Montreal's new mayor has served warning to erotic massage parlours masquerading as legitimate businesses that he wants to shut them down.
Denis Coderre said the illegal parlours — havens for prostitution and human trafficking — will be the target of a police crackdown and possible legislation that will include hefty fines.
Coderre told reporters following an unrelated news conference Monday that he wants an organized strike against the parlours.
Erotic massage parlours often obtain a permit as a legitimate therapeutic massage business, hiding their true purpose.
"From the massotherapists' association and the police, we've heard that (erotic parlours) often they get these permits and the occupation has nothing to do with massotherapy," Coderre said.
"There can be prostitution in these places, juvenile prostitution, so I've said that it will be a priority."
During a recent arrest in Montreal, the RCMP noted that such parlours are a gateway for moving human-trafficking victims into prostitution.
An RCMP spokeswoman estimates there are nearly 350 illicit massage parlours operating in Montreal and many more in its suburbs.
Coderre said more inspections are necessary. Currently, the industry largely goes unchecked.
He also wants to harmonize the way permits are doled out in Montreal's 19 different boroughs.
"One problem is that you have 19 different rules," Coderre said.
Part of the solution will involve inspections of these establishments. And new rules would punish those found to be falsely representing their business.
Coderre announced the members of his executive committee on Monday, with Anie Samson being appointed to the public security portfolio.
Coderre said he's also discussed the matter with Montreal police Chief Marc Parent. They agreed there should be a strict enforcement of the law in these cases.
"We talked about having the rules more aggressively applied," Coderre said. "The Criminal Code can apply, but we think also adding tougher regulations with stiff fines can ensure we cover all the angles."