An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons)

This bill was last introduced in the 38th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in November 2005.


Irwin Cotler  Liberal


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to

(a) create an offence of trafficking in persons that prohibits a person from engaging in specified acts for the purpose of exploiting or facilitating the exploitation of another person;

(b) create an offence that prohibits a person from receiving a financial or other material benefit that they know results from the commission of the offence of trafficking in persons;

(c) create an offence that prohibits concealing, removing, withholding or destroying travel documents or documents that establish or purport to establish another person’s identity or immigration status for the purpose of committing or facilitating the offence of trafficking in persons; and

(d) establish that a person exploits another person if they cause them to provide, or offer to provide, labour or a service by engaging in conduct that could reasonably be expected to cause the other person to believe that their safety or that of someone known to them would be threatened if they failed to do so or if, by means of deception or the use or threat of force or of any other form of coercion, they cause the other person to have an organ or tissue removed.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

October 31st, 2006 / 11:35 a.m.
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Det Sgt Michel Hamel Manager , Risk Management and Special Victims Unit, Sex Crimes Unit, Toronto Police Service

Good morning. Thank you for having us here today.

The focus of the presentation will be the challenges that we face at the local level in terms of enforcing and prosecuting human trafficking offences.

According to statistics released by the RCMP, it is estimated that over 2,000 people are trafficked into Canada every year. At the national level, the RCMP have taken on the responsibility of providing awareness sessions and training to other law enforcement agencies with respect to Bill C-49. Although this is a global issue, the reality is that the municipal police services do have the responsibility of enforcing the law at the local level. Most of the victims of human trafficking will be found in the larger cities, such as Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, and surrounding areas.

In most cases, female victims will be discovered during criminal investigations within the sex trade industry, bawdy houses, escort services, massage parlours, and prostitution rings. Another initiative that was undertaken by the Toronto police this year was to create a new unit called the special victims section within the sex crimes unit as a pilot project, and the mandate is to identify and rescue young persons involved in the sex trade industry, to collect and maintain a data bank of known sex trade workers and share this information with other law enforcement agencies, and to investigate criminal acts committed against sex trade workers and provide support to the victims, and this includes victims of human trafficking.

A one-day awareness session is in the planning stage. It will be held in December of this year. It will involve the RCMP, the Canada Border Services Agency, and the Toronto Police Service. Community agencies that provide assistance and shelter to sex trade workers will also be invited.

I'd like to give you a brief summary of the current situation in Toronto. As the officer in charge of the special victims section, I had the opportunity to meet with the informal leaders of the sex trade industry in Toronto. They are aware of human trafficking victims in the city. Some have sought refuge in shelters in the past and some of them are there now, and that's why we want to have an information session, to develop trust between us and the shelters. However, the fear of deportation exists and victims will not come forward. That's why it is so important to develop this trust, and we recognize that it will take a long time.

We have been getting Crime Stoppers tips about human trafficking victims within the city being exploited through the escort service industry. These allegations were investigated without success because the information was very limited. A matter is currently under investigation in Toronto involving a strip club. The owner had flown to the Philippines to recruit 15 dancers from local strip joints, and we have seen photographs of him and the young females, and these photographs were taken in dirty backrooms of these so-called strip clubs in the Philippines. The owner is now in Canada and he is waiting for immigration papers to be finalized so that his new staff can be flown to Toronto.

I have identified some of the challenges that we are facing in the investigative stages of human trafficking offences, and the number one is housing. There seems to be no plan and/or protocol in place to provide immediate assistance to the victims of human trafficking. Shelters are available, but this would have to be on a short-term basis, and if there are issues of security, the shelters would have to be made aware of this, and most would decline to provide assistance. There are also serious liability issues from all those concerned.

The Canada Border Services Agency enforcement unit will assist, as they normally do, where there are immigration issues. If the victims have status in Canada, there is no policy in place, at least in the Toronto area, to provide any shelter for the victims. If they have no status, the victims can be detained for 48 hours in a holding facility; however, the victims are then treated as suspects, thus jeopardizing any efforts made to gain their trust.

The Canada Border Services Agency usually becomes involved with us in Toronto during the investigation of inmates found in massage parlours and bawdy houses. Their role is primarily to determine the status of inmates in Canada and to provide assistance to us with immigration issues.

The focus has to change for all parties involved. The emphasis should be on the possibility of human trafficking and being a victim of this crime, first, before looking at the minor charge of being an inmate of a bawdy house.

The process of implementing a three-month permit in the Toronto area is not very clear.

October 17th, 2006 / 12:40 p.m.
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Senior Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice

Carole Morency

Within the context of a domestic response, just to echo what Adèle said, prevention is a huge issue for us. We have focused a lot of our preliminary efforts federally on getting that message out locally. Absolutely there's more we need to do, and will continue to do, in partnership with our partners on the ground. We do continue to work on that.

As was mentioned earlier, the three Ps--protection of victims, prevention, and prosecution of offenders--is really the international standard. Those three remain the key priorities for us domestically as well. The protection of victims, then, with the announcement by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration in May of 2006 about the guidelines, was a huge step forward for us.

Again, clearly there's much more we need to do. Within the criminal justice sector we continue to work through various federal, provincial, and territorial fora to keep the issue on the table, including with heads of prosecution and directors of victims services. There's much we can do federally to keep the issue on the agenda, but there's also much we need to do very much in partnership with provinces and NGOs to make further inroads.

On data collection, what Adèle said about issues internationally is true for us here. The clandestine nature of the conduct in question makes it incredibly difficult for anyone to get real data on this. If we look to other areas where we have experience here in Canada--i.e., sexual assaults and spousal abuse--we have some statistics there, but everybody who's worked in that area will say that we all estimate those to be incredibly below the real numbers.

Bill C-49, the IRPA offence, and those types of specific offences addressing human trafficking will help us a bit in terms of trying to track those specific offences. We will continue to need to look at related types of conduct; a case that may not be identified by somebody as a trafficking case clearly is, once you look at the facts.

In terms of our law enforcement, you've heard from the RCMP already. I think the CBSA will be appearing as well, and they can speak to efforts they can and are taking domestically to enhance their ability to keep data on these numbers.

So there's a lot more we need to do, but there are huge hurdles in terms of trying to get to the real numbers that we would all like to have.

October 17th, 2006 / 12:25 p.m.
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Senior Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice

Carole Morency

The new offences came into force on November 25, so they can only be used to address situations that have occurred after that point in time. We are not aware of any charges that have yet been laid under the new offences, but that doesn't mean that law enforcement is not currently investigating cases that have come to their attention or that other cases are not proceeding under existing Criminal Code provisions that may address trafficking-related conduct.

So, yes, we continue to monitor how Bill C-49 in particular will advance our efforts in this regard; and yes, we continue to monitor how existing Criminal Code offences and also the trafficking offence under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act continue to be used in this area.

Tracking cases, for example, between spring 2004 and February 2006, looking at the existing Criminal Code offences that are being used to address trafficking-related conduct...when we've looked at the facts in reported cases we have found or identified 25 cases where convictions have been entered and nine that are still before the courts, meaning the fact situation is a trafficking situation but not necessarily identified because of the trafficking in persons specific offence.

October 17th, 2006 / 12:15 p.m.
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Carole Morency Senior Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice

Good morning.

Trafficking in persons has often been described by many as a modern-day form of slavery. To understand that, we need to have a clear understanding of what kind of conduct we're actually talking about.

Human trafficking involves three key elements.

First, it involves a physical act; namely, the recruitment, transportation, or harbouring of a person across international borders, or within borders.

Second, it involves the use of such means as threats, force, coercion, or deception. With respect to children, although it's irrelevant whether any such means are used, they nonetheless often involve the abuse of power or position of authority over the child or the giving or receiving of consideration to obtain the consent of the person who has authority over that child.

The third key element is that it's carried out for the specific purpose of exploiting its victims, usually for sexual exploitation or for forced labour.

It is the means--principally coercion--and the exploitative purpose that distinguishes trafficking from similar crimes such as human smuggling and makes it so abhorrent, whether a person is forced to work in a garment factory, on a farm, or as a domestic servant or to perform sexual services. No matter the form of human trafficking, it's always an affront to human dignity and a fundamental violation of their human rights.

There are many different types of exploitation involved in human trafficking, such that it has been linked to other issues, for example, prostitution. And although there are some linkages between human trafficking and prostitution, particularly when we're dealing with child prostitution, there are differences that warrant treating the issues separately.

Adèle has already outlined the magnitude of human trafficking as we understand it domestically and internationally, which makes us appreciate even more the importance of having a strong, coordinated domestic response in place.

Canada recently strengthened its criminal justice response to trafficking. In November 2005 Parliament enacted the former Bill C-49. These new Criminal Code offences created an important step towards strengthening our ability to protect victims of human trafficking by ensuring that Canada's legal framework clearly recognizes and strongly denounces and deters this terrible crime.

It does this by creating three new indictable offences to better address human trafficking—in whatever form it may manifest itself.

To begin with, the main offence of trafficking in persons prohibits anyone from engaging in specified acts, such as recruiting, transporting, harbouring or controlling the movements of another person for the purpose of exploiting or facilitating the exploitation of that person. This offence is punishable by up to life imprisonment, reflecting its severity and its harmful consequences for its victims and Canadian society.

Secondly, Bill C-49 deters those who seek to profit from the exploitation of others by making it an offence to receive a financial or material benefit knowing that it results from the trafficking of persons. This offence is punishable by up to ten years' imprisonment.

Thirdly, Bill C-49 prohibits the withholding or destroying of travel or identity documents in order to commit or facilitate the trafficking of persons. This offence is punishable by a maximum of five years imprisonment.

Bill C-49 reforms will strengthen our current responses to trafficking by building upon existing provisions in the Criminal Code that already address trafficking-related conduct, such as forcible confinement, kidnapping, sexual assault, and aggravated sexual assault, and these reforms also complement the trafficking-specific offence that exists in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Bill C-49's new criminal offences, together with the existing offences, provide a broader framework for all criminal justice personnel with a significantly enhanced ability to ensure that the offence charged is the one that best responds to the facts of each trafficking case.

The federal government is also addressing human trafficking through other non-legislative measures, which is a reflection of the reality that an effective response to such a problem requires not only a strong legal framework but also multi-sectoral collaboration to ensure that victims are protected and to enhance our awareness and understanding of the problem.

For example, in 2006 the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration introduced measures to strengthen Canada’s response to the unique needs of trafficking victims who find themselves in Canada but are foreign nationals. These measures include guidelines that will assist immigration officers in issuing short-term temporary resident permits to trafficking victims for a period of reflection of up to 120 days, and this permit can be renewed. Victims are also exempted from the temporary resident permit processing fee and given access to the interim federal health program to ensure that they receive the medical attention they need, which could include emergency health services and trauma counselling.

The government has also undertaken numerous awareness-raising measures within Canada. For example, we have a website on trafficking in persons that can be accessed through the Department of Justice website. The website provides useful information for the public, describing the problem and providing related links.

Public education and awareness is being fostered through the development and broad dissemination, within Canada and through Canadian embassies, of a poster—available in 17 languages—and an information pamphlet—available in 14 languages—to help prevent human trafficking victimization.

We have brought with us a sampling of those materials to leave with the committee. These have been really widely disseminated and sought as materials for persons organizing conferences.

Professional training and education about human trafficking and enforcement-related issues is under way and began with a training seminar in law enforcement in March 2004, co-hosted by the Department of Justice and the International Organization for Migration. A similar seminar was held in May 2005 in Vancouver, hosted by the RCMP, and another will be held in November 2006 in Nova Scotia.

As you have already heard from Adèle, we've supported prevention and awareness efforts in source countries, and we continue to look to build partnerships here at home and abroad. The interdepartmental working group on trafficking in persons is committed to our mandate to continue to coordinate all federal anti-trafficking measures, and we continue to work with our provincial counterparts and civil society to ensure an effective, comprehensive response to this terrible crime.

With that, I will end my remarks. We will be happy to answer any questions the committee may have.

October 3rd, 2006 / 12:20 p.m.
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Bruce Stanton Conservative Simcoe North, ON


You alluded to the fact that there are some major hurdles there in terms of spooling up law enforcement. Are there any initiatives in place right now that you can tell me about that are helping law enforcement agencies to be better aware of their obligations under Bill C-49?

October 3rd, 2006 / 12:20 p.m.
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Bruce Stanton Conservative Simcoe North, ON

I don't want to cut you off, but I have only a minute left.

With regard to Bill C-49, have there been any prosecutions on this so far?

October 3rd, 2006 / 12:05 p.m.
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Senior Associate, International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy, University of British Columbia

Yvon Dandurand

I would just add to this that the RCMP, as I said, has provided very strong and effective leadership in the police community in Canada. They had a head start because they were responsible for part of the enforcement of the offence under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The other police forces are just coming online, because before this, it wasn't their responsibility. With Bill C-49, they all have to do something. Many of them, I would say, are probably still asleep. They still probably don't know exactly what it means for them.

Sergeant Lowe mentioned British Columbia. The RCMP, itself, has gone to the municipal police forces and provided information and so on. I believe that the RCMP, and the national centre in particular, is crucial, but I would like you to also remember that there are a lot of other law enforcement agencies and other groups that need to be brought on board. It's not just a problem for the national police force. Others need to be mobilized.

October 3rd, 2006 / 11:45 a.m.
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Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

That's interesting, because what you're saying is that while the RCMP and other law enforcement agencies are doing some research, it needs to be done by a separate body that would bring law enforcement into the mix, but also the communities and all of the order to have proper research.

That goes back to the point you made. The previous government's bill, C-49, while it's good legislation, cannot be as effective without this other arm of knowing where things are at. So that's interesting, because everybody tends to look at the existing institutions as places to start, but it looks like we're looking at something that may be slightly different to do the research and collecting. Okay, that's good.

The other question I had was on the root causes. I know the research hasn't been done, but from what you know at this point, generally, what are the main motivators for trafficking—apart from greed and crime? Obviously I know what the motive of the people who are perpetrating this is, and to some degree I understand that it's economic for the women who come to do exotic dancing or they come to do a job but end up doing something else. Do you know of any way or of any research being done from the economic perspective—the prevention side—that could start chopping off the supply and address the issue of income support and prevention, in partnership with some countries that might be the major source of trafficking? The core issue is what I'm looking at.

October 3rd, 2006 / 11:40 a.m.
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Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you both for your presentations. They were very interesting.

Also, I was pleased and disappointed at the same time to hear that Bill C-49 is welcomed but that it may not be getting down to the ground where it needs to be. That is one of the major failings of a lot of our legislation. We can build as much legislation as we can, but at the end of the day, if it's not implemented properly, if it's not really used, then of course the resources aren't applied, and that's a major problem.

One of my first questions was on what your reaction to the legislation itself was and if any changes were needed, but you said it's too early to tell. I was also wondering what we are doing to make it a reality. Obviously, you've given us some good suggestions with respect to that.

You said there's still not enough data, and obviously we have a shortage of research. Is there any research going on at this point that you know of within the RCMP, for instance, or any other institution with respect to the data you know is needed but is not yet available? If not, who do you think should be, at this point, doing that kind of research? Where should the government direct its attention and resources, its funding, to make that happen?

October 3rd, 2006 / 11:20 a.m.
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Yvon Dandurand Senior Associate, International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy, University of British Columbia

Thank you, Madam Chair, and thank you for this opportunity to appear before the committee today.

As you mentioned, I am affiliated with the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy in Vancouver, which is a United Nations-affiliated research institute, as well as with the University College of the Fraser Valley.

My colleagues and I, over the last four or five years, have had all kinds of opportunities to work on the issue of human trafficking and have studied the problem. We were involved initially, more than five years ago, in the discussions that led to the adoption of the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and the protocols thereto, of course, as observers and as part of a committee of experts. We were also involved in designing and developing legislative guides for member states on how to implement these international instruments with the support of the Government of Canada. We were involved in developing a tool kit for member states on how to implement the protocol on trafficking in persons, and also developing handbooks for law enforcement officers, both in Canada and in other countries. We have worked locally and nationally with our colleagues from the RCMP and other police forces. We also work internationally, again on human trafficking, with colleagues from Central America and with UNICEF in Vietnam and in Myanmar. So we have gathered a fairly good appreciation of the complexity of the problem and would like to volunteer some comments today on how much progress we have made in Canada and what's still ahead of us in terms of actions to counter the problem.

As Sergeant Lowe has already mentioned, we don't have really good information in Canada, or systematic information, on the extent of the problem. In fact, I understand this is the first hearing of this committee on the issue of human trafficking. There's no doubt in my mind that during the course of your work you will hear different views on how important the problem is and how it presents itself in Canada. This disagreement on the nature of the problem and the extent to which it afflicts us in Canada is partly due still, in spite of the new legal definitions of the problem, to disagreements or different views about what constitutes a problem. It's also due to the fact that this is not an easy problem to study, because obviously all of that crime occurs in a clandestine fashion and is obviously difficult to measure. Organized crime does not publish annual reports, so it's quite difficult to get a good sense of what it is.

On the other hand, in the last five to ten years, basically around the globe people have paid more attention to the issue, and we're getting a little wiser about how the problem presents itself and what works and what doesn't work. I think it would be fair to say that the international community is still trying to identify some of the best practices, but we know a lot more today about the problem and how best to respond to it than we did, say, ten years ago.

One of the issues that you will probably notice is that in Canada there are still very few official cases of human trafficking--only a handful. By “official”, I mean cases that have come to the attention of law enforcement and have been treated or recognized as cases of human trafficking. Once you notice this, you have to wonder what's really happening. Are we really the only country in which there is very little human trafficking? Is it true that there aren't many cases out there, or is the problem merely one where a lot of victims in Canada still do not find it safe to come forward and ask for assistance?

In Canada we don't yet have a good way of keeping track of cases. I know our colleagues from the RCMP have worked on developing databases, including intelligence databases, that allow them to keep track of the information that comes to their attention, either in the form of complaints or in the form of intelligence. Still, there are many issues in Canada about studying the problem and figuring out how it presents itself. For instance, there are very few, if any, official cases of trafficking in children in Canada. Are we supposed to believe we'd be the only western country with no incidents of child trafficking? That would be very surprising.

We need to deal with the issue differently and be more vigilant. Obviously this is not a case that comes to the attention of the police spontaneously. It is an area where proactive law enforcement is really important, and that is why the work described earlier by Sergeant Lowe is so important, not only at the level of the RCMP but at the level of all police forces in Canada, and I'll come back to this in a minute.

I've suggested to you so far that we're not as effective as we should be when it comes to fighting human trafficking in Canada, and that's not an indictment of Canada. We are more or less where other countries are. The reasons why we tend to fail to respond as well as we could are many, and I'll list a few here for you, mostly because you will encounter them again in your work and in your deliberations.

The first reason why we're not always as good as we could be in fighting human trafficking is that there is still disagreement about what trafficking is, and that's why it's important to do a lot of public education and public awareness activity, so we develop a common language, a common understanding of what the problem is, and distinguish it from other very important problems such as sexual exploitation of sex trade workers and others, which may or may not involve human trafficking. It's important that we collectively gain some clarity about those different problems and the best ways to deal with them.

Another reason why we're not as good as we could be is that we still have limited knowledge of how human trafficking presents itself in Canada, and that leads us to think we need to do more systematic investigation. Researchers need to work in cooperation with law enforcement and others, NGOs, and people who have first-hand knowledge of the issues so we get a better understanding.

The other reason we have trouble is that the phenomenon evolves rapidly. The modes of operation of human traffickers change constantly. They try to avoid detection. They find different ways. So when you turn the spotlights in one direction, they go somewhere else. There's a lot of what criminologists would call crime displacement. They use different methods. They go to different places. They use different routes. And therefore whatever you think you know about human trafficking is only true of human trafficking last week or last year, because right now they're proceeding in a different way.

That means we have to be a little more efficient at sharing information, particularly among law enforcement agencies, but not just among law enforcement agencies. I'll get back to this, but clearly this is an area where law enforcement needs to work very closely with community groups, with people who work with new immigrants, with people who work with various ethnic communities in Canada, and so on.

Another reason why we are not as good as we could be is that we have a hard time measuring the success of our efforts. So when you don't know whether what you're doing is producing results, it's quite hard to perfect your methods, and again it comes back to getting good information about what we're doing.

There's also another reason: there are still many obstacles to international cooperation. I'm not going to go into many details about this. I would be quite happy to provide more information to the committee if it wishes, but given that the crime frequently occurs across borders, preventing it and controlling it and prosecuting it presupposes very good cooperation among law enforcement agencies and legal authorities in both countries, and that is still fraught with all kinds of difficulties. We have made great progress not only in Canada but internationally with the Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, to which Canada is a party. This certainly resolves a lot of those issues, but we're still very much at the beginning of this era of international cooperation. International cooperation comes at a risk, as I think all of us have discovered recently, so international cooperation is an area where we need to focus a little bit more of our efforts in future.

And finally I would say one of the reasons why we don't always succeed is that we have not always examined the assumptions we're prepared to make about human trafficking, what it is, who is involved, who the victims are, what they look like, where they come from, and all those other things.

There is a lot of mythology around this, including mythology about what organized crime is. When we think about organized crime, we think about The Godfather or a whole bunch of other stereotypical images, but in practice, organized crime, particularly as it refers to this type of human trafficking and other forms of trafficking, is a very different kind of animal. It looks more like networking; it is very loose associations of different groups across borders. We have to revise our assumptions about what organized crime is like in order to be effective at fighting this kind of organized crime.

Collectively, I would say, we are getting a lot wiser about how to best respond to the problem. Sergeant Lowe earlier talked about the importance of protection. In the federal government a lot of reference has been made to the three p's: prevention, protection, prosecution. Sometimes that could be misleading and sometimes it can help us organize ourselves, but we should never lose sight of the ultimate, paramount importance of protecting victims, because prevention, prosecution, and everything else depends upon how well we protect victims.

We've learned, for instance, that protection of victims must be paramount and must be placed at the centre of the preoccupations of all those responding to the problem. We also know that law enforcement cannot act alone and must reach out to a broad network of victim assistance and other service providers in order to offer that protection to victims.

Many of those agencies are part of civil society. Some of them don't have a long history of working with law enforcement and some of them are distrustful of working with law enforcement; therefore, we are at the stage where a lot of law enforcement agencies need to develop different kinds of networks and relationships with service providers when it comes to this particular group of victims.

I'm happy to say that the RCMP has provided leadership in that respect in Canada. In my region, where I come from in British Columbia, clearly the RCMP has not worked alone. It has brought together all community groups and has made advances in developing cooperation protocols, inter-agency protocols, and so on. That has been useful, but more of it needs to happen. And it's not an RCMP problem; there are a whole lot of other people in Canada who need to be mobilized to do their part in responding to the problem.

I'd like to say a few words, briefly, about Bill C-49. It is very important, and I'm sure you will receive a proper briefing, if necessary, on what Bill C-49 did and how it criminalized human trafficking and introduced other offences. My only regret is that Bill C-49 was not adopted earlier. There is a difference between criminalizing the behaviour as part of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and criminalizing the behaviour as part of the Criminal Code. One of the main differences, of course, is that once it becomes a Criminal Code offence, it entails all kinds of responsibility for municipal police forces and regular law enforcement agencies.

The problem with the previous way of criminalizing it, through the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, was that it put the emphasis on people crossing borders. Of course, that is oftentimes part of the crime, but it creates a reflex of looking for those victims and looking for those crimes at the border. We think it's a border issue and that we need to put more people at the border.

In fact, research everywhere shows us that's the least likely place to identify victims of human trafficking. When they go across borders, most of them are being conned into believing they're being smuggled and that they're going to a brighter future and all of that. In that sense, they almost look like accomplices. They will cooperate with the smugglers and the traffickers, because they don't know yet that they are victims of crime. So the worst place to try to get victims of crime, or to intercept them, is at the border.

Where will you find them? You'll find them in your community, you'll find them in massage parlours, you'll find them on farms—you'll find them in all of those places. Who gets to those places? It is the regular beat police officer, who will bump into those cases more or less by coincidence or by accident. So it's very important that all of the police forces be mobilized to work together and to work with agencies in their own communities to deal with all of this.

So Bill C-49 was a very welcome change and very important legislation. You will probably hear people who think it should have been different, gone further, all of those other things. My own view on this is that it is too early to tell. It's a very good piece of legislation. We should have a look at how it works and what kinds of results it produces, but probably you will hear other witnesses who have different views.

Another very significant thing has happened to address a situation that was very problematic in terms of protecting victims of human trafficking, particularly those coming from other countries. There was no proper mechanism for allowing victims to stay in Canada for a period of time, so the introduction by Citizenship and Immigration Canada of temporary residence permits is another major step in the right direction.

Now there are still issues about how to apply it and when it applies, and there are still ambivalences I think to be conquered in terms of the relationship between people who work with victims and illegal immigrants and others, and law enforcement. I'm sure they'll work it out. This is a sort of new measure, but it's a step in the right direction. The committee probably should ensure that this process is monitored carefully and that we learn about how it's implemented and whether it can be improved in the next several months or years.

I'm not going to say a lot, but you will hear a lot about the difficulty in identifying victims of crime. That is really a very difficult issue always for everyone involved. Victims of crime do not necessarily come forward. They do not necessarily know early in the stage in the process of trafficking that they are victims, so how would they know to report it? Once they know they are being victimized, there are all kinds of reasons why they cannot. They are intimidated. They are victims of violence. They are afraid. They don't trust police officers. Sometimes they come from other countries where police officers are not to be trusted. So there are all kinds of reasons why that happens, and this is why it is so important to focus on that aspect. We have to work together and give ourselves good mechanisms, good means, to encourage victims to come forward and let them know that it is safe for them to do so.

I'm going to conclude here, Madam Chair, by identifying seven areas generally that I think still deserve attention in Canada and where probably your work will lead you to make some recommendations.

One is victim support services. They are currently insufficient in Canada, particularly when it comes to victims of human trafficking, and not everyone understands yet that regular victim services are not always adequate for victims of human trafficking, or victims who come from other countries, or victims of organized crime in general. It's one thing to help someone who was robbed yesterday on the street. It's quite another thing to try to help someone who has been in the clutches of a major dangerous organized crime group.

I'm not saying we need a whole set of new victim services, but we need to assist existing services in developing a capacity to assist those victims. Again, we haven't had that many cases, at least official cases, so most of those agencies are still in a learning mode and most of them would probably be telling you that they don't have sufficient resources to do a good job at this and that they need to train their volunteers, they need to train their staff, and so on. So that's one area.

Another one is support for the role of organizations that work with victims in general.

Another one is that I am not certain that Bill C-49 is being implemented as systematically and as thoroughly as it should be. I'm referring mostly in particular to training of various officials. I'm talking about public information and legal education and so on. There might be more measures that I'm not aware of, but certainly from where I'm sitting, I haven't seen a systematic approach to implementing Bill C-49, and that is required.

I would also say that another major priority is developing local strategies, because that problem is really going to be countered by good cooperation and effective relationships between agencies at the local level. There are some examples of that. I mentioned the example of British Columbia. I know that in Ottawa, also, there are some initiatives, and there are several others. That needs to happen in every community around the country, and that probably needs support, which brings me, of course, to the next part. There is a lack of resources everywhere in terms of putting those measures into place, and they will require support. These things will not happen on their own.

When you're talking about support, assistance, and administration of justice, you're also talking about provincial responsibilities. Therefore, there needs to be good, tight coordination between the federal and provincial governments and a clear road map on how they're going to work together to address this problem.

I have two more points.

International cooperation will require constant attention and more investment on our part in order to succeed. You cannot think of it broadly and try to cooperate with 197 countries, so one will have to be strategic. We do know which countries are more problematic and which ones we need to work with more closely. Therefore, this also will require attention.

On data, I mentioned several times in my comments here that we don't have information. What we need is a strategy to collect information, not just police information, but including police information, so that we all get a better sense of what we're dealing with.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Opposition Motion--Status of WomenBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2006 / 10:05 a.m.
See context


Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me today to rise to support this motion.

The motion deals with an issue that is extremely important to all Canadians: equality for women.

Budget cuts affect us all, but mostly the very vulnerable in our country.

The Treasury Board president defends his government's cuts by referring to the cuts to social programs made by the Liberal government 10 years ago. However, we cut spending in a successful effort to deal with a $42 billion deficit resulting from the fiscal mismanagement of the previous Conservative government. The Conservatives had reduced Canada to what the brokers on Wall Street described as a third world economy.

Today's cuts are being made despite the fact that we have a $13.2 billion surplus, thanks to the prudent fiscal management of the recent Liberal government.

We are heading down the meanspirited path of Mike Harris in Ontario. Two former Mike Harris hatchet men are leading the charge in their new federal roles as finance minister and Treasury Board president.

Soon there will be no funding and no services, and it will take a generation to fix. The most vulnerable groups are affected first, including women.

It is all in the cuts. The list includes: $5 million from status of women; $45 million from housing, we were fighting for housing just two minutes ago and here we are now cutting; volunteerism, now the government is punishing volunteers; youth international internship programs; youth employment; literacy; court challenges program; and important support programs for the most vulnerable in our society. The government is hammering women, aboriginals and youth. This is totally unacceptable.

It is targeting equality seeking groups because this government believes that they are a threat to its voter base.

A government with only 125 seats out of 308 in this House has absolutely no mandate to make such major changes to the social fabric of Canada.

Let us not forget that this Prime Minister, during the recent election campaign, signed a commitment to “ensure that Canada fully upholds its equality commitments to women”.

How do we square that with the Draconian cuts to women's programs that this government has just made?

I have news for the folks across the aisle. The government must address the needs of all Canadians not just its favourite ones.

Our democratic system has to support the fight for equality rights for all citizens, including: minority language groups, immigrant groups, religious groups, disability groups, same-sex rights groups, and women's groups. They all need the resources to ensure their arguments are heard when their rights are trampled on.

We are approaching the 25th anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It should be a cause for celebration. Instead, this government dishonours that by shutting out equality seeking groups. Women were only included in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, and that was only after they marched on Ottawa to demand recognition.

The court challenges program established under the Liberal government was meant to implement this kind of thing. That program was dismantled by the Brian Mulroney Conservatives. It was then reinstated by the former Liberal government. Now, this Conservative government has chopped this program yet again.

What does the court challenges program really do? It seems to me that people think it is a waste of time fighting for people's rights. Let me give some examples.

One example is ESL for immigrant women. In the late eighties the policy of the government was that immigrant women should not receive subsidized English language training because they were not deemed to be going to work, whether they did or not, it did not matter. They did not need English language training. Only men could get training.

It was as a result of a court challenge, which I personally, by the way, was involved with, that women were able to get that turned around.

I have here another charter challenge. The Canada pension plan was extended to include on reserve workers after a status Indian, employed on reserve for many years, was excluded from CPP simply for working on reserve, funded by a court challenges program. This was another aboriginal woman again.

The other example is the rape shield. We all know the famous decision on that one, the protection of therapeutic and confidential files of sexual assault survivors in the context of criminal proceedings. These are only but a very few examples. I have many others if the members opposite are interested. The elimination of the court challenges program is just the beginning of the Conservative plan to cut the legs out from under all equality seeking groups.

The cuts that have just been announced are yet another example of the government's lack of compassion for ordinary Canadians. Women have many roles in today's Canada and face many problems of discrimination and violence. The government has to be there to protect. It has to be there for the people of Canada. Instead, the government guts the funding to equality seeking groups that help raise awareness and fight discrimination.

We are saddled with a minister who will not rule out the possibility that Status of Women Canada might wind up on the Conservative chopping block. Does the minister not see the important role this agency serves in promoting gender equality and the full participation of women in the economic, social, cultural and political life of Canada? If, as she has shown so far, she is not prepared to fight for Canadian women, she should resign today.

My colleagues were taken aback, as I was, to hear the minister say:

Our government is not a government that just keeps institutions alive in any of its areas...just for the sake of keeping an institution alive.

What planet is she living on? Maybe it is Pluto. Her attitude is offensive to all Canadian women struggling for decent affordable housing, a decent income and retirement years free from poverty. The minister has no heart in this case and no clout.

The minister says that money spent on women's programs can be farmed out to other departments. The other solution is to hide the problem. By mainstreaming responsibilities, she will be ensuring that no one is responsible for guaranteeing women's equality rights, rights guaranteed to them under the Constitution. When nobody is responsible, there is no accountability.

Without a full department under a real minister, the rights of women under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms will be non-existent. That is what the Status of Women Canada is, which is why it is so important that it be preserved and supported as a lead agency for all government departments in the ongoing quest for equality for the women of Canada.

The knowledge and experience that it has gained in such areas as pay equity, gender based analysis, just name it, must not be sacrificed on the altar of the REAL Women ideology. Canadian women are still marginalized within key political, social and legal institutions. These are still the realities of today. They must have a strong and independent women's movement to promote recommendations in support of women's rights. We must have that to support equality before the law, an adequate standard of living, to fight for meaningful employment and access to justice.

The government must demonstrate leadership and vision on women's equality on all those issues and many more and it must increase the women's budget and make it sustainable, not cut it.

The government must ensure that core funding is available to sustain day to day operations of women's groups. This is what is demanded and this is what is necessary. Instead of this, the President of the Treasury Board says that the government is cutting fat. For the Conservatives, parental leave is fat, affordable housing is fat and women's health is fat.

As we all know, we established the National Centers of Excellence in Women's Health all cross Canada, which was never done before and did not exist. I guess the present government considers the research centres of excellence to be fat. I guess the ESL for immigrant women that I mentioned earlier, which, under a charter challenge, were given the right to access programs, is fat.

The Prime Minister says that Canadian men and women of the armed services coming home in coffins is the price we must pay for bringing freedom and equality to Afghani women. Meanwhile, his government is slashing spending on hundreds of programs upon which Canadian women depend for an improved quality of life. He is prepared to leave them voiceless.

Does anyone follow the logic of committing military force to protect the rights of Afghani women while, at the same time, slashing spending on programs designed to promote and protect the rights of Canadian women? I certainly cannot.

We need to further strengthen women's rights to equality and security of the person, not weaken them as the minority Conservative government is doing. The Conservatives are simply caving in to the pressure of right wing radical groups, such as REAL Women, that believe a woman's place is in the home, barefoot in the kitchen.

Women's groups still have a long battle ahead to achieve equality in this country. We are not there. The fight is a huge one. Women in this country were well on their way until the present minority government came along and removed equality from the national agenda altogether.

Liberal governments, on the other hand, are known for their commitment to women's equality. Building on the Liberal achievements from 1993 to 1994, the former Liberal government continued to take action. The following are only some of the things it achieved: first, Parliament established the Standing Committee on the Status of Women in September 2004, which the Conservative government tried to eliminate at the beginning of this Parliament.

In October 2005, an expert panel was created to provide advice and options to strengthen accountability mechanisms to advance gender based analysis and gender equality issues.

In 2000, parental benefits were extended to one year. National Centers of Excellence in Women's Health and the Institute for Gender and Health were created to work on health policy issues unique to women.

Thirty-two million dollars were committed on an annual basis to the national crime prevention initiative and $7 million were committed to the family violence initiative. Of that money, $1 million over four years is being provided to address violence against aboriginal women.

In the fall of 2005, trafficking in persons was added as an offence to the Immigration and Refugee Act, Bill C-49.

In response to the sisters in spirit proposal, the Liberal government provided $5 million over five years to the Native Women's Association of Canada. These funds support NWAC's work with other aboriginal women's organizations and the federal government on activities aimed at ending violence against aboriginal women.

To help make post-secondary education more affordable for lower and middle income Canadians, $2.1 billion over five years were committed to improving student financial assistance. There were $1.3 billion over five years committed to improving settlement and integration services for new immigrants to Canada.

Budget 2005 ensured that senior women would benefit from a $2.7 billion increase over two years to the guaranteed income supplement and a $15 million increase to the new horizons for seniors program.

Despite the progress that we have made, women still only make 71¢ for every dollar a male earns in Canada. The government, in conjunction with women's organizations, must deal with the growing problem of women's economic security.

The National Council on Welfare research shows that women, especially lone parents, stay in poverty longer than others. Poverty costs all Canadians in many ways: increased health care costs, social disintegration and associated crime, untapped potential and labour market activities.

Women are still disadvantaged by the employment insurance program. The program was supposed to be reviewed to assess the inequities for women. Still today, women are less likely to qualify and less likely to get full benefits. Part time workers, mostly women, are excluded. Maternity and parental benefits are least accessible to those mothers who need it the most.

Senior women and caregivers are among those most severely at risk of poverty. The old age security and the GIS benefits are below the poverty line and do not factor in actual costs of living, such as rent in Toronto.

EI must be reformed. Hours needed to qualify must be reduced. Self-employed women must be able to contribute and qualify for maternity and parental benefits.

CPP is very important for senior women as well. This is another part that is based on employment but could be interrupted because of violence, child rearing and caregiving. This affects women in a totally different way than it affects men. Taking time out is something that affects women.

The poverty level of seniors is increasing. Unpaid work for women is a major cause of poverty, as I mentioned earlier, because of having to take time out. Caregivers of today are the poor seniors of tomorrow. Women making 71¢ for every dollar made by men is not acceptable. That has to change.

The way we structure the CPP has to change to allow women to deal with taking time out for caregiving, as we do when we have children, because, quite frankly, they are the backbone of our nation. They are holding up the nation right now and are saving us billions of dollars in caregiving. However, because they are pitching in they will pay the price when they are seniors and that is not acceptable.

Increased education levels for women have not changed and this is appalling.

The report from the Standing Committee on the Status of Women clearly shows that the current system does not work.

We need new pay equity legislation. The Liberal Party committed to introducing this legislation in the House but the Conservative government's response to the standing committee, which basically says that it will not introduce pay equity legislation, is further proof that the present government is dead set against equality for women. It has chosen to keep in place an archaic system that has not worked for the last 30 years and has refused to introduce pay equity legislation that would give women some semblance of income security. It is quite obvious that the government does not intend to respect and promote women's human rights. That is yet another clear reason why it is so important to ensure the ongoing federal funding for advocacy groups that defend women's rights.

The government's response to gender based analysis is that it will make sure it is adhered to but it is not prepared to put in place a process or legislation to ensure its use by every department, especially the Department of Finance and other departments that have traditionally resisted integrating gender based analysis of all programs into their systems, which would address the issues of inequalities. This could be identified up front before policies are made and before they impact on women in a negative manner. This is another area that the government completely refuses to act on. We are supposed to trust it on everything but it will eventually get rid of the Status of Women. It seems that it is on the chopping block and that will completely obliterate women's rights.

With respect to pay equity, it is absolutely unacceptable that pay equity is not part of the government's program. When we were in government, we committed to bringing in legislation because the departments were not prepared to function. The only place where we were successful was at CIDA and maybe one other ministry. We actually led the way in training the World Bank with respect to gender based analysis because we had the expertise in the Status of Women Canada department. However, we are not able to use that expertise in our own departments because there is no will to force it. We were prepared to push that with legislation but the present government has refused to do that.

I am proud to inform the House that the Conservatives received only 18% of the vote in my riding of Beaches--East York. My voters understood what the Conservatives would do if they ever came into power. These latest budget cuts demonstrate that my constituents were right when they concluded that the Conservatives were most definitely not fit to govern.

First Nations Oil and Gas and Moneys Management ActGovernment Orders

November 3rd, 2005 / 1:35 p.m.
See context


Bernard Cleary Bloc Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak to Bill C-54, the First Nations Oil and Gas and Moneys Management Act. This bill will open up access to the natural resources and the immeasurable wealth of the first nations’ ancestral lands, allowing the money to be used for our aboriginal nations.

The intent of Bill C-54 is to give first nations the opportunity to manage and regulate oil and gas exploration and exploitation, and to receive the moneys that Canada retains for them. This bill was introduced in the House of Commons on June 1, 2005. It allows for the transfer, to the first nations named therein, of the management and control of the oil and gas resources found on their lands and the payment to the first nations of the moneys held in trust for them by the Crown.

The Bloc Québécois supports this bill. Although not perfect, it will give first nations the tools they need to achieve greater self-sufficiency when they have oil and gas resources on their lands. The first nations who opt to take advantage of the services provided for under this bill will be able to participate more actively in their economy and strengthen their autonomy. The first nations' demands for the authority to manage their own affairs are a matter of interest to the Bloc Québécois. Self-management can be achieved only when a nation controls the levers of its own economy.

The Government of Canada must not use Bill C-54 as a way of evading its fiduciary responsibilities towards the first nations. It bears a responsibility to rectify the inequalities between aboriginals and non-aboriginals.

I am very happy to be able to talk about the importance to a first nation of being able to participate in the economic development of its own territory. We know that the ancestors were always in favour of using their lands for their livelihood and their development. The impact on the life of the communities who are fortunate enough to participate in the development will be huge, in both social and economic terms.

The Bloc Québécois recognizes the aboriginal peoples’ right to self-determination, as I noted in Geneva during a study session of the Commission studying the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The role of trustee and the expectations that we should have with regard to the Department of Indian Affairs in the area of economic development will allow us to develop industries drawing on the resources of the territories negotiated.

It is important to remember that the standard of living of aboriginal peoples is much lower than that of non-aboriginals in Canada. The importance of reducing this gap has been noted on many occasions, notably in the throne speech on October 5, 2004.

Many first nations believe that economic development is the key to achieving this goal. However, it is difficult for a first nation that has no control over its lands and resources to achieve this. In her report in November 2003, the Auditor General of Canada pointed out that one of the barriers to economic development resulted from the federal approach to institutional management and development.

This report also stated that “several First Nations consider the department's approach too slow, too short term, and on some occasions, poorly administered”.

A large number of first nations and their organizations have worked diligently toward assuming greater responsibility for their lands and resources. Bill C-49, An Act providing for the ratification and the bringing into effect of the Framework Agreement on First Nations Land Management (First Nations Land Management Act), which received royal assent on June 17, 1999, is a good example of legislation giving participating first nations greater autonomy in the management of their lands. Under that legislation, any first nation may opt out of the land management provisions of the Indian Act and manage its lands using its own land management code. The First Nations Land Management Act, however, does not affect in any way the management of oil and gas resources on first nations lands.

The development of a new financial relationship between the first nations and the Government of Canada has always been the basis for discussions and analyses over the past 20 years or so.

Already in 1983, the Penner report, a report by the House of Commons Special Committee on Indian Self-Government, recommended that the fiscal relationship between the federal government and the first nations be redefined.

In 1996, the final report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples also recommended a full review of the fiscal relationship between the federal government and the first nations. The proposed initiative focused on redefining this relationship within a broader context based on first nations self-government. The Tlicho self-government act that we had the honour of passing in this House is an example of this.

Bill C-54 will change the way oil and gas are developed and it will allow first nations which are self-reliant to develop these resources on their own land. To date, first nations have had to comply with the Indian Oil and Gas Act and its regulations, which has not allowed them to manage these resources directly.

The first nations oil and gas management initiative was launched in February 1995. This pilot project provided for the gradual transfer of management and control of oil and gas resources on the land of five first nations: the Blood tribe of Alberta, the Siksika first nation of Alberta, the White Bear first nation of Saskatchewan, the Horse Lake first nation of Alberta, and the Dene first nation of Alberta.

Only the Blood, the Siksika and the White Bear continue to participate in this initiative. The pilot project was directed by a steering committee composed of representatives of Indian and Northern Affairs, Indian Oil and Gas Canada, the participating first nations, and the Indian Claims Commission.

This project was divided in three phases: co-management, enhanced co-management and management and control by first nations. During the first phase, the administrative duties were shared between the first nations and IOGC, and decisions were made jointly.

In the second phase, IOGC maintained its authority and the first nations received the necessary training to perform IOGC functions. The pilot project is now in its final phase. It needs Bill C-54 to pass in order for the powers to be transferred to those first nations meeting the requirements in the legislation.

Bill C-54 will change the way oil and gas are developed and will allow first nations that are self-reliant to develop these resources on their own land. To date, first nations have had to comply with the Indian Oil and Gas Act and its regulations, which has not allowed them to manage these resources directly.

The first nations oil and gas management initiative was launched in February 1995. This pilot project provided for the gradual transfer of management and control of oil and gas resources.

Bill C-54 would allow first nations, that choose to do so, to be excluded from the application of the Indian Oil and Gas Act and its regulations. This act is currently the legislation governing the exploitation and exploration of the oil and gas resources on reserve land. This legislation does not allow first nations to manage the oil and gas resources on their land directly nor does it allow them to develop an appropriate regulatory framework.

However, Bill C-54 would allow any first nation, if it chooses to do so, to create regulations on oil and gas exploration and preservation, on the spending of moneys derived from the exploitation of these resources, and on the protection of the environment.

As for regulations to protect the environment, those established by first nations will have to at least meet the standards of Quebec or the province in which the aboriginal community is located.

As far as management of their finances are concerned, those first nations choosing to come under this new legislative framework will come under different rules as far as “Indian moneys” are concerned. These are currently defined in the Indian Act as all moneys collected, received or held by the federal government for the use and benefit of Indians or bands. For these first nations, the provisions of the Indian Act will no longer apply. They will therefore be able to directly administer the amounts collected rather than letting them be administered by the federal government. As a result, they will be able to make their own choices for investment in their communities instead of letting the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development dictate priorities to them. Auditor General Sheila Fraser pointed out in her 2004 report that this department is not doing a good job of administering the billions of dollars intended for the aboriginal communities.

If a first nation does not feel it would be advantageous to come under the new legislative regime, the current standards will continue to apply to it, so it will continue to benefit from the provisions of the Indian Act, including those that apply to the administration of Indian moneys.

Lastly, we wish to point out that the Bloc Québécois has endorsed the core recommendations of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. The commission set forth an approach to the concept of self-government based on recognition of aboriginal governments as a level of government with jurisdiction over issues concerned with good governance and the well-being of their people.

Furthermore, the entire report is based on recognition of the aboriginal peoples as self-governing nations occupying a unique place in Canada.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 25th, 2005 / 12:45 p.m.
See context


Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not know how many more speakers there will be on the bill but I am certainly pleased to add a few comments of my own before it moves on through the legislative process.

As has already been pointed out, the bill is an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Cultural Property Export and Import Act. The summary of the bill that is distributed says, among other things, and act to amend the Criminal Code to prohibit certain offences, including theft, robbery, mischief and arson against cultural property protected under the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. These amendments would allow for the prosecution of these offences when committed outside of Canada by Canadians.

The bill would do a number of things that are ancillary to that as well to expand on this country's commitment and, indeed, the world community's commitment to protect cultural works and to protect particularly against offences that take place against them and, in this case, by Canadians.

It is always and it always has been a somewhat tricky business in the world to project one's own set of values, one's own set of laws outside the boundaries of our own country.

, I was reading over the weekend that this is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. One of the outcomes of the Battle of Trafalgar was, according to this article, that it allowed the Royal Navy to project the English common law, the British Admiralty law basically right around the world. After that point it was generally acknowledged that the Royal Navy would not or could not be challenged to any great extent, so with the export of British influence through its navy, also came its laws.

We will see in the decades subsequent to that , instances that are very similar to the ones that we are dealing with in this particular bill. There were individuals who may have been picked up for a crime outside of the country. If they were a British subject, they may have been taken back to Britain to stand trial. Crimes against property could be prosecuted. The laws of the sea were promulgated.

Interestingly enough, one of the byproducts was that many countries, which had no connection to Britain or which were completely outside the British orbit, adopted many of the laws and principles just for the orderly traffic on the sea and for the betterment perhaps of their own causes, that if they adopted certain rules between countries it worked for the better.

For instance, one of the rules was that a country was able to own and control three miles off its territorial boundary. For many countries that had nothing to do with Britain and, indeed, did not have imperial measurements, would use the three mile limit to order the relationships between themselves because it sort of made sense and made for a more workable relationship.

In many ways, what happened in the 1800s was the idea that might was right. Might was not always wrong but if a country were strong enough, it could project its laws around the world. It did not just apply to the laws of the sea. It did not apply even to the English common law. For those who study law in common law jurisdictions, as the province of Ontario is, they will see many instances throughout the world where civil cases arise and end up getting looked after and decided in an English court.

Indeed, there was a doctrine promulgated by the English Court of Appeal at some point which said that the doors to the King's courts were open to the world. If we had a commercial transaction and we were not satisfied with the local jurisdiction, we could, under certain circumstances, have that heard in an English court and get a decision. It seemed to work out well.

However the world is a lot more complicated place than it was in the decades after the Battle of Trafalgar. One of the positive things that has happened in the last century is the development of international protocols that help establish the working relationships between countries and spell out the obligations that individuals have in peace time and in war.

I find the legislation that Canada is signing on to very interesting. As a nation we are committing to saying that Canadians who get involved in the destruction, theft or arson of cultural pieces can be prosecuted and brought back to this country where they can face a Canadian court. That is a good thing and I do not think anyone would disagree with that.

I have only made about two comments on this. A couple of Canadian veterans of World War II made it very clear to me that on a careful reading of the history of World War II, and I think that can be said of all Canada's participation in armed conflicts, I would see that Canadians are not the problem. They said that it was not us who created some of the atrocities and some of the cultural degradation for which there is evidence.

I agreed with those veterans when they said that it was not us who did some of these things. I appreciate that but the laws apply to everyone and mistakes are made by people of all nationalities and all countries. It seems to me that it is a leadership role that Canadians can play by adopting legislation such as this.

The other issue that was raised with me is that war, in and of itself, by definition, is a messy business and damage does take place. The individuals who were familiar with this bill and discussed it with me wanted assurances, and I think we can give those assurances, that we are not talking about the kind of collateral damage that can happen in an armed conflict. There can be destruction of property, and that can include cultural pieces and that is understood, but, in my reading of the bill, that is not what we are getting at.

I think overall this is a step in the right direction. I guess if I had any quarrel with this it would be the quarrel I have with a great deal of Criminal Code legislation, which is that there is no uniformity in the sentencing and the seriousness of an offence.

This bill is a perfect example of a case that I have made a number of times over the years. It says, among other things, that an individual who commits mischief against cultural property, which includes things like destruction, theft, illegal importation, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to a prison term of up to 10 years.

If people want to steal art or destroy art in some other country, the Government of Canada says that they could get up to 10 years. One may ask what the problem is with that. My problem with that is when it is taken in relation to other offences defined by the government, it seems to me that it does not measure up with the seriousness with which I view other offences.

I will give an example. The House, indeed, the Canadian Parliament, is having a look at another bill known as Bill C-49 which is trafficking in persons. I believe that bill is before the Senate. The bill purports to make it a crime to traffic in human beings, to kidnap human beings or to press other human beings into slavery. This of course is a terrible problem. The United Nations estimates that over 700,000, mainly women and children, are trafficked annually around the world into this type of slavery and yet it is a little disappointing to me, although I do support the intent of the bill and bills like this have to go forward.

I would just point out that one of the offences created in that bill says, among other things, that if a person withholds or destroys documents, if a person permits or facilitates the commission of a trafficking offence, the person would be liable to a sentence of five years.

Let me back up for a second to the individual who assists in the importation of a person for the purposes of slavery. A person who destroys documents, who aids and abets this type of crime, is liable for an offence of five years. Do not get me wrong. I abhor any individual who would destroy a work of art, but in terms of the seriousness of these offences, those individuals who are into the importation and the enslavement of individuals are much worse offenders, in my opinion, and the sentences should be apportioned accordingly.

To be fair, it is not easy. I was a parliamentary secretary to the justice minister a little over four years ago. It was a little tricky. I remember trying to make sure, to the extent that I was able to in that role, that the penalties matched the seriousness of other offences within the Criminal Code. Indeed, there were individuals who used to suggest to us that we should start all over again with the Criminal Code, that we should start from square one and take all the offences, update them and make sure that the penalties corresponded with the seriousness.

Other than that reservation, and it is something that I just point out, quite frankly, I think the legislation should proceed. I am pleased to have been given the opportunity to say a few words on it.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 17th, 2005 / 6:25 p.m.
See context

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

It being 6:30, pursuant to order made earlier today, the motion for third reading stage of Bill C-49 is deemed carried.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 17th, 2005 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

Vancouver Centre B.C.


Hedy Fry LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to stand in the House today to support Bill C-49 and to echo some of the strong support from members on all sides of the House for the bill.

In 1997 I attended, on behalf of the Government of Canada, the first World Conference on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Youth in Stockholm, Sweden. What I heard was appalling. It was the place where work began to be formalized for dealing in the trafficking in women and children. Since then, it has become a cause for me. It is something about which I feel passionate. I have worked closely with my colleagues over the years to bring us to the point where we have now many policies and pieces of legislation. We are working internationally with the United Nations and other countries to deal with trafficking.

For me the bill is one more piece in that armamentarium of all the tools that we can use to deal with trafficking.

The United States Department of State in its 2004 annual report stated that 600,000 to 800,000 persons are trafficked around the world each year; 47% of those are women and 50% are children. We do not have to be a mathematician to know that that makes up 97% of the total people being trafficked around the world.

UNICEF estimates that about 2.1 million children are trafficked each year and that it is worth $10 billion to organized crime.

Trafficking in human beings is not something is new. It is as old as time. Those of us who have read history know about slavery in ancient Rome. We also know about the 60 million Africans who were trafficked as slaves during the colonial era. We know that trafficking has been with us for a long time. It does not make it acceptable however.

Yet today trafficking is carried out in a very different series of ways than we used to read about in history. The new realities of different types of trafficking is reflected in this bill which is very important. We have to use new tools to deal with modern day problems.

The reality today is that victims can be trafficked through many different means: by being kidnapped, by being lured, by being given false promises of legitimate jobs or by being given false promises of all kinds of opportunity to people who are desperate and wanting to find some way out of the hopelessness of their lives.

The bill also reflects the reality that persons can be trafficked for different purposes: for being forced into the sex trade, for being forced into some form of labour whether it be in sweat shops or otherwise, or horrendously to have to donate a human organ or human tissue as part of what they are trafficked to do.

The bill reflects a reality that no one can ever validly consent to this kind of dehumanization.

At the same time Bill C-49 reflects the reality that human trafficking can involve global dimensions and local dimensions. Trafficking can occur within one country either from rural to urban, urban to rural areas or region to region. We know that it goes on in Canada.

Ultimately it does not really matter what form of conduct it involves or to what purpose the trafficking occurs. Bill C-49 has proposed a package of criminal law reforms that will deal with many of those new ways of trafficking.

This is tough legislation. I know some people do not think it is tough enough, but it is. It is tough enough hopefully to prevent trafficking. It is tough enough to protect the vulnerable victims. It is tough enough to prosecute offenders whether local or international and to make them fully and completely accountable.

However, that is not all. Bill C-49 is only one part of an array of tools, policies and legislation to protect the vulnerable in our society which is a priority for our government. For instance it links with Bill C-2 which was passed in July of this year and it builds on, IRPA, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, to protect persons who may be trafficked as refugees. It builds on our existing Criminal Code protections against behaviours associated with trafficking, by creating three new indictable offences.

The first, trafficking in persons, is a specific prohibition against any person engaged in the exploitation of a person or facilitating the exploitation of a person. This new proposal identifies the acts in question such as recruiting, transporting, transferring, receiving, holding, concealing or harbouring a person, exercising control, and direction or influence over the movements of another person. That is a pretty broad definition. That includes all of the many different players. It does not only include the person who started the movement from country A but it could also be the person who played a role somewhere along the chain of events. They too would be indicted under this bill.

This legislation expands the definition of our criminal law responses. For example, the Criminal Code offence against kidnapping is also expanded in this particular bill. With this new offence, it is proposed that the maximum penalty for any of the trafficking to be life imprisonment if it involves the kidnapping, aggravated assault or aggravated sexual assault or death of the victim, and 14 years imprisonment in other cases.

These maximum sentences send a strong message that this government denounces and deters this kind of criminal conduct. If it were to pass with the agreement of other members of the House, it would send a strong message that the Parliament of Canada denounces and deters this kind of criminal conduct.

The second part of the bill that I like is the proposal to create another indictable offence specifically targeting those who seek to profit from human trafficking and from the exploitation of others, even if they do not engage in the physical acts set out in the main trafficking in persons section. It would specifically prohibit any person from receiving a financial or other material benefit when they know that it results from the commission of the trafficking of another person. That offence would carry a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

The third part of the bill also sends a strong message. This legislation would create another new offence to prohibit anyone from concealing, removing, withholding or destroying another person's travel documents or identification.