The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Just Say No to the Nordic Model

In 1988, when the Supreme Court of Canada handed down its ruling in R. v. Morgentaler, our laws against abortion were already quite light, having been liberalized by Pierre Elliot Trudeau, our worst Prime Minister ever and the father of the dingbat who is currently leader of the Liberal Party, within months of his taking over the reins of power from Lester Pearson. This did not prevent the Supreme Court from ruling against Her Majesty the Queen and in favour of a Polish born quack who had survived the Holocaust of Dachau to pursue a career of killing the unborn here in Canada. All existing laws against abortion were struck down and no government since has succeeded in introducing new ones. Nor has any government since Mulroney’s seriously tried. As a result, there continue to be no legal restrictions on the clinical killing of foeti prior to and up until the moment of birth and, thanks to Tommy Douglas’ single-payer health system, every Canadian with enough moral sanity to recognize that abortion is murder, has to contribute to it through his taxes.

Last December, the Supreme Court had another such Solomonic moment. Just before Christmas they decided to hand out tricks as well as treats and made it their ruling in Canada v. Bedford that the laws against running brothels, soliciting on the streets, and living off of prostitution were unconstitutional. Parliament was given one year to come up with better laws in the duration of which the old ones will remain in effect. If Parliament fails to do so, as of December there will be no legal restrictions on prostitution in Canada.

While the ruling in Morgentaler was stupid, unconscionable, and downright evil, the ruling in Bedford does make a certain amount of sense. Prostitution itself was not illegal in Canada. Therefore, all that these laws that were ruled unconstitutional actually did was to harass people engaged in what is technically a legal trade. This is hardly right and fair and those who fought for the elimination of such laws had a point when they argued that this kind of legislation made the trade more dangerous for those involved.

Why not make prostitution itself illegal then?

Well, the problem with that solution is that prostitution is just the sale of sexual intercourse. Like most Western countries, Canada has liberalized its laws so that sexual immorality itself, fornication, adultery, etc. is neither prohibited nor punished by law. There are good arguments that can be made for and against this liberalization. The case against it is that it weakens marriage, the family, and the social order in general. The case in favour of it is that to be enforceable, laws against sexual immorality would require that we empower the police to spy on people in the privacy of the bedroom. These arguments are both quite strong, indeed, they are ironclad. Whichever argument you or I might think to be the best, the political reality is that the only change we are likely to see any time in the near future is in the direction of further liberalization. This is my point – in the absence of laws against sexual immorality, laws prohibiting prostitution do not make sense. Such laws would in effect be saying to people “screw around all you want, just don’t let any money change hands while you are doing it.” Surely the stupidity in that is plain to be seen.

Given my druthers, I would have the government take the opportunity the Supreme Court has handed it, to decentralize and localize legislation restricting prostitution. Of all conceivable laws restricting the sale of sex, the kind that seem the most sensible and necessary to me are those that are passed locally, are locally enforced and which are designed to keep it out of residential neighborhoods and away from schools and playgrounds. Have Parliament hand over the regulating and restricting of prostitution entirely to city, town, and municipal governments that make laws only for themselves and the neighborhoods they live in. Nothing further is necessary.

Now, not everybody would agree with this, naturally, and it would be a dull world if that were not the case. There are those who think of prostitution in the same way that the neo-Puritans of the early twentieth century viewed the consumption of alcohol and the neo-Puritans of the late twentieth century regarded the use of narcotics – as a great and terrible evil towards the stomping out of which all the powers of government must be marshalled. We all know how well Prohibition and the War on Drugs turned out, after all.

One person who prefers the neo-Puritan, prohibitionist approach to prostitution is Joy Smith, the Conservative Member of Parliament for the constituency of Kildonan-St. Paul here in Winnipeg. Smith is a moral crusader, noted for her efforts against human trafficking. This is to her credit, of course, as no sane person could find anything defensible in human trafficking. Her response to the Supreme Court’s ruling that our prostitution laws need to be rewritten has been to campaign for what is called the “Nordic model”, i.e., the kind of laws that are in place in Sweden.

A red flag should have popped up immediately at the mention of Sweden. Sweden is a country that has much to admire including her constitutional monarchy and her national, albeit now disestablished, church that combines a Lutheran confession with the historical episcopacy. These are all centuries old, however. While Sweden may still be impressive in terms of her unusually high quality pop groups, her beautiful women and her Muppet chefs, her statesmanship has long left something to be desired. Her abandonment of her long-established traditional cultural identity for multiculturalism, extreme political correctness, and bizarre obsession with turning sex into something one chooses rather than something one is born with, all lead one to the inevitable conclusion that, not to put too fine a point on it, the members of her polite class have all gone børking mad. She is the last country whose recent political innovations we ought to consider imitating.

What the Nordic model entails is simply this – laws that target the customer rather than the provider, the john rather than the prostitute. While this approach makes a certain amount of sense from an economic point of view – cut off the demand and there will be no incentive for there to be a supply – it is highly dubious from the ethical point of view. Think of what the equivalent strategy in combatting the drug trade would look like. It would mean having law enforcement focus on arresting users for drug possession rather than going after dealers, supplies, and smugglers. Indeed, the police have often come under criticism for doing just that.

Someone might object to that comparison by saying that in drug trafficking the supplier is the victimizer, taking advantage of his client’s addiction to make a profit out of selling him the meanas of his own destruction whereas in prostitution it is the supplier, the hooker, who is the victim. The problem with that reasoning is that if prostitutes are victims as a class, their victimizers are not the people Joy Smith and company wish to punish. Individually, prostitutes may frequently suffer violence at the hands of individual clients. As a class, they can only rightly be regarded as the victims of the men who through various means force them into prostitution, i.e., their pimps. We could pass laws targeting the kind of men who kidnap girls, addict them to drugs, and force them to sell their bodies. Those laws would for the most part look identical to the laws the Supreme Court struck down.

The fact of the matter is that the clients of prostitution are a class of victims too, the victims of feminism. The true purpose of feminism, the so-called ”women’s movement”, was never to benefit women so much as to break the one woman for one man pattern of traditional, monagamous, marriage so that alpha males could horde women. It is from the deprived and desperate numbers of the beta-or-lower males that the client base for prostitution is derived. There is more than a hint of feminism in the movement to rewrite the prostitution laws to punish the clients rather than the prostitutes. This means that if the laws are changed in this way, feminism will have succeeded in victimizing this class twice over.

Rather than jump on this bandwagon of injustice, it would be far better to either return to the status quo ante, go for complete liberalization, or follow my earlier suggestion of decentralized, local regulations and restrictions.

Finally, if an attempt to starve off prostitution by cutting off the demand is still seen as desirable, then the best way to do so is not to introduce laws targetting the clients, but by cleaning up the sex-saturated culture and passing laws that strengthen rather than weaken the traditional family and marriage. Just as the trade in destructive narcotics will not go away as long as pharmacetical companies continue to promote their products as the instant cure to all your pain in their advertisements, so the demand for prostitution will not lessen as long as television, movies, magazines and books continue to preach the message "just do it" and to use sex to sell their products.


  1. Quite right. The Nordic model for tackling prostitution is not a good idea.

  2. Obviously the best solution is the same as that for alcohol and lotteries: make it 100% government run.

    If just for the potential jokes around tax time.