Sask. joins call to curb Craigslist sex ads

Saskatchewan's justice minister is joining with some of his provincial counterparts to ask online classified advertising service Craigslist to pull its "erotic services" section down.

Saskatchewan's justice minister says he'll join with some of his provincial counterparts and ask online classified advertising service Craigslist to pull its "erotic services" section down.

Don Morgan's declaration is the latest salvo in a bid to curb human trafficking and the sexual trafficking of minors in Canada though a crackdown on internet-based advertising.

Last Thursday, University of British Columbia law professor Benjamin Perrin described San Francisco-based Craigslist as "the Wal-Mart of sex trafficking" just prior to releasing a book on the subject.

Perrin was in Winnipeg to launch his Invisible Chains: Canada's Underground World of Human Trafficking. The book is billed as an exposé of human trafficking in the country and a "call to action" to end the practice.

On that same day, Manitoba Attorney General Andrew Swan said he would follow Ontario's lead in writing to the head of Craigslist asking for the removal of erotic services ads.

Three Ontario cabinet ministers signed a Sept. 14 letter to Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster applauding the service for agreeing to requests from attorneys general in the U.S. to shut down links to prostitution-related ads.

The Ontario ministers noted the website has not taken similar action in Canadian cities, where there are still hundreds of ads offering sex for money.

'It costs us nothing to ask'

Monday, Morgan suggested writing to Craigslist on Saskatchewan's behalf could produce beneficial results in curbing the sex-trafficking of minors.

"It costs us nothing to ask," he said. "If we make the request – I mean it's worked in the U.S., it may or may not work here," said Morgan.

"I don't speak for Craigslist. I intend to make the request and if we don't have some interest or uptake then we have to decide what we're going to do after that," he said.

Should Craigslist not voluntarily comply with his request, Morgan said he would consider other options. He stressed that he was not trying to censor the internet.

"We make the request of Craigslist because they're the provider, the host of the site," Morgan said. "The heavy-handed approach would be to deal with internet service providers and say, 'You cannot provide this type of thing.'

"We haven't legislated that type of thing in the past and hopefully would never have to, but that would be the ultimate resolution," Morgan said.

With file from The Canadian Press