HI, i am hoping that i can post this as a new thread for Gustave
Hi Fortunate and thanks for inviting me to post on your forum. This should have been a new thread but I’m not allowed to create one I believe. I’ll let you do whatever you want with it.
I thought I’d share some impressions and questions about the “probable” consequences of this Bill if adopted as is, which may well happen I’m afraid. What the key actors will do and how markets will react. I’ll talk mostly about Montréal. The little I now about Toronto is pretty much the same. I know too little about Vancouver.
I’d certainly appreciate to hear yours toughs on your city or on other probable consequences.
Police forces obviously set their priorities according to their analysis of criminality. That within the sex markets is tiny in Montréal. Arrests for pimping have been on a steady decline in the last ten years. They catch around 3 dozens a year. Street prostitution is also on the decline. There was an outburst of protest in Hochelaga-Maisoneuve some years ago. It did not come out of an increase of criminality, but of annoyance and the fear of criminality. Arrest data also show that pimps are half the time people working alone. They are the most difficult to identify. Gang members are the usual others suspects and the police is already after them. They have their strategies to deal with this type of criminality. The new law will not change them.
I have a very fatalist view of the problems related to pimping. Even if we succeeded to eliminate prostitutes, violent pimps would turn to other women. The problem is in their mind. They are predators. They feel a rush in beating and humiliating women.
Pimps are already the main targets of the SPVM. They seriously inquire into each case brought to their attention and each case they find through other investigations, on gang members for instance. What can they do more? Prohibitionists would render this country a great service if instead of moralizing the public space and private matters, they reported their folk devils at the police stations.
The police already has what’s needed to arrests clients of street prostitutes. I see no reason for them to make more use of it. Why go after Margot’s clients more now then before? They have known her for 5 years, she’s not causing trouble, or so little, and she has two kids to feed at home. They know about her, they talk to her. And she uses all the required civilities with them. I think not even one of them would fall for playing the intermediary in a scheme that consists of slashing her revenue in order to convince her to stop. It just does not make sense. Al sort of people would like the police to play a role in all sorts of social engineering schemes. Their mission is to combat criminality, not to implement schemes. And we all know where this inevitably leads, a build up of legitimate antagonism towards them by street workers, the worse case scenario.
So paradoxically, although the government announces a new crime out an old trade, I predict the arrests for prostitution related crimes to keep declining. Their next three year plan is in direct continuity with their previous focus and methods. They emphasise the linking of and with the actors (but shamefully do not mention Stella among those).
2 The City of Montréal
There was a big attempt at creating a moral panic about massage parlours in Montréal last fall.
- The RCMP, the CBSA and the SPVM packaged a series of arrests on that theme (less than 10). They made a big show of a Montrealer accused of human trafficking (victims worked in massage parlours), they shortly after busted Chinese massage parlours (most back in business today), and busted a few other massage parlours, in a rescue attempt fashion that was a complete flop.
- Blaney came to the rescue announcing a task force and some money on human trafficking with promises of arrests (still) to come.
- La Presse published no less than fifteen articles targeting the massage parlours and given access to unpublished material.
- Coderre was informed of the operations to come just a few days before taking office. He played the game exactly as expected. He launched a harsh attack on the massage parlours. I’m not sure if he really used the word, but some media said “eradicate”.
- La CLES (for who ever takes them seriously) and the Conseil du statut de la femme did also specifically target the massage parlours in their communications.
- Maria Mourani did not intervene much, but she played the whistle blower, late summer, capitalizing on alleged citizens complains about massage parlours in Villeray.
The attempt failed, as most attempts to create moral panics. I guess citizens are like me. “Where’s the beef? Can you please show significant numbers of arrest? We pay you to combat crime, not for whining about it. Blaney did put all the drama he could, but he is certainly not strongly supported by the SPVM. They don’t believe there’s a new form of exploitation in the sex industry just because pimping activities have been rebranded sex trafficking. Their estimates (unpublished method) is that 80% of the traffic occurs within the province. We used to call that pimping. As for international trafficking, nobody can safely say anything before we get a significant number of arrests under the new law. That has not happened in Montréal yet.
Annie Samson, vice-president of the Montreal Executive Committee, was asked by the mayor to make recommendations about the massage parlours. She got into this task with a knife between her teeth. She has already announced that her personal opinions have evolved on the subject. She met sex workers. She now says she’s concerned about the consequences for them. That’s a sign of intelligence as far as I’m concerned. One option for Montreal was a new category of permits for erotic parlours. I guess it may take some time before they get clear legal advice. I’m not sure if a massage parlour is illegal under the new law. So the same conundrum remains: can you really emit a permit to an establishment if clients are committing a criminal offence if they buy a service from them? I just don’t see a solution to this problem. I hope she’ll find something.
Arguably, erotic massage has developed to become the largest sexual service market in Montreal. It’s a good thing and everybody knows it. They offer a secure environment with short delay response to aggression. The sex workers basically define themselves the services they provide. They are easy to control for the police. They give easy access to sex workers for the health services.
Coderre supposedly called for eradication. My guess is that many signals coming from the police and the consultations tend to show that the movement towards this sector is not a bad thing and that the fierce attacks coming from la CLES may be attributed to their fear of security improvement in sex work (something that contradicts their main argument in favour of prohibition).
3 Markets: the fear factor
With no predictable change from those two actors, it boils down to the equations of economics. This law basically tries to disrupt the markets.
It does so by introducing a new fear factor in the demand and by trying to disrupt the communications between the parties. The supply side could hardly be attacked considering the SCC judgement. They lift on in-call prohibition is even a gain for the providers.
There are many questions to answer:
1 How will communications between buyers and sellers be affected? Will they succeed in disrupting the Internet communications? Will the print media find a new way around the law? What will happen with the punters forums that are, IMHO, the most important information transmission device for the consumers?
2 How will the demand react? There will be some reduction of the demand, that’s for sure, but how much and for how long? How will the fear factor play? How will this reduction be distributed among all the different sex services markets? Who will quit buying and who will not?
3 What will be the effect on prices and revenues?
Is this going to be anything else then a short lasting electroshock?