House of Commons Hansard #199 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was immigration.

Topics

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Miramichi, NB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his question even though he asked a similar question just a few minutes ago.

Mr. Speaker, you and I know that it is a great privilege to become a Canadian. Therefore it is definitely not too much to ask anyone who is living in this country to refrain from crime. Our government is committed to helping keep our streets and communities safe.

I want to say at this time that Miramichiers and all Canadians will be shocked to learn that the opposition parties actually oppose the bill. They oppose the safety of our streets and our communities. It is hard to believe.

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Roxanne James Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for her wonderful speech.

I have been sitting in the House today and I keep hearing excuse after excuse from the opposition as to why someone should not be deported after committing a serious crime. I sit on the immigration committee, and I heard the same things again and again in the committee. The Liberal member for Winnipeg North even used this as an excuse: a lot of good people make some mistakes. Forgetting to put out the trash is a mistake. Committing a serious crime in Canada is not.

I just wonder whether the member for Miramichi would comment on why she thinks the NDP and the Liberals would rather support the criminals in this country than the law-abiding citizens and those who fall victim to crime?

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Miramichi, NB

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that this is the same kind of question that all Canadians, and Miramichiers especially, will be asking. The opposition members will have to answer that themselves.

In our platform, we promised to expedite the deportation of foreign criminals, and our government has followed up on that promise by introducing the bill. Our government continues to do what is best for all Canadians. We must remember that while our government is working to do this and we have opposition to this, it is costing our country taxpayers' dollars.

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I just clearly, audibly, heard the member for Malpeque say twice, “They are a bunch of racists”.

This is disgusting and beneath that member, beneath any member of this place. I would ask that he stand and withdraw.

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Members will know, of course, that these types of words and references are not helpful to civil debate.

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

I withdraw.

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

I thank the hon. minister for his intervention and the hon. member for Malpeque.

Bill C-43—Notice of time allocation motion
Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Bill C-43, the faster removal of foreign criminals act, will put a stop to foreign criminals relying on endless appeals in order to delay their removal from Canada and during which they can commit more crimes. For that reason it is very important this law be put in place to protect Canadians.

However, I must advise an agreement has not been reached under the provisions of Standing Order 78(1) or 78(2) concerning the proceedings at report stage and third reading of Bill C-43, an act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the Crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at those stages.

Report Stage
Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

I am sure the hon. members appreciate the notice of the government House leader.

We will get started with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. We only have two minutes. He will start and then he will pick up the remainder of his time when the House next considers the question before the House.

Report Stage
Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Mississauga—Erindale
Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise in the House today on Bill C-43, the faster removal of foreign criminals act. I think that title is very important.

As we all know, Canada has long been a destination of choice for immigrants. We have one of the highest per capita rates of permanent immigration in the world, and we accept so many immigrants that one in five Canadians today was born outside of Canada. In my riding of Mississauga—Erindale, 65% of my constituents were born outside of Canada.

I raised the issue of the bill just this last Sunday at a New Year's levee in my riding. There were 400 people in the room. I would say 300 of those 400 people were born outside of Canada. When I raised the topic of the bill, there was a standing ovation. This is what Canadians want us to do.

Canadians are generous and welcoming people, but they have no tolerance or patience for foreign criminals who abuse our generosity by fighting a futile battle to stay here long after they have worn out their welcome. Make no mistake, there are countless examples of convicted criminals who have done just that, including drug traffickers, murderers and even child abusers.

The faster removal of foreign criminals act would ensure that foreign criminals, who had been sentenced in Canada for serious crimes, cannot endlessly delay their deportation. It would do so by removing the right of appeal to the immigration appeal division at the Immigration and Refugee Board, which would help expedite the removal of anyone who receives a sentence of six months or more.

The legislation would also bar those who have committed serious crimes outside of Canada from accessing the immigration appeal division. By limiting access to the immigration appeal division, the government estimates that the amount of time certain criminals may remain in Canada would be reduced by 14 months or more.

Currently, a foreign criminal may be ordered deported if they could receive a maximum sentence in Canada of at least 10 years for their crime, or if they receive an actual sentence of more than six months. The problem is that under current law, as long as their sentence is less than two years, a permanent resident may appeal their deportation to the immigration appeal division, and if they lose that—

Report Stage
Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Order, please. The hon. parliamentary secretary may wish to mark that spot and he will have eight minutes remaining for his speech, and of course the usual five minutes for questions and comments, when the House next considers the question before the House.

The Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

January 29th, 2013 / 5:30 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Ahuntsic, QC

moved that Bill C-452, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, after a number of years of work and consultation, it is a great honour for me to introduce in the House Bill C-452, which seeks to help victims of human trafficking obtain justice in an environment in which they are better protected.

This bill also seeks to help the police officers and prosecutors who are working to combat this new form of slavery—let us say it—get the tools they need to lay charges and ensure that criminals are given sentences that reflect the seriousness of their crimes.

I would like to thank the individuals and groups who worked with me to put this bill together, including police officers from the SPVM morality branch and child sexual exploitation unit, criminal lawyers from the Barreau du Québec and women's and human trafficking victims' advocacy groups, such as the Comité d'action contre la traite humaine interne et internationale, Afeas, the Regroupement québécois des centres d'aide et de lutte contre les agressions à caractère sexuel, Concertation-Femme, Concertation des luttes contre l'exploitation sexuelle, the Association québécoise Plaidoyer-Victimes and Maison de Marthe. These groups were very involved in the drafting of this bill.

I would also like to thank everyone else who has supported this bill, namely the Collectif de l'Outaouais contre l'exploitation sexuelle, the diocèse de l'Outaouais de la condition des femmes and, of course, the Conseil du statut de la femme du Québec.

Before introducing the bill, I would like to quickly describe human trafficking in Canada. Unfortunately, it is a rather significant problem in Canada and also in Quebec.

There is no question that, in Canada, an estimated 80% to 90% of the victims of trafficking are destined for the sex trade. There are also victims exploited for forced labour in Canada. This is quite atypical, but it does exist nevertheless.

Canada is unfortunately considered to be a country of recruitment, destination and transit, transit to the United States in particular. The most popular cities are Fort Lauderdale, Miami, New York and Las Vegas, as you can imagine. Canada is also considered a tourist destination: not just the usual tourism, but also sex tourism.

Contrary to what one might think, this sort of thing does not happen only in developing countries. Criminal Intelligence Service Canada indicates in its 2001 report that, in Canada, the average age of entry into prostitution is 14. In Canada, the majority of victims of trafficking are women between the ages of 12 and 25.

According to 2004 figures from the U.S. State Department, every year an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 persons are victims of trafficking from Canada to the United States. It is estimated that traffickers bring approximately 600 women and children into Canada to service the Canadian sex industry.

The main points of transit and destination for victims of interprovincial and international trafficking are Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver. The Sûreté du Québec estimates that 80% of the strip clubs in Quebec under its jurisdiction are owned by criminal groups, often under fronts. So this is an industry that is dominated by organized crime and, unfortunately, street gangs.

Girls recruited in Atlantic Canada can wind up in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta or British Columbia, and vice versa. They are on the move. That is typical of human trafficking. Although this odious trade is dominated by organized crime, street gangs have become new players in recent years. The Montreal police service has declared human trafficking to be one of its priorities in the fight against crime.

It is thought that since the end of the 1990s, street gang members have transitioned from small-time recruiters to high-level pimps, specializing in child prostitution of young girls, mostly between the ages of 11 to 25. A girl can bring in around $280,000 a year, depending on her looks and age. Twenty girls could bring in around $6 million. That is a lot of money.

This is a business with little risk and is inexpensive to manage. Most of these guys say that they just have to beat, rape or torture the girl or give her some drugs and she will go to the meeting on her own. As it stands right now, the punishments are insignificant. For example, a pimp in Peel region exploited, tortured and raped a 15-year-old girl for two years. This earned him about $360,000 a year and he was sentenced to three years.

This bill would bring justice to the victims and make it easier for police officers and prosecutors. What does the bill do? Many prosecutors and police officers I spoke to told me that, in general, human trafficking was seen as an international phenomenon and that people were trafficked either from Canada to other countries or from other countries to Canada. Unfortunately, the Criminal Code is misinterpreted.

This misconception is gradually disappearing, but there are still some people who believe it. Young people from the regions of Quebec or from aboriginal reserves across Canada are unfortunately ending up in trafficking rings that bring them to large Canadian cities and tourist areas such as Niagara Falls or Montreal during the Grand Prix.

Domestic trafficking definitely happens in Canada. In my opinion, it accounts for a significant proportion of criminal activity in Canada. Victims of this type of human trafficking are between 14 and 25 years of age. The bill before us improves subsection 279.01(1) by making it clear that human trafficking is not only an international phenomenon, but also a domestic one. I have added the phrase, “Every person who, in a domestic or international context, recruits, transports...” This clarification will ensure that individuals, police officers and prosecutors understand exactly what that section means.

The current section 279.04 includes provisions on trafficking in organs and forced labour. As we all know, most human trafficking is for purposes of sexual exploitation, and as such, I added subsection 279.04(1.1), which is specifically about sexual exploitation. This definition, if I can call it that, is drawn from the Palermo protocol on human trafficking and international crime, which Canada ratified on May 13, 2002. This addition addresses all aspects of sexual exploitation, thereby enabling Canada to fulfill its Palermo protocol commitment.

On another note, human trafficking and procuring offences are often associated with other violent crimes. However, even when several charges are associated with a particular incident, traffickers often get away with short sentences because they are served concurrently. Unfortunately, sentences for human trafficking are softer than sentences for drug trafficking.

This is despite the fact that these people, whom I would call slavers, commit very serious crimes. Victims are tortured, confined, raped, forced into prostitution and so on. It is important to take all of the factors related to an incident into account. This bill would ensure that sentences for human trafficking or procuring and associated crimes are served consecutively.

The other problem that police officers and prosecutors have raised is their ability to help or persuade a victim to testify. Those practising in this area of the law often find that victims do not want to testify. Why? Because they are experiencing severe post-traumatic stress and are, quite naturally, afraid of being victimized. Many groups that work with these victims have told me that the victim should no longer have to bear the burden of proof.

Subsection 212(3) of the current Criminal Code already includes the notion of reversal of the burden of proof in cases of procuring. The same reversal of the burden of proof for the offence of trafficking was therefore added to this bill in subclause 279.01(3).

Therefore, as soon as the police have enough proof to lay charges, they will not necessarily need a victim's testimony. The reversal of the burden of proof exists for procuring. I believe that it should simply also be applied to human trafficking.

My favourite part of this bill deals with the forfeiture of proceeds of crime. Unfortunately, it is well known in the policing world that human trafficking is very profitable. It is profitable because a girl can bring in a lot of money for a pimp and it is highly unlikely that she will file a complaint against him. The pimp does not need to manage anything or make large purchases to run the business. So the pimp makes a lot of money.

Currently, subsection 462.37(2.02), which deals with forfeiture of proceeds of crime, allows for criminally obtained goods to be seized in cases of criminal organization offences punishable by five or more years of imprisonment and offences under section 5, 6 or 7 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

I feel that human trafficking and procuring offences should also be covered by this section. This bill adds those two provisions to section 462.37.

To conclude, I would like to ask my colleagues to do something meaningful for victims of human trafficking. We need to remember that we do not need to go to Thailand to see children as young as 12, 13 or 14 in this business. And, unfortunately, we cannot forget that adults are victims of this business as well. The majority of the victims of this business—if we can call it that—are women, young girls and children. I feel it is more a form of slavery. I believe that we need to rise above partisan politics on this issue. It is our duty to strengthen the human trafficking provisions of the Criminal Code.

I would like to thank the members, and I ask them to support this bill in the name of justice and, above all, in the name of humanity.

The Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend my colleague on her touching speech. It is not every day that we are given explanations on this type of violence. When it comes to violence against women, the media often talks about pimping and prostitution, and that is how we learn a little more about this topic.

As my colleague explained, we often forget one common denominator, and that is human trafficking, particularly the trafficking of women. My colleague is a recognized expert on street gangs and we often consult with her on this topic. In my opinion, a link can also be made between the harmful actions of street gangs and the trafficking of women. Unfortunately, street gangs are using the trafficking of women more and more to help their repulsive trade prosper.

I would like the hon. member to explain a little about the link between the trafficking of women and street gangs.

The Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for this excellent question.

Unfortunately, for the past five or six years in Quebec and Canada, street gangs have been becoming more and more involved in trafficking in young girls. Those groups used to recruit girls to dance in biker bars or to sell them to organized crime, but now these gangs have trafficking networks across Canada. These networks are very present in Niagara, an area I know very well. These networks no longer need biker gangs or the mafia for escort agencies, massage parlours or street prostitution. Their child prostitution networks are so sophisticated that it is basically their trademark.

Some gang members do nothing else. They no longer sell drugs. They do only that, because it is extremely lucrative and it is really hard to gather enough evidence to lay charges against them.

For instance, in the RCMP's most recent report with the latest figures, it clearly states that the first charges for human trafficking in Canada were laid by Peel Regional Police in 2008. That was the first time. Yet human trafficking has existed in the Criminal Code since 1995. But the first charge was not until 2008 by Peel Regional Police. That is unbelievable.

The Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her comment about members of the House trying to make Canada a better place and her comment that the trafficking of women and children in this country right now is appalling.

Two weeks ago in Edmonton a girl was rescued from a trafficking ring. It was just a classic case of how these predators work.

I would like the member for Ahuntsic to explain what a classic case looks like, because people need to be aware that this could happen to the girl next door.