A plan to recruit high school strippers has been deep-sixed as officials of an adult entertainment group try to establish “safe strip clubs” to continue to bring foreign dancers to Canada.
Federal immigration officials last month slammed the door shut on foreign strippers by refusing to issue them work visas or extensions to remain in Canada.
As a result, the Adult Entertainment Association of Canada had vowed to hire new dancers by recruiting in high schools and colleges. The group was also to begin publicly searching for Canadian men to marry the strippers so they can be sponsored to remain in Canada.
It has since obtained lawyer Richard Kurland and hopes to reverse the ban by legal means or through lobbying politicians.
Kurland said the association supports a general ban on foreign dancers, with an exception for a “small number of situations” where local police forces deem the strip joints to be following all laws.
“Under the proposal, you won’t be able to get a work permit unless the local police are satisfied the specific business in their jurisdiction is safe for the dancers,” Kurland said. “(Police will ensure) there are no issues with that specific business.”
The proposal will be submitted in October to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, he said.
“The police know which businesses are safe for the dancers and which aren’t,” Kurland said. “(Immigration) doesn’t have the resources or personnel to know which specific businesses are a problem.”
Police involvement would resolve the issues behind a general ban on dancers, without punishing those few businesses legally operating for years, who have followed all the rules, he said.
A year-long test pilot of the proposed policy will be held in Toronto, Kurland said.
Members of the association have been obtaining affidavits from some of the dozens of dancers whose work permits are expired or approaching expiry.
The controversial “stripper visa” dates back to 1998 and allowed hundreds of foreign dancers into the country each year.
In 2001, for example, 660 foreign dancers, mostly from eastern Europe, were admitted.
All they had to do was provide a Canadian job offer from a strip club and prove they were qualified to dance.
Roughly 100 of the visas have been renewed each year since 2006.
Support for the program has plummeted ever since MP Judy Sgro, a former Liberal immigration minister, resigned in 2000 after facing accusations that she fast-tracked a stripper who worked on her campaign - a scandal dubbed “Strippergate.”