Buying Sex (Clip 1)

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Timely and wise, this feature documentary explores the state of prostitution laws in Canada. Buying Sex captures the complexity of the issue by listening to the frequently conflicting voices of sex workers, policy-makers, lawyers and even the male buyers who make their claim for why prostitution is good for society. With the landmark Supreme Court decision in Canada, the film examines the realities in Sweden and New Zealand. The film also challenges us to think for ourselves and offers a gripping and invaluable account of just what is at stake for all of us.

Warning: This film deals with mature subject matter. Viewer discretion is advised.

Following the release of Buying Sex, Professor Alan Young, counsel for the applicants in Bedford v. Canada and a participant in the film, contacted the NFB to complain that the film provides an incomplete and inaccurate account of the case. The NFB acknowledges that the constitutional challenge is not the focus of the film. Rather, the aim of the film is to examine the current controversy in Canada around the decriminalization of prostitution, of which the Bedford case is one aspect. The goal is to create a film which encourages Canadians to engage in an informed debate about sex work from a national and international perspective. The NFB believes the film achieves this purpose. In the spirit of furthering an informed debate on these issues, including the constitutional challenge, and in response to Prof. Young's concerns, the NFB provides below links to the legal briefs filed by the parties before the Supreme Court of Canada as well as links to the judgments of all three Canadian Courts. The third judgment, from the Supreme Court of Canada, was released in December 2013, following the completion of the film. The Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the three prostitution related laws challenged by Prof. Young, but suspended its judgment for one year to allow Parliament to consider whether to enact new laws, thus ensuring that the debate surrounding the decriminalization of prostitution will continue in Canada for some time.

Legal Briefs Filed by the Parties in the Supreme Court of Canada

Judgments from the Trial Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Canada

Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford, 2013 SCC 72 (Supreme Court of Canada)

Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford, 2012 ONCA 186 (Court of Appeal for Ontario)

Bedford v. Canada, 2010 ONSC 4264 (CanLII) (Superior Court of Ontario)

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Comments

  • StopGovPropaganda

    ““The Bedford parties featured in Buying Sex participated on the assurance that the goal of the film was to raise public awareness regarding the nature of the constitutional challenge to Canada's prostitution laws. Regrettably, Buying Sex provides an incomplete and inaccurate account of the case. Through highly selected editing, the film marginalizes and trivializes the significance of the court challenge. Bedford v Canada is not about legalization, decriminalization or the 'Swedish model' advanced by some advocates. Nor is this case about polarizing a feminist debate. Bedford is about individual's constitutional right to security of the person under s.7 of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. For more information about the constitutional challenge being heard at the Supreme Court of Canada on June 13, 2013: bedfordsafehaveninitiative.com” — BedfordParties, 23 May 2013” — StopGovPropaganda, 9 Nov 2013

  • PRprowess

    “Why is Des1979 reduced to "explaining" his or her lay persons view of Bedford vs. Canada when the NFB boasts that Buying Sex "examines the state of the prostitution laws in Canada"? It is strange that a case built on thousands of pages of Canadian research, including royal commissions which agreed the current prostitution laws are not working, does not enter into the film itself. It appears that the film is riding the wave of publicity of Bedford vs. Canada and presenting sex worker views as "ideology" (see NFB description above). If you ignore the evidence of the Bedford parties and the fact that the courts have agreed with them, I suppose it is possible to present to the public sex workers as "idealists" rather than reality-based. Interesting that the NFB also states that the film explores "the reality" of the changes to sex worker laws in Sweden and New Zealand when in fact the film does not interview the Dept. of Justice in either land, which is a different view of the people they interviewed. And what does Bedford vs. Canada say is at stake for "all Canadians?" They only address the harms to sex workers. Only the prohibitionists, religionists and government are running around to media outlets and church bbqs like Chicken Little, saying Canada will be in "trouble" should Bedford vs. Canada win. This film has become obselete anyways, as at the Supreme Court level, the abolitionist interveners backed by MP Joy Smith sided with Bedford vs. Canada, putting petitions on their website which ask Parliament to "decriminalize the selling of sexual services". That's what will happen if Bedford vs. Canada wins. So in this film and in media they're "against" Bedford vs. Canada while in court documents and their petition to Parliament they're aligned with Bedford vs. Canada. How can anyone take that seriously? This film shows nothing of the reality of Bedford vs. Canada if they can't get into court arguments and judgements and how the prohibitionists are asking for decriminalization of sexual services at the 11th hour. ” — PRprowess, 4 Aug 2013

  • Des1979

    “I agree with the above comment that Buying Sex does not raise public awareness regarding the technical nature of the constitutional challenge to Canada's prostitution laws. That said, I also believe that Bedford et al. trivializes the significance of Canada's prostitution laws to vulnerable women, as they seek to strike down these laws in the face of conflicting evidence regarding how these laws relate to the safety of prostitutes. As for the nature of the consitutional challenge as I understand it, the Bedford party insists that it is unconstitutional for the state to fail to facilitate the choice to engage in prostitution in a way that is safer (hiring security, bodyguards, drivers, brothel management, etc) because this ommission of the state infringes upon the prostitute's security of person (s.7 of the Charter). The state is arguing that the evidence with regards to the safety of prostitutes under a legal regime is conflicting. They also argue that it is not sufficient to narrow the laws down to apply only in "situations of exploitation" because there is no sharp dichotomy between those who choose prostitution freely, and those who are being exploited. The state claims that there is evidence to suggest that the breadth of the laws are necessary as they capture "parasitic relationships" which are typically covert and which most often appear on the surface to be benign. If we narrow the technicalities down even further, as I understand it, the case starts to center around "choice" and whether or not an individual's economic choice to prostitute legally engages s.7 of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. The question is, "If the law restricts one's ability to suppress some of the dangers involved in an economic choice to engage in a dangerous activity, is it truly an infringement by the state on the security of person of such an individual?" And if it is, "is this infringement in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice?" The state argues that it is in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice for reasons such as, but not limited to, some of those issues outlined in Buying Sex. So in all fairness, I think that although it is true that Buying Sex does not speak to the nature of the constitutional challenge, it does serve the purpose of painting a broader picture of what is actually at stake as we await the outcome of the case and possibly seek to reform Canada's prostitution laws in the future.” — Des1979, 21 Jun 2013

  • BedfordParties

    “The Bedford parties featured in Buying Sex participated on the assurance that the goal of the film was to raise public awareness regarding the nature of the constitutional challenge to Canada's prostitution laws. Regrettably, Buying Sex provides an incomplete and inaccurate account of the case. Through highly selected editing, the film marginalizes and trivializes the significance of the court challenge. Bedford v Canada is not about legalization, decriminalization or the 'Swedish model' advanced by some advocates. Nor is this case about polarizing a feminist debate. Bedford is about individual's constitutional right to security of the person under s.7 of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. For more information about the constitutional challenge being heard at the Supreme Court of Canada on June 13, 2013: bedfordsafehaveninitiative.com” — BedfordParties, 23 May 2013

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Film Credits

featuring
Valerie Scott
Trisha Baptie
Alan Young
Janine Benedet
director
Teresa MacInnes
Kent Nason
writer
Teresa MacInnes
director of photography
Kent Nason
editor
Teresa MacInnes
Manfred Becker
original music composer
Asif Illyas
sound design
Alex Salter
sound recordist
Frédéric Edwards
Mike Filippov
Dave Hurley
Aram Kouyoumdjian
James Lazarenko
Mike Mydren
Fredrik Norrgren
Justine Pimlott
Jon Ritchie
Ken Saville
Brooke Thomson
Jonas Träskelin
re-recording
Jean Paul Vialard
producer
Annette Clarke

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