Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
We are now dealing with clause 207, which also talks about the issue of instructions, so I'll speak to that more broadly. We do have, as I indicated, a great number of problems with that. The instructions, as to what's going to happen here and the scheme that's established using these instructions...it makes it very difficult for the public to examine it and to understand what's going on.
The Canadian Bar Association said they wrote the ministry looking for an example of the proposed instructions, or the kind of criteria that would be used to instruct officers. They received no example in response, and they were very concerned about that.
Again, they said what I said earlier. The focus should be on ensuring that working conditions for newcomers in Canada are appropriate, safe, and non-exploitative, and ensuring that the criminal laws are strictly enforced against those who exploit vulnerable people.
We're talking here about the exploitation of women, perhaps in keeping with some of the other concerns about women being exploited for sexual purposes. But again, there were expert witnesses, people who provided testimony on previous occasions. For example, at the Citizenship and Immigration Committee on January 30, 2008, Professor Leslie Ann Jeffrey of the University of New Brunswick stated as follows:
It is very problematic that Canada would choose to address the issue of potential exploitation of migrant labourers by attempting to stop their legal migration rather than addressing the conditions of work. Trafficking most often occurs in precarious forms of labour that are unprotected by labour laws, government oversight, and union organization.
The fact that they're working in vulnerable sectors is what gives rise to the concern here, and the response.... Instead of depriving these migrant workers of an opportunity to work in Canada—they may be in vulnerable sectors, but they're also sectors where it's very difficult to get Canadian workers. That's why they're given work permits in the first place, because these workers are necessary to the economy or to the enterprise that is looking for them, and because they wouldn't qualify if Canadian workers could be found to fill those jobs. It is an opportunity for migrant workers to have the chance to enter Canada for work purposes—and we're talking about legal migration. In order to fix the problems, the focus should be on fixing the labour laws themselves.
There was another concern raised by Ms. Janet Dench, who was the executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees and also testified on the previous iteration of this, Bill C-17. On January 30, 2008, at the same meeting of the Citizenship and Immigration Committee, and she said:
Not only does [this legislation] fail to protect the rights of trafficked persons already here in Canada, but furthermore its approach is condescending and moralistic. It empowers visa officers to decide which women should be kept out of Canada for their own good.
Once again, the concern here was raised by the Canadian Council for Refugees, which, through another witness on the same day, said that the main objective of anti-trafficking legislation must be to protect the human rights of trafficked persons, and that the bill doesn't do that.
There's a whole series of aspects of this bill that we are trying to improve upon by making amendments, some of which have unfortunately been ruled out of order. But the point is that we don't believe that this bill adequately addresses those concerns.
It fails to provide an opportunity for parliamentary oversight of the instructions in order to be able to determine through parliamentary debate—committee or otherwise—what the effect of those instructions could be, and frankly, it fails to be concerned that the application of this particular provision is actually aimed at the objectives that were proposed, and not used for some other reason, as raised in the concerns of the Canadian Bar Association—the unfocused and awfully broad statement of whatever instructions under public policy that the minister might choose to give.
Those are my comments, Mr. Chair.