B.C. NDP leadership hopeful Dana Larsen backs decriminalization of sex work

B.C. NDPleadership candidate Dana Larsen has pledged to work toward the decriminalization of sex work if he becomes premier.

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The former B.C. Marijuana Party leader announced in a press release today (February 14) that he would allow sex workers to unionize and form co-operatives.

"As Premier, I would defund the police enforcement, prosecution and incarceration of offences related to the sex trade in an effort to increase safety for street sex workers," Larsen said in the release.

“We know from the evidence that only a small minority of sex workers in Canada work on the street, the rest operate in what amounts to a legal environment as 'escorts'. We have a set of laws here that only target the most impoverished, marginalized few percent of sex workers, preventing them from unionizing, hiring security, or otherwise trying to increase their safety."

Larsen noted that an Ontario court ruled in the fall that Canada's prostitution laws were unconstitutional.

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Comments (24) Add New Comment
Curious Onlooker
Mr Larsen, regarding legalities and other little niceties, could you tell us what relation exists between your Harry Pothead stories and the Harry Potter series of books and movies? How long can a parody be, before it is seen as mere plagiarism? What does Warner Brothers think of your publications? Do you pay any royalties? Also, after what length of time would your political aspirations be seen as a parody? Thanks.
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All 4 Common Sense
Curious Onlooker how about asking a question that actually pertains to the article? I applaud Mr. Larsen's for tackling a topic that most would rather brush under the rug. The legalization of prostitution would increase the safety of those in the sex trade as well as those that use that particular service. It would also provide another source of tax revenue. I challenge any further posters to stay on topic and debate the actual article. Not make nonsense statements, or ask pointless questions that have nothing to do with Mr. Larsen's ideals.
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whatAjoke
Okay, so we know you support Sex & Drugs...

What's your stance on Rock N' Roll?

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Darren T
I wonder if Dana Larsen is even aware that the two most notable positions he has taken are in areas over which the provincial government doesn't really have any authority.
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East Van Arts
I also look forward to Dana Larsen's position on time travel, the colonization of Mars, and the legalization of dilithium crystals. And we thank him for keeping BC politics on the fringes of Neverland!
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provincial jurisdiction
Labour law is provincial jurisdiction, as is the funding of police. So Dana's stance on allowing sex-trade workers to form unions, and to defund the police from enforcement, is all within provincial jurisdiction.

Vancouver and other cities all license "escorts" and charge them exorbitant business license fees. And then on the other hand, police will enforce laws that force the most impoverished se trade workers onto the street where they become easy victims.
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Jmart
I think Mr. Larsen would be more successful in keeping women safe if he built his platform around safeguarding women from the current economic climate for poverty in BC rather than decriminalizing ALL aspects of the sex industry.

The only effective way to improve safety conditions for women is to use part of the money Dana Larsen intends to draw from law enforcement-related programs to fund women's shelters, affordable housing, affordable child-care, access to free legal support, exiting opportunities and programming etc.


I personally hope he will also reconsider his position on the full-decriminalization of prostitution and research the Nordic model of prostitution law, first introduced in Sweden in 1999. This system decriminalizes those sold for sex and criminalizes those who buy sex and those who profit from the sale of others - pimps, traffickers, and brothel owners.

I would encourage those who intend to support Larsen politically to take a look at the pros and cons of prostitution law in countries like New Zealand (fully decriminalization), Germany (legalization), and Sweden (partial decriminalization).

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glen p robbins
Yes, it takes courage to tackle subject matter that makes many people uncomfortable - but it is time to have ALL of the conversations - when most in the mainstream don't want to do anything but run out the clock.
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provincial jurisdiction
Last year, the Ontario Supreme Court ruled that federal laws around prostitution are unconstitutional because they put women's lives at risk.

www.globalwinnipeg.com/Prostitution+laws+ruled+unconstitutional+Ontario+...

Since the federal laws are invalid, this means that the regulation of sex workers and their industry is now up to the provinces.

Dana is correct that BC should take control and regulate this industry to protect women and encourage safety and public health.
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NDB
Well I must say I agree with Dana. This is a topic which needs to be addressed head on. If there is one thing history has taught us is that making prostitution illegal does not stop or curb the sex trade.

Laws an regulation need to come into place to protect those that choose to join the sex trade.

Mainstream rather not talk about it, or miss label it.

Bravo Dana for talking about a topic most politicians are to scared and immature to discuss.
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Second Nation
Slavery by another name.
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all red moose 61
perhaps we should all keep in mind that this man and his party would really like to run this province. we should also keep in mind that promises made by anyone with the authority to change social issues and laws CAN also change like bread going moldy or start to behave in such a way that is synonymous with the over-colonization of rats in our landfill sites. how could anyone be given the power to be taken seriously when their own personal agenda is to be in a high-paying, lots of "perks" job? were i running for a position like this one, i would promise everyone anything they wanted. but of course, i personally wouldn't, because i am not a politician. it might be an important time for us all to open our nostrils and smell the fertilizer.
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dana is right
Once again, Dana is hitting a key issue that is being ignored by other candidates.

If we want to save lives, protect public health and reduce public disorder, then allowing sex workers to unionize and form co-ops is a huge step forward.

Congratulations Dana for being brave, smart and truthful.
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let women protect themselves
Harper wants to up the penalties for sex-trade workers who try to be safe by working indoors or hiring security.

http://www.straight.com/article-341746/vancouver/new-brothel-penalty-ril...

Canada's prostitution laws are an abomination which result in the victimization of the most poor and vulnerable women.

It is the prostitution laws which make women easy pickings for Pickton and other women-hating murderous scum.
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David Beattie
Pity the story is so short - this is a HUGE issue and demands very very serious attention indeed. As usual the higher profile candidates pay it little heed as most of the public cares little, and the Corporate Media, principally the Sun and the Province, do the issue little or no justice.

It seems likely that most people would favour an approach that has the best outcome for the highest number of people, and street sex workers in particular. If the Swedish model is followed, going after the buyers, then the most desperate women will continue to move ever further into the shadows, so their clients will avoid the police. As they do that they make themselves more vulnerable.

If, however, the act of buying sex from an adult - in most cases men doing the buying and women doing the selling - was not only decriminalized but also destigmatized, then even the most desperate women could sell sex indoors and thus avoid the worst outcome of all - violence against them and even murder.

The snag is that a large number of activists cannot condone the act of men buying sex from women, it is just too much for their feminist sensibilities to cope with. So their purist position continues to put women in danger.

Sex trafficking is in a different category - it is obviously coercive. But although everything should be done to give street sex workers other options, there will always be those who resort to selling sex, and so there will be buyers. So harm reduction demands making it okay for that to happen, just as it is okay for people to inject themselves with drugs.

And until drugs are also decriminalized it should be okay to sell drugs - somebody has to do it no, or how would addicts get the stuff? This continued vilification of sex buyers and drug sellers is immature and annoying and the real world consequences are profound.
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G La Flam
Dana's other positions should be considered here. Direct democracy would give ALL of us a chance to influence social behavior. If legalization were one of ten items on a referendum ballot, MLAs could avoid flak from their constituents, and we would still get to deal a problem.
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Peter F
Several of Dana's positions - Legalize Pot, warning labels ect on Soda Pop, and the decriminalization of sex work - are all postions that are strongly supported by myself and many of my family and friends. However, I have huge trust issues with Dana. Frankly, it is his unapologetic stance against that video showing him smoking pot and dropping acid, while operating a motor vehicle. Hey, I am no angel and I am happy that video cameras were not so readily available during my youth.

Ad hominen attacks do not affect the argument. There is good reason to support many of the causes that Dana has forwarded. I could care less if he as a douche bag when it comes to his causes. However, Dana want to lead a political party and be Premier of this province. There are too many good reason as to why Dana is a poor leader that I hope he loses on the first ballot. We do not need any more snake oil salesmen leading us.

As for the decriminalization of sex work, I agree 100% that the sex workers safety must be first and foremost. We spend too much time worrying about the what if? The old policies has lead to too many deaths. It is time to act first and deal with any negative outcomes. How could this postion be any worse that the old way?
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glen p robbins
Peter F. Yes, I agree with your position. Mr. Larsen's voice is valuable in that he raises the elephant in the room issues - however these stand a better chance of mainstream discussion if he could place more stability in his persona - particularly as you have described.
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media misinformation
Actually, there is no video of Dana Larsen taking LSD and driving.

There is a video of him taking LSD and then filming himself as walked around the beach explaining how he was feeling.

In another, separate video, he is shown with an unlit joint in his hand as he gets into a car to drive him at the end of the video.

I've seen Dana speak about the videos, and he always says he regrets the video which shows him with the unlit joint while driving, but that he is not ashamed of having taken psychedelics and feels that he benefitted from his use of LSD.

Keep in mind that the videos are from the late 1990s. Adrian Dix says that his backdating of a memo in the 90's was "an error" and that he "paid a significant price and learned from it." Dana says essentially the same thing about the video showing him with an unlit joint while behind the wheel.
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you support his issues but want him to lose?
Peter F, you are saying that you support Dana raising issues that you think are important, you agree with his stance, and no other leadership candidate is talking about these things, but you want him to come in last?

I don't understand how you can support him on legalizing marijuana, on warning labels for sugary drinks and on decriminalization of sex work, but you also hope he loses on the first ballot?

If the ideas Dana is bringing forward are ever to gain traction in the party, then Dana has to do reasonably well in this race. If he loses on the first ballot then it will guarantee that the BC NDP will never talk about legalization of marijuana, warning labels on sugary drinks or decrim of prostitution ever again.

Dana is being brave for putting himself out there for the issues he believes in. The videos that you are so worried about are about 15 years old. Maybe it's time to focus on policies and ideas instead of on worn-out scandals that aren't very scandalous.

Even if you believe the media spin, what Dana did 15 years ago wasn't dishonest, he didn't scam anyone, didn't hurt anyone, didn't do anything for personal gain, didn't backdate any memos, didn't get charged by police, and he's not lying about it now.

So yes, maybe he showed a lack of judgement when he made that silly video back in the 90s, but he's also shown integrity, bravery and idealism by standing up for what he believes.
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