Wednesday, May 6, 1992

David Vienneau
Toronto Star


Prostitution growing in Metro, MPs' panel told

OTTAWA -- Angry Metro residents and police say they're in danger of losing control of the streets to prostitutes and the evils associated with the sale of sex.

That was the blunt message a delegation of citizens and police delivered to the House of Commons justice committee yesterday.

They told MPs the street soliciting problem is at its worst level ever and has moved outside downtown Toronto to North York, Scarborough and Etobicoke.

As taxpayers, they said, they're fed up with the federal government doing nothing to stop pimps, crack houses, thieves and trouble makers invading their neighbourhoods.

"This is a huge monster that is growing in strength in our area," said Leslie Smail-Persaud of Scarborough.

Smail-Persaud said she has been propositioned by men cruising her Lawrence Ave E.-Kingston Rd. neighbourhood in a quest for sex. "I'm tired of hiding from criminals."

She and five other Metro residents joined Metro's deputy-chief elect Jim Clark and staff superintendent John Getty in telling MPs that street soliciting is no longer just an inner-city problem.

They backed up their complaint by presenting a four-minute video made a month ago that showed the extent to which male, female and juvenile hookers, transvestites and male customers have invaded suburban Metro.

Metro police, in anticipation of the committee appearance, conducted a three-day arrest sweep between last Thursday and Saturday to provide immediate evidence of how serious the situation has become.

Getty said 124 women and girl hookers were charged, 72 of whom admitted they were addicted to drugs. Forty-five men and boys also were charged and 19 of them admitted drug abuse."

As well, 211 male "johns" were charged with trying to buy sex. Eighty-three of them admitted to being married.

Kimberely George of West Hill said her area has become infested with hookers, johns and crack houses.

"Sunday afternoon I made the mistake of walking by myself to the corner store when a man in a passing car shouted 'Hey baby, you want to party?'

"I don't think I look like a prostitute but apparently it doesn't matter."

Sheldon Fainer, who owns a Parkdale fabric outlet, summed up the mood of the delegation when he said the federal government seems more concerned about the rights of prostitutes than law abiding citizens.

"I'm a businessman," he said. 'I employ 48 people. I've never collected unemployment. I pay my taxes. Yet we've been coming here for 6 1/2 years to demand a change in the law. I'm sick and tired of it."

The Criminal Code of Canada was amended in December, 1985, to make it an offence for prostitutes and their clients to discuss their purchases of sexual favors in a public place, including a car.

Maximum penalty is a $2,000 fine or six months in jail or both.

The justice committee reviewed that law three years later and recommended it be amended so that men who cruise in their cars lose their driving licenses if their convicted of trying to buy sex.

Also, the committee urged that prostitutes and their johns be photographed and fingerprinted by police when arrested on soliciting charges.

Justice Minister Kim Campbell rejected both recommendations in March of last year.

Getty said the situation has become much worse since then.

"It was previously in the downtown core," he said. "Now it is a serious suburban problem. It is established in the suburbs."

The delegation said the law should be changed to allow police to "ticket" first times prostitutes and their johns in the same way drivers get traffic tickets.

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Created: November 5, 1998
Last modified: November 6, 1998

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