House of Commons Hansard #125 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was energy.

Topics

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Québec, QC

Madam Speaker, we are talking about all those involved in the crime of trafficking in persons. Those who harbour them or participate in their trafficking will not be the only ones prosecuted under Bill C-49.

My colleague is giving me an opportunity to speak to the bill on female genital mutilation. This applies to everyone involved, not just the person performing this procedure, also called circumcision or infibulation, whether that person is the grandmother, uncle or cousin, everyone, especially the person who leaves Canada with the child and returns to the country of origin, is just as guilty and could be liable to imprisonment.

The bill before the House has the same scope as the one that was passed on female genital mutilation. I remember what a fight it was at first to have this practice included in the Criminal Code and to have it considered a criminal offence. It was not an offence in the past. Female genital mutilation was included in the Civil Code, but under assault. With this change to the Criminal Code I wanted to send a clear message. That is the important thing.

Quite often, in sentences handed down to those who commit such acts, the issue of respecting culture comes up. Culturally, this is accepted in some countries. I would argue that when someone comes here and wants to obtain Canadian citizenship, they need to respect certain values. We have to preserve the physical integrity of the body of the young girl on whom the excision would be performed, even though that young girl comes from another country, since she is now a Canadian citizen. Accordingly, this child was entitled to the same considerations as a Canadian-born girl.

I am very pleased with this bill. It addresses the whole system and all the ramifications of people who work in and profit from trafficking in persons.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Don Bell North Vancouver, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak on Bill C-49, the act to amend the Criminal Code in regard to trafficking in persons.

These proposed reforms will strengthen Canada's response to this horrible crime, a crime that victimizes the most vulnerable. We know that children are disproportionately at risk of being trafficked. UNICEF has estimated that as many as 1.2 million children are trafficked globally each year. The International Labour Organization has estimated that of the 2.45 million people who are in situations of forced labour at any given time as a result of trafficking, 40% to 50% are children.

Children, along with women, are generally the primary victims of trafficking. In fact, they are almost exclusively the victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation. The International Labour Organization estimates that 98% of those forced into commercial sexual exploitation are women and girls.

This estimate reflects just how susceptible the most vulnerable members of our society are to this crime. Although children are the most vulnerable to being trafficked for sexual exploitation, they are also forced into other kinds of work such as domestic labour, which often involves sexual abuse. In some parts of the world, children are also trafficked for their body organs, if we can believe it, or as child soldiers. These children are treated like objects to be owned, used, sold, mistreated and abused.

Children's evolving capacity and dependency make them the most vulnerable members of society. They are at a much higher risk of being exploited and abused, and those who suffer socio-economic and other disadvantages are at an even greater risk. No child should have to suffer like that.

I understand that Canada is actively engaged, both domestically and internationally, in the fight against trafficking. I am convinced that our efforts put us on the right track. We must continue to be at the forefront of this global effort.

Canada's ratification on September 14 of the optional protocol to the convention on the rights of the child, on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, is one example of this government's commitment to protecting children from trafficking and other forms of abuse and exploitation. Bill C-2, which received royal assent this past July, is another example.

Bill C-49 contains criminal law reforms which, once enacted, would expand the availability of existing testimonial aids to children as well as to other vulnerable victims and witnesses to ensure that such victims can provide a full and candid account.

I am proud to rise today to support Bill C-49, which proposes three new offences that will specifically target trafficking in persons. It will strengthen our ability to hold perpetrators to account for treating others in a way that is unfathomable and abhorrent to Canadian society and the world. These reforms will offer law enforcement additional tools to combat trafficking-related conduct and will assist in protecting victims by denouncing and deterring this heinous practice.

The proposed new reforms would create a main offence of trafficking in persons, prohibiting anyone from engaging in specified acts such as recruiting, transporting, harbouring or controlling the movements of another person for the purpose of exploiting or facilitating the exploitation of that person. It would be punishable by a maximum penalty of life imprisonment where it involves the kidnapping, aggravated assault or aggravated sexual assault or death of the victim and to a maximum of 14 years' imprisonment in any other case.

I note with approval that exploitation would be a key element of the trafficking offence. Exploitation is really the aspect that makes this crime so reprehensible. I support this approach, as it would clarify that our criminal law sanctions severely those who would exploit others for their own gain.

Two additional offences would also be created, one prohibiting anyone from receiving a financial or other material benefit for the purpose of committing or facilitating the trafficking of a person, punishable by a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment, and the second prohibiting the withholding or destruction of documents, such as a victim's travel documents or documents establishing their identity, for the purpose of committing or facilitating the trafficking of that person, punishable in this case by a maximum penalty of five years.

I am convinced that this bill, once enacted, will assist law enforcement in holding to account those who would traffic children to exploit them for sexual or other purposes. It will help us deter this type of conduct and, in so doing, it will help us protect vulnerable children. I hope all hon. members will support Bill C-49.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Randy White Abbotsford, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to talk about the things that we support in Bill C-49. I am going to relay to members of the House and people listening across this country some situations that I have been involved with that involve exploitation. They are not situations involving the exploitation of somebody outside the country; it is the exploitation of somebody here in our country.

What I am about to describe happens all the time to young girls and boys in Canada. I am going to tell the House about a young man who was in grade 11 who was approached by a gang of bottom dwelling thugs who sell drugs. These thugs approached him with bats and golf clubs and said that they would not only beat him but they would thoroughly and resoundingly pound his younger brother and sister and grandmother if he did not join them. I am telling this story for the first time and everything is absolutely factual. This young man decided to go with this gang because he did not want his family harmed. He was taken away to a home in the city and tortured. He was deprived of sleep and food and was beaten quite resoundingly.

They said that he was now a member of their gang and that he would be the muscle, meaning he would collect drug bills. It is also the most dangerous job one could get in a gang that sells drugs. Normally the people who owe the gang are delinquent. When someone as the muscle goes to collect from them, that person may be harmed, shot or any other such thing.

This young fellow managed to get away from that group. He went into hiding. He thought he was safe. He went out a little while later and the gang got him again. They beat him resoundingly. I am talking about a 16 year old.

It is said that once people are in a gang in Canada they are in it forever.

The gang assigned to this young fellow a debt owed by another fellow who worked for the gang who had been picked up by the police and lost $3,000 worth of drugs. He was told he must pay this debt. He could not pay it of course. He was not paid for being muscle because he was in fact coerced into going with them.

The young fellow got away from them a second time, but the third time he was not so lucky. They tortured him. They burned his hand thoroughly with a knife blade right through his hand. He is currently in hiding.

Why do I relay this story? This is not about somebody we are shipping out of this country. This is something that is happening to children every day in Canada. This is not an isolated story. This is about what I call bottom dwelling thugs who think they can run our communities by stealing our kids off the street and threatening them and getting them into the drug trade. Once they are into the drug trade, they eventually are wanted by the police or other drug dealers. The police do not know any different. As far as they know the individual is in the drug trade.

This young man was forced into that. He has never done drugs. He has never gotten into trouble at school. He has passed every year. But now he cannot get into school because he poses a risk to the other students should he go back in and the gang tries to get him.

If we talk about exploitation of our children, we had better wake up to the fact that they are being exploited in our communities by people who think they should run our communities their way. This happens a lot in Vancouver. It happens in every city across the country. There are people who do not deserve to be outside; they deserve to be in jail, quite frankly. They are exploiting our children. When children go missing and we cannot understand it, we should not first think that they got into drugs and left home. There could very well be other reasons, such as they have been taken by a gang and coerced into doing what they are doing. In fact, they may even be protecting their families because as far as they know great damage would come to their families and their siblings should they not do what they are told to do. This is serious. This bill on exploitation of people had better cover this.

My question earlier to colleagues on the other side asked whether or not the maximum penalties would be a decent deterrent. My concern is that we will end up like we do on a lot of the drug issues, that these kinds of issues will end up in court and the judge will issue some minor penalty.

One might ask why this young fellow did not go to the police. Well, he did, of course. The comment from the police was that he should leave town and finish grade 12. Why was that comment made? Because if the gang members ended up going to court, they would likely get little or no penalty and would come looking for him. The police suggested that he leave town. That is just unacceptable. What that is saying is that we have lost confidence in the court system to issue adequate penalties to these bottom dwelling thugs who will only go back and make life miserable for this young man and his family. This is unacceptable.

We have lost confidence and the police have lost confidence in our judicial system to administer the justice system, to add deterrents for people like that. That is why I say there is a serious problem. The maximum penalties, if the judges issue minor penalties, we might as well kiss them goodbye when these young people come to us and say they need help. They will not come forward, as this young man does not want to, because they do not believe they can get help.

I am sincere when I say this to members on the other side. This is a good bill, but my concern is that if there are no minimum penalties for such disgusting behaviour by these bottom dwelling thugs, nothing is going to happen. They are going to continue to take kids off the street and abuse them.

This young fellow has been in hiding for five or six weeks now. He cannot stay there forever, but he is afraid to come outside. What do these thugs do? They do not wait for him to come and join them, they go get other children. They get another one, and if that does not work out, they will get another one. When does it become our children that they get? At what point do we say they cannot have any of them, that it is they who have to leave the community? This has got to stop.

I hope this bill is a good bill, I sincerely do, but we must give confidence to these young men and girls who are being exploited in their own communities to be muscle or to drive those drug cars. It happens all the time. What I related to members is not an isolated incident. I can tell members about the young girl who was in a crack house being exploited by 30 and 40 year old men. When her mother went to the police and said she had to get her daughter out of there, they said, “The age of sexual consent is 14. She can stay. She is 15 years old”. The mother could not go get her. They went to welfare, who said to send her over and they would give her a cheque. What kind of answer is that?

The problem lies in the confidence, or the lack thereof, in our justice system. I am not trying to make politics out of this. I have been in and out of these courtrooms for 13 years with victims of crime. I know what I am talking about. We do not have confidence in the judicial decisions any more. I have seen it in hundreds of cases related to the growing of marijuana. I have seen it in dozens of cases related to crystal meth. I have seen it with James Armbruster, who had 63 prior convictions before he raped yet another woman in my riding. One of those convictions was for raping his grandmother. Do we have confidence in those judges who should have put that person behind bars after 10, 15, 30, 40, 50 or 60 convictions?

Maximum penalties are not doing the trick. We in this House have an obligation to put an end to the tyranny of these drug gangs and these frequent and consistent repeat offenders.

I think I got my message across. I hope those who are watching outside of this House send e-mails to acknowledge their frustrations with the court system that is not addressing the problem. This young man needs help. So do the young men and women who are being coerced into these drug gangs every day. We have been looking at this wrong.

I spent a lot of time with people involved in drugs. Often people say, “Well, another kid gone bad. He must be doing drugs, breaking the law”. I did not realize the extent to which they are being forced to be involved in these drug gangs, until now. I have run across it a number of times. I know what we are addressing here but what is bothering me and what we must keep in mind is that trafficking of people is going on in our communities as I speak.

I can talk about high schools and their sex clubs. Does everybody know what a sex club is? A sex club is young girls doing tricks in high school. They do a trick and they get a cap or they get a joint laced with meth or whatever they are looking for. They do not see this as prostitution. It is seen as a one on one trade but it is exploitation as its worse. These young kids may think it is trade but they get the worst deal of all: a life of addiction. This kind of stuff is exploitation. It is not just grabbing a child or somebody off the street and sending them to China or some other country. Exploitation is going on in our schools every day.

We have a minority government situation. It really is incumbent upon all of us to quit with the partisan politics. We need to start listening and if this is the case and it is in our communities, and it is, then we need to do something about it. I sincerely hope this bill addresses it but I fear it will not. I am leaving the House of Commons but I hope those left after me will think of this and keep on top of it because this young man today needs our help. He has no confidence, nor do I or the police, that a judge is going to give it to him.

By the way, after the lawyer, who is paid by the known drug gang, gets through defending these thugs that is when the plea bargaining starts, the deals are made and the judge says that he knows the poor little boy kidnapped somebody and forced the person to deal drugs but he had a bad upbringing. We have to forget that kind of story. These people are hauling our kids out of school. One of the conditions these people have is that they cannot go to school.

Who are these people? Who in the name of blue blazes do these people think they are? Do we not run this country? Are we not in charge? Is someone not capable of hauling these people off the streets and doing something with them?

I support the bill but I sincerely hope the government moves away from this business of maximum penalties. I have seen too much for too long to have confidence that it will be applied appropriately. There are too many people counting on us to do better.

Business of the House
Government Orders

September 26th, 2005 / 5:35 p.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe
New Brunswick

Liberal

Claudette Bradshaw Minister of State (Human Resources Development)

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Pursuant to Standing Order 73, I would like to inform the House that it is our intention to propose that Bill C-53, an act to amend the Criminal Code (proceeds of crime) and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make consequential amendments to another act, be referred to committee before second reading.

Business of the House
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

Randy White Abbotsford, BC

Madam Speaker, I believe the member opposite said Bill C-43. I am not sure there has been any consultation on this side so at the moment I am inclined to disagree with that.

Business of the House
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

Claudette Bradshaw Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

It goes to second reading automatically.

Business of the House
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

Randy White Abbotsford, BC

If it goes to second reading automatically maybe she does not need the point of order. However unless I hear differently from the other side I am going to oppose it.

Business of the House
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I believe my hon. colleague said Bill C-53.

Business of the House
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

My understanding is that the minister referred to Bill C-53. It is my understanding that it is the prerogative of the government to move this forward.

Business of the House
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

With no unanimous consent required?

Business of the House
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

No unanimous consent is required.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca
B.C.

Liberal

Keith Martin Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Madam Speaker, I listened with great interest to my colleague's comments. He has a great deal of experience in these areas.

We know that organized crime is parasitic on society. We also know that it is the trafficking of drugs, people, guns and alcohol which drives the economics of organized crime. One of the best ways to attack organized crime and reduce it is to attack its financial underpinning. The question then is how we do that.

We know that the United States has adopted RICO-like amendments, racketeering, influence, corruption organization amendments. We also know that the Government of Canada has adopted similar amendments.

With respect to the scourge of crystal meth that the hon. member and indeed all of us are consumed with, we have done something quite innovative. The Minister of Justice has decided to put the precursor chemicals that are used to make crystal meth on a schedule. These are things that are commonly found in cough medicines, such as ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. By putting those elements on the schedule it forces those who wish to import and export these substances to acquire import-export permits which will allow our police to address, attack, apprehend and convict those individuals.

On the issue of human trafficking, which has to do with prostitution, would the hon. member think that legalizing and regulating prostitution would be a way to actually address the issue of prostitution, particularly for those individuals who are under age and are caught up in the prostitution rings? These are people involved in prostitution because of substance abuse or psychiatric problems, bearing in mind that 50% of prostitutes in this country are actually aboriginal women, some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

If prostitution were legalized and regulated in Canada would my colleague think that would go a way to addressing the problem of the pimps and organized crime members and a way in which we could reduce and eliminate under age individuals becoming involved in the system? This would enable prostitution to hopefully be healthier so that the individuals engaging in this activity will have better health.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

Randy White Abbotsford, BC

Madam Speaker, my oh my, when is this going to stop?

We have a government with this mentality that legalizing drugs or legalizing prostitution will take care of the problem. Legalizing prostitution does not take care of the problem.

Prostitution is an offence against women. This is what it is. Ask any mother if she thinks the legalizing of prostitution is a good idea for her daughter. I cannot believe the mentality of somebody saying that legalizing prostitution will fix it. Has the member never been to Holland? Has he never watched that disgraceful sideshow of women standing in storefronts and people outside staring at them?

What is with this mentality that if drugs are legalized they will go away? Does the government think that if it legalizes marijuana the criminals will pack up their bags and go to some other country? These criminals are going to feed our kids meth, ecstasy and everything else.

I am disappointed in that question because I think the member already knew my answer to it. Prostitution is the abuse of women. It is not an issue to be legalized. Let us get it right.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Wild Rose, AB

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for a very well put message with regard to the safety of our youth and as a matter of fact the safety of a lot of people.

I have many small towns in my riding with police detachments. I went to these detachments through the summer and I was shocked to find the number of confiscations of goods, drugs, guns, knives and paraphernalia for this and that taken out of the hands of small town residents in Alberta over this last little while.

Police have expressed to me their strong concern about the safety for all concerned, especially the youth but even about themselves. They feel that society as a whole seems to have turned its back on them as being a substance of protection. They are constantly being abused verbally by these organizations outfits. It is getting to be a very serious problem. It is not just in big city Canada. Crystal meth, this lacing of marijuana with this drug and the lacing of ecstasy is all across the country.

All of these things are getting out of control. I do not think the government understands that it is in our small communities.

I want to talk about a young fellow who is in trouble. I had a family from New Brunswick phone my riding telling me about a young fellow who came to my riding to work in the mountain parks region. They were quite concerned because they had not heard from him and had reported him missing. I went to visit the police and they began to look for this young fellow. The police found him but he was in hiding. He was hiding from people who were after him because of his involvement with drugs and underground goods. The police are keeping his whereabouts quiet for his own safety.

I wonder what the member thinks about all this. Do we want to live in a country where we need to hide our children or have them protected by the police so no one gets to them or do we put those who might get to our children behind bars where they darn well belong? We had better start acting like it.