OTTAWA, October 24, 2005 ( – US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s visit to Canada today and tomorrow has prompted an anti-trafficking group to call for a probe into the Canadian immigration department’s claim that it has ended the program.

A US State Department report released in June noted that Canada’s exotic dancer program is “a type of program that has been abused and exploited by traffickers in many other countries.” The program, which opened wide the doors to the importing of foreign strippers in order to fill so-called “labour market needs,” has repeatedly come under fire by human rights groups, citing repeated instances of forced prostitution and other forms of exploitation and slavery.

The immigration department claims to have shut down the program, yet today the internet “xotic dancer exchange” (XDX) advertised 200 positions for interested Romanians to come to Canada. XDX’s add states: “200 experienced exotic dancers urgently needed for the following clubs (all in Ontario): Niagara Falls: Mints Club; Toronto: Scanty’s; London: Beef Baron, Flesh Gordon’s; Etobicoke: Déjà Vu-Showgirls, Manhattan Strip; Hamilton: Stilettos; Brampton: Latin Quarter; Sarnia: Studio 11; Simcoe: The Maliboo club; and Wallaceburg: Kent Tavern.”

So far, despite claims that the program has been terminated, the department of immigration has not been the most trustworthy, as evidenced by former minister Judy Sgro’s statement last November: “Citizenship and Immigration Canada does not have a program to facilitate the entrance of exotic dancers,” she said, according to a government Hansard report.

In a letter to Justice Minister Irwin Cotler last month, Gregory Carlin of the Irish Anti-Trafficking Coalition stated, “The information I have collected over two years suggests that the ages and nationality of exotic dancer candidates in Bucharest were neither verified nor properly checked and references in relation to previous experience were generally fraudulent.” asked Carlin whether he had confirmed that the Canadian government had established the ages of the Romanian girls who were part of the exotic dancer scheme. Carlin responded: “Minister Volpe has yet to answer that question. I suspect the ages of the females were not established. It has been difficult to get a responsive answer from anybody. The Canadian High Commission in London would not even concede that a program to facilitate the entry of exotic dancers actually existed. I was referred to a statement by Judy Sgro to the House of Commons in relation to the non-existing status of the exotic dancer program. When I spoke to Eric Lamoureux at Foreign Minister [Pierre Stewart] Pettigrew’s office, Mr. Lamoureux stressed the legitimacy of the program and I responded that the US government had a differing perspective.”

A clarification request put into the immigration minister’s office was not returned by press time.

Carlin has contacted Rice’s office to ask her to look into the issue while she is in Ottawa this week.

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