House of Commons Hansard #36 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was farmers.

Topics

Opposition Motion--Canadian Wheat Board
Business of Supply
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

October 25th, 2011 / 5:15 p.m.

Conservative

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.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Kildonan—St. Paul for all the efforts she has made over the years to protect the young and the vulnerable both here and abroad.

Could she expand on why it is so important that we look at Canada's trafficking in persons offences from an extraterritorial perspective?

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, that is a very important question because that is the heart of this bill.

First, an extraterritorial human trafficking offence would allow Canada to arrest Canadians who have left the country when they engage in human trafficking in an attempt to avoid punishment here in Canada.

Second, the 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.

Third, an extraterritorial human trafficking offence would clearly indicate that Canada will not tolerate its own citizens engaging in human trafficking anywhere.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Jacob Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, how could the crime of sexual exploitation be dealt with better in this bill in order to fight against the exploitation of Canadian women?

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, but I missed the first part of the question.

However, I will say that the important thing is to support this bill to ensure that not only traffickers here in Canada but Canadians who go abroad and traffic children will know that they will be prosecuted here in Canada, even if they do it in a country where there are very lax human trafficking laws or lax judicial systems. That is very important.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for introducing this bill. Does she have any idea how many Canadians are affected by this bill?

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Sadly, Mr. Speaker, we do not have the exact number, but a lot of Canadians have gone to other countries to exploit children. The Bakker file is very well known. The recent case of Mr. Wrenshall is also well known. There are numerous cases where individuals not only have exploited children, but they have also come back to Canada and have tried to reach into the country from where they came to get children from that country into Canada. This bill would stop that from happening.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

5:35 p.m.

NDP

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.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to put a few words on the record. I had the opportunity to read over some of the comments by the Liberal Party's critic for justice and human rights and I thought he actually said it quite well. I will just repeat some of the comments that he has put on the record in previous times in the House because he has come to best understand this issue and the importance of it.

I will read the quote into the record again. He said:

We know that this grotesque trade in human beings now generates upward of more than $12 billion a year.

In other words, he says that human trafficking is so profitable that “it is the world's fastest growing international crime. We know that the majority of victims who are trafficked are women and girls under the age of 25, and that many trafficking victims tragically also include children”.

UNICEF has estimated that 1.2 million children are trafficked globally each year. The International Labour Organization estimates that 2.5 million children are currently in situations of forced labour as a result of being trafficked.

He made reference to his daughter who has always counselled him, highlighting just how important this issue is and how important it is that we deal with it here in the House of Commons.

He further states that, “Simply put, trans-border trafficking is a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that challenges law enforcement people, that flouts our immigration laws, that threatens to spread global disease and constitutes an assault on each of our fundamental rights”.

Our critic for justice and human rights was not able to express that here today and I just wanted to get that on the record.

I look at it from a personal perspective over the years. I can recall back in 1993 when I happened to be in the Philippines. After talking with some local residents, I distinctly recall one of the colonels, who was in the forces in the Philippines, telling me a story about one of his daughters. His daughter was being told about how she could ultimately come to Canada and work in a restaurant and so forth, and how wonderful an opportunity it would be for her. What ended up happening in this particular case was that the young lady was quite excited about the economic opportunity, the opportunity to come to Canada, and thought it would be a good thing to do. She came to Canada and quickly found out that the individuals who were promoting her being able to come to Canada were really bringing her into the sex trade here in Canada.

The colonel, back then, was obviously very upset to find that out. He was able to get his daughter back out of this horrific situation, and I am really glad for the family. However, as someone who was fairly young in politics back in 1993, it left a lasting impression because of the passion with which he spoke. I hesitate to think of what would have happened had she not had that supportive father, someone who was truly in a position to get her out of the situation she found herself in here in Canada.

I will fast forward a number of years to when I was in Kansas. It was while I was on a parliamentary conference of sorts in Kansas that I really started to get a better appreciation of the degree to which it was a major world issue. I had observed a particular committee and, as fortune would have it at that time, they were talking about human trafficking, in particular dealing with the sex trade.

I was amazed by the numbers they were talking about. They were not talking about the odd case of women being brought over to feed the exploitation that is very real in North America today. They were not talking about a few or a hundred. They were talking about thousands of women being exploited through trafficking. That was an eye-opener for me and, since then, I have tried to keep up as much as possible on the issue.

I am aware of the bill the member has introduced to the House and of the previous bill she introduced, as well as some of the discussions that bill entailed. Many people from Winnipeg were following what was happening as it was an important issue. A number of people feel very passionate about this issue.

When I made some inquiries about 12 months ago on this issue, I was told that if we were to look at all the human trafficking that occurs around the world, we would see that somewhere in the neighbourhood of 80% is used in some form of sexual exploitation. When we think of sexual exploitation, there are two things that come to mind: one, the area of prostitution; and two, the production of pornography.

The more I look into it, I find it amazing the circumstances in which we often find the people being exploited, as well as how young they are. The member for St. Paul's made reference to one particular case that I believe involved a four-year-old boy. There is far too high a percentage of youth under the age of 10 who are being sexually exploited. I think it would not only sadden but it would anger a lot of people to hear of those numbers.

Then there is slavery. It is estimated that worldwide there is somewhere in the neighbourhood of between 20 million to 30 million people who are experiencing some form of slavery.

When we look at the whole area of exploitation, the impact it has on society and the role Canada can play on the international scene, I would suggest that legislation such as this does have merit. Canada can play a leadership role. As other countries have recognized the exploitation that is out there, Canada can too. There are things we can do that would make a difference.

We want to send a message to all Canadians that we have laws in Canada that we expect Canadians to abide by and respect. However, as a sovereign nation, we have the ability to ensure that there are consequences for Canadians who commit these hideous crimes outside our borders.

I believe we would find a great deal of sympathy from politicians and all Canadians to look into ways in which we as a society can say that it is not right and that there needs to be a consequence to what is taking place. In terms of this particular bill, it is something I see going to committee for some feedback from some of the stakeholders.

The member herself makes mention that she has some friendly amendments; we look forward to seeing those friendly amendments.

At the end of the day, I am sure there is a high sense of co-operation in terms of trying to do the right thing on the issue of exploitation of this nature.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe
New Brunswick

Conservative

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.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

NDP

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

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a real honour to rise to speak to Bill C-310. I want to thank the member for Kildonan—St. Paul for the incredible work she has done in being an advocate for this. I thank her and her family. Her husband and son have made a great sacrifice.

I think of William Wilberforce 200 years ago, who was the conscience of the British Parliament. He gave his life to see human trafficking, slavery, ended. In this Parliament we have a Wilberforce in the member, who has worked tirelessly to see modern-day slavery, human trafficking, end. I again thank her.

We have heard comments in the House today already that there appears to be unanimous support for this bill going forward. Wilberforce spent most of his life, many years, arguing in Parliament. He was nicknamed the conscience of the British Parliament. Hopefully this bill will pass very quickly so we can deal with this important issue.

The most vulnerable members of society tend to be those who are most likely to fall victim to this horrible crime. So often the most vulnerable do not have the ability to advocate for themselves. My colleague's unwavering support and determination to improve Canada's anti-trafficking responses and advocacy for those without a voice is to be commended and ensures that we as parliamentarians remain vigilant against this criminal activity.

I appreciate the opportunity to debate this bill. It affords each of us as parliamentarians the opportunity to once again discuss this serious issue of trafficking of persons. A week ago a number of young people came to my constituency office and presented 240 letters. These were young people horrified to realize that this happens in this day and age. They were from Walnut Grove Secondary School and I admire their courage and tenacity in calling on Parliament to make these important changes.

My colleague has already provided an overview of the bill and I support her comments. I do not intend to discuss the proposed amendments in any great detail, other than to say that I support this bill wholeheartedly and am committed to working closely with the sponsor to ensure it achieves its objectives.

I know that the Government of Canada has demonstrated a willingness to work with all parties, the international community and other stakeholders to address the crime of trafficking in persons. The government takes very seriously the task of improving Canada's criminal law responses in order to protect the vulnerable, to hold offenders to account and to improve community safety. These principles, offender accountability, protecting the vulnerable and standing up for Canadian communities, are at the very core of this bill and are objectives that the government strongly supports. I believe they cut across party lines and are unanimously endorsed by all members in the House. I am sure that in the spirit of collaboration we will quickly pass this bill into law.

The Government of Canada has long recognized the importance of a comprehensive, coordinated, multi-sectoral strategy to respond to trafficking in persons. The government's approach has focused on four specific objectives: one, preventing trafficking; two, protecting the victims; three, prosecuting offenders; and four, working in partnership with others. The four Ps approach has served Canada well and we remain at the vanguard of anti-trafficking efforts around the world.

Building on this approach, the government is committed to releasing a national action plan on human trafficking to better guide Canadian efforts. I applaud the government and my friend, the member for Kildonan—St. Paul, for their commitment and believe that an action plan will further strengthen our ability to prevent this crime, protect victims and hold traffickers accountable.

I would like to highlight a few examples of recent federal efforts. Recognizing the importance that a strong knowledge base can play in supporting ongoing responses, last year, in 2010, the government released a study examining the question of whether a national data collection framework could be established and the challenges associated with doing so.

The study and its recommendations continue to provide valuable guidance to all jurisdictions in Canada that are looking at this important issue.

Also last year, in 2010, the RCMP released its national threat assessment on human trafficking. The objectives of the assessment were to identify the extent of trafficking in persons in Canada, as well as organized crime involvement, transnational associations, source countries and trends involving foreign nationals and domestic victims.

The assessment includes analysis of organized criminal groups with suspected involvement in human trafficking, as well as discussions of issues, challenges and intelligence gaps that affect enforcement efforts in the disruption of human trafficking activities in Canada. In that way, the assessment aims to provide strategic guidance for enforcement efforts.

I know the government is also working hard in the areas of prevention and awareness and has recently launched into two national awareness campaigns—

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Order, please.

The hon. member for Langley will have about four minutes remaining for his speech when the House next returns to this order of business.

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.