Thursday, August 12, 1999

Southam Newspapers

p. A40.

Provinces back child-hooker law

QUEBEC CITY — Canada's premiers diverted their attention yesterday from weighty economic and political disputes to embrace Alberta's precident-setting law aimed at reducing the misery of child prostitution.

The premiers convention unaminously approved a resolution to coordinate efforts to save teens from sordid lives on the street afte being persuaded by an emotional plea from Alberta Premier Ralph Klein to mount a national rescue effort.

"It's something that wasn't part of the conference theme of competitiveness," New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord said as the final day of the annual meeting of premiers wrapped up. "But Mr. Klein, I must say, made some compelling arguments."

Alberta has the only law in the world empowering authorities to apprehend youths under 18 engaged in prostitution, or suspected of selling themselves. The children can be locked in safe houses for up to 72 hours to give parents and child-care workers a chance to persuade the child to make a better lifestyle choice.

The Protection of Children Involved in Prostitution Act, which came into effect in February, recognizes that children engaged in prostitution are victims of abuse. Pimps and customers are subject to severe penalties. The maximum find jumped froim $2,000 to $25,000. The maximum jail term rose to two years less a day from six months.

"I would say it has drastically reduced the numbers," said Det. Guy Pilon of the Edmonton police vice squad. "You can drive around areas of known prostitution and there are virtually no young people out there."

Premier Glen Clark said it is "very likely" B.C. will borrow the legislation. "The problem of child prostitution is so acute that we need to look at some of these, perhaps, more dramatic efforts to try to deal with what is a very serious problem," he said.

— Southam Newspapers

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Last modified: June 10, 2001
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