Prostitution is on its way to becoming a legal activity in the Canadian province of Ontario – and perhaps across Canada, as well — after a Superior Court judge ruled that the existing law barring the practice endangers the same women it’s ostensibly designed to protect. Judge Susan Himel, who took almost a year to deliver her 131-page ruling, cited the infamous case of serial killer Robert Pickton as justification for her decision. Himel believes that Pickton, who trolled Vancouver’s Downtown East Side for street prostitutes, would not have been able to get away with his crimes for so long had these women been legally allowed to operate out of a safe, secure location.
Crown prosecutors will undoubtedly appeal the ruling, so the ultimate outcome is still up in the air, but it’s yet another example of the curiously progressive mindset that seems to have infected Ontario’s decision makers. First, they announced the provincial gaming body would be taking their business online in 2012. Then they relaxed their prohibitive stance against mixed martial arts bouts being staged in the province. And now hard-working working girls are being told they need not fear arrest for engaging in a consensual financial transaction. All in all, quite the libertarian tilt in just a couple months’ time.
But hold the phone. A recent poll of Ontario residents show that they’re fairly evenly split (52% for, 48% against) on the merits of MMA bouts, but only 29% think the province should be getting into the online gaming biz. Even more puzzling, almost two-thirds (63%) of Ontarians are in favor of expanding the availability of beer and wine to include sales at the local corner store.
To be clear, we’ve nothing against the idea of being able to snag a six-pack or a bottle of vino without having to trek all the way downtown, but it’s well documented that excessive alcohol intake can (and does) actually kill people, whereas we’re yet to uncover any articles about someone pulling a slots lever and having a guillotine blade come down instead of a progressive jackpot. So why this curious anti-gambling stance, when all other indicators are leaning in a ‘let adults make adult decisions’ direction? Whatever the answer, it’s clear that our industry has a ways to go to make the general public recognize that gambling is just another form of entertainment.