Canadian Adult Industry Condemns Reported Threats to Immigration Minister

Tod Hunter
OTTAWA — Canadian adult industry representatives have condemned reports that Federal Immigration Minister Diane Finley may have been threatened over her support of a bill that would keep foreign strippers out of Canada.

The controversial Bill C-17, if passed, would let immigration officers deny temporary Canadian work visas, particularly to strippers, if officials feel the women could be victims of sex trafficking.

Tim Lambrinos, executive director of the Adult Entertainment Association of Canada, said anyone threatening the minister should be investigated by the authorities and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Although the bill is opposed by the Canadian adult industry, 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 license to operate."

Media reports claim security for the minister has been increased following threats linked to Bill C-17. A spokesman for the minister would not confirm or deny reports of threats and claims of increased security.

"We can't comment at this time," press secretary Tim Vail said Wednesday.

Finley has said the 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 Party government, foreign exotic dancers could apply for temporary work permits because they were identified as "skilled workers" who filled a labor 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 Sgro's campaign. Sgro was eventually cleared of conflict-of-interest allegations in the so-called Stripper-gate affair and the Liberal Party ended the program in 2004.

Current Canadian immigration law allows foreign exotic dancers to apply for temporary work permits to fill labor market shortages. Applications are processed on a case-by-case basis, with immigration workers in foreign missions requiring visa applicants to provide valid work contracts.

A number of strip club owners have said they will challenge the proposed new law in court, warning that restrictions included in the legislation would put them out of business.

Only 17 exotic dancer permits have been issued since the Conservative Party came to power in 2006, down from 423 in 2004.