Minister proposes law to ban foreign strippers’ permits
“Help Wanted. Only Canadian women need apply. Work deemed too exploitive for foreigners.”
This could be the text that strip club owners might use to staff their establishments if the Tories manage to pass the “anti-stripper” bill tabled last week by Immigration Minister Diane Finley.
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You may recall Alina Balaican, a 25-year old Romanian stripper, who in 2004 asked former Immigration Minister Judy Sgro for a permit to stay in Canada while her Canadian husband was sponsoring her.
Up until 2002, such a request wouldn’t have been necessary since Canadian immigration policy allowed Canadians to sponsor their spouses from inside Canada on humanitarian grounds.
After Sgro issued the permit it was discovered that young Alina had helped with the minister’s election campaign.
The Tories lambasted the Liberals for allowing their supporters to “jump the queue” and for presiding over the “exploitive” program that allowed Balaican to work here in the first place.
And so, “Strippergate” was born.
Sgro lost her job paving the way for Joe Volpe to step in and re-instate a policy that allowed out-of-status spouses to be sponsored from within Canada.
However, now that the Tories have assumed power they are vulnerable to criticism if they don’t try to end the very program that they attacked while in opposition.
On Wednesday, Finley announced in Parliament a bill, “to help prevent vulnerable foreign workers such as strippers from being exploited or abused. The amendments will authorize the minister of citizenship and immigration to instruct immigration officers to deny work permits to foreign strippers. The previous Liberal government gave blanket exemptions to foreign strippers to work in Canada despite warnings that they were vulnerable to forced prostitution and other exploitation. Thanks to today’s amendments, the good old days of Liberal strippergate will be a thing of the past.”
What Finley didn’t say is that Strippergate had nothing to do with exploitation or abuse. Balaican was not complaining about her treatment in Canada. Quite the contrary! She was fighting to stay here and avoid going home to Romania. What Finley also failed to do is to demonstrate that these alleged victims want this program cancelled.
Our immigration laws are designed, in part, to protect Canadians from foreigners. This bill is the first, I think, which suggests that foreigners need protection from us. Further, it would be the first law that would deny a lawful Canadian business access to foreign labour it needs to fill a domestic shortage.
If we accept the notion that all foreign strippers should be denied admission because of the abuse that they might suffer, why should we not assume that Canadian girls are facing the exact same treatment? What then are the Tories proposing to protect Canadian women from such abuse?
Many young strippers come to Canada to work under better conditions and for a shot at a better future here.
The attempt by the Tories to take this opportunity away from them just so that they can appear politically consistent is where you will find the real exploitation.
Guidy Mamann practises law in Toronto at Mamann & Associates and is certified by the Ontario Law Society as an immigration specialist. Reach him confidentially at 416-862-0000 or at firstname.lastname@example.org