From The Sputnik – March 2, 2011
Canada may not be the first country that comes to mind when the issue of human trafficking arises. However, a 2010 report by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police revealed that human trafficking is a prolific industry in Canada.
Canada Fights Human Trafficking, a Brantford-based advocacy group, reports that anywhere between 600-1200 people are illegally entered into the sex trade and into Canada annually. A number of Canadians additionally worry that a September court decision in Ontario that proposed to decriminalize key elements of Canada’s prostitution laws could make Canada more of a hot spot for pimps and human traffickers.
That decision, ruled by Ontario Justice Susan Himel who sided with three former sex workers, stated that Canada’s prostitution laws were unconstitutional and should be struck down. Trisha Baptie, a former sex worker who is now an abolitionist and heads Honour Consulting and Exploited Voices Now Educating (EVE) of British Columbia, fears that suggested change to the law would lead Ontario down a dangerous path of human trafficking and coercion.
“I can guarantee you that if these laws were to go through and Ontario had no criminal sanctions, if we envision that, I can tell you every trafficker, every pimp, and every bawdy house owner would pack it in and move to Ontario,” says Baptie.
Phil McColeman, the Member of Parliament for Brant who also sits on the Public Safety commission, also expresses concern that legalizing prostitution offers the potential for human trafficking to grow.
“If you agree to the situation where we have sort of a lawless industry developed, mainly bawdy houses, prostitution and all the things that go along with it, what you do is then you have a potential for the demand to be high and the supply having to meet that demand in which case human trafficking becomes a very, very lucrative business for criminals,” says McColeman.