The Laval Police service (SPL) did not mince words when they presented a brief to the provincial Select Committee on the Sexual Exploitation of Minors Monday, recalling that “to build an adult prostitute, you must first destroy a young person,” and that the growing phenomenon “must be seen as an “ecosystem composed not of prostitutes, pimps and clients, but of victims, exploiters and abusers.”
It’s part of a wider regional submission and a position taken by Programme prévention jeunesse de Laval, which after three years of research and analysis, finds that it is society’s trivialization of sexual exploitation at the heart of the problem. “Despite the means of persuasion and security deployed by all those who can help victims, fear or refusal to collaborate often prevails,” said SPL director Pierre Brochet. “In the absence of independent evidence, it becomes impossible to go further in a legal process.”
Laval’s top cop says that if these young people don’t view themselves as victims it’s because of the normalization in our communities “of what is wrongly called the sex industry. But in our vision, bodies and people can not, neither be nor become, objects of commercial transactions.”
The brief speaks about the dozens of men arrested since 2016 by the SPL for sexual exploitation of minors, noting “none of them showed signs of nervousness when entering the room where there was to be a minor. On the contrary, the level of excitation was high.” Men of all ages, backgrounds and professions, only “having in common to have the money to pay the right to sexually abuse the body of minors.”
In Quebec, it is estimated that sexual services generate 2.6 million transactions per year, or more than 7,000 per day. To reverse the situation, say police and youth workers, the support of the population is essential and social acceptability must begin.
Beyond a national campaign aimed at normative messages such as drunk driving, which, since the 1990s has insisted that it was unacceptable and criminal to drive while impaired – advocates want to see a permanent national strategy in place. “By making the marketing of sexual relations with minors odious, intolerable and criminal, this change in social acceptability will have a major impact on demand,” says the statement. “Because it is not the supply that creates the demand, but the demand that creates the supply.”
Government action can also ensure real, concrete and long-term impact, especially through a broader perspective of prevention, education and awareness, and specific training for socio-judicial actors. Also, suggested is a closer look at the ethical behavior of accommodation services.
According to the commission, the hotel sector and short-term accommodation rental platforms provide pimps with places to organize their activities as social networks facilitate their work, with many popular websites and applications used by pimps as youth recruitment platforms. The tourism industry is also fueling demand, with organizations active in the field noting increases in sexual service announcements at major events, circumstances that often coincide with a tragic increase in the number of runaways.
The special committee was struck by the Legault government last summer to create a portrait of the sexual exploitation of minors in Quebec, including the consequences on their transition to adulthood.
The public hearings take place this week and consultations will run through the winter.
The submission filed is supported by several regional organizations including:
Center for Victims of Crime (CAVAC) in Laval, Laval Integrated Health and Social Services Center (CISSS), Mesures alternatives jeunesse (MAJ) de Laval, Laval Police Service, Centre d’interventions en délinquance sexuelle (CIDS)
Commission scolaire de Laval
City of Laval
Travail de Rue Île de Laval (TRÎl)
Presided over by Vachon MNA and former cop Ian Lafrenière and Acadie MNA Christine St-Pierre, the commission includes Sainte-Rose MNA Christopher Skeete and had the participation of Chomedey MNA and former police detective Guy Ouellete.
Briefs are accepted until March 1, 2020. For more information visit http://www.assnat.qc.ca/fr/travaux-parlementaires/commissions/csesm-42-1/index.html
Laval has to date recovered nearly $50 million of funds illegally obtained through fraudulent schemes in connection with public contracts since 1997.
“Recovering overpayments because of the corruption and collusion that once prevailed in Laval is a priority for our administration,” said Mayor Marc Demers, who applauded “the exceptional and tenacious work” of the city’s legal affairs department under director Simon Tremblay. The team, many of whose members come from the Charbonneau commission, which unearthed various fraudulent schemes in Quebec in the awarding and management of public contracts in the construction industry, “has unique expertise in Quebec and will continue its efforts to recover even more taxpayer money.”
The money comes from various sources, including former Laval Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt (as part of a plea deal) and stems from agreements within the voluntary repayment program of the Act to ensure mainly the recovery of amounts improperly paid as a result of fraud or fraudulent tactics in connection with public contracts, but also through separate agreements. “While the government’s program is complete, we continue to make the necessary efforts to advance the rights of Laval taxpayers and recover the maximum amount of funds diverted.”
“Our efforts bore fruit” said Tremblay, adding that a significant sum of funds recovered had been diverted through schemes “revealed at Charbonneau” but also through Projet Honorer which in 2013 led to the arrest of 37 people including Vaillancourt by the province’s permanent anti-corruption squad UPAC.
The taxpayer cash recovered has all been earmarked by the administration to fund the Fonds Place-du-Souvenir which finances projects to assist children from disadvantaged backgrounds; $20 million to the reserve for the acquisition and development of natural environments; and cash payments for capital assets to avoid the use of debt. The decision to fund new programs of the administration’s choice rather than return cash directly back to taxpayers via credits on tax bills is not without controversy and has raised the ire of a significant number of Laval residents, but the administration has repeatedly insisted that it is doing so by using the cash for the programs. It has also remained mum on many of the sources of the recovered funds, often citing confidentiality agreements as part of the recovery efforts.
“Our strong desire to recover what belongs to residents, coupled with the efficiency of our team, already offers us excellent results,” concludes Demers, adding that further lawsuits will be added in the coming months, and not limited to construction contracts alone.” To date, in addition to the many settlements, seven lawsuits have been filed, says Demers, and several more will follow.