Canada has a colourful sexual history. While Pierre Trudeau’s statement that the government had no business in the bedrooms of the nation undoubtedly influenced Canadian sexual values, it was in fact the bill he was introducing at the time — the 1967 Omnibus Bill — that has probably had more impact on our national sexual identity than any piece of legislation since. This bill made birth control and abortion more available, divorce more accessible and removed homosexuality from the Criminal Code.

Less than a decade previous to this, Canada wasn’t quite as sexually liberal. The D.H. Lawrence classic Lady Chatterly’s Lover was considered criminally obscene at least in Quebec as late at 1959.

But a decade after the Omnibus Bill, in 1977, Quebec became the first province to include sexual orientation in its Human Rights Code. It took the Supreme Court of Canada until 1995 to rule that sexual orientation is protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms but the feds made up for it by becoming the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage in 2005.

And, in the same year that gay people were celebrating their legal entry into the world of heterosexual monogamy, straight married couples were celebrating their legal right to have recreational sex with someone other than their partner when, in December of 2005, swingers’ club were legalized in Canada.

You could also blame our liberal sexual attitudes on Niagara Falls. According to Chris Gudgeon, author of The Naked Truth: The Untold Story of Sex in Canada, by 1867, Niagara Falls had become the Honeymoon Capital of the World because it was “a potent symbol of the awesome natural limitlessness of the new country.” From the start, Gudgeon argues, “Canada and sex were linked in the world’s imagination.”

Our sexy rep has been solidified by people like Gwen Jacobs who took off her top on a hot day in Guelph, Ont., back in 1991, asserting she had just as much right to go topless as men. The court agreed and it became legal for women to go topless in Ontario. Toss in our nude beaches, like Wreck Beach in Vancouver and Hanlan’s Point on Toronto Island, the fact that Toronto is home to the Naked News (nakednews.com) and The History of Contraception Museum, featuring the world’s biggest collection of contraceptive devices, and you’ve got one sexy country.

From Dildo, N.L., to Bare Butt Bay in Northern Ontario, Cuddle Lake in Manitoba to The Nipples off the coast of B.C., Happy sexy Canada Day!

• Tennis, porn and Gloria Vanderbilt’s steamy new novel in Josey’s Sexcetera blog at www.metronews.ca/blog.

– Josey Vogels is a sex and relationship columnist and author of five books on the subjects. For more info, visit www.joseyvogels.com.

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