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

The Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Joe Comartin

The hon. member for Ahuntsic has one minute to reply.

The Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the question. Given that we often work together on the issue of human trafficking, I would like to congratulate her on what she has done to improve the Criminal Code regarding this matter.

If I understand the question correctly, how these people operate can vary greatly, depending on whether they belong to a street gang, are a member of organized crime, or are even independent traffickers who have absolutely nothing to do with any criminalized groups. They always manipulate the victim, often through modelling agencies. Sometimes they go and recruit the girls directly at night clubs or in schools, anywhere, really.

Things happen in stages. First there is the honeymoon period, when the criminal tells the victim that she will make lots of money, that he is there for her, that he loves her. She might even believe that her abuser is actually her boyfriend. It is very complicated. Then there is the breaking-in period, when she is beaten, raped by 15 men in a row in a seedy apartment. The abuser tortures her and takes away her ID. All of this happens not in some other country but right here in Canada. The victim is sexually assaulted. Her family is threatened and she is told that if she escapes, the abuser will get her little sister.

I have met many victims. People involved in these trafficking rings have told me their stories. I will never forget the car on its way from Montreal to Quebec City with a 12-year-old girl in the back seat and a 16-year-old girl in the front. Four years later, that 16-year-old, now 20, told me that she could hear the 12-year-old crying in the back because they were on their way to Quebec City to live in a seedy duplex where criminals kept the people they forced into the industry.

Let us never forget one thing. The reason 12-year-old kids are being sold in Quebec is that men are buying. That is another problem we have to tackle. Members of Parliament must have the courage to deal with prostitution in Canada. We need a law—just one—stating that it is a crime to buy sexual services in Canada. I hope that the day will come when we have the political courage to attack the johns, because if there are no johns, there will be no prostitutes.

The Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

Delta—Richmond East
B.C.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join in the second reading debate on Bill C-452, an act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons). I believe the bill addresses a matter of utmost importance: the criminal justice system must respond effectively to the crime of human trafficking.

Bill C-452 seeks to achieve the important goal of strengthening the criminal justice system's response to this heinous crime. Bill C-452's predecessor, Bill C-612, an act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons), also sponsored by the member of Parliament for Ahuntsic, proposed similar amendments but died on the order paper at second reading with the dissolution of Parliament in 2011.

The objectives of the bill merit support. Its proposals seek to hold offenders accountable, impose penalties that befit the severity of the crime and assist in ensuring that offenders do not reap the rewards of their wrongdoing. There are, however, some legal issues raised by the bill's proposals, which I have no doubt can be addressed through amendments.

Bill C-452 proposes to amend the Criminal Code in a number of different ways.

First, it seeks to require that sentences imposed for procuring, section 212, and trafficking offences, sections 279.01 to 279.03, be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed. It also seeks to clarify that the main trafficking offence, section 279.01, would apply regardless of whether the crime occurred in a domestic or international context.

Further, it would add a presumption that an accused is exploiting a trafficking victim if he or she is shown to be habitually in the company of that victim. It would modify the definition of exploitation for the purposes of the trafficking offences to include specified means.

It would also modify the provision that imposes a reverse onus for forfeiture of proceeds of crime for certain offences to apply to both procuring and trafficking offences. Finally, it would make a small technical amendment to the French definition of exploitation, in section 279.04.

One concern raised by certain proposals in the bill involves the Bedford case, which is currently before the Supreme Court of Canada. Bedford involves a Charter challenge to three prostitution-related Criminal Code provisions, including living on the avails of prostitution offence, paragraph 212.(1)(j), which is contained in the procuring provision, section 212. Any amendments impacting on this provision could compromise the government's defence of its constitutionality.

Another concern is that some of the proposals relate to issues already addressed by former Bill C-310, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons), which was sponsored by the hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul and came into force in June 2012.

Former Bill C-310 extended extraterritorial jurisdiction for all Criminal Code trafficking offences and clarified the definition of exploitation in section 279.04 by creating an interpretive tool to assist courts in determining whether a person has exploited another for the purposes of the Criminal Code trafficking offences.

New amendments that overlap with recently enacted reforms could cause confusion in the law, which may create inconsistency in enforcement and interpretation. These concerns and others could be addressed through amendments to ensure consistency and clarity in the law and manage legal risk.

The bottom line, however, is that we should all support any proposals that would strengthen our response to a crime that is as pernicious and heinous as human trafficking. This crime is commonly referred to as a form of modern-day slavery.

There has been some confusion, both within Canada and internationally, about the nature of this crime. Given the breadth of the issue, the complicated way in which it can be carried out and the diversity of both its victims and its perpetrators, it is no wonder that the global community has struggled with defining it.

However, I can say to Canadians that our government continues to take steps to improve our responses to this very destructive criminal activity.

On June 6, 2012, the government launched Canada's national action plan to combat human trafficking to enhance our ability to prevent this crime, better support victims and ensure that traffickers are held accountable. We are directing more than $25 million over four years to implement this plan.

Specifically, the national action plan emphasizes the need for awareness in vulnerable populations, support for victims, dedicated law enforcement efforts and for all Canadians to prevent the trafficking of individuals.

Among other things, the national action plan launched Canada's first integrated law enforcement team dedicated to combatting human trafficking; increased front-line training to identify and respond to human trafficking and enhance prevention in vulnerable communities; provides more support for victims of this crime, both Canadians and newcomers; and strengthens the coordination with domestic and international partners who contribute to Canada's efforts to combat human trafficking.

Further to this, Canada ratified the United Nations protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children. The protocol's definition of human trafficking is consistent with Canada's four specific trafficking in persons offences, which provide us with a comprehensive domestic definition of this horrible crime. There are also many other Criminal Code offences that can be used to address related conduct.

As I mentioned, we have four trafficking-specific offences in our Criminal Code. The main offence of trafficking in persons, section 279.01, protects all persons by prohibiting the recruitment, transportation or harbouring of a person for the purposes of exploitation.

The child trafficking offence, section 279.011, is the same as the main trafficking offence, with the exception that it imposes mandatory minimum penalties for trafficking in children. It was enacted by another bill sponsored by the hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul, former Bill C-268, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (minimum sentence for offences involving trafficking of persons under the age of eighteen years), which came into force in June 2010.

I noticed that my colleague from the Bloc, who was speaking, mentioned a person under the age of 12. This unfortunately is something that does touch our children.

The two other trafficking-specific offences prohibit receiving a material benefit from the trafficking of a person and withholding or destroying documents in order to facilitate the trafficking of a person, sections 279.02 and 279.03. The Criminal Code also defines exploitation for the purposes of these offences in section 279.04.

Bill C-452 would add heavier penalties to this important group of offences by requiring the imposition of consecutive sentences for engaging in this type of reprehensible conduct. No one would disagree that penalties for this type of offence should be severe.

Bill C-452 would also require a sentencing court to order the forfeiture of offenders' property unless they disprove that their property is the proceeds of crime. We must ensure that traffickers are not permitted to keep the financial benefits of their insidious exploitation of others.

Bill C-452 would also create a presumption that would assist prosecutors in proving the main trafficking offences by proving a related fact, that the accused lived with or was habitually in the company of an exploited person. This type of offence is very difficult to investigate and prosecute, especially given that witnesses are usually afraid to come forward due to threats and intimidation. In particular, such a presumption could assist in holding an accused accountable or the prosecution's case rests heavily on the fact that the accused was living with or habitually in the company of an exploited person. However, this proposal requires amendments to ensure that it applies equally to the child trafficking offence, and the language should also be consistent with other Criminal Code presumptions so that the proposed presumption achieves its goal. These amendments would assist in securing convictions, ensure that punishment is proportional to the severity of the crime and deprive offenders of their ill-gotten gains.

I believe these are goals we can all support.

The Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Joe Comartin

Before resuming debate, I understand the hon. government House leader has a request for unanimous consent to a motion.

Business of the House
Private Members' Business

January 29th, 2013 / 6 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I believe if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion, which has been discussed among the parties. I move:

That, notwithstanding the provisions of any Standing Order, for the remainder of the 41st Parliament, when a recorded division is to be held on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, except recorded divisions deferred to the conclusion of oral questions, the bells to call in the members shall be sounded for not more than thirty minutes.

Business of the House
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Joe Comartin

Does the House agree to give unanimous consent to this motion?

Business of the House
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the House
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Joe Comartin

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion 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.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud and happy to rise in this House today to speak to Bill C-452, which was introduced by the member for Ahuntsic. This is not exactly her first try, but I hope it will be the last and that it will be successful, possibly just as successful as the work that was done by the member for Kildonan—St. Paul on Bill C-310. I had the pleasure of examining this bill, debating it and discussing it. It opened my eyes.

I come from Gatineau and we do not often hear about human trafficking there. I learned about it when we examined the bill from the member for Kildonan—St. Paul. This will sound strange, but I also met with the US ambassador-at-large, who came to speak to me about human trafficking and how this problem exists all over the world. I was then able to see that issues that we sometimes consider foreign are also going on right here at home. It can be quite ugly, even horrific, as described by the member for Ahuntsic, and it is often happening right under our noses and we have no idea.

As the justice critic for the official opposition, the New Democratic Party, I can say that we will support sending our colleague's Bill C-452 to committee. I have also taken note of some of the comments the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice made.

When it comes to justice issues, the NDP always wants to be reasonably satisfied with the laws that are passed and that have a significant impact in terms of justice. These laws must pass the tests they will be subject to when they go before the courts. As legislators, we must do our job properly.

I wish I had a little more time. Five minutes is not long enough to ask questions. We have to talk about reversing the burden of proof. In cases like this one, that is a real concern given the seriousness of the offences. Still, we have to see if this passes the test to which the courts usually subject such a reversal of the burden of proof. This always seems counter to the presumption of innocence that is central to criminal law in Canada.

It is also important to ensure that laws do not contradict one another. The parliamentary secretary alluded to that. Will the passage of Bill C-310 cause parts of Bill C-452 to be reviewed? Are some of these elements in conflict? At first glance, I do not think so. However, we will consider all of these issues during meetings of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights once we complete our two hours of debate here. From what I have seen, I do not think that our colleague will have any trouble getting her Bill C-452 referred to committee. That will give us the opportunity to hear from witnesses.

The fact that we have the right to debate these issues, to have our say and to hear from witnesses is extremely important. As I said, if not for Bill C-310, even people who watch television, who are well-informed and up to date, would not have had the opportunity to hear first-hand about what is going on, often under their very noses, what is happening to society's most vulnerable people, to women and children. The situation is appalling. It would serve us well to hear about other specific cases.

I was pleased to see that in my region, the Outaouais, there was a great deal of support in the community from women's groups. My colleague mentioned the Collectif de l'Outaouais contre l'exploitation and the diocèse de l'Outaouais, among others, but I know even more groups that have told me that they support this bill.

I will support any law that we can enact to eliminate these scourges. We have to do everything we can and use every tool we have to stop this.

The message I would like to send to my friends opposite is that it takes people to implement these great laws. If we have good laws against human trafficking, then we have to ensure that we have the police officers needed to do the work and to find these vile human traffickers. We must drag them before the courts and they must serve these sentences so that one day we will no longer have to adopt such laws. When we go home, we have to be able to say that we did a good job because the most vulnerable are not being sexually exploited, tortured or are afraid to speak out and stop being victimized. Would it not be wonderful to have a society where there are no victims?

In addition to these fine speeches and bills, we have to ensure that there is a coherent approach. If we say that we support the victims and that we want to be there to help them, then we have to provide assistance and services. If we say that we are against the criminals, then we have to ensure that we catch these damn criminals and that we have enough police officers. We can reverse the burden of proof all we want, but if the victim is terrified and will never report the horror experienced, all this work is in vain.

We have to realize that this is happening in our communities. It may be happening in a street not far from our own homes. It is scary, but it does happen. We have to have our eyes wide open and realize that a bill such as this one solves real problems. However, it takes more than that.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in debate on Bill C-452, on the question of human trafficking and how best to combat it. In particular, this legislation would seek to strengthen the provisions that punish exploitation and trafficking in persons.

I would like to congratulate my colleague from Ahuntsic for this bill and this very important step.

The true measure of a society's commitment to equality and human dignity is the protection it affords its most vulnerable members. And victims of human trafficking are some of the most vulnerable.

Accordingly, we must recognize and denounce human trafficking as the persistent and pervasive assault on human rights that it is, while providing increased protection for those who are most vulnerable to this massive criminal violation of human rights, namely women and children. At the same time, we must work to bring the perpetrators to justice and ensure that human traffickers are held to account fully for this reprehensible criminal conduct. My remarks this evening will focus on the implications this bill would have for the justice system, while situating the debate in the broader context of how we ought to combat human trafficking.

The crime of human trafficking, as I have said many times in this House, is one of the most pernicious, persistent and pervasive assaults on human rights. According to the 2012 United States Department of State report on human trafficking, an estimated 27 million people worldwide each year are victims of various crimes of exploitation and servitude, while an estimated $32 billion is generated by this immoral and illegal trade, making it one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world today. The struggle to eradicate this crime, therefore, must certainly include legal tools to prosecute the offenders. It must also include policies to protect and support the victims while engaging in public education efforts to promote awareness of the trends and the means used to exploit and traffic the victims.

Accordingly, a holistic approach to this problem would require addressing the social factors that allow the crime of exploitation to occur in communities across our country, while working with all levels of government and community leaders to identify trends and patterns of exploitation, to communicate with the victims and to support the victims and their families during these moments of tremendous vulnerability. I commend the member for Ahuntsic for her involvement in this regard with the various stakeholders for this purpose.

To combat human trafficking, we need to do more than just impose new criminal penalties. For example, we need to correct the flaws in our immigration system because they leave temporary and foreign workers open to exploitation and abuse by their Canadian employers.

Bill C-452 makes a number of important amendments to the Criminal Code. First, it provides for consecutive sentences to be served for human trafficking convictions. Second, it grants the Canadian judiciary jurisdiction over human trafficking offences whether they are committed in Canada or abroad. Third, the bill clarifies the provisions related to human trafficking involving sexual exploitation. Fourth, it creates a presumption regarding the exploitation of one person by another. Finally, the bill adds the offences of procuring and trafficking in persons to the list of offences to which the forfeiture of proceeds of crime apply.

All of these proposed changes are indeed well intentioned, but some are somewhat flawed, particularly when viewed from a charter perspective. The Liberal Party will support this legislation and vote to send it to committee for further study and review in the hope that the concerns may be appropriately addressed.

I will begin with a provision that I wholeheartedly support.

The legislation expands the scope of the human trafficking provision in the code to the international arena. This is an important and most welcome change to our law. Simply put, the reach of this egregious trafficking crime is beyond our national borders and our laws must therefore reflect this reality.

For many human trafficking victims, exploitation may bring them to Canada. However, the original incident of abuse or threats made to their families occurs in far distant lands. We must seek justice not only for the final leg of this crime, but for the full scope of the abuse and cruelty inflicted on victims by their abusers.

Accordingly, while I support that provision and the provisions relating to human trafficking that include sexual exploitation, as well as extending or adding the offences of procuring and trafficking to the list of offences to which the proceeds of crime would apply, I am concerned by some other sections of the legislation. For example, Bill C-452 provides that sentences imposed upon a conviction of human trafficking are to be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed and punishment for an offence arising out of the same event or series of events.

I understand the well-intentioned motive behind this recommendation. My concern is that doing this could limit judicial discretion in a way that not only encroaches on judicial independence but may, however inadvertently, result in sentences that infringe upon charter-protected rights. Certainly these heinous acts should be punished severely. However, there may be situations where the imposition of consecutive, rather than concurrent sentencing is inadvisable. This is why judges should be allowed to retain their discretion in this regard, though certainly at committee we could address whether it might be best to encourage such sentences while perhaps not specifically requiring them.

As well, the bill establishes a presumption under section 279.01(3) of the Criminal Code that may be overly broad. It reads:

—a person who is not exploited and who lives with or is habitually in the company of or harbours a person who is exploited shall, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, be deemed to be exploiting or facilitating the exploitation of that person.

While one of the major issues in combatting trafficking since the crime of exploitation was first introduced in our Criminal Code has been the low number of criminal convictions for this crime, we should nonetheless be very mindful of casting too wide a net as this could raise both charter and common law concerns. Again, I am hopeful this can be addressed at committee.

Another change proposed by the legislation, which I support, modifies section 279 of the Criminal Code by enumerating the various elements of the crime of exploitation, particularly sexual services. This is an important change, in part because our own Department of Justice has found that trafficking for sexual exploitation is more prevalent in Canada than any other form of exploitation, especially in our large urban centres. By adding these new provisions in the code, we would provide law enforcement officials with additional tools to take on this challenge and better protect the Canadian public.

Let me reiterate that while it is vital that our criminal justice system be equipped to handle the full prosecution of this brutal crime, any success on this issue will only come with greater public awareness, mobilization and participation in combatting the crime to begin with. Because the perpetrators of human exploitation count on various social stigmas to isolate their victims, it is vital that we remove these stigmas and those barriers that prevent victims from seeking assistance. We must strengthen our grassroots strategy to detect and prevent human trafficking to begin with, as well as to support and protect victims in a manner that would enhance their co-operation and ability to report this abuse. As a country looking to address this challenge, we must not only seek to punish those who do harm to the innocent, we must also seek to heal and care for those who have been harmed in this fashion.

In summary, I am hopeful that the bill will be improved in committee. I applaud my colleague from Ahuntsic for bringing it forward and for her hard work on this issue, as well as that of the member for Kildonan—St. Paul. I am hopeful that by working together we can eradicate this evil of human trafficking in Canada once and for all.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, tonight I am so pleased to have the opportunity to support Bill C-452, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons).

As I have listened to the speeches tonight. It warms my heart to see members in the House who have worked together, and are continuing to work together, to stop this heinous crime in our country.

The member for Mount Royal has done much over the years to stand up for human rights. His Bill C-49 did much to bring the awareness of human trafficking to the forefront, and I thank him for that.

I also want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, as the member for Windsor—Tecumseh. When I first started working on my Bill C-268, I remember your support and your questions. I remember your input in making that bill go through.

As parliamentarians we are standing up against the perpetrators who feed on innocent victims in our country. Now public awareness is coming to the forefront. This is a pressing issue that we are addressing. Human trafficking, as we all know, continues to be a violation of fundamental human rights whose protection forms a basis of our free and democratic country. I want to thank all members for the input we have heard today.

Before I turn to the proposals in the bill itself, I would like to make some general comments on the nature of human trafficking and its severe impact on the victims to underscore the importance of ensuring the strongest possible criminal justice response to this crime.

Traffickers force victims to provide labour or services in circumstances where they believe their safety or the safety of someone known to them will be threatened. If they fail to provide that labour or service, they are deprived of the very rights that underpin a free and democratic society, a society that we hold dear in Canada.

The reality is that victims often suffer physical, sexual and emotional abuse, including threats of violence or actual harm to their loved ones. It does not only encompass the victims. One technique the predators have is to threaten their siblings and their relatives by telling them that they will be next. I have numerous cases where that has happened. That is how they control the victim from whom they earn so much money. Records show right now that a perpetrator earns between $250,000 and $260,000 a year from a victim. It is all about money. It is all about a despicable crime that is happening in our country that touches everybody. Everybody should be aware of it because sooner or later they will hear about it or be touched by it.

In Parliament today we are taking one more step to ensure that Bill C-452 is passed, examined in committee to make it even stronger. By working together, we can make this happen.

To further aggravate the human trafficking problem, the type of criminal conduct is not just something that happens occasionally on the margins of society. Rather, it is widespread in our communities as evidenced by the global revenues generated by it, which are estimated to be about $10 million U.S. per year. This puts human trafficking within the top three money-makers for organized crime. However, it is not just organized crime that is involved in human trafficking. So too are entrepreneurial people who feed off the suffering of innocent victims and control them so they can have money in their pockets to have a better life.

What are we doing about it? I am pleased to report that the government's response to this crime is strong and multifaceted.

First, we have a veritable arsenal of criminal offences that apply to this reprehensible conduct. In 2003 three trafficking offences were added to the criminal code. In 2010 a new offence of child trafficking was enacted through Bill C-268, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (minimum sentence for offences involving trafficking of persons under the age of eighteen years), which was sponsored by myself at that time. This offence imposes mandatory minimum penalties on those who traffic in persons under the age of 18.

In 2012 former Bill C-310, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons), which was another bill sponsored by myself, extended extra territorial jurisdiction for all Criminal Code trafficking offences and enacted an interpretative tool to assist the court in interpreting the trafficking in persons provisions. Why did that happen? When we sat in a court, we heard lawyers trying to prove that the victim initially was not afraid. Was not afraid, why? How perpetrators work is the victim is not afraid. Most perpetrators come on as the victim's friends. They give the victims everything they want. It is only after they separate them from their infrastructure, family, community and friends and get them alone and take all their identification does the relationship change.

That is when the victims are beaten, raped and shot up with drugs. They are unrecognizable when they are seen on the street corners. These are innocent victims who need the love, care and rescuing to renew their lives. Many young girls who have been rescued are doing phenomenal things.

I was at a special event for Walk With Me, with Timea Nagy, a former trafficking victim in our country. She has done much to rescue victims, much to help restore the lives of these innocent victims.

All of these things, in addition to the trafficking specific offence contained in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, section 118, which prohibits transnational trafficking and the numerous Criminal Code offences that address trafficking-related conduct, such as forcible confinement, kidnapping, sexual assault and uttering threats, are few examples of the arsenal of crime bills that we have to protect the innocent victims in our country.

That is not all. In recognition of the multifaceted nature of this problem, our government launched the national action plan to combat human trafficking June 6, 2012. The action plan recognizes that a comprehensive response to human trafficking must involve efforts to ensure what we refer to, and I know everyone here in the House is familiar with, as the four Ps: the protection of victims; the prosecution of offenders; partnerships with key players; and the prevention of the crime in the first place.

All activities are coordinated through the human trafficking task force, which is led by Public Safety Canada. This is without a doubt a comprehensive response to a complex problem, but more can always be done. Where more can be done, more should be done, especially when efforts serve to address a crime as insidious as human trafficking.

That is why I commend the member for Ahuntsic who has put forward Bill C-452, which proposes a number of reforms that would strengthen the response I have just described.

It seeks to impose consecutive sentences for trafficking offences and any other offence arising out of the same event or series of events. The bill would also create a presumption that would assist prosecutors in proving the main human trafficking offence. It would require a sentencing court to order the forfeiture of the offenders property unless they could prove their property was not the proceeds of crime.

The very first trafficking case that came to justice in Canada was a very short while ago. It was the Imani Nakpangi case where a 15 and a half year old girl was trafficked. He made a lot of money out of her, over $360,000 that we know of today. The forfeiture of the proceeds of that crime is so important. Bill C-452 has that element in the bill.

Although some amendments would be required to address specific legal concerns, Bill C-452 would undoubtedly strengthen the response to human trafficking and as such merits all our support.

Legal concerns would have to be addressed. For example, the bill should not overlap with amendments that have already been enacted by previous bills, such as Bill C-310, as this would cause confusion in the law. We do not want that to happen. The bill should also avoid compromising the government's efforts to defend the living on the avails offence along with other prostitution-related Criminal Code offences. These are the kinds of things that we will examine and work on in committee, and we are very proud to do that.

I want to thank the member once again for her hard work on this human trafficking issue. I want to thank all members in the House for taking up this cause and protecting the rights of innocent victims.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Joe Comartin

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine has the floor for only two minutes.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, the bill allows an important discussion on an issue that is little spoken of in regular daily life in Canada. Very few Canadians realize the severe impact of human trafficking in Canadian society and the growing presence of human trafficking inside our borders. As a result, Canadians are often shocked when they hear the very real and terrible stories of human trafficking victims.

Canada is known internationally as a great place to live, to raise a family and to live a safe life. I am proud of this welcoming and inclusive heritage, but unfortunately this is not true for all Canadians. This reality is destroyed by those who choose to exploit men, women and youth who are looking for a better life in Canada. Human traffickers ultimately take away their victims' dreams.

We members of Parliament need to work together to prevent human trafficking and provide better care and services for victims. The suggested amendments to the Criminal Code seek to ensure that victims are provided the best possible aid and are given the ability to speak up to their aggressor in court.

The official opposition is receptive to the amendments brought forward by the hon. member for Ahuntsic, and we look forward to discussing them further at committee to see what they actually entail.

The member for Ahuntsic consulted several community-based groups and victims organizations that deal with human trafficking in her riding and in Quebec, but these efforts need to be repeated across Canada.

I am pleased with the effort in the bill to remove the monetary profit of trafficking from the pockets of traffickers, profit has been taken by violating the victims' rights. It is also important that we remove the incentives that draw these traffickers to Canada, and to ensure that we do as much as we can to put prevention and victim care first. We must uphold victims' rights.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Joe Comartin

The hon. member will have eight minutes to continue or finish her speech when the House resumes consideration of the motion.

The order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

Pursuant to Standing Order 30.7, the House will now proceed to the consideration of Bill C-425 under private members' business.