There are times where a good idea can be spoiled by lousy execution, either because the details are wrong, or because the people running the show make a hash of them. So when Giorgio Mammoliti proposes legalizing prostitution in Toronto, we kind of wish him well (after all, at least one court has found that Canada’s laws aren’t helping anyone). But putting a red-light district on Toronto Islands? This is an idea that no one would take seriously if it wasn’t coming from the mouth of a city councillor and close ally of mayor Rob Ford.
Mammoliti has for years argued Toronto should regulate and tax brothels, saying unregulated prostitution happens in “massage parlours” in residential communities across the city.
The time is ripe, after an Ontario Superior Court ruling struck down prostitution laws—a ruling suspended pending appeal—and with the city facing a $784 million budget gap for 2012, he says.
The sex zone, and hotels and other businesses it would draw, could put “hundreds of millions of dollars” in “sin taxes” into city coffers, he predicted. Get provincial permission for a casino on the islands and “we would have solved all of our problems at city hall without cutting and going crazy.”
Call us skeptics, but we’re pretty sure the province and the feds would call Mammoliti’s notion—making the Islands into sex zones purely as a budget-balancing move—“going crazy.” Indeed, we’re really not sure about the message is sends when, according to Mammoliti’s statements on the record, the city would rather encourage legalized prostitution than tax car ownership. It’s okay for the government to tax sex, but not drivers? I’m sure we don’t need to remind the councillor that the city already taxes places like massage parlours, where sex acts sometimes take place—and a massage parlour licence costs about as much as a strip club licence: $11,000-plus.
On the other hand, maybe Toronto can get off conventional taxes and run on a purely sin-based fiscal structure. We’d like to suggest council look at our lies, cursing and graven images tax proposal.