Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Invite Your MP to Attend Parliamentary Screening of Red Light Green Light

by Michelle Brock on March 18th, 2014


A Parliamentary screening of Red Light Green Light is taking place in Ottawa on April 9, and all MPs, senators & staff have already received a formal invitation to attend. This is a great opportunity for your representative to learn about sex trafficking, prostitution, and various efforts around the world to prevent sexual exploitation. If you’d like your MP to attend, please send them an email, requesting their attendance on April 9.

Below is an outline you can use, but feel free to personalize it as you wish.

If you do not know who your representative is, you can find out by inserting your postal code here.

Dear MP _______________,

My name is _____________ and I am a resident of ______________.  I am contacting you about an upcoming Parliamentary screening of Red Light Green Light, a documentary made by two Canadians about sex trafficking, prostitution, and various efforts around the world to curb sexual exploitation.   All MPs, senators and staff are welcome to attend the non-partisan screening, which is being hosted by MP Joy Smith, MP Maurice Vallacott, and Senator Mobina Jaffer.  A formal invitation has already been sent to your office.

As outlined in your invitation,  Jared and Michelle Brock, the directors of the film, will be present for Q&A discussion after the screening.  It will be a great opportunity to gain more understanding on a critical and complex issue.  As a member of your constituency who cares about this issue, I urge you to attend.

Please RSVP to the office of MP Joy Smith to confirm your spot.  The RSVP contact email is listed on the bottom of the invitation you received this week.

Please let me know if you plan to attend.  Thank you for your service to our country and to my community.


(your name)

(your contact info: phone, email, mailing address)

We hope to see all your representatives there!






Anti-trafficking Bill C-310 Blocked by NDP on Friday – Debate Scheduled for Today

by Michelle Brock on April 4th, 2012

Last week on Friday, Bill C-310, which many of you asked your MPs to support, was expected to pass through its Third Reading.  Through the first stages of the Bill, there had been unanimous support from all parties, and all parties had expressed that they would support the Bill in the Third Reading. However, this is what I received from MP Joy Smith:

Today (Friday) , Bill C-310, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons), was expected to be adopted unanimously by the House of Commons at Third Reading and sent to the Senate. However, at the last minute, the NDP prevented debate on Bill C-310 and delayed the Bill from passing until the end of May.

“I am absolutely stunned by this,” said MP Joy Smith. “Bill C-310 will strengthen Canada’s efforts to combat human trafficking and this should not be a partisan matter. I have worked so hard to secure the support of all parties and have appreciated the support of all MPs for this Bill up until today.”

“At each stage of this Bill, I have reached out to members of other parties,” stated MP Smith. “In advance of today’s Report Stage and Third Reading, I spoke with the NDP and Liberal House Leaders to secure their support for Bill C-310 to be adopted today. They assured me that they were fully supportive of Bill C-310 being adopted today. Then, about 10 minutes before debate was to begin, I was shocked to find out that the NDP would be opposing Bill C-310.”

“What is most astounding is that the NDP have been fully supportive of Bill C-310 at Second Reading and Committee stages. They have even jointly seconded this Bill,” says MP Smith. “My heart sank when I watched as they stood, smiling and shouted ‘NO!’ when the Speaker of the House sought consent.”

As a result of today’s actions, Bill C-310 will be voted on next Wednesday, and will drop to the bottom of the Order of Precedence instead of heading to the Senate.

“I don’t have any answers as to why this happened,” said MP Smith. “I would invite Canadians to write or call NDP members for an explanation of why they would vote against such an important, bipartisan Bill and deliberately hold it up.”

“Today, modern day slavery exists in all corners of our globe and our resolve to eliminate it must only grow stronger,” said MP Smith. “In fact, only yesterday, a judge handed out the toughest penalty for human trafficking in Canadian history for an egregious case of forced labour.”

Bill C-310 amends the Criminal Code by adding the current trafficking in persons offences [s.279.01, s.279.011, s.279.02, and s.279.03] to the list of offences which, if committed outside of Canada by a Canadian or permanent resident, could be prosecuted in Canada. The Bill also adds an interpretive aid for courts to provide greater clarity of the definition of exploitation in s.279.04 of the Criminal Code.

Since introducing Bill C-310, MP Joy Smith has presented petitions containing 1000’s of signatures from Canadians calling for the adoption of the legislation. Many organizations have also lent their support for this legislation, representing stakeholders such as law enforcement, victim’s services, and non-governmental organizations.

The NDP decided to act in a partisan manner with Bill C-310 and needlessly delay it OR the NDP made a grave procedural error.

Regardless of what the reason was, the NDP’s actions halted the debate and passage of an important human trafficking bill that the Conservative, Liberal, Green, and Bloc parties were prepared to debate and support.

Note: The NDP could rectify this by offering to move Bill C-310 back to the top of the Order of Precedence by trading one of their Private Members Bill spots with Bill C-310.

My husband Jay and I wrote to several NDP MPs, asking them why they blocked debate on this bill, as we wanted to understand what happened.  We have waited for several days and not received a reply.


TODAY there will be a debate on this bill in the House of Commons.  If the Member of Parliament that represents you is part of the NDP party, please contact them today and ask them to support this bill. Ask them also to grant a position change with one of their private members bills and move Bill C-310 to a sooner vote for the 3rd reading.

I don’t know what happened here.  Some anti-trafficking bills are more controversial, but this one had unanimous support.  I think the NDP made a procedural mistake.  You can read this great article about the NDP’s decision to get more info.  You can also contact MP Joy Smith’s office with any questions: 613-992-7148 or

Update: C-310 just adopted at Report Stage with all in favour. Could have been sooner if it had not been blocked earlier, but grateful it is now to the next stage!  I will update this post once I hear more.



Canada’s 2011 Election Results: My Thoughts

by Michelle Brock on May 4th, 2011

CDN Parliament1

Monday was an important day in Canada, as millions headed to the polls and ushered in a majority government.  I am personally non-partisan and always vote for people based on their character and their commitment to vote either with their party or against it, depending on the issue.

Manitoba’s MP Joy Smith, who is a woman of deep character and the champion of the abolitionist movement in Parliament, was re-elected. This is great news. With a majority backing her up, Canada’s National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking will now be able to move forward with vigour.

However, my years of studying political science and international development at the University of Guelph have taught me that everything is interconnected.  When big business and corporate interests gain momentum and power, laws can, in a sense, contradict themselves.  For example, one of Joy Smith’s proposals is to introduce penalties for Canadian companies which knowingly import or use products made by forced labour or child labour.  Will a majority that is generally known to be pro-corporation and laissez faire support legislation that could jeopardize company profit?

My childhood in Africa and my travels throughout Southern Africa and Central America have imprinted the plight of the poor on my heart.  Why is it that women and children from impoverished countries are usually the ones who are trafficked across international borders and exploited?  The capitalistic structure of the international economic system has created a glass ceiling which has stunted the growth of many in the developing world.  Traffickers are able to use this to their advantage.

I am a huge proponent of preventative strategies, and hope that the new Canadian government will look at structures of economic injustice as they push forward MP Smith’s National Action Plan.  I know that her goal is to be as thorough and comprehensive as possible, and it is my hope that the majority will back her up as she seeks to make a difference.

And in the words of Philip Yancey, “Politics can legislate justice but not compassion.”

That’s our job.

Michelle Brock

Toronto Island to Become Red Light District?

by Michelle Brock on March 28th, 2011

Georgio M1 300x224Some concerned HFTS readers recently sent me articles about a shocking proposal coming from Toronto Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti:  the creation of a red light district on Toronto Island.  This really should not come as a surprise, as a regulated brothel district was one of Mammoliti’s central campaign tenets in his (cut-short) run for mayor last year.

His argument?  It would provide millions of dollars in revenue for the city and provide a well-defined area where the sex trade can flourish.  Mammoliti told CBC news that such a place would increase Toronto tourism as well, and is planning to discuss it with Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford soon.

In response to these developments, I am writing a letter to both the councillor and the mayor (you can read it here).  I would encourage our readers, especially those living in Toronto, to write to them as well.  Contact information for Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti is:

TorontoIsland1Toronto City Hall
100 Queen Street West, Suite B27
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2

Mayor Rob Ford’s contact information is:

Office of the Mayor
Toronto City Hall,
2nd Floor,
100 Queen St. West,
Toronto ON M5H 2N2

Here are some points you can include in your letter:

  • Though a sex island would probably increase tourism, are large groups of men seeking paid sex the kind of tourist we want more of?
  • When Amsterdam lifted its brothel ban and began a regulated prostitution industry, sex trafficking became easier and organized criminal groups moved into the area.  The City Council has since tried to back track by shutting down huge sections of the red light district and the mayor has called the lifting of the brothel ban an abysmal failure.
  • When demand for paid sex begins to increase, it will be impossible to contain it to an island. Brothels, massage parlours, and escort services will likely spring up in other parts of Toronto as well.

I will give Mammoliti the benefit of the doubt that he is simply seeking tax revenues and is unaware of the implications a red light district would have on Toronto Island and the rest of the city as well.  Now it is our responsibility to tell him that the big picture looks very different, and that increasing demand for paid sex is a recipe for more sex trafficking, exploitation of women, and organized crime.  An island like the one proposed would draw crowds for the novelty of it, and it would be difficult to back track later on.

For articles on Giorgio Mammoliti’s proposal, check these out:

write letter1 300x199Get more informed on the legalization debate – this will help you as you write your letters/emails. You can also download and sign this letter from EVE and send it to your member of Parliament.  Special thanks to Carly Romano for raising this to my attention and dialogging with me this weekend!

**Update: read my letter to Mayor Ford and his response here**  Read more about legalization of prostitution in Ontario here.

**Read about the Ontario Court of Appeal’s ruling on prostitution (spring of 2012), as well as Max Waltman’s explanation on how it was based on misrepresented evidence.

September 2012 update: we are making a documentary about legalization of prostitution, its connection to sex trafficking, and preventative models that decrease sexual exploitation.  Here is how you can help!



In Defense of MP Joy Smith & the Lives of Countless Victims of Sex Trafficking

by Michelle Brock on September 29th, 2010

Sex trafficking victim1 300x206Last Friday Xtra put out an article entitled “Critics slam Conservative MP’s pitch to make buying sex illegal in Canada,” in response to MP Joy Smith’s National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking.  The article is available here.

One of MP Smith’s proposals was for Canada to adopt the Swedish model of reducing demand for paid sex.  In Sweden, the men who purchase sex from prostituted women are criminalized, while the girls who sell it do not suffer penalties but are instead offered help to leave the industry.  Because many of these girls and women are in fact victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking, decreasing demand for paid sex is the only way to ensure that trafficking dries up.

But as the Xtra article demonstrates, there are some who oppose the Swedish model and claim that prostitution and human trafficking are separate issues altogether.  Our thoughts:

  • In response to MP Smith’s proposal, Liberal Justice Critic Marlene Jennings stated the following: “Typical Conservative, simplistic, not based on evidence, not based on fact…Human trafficking and prostitution are two different things, and that’s what the Conservatives like to mix up.  They like to mix it up together in the same bowl so that they can confuse people and they can make outrageous statements.”

Our response:  Ms. Jennings, how dare you make this a partisan issue?  Your remark is distasteful and immature, as we are talking about exploitation on a national and global scale.  Busting out the Conservative card makes it sound like you did not read the entire report, but merely base your comments on your disdain for an opposing party.  For the record, we are not Conservatives.  But if you insist on playing partisan ball, may we remind you that your party, the Liberals, wholly supported the Status of Women report from 2007 which contained evidence and recommendations supporting the Swedish model?  Your statements fly in the face of your party’s previous decisions, making you guilty of some serious political flip-flopping.

  • Next in the article, University of Ottawa criminologist Christine Bruckert says that “pushing the industry underground makes sex workers more likely to turn to people they feel can support them, such as pimps.”  We can’t picture sex workers like Sweden’s Pye Jacobsson aligning with pimps for protection and support just because buying sex is a crime in her country.  (Which it is.  And no, she is not).
  • supply demand  300x295Bruckert goes on to say that “if [we] really want to address sex workers, if [we] really want to make things better for sex workers, give sex workers rights.” There seems to be some confusion here. MP Smith’s first priority is to help trafficking victims, not sex workers who want more rights. The aim is to criminalize Johns for buying sex and decriminalizing prostituted women who want to get out of the industry.  Several studies have concluded that trafficking increases in countries where prostitution is legalized, so giving sex workers ‘rights’ comes at the expense of the trafficking victims that are funneled into the country to fill demand.  The goal is to abolish human trafficking – and if the end of the sex trade is a be a by-product of that, so be it.
  • Regarding the statement that there is nothing coming out of Sweden indicating that there is a link between the Swedish model and decreased trafficking, please refer to the July 2010 Swedish Justice Department Report stating that the ban on buying sexual services acts as a barrier to human traffickers who want to set up shop in Sweden.  An article by Gunilla Ekberg explains in more detail why this is the case.
  • Finally, Green Party leader Elizabeth May tops off the debate with a bang by saying that the Swedish model is a “disastrous and dangerous idea”, and offers the following statement: “Since the Conservative government has committed to building $9 billion in new prisons and the crime rate is going down, I guess they want to create some new crimes to fill the prisons.”

While we appreciate many of May’s excellent ideas concerning the environment and her service to our country, we feel that she is literally out in “left field” on this one.  If attempting to rescue victims of the world’s most hideous atrocity against women is a “disastrous and dangerous idea”, then we suggest that Ms. May attend Jon Stewart’s upcoming Rally to Restore Sanity.

For more reading, check out the following:

With Much Concern for the Status of Exploited Women,

Jay & Michelle Brock

An Immigration Recommendation: How Can We Make This Work?

by Michelle Brock on September 23rd, 2010

border services Canada

Last week MP Joy Smith came out with her Proposal for a National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, and in my previous post I brought up some of the things that Canada has already done in its effort to end this injustice.  Focusing on the victories serves as a good foundation for us as we attempt to understand the different components of the proposal.

MP Smith’s recommendations are split up into four main categories: prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnership.  To continue in our journey through the report, today I would like to focus on one action point under the prevention category:

Ensuring that female immigrants aged 15 to 21 arriving in Canada alone be met by a CBSA officer within a week of their entry in the country and on a monthly basis during the following six months to ensure their safety and legitimate working conditions. (p.17)

Here’s the deal:  many girls do not know they are being trafficked until after they leave the airport when their documents are taken away.  This makes it difficult for Canada Border Services Agency Officers to distinguish between those who are victims of trafficking and those who are refugees or immigrating on their own terms.  Once a person has been ushered through the system and leave the airport, any ‘signs’ that could have initially indicated a trafficking situation are lost. For this reason, following up with them would provide for one more level of protection for those who need it.

CBSANaturally, the question that arises is this: how will this follow up be done? What is the best, most efficient and effective way to reconnect CBSA officers to those who are at risk of being commercially exploited?

How will extra hiring and training be funded?  Are we as Canadian citizens willing to pay for this?  What questions will the girls be asked and will that require the use of translators?  If one of the girls cannot be located, will their case be dismissed or are there resources to search for her? If she is located, is there a secure place where she can receive help and protection?

These are difficult questions, but that should not excuse us from finding the answers.  Your thoughts?

Michelle Brock

Gentlemen, Time to Shake in Your Boots: MP Joy Smith is on the Move!

by Michelle Brock on September 16th, 2010

Though buying sex is generally frowned upon in Canada, most of the time men who use massage parlours or escort services receive a slap on the wrist or nothing at all.  But if MP Joy Smith had it her way, Canada would be addressing demand for paid sex in a much more vigorous manner.  Why? Because demand creates supply.  In a sense, targeting demand is like repairing a hole in your sinking raft instead of merely trying to get the water out.

Addressing demand is just one of the brilliant initiatives MP Joy Smith is proposing in her fresh-off-the-press proposal for a national action plan called Connecting the Dots: A Proposal for a National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking.  I had the privilege of attending a round table meeting in Toronto last week with a bunch of stakeholders in Ontario to discuss what our part should be as a province, and was happy to see that many of the ideas in our conversation are reflected in MP Joy Smith’s proposal.  As I read the proposal I was literally squirming in my seat from excitement because a National Action Plan is most certainly the next necessary step for our country.

MP Joy Smith’s recommendations are bang on, and I found the document itself to be written in a way that is easy to understand.  She has record of getting things done in Parliament, and I am thrilled to have someone like her lead us in this next phase.

canada flag1

Over the next little while I would like to discuss the different sections of this proposal and hear what your thoughts are.  I believe that conversation is what sparks ideas and I am anxious to know yours! Maybe this will give you some ideas about how you can use your strengths to get involved.  You can read the full document here.

The first section I wish to highlight is what Canada has already done (pp.9-11 of the report), because unfortunately many Canadians are unaware that our country has been making some serious efforts in the past nine years.  On the global stage, Canada has signed and ratified a number of international agreements related to human trafficking, and nationally it has done the following:

  • 2001: introduced the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) which addresses human trafficking and provides serious penalties with fines of up to $1 million or up to life imprisonment.
  • May 2006: the first National Human Trafficking Coordination Centre was staffed with RCMP officers and a civilian analyst.
  • May 2006: the Canadian government announced Temporary Residence Permits (TRPs) would be available to international victims of human trafficking.  A permit would allow a victim to stay in Canada for up to 120 days and provided access to healthcare and social assistance.  Victims would not be required to participate in legal proceedings or testify to receive a TRP.
  • February 2007: the House of Commons unanimously adopted Motion M-153, which recommended that a comprehensive strategy to combat the trafficking of persons be adopted.  This received support from all parties.
  • March 2007: the federal Finance Minister announced $6 million annually for law enforcement to assist in protecting children from online sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
  • May 2007: the federal goverment announced amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to end a loophole where vulnerable foreign workers were being brought to Canada for the purposes of sexual exploitation.
  • June 2007: New measures to protect victims where announced by the government, including the extension of the TRP from 120 days to 180 days, and letting international victims to apply for work and resident permits without the regular fees.
  • September 2009: the Canadian government supported the passage of Bill C-268, minimum sentence of child traffickers.  (Thanks to those of you who made your voice heard by writing to your MPs and Senators!)
  • September 2010: Canadian government joined the RCMP to launch the Crime Stoppers Blue Blindfold Campaign to bring awareness about human trafficking to Canadian citizens and provide opportunities for Canadians to help combat human trafficking.

Wow.  Good work Canada.  It’s nice to know that this issue is gaining priority in our government.  But as MP Joy Smith says, “there remains an urgent need for a collaborative, federally-led approach to combat human trafficking that would connect the dots among federal/provincial/territorial agencies and NGOs.” Let’s all be a part of how that happens, and start by reading the proposal.

For more on this, check out the official release and an article by Montreal Gazette.

Michelle Brock

Canada Launches Blue Blindfold Campaign to Fight Trafficking

by Michelle Brock on September 9th, 2010

BlueBlindfold logo1On Tuesday Public Safety Minister Vic Toews joined the RCMP and Crime Stoppers to announce the “Blue Blindfold” campaign to fight human trafficking.  The campaign aims to increase the public’s understanding of what trafficking is and how people can identify suspicious activity.  It allows for people to come forward anonymously to Crime Stoppers and report what they have experienced or seen.  The campaign is using newspaper, TV, and radio ads to educate the public.

Why the name Blue Blindfold?  Because we must stop closing our eyes to the injustice going on around us. The idea came from Britain’s similar campaign which was launched in 2007.

Author Benjamin Perrin shares some of his thoughts on the campaign and on human trafficking in Canada in an interview with CBC.  In his words, Blue Blindfold is filling in some gaps but a national action plan is necessary if Canada is serious about ending modern day slavery.

For more on the Blue Blindfold campaign, you can check out:

Keep your eyes and ears open for the ads – and more importantly- for victims of trafficking.

Michelle Brock

In the News: Kenneth Klassen Receives Canada’s Harshest Sentence to Date for Sex Tourism

by Michelle Brock on July 29th, 2010

kenneth klassenOn the surface British Columbia’s Kenneth Klassen appears to be a pretty average guy. He is a 59 year-old divorced father of three and an international art dealer.  But Klassen’s travels were not just for business – which was discovered when customs officers seized a suspicious package from the Philippines that he had sent to himself.  It was commercial child pornography.

Some of the DVDs police found had titles such as “First Timer” and “Child Abuse,” and showed him having sex with young impoverished kids between the ages of 8 and 18.  He had hired a woman to take a computer course so she could blur out his face from the clips, but these attempts to hide his crimes did not work.  Klassen was arrested when he came to pick up the package.  When searching his house and a storage locker in Vancouver, the police found 21 DVDs containing more than 200 images of child pornography, with girls as young as three years old, which he had purchased overseas.

Crown Counsel Brendan McCabe said that Klassen “said he was attracted to women that were extremely thin and that he had tried to find thin women, older women, but in Canada he found that impossible.”  Klassen also told the police that he targeted his victims because they were extremely thin, cheap, and easily available. As the Montreal Gazette reports, one of his 11 year-old victims agreed to have sex with him so she could buy herself a new set of clothes for her 12th birthday.

gavel 300x300His was the third sex tourism case that has been heard in a Canadian court, and yesterday the judge handed him the harshest sentence to date: 11 years. Ten years for having sex with 14 underage girls in Colombia and Cambodia, and one year for for importing child pornography.  The first case involved another British Columbia man, Donald Bakker, who was given a 7 year sentence for sexually exploiting young girls in Cambodia. The second case involved two Quebec men who received 2 and 3 year sentences for sexually exploiting boys at an orphanage in Haiti.

Though Klassen claimed to be sorry from the bottom of his heart, he also tried to challenge Canada’s sex tourism law by arguing that the incidents happened in other countries where Canadian courts have no jurisdiction. Hmm.  Sounds like a truly “repentant man.”

I asked Brian McConaghy, founder of the Ratanak Foundation (which operates safe houses in Cambodia for rescued victims) what he thinks of the outcome, and he had this to say:

“While this is the longest sentence handed down in a Canadian court we are still short of where we need to be. I want sentences of 18 to 20 years for this. We may get there eventually but it will take time, more public awareness and political will. So we are on the right track but still need more work.”

In other words, this is a bittersweet victory.  However it demonstrates that these cases are coming before Canadian courts more regularly, which will hopefully begin to discourage predators from victimizing children abroad.  Unfortunately there are numerous sex tourists that are not caught like the four individuals who have now been successfully sentenced in Canada.  We are moving slowly, but at least it is in the right direction! For all those involved in this investigation, I applaud you for your hard work.

For more information on the Klassen case, check out the following links:

B.C. man gets 11 years for child sex tourism by CBC News

CBC Video News Report on Klassen

B.C. Sex tourist gets 11 years for abusing girls by the Montreal Gazette

Sex tourist Kenneth Klassen sentenced to 11 years by the Globe and Mail

Michelle Brock

In the News: Spain to Ban Sex Advertisements from Newspapers

by Michelle Brock on July 19th, 2010

Spains newspapers

The president of Spain announced last week that the government wants to ban sex ads from the nation’s newspapers.  The classified sections of Spain’s newspapers are currently full of explicit advertisements, bringing in about 40 million euros to the struggling print media industry.  El Pais alone, one of the countries leading newspapers, makes 5 million euros from sex ads.  Banning these is part of the government’s anti-trafficking strategy, and there is quite the storm in the media about it.

In a BBC article, the president is quoted as saying, “As long as these advertisements exist, they contribute to the idea of this activity as normal.”

Currently, prostitution accounts for 60% of Spain’s classified ad market.  According to the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report, 90% of those engaged in prostitution in Spain are victims of forced prostitution, controlled by organized criminal networks.  If this is indeed the case, it makes sense that newspaper sex ads are not generally placed my individual women but by the mafias, largely from Romania, Nigeria, and several Latin American countries.  Recently in Madrid, one of these networks was discovered by police who followed the newspaper sex ads.

It is sad that traditional print media in Spain is surviving only because of sex ad profits.  This has to change.  I believe that the president is making the right move by proposing a ban on something that traffickers have manipulated in their favour for way too long.  The government and newspapers should come up with a creative agreement to bring in money when sex ads are no longer providing profit. Your thoughts?

Michelle Brock

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