Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

MP Smith out to stop trafficking in humans

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JOY Smith is a veteran politician, but she's never been on a campaign like this before.

The Conservative MP for Kildonan-St. Paul wants to eradicate human trafficking across Canada.

It's not a hot-button topic these days, but she wants to change that through her newly formed Joy Smith Foundation.

The buying and selling of youth, primarily young women, under the age of 18 is typically thought to be a problem in countries such as Cambodia and Thailand. Contrary to popular belief, it's not just visible minorities who are being victimized, it's blond, blue-eyed Canadians, too.

"It's second only to the drug trade for profit for the perpetrators in Canada," Smith said in an interview at the Winnipeg Free Press News Café Wednesday.

Traffickers usually target pretty girls who appear vulnerable and need friends. They befriend them while simultaneously separating them from their families and communities. Stage 2 is stealing their identification.

"When you lose your identification and you're in another location, you become a non-person. Instead of being friendly and giving them everything they want, that's when horrible stuff starts. They're raped, shot up with drugs and they become different people," Smith said.

"We want parents, grandparents and communities to educate their children to know that not everybody who appears to be a friend is a friend."

She said an average of $250,000 can be made from each victim annually.

"It's all about money. How much can you make out of buying and selling a person?" Smith said.

The foundation, a registered non-profit charity, is financed by donations, which can be made at www.joysmithfoundation.com.

Smith will present its first cheque this weekend in Toronto.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 24, 2013 A6

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Updated on Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 9:38 AM CST: adds photo

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