more unsafe for many prostitutes. If they can’t advertise their services to persuade the johns to come to them, many more are likely to take to the streets in search of business.

The government says it will spend $20-million to assist sex workers to leave the industry. But does Mr. MacKay seriously think this is going to reduce the number of women selling sex – or improve the lot of those who remain?

None of this bodes well for the long-term survival of this legislation.

Happy May Day, Elizabeth May

2 05 2014


Elizabeth May and Bruce Hyer Recall Their First Earth Day

22 04 2014

Today is Earth Day!

Take a minute to watch this video of Elizabeth May and Bruce Hyer talking about their involvement in planning the world’s first ever Earth Day, back in 1970, and their hope for the future.


May: UnFair Elections Act Shuts Out Thousands of Voters

16 04 2014

With all the talk about the Conservatives’ so-called “Fair Elections Act,” my mind keeps coming back to what Elizabeth May has said right from the start:

“The crisis in Canadian democracy is not that Canadians are voting more than once, it is that they are voting less than once.”

And that is what this issue is all about.

We see on TV, and we read in the news, strong criticisms of this bill from professional journalists and public commentators.

We hear expert testimony from independent and trusted officials — like Sheila Fraser and Marc Mayrand — telling us that this bill is an assault on our democracy.

We talk with our friends and family and we express shock that the Conservatives think they can get away with:

 Preventing Elections Canada from encouraging youth to vote
 Letting winning candidates choose the people who run your local voting place
 Opening loopholes so that they can spend even more during elections
 Stopping Elections Canada from investigating election fraud like the robocalls scandal or even warning Canadians that such a fraud is taking place

But you and I know it comes down this —

If this bill passes, hundreds of thousands of Canadians will be prevented from voting.

The good news is that this bill is not yet law. The good news is that Canadians are taking action. The good news is that by coming together — you, me, and tens of thousands of our fellow citizens — we can defend our democracy.

Add your name to our petition today. Show the Harper Conservatives that you are a defender of our democracy.

Shaun, we set a goal to reach 30,000 signatures by the end of the week. Be a part of this important movement and add your name today:


Thank you,


Emily McMillan
Executive Director
Green Party of Canada

May: Restore Canada Health Care Accord

7 04 2014

Thank you for your email concerning the renewal of the 2004 Health Accord.

Poll after poll clearly shows that Canadians place health-care at the top of their list of priorities and concerns.  In response, the Harper Conservatives consistently tells us that they will ‘fix’ the health-care system.  However, the announced $36 billion cut flies in the face of this claim and will significantly undermine our universal health-care system. In the face of stubbornly long wait times for diagnosis and surgery, over-crowded emergency rooms and severe shortages of family doctors, this administration is performing a grave disservice to all Canadians.

The Green Party fully supports the Canada Health Act (CHA) and all of its principles. We oppose any level of privatized, for-profit health care. The five criteria of the CHA guiding the provincial public health insurance plans, which we believe to be non-negotiable, are:

  1. Public Administration – The public health insurance plan must be managed in a public, not-for-profit fashion.
  2. Comprehensiveness – All residents must be covered for “medically necessary” health services.
  3. Universality – All residents must be covered by the public insurance plan on uniform terms and conditions.
  4. Portability – All residents must be covered by their public plan, wherever they are treated in Canada.
  5. Accessibility – All residents must have access to insured health care services on uniform terms and conditions without direct or indirect financial charges, or discrimination based on age, health status or financial circumstances.

We believe that we can solve our health care problems. Spending money wisely is an important factor in creating an efficient healthcare system. Careful considerations must be taken with regards to spending, whether it is increasing trained professionals, funding for support staff or improving mandatory reporting of drug side effects.   As we move into the future, I am dedicated to developing a health-care system that puts patient care at the centre of all provision considerations and all funding.

To learn more about our health-care position, I invite you to review my recent newsletter on the subject:


Thank you for taking the time to write and for expressing your concerns pertaining to our cherished health-care system.


Elizabeth May, O.C., M.P.

Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands

Leader of the Green Party of Canada

Elizabeth May to Give Mallory Lecture at McGill

22 03 2014
TUNE IN: Elizabeth May to give 2014 Mallory Lecture at McGill University

Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands and Leader of the Green Party of Canada, will be giving the 2014 Mallory Lecture at McGill University on Monday, March 24.

The Mallory Lecture is an annual event hosted by the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (MISC), in honour of the late McGill History Professor J.R. Mallory. Past Mallory speakers include Noah Richler, John Gomery, and Bob Rae.

May’s lecture, entitled The Crisis in Canadian Democracy, will address the decline in youth participation in Canada’s democratic process, and what can be done to prevent a slide into “elected dictatorships.”

“I am truly honoured to have the opportunity to address the McGill community and to be part of this venerable academic tradition,” said May. “The Mallory Lecture series is an important example of the important role that universities must play in fostering debate and engagement with democracy.”

The 2014 Mallory Lecture will take place Monday, March 24 at 5:00 P.M. EDT, at the McGill Faculty Club. The event is free and open to the public, and can also be viewed online:


Federal Green Party Convention in Fredericton July 18-20!

13 03 2014

The 2014 Green Party Convention will take place July 18-20 in beautiful Fredericton, New Brunswick. Sign up for updates and be sure to register early.

We are also pleased to announce the opening of the motions process leading up to our Convention.  Go to the discussion section of our website to collaborate, discuss and refine motions before the deadline for submission on April 30, 2014.

All motions must be received by April 30th at midnight PST.

Also: Nominations for the 2014 Federal Council election are now open.

It is time again for you to be involved in electing the governing body of the Green Party of Canada, the Federal Council. Federal Council governs the Green Party of Canada on behalf of members like you. It is essentially the board of the directors for the party, determining planning, vision and budget.

As a member in good standing, you are invited to nominate yourself, or someone else, for one of the available positions. You must be a member to participate in the election.

The deadline to submit your nomination is April 30th, 2014 at midnight (Pacific Time). Online voting will take place from May 10th until June 9th.

The following executive positions are up for election (all are two year terms unless otherwise indicated):

  • Vice President French (1 year term)
  • Vice President English
  • Treasurer/Fund Representative

The following provincial / territorial positions are up for election (all are two year terms unless otherwise indicated):

  • Prince Edward Island representative
  • Nova Scotia representative
  • Quebec representative (1 year term)
  • Ontario representative
  • Saskatchewan representative
  • Alberta representative (1 year term)
  • British Columbia representative
  • Young Greens (2 positions)

Visit www.greenparty.ca/convention-2014/election for more information, and to submit your nomination.

Thank you for your continued dedication to the GPC,


Emily McMillan
Executive Director

PS: Hope you can join us in beautiful Fredericton, New Brunswick for the 2014 Green Party Convention, July 18-20!

May: Trains, Grains and Pipelines

7 03 2014

Published Thursday, March 6th, 2014 in Island Tides

There are a lot of intersecting issues coming to a head in the health of Canada’s rail capacity and safety. We have explosions and derailments in shipping hazardous materials, while simultaneously dropping the ball on shipment of nonhazardous commodities, namely grain.

The safety of rail in shipping bitumen, dilbit and diluents is critical. The deadly fireball of Lac Megantic, the collapsing bridge in the Calgary flood (with railcars loaded with Alberta-bound diluent perilously close to plunging into the Bow River), and numerous other recent rail accidents have heightened awareness of the need for better rail safety and regulation.

These issues are hyped by pipeline proponents arguing that we need pipelines because rail is unsafe— ignoring the central fallacy of that argument. The fossil-fuel masters of the universe are not offering us a choice of rail or pipelines. It’s both.

Even if Keystone and Enbridge pipelines were allowed to proceed, the industry would still be shipping bitumen by rail. When you do the math, the industry drive to 5 million barrels of bitumen a day, or Harper’s 6 million barrel-a-day goal, means that Keystone at 800,000 barrels a day, combined with Enbridge’s 525,000 barrels a day, means that trains will still be demanded. With Harper’s desperation to get bitumen into tankers, don’t rule out children carrying bitumen on their backs to Kitimat. (OK, maybe we can rule that out, but never underestimate the desperation.)

Of course, that is only the case if the nonstop growth trajectory for oilsands is allowed to prevail. If Alberta were to go back to the late Peter Lougheed’s planned development scenario, the bitumen project might include a levelling off of new mines while processing bitumen in Alberta. Shutting off the proposed dilbit pipelines will increase costs for the industry. That could limit the growth mania. As the US State Department Final Environmental Impact Statement on Keystone concluded, higher transportation costs will limit the rate of oil sands expansion.

Meanwhile, ramping up more bitumen shipments by rail is not easy. There are physical limits to how much Canadian rail can expand its rail. A paper delivered at the Canadian Transportation Research Forum conference in 2013 concluded that without massive investments in more tracks, the combined CN and CP existing rail lines could only accommodate another 600,000-800,000 barrels of bitumen a day—by 2035.

However, those estimates leave out another serious problem for rail. The current rail cars used for shipping hazardous materials are not safe. Both the US and Canadian Railway Safety Boards have ruled that the DOT111 cars are unsafe, needing upgrading and replacement. They need thicker walls and ideally on board systems for diagnostics to monitor all aspects of train operation. But the transportation safety boards are not regulators. They are responsible for reviewing accidents, not banning the cars that caused the accidents. It will take Transport Canada to regulate to ban these cars.

The cost for each new car is upwards of $130,000. It is estimated that 78,000 DOT111 cars manufactured before 2011 need to be upgraded. But not only will this be expensive, manufacturing new cars is not keeping up with demand. According to the industry publication Railway Age, current production is running approximately two years behind demand.

The United States is regulating to mandate safety by requiring systems called ‘Positive Train Control’. Positive Train Control involves on-board computer systems to monitor and analyse key information, prevent collisions and control speed. One of the world’s leading companies manufacturing train monitoring systems is right here on the Saanich Peninsula—Quester Tangent. Canada has not yet adopted the Positive Train Control approach. The US has a deadline to implement it fully by 2015. Canada needs to catch up.

We need to really push for rail safety and regulation. It will help protect communities, save lives, and slow down the oil sands.

There are other issues looming for rail. With the elimination of the Wheat Board, a bumper grain crop and the competition for rail cars from bitumen, prairie grain is having a hard time moving. Train cars are not available to move the crop. Farmers on Vancouver Island were alarmed to discover in December that their livestock was three days away from having no grain. Three days. Mills producing feed grains have been sharing supply as everyone in the industry recognizes that the system is in crisis. Prairie farmers are suffering as their crop cannot move. British Columbia farmers are dealing for the first time in living memory with uncertain grain supplies.

As my grandfather used to say, ‘This is no way to run a railroad.’

May: Investigate the House & Senate

4 03 2014

Canadians hold their MPs to a high standard — and they are right to do so.

During the height of the Senate-PMO scandal, the Conservative led Senate — no doubt, with direction from the PMO — passed a motion to have the Auditor General perform a comprehensive audit on all Senators.

But now some Senators are asking the question — “if the Senate is to undergo a comprehensive audit then why not the House of Commons?”

I think that’s a fair question.

Not because I question the integrity of any of my colleagues, but because of a simple principle:

We, as Members of the House of Commons, must hold ourselves to the same level of transparency as that we expect from the Senate.

That is why, today I asked my colleagues in the House to support my motion to invite the Auditor General to conduct an audit of the House of Commons.

Shaun, when I became the first MP to post all of my expenses online I had hoped that this would start a new era of transparency and openness around MP’s use of public money. Unfortunately, all action that has followed from the other parties has been either light on details or simply nonexistent.

Stand with me today and tell the House of Commons that you expect responsibility, transparency, and accountability from your elected representatives.

If we, as MPs, are to hold Senators to the standard that you and other Canadians expect then we must hold ourselves to that same standard.

Add your name now to tell Parliament that you expect openness, transparency and accountability from your representatives in Ottawa:


Thank you Shaun for taking action today,


May: Fair Elections Act Fixes the Wrong Problem

17 02 2014

‘Fair Elections Act’ Addresses the Wrong Crisis

The issue isn’t voter fraud; it’s Canadians’ waning faith in our democratic institutions.

By Elizabeth May, Today, TheTyee.ca

Elizabeth May: ‘The crisis in Canadian democracy is not that Canadians are voting more than once, it is that they are voting less than once.’ Photo by Mike Gifford, Creative Commons licensed.

[Editor’s note: Green Party leader Elizabeth May made this speech in Parliament last week in response to Bill C-23, the Fair Elections Act, tabled by the federal Conservative government earlier this month. The legislationwould up the amount federal parties can spend during elections, exempt as election expenses “the commercial value of services provided to a registered party for the purpose of soliciting — by mail, telephone or other electronic means — monetary contributions,” and require voters to have ID other than a voter information card in order to cast a ballot, among many other changes. We reprint it for your consideration.]

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to be able to speak to Bill C-23 today. I want to pause and say that when we have these rushed processes with closure on debate and an abbreviated time to look at a critical bill, it is rare for me to have a speaking opportunity. Therefore, I want to thank the Liberal Party for giving me a speaking slot today. I do not know if I agree with them in every aspect of their objections to this bill, but I agree with many of them.

When I look at what we need in Canada to fix democracy, I remember a clever little ad put together by Fair Vote Canada. Don Ferguson of Royal Canadian Air Farce, one of my favourite icons of Canadian comedy, starred in it. He wore a white lab coat and started talking about the serious tragedy of electoral dysfunction in Canada, the failure to perform well when it came to elections.

I will not go down the [list of] double entendres that went through that Fair Vote Canada ad, but as members can imagine there were many of them. However, it did bring to mind the need for a prescription to fix an unhealthy system. The ad pointed to the issue of getting rid of first-past-the-post, which is fundamental to fair elections in Canada, and having election results which are then mirrored in the composition of our House of Commons.

We need reform. We need a Fair Elections Act. We need to deal with the unhealthy level of hyper-partisanship, the non-stop attack ads, and the fact that we have not gotten to the bottom of the robocall scandal of the last election. However, this bill is not it.

Spirit of reducing voter turnout

A real prescription for a healthy democracy is in our grasp and instead we get this bill that would weaken our electoral system, weaken democracy and further reduce voter turnout. We had an opportunity to sideline the cynical politics of non-stop attack ads that function as a “deliberate mechanism,” which is the language used by political spin doctors, of voter suppression. The goal of non-stop negative advertising is to reduce voter turnout in the interests of another party.

A lot of things now pass for political prowess, for which anyone who loves democracy should hang their head in shame and be condemned from ever standing for election again. This is not about every party getting out and urging everyone to vote, as we have heard people from across the aisle say all day. Over and over again, we have examples of efforts to do exactly the opposite. I am afraid this bill is in that spirit of reducing voter turnout.

We could have, with this bill, pursued the reforms found in private member’sBill C-559, put forward by the Hon. member for Wellington-Halton Hills. That would have led to fairer elections. We could have leveled the playing field for financing so that members of Parliament who come to this place as independents have a fair chance to raise the funds they need to run for re-election. However, we did not.

The ways in which this bill would reduce the potential for a healthy democracy and worsen voter turnout need to be reviewed. Many of my colleagues in this place have given very eloquent, articulate and full reviews. In particular, I have to give credit and homage to my friend, the Hon. member for Toronto-Danforth, whose work on this bill was brilliant.

Let me point out what I would agree with. I may be a minority on this matter, but I do not really think it is a problem to create a commissioner for elections who operates out of the office of public prosecutions. I see that as an independent place. The problem is the government has not given that office any tools. It has not given that officer subpoena powers. What is worse is, for some reason, it has created a “black box” surrounding the work. It would amend the Access to Information Act to remove, from access to information, anything going on in the work of the commissioner for Canada’s elections. They would also remove in the Elections Act the requirement to give any information about investigations.

What I also would agree with in this bill is the scheme to deal with the robocalls, to have a way of tracking who buys this kind of automated calling service. That is not bad. I would have voted for that.

However, the bill also includes a big new loophole for the spending of money. It now will not be considered an elections expense to spend money on activities that are considered fundraising for nomination candidates. That is an open door to abuse.

Addressing the wrong crisis

What is the worst part of this bill? This cuts to the core of democracy. This is a charter issue. I turn to a most recent statement by the Supreme Court of Canada on the right of Canadians to vote. It was a decision of October 2012. We are all familiar with it. It is in the name of the current member for Etobicoke Centre, so I will not say the name of the case. However, it was a strong decision written by Mr. Justice Rothstein and Mr. Justice Moldaver.

They had this to say:

The right of every citizen to vote, guaranteed by s. 3 of the Charter, lies at the heart of Canadian democracy.

In this instance, they did not find that those rights had been trampled upon, but that was because a lot of the provisions this bill would remove were in place. Therefore, I think this quote from the Supreme Court is timely and informs us, as my friend, the member for Victoria, recently pointed out, that this bill is probably unconstitutional. The following is what the Supreme Court had to say at the bottom of page 98 of the decision:

Our system strives to treat candidates and voters fairly, both in the conduct of elections and in the resolution of election failures. As we have discussed, the Act seeks to enfranchise all entitled persons,…

A voter can establish Canadian citizenship verbally, by oath.

That cannot happen anymore, not with this bill.

The court went on to say:

The goal of accessibility can only be achieved if we are prepared to accept some degree of uncertainty that all who voted were entitled to do so.

The Conservative members of the House and the minister have utterly failed to provide any evidentiary background for the notion that we have a crisis of voter fraud in this country. There is no evidence for the notion that Canadians are covering themselves up through creating false IDs and voting more than once. The crisis in Canadian democracy is not that Canadians are voting more than once, it is that they are voting less than once, and this bill would worsen Canadians’ trust in the system and increase cynicism.

Voters aren’t customers

As for the treatment of the Chief Electoral Officer, talk about sharper teeth: they are all sharpened in the direction of going after Marc Mayrand. I find this shocking. He is a public servant, he is doing his job, and the job that was being done is now essentially going to be stifled.

When I worked on my last book, which was on the crisis in Canadian democracy ironically, I wanted to try to get to the bottom of why young people were not voting. Where could I find good research that informed that discussion? I found that good research because it was commissioned by Elections Canada. It started to inform political parties what we should do to ensure civic literacy and political understanding from the earliest possible moment.

I think it undermines political responsibility and civic understanding to refer to voters as customers. There is something fundamentally wrong with an Elections Act that talks about customer service when we are talking about voting. It is a right. It is not shopping, and every Canadian must be allowed to vote.

I cannot tell members how heartbreaking it is to hear from people, particularly young people, who have been turned away at the polls because they found that multiple forms of ID did not work. I remember hearing from a young woman in Dawson City when I was holding a town hall there on democracy. She said that she had tried twice. I asked her if she would keep trying and she said she did not know if there was any point, that they did not want her to vote.

I remember the tears in the eyes of an older man in Pictou County who had voted in his polling station during his 75 years until these new changes were brought in by the current administration, and he was denied the right to vote because he could not produce a photo ID. He did not have a driver’s licence. His sister in law was working at the polling station, but under the rules she was not allowed to vouch for him because she had not gone there for that purpose. Under this new Act, we would see more and more Canadians turned away, disenfranchised by the false notion that we have a crisis in voter fraud. That is not our crisis.

We need to do everything possible to restore faith among the Canadian public in the health of our democratic system, and this bill takes us in the absolute wrong direction. Why would a governing party do this? Why is there such a rush to disenfranchise Canadians? Is there an election coming right away that we do not know about? Do we have to have all these new rules in place for First Nations, seniors, young people, the poor and the groups that advocate for those parts of our society that are more disenfranchised by having to produce government-issued photo IDs? Is that the point?

I am baffled and appalled and deeply shocked and troubled by this bill. The things in it that are good could have been so much better, but the things that are bad are unforgivable in a democracy.  [Tyee]

Read more: Federal Politics,