Immigration minister threatened over bill on strippers: reports
Canwest News Service
Published: Wednesday, April 23, 2008
OTTAWA — Reports that Federal Immigration Minister Diane Finley may have been threatened over her efforts to keep foreign strippers out of Canada drew quick condemnation Wednesday from the adult entertainment industry.
Several media reports say security for the minister has been beefed following threats linked to Bill C-17.
The legislation would allow immigration officers the right to refuse temporary Canadian work visas, particularly to strippers, if officials feel the women could be victims of sex trafficking.
A spokesman for the minister wouldn't confirm or deny the reports of threats and claims of increased security.
“We can't comment at this time,” press secretary Tim Vail said Wednesday.
But Tim Lambrinos, executive director of the Adult Entertainment Association of Canada, said anyone threatening the minister should be investigated by the RCMP and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
The bill has drawn a backlash from the industry, but Mr. Lambrinos said Wednesday he doesn't believe anyone represented by his association would threaten the minister.
“I highly doubt it. It's not plausible,” he said.
“They should prosecute the culprits to the fullest [extent] of the law. If it has anything to do with clubs, they shouldn't allow them to have their licence to operate.”
He said his group's been trying to work with the government to change the “flawed” bill.
Mr. Lambrinos sent a letter to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, saying his group was not involved with any threats of violence against the minister.
He also pointed out that the legislation affects many other foreign workers not involved with his industry — suggesting the threat may have come from elsewhere.
Ms. Finley herself has said the revised law would apply not just to exotic dancers but to any woman at risk of exploitation, including people in low-skill jobs and agricultural workers.
Under the former Liberal government, foreign exotic dancers could apply for temporary work permits because they were identified as “skilled workers” who filled a labour shortage in Canada.
The policy became controversial when former immigration minister Judy Sgro granted a residency permit to a Romanian stripper who had worked on Ms. Sgro's campaign.
Ms. Sgro was eventually cleared of conflict-of-interest allegations in the so-called Stripper-gate affair and the Liberals scrapped the program in 2004.
The group that represents strip clubs says the legislation will just force foreign workers underground, potentially putting them in more danger of being exploited.
Lambrinos has said strip clubs accredited by his organization provide dancers with a safe working environment.
Several meetings have been held around Ontario to allow workers the opportunity to speak out against the bill.
“This had to do with people's lives and it was affecting their lives,” Mr. Lambrinos said.
“[They] talked from the heart about providing financial support back home.”