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Complaint to the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying : RE Joy Smith

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. As I said I am frustrated with the lobbying efforts of Joy Smith on behalf of herself and those people who support the abolition of prostitution.

She ceased to be a member of parliament on October 18, 2015 and as such it has not been 5 years which puts her in conflict with the laws governing lobbying in Canada. In fact, she began her lobbying while still in parliament and in conflict with the “Standing Orders Act” and continued immediately after leaving public office.

Joy Smith is not an expert in human trafficking or sex work. She has no training in criminal justice, criminology, sociology or psychiatry. She has never worked in the front line fight against exploitation. She has never conducted any research on this subject with ethics board review as required by Canadian federal standards in this regard. She choose to not engage with sex working people and instead has listened to only one side, the side she has a vested private interest in. Her belief in the abolition of prostitution makes her incapable of impartiality and should have precluded her from hearing testimony as part of the Parliamentary Justice Committee hearings on bill C-36. It should also be a “red flag” in terms of Lobbying Conduct rules as she does not ensure those she engages with are receiving true facts.

Her bias against sex working people and the sex industry have had a profound effect on the legal and policy outcomes in relation to prostitution in Canada. Her work has never been impartial nor was it ethical with multiple breaches of the Code of Conduct rules when she was a member of parliament and now as a lobbyist.

Her complete disregard for facts about sex workers and our lives goes beyond what is acceptable and undermines public confidence and trust in the integrity of government decision-making. She continually submits as fact, statistics and “evidence” which has previously been deemed inadmissible or not based in reality by the Supreme Court of Canada and other policy bodies.

As an example, the average age of entry into prostitution is often stated to be between 12 and 14 years old or 13 years old as it was re branded during the lead up to implementation of the new legal framework criminalizing sex work in Canada. Justice Himmel revealed in her decision that this number has no basis in reality and is in fact the average age of a group of at risk youth – no adult sex workers ages were used to find this number. As such the testimony of the “researcher” who claimed this to be the average age of entry into prostitution, was given no weight or credibility in the Judges decisions.

This number has been used over and over even after being revealed to be untrue. Joy Smith has used it herself and as such is undermining Canadians understanding of these issues and more importantly, policies which harm Canadian sex working people have been created based on her biased and morality based lobbying. This does not create trust in government decision making.

Consensual sex working people have attempted on numerous occasions to engage with Joy Smith even enlisting the help of the Federal Ombudsman for the Victims of Crime – Susan O’Sullivan – in an attempt to hold her to her responsibilities as a parliamentarian under the Standing Orders Act – Code of Conduct –  which requires impartiality in decision making or creation of law/ policy.

During her time as a parliamentarian, Joy Smith was never impartial and in fact imposed her biased beliefs on all conversations related to sex work in Canada.

Now and since her time as an MP ended, she has continued to lobby against sex working people. She has attended any and all committees related to sex work and the sex industry including the Federal Health Committee  – M-47 –  which examined the health impacts of ease of access to pornography on the health of Canadians. The brief submitted by the Joy Smith foundation was filed with unsubstantiated claims and other morality based assertions. And now the Human Trafficking Study – Justice and Human Rights Committee – which is working to study the prevalence of and ways to fight human trafficking in Canada , also heard “testimony” from Joy Smith.

Joy Smith has over blown the numbers on her web site stating that 36 million people world wide are trafficked each year and then links to a UN news letter where it states that 2.5 million people are trafficked each year. This example of strategic adoption of known false statements as facts is the main reason for my complaint.

The laws governing Lobbyist activities prohibit undermining Canadians trust in the ability of government to make decisions. The clause related to Integrity and Honesty  as well as the Accurate Information section state implicitly what is expected of those who lobby government of Canada officials.

Joy Smith has acted as a lobbyist in conflict with the rules before 5 years after her serving in public office. She has also behaved unethically in her role as a lobbyist. She is also profiting by this unethical behavior via her self named foundation.

The Joy Smith Foundation accept donations for public speaking. While Joy Smith asserts she gains no profit from the foundation, it is clear that she profits through advancing her personal and private interest in the goal of abolition of prostitution. All expenses related to these speaking engagements where she proliferates the false facts which are the foundation of her lobbying, are covered by the people hiring her to speak. So flights, hotels and food as well as a donation to her foundation are required as payment to Joy Smith for her work.

Her foundation is a non profit and as such she states that she is making no money. However, she is able to advance her private interests without it costing her anything and even building her social capitol and credibility even though many of her claims are baseless. Her ability to freely move and lobby her ideas with no cost to herself IS profiting.

Her time in parliament has given her access and a perceived credibility which she exploits for use in her lobbying. She has access to people and places and uses this access to further her goals.

Sex workers are frustrated that she is allowed to continue this lobbying effort and thwarting all of our attempts to create a fair and impartial dialogue which is based on actual facts about these issues. We deserve to engage in an unbiased process where government representatives have the real facts and could move towards meaningful change. We deserve to be treated with dignity and in accordance with the rules as any Canadian does.

Joy Smith has behaved unethically and has breached the Laws governing lobbying. We are also concerned that the committees who have been tasked with investigating these issues and reporting back to parliament do not seem to have any processes in place to ensure that the committee members ARE receiving accurate information, that illegal lobbyists do not gain access and are not heard by committees deciding critical policy for sex workers in Canada. 

We respectfully request that the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying investigate Joy Smith and her unethical lobbying activities. Our hope is to prevent her from undermining what should be a fair process of decision making around sex work in Canada. We also hope that your office will investigate how committees vet witnesses and ensure that committee members are receiving accurate facts to inform their work. As it stands it seems that none of these committees do any due diligence in this regard leaving room for unethical and untrue facts to make they way into the process via lobbyists like Joy Smith.

This is a gap in the parliamentary process which is costing sex working people their lives, health and freedom. For us there is no more serious issue than the proliferation of myths about sex work informing decisions which affect our lives.

Joy Smith profits from lobbying. She gains social capitol and the ability to spread her vitriol at no cost to herself. She should not be a lobbyist. She is in breach of the time constraints for people who have served in public office. She has used her connections and credibility stemming from her time as a public official to further her private interest in the abolition of prostitution.

Sex Working people are Canadian citizens and are entitled to the same rights and protections as all Canadians are guaranteed. We are entitled to the protection of the rules against unethical lobbyists. Those rules are there for a reason, to protect Canadians from biased policy and law.

I would like to add one last comment, if we were discussing any other group…for example the LGTBQ2 community….and a lobbyist was promoting hate filled lies about them….would we allow that lobbyist to inform federal law? Would we allow bible quotes to be used to inform criminal law reform? Would we allow people to express their feelings and hatred to inform policy decisions? Would we allow those hateful lobbyists to testify as witnesses to parliamentary committees? In particular to the Justice and Human Rights Committee?

We look forward to your response and please feel free to contact us with any questions or if you require any clarification, links or proof of our assertions.

thank you,

Susan Davis


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