Evidence of meeting #8 for Citizenship and Immigration in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was c-17.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

5:10 p.m.

Director, Public Safety, Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness

John Muise

First I'd recommend that you vote for it.

If you don't do some of the things I've suggested, and quite frankly, some of the other things suggested here.... I don't know that the bill is going to do more harm than good, but it's not going to do much good. If you don't add to that particular.... It's a building block. I think Mr. Komarnicki might have referred to it as such. This is a building block. To me, it's overarching legislation. We're concerned about the rights of people who come here. If you don't do these other things, it's just going to kind of be there.

5:15 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

I am going to stop you because I would like to ask one final question. I would like to know whether this is a subject of major concern for you. We ourselves are concerned about the significant latitude being given to the Minister of Immigration in terms of issuing guidelines to immigration officers, guidelines whose scope is ultimately not under the control of Parliament. Is this something that concerns you? I am thinking particularly of people who work with refugees, and perhaps also Ms. Jeffrey.

5:15 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Council for Refugees

Janet Dench

Yes, in fact, this is something that concerns us because it is up to Parliament to establish the legal framework and then to be able to make sure that the officials are working within that framework. When you give enormous powers without any supervision, who knows what might happen under a future government, for example.

5:15 p.m.

Former President, Canadian Council for Refugees

Francisco Rico-Martinez

Also, if you remember the example the employee from the ministry gave, it was very clear that if the person speaks very good English and the person has experience in a western country and if the person speaks French and whatever.... What that means is that there's a clear sense that we are discriminating against people who don't speak English and French in a particular way or have western experience, which is not the goal of the bill. The example is totally clear about what the bill is going to do.

5:15 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Ms. Jeffrey.

5:15 p.m.

Associate Professor, Department of History and Politics, University of New Brunswick, As an Individual

Leslie Ann Jeffrey

I can't overemphasize the problem in terms of what the bureaucracy was saying, that this would be based on evidence. It won't be. There is no evidence, hard evidence, of human trafficking worldwide. It's a huge problem. The Government Accountability Office of the United States has issued a slap on the hand to the CIA and to the State Department for their failure to provide statistically sound numbers. It's a huge step for the U.S. government itself to say their numbers are horribly out of whack. They have said they get 17,000 trafficking victims a year. They have found 150 a year. There is something very wrong. The Attorney General said to Congress in 2006 that the State Department's numbers may be far out of whack.

We use the State Department's numbers via their report on Canada to estimate Canada's problem. There is no hard evidence, and even in the peer-reviewed literature there is a great deal of debate about the methodologies used. There is no provision in this legislation for input from actual trafficked victims to find the evidence. There is no monitoring mechanism on the gendered effects or whether this is actually working and there is no appeal process if someone is denied.

All of these are problematic.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Norman Doyle

Thank you very much.

Ms. Chow.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Chairman, can I just ask a question in terms of order?

Is it possible that we take this bill and add a huge number of amendments to it that address all the things that are being proposed? If so, then it makes sense for me to ask all these questions.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Norman Doyle

Yes, it's possible we could very well send this bill back to the minister with proposals for amendments, but first we have to hear the various people who come before the committee. Then we will get together to see if any amendments would be made. Members will have that opportunity, of course.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Thank you for that.

I'm wondering if you work with overseas counterparts. The question I asked earlier was about these consultants, these go-betweens. These go-betweens are, in my mind, a huge problem.

My understanding is that the field operation manual, called IP 9, or something like that, has been in the works for two years. It still hasn't come out, which means that in the field operation the people who are out there interviewing these migrant workers—or whatever you call them, people who are being exploited when they come into the country—don't really have any power or instructions to go after them. Right now in Canada, under the CIC, the immigration department, the secretariat is supposed to go after these folks, but the secretariat is in immigration while it is actually CBSA that does the enforcement. It is as if the right hand and the left hand are not connected in any way, which means the people we really need to punish are the go-betweens, the consultants, the pimps, the ones who actually traffic these people.

Is there some way, through this bill or through whatever bill or manuals or what have you, to tighten it up that would get to the root of the problem to stop the consultants, whether they are bringing farm workers or live-in caregivers or exotic dancers or whatever into the country?

January 30th, 2008 / 5:20 p.m.

Director, Public Safety, Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness

John Muise

What exactly consultants are doing is not my expertise.

The other thing is that human trafficking, from an enforcement perspective in this country, is a very new thing. I can tell you my ex-counterparts in policing, with whom I communicate on a regular basis, all know about Bill C-49, from 2005, and they know about the amendment in terms of expanding the work visa. They recognize that they have a special victims unit, and these people are victims. They need to change the way they conduct business, and they have done it across a number of fronts.

You can pass this amendment—and I support it—but you're not going to get to where you want to go, Ms. Chow, without, for instance, that back-and-forth where you have, as one example, dedicated police units on the ground that are actively working with the visa officer or CBSA or the visa officers' counterparts here in this country and sharing the kind of information, for instance, where they can tell the overseas visa officer they now have evidence, as opposed to gossip, that a particular consultant or a particular employee on the ground here in Canada is doing bad things, they are trafficking and have indentured sex slaves, who are working at this place.

That's how it happens. Right now, I have to say, in terms of exploitation, much of the focus by the police services, law enforcement, that actually have specialized units has been on Internet child abuse. They need the resources.

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

How many people do you know, among the sex workers, who have been deported prior to being witnesses in court cases? I keep hearing that this is happening. It's supposed to stop.

5:20 p.m.

Associate Professor, Department of History and Politics, University of New Brunswick, As an Individual

Leslie Ann Jeffrey

Actually, there's only been one case in trafficking under the IRPA, and he was found not guilty. In fact, what we're finding among sex workers I speak to, and among those who talk to migrant sex workers, is that they know they're coming in to do this kind of work, and that immediately puts them under the Criminal Code of communicating or being found in a bawdy house. It doesn't fit the IRPA definition of “trafficking”.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Norman Doyle

Okay. Sorry, I wish I could give you longer, Madam Chow.

Mr. Komarnicki, please.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

I'll be brief and share my time with Ms. Grewal.

I'd like to commend John Muise with respect to identifying the fact that what we're talking about is not just necessarily trafficking itself, but it's the difference between a foreign national and anyone else, and the fact that the foreign national may be more vulnerable because of a variety of circumstances that we've indicated. As I understood from him, this legislation, although it may not encompass a whole lot of other things, is a step in the right direction.

I also noted that the Stop The Traffik coalition had indicated that they support the announcement regarding changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to protect vulnerable workers. Also, The Future Group said that the immigration minister, and I quote, “...has taken an important step to protect women from sexual exploitation and end a program that made Canada complicit in human trafficking.”

Now, it's a step in the right direction. Of course, the whole objective is to prevent persons from being subjected to humiliating and degrading treatment. I find it interesting, and I make this just as a comment, that the Canadian Council for Refugees would, as I understand it, sooner see no steps being taken unless they were of a comprehensive nature. I don't think anyone would argue that there are other steps that could be taken, but as I understand it, I find it interesting that they would oppose even a first-step piece of legislation.

I'll pass it on to Ms. Grewal.