By Mike Archer. The preponderance for Abbotsford politicians to get us involved in matters which are out of their jurisdiction (ultra vires), and are therefore either meaningless or dangerous, is legendary.
It has got us into all sorts of messes and kept a number of lawyers well employed for years.
From Simon Gibson’s Anti-Harm Reduction Bylaw, to Patrica Ross’ Shark Fin Bylaw, to George Peary’s Deal with the Calgary Flames; to the attempts at solving the blueberry cannon issue with a local bylaw, to the series of Anti-Homeless Bylaws which are dragging us through court, our politicians have shown a singular inability to understand their jobs or the basic limitations on their egos.
Here’s the deal – under the constitution a municipal council is nothing more than a local group of representatives who, though elected, serve at the pleasure of the provincial government to guide it in its decisions about what goes on within their particular municipal boundaries.
In practice that means that the provincial government rubber stamps whatever municipalities send to it but, in Abbotsford’s case, the provincial government appears to be giving Abbotsford’s bylaws a closer look.
The attempt by council to wander into provincial jurisdiction over blueberry cannons is the latest example of those who are really in charge putting the breaks on Abbotsford’s ultr vires behaviour.
The court cases winding through BC Supreme Court challenging Abbotsford’s Anti-Homeless Bylaws will likely, eventually, cause the same result as the law suits regarding the Anti-Harm Reduction Bylaw – council will stick its collective tail between our legs and retreat by dismantling the bylaws. But not until having wasted buckets of money on lawyers which could have been spent helping the homeless.In the middle of all of this we are now witnessing the latest person to openly join the political class, police chief Bob Rich, wading into one of the most idiotic attempts at using the law to change social behaviour since … well … ever.
Deciding that the real thing police chiefs ought to do is defy the Supreme Court and get squarely on board with one of the most controversial and badly crafted pieces of federal legislation (even for the Harper government) in modern times, Rich announced a couple of weeks ago he was recommending charges in a local prostitution case [Is Bob A Cop Or A Politician?].
This despite the fact that making and passing laws it not what cops do (it’s what politicians do Bob); ignoring the fact that the prostitutes are strongly against the legislation [Sex Workers Decry Government Consultation On Prostitution] as are BC’s religious leaders [BC Faith Leaders Call Prostitution Bill Immoral], there’s our Bob standing firmly with one of the most amusing and lovable failures in all of Stephen Harper’s retinue of failed cabinet ministers – Peter MacKay.
Mackay, better known for his inability to tell the difference between $15 Billion and the $45 Billion his helicopters were actually going to cost, has more recently offended mothers and fathers with his sexist and xenophobic world views, his beliefs about the place of women (not in important jobs like being a judge), is now trying to convince Canadians he will abolish prostitution.
Wow. You’d almost think Peter learned about politics in Abbotsford where nothing is beyond a politician’s jurisdiction. MacKay thinks he is actually going to end the world’s oldest profession. Yup he’s going to stop men and women from buying sex from other men and women.
There’s nothing nice about prostitution or human trafficking. But one does not equate to the other. Using the excuse of human trafficking to make prostitution illegal, no matter how many prostitutes’ lives it endangers, is simply bad law and, as MacKay readily admits, it will be challenged in court and, once again, found to be illegal.
Not only are police chiefs who were paying attention during the 20th century calling into question his ridiculous legislation [Tories’ $20M pledge to help prostitutes so ‘inadequate’ it’s hard to take seriously: Calgary police chief], most Canadians are having a hard time taking MacKay seriously (with the exception, of course, of Bob Rich).
Canada’s sex workers
In Ottawa this week between July 7-10th, sex workers, sex worker rights organizations and allies of sex workers will be appearing as witnesses before the Justice Committee to speak to Bill C36 : The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act. These sex workers and allies are aiming to balance the debate around prostitution by adding perspectives from people working in the sex industry as well as those who work from the front lines delivering important services to sex workers. They argue from a position of human rights of sex workers, focusing on the right to safety and security.
While the Harper government is aiming to eradicate prostitution by re-introducing criminal laws with objectives deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada, these experts seek to highlight the dangers of the use of criminal law as a way of regulating prostitution. Each will speak from their own unique perspective, providing evidence based arguments as to why Bill C36 is a dangerous way forward.[source]
It is high time the grand Harper experiment with social engineering, and the replacement of science and fact with belief and anger, be brought to an end. Enough people have been hurt and enough time has been wasted on some of the most frighteningly misguided, archaic and abhorrent laws, most of which, thankfully, have been struck down as illegal and unconstitutional in Canada.
Just because something is immoral or bad (both subjective terms which vary from religion to religion, country to country, person to person )doesn’t mean that criminalizing it will make it go away. As we learned with alcohol and drug prohibition, all we accomplish is making more criminals becvause of their social behaviour. Our prisons fill up, people’s lives are wrecked, they end up hopeless and living on the street. And prostitution continues …
Fighting social problems by criminalizing them simply doesn’t work.
Our local politicians need to get back to colouring within the lines, dealing with the mess they have made of our city, and abandon their attempts to exceed their jurisdiction. Living up to our own bylaws, policies and procedures would be a good start.
As for Bob Rich … he should stick to policing and leave politicking to the politicians.
Cover photo from from rabble.ca