BUSINESS

Saskatchewan Strip Club Ban Is Back After Brad Wall Changes His Mind

03/26/2015 08:21 EDT

REGINA -- Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says his government is reversing its decision to allow licensed strip clubs because it's concerned about human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

He says he believes it was a mistake to change provincial liquor laws to allow partial stripping in bars.

"If, by this decision, we have inadvertently allowed for even a marginal increase in the chance for human trafficking, it's the wrong decision,'' Wall said Wednesday. "Let's make sure we're not allowing any opportunity for organized crime to increase its footprint.''

Before 2014, Saskatchewan law prevented stripping in venues where alcohol was sold. Last year, those regulations changed and dancers could strip down to pasties and underwear.

Wall said there wasn't a particular catalyst that prompted the government to revert back, only that he had been mulling over the issue.

"I'm sure there will be people who are critical of our decision and some who will be supportive,'' Wall said. "We needed to confirm that we think we made a mistake and we're fixing it.''

Don Verstraeten owns the Codette Hotel near Nipawin, about 150 kilometres east of Prince Albert, where strip shows have been held on weekends since the regulations changed.

"There's no nudity,'' he said. "You can see more on HBO.''

Verstraeten said he's disappointed by Wall's announcement.

"I'm the only real club that's running right now. Everything is so (above) board, it's a shame.''

He said the change will hurt his employees.

"There's no need to have all those girls on staff if there's no entertainment here.''

Verstraeten, who has worked in Ontario, said Saskatchewan's laws are archaic compared with other provinces.

"All of a sudden they're going to take two step backwards,'' he said. "I don't understand it.''

Wall said he wants business owners to know the change is coming so they don't apply for licences from municipal authorities. He said it will take a few weeks to reverse the regulation.

Opposition leader Cam Broten said he supports the decision to prevent the establishment of licensed strip clubs.

"I've only heard from those who have concerns with it and I share those concerns,'' he said. "I'm glad that this reversal was finally made.''

In January, Regina city councillors voted to reject a proposal for the city's first licensed strip club. The concept had been approved by the city's planning commission.

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