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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Taxi Driver

Today the Irish Anti-Trafficking Coalition sent out a press release regarding the deaths of Mark Kraynak and Steve Wright:

Notice to the Press 
Irish Anti-Trafficking Coalition
The IATC will be asking TVP affiliates and our abolitionist colleagues in the United States to help resolve the deaths of two young Americans, Mark Kraynak, 23, student, recently with 82nd Airborne Division, native to Pennsylvania & Steve Wright, 20, entertainer, and a resident of Santa Rosa, California.

The Canadian govt. gave asurances to human rights advocates that "no new applications would be processed for any type of exotic performance until such time as the matter could be reviewed to eliminate the risk of extortion & injury".  They decided to break that promise, allied to the same assurance was a statement given to the Canadian House of Commons by Deputy Prime Minister Ann McLellan December 1, 2004 as a result of an 'age verification' campaign by IATC affiliates supporting the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003...

The IATC are not persuaded by the speculation being floated to the media by le département de police de Ville de Laval and will be asking Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew to accept responsibility for reporting to TVP affiliates in the United States & Europe in relation to the unexplained deaths of Mark Kraynak and Steve Wright. The permit scheme authorized by Mr Pettigrew in 1998 has been connected to organized crime, slavery, & the trafficking of juveniles and the IATC now hope the deaths of these two young men will see the permit programme finally abolished. END

As it was reported yesterday, and again today, Laval police are now floating the theory that the two young Americans who died in Montreal over the summer perished accidentally, plunging over a cliff as they were running away from a cab because they didn't want to pay the $40 fare.

There are a few problems with this theory. One, the police are putting it out without having first located the cab driver (which seems odd because they have pictures of the cab on video). In other words, they are giving the impression that they have solved the case without having talked to a key witness, the last person who saw the two men alive. Two, the men had enough money in their wallets to pay for the cab and were apparently in a generous mood (they had given a $200 tip to a waitress at the place they were in prior to getting in the cab). Three, they had the cab drop them off at the place they were going to.

This last seems implausible. People who run away from cab fares rarely get the cab to drop them off at their real destination. We know the men were headed to the Red Light club because in this Sept. 15 Xtra story their friend received a phone call from the two while they were in the cab. The men invited their friend to meet them there.  From the Xtra story:

After dinner the men decided to go back to the hotel room to groom themselves for a night on the town. Just before 10pm, the three dancers headed to a club called Vatican that was featuring a ladies' night. As the bar was closing, Manzi was busy chatting up one of the wait staff, and told Wright and Kraynak that he'd catch up with them a bit later.

After the bar closed Manzi went to a nearby Burger King for a snack. His cell phone rang. It was his friends calling to let him know they were in a cab heading to an afterhours club in Laval called the Red Light. Manzi told them he'd meet them there, but later changed his mind and decided to head back to the hotel instead.

So it would be strange indeed if the men told the cabbie where they were actually going, and told their friend to meet them there, if they had actually planned to do a runner on the cabbie. Now, it is quite possible that the two piled into a cab--new-in-town tourists wanting to keep the party going-- and asked the driver to take them to any after-hours joint he knew of, and then when they realized they were in Laval and the fare was $40, they got into a dispute with the cabbie. Even then, bolting seems unlikely. You would think they would get out of the cab and start yelling. Well, maybe the cabbie pulled out a piece and demanded money. If that were the case, it would seem more reasonable for the men to head toward the doors of the club to report the cabbie to the police.

The phone call from the cab also indicates one other thing (and who knows whether this is important or not): the men apparently did not know where they were going when they parted with their friend. There is a good chance that sometime between when they said good-bye to Manzi and when they made the phone call, someone steered them towards the Red Light club.

That the men were running from something is not disputed. They are seen on video. Kraynak's mother said he appeared to be "running for his life" in this Monday Pittsburg Post-Gazette story. That they may have gone over the cliff accidentally is certainly possible, though it's weird that one would go over and not scream, thereby inadvertantly alerting his friend to the danger (the video tapes show Kraynak running ahead of Wright).

The key questions really are; what were they running from and why?

This is actually a little more important than it might at first appear. The two dead men were allowed into the country under the exotic dancer visa program. The federal Liberals had shut down that program in December last year after they realized that the Canadian embassy in Romania was not verifying the ages of girls coming to Canada. There was some evidence of corruption at the embassy, with officials there claiming they were intimidated by organized crime. Further, it seems when the women arrived in Canada they were sold into virtual sexual slavery, paid little and forced to perform sexual acts far beyond anything they were told about when they signed up. Sources tell me that the police in Canada and the federal bureacracy knew of the problems, but everytime someone attempted to intervene they were stopped through the influence of Canada's now-Foreign Affairs Minister, Pierre Pettigrew. The exotic dancer program was brought in under his watch when he was Minister of Human Resources Development and allegedly he continued to protect the scheme at the political level.

The government then restarted the program to allow a troupe of male dancers, which included Kraynak and Wright, into Canada ostensibly to participate in the Gay Pride Week in Toronto. Gregory Carlin of IATC wrote to Immigration minister Volpe saying (see letter and email exchange pasted below) he was concerned about the Canadian government restarting the program under the cover of gay rights. Carlin had actually checked with the Pride Week organizers and they told him that the dancers at Remington's had nothing to do with Pride Week.

Now, considering all that, and considering the fact that two of the dancers turn up dead, you should read carefully this from a Sept. 24 letter to the editor in the Pittsburgh Daily Courier from Kraynak's aunt:

If anyone has formed mistaken impressions of Mark due to unfavorable media reports, you, obviously, didn't know him. Mark went to Canada, unaware that he would be confronted with another "war" to fight. But, as in Iraq, Mark stood tall, refusing to compromise his character and his values. We have no doubt this is why he lost his life.

Due to the circumstances, I would say that the families are at least entitled to a proper police investigation and not just theories. Find the taxi driver, get his story and try to determine whether it's plausible or not.


June 20 letter to Joe Volpe and preliminary email exchanges between Gregory Carlin and Michael Battista, lawyer for Remington's.

The Honourable Joe Volpe, P.C., M.P.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 1L1

20 June 2005

Subject: Stefan Sirard & FCF Agency

Dear Minister

I called the CIC press office today in relation to the immigration case associated with Stefan Sirard & FCF Agency which is being represented by Michael Battista Esq.

I asked a lady at your press office if she was aware the Pride Toronto organization had dissociated themselves from the event at Remington's. She told me she was not aware of that fact.

I learned about the case when a journalist sent me a internet link to the Globe and Mail report, Barred from performing at Pride Week, Marina Jimenez, Saturday, June 18, 2005.

I am therefore writing to to ask that under no circumstances should any permits be issued to any agency with a general modeling and exotic dancing or pornography portfolio.

Canadian exotic dancer professionals would prefer to see recruitment strategies regulated to outlaw the 'become a lingerie or swimwear model' strategy used by certain pornography houses.

Irish Anti-Trafficking Coalition
Gregory Carlin, Director

----- Original Message -----
From: Gregory Carlin
To: Michael Battista
Sent: Monday, June 20, 2005 3:40 PM
Subject: Re: Barred from performing at Pride Week

Dear Michael

There is no exotic dancer shortage in Canada. The exotic dancer scheme was originally put in place in 1998 for the benefit of organized crime.  That is the general perception in Canada.

The exotic dancer sector has also protested to me at length about foreign agencies which recruit for pornography, strip clubs and general modelling.  The industry concern is that 'zero experience' models interested in a more orthodox modelling career may be induced or leveraged into the adult sex trade.

I shall be writing to Joe Volpe to ask that under no circumstances should any permits be issued to any agency with a general modelling and exotic dancing portfolio.

The Govt. of the United States of America is opposed to exotic dancer visa schemes. That also includes programmes affecting their own citizens.

Best regards

Irish Anti-Trafficking Coalition
Gregory Carlin, Director

----- Original Message -----
From: Michael Battista
To: 'Gregory Carlin'
Sent: Monday, June 20, 2005 3:21 PM
Subject: RE: Barred from performing at Pride Week

I am sympathetic to your concerns.  However as you will see from the article, my clients are neither juveniles nor women at risk.
Rather than ban all foreign exotic dancers, in my view the reasonable policy is to deal with such applications on a case by case basis, and provide training for decision makers so that they are equipped to recognize persons at risk.
Best regards,    

Michael Battista, BA, LLB
Certified by the Law Society as a Specialist in Immigration and
Refugee Law

-----Original Message-----
From: Gregory Carlin
Sent: Saturday, June 18, 2005 9:05 PM
To: Michael Battista
Subject: Barred from performing at Pride Week

I am directing the international campaign to terminate the exotic dancer programme. We are investigating the trafficking of juveniles to Canada under the auspices of the scheme.  We do not want the exotic dancer programme to be re-started because of gay activism.
I have child protection and anti-trafficking issues to advance. I am contemplating asking the gay rights lobby in the United States of America to intervene in relation to the issue referred to in the Globe and Mail reportage. You may want to inform your clients.
Irish Anti-Trafficking Coalition
Gregory Carlin, Director

Posted by Kevin Steel on October 4, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink


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One possible reason that an association of people might behave like State Canada is that they are repaying some other association of people for some less than up front work. For example, where does one get millions of dollars in folding cash-type money for stuffing brown envelopes and suitcases, without leaving a bank trail? Certainly not from legitimate businesses, they don't keep lumps of cash in the office "safe".

It will be interesting to see how the apparatchik press deals with this revelation, yet more great journalism from the Western Standard. Thank you, Kevin &c.

Posted by: Tony | 2005-10-04 5:20:11 PM

This is interesting, but I'm not really sure what you think happened? Or how the stripper program is involved? Can you give some more detail?

Mont D. Law

Posted by: montdlaw | 2005-10-04 6:31:40 PM

I had no idea that the Minister needed so many 'security consultants'.

Oh well, better safe than sorry. Look at what can happen to you if you don't pay enough attention to security. In a taxi.

BTW, does any have any other theories about what those boys were running from? I was a bit suspicious of the whole thing at first, but I guess if the government is involved, it's probably all OK.

Posted by: Justzumgai | 2005-10-04 6:37:35 PM

I'm sure that only a few people know what nature of business Kraynak and Wright were attending to the night they died. It does seem premature for the Laval police, though, to decide what occurred without first talking to the cab driver. A surveillance tape shows the dancers fleeing, disappearing out of sight down a service road, followed moments later by the cab, which four or five minutes later backed up out of the service road and took off. The two men were later found dead in a quarry. Shouldn't the police find the cab driver before concluding that they both accidentally fell?

The fact that the deceased were here on an exotic-dancer visa program brought in when Pierre Pettigrew was minister of Human Resources Development is neither her nor there, except inasmuch as the association darkens the Canadian conscience once again, with another one of those murky Liberal projects that defy domestic reason.

There's no labour shortage in the mostly-criminal "exotic dancer" business, and embassy staff overseas complain of organized crime and intimidation surrounding the program. So who is the program for? Who knows? It's just another strange Liberal enterprise that has nothing to do with the Canadian public.

Posted by: EBD | 2005-10-04 10:39:47 PM

More detail today: Oct. 5, 2005, Uniontown Herald Standard: Police theory about Kraynak's death questioned

Re: "How was the stripper program involved?"

Simply put, Kraynak and Wright wouldn't have been in the country if not for the restart of the program.

EBD Re: "The fact that the deceased were on the exotic dancer visa program... is neither here nor there."

The Pettigrew angle is relavent because he is the Foreign Affairs minister and so dealing with this situation--the unexplained death of two foreign nations--falls in his lap. The fact that the scheme was initiated by Human Resources when he was minister further complicates the situation because of the specific warning Carlin sent to the Canadian government.

Oct. 4, 2005, Lifesite: Canadian Government Ignored Warnings Leading to Deaths of Two Young Americans

Canadians raised holy hell when Zahra Kazemi, the Canadian photographer, was killed in Iran. And rightly so. Our foreign affairs minister of the day Bill Graham deserves credit for pressing the case in a delicate situation, and called for a full inquiry. The situation here is not completely analagous, but then no one is calling for a full inquiry. All the family seems to be asking for is a proper investigation. But if the current situation persists, I would speculate there will be a call for an inquiry. I mean, heck, look how far the speculation is going now: from the Uniontown Herald Standard article noted above:

"He (Kraynak) thought he could tie up any loose ends and be done with it. He never got that opportunity. I think he was set up. I don't think it was a real taxi even. He was doomed from the minute he left."--Betty Hanzes, mother of one of Kraynak's best friends

Posted by: Kevin Steel | 2005-10-05 9:33:23 AM

The reasons for the existence of the exotic dancer program, initiated when Pettigrew was minister of Human Resources Development, are still completely opaque. There never was a "labour shortage" in the first place, and since the industry itself is largely run by organized crime, here and overseas, Pettigrew is in a sense morally responsible for a lot of the abuse that undoubtedly has happened to the young foreign-born "model/dancers" brought in under his "program".

I see your point -- it hadn't occurred to me -- that now that Pettigrew has moved on to Foreign affairs, this case may still fall under his purview. But since it is largely organized crime, in Quebec and overseas, who benefit from the "program", it will not be Pettigrew's ministry who brings the details in this case-- regarding either the deaths or the peripheral details about the program itself -- to the public's attention.

This story needs more coverage. It's curious that after what was, apparently, a lengthy ten day search, the two dancer's bodies were found very close -- proximate, by some accounts -- to the club they were seen fleeing from. And the fact that the Laval police ruled their deaths as accidental without talking to the apparent cab driver seen on tape pursuing them out of sight down the service road alongside which they died defies investigative logic. The whole thing appear a bit murky.

Posted by: EBD | 2005-10-05 3:36:42 PM

Murky is putting it mildly. Is there another country in the world with an "exotic dancer" visa program? The obvious deep, deep corruption involved here is shameful. The Ottawa government and the Quebec police make the Louisiana government and the New Orleans police look good.

Posted by: CJ | 2005-10-05 4:24:11 PM

please discuss this here:


Posted by: Sharks | 2005-10-06 11:04:15 PM

New sex scandal involving the 82nd Airborne Division.



And an overlooked tidbit in the Mark Kraynak saga.

(724) 984-6536
143 Balsinger Rd, Uniontown, PA



Posted by: perpetualynquisitive | 2006-02-25 8:38:39 AM

i heard that they ran into the wrong girls that belonged to pimps hence they were hitting on these girls and got themselfs into trouble and were threatened,i do not beleve they gave a girl a 200 dollar tip maybe they were trying to pay for sex... but then again this is just a roomer that is floating around
the red lite is owned bye special people and i highly doubt they ran from taxis and if they did someone would have seen them run. also why is it that they say that they both jumped and landed the same place... maybe someone made them do it

Posted by: my heart felt | 2006-05-02 12:11:32 PM

We would like to offer free links, listings to all strippers, booking agents, and strip clubs. Our website: http://www.baredancer.com/ needs your content for the benenfit and resource of the exotic dance business.

Posted by: Bare Dancer | 2006-05-10 10:47:40 AM

I have spent some time reading this whole story. It is interesting to see different reports on this incident. I didn't expect that canadian government can be corrupted, giving visas for sex workers. then the minister did not allow others to discontinue this program.

It totally does not make sense that the canadian government did not even try to find the cab driver in order to confirm the theory. It simply doesn't make any sense at all.

at first, I thought that maybe their death have some connection with the porn company, because another female worker also died in a ravine. I don't think that they were forced to do anything. After all, I susppose that they were born in the US, so they won't have any problems of commnicating with people unlike those Romania girls who were imported to Canada. So I don't believe wright's mother's claim that her son refused to do gay sex. After all, how can any guy can get hard if he is forced to do anything sexualy. And they are all men, they are strong enough to fight.

Then I read this reader "my heart felt" theory, I think that it is more reasonable. They maybe were flirting with the wrong girls, then someone threatened to beat them up. So they were trying to run away. And they didn't expect that there was this quarry in front of them, so that is how they died.

Posted by: me | 2006-11-02 4:42:56 AM

As a mother and a Canadian citizen I'm deeply concerned that the country I live in would have such a program that was clearly being used to traffick sex workers. Did anyone do any "DNA testing", or check dental records to ensure that the two found at the bottom of the quarry were acutually Mark and Steve. Hopefully the police doing the investigation did not identify the bodies by clothes alone, considering this "exotic dancer" program was proven to be involved in trafficking human sex slave workers. I read the bodies showed no sign of being stabbed or shot. Were the bodies checked for strangulation? Has anyone investigated as to whether or not Stephen Sidard included snuff videos in his porn-offered services. In any event this whole story just doesn't fly right by me. These two men seemed to have been pulled into something very sinister in which great lengths were taken to prevent their escape. These two men deserved a decent investigation in which they clearly did not receive and I would hope that the government has taken every necessary precaution to prevent this type of "accident" from recurring.

Posted by: Concerned | 2009-01-23 7:47:58 PM

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