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8 min

Liberal candidate supports Canada’s anti-hooker laws

Scott Bradley favours trans rights bill, but stumbles over HIV crime file

Volunteers for Scott Bradley at Capital Pride in 2010. Credit: Marcus McCann
Scott Bradley was nominated as the Liberal Party candidate in Ottawa Centre 18 months ago. Since then, it’s been a waiting game.
 
“Your life goes on hold, you are in limbo. Even simple things like planning a family holiday is difficult,” he says.
 
The election call put an end to all that.
 
Bradley has been a registered lobbyist in his role as a consultant at pharma giant Merck Frosst. During that time, he worked on an aboriginal education policy and didn’t have a lot of interactions with government, he says.
 
He was also an avid volunteer and children’s hockey coach.
 
“I think it is part of who you are, and the reason you volunteer is because you like to be active in the community,” says Bradley. “The reason I am running for office is because you love being around people and you like doing things in the community and you find it rewarding.”
 
Bradley is passionate about politics and not afraid to say it.
 
“You are just doing something that you love; it’s not just a job. It’s just what makes you feel good; it’s what makes you feel satisfied with what you are doing with your life, ” says Bradley. “It’s like chasing a dream.”
 
Bradley grew up on the Niagara Peninsula. He became interested in politics at an early age and joined the Liberal Party when he was in high school. He moved to Ottawa in 1994 to work on Parliament Hill. Bradley now lives in Hintonburg with his wife and children.
 
He is keen to point out that he sees the gay community as playing a vibrant and active role in the revitalization of the downtown core. Bradley and his family have participated in the Pride parade for the last three years; he says that he thinks Pride reflects the diversity of Ottawa families.
 
“I think one thing in the Pride parade that you notice is how many families live in Ottawa Centre. Even from seeing the Pride parade three years ago to what it was last year — the shift in its being a public event to being a family event that reflects the nature of the community,” says Bradley. “I think family issues are family issues, whether or not you’re same-sex or two parents who are not of the same sex. You see far more the similarities than the differences.”
 
Xtra sat down with Ottawa Centre candidates from each of the major parties to ask about issues concerning the queer community. Here’s what Bradley had to say.
 
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Xtra: Do you support the inclusion of gender identity and gender expression in Canada’s human rights code and hate speech laws? What would you do as an MP to ensure those categories are added to the law?
 
Bradley: That’s really Bill Siksay’s bill. I suspect that someone from the NDP would probably table that bill after Parliament. It is certainly a bill I would be supportive of. Typically, if there’s an important bill for a party that’s to be taken forward, generally another party will not step in and highjack that bill.
 
X: Do you support the changes to Canada’s Access to Medicine Regime as outlined in C-393?
Bradley: Yes. I support the changes and in fact I am quite happy with the Liberal Party position that not only looks at the changes but also looks at further investment back in Africa. I think that that’s critical, where the current government has shifted all the priorities into defence; [the Liberal Party] have gone back to diplomacy and development. We had Michael [Ignatieff] talking — at an open-mic event back in October in the riding — and he took questions. I think he was also very clear in saying that it’s great we can change the regulations to get more drugs into Africa, but what is also key is that we make sure the drugs are getting to the people that need them… There are still issues with dictators and corrupt governments where the drugs are still being taken out of the system. The objective is to get the drugs to the people who need them. That’s certainly part of our priority in terms of our global strategy — to make reinvestments into Africa and be addressing issues like getting AIDS medicines to the people that need them. If the bill does come back into the house, we will be very supportive of it.
 
X: How can a local MP support the Village committee, which is trying to get formal recognition for the gay community on Bank St?
 
Bradley: I think a local MP can do many things, if you are a local champion you can make a strong case for what’s the advantage to the community as a whole. We have a strong gay village as part of our whole community. Look at the communities that work — a gay village brings life to the community. You want to talk about ways that you revitalize a strip of the downtown core; it’s a great solution. It’s a model that is working across cities in North America. We should embrace the value that this can generate for the community as a whole, albeit from a business perspective or from just building a thriving, healthy community that appreciates art, appreciates culture and all of these things…The communities that have been successful in integrating new Canadians, new immigrants into an economy, into a city are the ones that have been able to bring them into the downtown core — to diversify that base. Often it has been the gay and lesbian communities that have been first up to embrace that diversity. And so it’s a model that works; it’s a model that is working all over the place, and I just can’t see why we shouldn’t be with open arms taking the same sort of approach here in Ottawa.
 
X: Xtra has been following the rise in criminal charges for people who don’t disclose their HIV status before having sex. What would you do as an MP on the issue of HIV criminalization?
 
Bradley: I think it is an important issue. I don’t know if there is a pure answer right now… I think I recognize the concerns as regards to the community — the criminalization of HIV/AIDS. I think at this point the key thing is to be open in terms of a dialogue and have the issues on a table to start to look at. It’s not a definitive answer right now. Probably what’s most important is to make people aware of what the issues are from the community…
 
X: By dialogue do you mean what HIV criminalization means to the queer community?
 
Bradley: Yes, in terms of being direct as possible I think that that dialogue needs to really happen. I haven’t had the chance, at the parliamentary level, to have these discussions. So, I think that if I could commit to anything at this point it is that we need to be in the position to start having dialogues, putting issues on the table and start having a looking at what the right solutions are.
 
X: Do you think you understand what the issues are?
 
Bradley: Honestly I haven’t had it [the question] at the door yet… the issues I have heard have been the gay village, age of consent and Siksay’s bill — those are the three that I get… I have been reading up and trying to get an opinion on the issue, but what’s most important that I can promise is take a local focus on it, talk to people in the community. I am certainly prepared to have the dialogue in the House if that’s where we need to have it at this point to get the issue on the table.
 
X: What would you describe the issue as being?
 
Bradley: I guess it comes down to the issue of more personal responsibility for your actions on either side with regards to having safe sex. I guess that is as clear as I can explain it from my point of view. How do you figure out if someone is going around and having sex with people, because they are doing it for criminal purposes as opposed to having sex with someone because they want to have sex with someone? How do you prove it is a criminal act? How do you not say there is an onus of the non-infected individual who they are having sex with? It’s your responsibility as an individual to be having safe sex. In fact, if you have had consensual sexual acts, what obligation is on either side with regards to having that relationship? It’s awfully hard to put a criminal element around this.
 
X: Local police priorities have been in the news a lot recently, especially around sex-worker sweeps and charging poz folks. What should policing priorities be in Ottawa, and is there any way for an MP to influence police decision-making?
 
Bradley: The priority is to have safe communities and safe streets, and that’s, I think, the first goal. With regards to decriminalizing prostitution — a lot of people in prostitution are there for unfortunate reasons, be it addictions or other issues. I think that is something that speaks to the broader issues of making sure that we build safer communities. On that issue, I would be looking at how do we keep our communities safe and our streets safe? That would be my priorities in terms of security and where you would want the police to be focused.
 
X: But can a MP influence police decisions?
 
Bradley: There is a municipal Police Services Board. I think that’s where members of Parliament come from on issues of policing. It’s more macro policy, and so I think what you want to do is provide the tools for communities to be safer. I think the success stories for policing comes with working with communities, being directly involved in the engagement in the communities and having a police force that reflects the communities that they represent — that’s how you have successful policing. As an MP you are making more of the laws at a national level, you are not doing that locally.
 
XO: You made a comment about making streets safer, but one of the arguments about the police sweeps on hookers that they are pushing these women into more dangerous areas, so where do you balance safety of these women who are working for a living?
 
Bradley: You are not going to eliminate prostitution as much as you want to try. I think we have to provide the tools and the support for people who need them, who are in prostitution because they have no other option in their lives because they are addicts, because they have other health issues they can’t survive in any other way except turning a trick to make money. I think it is frightening that we have people that are in those circumstances, and I think that we need to have a support structure to help those people.
 
X: In 2010, the federal government appealed an Ontario court decision striking three sex-work laws. What should the federal government’s role be in that case? Do you support Canada’s sex-work laws or would you prefer to see them abolished?
 
Bradley: To be clear on the record, I don’t believe we have the support structures right now within our communities to support legalized prostitution. There are some big issues out there that we will have to deal with if we legalize prostitution and I don’t think that anywhere we are prepared to do that yet.
 
XO: A BC constitutional case on polygamy is underway right now. It’s likely to head to the Supreme Court of Canada. Should Canada’s polygamy law remain on the books, and what would you do about it if elected?
 
Bradley: I believe that yes, Canada’s polygamy law should remain on the books. I am a passionate advocate of same-sex marriage. I think that the strength of making the argument to folks who didn’t support same-sex marriage — and you always heard the negative “it’s going to lead to polygamy” — is that two people who are in love, who want to get married can get married, I think that’s great. I think frankly, that these polygamy laws undermine the values and the principles that we have defined with the marriage laws in this country, which I think are good and can reflect in positive ways the values of our country. I don’t support changes to our polygamy laws at all.