Following America’s lead, Canada has become the latest nation to ‘request’ that online classified ad company Craigslist remove its erotic services listings. Citing concerns that the ads could facilitate “child exploitation or human trafficking and so on,” Justice Minister Rob Nicholson warned Craigslist’s operators to “consider this very carefully. They know that this is a priority with this government.”
The government that Nicholson refers to is a Conservative minority that loves nothing better than to toss the occasional chunk of raw meat to its ‘law and order’ base. Which is why Canadians were informed this past summer that the government was spending billions of dollars on new prisons, despite the fact that crime rates were falling dramatically. In other words, such decisions/pronouncements aren’t always arrived at based on logic. Or perhaps they were just making sure there was enough room to house all those poker players whose form of entertainment was just reclassified as a ‘serious crime.’
More likely, this public condemnation of Craigslist is a way for the Tories to make it clear to their base how strongly they disagree with the Ontario Superior Court judge who ruled that the nation’s prostitution laws need reworking. The Tories rejected this notion outright, despite a plurality of Canadians who agreed with the judge’s decision, but hey, why let the will of the electorate get in the way of party dogma, right?
Much of the justification for the Ontario ruling was that by criminalizing the running of a prostitution business from the comfort of one’s home, sex workers are forced out onto the streets to ply their trade. This puts them at the mercy of violent psychopaths, such as Robert Pickton, who murdered close to 50 women he picked up off the streets of Vancouver. The Craigslist erotic services ads allow sex workers to stay off the streets, which affords them a modicum of protection. But in the eyes of the faithful, if these people refuse to stop engaging in their immoral behavior, they deserve what’s coming to them.
Obviously, no one would argue that preventing child exploitation and human trafficking is a bad thing. But banning Craigslist’s erotic services ads won’t put a serious dent in either activity. It will, however, force sex workers to take to the streets to earn a living, and some of these will end up physically assaulted or dead as a result. And that shouldn’t be anyone’s ‘priority.’