Bill C-310 (Historical)
An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons)
This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.
Joy Smith Conservative
Introduced as a private member’s bill.
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.
This enactment amends the Criminal Code to add the offence of trafficking in persons to the offences committed outside Canada for which Canadian citizens or permanent residents may be prosecuted in Canada.
It also amends the Act to add factors that the Court may consider when determining whether an accused exploits another person.
- April 4, 2012 Passed That Bill C-310, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons), as amended, be concurred in at report stage.
Private Members' Business
April 27th, 2012 / 1:30 p.m.
Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB
moved that Bill C-310, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons), be read the third time and passed.
Madam Speaker, I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak to my private member's bill, C-301, an act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons).
I would like to begin by thanking the member for Ottawa—Orléans who graciously agreed to exchange spots in the order of precedence so Bill C-310 could be debated on March 30, 2012. I also want to thank the member for Kitchener—Conestoga, who without hesitation agreed to exchange spots so that Bill C-310 could be debated today instead of May 31. The selfless actions of these members have allowed Bill C-310 to proceed sooner and place important legal tools into the hands of prosecutors and law enforcement.
I also want to thank the hon. members on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for their work on the bill at committee stage.
Bill C-310 would amend the Criminal Code to add the current trafficking in persons offences, 279.01 and 279.011, to the list of offences which, if committed outside of Canada by a Canadian or permanent resident, can be prosecuted in Canada. Bill C-310 would also amend the definition of exploitation in the trafficking and persons offence to add an interpretive aid for courts to consider when they are determining whether a person was exploited.
The first clause of Bill C-310 was amended at justice committee to include the two other human trafficking-specific offences: the material benefit offence in section 279.02 that prohibits receipt of a financial or other material benefit from the commission of a human trafficking offence; and the offence of withholding or destroying documents, such as travel or identity documents, to facilitate human trafficking in section 279.03. This ensures all human trafficking offences are covered by extraterritorial jurisdiction.
The second clause of Bill C-310 recognizes that courts and law enforcement would benefit from an interpretive provision to provide clear guidance on what exploitation consists of. This clause was also amended by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. The committee's amendment simplified Bill C-310's proposed listing of conduct and made it more consistent with the way other similar clauses in the Criminal Code are drafted. It now reads:
In determining whether an accused exploits another person under subsection (1), the Court may consider, among other factors, whether the accused (a) used or threatened to use force or another form of coercion; (b) used deception; or (c) abused a position of trust, power or authority.
This wording provides clear examples of common exploitive methods used by traffickers in cases of sex trafficking and forced labour. It is also consistent with a similar clause in the Criminal Code and international protocols on human trafficking.
The justice committee also heard from key stakeholders regarding the importance of Bill C-310, including representatives from Walk With Me, Beyond Borders and Dr. Amir Attaran, a University of Ottawa law professor and expert on extraterritorial law.
Timea Nagy, program director of Walk With Me, was herself a victim of human trafficking. She said:
Walk With Me’s position is that this [Bill C-310] is a necessary and desperately needed amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada. ...Conceivably, as the Criminal Code presently stands, a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident could set up an office in eastern Europe and traffic in human persons to Canadian soil without the threat or worry of prosecution when they return to Canada.
Ms. Nagy knows that well because she herself was trafficked from abroad.
Roz Prober, president of Beyond Borders testified. She said:
Beyond Borders early on endorsed this bill, as it includes child sex traffickers.... It is essential, to ensure global justice for children, that Bill C-310 is supported by this committee.
Dr. Amir Attaran, a faculty of law professor at the University of Ottawa, stated:
...Bill C-310 is a very helpful bill. It's necessary. It's constitutional. It definitely should pass....The heart of the bill is really those provisions that clarify the meaning of exploitation and trafficking and that make trafficking a Canadian crime worldwide.
In closing, once again, allow me to express my sincere gratitude to the courageous members who have supported Bill C-310. By working together in this House, we can all effectively combat human trafficking in our country, as well as abroad.
I look forward to your assistance, Madam Speaker, in helping Bill C-310 become law, and I look forward to all members of the House helping Bill C-310 become law just as quickly as possible. Innocent victims are waiting for this.
Private Members' Business
April 27th, 2012 / 1:40 p.m.
Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC
Madam Speaker, on behalf of the New Democratic Party and myself, I want to reiterate my full support for Bill C-310, which was introduced by the member for Kildonan—St. Paul. I would also like to remind this House that, to date, there have been three votes on the bill being discussed today: one at second reading, one in committee, and a third at report stage.
At second reading, on a recorded division, all the NDP members voted in favour of this bill, without a single dissenting voice. At the 27th meeting of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, held on March 15, 2012, the four NDP members on the committee, including myself, voted in favour of Bill C-310, along with the proposed amendments. At report stage, on the 181st recorded division, all the NDP members who were present—93 in total—once again voted unanimously in favour of this bill. We voted in favour of this bill at every step of the legislative process.
It is, in my opinion, extremely important that I state this for the record because, at one point, the media and certain social networks questioned me about whether the NDP had changed its position. No, it has not. On this side of the House—especially in the New Democratic Party—several of my colleagues were anxious to rise on this issue. There were more members interested in speaking than there were spots available, given the time allocated for debate. Members were interested in speaking about this extremely important subject for a number of reasons. That is why we are now happy to have this opportunity at third reading. Our vote will not change come next week when it is time to revisit this bill.
I am pleased that the amendment was adopted as mentioned by my colleague because there were some questions about the bill as introduced. It was not clear whether the factors could prove exploitation. We are reasonably confident about the way in which clause 279.09 will now be read. It reads as follows:
(1) For the purposes of sections 279.01 to 279.03, a person exploits another person if they cause them to provide, or offer to provide, labour or a service by engaging in conduct that, in all the circumstances, could reasonably be expected to cause the other person to believe that their safety or the safety of a person known to them would be threatened if they failed to provide, or offer to provide, the labour or service.
(2) In determining what constitutes exploitation under subsection (1) [that was the part that was missing], the Court may consider, among other factors, whether the accused...
The use of “among other factors” indicates that these are not the only factors. However, if an accused exploits another person under subsection (1), the criteria listed become proof of the exploitation. That was the missing piece of the bill:
(b) used or threatened to use violence;
(c) used or threatened another form of coercion;
Other factors are the use of deception and the abuse of a position of trust, power or authority.
Human trafficking and human smuggling should not be confused, as they are in some bills concerning refugees. They are not the same thing. We are dealing with human trafficking. People who do not believe that this takes place in Canada should wake up. It does happen, even in 2012. This may be the reason for this bill, which was introduced by my colleague from Kildonan—St. Paul. It is very important. This is real. It is not just talk. There are specific problems.
Over the years, there have been few court cases not because the problem does not exist, but because we did not have the means to prosecute offenders in the circumstances. For that reason, it is even more important to pass the bill.
The testimony presented In committee broke our hearts. The exploitation of a person can be physical, but human trafficking involves people who are used as slaves.
This is 2012 and there are people being held in slavery or forms of slavery by Canadians. That is what we mean by exploitation in this context. This is absolutely intolerable. For people like me who live in Gatineau, just on the other side of the river, it seems absolutely unbelievable that people could still be trapped in situations like that in this day and age.
My colleague’s bill is complete in itself, but we may have to add to it in this House, in other bills, to make sure that certain intolerable situations do not arise in different contexts.
The Walk With Me Canada victim support centre appeared before our committee to voice its support for the bill. The examples it gave us and the ways this bill could be useful to it were striking.
I am pleased that my colleague mentioned our former leader, the Right Honourable Jack Layton. He was at all times what I have always called the greatest feminist I have ever met in my life. To him, whether a person was a man or a woman, the values of equality were always very important. When he saw anything that was unfair, he was outraged. He was always saying that something had to be done or something had to be changed. That is why I have no trouble seeing how he might support this bill.
Sometimes, we are not proud of what goes on in this House, not proud of the things said about various people. But certainly, all my colleagues and myself will be very proud to stand with the government to support the member’s bill next week.
The study may have taken a few days longer, but sometimes, and I am familiar with the justice system too, three days or five days or a week more may not necessarily make too much of a difference in terms of initiating prosecutions and making sure the situation is resolved. I do not think that anyone’s life was endangered during this time.
This is a matter of principle for us. It is extremely important that all members of the New Democratic Party have this opportunity to rise in this House. They may have wanted to debate the question to show their support, because that is part of our job, but they also wanted to be counted specifically instead of just knowing that it was passed and that was that.
Members want to be able to go back to their ridings and tell the groups working right on the front line on these issues that we are working for them, that we are there. Members want to be able to clearly explain our colleague’s bill to their constituents and help them to better understand it.
I am not going to make a long speech because 10 minutes goes by quickly and I have barely a minute left, but there are people who do not know what human trafficking or exploitation is. I spoke of slavery. People can imagine what went on in the southern United States in previous centuries. Somewhat the same thing is going on in the case of human trafficking, and there are Canadians engaging in this as a business. It affects primarily women, children and aboriginal people. Some classes of individuals are still sought after for this kind of disgusting trade. This is not a trade in objects; it is a trade in persons. We are all supposed to be equal in this world, but these people are taken and enslaved, sometimes for base commerce, or for other reasons.
That is unacceptable. I think my colleague will have no difficulty getting the support of this House for her bill. Once again, I congratulate her for introducing this bill, for doing a good job of it and for being a worthy spokesperson for it in committee.
Private Members' Business
April 27th, 2012 / 1:50 p.m.
Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC
Madam Speaker, I too am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-310, an act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons), introduced by my colleague, the member for Kildonan—St. Paul. As my colleague from Gatineau has just done, I will take this opportunity to commend the member for her ongoing initiatives and engagement in this regard, of which this bill is but the latest example.
As I have said in the House and as this bill seeks to do, there is an ongoing need to combat this scourge of human trafficking, this pernicious, persistent and pervasive assault on human rights, this commodification in human beings, whereby human beings are regarded simply as cattle to be bonded and bartered. Indeed, this pernicious evil continues to be as persistent and pervasive as ever.
If we look at the situation, we will see that just this week Yuri Fedotov, the head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, estimated that as many as 2.4 million people are victims of trafficking worldwide at any given moment in time. His comments came as the heads of various UN organizations associated with tourism condemned human trafficking in that sector and proposed a series of reforms.
Of course, it is not in just one agency, be it the UN, or in one sector, be it tourism, where we need to act. The OSCE special representative and coordinator for combatting trafficking in human beings, Marcia Grazia Giammarinaro, recently noted in her address to global parliamentarians that human trafficking is “not a marginal phenomenon, but a new form of slavery on a massive scale in which people lose their freedom of choice, and are reduced to commodities for the benefit of their exploiters”.
In fact, if we look at the situation, the evidence speaks for itself. We know that this grotesque trade in human life generates upwards of $15 billion a year. We know that trafficking is so profitable that it is the world's fastest-growing international crime. We know that the majority of victims being trafficked each year are girls and women under the age of 25 and that many trafficking victims are young people, including children. We know that the victims of trafficking are desperate to secure the necessities of life, and as a result their lives are mired in exploitation and rooted in the greed of those who prey upon them.
We know that UNICEF continues to remind us that 1.2 million children are trafficked globally each year and that the ILO estimates that 2.5 million children are currently in situations of forced labour as a result of being trafficked. We know that no matter for what purpose they are trafficked, every trafficked person suffers deprivation of liberty and physical, sexual and emotional abuse, including threats of violence and actual harm to themselves and to their family members.
Although all of those numbers taken together represent compelling and cumulative evidence of this scourge of human trafficking, we must always remember that behind each of the statistics and behind every number is a face, a life, a world shattered by this evil of human trafficking.
Lest it be thought that there is no Canadian connection to this, the U.S. State Department earlier this year released a chilling report on human trafficking, which found:
Canada is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour. Canadian women and girls, particularly from aboriginal communities, are found in conditions of commercial sexual exploitation across the country. Foreign women and children, primarily from Asia and Eastern Europe, are subjected to sex trafficking....
Indeed, some Canadians have a hand in human trafficking, and it is therefore important, as this legislation seeks to do, to send a message that complicity in the trafficking of persons is not only not acceptable in any way but that we in fact will pursue those traffickers, be they Canadians, here and abroad. This therefore includes extending the reach of our laws to actions that occur beyond our borders.
Last year, Canada prosecuted a child sex tourist, a Canadian who abused girls in Cambodia and Colombia, for violating subsection 7(4.1) of the Criminal Code. Bill C-310 would expand this provision to apply not only to sexual offences against children, as it does now, but to offences related to trafficking in persons.
We should note that just this week the news from Britain reflected the situation where a young woman was trafficked for organ harvesting. So, while our minds may think of human trafficking only for the purposes of sexual exploitation, it exists in other contexts that are no less reprehensible. Indeed, our Criminal Code must stand for the proposition that such trafficking is unacceptable for any person anywhere, for any reason, at any time.
With specific regard to Bill C-310, I will cite World Vision's characterization of it. It reads:
This bill is a significant and necessary step in responding to human trafficking, and a vital part of a broader strategy to tackle trafficking at home and overseas from the key internationally recognized intervention angles: prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnerships.
As I referred to earlier, this was initially introduced legislation and the four Ps for combatting trafficking.
While the bill we are debating this afternoon is an important step in the right direction, there is much more that needs to be done to address all aspects of the trafficking process. In this regard, I would like to note two items among a number of them that the U.S. report of this year found with respect to Canada. I reads:
Canada's law enforcement efforts reportedly suffer from a lack of coordination between the national government and provincial and local authorities, which prosecute most human trafficking cases.
That is something that was noted before but which needs to be continuously addressed.
Simply put, changing the law, while important, will not be enough without adopting a national approach to its enforcement that includes co-operation with provincial and local authorities. I know that the sponsor of this bill has a number of proposals in mind for how we can combat trafficking beyond the legislation before us and has spoken to these other recommendations and needs before. I and other members of this House look forward to working with her on the next steps involved, particularly with respect to coordination between actors at the federal, provincial and local levels.
Referring again to the U.S. report, it was also found that in Canada:
...there were no nationwide protocols for other government officials to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as women in prostitution or migrant workers. Victim support services in Canada are generally administered at the provincial level. There were no dedicated facilities or specialized programs for trafficking victims.
That reminds us yet again of the importance of the protection function of the protection of victims, at the same time as we seek to prosecute the perpetrators and always, foremost, the prevention of trafficking to begin with.
Indeed, we must ensure that we are not only looking at human trafficking with a view toward the punishment and prosecution of those involved, but with an ongoing appreciation of the victimization of those who are, have been and continue to be victimized in the process. We must ensure that programs for their protection are fully funded, that they provide services in a variety of languages and they assist toward rehabilitation and reintegration into society for those who have been victims of trafficking.
Trafficking constitutes an assault on our common humanity. Accordingly, it must be seen first and foremost as a human rights problem but with an ongoing human rights face reflected in all of the individual victims and being the very antithesis of what the universal declaration of human rights is all about.
As Professor Harold Koh put it, while dean of Yale Law School:
By their acts, traffickers deny that all persons are born free and equal in dignity and rights; they deny their victims freedom of movement, freedom of association, and the most basic freedom: to have a childhood.
I am delighted to stand in this place and support the legislation.
Private Members' Business
April 27th, 2012 / 2 p.m.
Niki Ashton Churchill, MB
Madam Speaker, I rise in the House today to echo the message of my colleagues in the NDP that we support this piece of legislation, Bill C-310, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons).
I would like to note the work of the MP for Kildonan—St. Paul, a fellow Manitoban, on this particular file.
This chamber has heard of the importance of addressing the gaps in the Criminal Code relating to human trafficking. We in the NDP welcome legislation that assists in strengthening the law and works to put an end to human trafficking. As the status of women critic for the NDP, I note the particular victimization that women face when it comes to human trafficking. A majority of people trafficked are women and girls.
Strengthening legislation to prosecute traffickers and prevent others from trafficking is critical; however, legislation is not enough. When we hear from advocates about what can be done to prevent human trafficking, a recurring message is that of changing the social circumstances that leave people vulnerable to trafficking. Both here at home and abroad, we must work with other countries to reduce poverty, underdevelopment and the lack of equal opportunity that make people, particularly women, vulnerable to trafficking.
Because human trafficking is a hidden operation, reliable statistics are obviously difficult to find. In 2004, the RCMP estimated that 800 people were trafficked into Canada each year, of which 600 were destined for the sex trade. They also estimated that 1,500 to 2,200 people are trafficked from Canada into the U.S. annually. According to Canadian non-governmental organizations, the number of foreign women brought into Canada and into the sex trade here each year becomes much higher.
As we know, there are also many Canadian women who are trafficked within Canada's borders. Canada's aboriginal female population is prostituted and trafficked in disproportionate levels. Aboriginal youth are only 3% to 5% of the Canadian population, yet in some cities they are 90% of the visible sex trade.
Young women who have been sexually exploited and abused in the past are more vulnerable to trafficking. There is no doubt that the bill before us strengthens the ability to prosecute traffickers, but unfortunately it does nothing to deal with the root causes of trafficking. When we look particularly at the situation that aboriginal women face in Canada, I believe that many of us know that the government has to do a lot more. The factors that make aboriginal women in Canada more vulnerable include the socio-economic status that many of them have. In census after census, we find out that aboriginal women are among the poorest in our country.
We must also look at factors that make them more vulnerable as a result of the residential school experience, which we know aimed to assimilate aboriginal people, thus leading many of them to lose their language, sense of identity and pride. This cultural experiment, supported by the Government of Canada at the time, allowed for a legacy to be left behind that has further marginalized aboriginal people, particularly aboriginal women. That is an area where we need to see the government step up in terms of its commitment to cultural revitalization, its support of the learning of aboriginal languages and its promotion of how important the retention of language and culture is among aboriginal communities.
Another area where we can seek to challenge a key factor that makes aboriginal women even more vulnerable is their level of education and learning. As the MP for Churchill, I have the honour of representing 33 first nations. I know that on many of these first nations, the educational standards and educators the communities are able to provide are substandard, particularly compared to non-aboriginal communities. Why is that? It is because Canada's previous Liberal governments, as well as the current Conservative government, have ensured that federal funding for aboriginal education was and is at a lower level than for non-aboriginal educational systems, thereby ensuring that young people growing up in aboriginal communities are less able to access a quality education. I believe, and our party has noted, that this is a crying shame in a country as wealthy as Canada.
In terms of education, we know that the application of the 2% cap on funding for aboriginal students ensures that young aboriginal people, who know that obtaining a post-secondary education is key to moving ahead in life, are unable to do so. The circumstances of poverty and hopelessness that exist in their communities hold them back from being able to access an important opportunity which so many Canadians know is the key to moving ahead in the future. The removal of the 2% cap and ensuring that young aboriginal people can have access to post-secondary education is another step the federal government could take in order to ensure that aboriginal young people, particularly young aboriginal women, are made less vulnerable.
Community capacity building is another area where there needs to be federal support in order to support young aboriginal people, in particular, young aboriginal women. We need to ensure there is key programming and services offered in aboriginal communities, wherever they might be.
With respect to housing, for example, many of us have seen the kind of images that came out of Attawapiskat and other first nations communities across the country. I represent some of those communities that face dire situations when it comes to housing: Pukatawagan, St. Theresa Point, Garden Hill, Gods Lake Narrows, communities across northern Manitoba that have a similar circumstance to those of northern Ontario and northern regions across our country. For decades, and particularly as aboriginal populations have grown recently, aboriginal communities have been saying that they need the federal government to step up its funding when it comes to providing proper housing and proper infrastructure in aboriginal communities.
Another area in which the federal government could truly step up when it comes to supporting aboriginal women and aboriginal people is with respect to healing. Many aboriginal people face the challenge of marginalization. I remember some years ago standing in this House with my colleagues in the NDP and fighting the government because of its cuts to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, an extremely successful program which took a decentralized approach when it came to funding critical healing programming to aboriginal communities across the country. Despite research that indicated it was an extremely successful program, the Conservatives unfortunately decided to make serious cuts to it. Again, we have a situation where thanks to federal government cuts, many aboriginal people and aboriginal women who are seeking to heal from the traumatic experience of residential schools and oppression do not have the kind of programming that they had a few years ago.
In general, I would say that the work this government needs to do in terms of achieving women's equality is enormous. However, instead of moving forward, the Conservative government is moving Canada backward on a whole host of measures, some of which I have mentioned in this House just in the last 24 hours: the removal of the word “equality” from the status of women mandate; the elimination of the court challenges program; the elimination of pay equity legislation; cuts to advocacy programs; cuts to research; and cuts to services. That indicates the government is not interested when it comes to achieving true gender equality for aboriginal women in Canada and for all women in Canada.
In conclusion, while we support this piece of legislation, we hope that the government will turn the clock forward and work with us to achieve true equality for all women in Canada.
Private Members' Business
April 27th, 2012 / 2:05 p.m.
Laurin Liu Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise here today to speak to Bill C-310 to combat human trafficking in Canada and abroad.
Of course, we support this bill, which contains amendments to the Criminal Code that will make it possible to better combat this form of modern slavery. Furthermore, I would like to thank the sponsor of this bill for addressing this problem, which only seems to be growing. I believe this is a time when all parties of the House can really work together to improve the situation and women's rights.
When this issue is discussed, we often think of sexual slavery. However, there are other types of exploitation of human suffering which, though they may be more insidious and are almost invisible, are no less tragic. My honourable colleague from Montreal mentioned the case of a woman who was a victim of trafficking because of organ theft.
While any estimate of the number of victims of human trafficking is questionable because of the clandestine nature of this phenomenon, there may be as many as 2.5 million victims of human trafficking worldwide. It is estimated that traffickers profit by about $10 billion US every year. This gives an idea of the magnitude of the current situation.
The figures for Europe, compiled by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, are horrifying.
According to the report, trafficking of human beings is the most lucrative illegal activity in Europe. The UN estimates that crime groups derive profits of over $2.5 billion by organizing forced labour and sexual exploitation of human beings.
According to the report, 140,000 people are trapped in a cycle of brutal violence, abuse and degradation in Europe. About 84% of the victims in Europe are trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation. The majority of victims are young women who have been raped, beaten, drugged and held prisoner. Most of them are in debt, have been subject to blackmail and have had their passports taken away.
Canada is a country of arrival and transit for victims of human smuggling. According to a Department of Justice document, 600 to 800 people are sold in Canada annually, and 1,500 to 2,200 people pass through Canada before being exploited in the United States.
A more surprising and little known fact is that Canada is also affected by domestic human trafficking as a result of the exploitation of aboriginals, which makes Canada a country of origin for victims. Most of these victims are aboriginal women.
Under Bill C-310, human trafficking would also be added to the list of extraterritorial offences.
Currently, when human trafficking is perpetrated abroad by Canadians or by people who ordinarily reside in Canada, these criminals cannot be prosecuted in Canada.
Bill C-310 will correct this situation by criminalizing human trafficking perpetrated by Canadian citizens or permanent residents outside Canada.
I would now like to say a few words about the constitutionality of the extraterritorial provision since the courts will undoubtedly test it.
It is important to remember that subsection 7(4.1) of the Criminal Code already contains an extraterritorial clause regarding pedophile tourism and that this provision was challenged in a recent case before the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Basically, the issue was whether it was constitutional to apply Canadian legislation to crimes committed abroad by Canadians.
Justice Cullen determined that the provisions on pedophile tourism were constitutional and that Parliament had the authority to adapt the extraterritorial provisions. He categorically rejected the defence’s argument that the rights of the accused guaranteed by the Charter were violated because the crimes were committed outside Canada.
The president of Au-delà des frontières, Rosalind Prober, and law professor Amir Attaran gave assurances to parliamentarians that the bill was entirely constitutional.
A second measure contained in the bill would add a provision stipulating the factors that courts can take into consideration in determining what constitutes exploitation.
Law enforcement officers, prosecutors, experts in the fight against human trafficking, and NGOs have voiced their concerns about how vague the current wording is.
Traffickers who use psychological pressure to control their victims without threatening to use force or violence will be clearly identified as criminals since the bill clarifies the notion of “exploitation”. It appears that, to date, this has been a loophole.
Under the existing regime, a trafficker who has exerted significant psychological pressure on an individual can be found innocent on the grounds that the victim's life was never in danger. That is completely ridiculous.
Robert Hooper, chair of the board of directors of Walk With Me, an organization that provides first response services to victims of human trafficking, told the committee about a gap in the bill by describing a recent case involving a Hungarian migrant worker trafficking ring based in south-western Ontario.
...some of the victims were not overtly threatened with violence or death, but a very subtle version of coercion was placed upon their lives. There was never an explicit threat to their safety, but the complete isolation of the victim, leaving him or her bereft of any dignity, help, or any hope, was used as a tactic to exploit those people. They were left with absolutely no avenue to escape, left to the unknown, without language, funds, or safety. Included in the systematic, subtle coercion was the removal of official paperwork, including immigration documents and passports, from these people who had recently come to Canada.
Although those involved in this ring were finally convicted, this case illustrates the range of constraints used by traffickers to control their victims.
I have one criticism of this bill, which I am pleased to support, and that is that it does not go far enough. As is often the case with the Conservatives, the law is made more severe, but the victims are forgotten. Therefore, I encourage my colleagues to study the other measures that could be used to deal with the problem of human trafficking.
I especially appreciated the presentation by Dr. Amir Attaran, who testified in committee on this issue. This University of Ottawa law professor has studied U.S. law on human trafficking and had some interesting comments. For example, he said:
American law requires the trafficking victims be housed and be given legal help and medical treatment as victims. They are not imprisoned as criminals.
In America, the law gives foreign trafficking victims the right to stay lawfully in the country with protection so they can turn star witness and help put the trafficker in prison...in Canadian law, we don't have those victim protection measures right now.
To summarize, it is not possible to fight human trafficking by targeting only the traffickers. We also have to look after the victims. Unfortunately, Bill C-310 avoids that entire question. That said, I applaud the work done by my hon. colleague who introduced this bill, which I am pleased to support. However, we need to be concerned about the budget cuts that the Conservative government has imposed across the board.
Witnesses have said, in committee, for example, that resources are not adequate at present and there are not enough liaison officers in our embassies abroad to combat all the crimes committed outside Canada. If we really want to fight and put an end to human trafficking, there should be more RCMP liaison officers abroad and we should invest more in preventing sex crimes against children committed by Canadians. So investing in front-line services is really how we are going to tackle this problem.
In conclusion, I want to thank the member for Kildonan—St. Paul for her bill and offer her my assistance so that we can adopt a more global approach to all these forms of modern slavery, an approach that will also take into account prevention and victim assistance.
Private Members' Business
April 27th, 2012 / 2:20 p.m.
Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB
Madam Speaker, today modern slavery exists in all corners of the globe. Our resolve to eliminate it must grow stronger. Bill C-310 would have a significant impact on the anti-human trafficking efforts of Canada at home as well as abroad.
I am encouraged by the strong support this legislation received at second reading and again at committee. However, I hear how supportive members opposite are, yet I was so disappointed that at report stage on March 30 members of the official opposition, the NDP, opposed the adoption of Bill C-310 at the beginning of the hour debate. This prevented any debate from taking place on that day. Instead of joining the Conservatives, Liberals, Bloc and Green MPs who sought to send this important legislation right to the Senate, the NDP forced a recorded vote at report stage, a procedural move that is unheard of when there are no new amendments.
The NDP's decision to oppose Bill C-310 on March 30 so it could vote for it on April 4 also dropped my bill to the bottom of the order paper. Were it not for the member for Kitchener—Conestoga, and I am very grateful to the member, Bill C-310 would not have come up for debate until the end of next month and the royal assent would certainly have been put off.
Today I hope all members, instead of delaying it yet another four days and because they have spoken in support of it, will pass the bill straight to the Senate.
Private Members' Business
December 12th, 2011 / 11:05 a.m.
Mark Warawa Langley, BC
Mr. Speaker, it is a real honour to speak to this bill from the member for Kildonan—St. Paul. I describe her as “Canada's Wilberforce”. Bill C-310 is an important private member's bill that would impact modern-day slavery, or human trafficking. The bill would push it back into its dirty corner and hopefully kill it for all time, in Canada and in the world. The member for Kildonan—St. Paul has been on this journey for years. Her whole family has been very involved, through the police, in trying to stop this horrific crime.
I am amazed that Canada is blessed to have Miss Canada come from my riding of beautiful Langley, British Columbia. Tara Teng is that person this year. We will be passing the torch on to young, new leaders such as Tara Teng in years to come. We wonder what these leaders are working on. She is working with this member of Parliament to stop human trafficking, a noble cause. It is understandable that we want to end this horrific evil. We have some of Canada's brightest lights taking on this problem. I want to thank both the member for Kildonan—St. Paul and Tara Teng. We encourage them to never give up. As individuals, as the Government of Canada and as parliamentarians, we do not give up until the job is done.
I recently received 245 letters from students at Walnut Grove Secondary School. They were horrified to find out that slavery actually exists today. They found out about this private member's bill, Bill C-310. I would like to read a letter for the record so members can understand what our young adults think about the problem of human trafficking. This is a letter from Emma. She is a grade 9 student who says:
This problem about human trafficking is horrible and something should be done about it. Young innocent girls and boys being taken into the sex trade is a major problem. The presentation I heard today made me feel like this should not be left aside. Everyone should help to make human trafficking be put to a stop. I know that if anyone I know, or in my family, got taken away to be human trafficked... It would kill me! I would be devastated. No family should have to go through this; losing a child and not knowing where they are. I strongly hope that something will be done to stop this!
Well something is being done. I encourage every member to support this very important bill.
Private Members' Business
December 12th, 2011 / 11:05 a.m.
Charmaine Borg Terrebonne—Blainville, QC
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-310, which would amend the Criminal Code to address the cruel and serious problem of human trafficking in Canada.
I congratulate the member who sponsored this bill for introducing a bill that will have the support of all parties in this House. This is the first time I have supported a government initiative and I congratulate her on it. I hope that in the future the opposition parties and the Conservative government will have many opportunities to work together.
This bill proposes two very important amendments to the Criminal Code that will make it easier to prosecute perpetrators of human trafficking. This heinous crime has destructive effects on the victims, which reminds us that in a not-too-distant past, slaves were treated similarly by Canadians and by our neighbours to the south. Unfortunately, at a time when human rights and individual freedoms should prevail and at a time when we would have thought our attitudes had evolved enough to eliminate this abominable crime, there are still people in this country who can deny their own humanity and sell people who are just as deserving of freedom as any other person.
Therefore, I believe that the House has the duty and the power to hold these individuals accountable by proposing and adopting a legal framework to eliminate this form of slavery and severely punish the perpetrators, so that we can set an example for the rest of the world.
This bill targets the real criminals—the traffickers. This bill would extend Canada's jurisdiction beyond our borders, which means we could go after traffickers with Canadian citizenship or residency regardless of where they are in the world. I would once again like to congratulate my colleague opposite for developing a bill that targets the real criminals and not the victims.
However, since there is a distinction made between human trafficking and human smuggling, I have to wonder about Bill C-4, which targets the migrants instead of the smugglers in cases of human smuggling in Canada. Migrants are the victims in this fraudulent scheme, and the real criminals are those who deceive these people by promising them a better future. I would have liked to see the government use Bill C-310 as an inspiration and to withdraw Bill C-4 from the Order Paper.
The first section of the bill amends the Criminal Code in order to apply Canadian extraterritorial jurisdiction to the offence of human trafficking. This will give the Canadian government the legal means to prosecute a Canadian or a permanent resident of Canada involved in human trafficking, regardless of where he or she works, lives or operates. Introducing extraterritorial jurisdiction using the nationality principle in international law is compatible with our international obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, the Palermo convention. Given the international nature of human trafficking, extraterritorial jurisdiction is crucial. We simply cannot allow Canadian traffickers to live a comfortable life without any fear of being held responsible for their crimes just because they can hide behind international borders.
Thus, I am convinced that our government has a responsibility to ensure that our legal system can prosecute those responsible for such crimes to the full extent of the law through this extraterritorial jurisdiction. We have the right to hold our citizens to a certain standard of behaviour, even those who are outside our borders.
In her introductory speech, the sponsor of the bill said that it would ensure justice in cases where the offence was committed in a country without strong anti-human trafficking laws. I agree with her completely, but I find it unfortunate that this government did not live up to this standard during the previous Parliament with regard to Bill C-300, An Act respecting Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil or Gas in Developing Countries. Once again, I hope the government will learn something from this private member's bill.
Coming back to Bill C-310, before 2005 the only legal action that could be taken against human traffickers was based on charges of kidnapping, threats or extortion. Section 118 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act prohibits anyone from bringing someone into Canada by means of abduction or fraud. In other words, human trafficking was not considered a criminal offence per se until 2005. Since then, only five people have been prosecuted on the basis this new offence.
Crown prosecutors and experts blame the lack of prosecutions on the current definition of exploitation, which requires proof of a threat to safety. This proof is difficult to obtain, which results in traffickers being found not guilty.
This leads me to the second amendment to the Criminal Code proposed in this bill. The member sponsoring this bill has every reason to propose expanding the current legal definition of the word “exploitation”, which defines the conditions for a person to be considered a victim of human trafficking. The current legal definition of this word in the Criminal Code does not contain any precise examples of exploitation. Therefore, this second amendment would add evidentiary foundations to enable courts to give clear examples of exploitation, such as threats or use of violence, coercion and fraudulent manipulation. This would update the legal terminology and would give courts the legal tools they need to successfully prosecute these criminals.
Once again, I congratulate the member on her wise and well thought-out bill.
I will conclude by talking about human trafficking in Canada. In Canada it is tragic to see that aboriginal women and girls are disproportionately more likely to be victims of human trafficking. This tragedy is the result of a number of factors, and to address this, our government will have to combat it from all sides. We absolutely must recognize that poverty, lack of housing and very difficult living conditions for aboriginal women and girls are factors that explain why they are disproportionately more likely to be victims of human trafficking.
I would like to point out a coincidence. Today, the Standing Committee on Status of Women will present its report on violence against aboriginal women. This report is the product of two years of study on a very serious issue and an unfortunate tragedy in our country. Over the course of this study, the committee heard from about a hundred aboriginal women and people working with victims and their families. I had the opportunity to listen to some of this testimony when I sat on this committee. It is clear that to fight violence against aboriginal women and girls, including human trafficking, we must acknowledge the poverty and economic marginalization they experience.
I truly hope that this report will lead to concrete recommendations for improving the economic conditions of these women and decreasing their vulnerability to violence and human trafficking. I strongly encourage all of my colleagues in the House and the general public to listen to the presentation of this report today. Once again, I thank my colleague for this wise and necessary bill.
Private Members' Business
December 12th, 2011 / 11:10 a.m.
Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of Bill C-310, a bill which the Liberal Party also supports.
The sad and tragic reality is that human trafficking is not going away anytime soon. Indeed, news broke just this past week that a human trafficking police action in China resulted in 700 arrests and secured the rescue of 178 children.
Human trafficking is a particularly serious problem in China, and as CNN reports:
Since the government launched a national campaign against human trafficking in April 2009, police have arrested almost 50,000 suspects, rescuing more than 18,000 children as well as some 35,000 women, the ministry said.
Those are horrific numbers, although even one is horrific.
We cannot look at just one country, of course, and human trafficking in isolation. As OSCE special representative and coordinator for combatting trafficking in human beings, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro noted in an address to global parliamentarians last month that human trafficking is:
--not a marginal phenomenon, but a new form of slavery on a massive scale in which people lose their freedom of choice, and are reduced to commodities for the benefit of their exploiters.
The statistics are shocking and saddening in their own right. We have heard many figures in House debates on human trafficking, such as the UN estimate that nearly 2.5 million people from 127 countries are being trafficked into 137 countries around the world, that trafficking has an annual revenue of more than $5 billion, that profit from human trafficking may be in excess of $31 billion annually, that 1.2 million children are trafficked globally each year, and that more than a million children are in situations of forced labour as a result of being trafficked.
With all these numbers, it is easy to forget that behind every number is a name, a face, a real person, a life, a world shattered by the evil that is human trafficking. Lest it be thought that Canada does not have any role to play in this global phenomenon, the U.S. state department, earlier this year, released a chilling report on human trafficking which found that:
Canada is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Canadian women and girls, particularly from aboriginal communities, are found in conditions of commercial sexual exploitation across the country. Foreign women and children, primarily from Asia and Eastern Europe, are subjected to sex trafficking;--
That is talking about Canada.
Indeed, some Canadians have a hand in human trafficking, and we must send a strong signal that complicity in the trafficking of persons is not acceptable in any way. This includes extending the reach of our laws to actions that happen beyond our borders.
Canada, last year, prosecuted a child sex tourist, a Canadian who abused girls in Cambodia and Colombia for violating subsection 7(4.1) of the Criminal Code. Bill C-310 expands this provision to apply not only to sexual offences against children, as it does now, but to offences related to trafficking in persons. Indeed, with specific regard to Bill C-310, World Vision Canada has said:
This bill is a significant and necessary step in responding to human trafficking, and a vital part of a broader strategy to tackle trafficking at home and overseas from the key internationally recognized intervention angles: prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnerships.
I think I may speak for all members of this House when I say that these are goals we wholeheartedly support.
While the bill we are debating today is a step in the right direction, there is much more that needs to be done to address all aspects of the trafficking process. In that regard I would like to note two other items the U.S. report of this year found with respect to Canada. First:
Canada's law enforcement efforts reportedly suffer from a lack of coordination between the national government and provincial and local authorities, which prosecute most human trafficking cases.
Simply put, changing the law is not enough without adopting a national approach to its enforcement that includes and co-operates with provincial and local authorities.
--there were no nationwide protocols for other government officials to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as women in prostitution or migrant workers. Victim support services in Canada are generally administered at the provincial level. There were no dedicated facilities or specialized programs for trafficking victims.
That is very saddening and disappointing.
We must ensure that we are not only looking at human trafficking with a view toward punishing and prosecuting those involved but also with a view to helping those who have been victimized in the process.
Addressing and redressing this most profound of human rights assaults, an assault on human dignity, requires a comprehensive approach, an approach that will allow us to prevent problems to begin with and to protect the victims of trafficking, while also pursuing the traffickers themselves, and subsequently prosecuting and punishing them.
To make human trafficking offences abroad subject to prosecution in Canada is, as such, a step in the right direction and something all Canadians can support.
Private Members' Business
December 12th, 2011 / 11:20 a.m.
Fin Donnelly New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC
Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul for her dedication to this important issue. I am honoured to have the opportunity to speak in support of legislation that would strengthen Canada's ability to prosecute human traffickers.
Bill C-310 is an important piece of legislation that proposes an amendment to section 7 of the Criminal Code which would add the current trafficking in persons offences to the list of offences which, if committed outside Canada by a Canadian or permanent resident, could be prosecuted in Canada.
I proposed a similar type of legislation, Bill C-212, which would empower the courts to prosecute the offence of luring a child when the offence is committed by a Canadian or permanent resident outside Canada's borders. Giving our courts the ability to prosecute offenders regardless of what jurisdiction the crime was committed in is an important tool in combatting crime like human trafficking or child exploitation in the 21st century.
Bill C-310 also proposes an amendment that would provide evidentiary definitions for exploitation by providing specific examples of exploitative conducts, such as use of threats, violence, coercion, and fraudulent means. The courts would be able to provide clear examples of exploitation.
Human trafficking, also referred to as the modern day slave trade, is a despicable crime against humanity that I know all members of this House would agree requires our utmost efforts to eliminate.
The international trafficking of people is a problem larger than average Canadians would assume. We often hear stories of the sex trade of women and girls, and men and boys occurring in faraway countries. However, when it comes to human trafficking, Canada is a destination country, a transit country, and a source country. Up to 16,000 people are trafficked to or through Canada every year.
The U.S. state department estimates there are between 600,000 and 800,000 global victims of human trafficking each and every year. While the majority of victims are women and girls, men and boys are also victimized. Regardless of gender, victims are knowingly lured into a criminal world that views them as objects, to be bought and traded, used for a certain amount of time and, in many cases, discarded when they no longer serve the criminals' purposes.
As a source country, many of our young vulnerable Canadians have been lured away from communities by the prospect or the promise of economic opportunity, and then sold into a dark underworld that steals from young people their freedom, their hope and, in some cases, their lives.
In Canada, we know young aboriginal women are particularly vulnerable to being victimized by traffickers and other parasitic criminals. We know about the Stolen Sisters, some 500 missing or murdered aboriginal women from across Canada. In northern British Columbia, Highway 16 has earned the unfortunate moniker “Highway of Tears”. There are a series of unresolved disappearances and murders of aboriginal women in the region and of course, we know of the dozens of prostituted women who have fallen victim to unspeakable crimes in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
In Canada, and around the world, victims of human trafficking and other forms of exploitation often come from the impoverished and marginalized conditions that make them vulnerable to violence and abuse. What cannot be ignored when discussing human trafficking is its root cause, which is poverty.
Growing economic inequality across the globe is a major cause for concern. In fact, this is the foundation of the occupy Wall Street protests and the similar protests it has sparked in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and, indeed, across the globe. Economic inequality creates conditions where people are desperate to provide a more secure future for themselves and for their families.
As labour markets increasingly see no borders, people are easily preyed upon by those offering the promise of a new job in a prosperous country. Once they fall into the trap, they are often manipulated into believing they themselves are criminals and oftentimes, the safety of their families are threatened should they ever try to escape.
Predators of human trafficking are often highly sophisticated, multinational criminal organizations that are experts at trading humans, just as they would weapons, drugs or firearms. The existence of modern-day criminal organizations like this requires our governments to enact clear, legal frameworks to protect victims and prosecute offenders. Experts argue that to effectively combat human trafficking we must adopt a three-pronged approach: prevention, prosecution and protection.
Bill C-310 would strengthen our ability to prosecute human traffickers. I believe Canada must also take steps to strengthen the prevention of human trafficking and the protection of its victims. In so many complex issues our community faces today, the key to achieving success is prevention, but often politicians have a difficult time justifying investing taxpayer dollars in preventive measures, which, despite a policy's proven effectiveness, may not have the same immediate gains like a new ice rink or a ribbon-cutting ceremony would.
In terms of prevention, we know that education is the key. A lack of awareness about the issue of human trafficking persists in our society. We need a national strategy to combat human trafficking that emphasizes coordination and partnership with various levels of departments of government, the RCMP, other countries, non-profit organizations and others. This level of coordination is key to ensuring protection is adequately provided to the victims of human trafficking.
There are many obstacles to identifying the victims of human trafficking. Oftentimes the first and only opportunity to identify them is at the border when many of them may still falsely believe that they are entering the country for legitimate purposes.
When we come across a potential victim of human trafficking, there are many challenges to providing the necessary elements of protection. We must protect them against unjust detention and deportation. There is a need for support services, such as shelter, health care and counselling. As I mentioned earlier, the lives of these victims and their families are often threatened, which makes it imperative that we offer witness protection services.
Members of the House have spoken about the police resources required to combat human trafficking. Our communities have been asking the federal government to provide adequate levels of resources so police can do their jobs. Canada's New Democrats have been calling for an increase of 2,500 police officers and resources to combat gangs and gang violence and to prevent our youth from being lured into criminal organizations.
In 2006, the government issued new guidelines for the issuance of temporary resident permits to victims of human trafficking, a step forward in combatting this serious crime. However, these permits have had their shortfalls. According to the Canada Council for Refugees:
—the temporary residence permits have proven inadequate: they are discretionary and are not always offered to trafficked persons; they impose an unreasonable burden of proof on the trafficked person; and the mandatory involvement of law enforcement agencies has deterred some trafficked persons from applying.
Canada's official opposition is calling on the government to provide victims of human trafficking a permanent option to stay in Canada. We call for this in part due to the shortcomings of the temporary resident permit, but also because of the very nature of this heinous crime. Victims must be given the choice to remain in Canada as permanent residents. They must be protected from prosecution themselves. There must be mechanisms in place to ensure victims are offered a full range of support services rather than treated as criminals.
I am hopeful that all members rise to speak in support of this bill. They will recognize that the fight against human trafficking is not over. Much work remains to be done to ensure that our country is doing all it can to combat the widespread scourge of human trafficking.
Private Members' Business
December 12th, 2011 / 11:30 a.m.
Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to again speak to my private member's bill, Bill C-310, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons).
I will begin by thanking all hon. members who spoke today, as well as those who spoke during the first hour of debate on October 25. The careful attention paid to this legislation, and even more so to the issue of modern-day slavery during the speeches, is quite encouraging. There are few matters of justice that require our constant attention as much as slavery.
Bill C-310 would amend the Criminal Code to add the current trafficking in persons offences, sections 279.01 and 279.011, to the list of offences, which, if committed outside Canada by a Canadian or permanent resident, can be prosecuted in Canada.
Extending extraterritorial jurisdiction to Criminal Code offences is, indeed, a rare step. This was noted by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, as well as the NDP justice critic, during the first hour of debate. In particular, the parliamentary secretary stated that, in the limited number of cases in which Canada has extended prosecutorial discretion, it was because there was an international consensus to do so.
However, I want to refer to an extensive report on the practice of extraterritorial jurisdiction released by the Law Commission of Canada entitled, “Global Reach, Local Grasp: Constructing Extraterritorial Jurisdiction in the Age of Globalization”. This report states that, while most exercises of extraterritoriality are deliberately multilateral, it is open to Canada to act extraterritorially in advance of consensus having been formed; in effect, to attempt to lead international opinion by example.
What is most notable is that the report provides Canada's child sex tourism laws as an example of this and states that the child sex tourism provisions, though now perfectly in line with international treaties, actually preceded the signing of these treaties. Bill C-310 is an opportunity for Canada to again take international leadership in combatting this heinous crime.
I want to note that, during the first hour of debate, I mentioned that I would be seeking a friendly amendment to add sections 279.02 and 279.03 to this clause. These are offences of receipt of material or financial benefit from human trafficking and withholding or destroying travel documents in the process of human trafficking. This would ensure that all of the acts around human trafficking are covered by extraterritorial offences and there is no chance of a Canadian human trafficker falling through the cracks. I am pleased that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice was supportive of this amendment and I look forward to the discussion at committee.
The second clause of Bill C-310 amends the definition of exploitation and the trafficking in persons offence to add an interpretive aid for courts to consider when they are determining whether a person is exploited. The heart of this amendment is to provide an aid to the courts that clearly demonstrates the factors that constitute exploitive methods. In my amendment, I have proposed including use of threats of violence, force or other forms of coercion and fraudulent means.
I will also be seeking a friendly amendment at committee to include the terms “use deception” and “abused a position of trust, power or authority”. These minor changes would ensure that the bill is sound and accomplishes what we all want it to do.
Trafficking in persons is a fast growing crime in terms of profit, and it is incumbent upon us as parliamentarians to confront slavery in all its forms, both within our nation and abroad. That is why I am so pleased to see the unity of members on all sides of the House taking such a strong position on this matter before us today. By supporting Bill C-310, each member of the House plays an important role in strengthening the tools used by police officers and prosecutors and to secure justice for victims of trafficking, both here in Canada and abroad.
Private Members' Business
October 25th, 2011 / 5:15 p.m.
Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB
moved that Bill C-310, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Madam Speaker, today I am pleased to rise and speak to my private member's bill, Bill C-310, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons). This bill follows my previous bill, Bill C-268, which created Canada's child trafficking offence with stiff penalties for individuals trafficking a minor in Canada. Having received royal assent on June 29, 2010, Bill C-268 is now law and is being used across Canada, most recently in a case right here in Ottawa.
Bill C-268 was supported by members from multiple parties in the last Parliament. I want to take a moment to thank the members from the Conservative Party, NDP, Liberal Party and Green Party for offering their support for Bill C-310. This bipartisan support reveals that members on both sides of the House are committed to combating human trafficking.
The term “human trafficking” can often be mistaken as human smuggling, which is the illegal movement of people across international borders. However, we must be clear and concise about what human trafficking is during our debate tonight.
Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for sexual exploitation or forced labour or other forms of slavery. Human trafficking is nothing short of modern day slavery. The focus of my bill is on combating the enslavement of individuals both in Canada and abroad.
I would like to begin by speaking to the recent Ottawa case that I referred to a few minutes ago to demonstrate the reality of human trafficking here in Canada. Last week, Montreal police caught up to Jamie Byron, who was charged by the Ottawa police force for a number of serious human trafficking-related offences, including the trafficking of a minor. Mr. Byron, considered to be violent, is also wanted in Toronto for robbery, uttering threats and possession of a dangerous weapon.
I would ask members to take a moment and consider that only a few blocks away from where we are sitting today in the House, Jamie Byron was forcing underage girls into prostitution. The methods he used were particularly heinous. In a downtown Ottawa hotel a young 17-year-old girl trafficked from Windsor, Ontario was starved until she agreed to be a prostitute. This is nothing short of slavery.
As parliamentarians, we must be resolved to eradicating all forms of this slavery, both in Canada and abroad. The first clause in Bill C-310 would amend the Criminal Code to add the current trafficking in persons offences 279.01 and 279.011 to the list of offences which, if committed outside Canada by a Canadian or permanent resident, could be prosecuted in Canada. The very nature of human trafficking requires an international focus.
Canada is known as a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking. The human trafficking offence in section 279.01 states:
Every person who recruits, transports, transfers, receives, holds, conceals or harbours a person...or exercises control, direction or influence over the movements of a person...for the purpose of exploiting them or facilitating their exploitation is guilty of an indictable offence--
I would like to provide a basic example of how Bill C-310's amendment to extend extraterritorial jurisdiction to human trafficking offences would apply in an international human trafficking case.
Human trafficking can often have global implications with traffickers recruiting in one country and sending victims to another country. For example, if a Canadian trafficker were to situate him or herself in Romania and recruit, transport, transfer, receive, hold or control victims to be exploited in Canada or even within Romania, the amendment in Bill C-310 would ensure that person could be held criminally responsible in Canada.
However, if the trafficker were to return to Canada today without being caught or apprehended in Romania, the individual would not be guilty of an offence under Canadian law. In a reverse situation, this amendment would also ensure that Canada's trafficking in persons offences would apply to a Canadian who was trafficking Canadian victims within and throughout other countries.
Let us look at a real life example. John Wrenshall is a Canadian serving 25 years in an American prison for running a child brothel in Thailand. He was recruiting, holding and controlling boys as young as four years old and arranging for international child sex tourists to visit his brothel. Mr. Wrenshall even admitted to the court that his brothel was linked to a Thai pedophile sex trafficking ring.
The U.S. arrested Mr. Wrenshall in the U.K., after he left Thailand, for a number of a charges, including aiding and abetting Americans to sexually abuse children abroad.
However, had Mr. Wrenshall managed to return to Canada, we would not have been able to prosecute him for human trafficking since Canada's trafficking in persons offences are not extraterritorial.
I also want to note that this amendment would apply to people who traffic victims for sexual exploitation, as well as for forced labour or slavery. This is important, as we know that men, women and children have been recruited abroad and trafficked to Canada for the purposes of forced labour.
Extraterritorial laws are guided by a number of principles under international law. Bill C-310's amendment would fall under the nationality principle that can be defined as “States may assert jurisdiction over acts of their nationals wherever the act might take place.
Canada has designated a number of serious Criminal Code offences as extraterritorial offences, especially those related to the sexual abuse of children by Canadians sex tourists. These can be found in section 7.4 of the Criminal Code.
There are three primary purposes of designating a criminal offence with extraterritorial jurisdiction. I would like to review these with regard to human trafficking.
First, an extraterritorial human trafficking offence would allow Canada to arrest Canadians who have left the country where they engage in human trafficking in an attempt to avoid punishment here in Canada.
Second, an extraterritorial human trafficking offence would ensure justice in cases where the offence was committed in a country without strong anti-human trafficking laws or strong judicial systems.
Finally, an extraterritorial human trafficking offence would clearly indicate that Canada will not tolerate its own citizens engaging in human trafficking anywhere in the world.
While it would not be conventional to start applying extraterritorial jurisdiction to every Criminal Code offence, there is significant international precedence to do so for human trafficking offences. For example, a number of countries, such as Germany, Cyprus and Cambodia, have applied international jurisdiction to their domestic human trafficking offences so that they can prosecute their own citizens regardless of where the offences took place.
The UN Organized Crime Convention requires a state's parties to establish jurisdiction to investigate, prosecute and punish all offences established by the convention on the trafficking of persons protocol, which Canada has done.
However, in 2009, the United Nations handbook for parliamentarians on combating trafficking in persons also notes that the Organized Crime Convention encourages the establishment of jurisdiction on an extraterritorial basis. In 2003, the UN resource guide to international regional legal instruments, political commitments and recommended practices stated:
The adoption of extraterritorial criminal laws against human trafficking is one of the many intersectoral and interdisciplinary measures required to effectively combat this phenomenon.
The UN guide also stated:
Extraterritorial laws should be appreciated realistically as one of the many complementary measures needed to eliminate human trafficking, coupled ultimately with the political and social will and cooperation to overcome this global phenomena.
Prior to tabling Bill C-310, I consulted with numerous stakeholders on this matter of extraterritorial offences. This included law enforcement, prosecutors, and non-governmental organizations.
On further reflection, I will be seeking a friendly amendment at committee stage to add sections 279.02 and 279.03 to this clause. These are offences of receiving material or financial benefit from human trafficking and withholding or destroying travel documents in the process of human trafficking. This would ensure that all of the acts around human trafficking are covered by extraterritorial offences and there is no chance for a Canadian human trafficker falling through the cracks.
The second clause of Bill C-310 would amend the definition of “exploitation” in the trafficking of persons offence to add an evidentiary aid for courts to consider when they are determining whether a person was exploited.
Evidentiary aids are already used in our Criminal Code. In fact, the evidentiary aid found in section 153(1.2) of the Criminal Code provides greater clarity to the courts on what constitutes sexual exploitation of a minor.
There is also an evidentiary aid found in section 467.11(3) that provides additional guidance on what constitutes participation in organized crime.
This amendment stems from consultations with law enforcement, lawyers and prosecutors who have faced challenges demonstrating exploitation and trafficking in persons under the current definition. They feel that the current definition of “exploitation” is worded in such a way that it has caused courts to interpret “exploitation” too narrowly. The current definition hinges on an assumption that victims feared for their own safety or for the safety of someone known to them so much that they were compelled to provide a labour or a service. This has often been interpreted as a concern for one's physical safety.
UBC professor Benjamin Perrin, in his landmark book on human trafficking in Canada, called Invisible Chains, writes, “It could be argued that safety should not be restricted simply to physical harm but also should encompass psychological and emotional harm”. He goes on to point out that Canada's definition of “human trafficking” does not include methods of exploitation that are consistent with the UN Palermo protocol. The Palermo protocol states:
“Trafficking in persons” shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.
The heart of this amendment is to provide an aid to the courts that clearly demonstrates the factors that constitute exploitive methods. In my amendment, I have proposed including “use or threats of violence, force or other forms of coercion and fraudulent means”.
Similar to the first clause of this bill after it was tabled in Parliament, upon reflection, I believe it would be helpful to also include the term “use deception and abuse a position of trust, power or authority”.
I will also be seeking a friendly amendment for these minor changes at committee to ensure this bill is sound and will accomplish what we want it to do.
I would like to share some of the feedback I have already heard from stakeholders regarding Bill C-310.
Jamie McIntosh of IJM stated:
The crime of human trafficking often transgresses international boundaries, with vulnerable men, women, and children subject to its devastating reach. Human traffickers, including those of Canadian nationality, will persist in their illicit trade if they believe their crimes will go unpunished. Extending authority to prosecute Canadians for human trafficking crimes committed abroad is an important step in the global fight against human trafficking. As a nation, we must commit to prosecuting Canadian nationals who commit these crimes, regardless of geographical location at the time of offence.
UBC law professor Benjamin Perrin said:
Human traffickers have evaded prosecution for their heinous crimes, in part, because Canada's criminal laws are not explicit enough to clearly encompass the range of tactics employed by these serial exploiters....I call on all Parliamentarians to support this initiative.
Timea Nagy, who is the program director of Walk with Me, and a survivor of human trafficking herself, writes:
As an internationally trafficked survivor, who has been working with Canadian law enforcement to help human trafficking victims, I am absolutely thrilled to see this legislation.... This Bill will help Canadian law enforcement and prosecutors to be able to do their job and send a message to traffickers around the world, that Canada does not tolerate this crime against human dignity.
There are so many more organizations and experts that I could list but I do not have the time to do so. It is important that Parliament continue to act to combat modern day slavery. Human trafficking is a national and international crime and this legislation addresses both.
By supporting Bill C-310, each member of this House plays an important role in strengthening the tools used by police officers and prosecutors and in securing justice for victims of trafficking both here in Canada and abroad.
Private Members' Business
October 25th, 2011 / 5:35 p.m.
Pierre Jacob Brome—Missisquoi, QC
Mr. Speaker, Bill C-310, which would amend the Criminal Code, clarifies legislation pertaining to human trafficking, a global phenomenon that requires the legislator to take a transnational approach.
This bill amends two provisions of the Criminal Code pertaining to human trafficking. The first change would make an addition to section 7 of the Criminal Code. It formally recognizes trafficking in humans as an extraterritorial offence that can be prosecuted in Canada, and applying to both Canadians and permanent residents.
The second change would replace section 279.04 of the Criminal Code in order to provide a more precise definition of the concept of exploitation. Hence, “ ...the Court may consider, among other factors, whether the accused, (a) used or threatened to use violence; (b) used or threatened to use force; (c) used or threatened another form of coercion; or (d) used fraudulent misrepresentation or other fraudulent means”, when determining whether or not there was exploitation. It should be noted that the bill also includes in the concept of exploitation the removal of an organ or tissue by the use of force, violence or coercion.
A number of experts have expressed concerns about the current legislation, which they believe is not detailed enough to allow the courts to prove the offence of exploitation. By including the content of article 3 of the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime Protocol, the legislator is attempting to harmonize domestic law with international law in the area of human trafficking. Thus, in this article:
“Trafficking in persons” shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs;
In light of the extraterritorial nature of the offences set out in sections 279.01 and 279.011 of the Criminal Code, the legislator uses principles of international law in order to fight human trafficking, which must be strongly condemned. We must agree with strengthening the legislation to deal with these offences This bill is one solution that will help limit this transnational scourge.
By making these amendments to the Criminal Code, Canada would only be respecting its international commitments. Canada signed this convention and its protocols in 2000 and ratified them in 2002. As a result, it is required to introduce legislation to recognize trafficking in persons as an offence.
I will take this opportunity in the debate at second reading of this private member's bill to talk about the difference between human trafficking and human smuggling, which is not addressed in these legislative amendments. Human smuggling is defined as a crime committed by any person who enables the illegal migration of other individuals by means of the organized transport of a person across an international border. By contrast, human trafficking refers to the recruitment of vulnerable persons for the purposes of various types of exploitation, generally in the sex industry or forced labour, through various methods of control.
Victims of human trafficking in Canada are unfortunately most often aboriginal women and girls who are sexually exploited.
Exploitation for the purposes of forced labour also exists in Canada. The people behind this type of 21st century slavery take advantage of the precarious legal status of foreigners under their control, who are often illegal immigrants. These immigrants are brainwashed and often fear testifying, since they worry that they themselves will be arrested or deported to their country of origin.
In conclusion, I would like to say that I support this private member's bill, which would aim to bring our legislation in line with international law.
Private Members' Business
October 25th, 2011 / 5:50 p.m.
Robert Goguen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to discuss the legislation introduced by my colleague, the member for Kildonan—St. Paul, which would strengthen our ability to hold human traffickers accountable for their crimes.
Private Member's Bill C-310 proposes two Criminal Code amendments to combat trafficking in persons. I support the legislation and applaud my colleague for her unwavering commitment to this issue. I urge all members to support the rapid passage of the bill into law.
The first thing the bill would do is enable the Canadian prosecution of Canadian citizens or permanent residents who commit either the human trafficking offence, section 279.01 of the Criminal Code, or the child-specific trafficking offence abroad, section 279.011. In other words, the bill proposes to provide Canada with extraterritorial jurisdiction to prosecute two of the four trafficking offences.
I support these amendments and pause here to note that it was another private member's bill introduced by the member for Kildonan—St. Paul that created the child-specific trafficking offence. It came into force last year, having received widespread support in Parliament. I note there appears to be the same widespread support this evening. That offence imposes mandatory minimum penalties of imprisonment for child traffickers, a punishment that is certainly fitting of this crime.
Canada does not normally assume jurisdiction to prosecute criminal conduct that occurs beyond our borders. Canada is not unique in this regard, and the reasons for not assuming jurisdiction for crimes committed abroad are based primarily on the principle of respect for the sovereignty of the state where the offence took place. In the limited number of cases in which Canada has extended prosecutorial discretion, it was because there was an international consensus to do so, which is most often reflected in an international treaty to which Canada is party.
Perhaps the most widely known example of this in Canada is our so-called child sex tourism offence, which allows Canada to prosecute Canadians who commit sexual offences against children while abroad. In this case, assuming jurisdiction to prosecute trafficking offences committed abroad would be based on our international treaty obligations contained in the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its supplemental Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.
Canada is party to both these treaties, which encourage, although do not require, countries to assume extraterritorial jurisdiction to prosecute their nationals for committing human trafficking abroad.
These proposed amendments will enable us to more fully implement these important transnational crime treaties.
We would not be unique in this regard. Countries with legal systems similar to ours, including the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand and Australia, have the ability to prosecute their nationals who commit human trafficking abroad. I am very pleased that this proposed legislation would move us in a similar direction.
I stop here to reflect on these amendments and whether it makes sense to include the two additional Criminal Code offences targeting trafficking in persons in these proposed amendments. Those offences--section 279.02, prohibiting the receipt of a financial or other material benefit from the commission of a trafficking offence, and section 279.03, prohibiting the withholding of travel or identity documents in order to facilitate trafficking--also provide important ways for the Canadian judicial system to respond to this horrific practice.
It seems to me that there is some logic in ensuring that all of the trafficking-specific offences can be prosecuted in Canada when they are committed by Canadians or Canadian permanent residents abroad. I for one would certainly support that kind of amendment were it brought forward.
Second, Bill C-310 would enact what I would call an interpretive provision that sets out a non-exhaustive list of factors that a court might take into consideration when determining whether the legal test of exploitation has been made out for the purpose of human trafficking offences.
We all know that at the very core of the crime of human trafficking is the exploitation of another person. Traffickers deny victims their individual autonomy and employ force, threats and other forms of coercion in order to compel their victims to provide their labour or services, and, because trafficking is about the exploitation of another person, our criminal laws make exploitation a critical element to be proven.
The Criminal Code defines exploitation. It says that a person exploits another person if they:
cause them to provide, or offer to provide, labour or a service by engaging in a conduct that, in all the circumstances, could reasonably be expected to cause the other person to believe that their safety or the safety of a person known to them would be threatened if they failed to provide, or offer to provide, the labour or service
Our laws also define exploitation in the context of organ removal, but I will not focus on that aspect of our definition today.
The definition of exploitation that I have just noted provides a flexible test and captures the various ways that traffickers compel their victims to provide labour or service, including through physical or emotional coercion.
This definition requires one to look at the effect that such conduct would reasonably be expected to have on a victim, objectively speaking, while also taking into account the particular circumstances of the victim.
I believe this kind of flexible approach is critical in this area. Trafficking in persons is a crime that is not confined to a single act like assault or murder, but rather is a complex pattern of behaviours and actions on the part of the offenders that, taken together, result in the victim having no choice but to provide their labour or service.
Our laws must provide the flexibility to be able to address the continuum of conduct. In saying this, I acknowledge that there are some who believe proving exploitation is difficult, and while our trafficking laws may be clear, they must also be clearly understood.
I believe that it is in this vein that my colleague has proposed to create an interpretive aid for the purpose of assisting the courts in understanding the types of conduct that can be taken into consideration when determining whether exploitation has occurred. I support her efforts in bringing clarity in this regard.
It should be noted that this kind of interpretive aid is not unique in the Criminal Code. For example, subsection 153(1.2) provides a non-exhaustive list of conduct that a court may take into consideration when determining whether a relationship is exploitive of a young person. Section 153 is a sexual exploitation offence involving persons in a position of trust or authority.
Another example is subsection 467.11(3), which provides a non-exhaustive list of factors to consider when determining whether an accused participated in activities of a criminal organization.
The proposed amendment of clause 2 of the bill would list force, threats and other forms of coercion, as well as fraudulent misrepresentation, as being conduct that is relevant to consider in determining whether exploitation has been made out.
This is obviously so, but it will provide police and prosecutors insight into the kinds of evidence that may be relevant and in this regard will streamline and facilitate the investigation and prosecution process.
I am supportive of this amendment. I look forward to working with the sponsor to strengthen and pass the bill in a timely fashion. I urge all members to support this important piece of legislation.
Private Members' Business
October 25th, 2011 / 6 p.m.
Jack Harris St. John's East, NL
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak today on private member's Bill C-310, An Act to amend the Criminal Code in relation to trafficking in persons, put forward by the hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul. I want to congratulate her on her work in this area. It is extremely important that this legislation be brought forward.
As the previous speaker said, it arises from Canada taking up obligations internationally under the treaty known as the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, a supplement to the 200 United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime.
It is good that we are doing this. I know the member does not have another opportunity to speak, but it is worthy of note that it has taken some time for the kind of information in the bill to be passed. One would have thought that the government, instead of waiting for the work of a private member, would have taken this on--not necessarily the current government, but perhaps the previous government. The convention is very particular about definitions of exploitation, which we are finally putting into our own law, and I want to thank the member for bringing that forward.
It is all very well to use the term “exploitation”, but without proper definitions it is difficult for prosecutors and police to even know what evidence they have to present in order to get a conviction. I understand there have been only five prosecutions under this legislation since the amendments made to the Criminal Code in 2005. That seems to me to be an indication that there were serious deficiencies in the law. The evidentiary information that is required was not specific; now it will be.
Two aspects that the mover of the motion and bill put forward are very important. Extraterritoriality is obviously very important. It is extraordinary for us to do that, as previous speakers have said. In areas such as this, we are talking about a crime that is not committed only in Canada: the persons are brought here and continue to be exploited here, but much of the exploitive activity may indeed take place in another country. To have extraterritoriality is important.
The first time Canada has done this in recent years has been in respect of so-called sex tourism. Sexual exploitation of children or sexual pedophilia was the primary crime involved with Canadians travelling abroad for what came to be known as sex tourism. People were actually involved in promoting destinations for this purpose, to the revulsion of many Canadians.
The government was called upon to make this a crime of extraterritoriality. People have been prosecuted under those measures, and it has done something to suppress this particular criminal activity. We hope it will be equally successful in the case of the human trafficking that is normally brought to Canada, but within Canada it is being done as well, frankly. People are being brought from one place to another within Canada. Sometimes aboriginal people from reserves are brought to other parts of this country for exploitation, and this practice needs to be suppressed.
There are two things. One is the extraterritoriality, which we support and agree with. The second is the definition of exploitation, which is very valuable in spelling out some of the factors that can constitute exploitation. It is not conclusive or exhaustive, as the previous speaker indicated, but clearly it includes the use of violence or the threat to use violence and the use of force or the threat to use force--which may be two different things--as well as to use or threaten another form of coercion or to use fraudulent misrepresentation or fraudulent means.
Fraudulent means is probably one of the most common ones. It is carried out by suggesting that people come to Canada to do a particular type of work; then they are forced into either sexual exploitation, prostitution or forced labour. This is something that is not readily recognized, but both my colleagues opposite have mentioned it.
People have been put in servitude as a result of exploitation and human trafficking. It is very difficult for them to get out of this, because they are in places of victimization and under the control of other people. This is something that needs work. I would urge the member to talk to other parts of her government about this.
This convention talks about the countries that are party to it also taking measures, and this is extremely important. It says:
Each State Party shall consider implementing measures to provide for the physical, psychological and social recovery of victims of trafficking in persons, including, in appropriate cases, in cooperation with non-governmental organizations, other relevant organizations and other elements of civil society, and, in particular, the provision of: (a) Appropriate housing; (b) Counselling and information, in particular as regards their legal rights, in a language that the victims of trafficking in persons can understand; (c) Medical, psychological and material assistance; and (d) Employment, educational and training opportunities.
There is a whole other aspect of this. It says that when we do come across victims of this type of exploitation, we should not put them on a deportation list but protect them. Part of the threat against a person who is here is that the person who is exploiting the individual can frighten that person into believing that the government will deport him or her if the person exposes the exploitation. This is something that has to be looked after.
Article 7 of this protocol says:
In addition to taking measures pursuant to article 6 of this Protocol, each State Party shall consider adopting legislative or other appropriate measures that permit victims of trafficking in persons to remain in its territory, temporarily or permanently, in appropriate cases.
It is not automatic, but it should considered so that if victims of exploitation are discovered, there may be special programs whereby Immigration Canada would say the individual would be put in a special category. Part 2 of Article 7 states, “...each State Party shall give appropriate consideration to humanitarian and compassionate factors”. That implies obviously that particular circumstances should be taken into consideration.
Perhaps the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration should also be looking at this to see what programs or changes may need to be included in legislation. If we are truly concerned about this and want to follow through on what we agree to here, we ought to have other things.
This is a good step. It is an appropriate step, the extraterritorial and helping to define it. People may not come forward or feel they cannot come forward unless they have a sense that they will get the protection from Canada that they will need as victims to get out of the slavery or the exploitation or the abuse they are suffering. That is the important part here.
We support this legislation. I am proud to support this legislation. Members opposite from time to time suggest that New Democrats do not seem to want to support legislation that makes it easier to prosecute criminals and assist victims. Of course that is not true. That is a lot of rhetoric that we hear from time to time. A see a smile from my colleague on the justice committee. We do hear that a bit. We are here to do a proper job for Canadians and to make sure laws are passed that achieve the objectives that are stated.
In this particular case, it is entirely appropriate that we make this extraterritorial. It is entirely appropriate that we define threats and violence to assist in the prosecutorial efforts to suppress this activity and to punish those who take part in this activity.
It is also entirely appropriate that we ask for more. It may not be a private member who can deal with this. It may require the resources and the knowledge and the experience of the people who work in the Department of Citizenship and Immigration to achieve the proper tools and the proper legislation.
I fully support and endorse Bill C-310. I sought to be one of the co-seconders but I understand it was oversubscribed. That is a good indication that this is a measure that deserves the support and consent and implementation by the House and by the government