|Conservative MP Joy Smith held a press conference at the National Press Theatre to address a National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking within Canada and abroad, in Ottawa, October 27, 2010. (Chris Roussakis/QMI Agency)
WINNIPEG - A local member of Parliament is lashing out at Canadian strip-club owners who might want to recruit dancers from high schools -- and her message is, “Hands off.”
Joy Smith, the Kildonan-St. Paul MP who has long been the face of the Conservative government’s effort to curb human trafficking, struck back Friday at the Adult Entertainment Association of Canada’s recent publicized comments suggesting that recruiting 18-year-old women attending high schools is a possibility to maintain a supply of strippers for bars.
“The war against human traffickers that prey on our youth is now out in the open,” she said in a news release, alleging that “police regularly find underage girls working in Canadian strip clubs,” along with women, and that many of them find their way into the sex trade -- willingly or not.
“They have extra services that have nothing to do with dancing,” Smith alleged of some bars and clubs where strippers perform. “I’m talking about sexual services to men.”
The conflict stems from the Harper government’s decision this month to deny temporary Canadian work visas to exotic dancers from other countries. Amid outrage expressed by some strip-club operators at what they see as a move to cut off their major source of performers, Tim Lambrinos, executive director of the Adult Entertainment Association, is reported to have said: “As far as recruiting 18-year-olds, that’s a market that has been untouched.”
Smith charged that any notion of wooing teens -- on or off school grounds -- to work as strippers is crossing the line.
“High school students often aren’t 18 years old,” she said, adding that to anyone “targeting kids, it’s hands off.”
But Randy David of Winnipeg-based Superb Entertainment, which books exotic dancers for clubs, downplayed the potential for students to be recruited.
“Everyone has established what they want to do by that stage anyway,” David said of students approaching age 18. “If they want to be scientists or computer programmers, I don’t think (stripping) is going to take precedence over their choice of careers.”