Canada to Tighten Laws Against Sex Trafficking with Proposed Bill Blocking Stripper Visas
By Gudrun Schultz
OTTAWA, Canada, May 19, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Immigration Minister Diane Finley introduced a bill Wednesday that would prevent sex trade workers from entering the country on a stripper’s visa.
Bill C-57 is intended to prevent sexual exploitation and trafficking of foreign workers under the guise of exotic dancer visas.
“What we’re trying to do here is protect vulnerable foreign workers, ones that could easily be exposed to sexual exploitation, harassment and abuse,” Finley told the House of Commons Wednesday.
“The previous Liberal government gave blanket exemptions to foreign strippers to work in Canada. (This was) despite warnings that they were vulnerable to forced prostitution and other exploitation…Thanks to (this legislation), the good old days of Liberal Strippergate will be a thing of the past.”
The so-called “Strippergate” scandal broke in the fall of 2004 when it was alleged that then-Immigration Minister Judy Sgro had used the Liberal’s “exotic dancer” visa program to fast-track the immigration of one of her campaign workers from Romania.
An outcry from the Opposition led to the abrupt cancellation of the program in December 2004, but efforts by Canadian strip club owners to ensure that the market of foreign sex trade workers remained accessible were ongoing.
The proposed amendment to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that would end the granting of work permits for exotic dancers to immigrants was praised by the anti-trafficking Canadian organization The Future Group.
“Immigration Minister Diane Finley has taken an important step to protect women from sexual exploitation and end a program that made Canada complicit in human trafficking,” said Sabrina Sullivan, managing director of The Future Group, in a statement issued May 17.
The non-profit organization sought the abolition of Canada’s exotic dancer program since its inception, calling it an “international beacon of exploitation” that eased the way for human trafficking of vulnerable young women. The Future Group pointed out in yesterday’s release that of the 601 foreign women who were granted temporary work permits for exotic dancing in 2004, fully 582 of them (97 percent) were from Romania, one of the worst offenders for sexual exploitation of women.
In March 2006 the Future Group gave Canada a failing grade in efforts to prevent human trafficking, compared with the record of other developed countries such as Japan. The organization praised the Harper government for taking steps to improve Canada’s reputation.
“It is clear that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is serious about combating human trafficking,” Sullivan said. “In just one year, it has implemented guidelines to protect victims, injected funding in the 2007 Federal Budget to begin to address the problem, and has now taken proactive steps to prevent at least some victims from being exploited.”
Gregory Carlin, with the Irish Anti-trafficking Coalition, called the Liberal exotic dancer program “potentially the most (deceptively) cancelled immigration program in the history of Canadian misgovernance.”
“The coffin lid for this exploitative arrangement refused to stay closed,” Carlin said in a statement to the press. “Two young Americans (Kraynak and Wright) died (in suspicious circumstances) because of the failure of the Liberal govt. to honour its pledge to eliminate the program.”
Carlin told LifeSiteNews.com in 2004 that Romanian women returning from Canada routinely complained of forced prostitution as a buried element in the “exotic dancer” job description.
“Many of the Romanian girls we interview complain of being coerced into prostitution in Canada by club-owners and lied to by Canadian officials. There are also threats of arrest and deportation if they refuse to provide additional VIP services. Canadian officials fail to inform the females that in Canada, lap-dancing invariably involves sex, full contact and penetration etc.”
See previous LifeSiteNews coverage:
Canada Abruptly Ends Special Visas for Exotic Dancers after Inquiries into Underage Strippers
Canadian Exotic Dancer Visa Program Shut Down by Government May Now be Reinstated Through Courts
Stripper Visa Scandal Exposes Canada’s Complicity in Human Trafficking
Canadian Government Ignored Warnings Leading to Deaths of Two Young Americans