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

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Quite frankly, I have mixed feelings about that, Madam Speaker.

It was interesting when Bill C-2, the child protection bill, was working its way through the justice committee. We heard from a number of police officers who worked directly in the field, and prosecutors. I remember one from Toronto in particular. His entire career for the last 10 years or so was dealing with crimes against children particularly and trying to use the existing sections of the Criminal Code which talk about exploitation in the relationship of the two people involved in the sexual contact. He was very negative on his ability and the ability of the criminal justice system to gain convictions when we use terms like exploitive.

Our courts historically, going back through the British criminal justice system, have not been good at defining it, interpreting it and applying it so that we end up with convictions. I am a bit concerned about some of the wording that we have used in the bill. There is no question that in a number of these cases the relationship clearly is exploitive. In others it is simpler than that. It is slavery. It is slave labour that we are talking about. I cannot help but wonder if we could not make the wording somewhat clearer in those cases.

In the sex trade cases it is much more difficult. However, when people who work in the garment industry in New York City have been smuggled through Canada to get there, whether it is through Buffalo or Windsor, when we see that happening, it seems to me we can simply say that this is a form of slave labour. Perhaps we should be using that kind of terminology.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Welland, ON

Madam Speaker, I am extremely pleased to speak today to Bill C-49, an act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons).

The bill is important for many reasons. It is important because it would more clearly recognize and denounce human trafficking. It is important because it would provide increased protection to those who are most vulnerable to this criminal conduct, namely women and children. It is important because it would impose increased accountability for those who engage in it. It is important because it realizes what I believe is one of this government's most important commitments: the protection of the vulnerable.

Human trafficking, or the recruitment, transportation or harbouring of persons for the purpose of exploitation, has become the new global slave trade. We have heard this reference to slavery several times today and all the vileness such references conjure up. It is a practice that affects all countries, including Canada, and because of this it has become an issue of prominence and priority for the international community, for Canada and for us regionally, including my region of Niagara, together with the United States and Mexico as part of the new security and prosperity partnership of North America.

The United Nations has estimated that as many as 700,000 persons are trafficked around the world each year. UNICEF has estimated that as many as 1.2 million children are trafficked globally each year.

In May of this year, the International Labour Organization estimated that at least 2.45 million people across the world are in situations of forced labour as a result of human trafficking. Of these, it is estimated that 32% are trafficked for economic exploitation and 43% are trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation, with 98% of these being women and girls.

Those estimates show that those at greatest risk of being trafficked are those who suffer social, economic and legal disadvantage, in other words, children and women who are typically trafficked for sexual exploitation purposes or for forced labour.

As a consequence, in support of a stronger response to this horrible crime, I am very pleased to rise today and speak in favour of these proposed reforms which would create three new Criminal Code indictable offences.

The main offence of trafficking in persons would specifically prohibit 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. This offence would carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment where it involves the kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault or death of the victim and to a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment in any other case. These are very significant penalties.

The second new offence would prohibit anyone from receiving a financial or other material benefit for the purpose of committing or facilitating the trafficking of a person. This offence would be punishable by a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

The third new offence would prohibit 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. This offence would carry a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.

These reforms also recognize that the exploitation of the victims is at the very heart of the criminal conduct and so we are proposing to make exploitation an element of the trafficking offence itself.

There are many manifestations of human trafficking. Some of these can be addressed through the trafficking in persons offence in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act which applies to cross border trafficking and addresses exploitation as an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.

I believe that the proposed Criminal Code reforms would better enable us to address more forms of trafficking, including trafficking that occurs wholly within Canada. Ultimately, with the proposed Criminal Code amendments, law enforcement officials would have a significantly enhanced ability to ensure that the offence charged, whether it is under these new Criminal Code offences or under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, is the one that best responds to the facts of a specific trafficking case and best achieves our ultimate objective, namely the protection of the victim and effective prosecution of the offender.

I also understand that the proposed Criminal Code reforms have been developed in close collaboration with the interdepartmental working group on trafficking in persons which is currently developing a federal anti-trafficking strategy to coordinate and enhance federal anti-trafficking measures.

I understand that the strategy will focus on preventing trafficking, protecting victims and holding offenders to account in keeping with international standards. There is clearly a continuing commitment to address this serious issue beyond legislative reform. Right now these reforms will help us to achieve these ultimate objectives.

I really believe that the proposed reforms are important ones. They respect the commitment made in our throne speech and underscore our ongoing commitment to revisit our measures against trafficking in persons.

I therefore hope that all hon. members will support the proposed reforms.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Godbout Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Madam Speaker, I would certainly like to congratulate the member for Welland on his brilliant presentation in connection with this important bill.

The bill gives a definition of exploitation and refers to a number of types of exploitation.

Could the hon. member clarify this? What is included in the term “exploitation”?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Welland, ON

Madam Speaker, human trafficking is all about the exploitation of victims which is why it is a key element of these amendments as we address exploitation directly.

Under these new offences, exploitation would be defined as causing a person to provide labour or services, certainly such sexual services, by engaging in conduct that leaves the victims to reasonably fear for their safety or the safety of others they may know, such as a child or a family member.

Another interesting aspect is that it would also apply to the use of force, coercion, intimidation or deception causing the removal of an internal organ. This is something that has not come forward today but it is certainly a growing concern within this country. Human organs and tissues are certainly things that some people would almost give their lives for because they will lose their lives if they do not get them. It is becoming a matter of increasing concern that people would be forced or intimidated to furnish their human organs for another's purposes and for profit.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Yukon
Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Madam Speaker, some of the opposition critics have suggested there was nothing to prevent this in the past but in fact the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act already has a specific offence against human trafficking. In fact there have been convictions under that act.

I would just like to ask the member why these new offences are needed when we already have provisions in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Welland, ON

Madam Speaker, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act has been a vehicle through which these types of offences have been dealt with but generally speaking these are offences that cross borders and this act does deal with that.

This act also deals with exploitation but it is predominantly within the country. There is trafficking within our country from region to region and this is not covered by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Now we have that base covered as well, which is very important.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague from the Liberal Party how he squares the circle of speaking today about trafficking of human beings and introducing legislation to that effect, and the fact that the Government of Canada for years has been pimping for the underworld by bringing Romanian strippers to work in Canadian strip joints, some of them owned by prominent Liberal lawyers in Toronto, and then losing track of these women into the pornography and sex trade underworld in Canada.

I want to know how a Liberal member of Parliament can stand and talk about passing legislation on sex trafficking of women when the Government of Canada, by policy, has been pimping for underworld practitioners by dragging these exploited women from eastern European countries into brothels and strip joints owned by prominent Liberal immigration lawyers in the city of Toronto. How does he justify that?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Welland, ON

Madam Speaker, I find that question most interesting and perhaps amusing. Certainly no member of this party and this government would pimp in the nature that the individual has suggested. That is shameful in my opinion.

We invite people to come to this country to perform certain labour. I would suggested that we had an isolated case a year or so ago but we definitely would not knowingly allow this to go on. In fact, when it came to the light of the authorities it was certainly investigated.

We are just concluding a study and certainly prostitution and the trafficking of women will be key items in the report. The government is addressing those situations. The forfeiture of documents is exactly what happens. Women could come to this country thinking they have legitimate employment only to find that their documents have been confiscated, that they owe a big debt to the individuals who brought them here and are then forced into prostitution to satisfy the debt. This is something that this committee will be looking at and will be making recommendations on so that this type of practice is discontinued.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Betty Hinton Kamloops—Thompson, BC

Madam Speaker, I wonder if the hon. member across the way would care to comment on Canada's international standing. I believe the OSCE puts out a report every year regarding Canada's part in slavery, in the white slave trade, et cetera. There are three categories and I believe it is category one that has open borders and allows all of this to happen. I believe it is category three that has the tightest security. I may have those numbers reversed but Canada was a number two and I believe it still is a number two.

According to the report, because of the loose immigration and the border aspect of that, women and young children are brought into this country, are held in Canada for a certain period of time and are exported to another country where child slavery, child pornography or just plain old ordinary prostitution takes place.

I would like to hear the member's comments on that particular issue. Does he know what Canada's standing is this year?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Welland, ON

Madam Speaker, quite frankly, I am not familiar with the unnamed report to which the member referred so I cannot really make much comment on that. However with regard to loose immigration I take issue with that statement.

I personally have never heard of a situation where we would import people, whether it is men, women or children, to export to other nations. The member is nodding yes. I am certainly not familiar with activities of that nature. I think the suggestion that this goes on is reprehensible that we as a country would allow this. If the member would provide additional information I would certainly like to follow up on that.

However even in our study on prostitution and trafficking of women into this country, children were not referenced. Trafficking of women perhaps does go on but it was not as if they were trafficked here to go elsewhere.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Northumberland—Quinte West
Ontario

Liberal

Paul MacKlin Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Madam Speaker, as has been mentioned in the House today, Canada does have other laws that have been applied to human trafficking but not necessarily domestic laws that have been as precise as what are being proposed in Bill C-49.

I wonder if the hon. member, who I know is well versed in matters of justice and sits as the chair of the justice committee, might be able to comment on how effective Canada has been in terms of bringing human traffickers to justice using the existing methods that we have at our disposal.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Welland, ON

Madam Speaker, as we have referenced, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act has been a very successful act to prosecute those who traffic across the Canadian border. In April of this year the first charge was laid under the specific trafficking in persons offence, section 118 of the IRPA.

Additionally, a review of the Criminal Code cases from March of 2004 to February of 2005 identified at least 31 individuals who were charged with trafficking related offences which resulted in 19 convictions. The remaining 12 cases were before the courts.

The government saw a need and responded to that need. The effectiveness is being indicated and illustrated in the specifics which I just provided.

Thunder Bay Border Cats
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to congratulate the Thunder Bay Border Cats on capturing the 2005 Northwoods League Baseball Championship with an astounding 4-3 win over the American Madison Mallards in front of a record 3,091 cheering fans.

In 2003 the Thunder Bay Border Cats joined the Northwoods League, which is comprised of 12 teams of top collegiate players from across the United States and Canada. After just three seasons, President John Wendal, General Manager Greg Balec and their dedicated staff and players have earned the respect of both the league and the community through their tenacious support.

I ask my fellow members to join me in congratulating the Thunder Bay Border Cats, the 2005 Northwoods League champions.

Gasoline Prices
Statements By Members

September 26th, 2005 / 1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

Madam Speaker, while the Minister of Finance rubs his hands gleefully over another surplus, Canadian taxpayers are searching their empty pockets for the money it will take to keep their families warm this winter.

Gas prices are threatening to reach $2 a litre at the pumps and heating costs could double. The finance minister shrugs his shoulders and suggests that a few cents here and there will make no difference. What arrogance.

In fact, each increase of 1¢ per litre at the pump is equal to $32 million to the Government of Canada. The minister has a choice and he knows it. He can help Canadians immediately by reducing the GST on fuel.

This is not the time to be profiting from high gas prices. This is the time to reduce the GST, reduce the price at the pumps and help Canadians.

Orleans Rebels
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Godbout Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate today Sarah Thompson, Jenn Labelle, Erin Durant, Jenny Allen, Sarah Renaud, Lindsey Hutton, Ashley Vautour, Jillian Taylor, Carolyn Chmiel, Sarah Collins and Sam Pantalone, all members of the Orleans Rebels, a girls fastball team.

These young ladies won both the provincial Tier II Grand Championship and the prestigious Adirondack Avalanche Summer Invitational Tournament in Glen Falls, New York. They also finished third in the 22-team Canada-U.S. pool at the Montreal International Summer Classic, and they brought home the eastern Canadian championship from Saint John, New Brunswick.

I wish to offer my congratulations to these young ladies and their coaches. All residents of Ottawa-Orleans are very proud of them.