In Newmarket, Asian-owned massage parlours and therapists are finding themselves targeted by surveillance and police harassment. Last year, Newmarket passed a bylaw that required all massage businesses to obtain a new type of license, and as of June, this bylaw requires them to prove all massage therapist employees are registered massage therapists (RMT). Between these requirements and police action, six businesses have closed down and every application submitted by an Asian-owned massage parlour has been rejected or labeled incomplete, with no explanation. Resistance against the bylaw has been growing, with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) saying the bylaw runs afoul of the Charter. Opponents of the bylaw point to false and disparaging claims of human trafficking, and association with sex work, as motivations behind the bylaw.
This article is published in ricochet.