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Country music artist Paul Brandt to head Alberta's anti-human-trafficking task force

Calgary Herald logo Calgary Herald 2020-05-20 Stephanie Babych
a man wearing a hat: Paul Brandt performs during the Canadian Country Music Awards in Calgary on Sunday, September 8, 2019. © Al Charest / Postmedia Paul Brandt performs during the Canadian Country Music Awards in Calgary on Sunday, September 8, 2019.

Country music artist and activist Paul Brandt will lead the province’s anti-human-trafficking task force, charged with researching how Alberta can better combat human trafficking and empower survivors.

Premier Jason Kenney said during a news conference on Tuesday that the task force is the next step in the Alberta government’s plan to fight the “modern slavery of human trafficking.”

Brandt was selected to chair the committee of seven stakeholders because of his activism to end trafficking through his initiative Not In My City.

“The launch of this task force acknowledges and elevates the true value of every human trafficking victim. Traffickers measure the worth of another by dollars and cents, without thought or concern for an individual’s dignity, safety or life. Today, we are standing up to say we will not tolerate human trafficking in Alberta,” said Brandt.

Not In My City has become a national and international advocate for victims of human trafficking. Its mission has been to “disrupt human trafficking by raising awareness, creating a platform for collective action and mobilizing communities,” according to notinmycity.ca .

“Human trafficking is a difficult subject, but it’s one that we must confront. Indecision is not a viable option. It’s never been a part of the character or the spirit of Alberta,” said Brandt.

a man standing in front of a television:  Paul Brandt during a news conference in Edmonton on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. He will lead a task force that will provide guidance and recommendations on how to combat human trafficking. © Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta Paul Brandt during a news conference in Edmonton on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. He will lead a task force that will provide guidance and recommendations on how to combat human trafficking.

The task force brings together representatives of relevant ministries, agencies, police services and community groups to share information and co-ordinate action on an ongoing basis. It will provide guidance on supports for survivors, enhance collaboration between stakeholders and organizations that work with survivors, engage experts to identify actions that will bring sustainable change, and provide recommendations to help the province lobby other levels of government to take action.

“I want to thank Paul for his heart for the vulnerable . . . He will bring a special profile to this broad community effort to combat modern slavery,” Kenney said.

The committee also includes Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee, former solicitor general and former minister of Children’s Services Heather Forsyth, executive director of REACH Edmonton Jan Fox, director of Backwoods Energy and former RCMP director-general Douglas Reti, director of Catholic Social Services Patricia Vargas, and Siksika Health Services CEO Tyler White.

Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer said the task force will hold its first two meetings later this week.

“We are committed to preventing human trafficking networks from taking root in Alberta — whether it involves sexual exploitation, forced labour or illegal organ trade. This task force includes advocates with the skills and experience to do this important work,” said Schweitzer.

The provincial government established a nine-point action plan to end human trafficking and support survivors, which includes the adoption of the internationally recognized definition of human trafficking, increasing efforts to educate the public — including vulnerable groups — and ensuring appropriate training for judges, prosecutors and first responders.

Kenney said the government also committed to “naming and shaming human traffickers,” and list businesses that have knowingly facilitated human trafficking.

“Much of this work is about raising public awareness, and that’s one of the things that the task force being chaired by Paul is going to be able to do,” said Kenney.

sbabych@postmedia.com

Twitter: @BabychStephanie

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