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Prime Minister Stephen Harper visits the construction site of Sheridan College's campus in Mississauga, Ont., on Dec. 2, 2010. (Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper visits the construction site of Sheridan College's campus in Mississauga, Ont., on Dec. 2, 2010. (Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Pressed on prostitution law, <br/>PM jokes about dominatrix Add to ...

Stephen Harper has replied to kings and queens, presidents and prime ministers. But he was perfectly clear Thursday as to who he hasn't answered: "I have never been called upon to respond to a dominatrix before."

Touring an infrastructure project in Mississauga, Ont., the Prime Minister made the joke during a short news conference with reporters.

He was reacting to the Ontario Court of Appeal's decision Thursday to extend a stay of proceedings imposed when a Toronto judge decriminalized prostitution this fall.

The challenge had been brought by dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford. She suggested the Prime Minister was hiding behind the courts and out to come out and "fight like a man" by changing the laws in Parliament.

"Just so we're absolutely clear on this. I don't know who this individual is," the Prime Minister said of Ms. Bedford. "I am sure I have never met her."

He went on to explain the government supports the prostitution laws now on the books. "The government is in court to encourage the court to uphold those laws," he said.

And he went further. The sex trade is "bad for society," the Prime Minister said. "That's a strong view held by our government and I think by most Canadians."

He added that he looks forward to fighting the Toronto judge's decision in the Ontario Court of Appeal.

Separately, Mr. Harper criticized Michael Ignatieff for his decision to reject the government's controversial human smuggling legislation. The Liberal Leader announced Wednesday his party would not support the bill on second reading, effectively killing the legislation as the other opposition parties are also against it.

"This is a discredit to hundreds of thousands of law-abiding people who go through the immigration system," the Prime Minister said. "It is bad for many people who are victimized by it. But also quite frankly it puts the integrity of our entire immigration and refugee system in doubt."

Mr. Harper argues the bill appeals to Canadians from all ethnic backgrounds and areas of the country. The Liberals say it is "anti-immigrant" and punishes victims of human smuggling instead of perpetrators.

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