Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Tar Sand Workers Cruising down to Edmonton?

Ft. Mac workers cruising in city?
CP - 5/31/2006

The head of a city group that targets johns says oilsands workers making big bucks "working in the bush" are regularly cruising down to Edmonton and buying sex.

Kate Quinn, executive director of the Prostitution Awareness and Action Foundation of Edmonton (PAAFE), said her group will approach oil companies about going into Fort McMurray to talk to employees about the harms of prostitution.

She wants to remind men they can catch STDs like syphilis by buying sex, and to talk about how prostitution is ruining neighbourhoods.

"We get a lot of men coming down from the north wanting to party and cruise our streets and pick up women," Quinn said yesterday.

"We would like to do a prostitution awareness program with the big oil companies in the work camps."

The latest Edmonton Police Service figures show that of all the men arrested in sting operations last year, about 70% were from the Edmonton area. The remaining 30% were from elsewhere.

Quinn said there are no hard numbers to prove it, but she suspects many of those johns were from the Fort McMurray area.

Representatives of Syncrude and Suncor - two major players in the oilsands - did not respond to interview requests yesterday.

Fort McMurray Mayor Melissa Blake said she's not aware of men from her area cruising Edmonton for prostitutes. Blake warned against anyone making sweeping generalizations about her community without the facts to back it up.

"It's damaging when people think that's the kind of people we have here," she said.

Coun. Michael Phair said he believes men are coming down from Fort McMurray and "spending money wildly, looking for sex on the street."

"Unfortunately, it's a repeat of what happened in the 1970s and 1980s with the earlier oil boom," Phair said.

Meanwhile, figures released yesterday showed 2,008 men have gone through john school, or the prostitution offender program, since it was introduced in 1996.

Only between 1% and 3% have since been caught re-offending.

The john school is run by PAAFE in conjunction with city cops and other partners.

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