An Act to amend the Criminal Code (minimum sentence for offences involving trafficking of persons under the age of eighteen years)

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.

This bill was previously introduced in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session.


Joy Smith  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill.


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 include a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of five years for offences involving trafficking of persons under the age of eighteen years.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


Sept. 30, 2009 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
Sept. 30, 2009 Passed That Bill C-268, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (minimum sentence for offences involving trafficking of persons under the age of eighteen years), as amended, be concurred in at report stage.
Sept. 30, 2009 Failed That Bill C-268 be amended by deleting Clause 2.
April 22, 2009 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

March 10th, 2023 / 1:40 p.m.
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Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Madam Speaker, before I begin my speech, I want to commend the hon. parliamentary secretary for giving so much of his speech in French. That takes effort and the results speak for themselves. I want to congratulate him on that.

This bill “amends the Criminal Code to specify what constitutes exploitation for the purpose of establishing whether a person has committed the offence of trafficking in persons.” As my hon. colleague from Saint-Jean said a few sitting days ago, the Bloc Québécois supports the principle of this bill.

It is imperative that we discuss all of the tools that could help authorities combat this scourge, which is getting worse with population movement and the growing number of refugees. This bill also responds to the demands of several human trafficking survivors' groups and would make the definitions of exploitation and human trafficking more consistent with those set out in the Palermo protocol, which Canada signed at the beginning of the millennium.

The bill is very simple but very important. It removes a phrase from the Criminal Code so that an accusation under these provisions must be based on the fact that the victim believes that a refusal on their part would threaten their safety or the safety of someone known to them.

According to the International Justice and Human Rights Clinic at the faculty of law at the University of British Columbia, asking victims to demonstrate that they have reasonable grounds to fear for their safety may be an obstacle to obtaining convictions for human trafficking.

Elements of the offence of human trafficking are more difficult to prove than those of other similar offences. For example, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which prohibits human trafficking, does not require the person involved to prove that they fear for their safety. This standard is no longer appropriate.

Let us look at the chronology of legislation against human trafficking. In 2002, Canada ratified the Palermo protocol, a “protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime”.

Article 3 clearly defines trafficking in persons as follows:

“Trafficking in persons” shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs . . . .

That is the definition.

That is how human trafficking came to be added to the Criminal Code in 2005. The Canadian definition, however, is different from the Palermo Protocol definition in that the issue of consent or the victim's sense of safety is taken into consideration. Thus, the victim must prove that they were in danger if they refused to be exploited.

In human trafficking cases, regardless of whether the victims were initially willing or felt safe, victims should never have to justify the circumstances under which they were lured into the situation in order to prove they were trafficked. Human trafficking is not limited to sexual exploitation, as we have already heard. Traffickers exploit their victims in many ways, including for forced labour. It is important to remember, for example, that even if victims did consent to come to Canada, they did not consent to the forced labour or sexual exploitation to which they may have been subjected afterwards, especially if they end up being dependent on someone because of isolation, lack of resources or language barriers.

Section 118 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, passed in 2002, makes it a criminal offence to “organize the coming into Canada of one or more persons by means of abduction, fraud, deception or use or threat of force or coercion”. Although human trafficking and human smuggling are two different concepts, the act also prohibits human smuggling into Canada.

In 2005, Bill C-49 added three offences related to human trafficking to the Criminal Code, as well as a definition. The offences include trafficking in persons; receiving a financial or other material benefit from the commission or facilitation of trafficking in persons; withholding or destroying a person's identity documents, such as a passport, whether authentic or not, for the purpose of committing or facilitating trafficking in persons; and exploiting another person in the context of trafficking in persons offences.

In 2008-09, the first case involving a charge of human trafficking under the new law was ruled on in adult criminal court.

In fall 2008, a 20-year-old woman went to Peel Regional Police to report that a 22-year-old Ontario man named Vytautas Vilutis was using intimidation and threats to sexually exploit her. She said that she made $10,000 for him in just a few weeks through online Craigslist classified ads. She added that he took her phone calls, set up her “dates” and kept track of her appointments, so he knew how much money she owed him each morning. It was not until he threatened her for not leaving all the cash out for him one morning that she reported him to police. Vytautas Vilutis pleaded guilty in April 2009 to charges of human trafficking and receiving a material benefit from human trafficking.

He was convicted under both provisions and was the first person in Canada to be convicted for benefiting from human trafficking. In 2010, another section was added to the Criminal Code, setting out a mandatory minimum sentence for persons charged with trafficking of persons under 18. That was Bill C‑268.

In 2012, the Criminal Code was amended to allow the prosecution of Canadians and permanent residents for the offence of trafficking in persons committed outside Canada, and added factors that judges may consider when determining whether exploitation occurred. That was Bill C‑310.

In 2015, mandatory minimum sentences were imposed for the main trafficking in persons offence, receiving a material benefit from the proceeds of child trafficking, and withholding or destroying documents to facilitate child trafficking. Bill C‑452 was put forward by my political party.

In 2019, the Hon. Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, released the national strategy to combat human trafficking 2019‑24. With $75 million in funding over 6 years, this strategy followed the Palermo protocol. The national strategy to combat human trafficking 2019‑24 was adapted from the previous five-year plan.

It was adapted due to some deficiencies identified during policy assessment, namely that most of the resources were being allocated to the fight against sexual exploitation whereas forced labour is a growing issue. This is nothing new, but it is being increasingly recognized and discussed.

Bill S-224 is part of a long legislative quest to combat human trafficking, which is extremely important. In closing, I would like to paraphrase author Ralph Champavert and say that the stigma of human trafficking will disappear when the sun of human dignity rises in all hearts.

February 15th, 2022 / 3:50 p.m.
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Joy Smith Founder and President, Joy Smith Foundation Inc.

Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and distinguished members of this committee.

I want to recognize and acknowledge that our offices are located on treaty territory, the original lands of the Anishinabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation.

I am a former member of Parliament. I worked hard during my time as an MP to bring the human trafficking issue to the public radar screen here in Canada. The Joy Smith Foundation was founded in 2011 to combat human trafficking. Since then, I volunteer every single day at my foundation to continue the work to bring awareness about human trafficking in Canada and to help survivors and their families restore their lives.

Last October, we launched the National Human Trafficking Education Centre, the first of its kind in Canada. The centre provides free education for parents, teachers, law enforcement, service providers and others. We have 64 instructor-led modules that are currently being put online so that Canadians can receive much-needed information about how traffickers operate and what they can do to protect themselves from these predators.

We have worked on over 6,000 files of victims and their families, to restore their lives and help the victims reintegrate into the communities and back into their families. Our prevention and intervention programs at the NHTEC will be online for easy access for Canadians as soon as we get the translations completed in French and English and into some indigenous languages.

A five-minute presentation at committee today does not give justice to the complex issue of trafficking in persons and how important Bill C-36 is to the safety of our youth. It was the catalyst that set the groundwork for so many victims of human trafficking to be able to speak out and bring their perpetrators to justice. It helped me, when I was a member of Parliament, to bring the survivors' voice to the public radar screen.

When I was in Parliament, I had two bills passed to combat human trafficking: Bill C-268 and Bill C-310. They are embedded in the Criminal Code of Canada today. I had widespread support from all sides of the House at the time I was passing these bills, and I give credit to the survivors for telling their stories.

Members from all sides of the House supported these bills, and that was critical, because it opened a nationwide conversation about human trafficking and how its victims were suffering. More than that, Canadians, including the survivors themselves, started their own organizations to combat human trafficking.

Bill C-36 must remain, and parliamentarians must do more to protect their constituents from these predators, because the traffickers are in every constituency in our country. Victims of human trafficking are the recipients of horrid abuse and often lose their lives. To legalize prostitution would be a travesty of massive proportions against our most vulnerable populations, our LGBTQ, our immigrants and our youth.

I see it over and over again every single day: the suffering of young victims of human trafficking and what they endure at the hands of human traffickers, traffickers who seek to make copious amounts of money off their victims, as much as $260,000 to $280,000 per victim per year. That is why they do it. Most of the victims enter the sex trade at a very young age, as young as 12 to 14 years, and some even younger.

Before Bill C-36 came on the scene, there was nothing that effectively reduced the demand for the exploitation of underage girls and boys from traffickers, and in criminalizing the johns who create the demand for sexual services, Bill C-36 has helped curtail the human trafficking.

Human traffickers are the third parties who promote and capitalize on the demand for sex by facilitating this practice. They initially pose as benevolent helpers, providers or protectors to those innocent victims, who are lured into the modern-day slave trade. Bill C-36 addresses this issue as one of the objectives that has helped greatly in bringing these perpetrators to justice: It recognized trafficked victims as individuals who are lured and live through the horrid human trafficking experience with horrendous physical and mental traumas on their shoulders.

For the first time in Canadian criminal law, the purchase of sexual services is illegal. This helps in bringing traffickers to justice, because this offence makes prostitution itself an illegal practice, but this is a balanced law, because these adults who choose to sell themselves for sex are protected by law and can do so with no ramifications.

Recently, in Winnipeg, we were able to lobby to shut down the licensing of massage parlours and strip clubs. This is where human traffickers often place their victims.

Thank you so very much for this time today, because I have to say loud and clear, Bill C-36 is very helpful and very successful in doing these kinds of things.

In conclusion, parliamentarians must strive to keep Bill C-36 and do so much more to ensure trafficking in persons is no longer a factor in Canada.


Status of WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

February 16th, 2021 / 10:10 a.m.
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Jag Sahota Conservative Calgary Skyview, AB


That the second report of the Standing Committee on Status of Women presented on Thursday, February 4, 2021, be concurred in.

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Peace River—Westlock.

I am pleased to rise today to voice my support for declaring February 22 as national human trafficking awareness day. Human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, harbouring and/or exercising control, discretion or influence over the movement of a person in order to exploit that person, typically through sexual exploitation or forced labour. It is often described as a modern form of slavery.

Human trafficking is not something Canadians think of often, if at all. When we do, we often think that this horrendous and dehumanizing crime is being committed elsewhere in the world: somewhere that is less fortunate and that lacks effective law enforcement. However, as the Conservative shadow minister for Women and Gender Equality, I have learned from several of my colleagues, including the member for Peace River—Westlock, and from stakeholders and organizations across the country just how vast the human trafficking network is in Canada.

Statistics Canada's 2018 report on human trafficking indicated that 90% of human trafficking in Canada was reported in census metropolitan areas, and that 97% of victims are women and girls with 74% of them being under the age of 25. Of that 74%, 28% were under the age of 18. These numbers are absolutely horrifying and break my heart. These are not just numbers. These numbers represent somebody's daughter, son, grandson, granddaughter, niece or nephew. No one underage, particularly those who are trafficked, has the ability to consent to sexual acts or exploitation.

When I look at my party's record on this issue, I am grateful that we have taken this issue seriously and made significant overhauls to our Criminal Code to address this very serious crime. The member for Haldimand—Norfolk, during her tenure as the minister for Citizenship and Immigration and as minister for Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, introduced several changes to the temporary foreign worker program and the immigration act to prevent situations where temporary workers in Canada, including strippers, might be abused, exploited or possibly become victims of human trafficking.

In 2010 and 2012, former member of Parliament Joy Smith introduced and passed two private member's bills: Bill C-268 , minimum sentence for offences involving trafficking of persons under the age of eighteen years, and Bill C-310, trafficking in persons. Bill C-268 amended the Criminal Code and set mandatory minimums for those who were convicted of trafficking anyone under the age of 18, while Bill C-310 addressed a major loophole in our Criminal Code and made sure that Canadians or permanent residents who went abroad for the purpose of exploiting or trafficking foreign individuals would be brought back to Canada for prosecution.

In 2012, our Conservative government launched a four-year national action plan to combat human trafficking. This included Canada's first integrated law enforcement team dedicated to combatting human trafficking, and increased frontline training to identify and respond to human trafficking, enhanced prevention in vulnerable communities, provided more supports for victims of this crime, both those who are Canadians and foreigners, and strengthened our coordination with domestic and international partners in combatting human trafficking.

Our Conservative government also recognized that the majority of people who are trafficked are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. This is why, when our government had to revisit Canada's law regarding prostitution and pass Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, we put a heavy focus on protecting these victims.

Until this law was passed, those forced into the sex trade were often treated as criminals by the law instead of being treated as the victims. This law was a made-in-Canada approach recognizing that those who sell sexual services are often victims of human trafficking and often underage. We recognized those people as victims of a more heinous crime, and instead of further victimizing the victim, our Conservative government focused on the pimps and the johns. This included those convicted of procuring, recruiting or harbouring another person for the purpose of prostitution, with a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison. If the victim was a child, the penalty carried a mandatory minimum sentence of five years.

We have done a lot to address human trafficking in Canada and stand up for the vulnerable in our society. However, there is still much more work that needs to be done.

Despite all of our hard work as parliamentarians, human trafficking is still a growing crime in Canada and remains very much below the public radar. At the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, one of the facts we have constantly heard from witnesses is the importance of raising awareness to help combat the prevalence of human trafficking. That is why I strongly support declaring a national awareness day. It would give us an opportunity to create an awareness campaign to educate Canadians that this crime happens and happens locally. It would show them the signs of someone who is being or is about to be trafficked and how to report that to the authorities.

The time is now to act on this very important issue. It has been over 16 years since Canada added human trafficking offences to the Criminal Code and 14 years since the House unanimously adopted a motion to condemn all forms of human trafficking and slavery.

The motion also calls for making February 22 the day to be declared national human trafficking awareness day. I believe this is the best and most practical day to use. The Provinces of Ontario and Alberta already use February 22 as the day to bring awareness provincially. Also, the government's own special adviser for combatting human trafficking has said that they would like to see this day declared as the national human trafficking awareness day.

There are several motions from all parties on the Order Paper: Motion No. 45 from the Conservative member for Peace River—Westlock, seconded by the Bloc member for Shefford; Motion No. 59 from the NDP member for Edmonton Strathcona, seconded by the Green member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith; and Motion No. 57 from the Liberal member for Scarborough—Guildwood, seconded by the Green member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith. All of their motions call for the House to condemn all forms of human trafficking and slavery, promote awareness, take steps toward combatting human trafficking and declare February 22 as national human trafficking awareness day.

Human trafficking is one of the most lucrative and quickly growing crimes in Canada. I hope all members of the House will agree with me and join me in declaring February 22 as national human trafficking awareness day.

March 1st, 2018 / 3:25 p.m.
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Joy Smith Founder and President, Joy Smith Foundation Inc.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It's really nice to be back and to see the members around the table studying this very important topic.

As you know, I spent 11 years, four months, and 59 seconds in the House of Commons and passed the two bills, Bill C-268 involving mandatory minimums for traffickers of children 18 years and under, and Bill C-310, whereby the long arm of the Canadian law can reach into other countries when Canadian citizens or residents of Canada go abroad and exploit or traffic, and we can now bring them back to Canada to bring them to trial.

Going through the human trafficking issue in Parliament has been a process, because initially the good citizens of Canada often didn't know what human trafficking was, and that extended, Mr. Chair, right to parliamentarians. There has been a great change since the beginning of that time in people's understanding that there is human trafficking, so we've gone a long way in a very short time.

What brought me to Parliament then was working with the survivors of human trafficking, and I'm very pleased that Diane Redsky is here today. She is the executive director of Ma Mawi and is like a sister to me. She has done amazing work.

I'm so pleased to have Donald Bouchard, who was a trafficker and who now is doing much to combat human trafficking. I am the total skeptic. I never believed he was really sincere, so I had to wait for a very, very long time—many, many years—and I saw the amazing work he was doing and the voice he had to dissuade traffickers from buying and selling kids.

I want to speak first of all to the fact that I read over the blues and I read over all of the other testimony. You had department heads in here, the RCMP and others, as well as the border patrols, talking about the progress we have made. I have to commend the members here for dealing with the issue of human trafficking.

I know that even Rob Nicholson—and I guess you're not Minister Nicholson, but MP Nicholson—at one time was skeptical. I'm writing a book called I Just Didn't Know, because when people find out, they want to do something, like MP Nicholson, like all of you around the table today, because human trafficking is basically the buying and selling of mostly underage girls, as well as some boys, and in some provinces the aboriginal community is highly overrepresented on this issue.

There are many definitions that people are confused about on human trafficking, and there are many I used. There is one I used when I was doing my bills, which was very well known, but I often say that if someone is being bought and sold, that's human trafficking. I think sometimes we get too caught up in the minutiae of definitions and things like that, but really what it's about is human beings.

Many girls have their power and their dignity and everything taken away from them because they are sold to somebody and forced to service men sexually. Girls are very highly represented, no matter what community they come from. The fact of the matter is that now parliamentarians in this House have to understand that we have to take very definitive steps to stop this from happening.

The national action plan reached its limit in March 2017. We need a national action plan to combat human trafficking, because it's not only the laws that are put in: we need safe houses and we need rehabilitation of the victims of human trafficking. We need to help them restore their lives.

We found that very critical. The foundation has put together an education program for grades 8 to 12, and I'm surprised at how many young girls—I've only had two boys, and the rest of them have all been girls—have come up and said, “I think my boyfriend is grooming me.” In the school program they learn how the predators work and they learn how they gain their trust. It's just so insidious and hideous.

It's widely accepted. I think also it's very important that prostitution not be legalized in any way, because it puts more young girls at risk.

Parliamentarians can do specific things. The two that I've just mentioned, Mr. Chair, are extremely important. The national action plan to help rehabilitate the victims of human trafficking and make sure that they get the education and all the things they need to restart their lives is extremely important. As for the safe houses, I know there are places now all across this country where victims of human trafficking can go to be rehabilitated, but there aren't enough.

People call it prostitution, but I don't like to call it prostitution. I don't use that word. A young girl is lured; the trafficker gains her trust by giving her lots of praise and gifts and the vision that she'll get married some day, and then all of a sudden it all changes. They say they have to pay back all these gifts, and it becomes very hideous, very brutal. The kids are very scared. I could tell you a million stories, but I know in eight minutes I don't have time to do that. I'm trying to put a broad brush on the things that I see today in Parliament in 2018 that really need to be addressed.

How much time do I have?

February 15th, 2018 / 3:20 p.m.
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Acting Senior Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Policy Sector, Department of Justice

Matthew Taylor

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I thought it might be helpful to the committee for me to provide information for you on two separate things: first, the legislative history of Canada's criminal laws on human trafficking, and second, some background information on the types of programs that Justice Canada has funded to enhance services for victims of human trafficking.

Canada's first human trafficking specific offence was enacted in 2002 as part of the enactment of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Section 118 prohibits the trafficking of persons into Canada and targets the means used by traffickers, such as force, fraud, abduction, deception, or coercion to bring victims into our country. It should be noted that the enactment of this offence coincided with Canada's implementation of the UN protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, which Canada ratified in May of 2002.

In 2005, Parliament passed Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons), and enacted three specific Criminal Code offences to more comprehensively address human trafficking, specifically, section 279.01 which prohibits all forms of human trafficking, domestic or transnational, and for any exploitative purpose; section 279.02, which prohibits the receipt of a financial or a material benefit knowing that it was derived from human trafficking; and, third, section 279.03, which prohibits the holding of identity documents to facilitate human trafficking.

Since that time, additional criminal law reforms have been passed by Parliament. In 2010, a private member's bill, Bill C-268, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (minimum sentence for offences involving trafficking of persons under the age of eighteen years), was enacted, creating a separate offence of trafficking in children that is punishable by mandatory minimum penalties of imprisonment.

In 2012, two years later, a private member's bill, Bill C-310, was enacted, enabling Canada to assume extraterritorial jurisdiction to prosecute in Canada Canadian citizens or permanent residents who commit human trafficking abroad. It also enacted a provision in subsection 279.04(2) that provides guidance to the courts in helping them to determine whether exploitation has been made out, exploitation being an essential element of the trafficking in persons offence.

In 2014, former Bill C-36 was passed, enacting the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act.This act provided new mandatory minimum penalties for human trafficking involving adult victims and for the financial benefit and documents offences involving child victims.

Most recently, the government has introduced Bill C-38, an act to amend An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons), to bring in force certain amendments that were passed in Parliament in 2015 through a private member's bill, Bill C-452, and also An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons). These provisions would enact an evidentiary presumption to help prosecutors prove an element of the human trafficking offence.

That's a bit of a summary of the changes that have been enacted by Parliament. As you can see, these criminal laws in respect of human trafficking have been the subject of ongoing interest and concern by parliamentarians.

At the same time, Justice Canada has supported their implementation in various ways, including through the provision of regular training to police and prosecutors, in conjunction with the RCMP and other police forces, victim services, and other experts. We've developed a handbook for police and prosecutors and fact sheets on key criminal justice issues for police and prosecutors, such as sentencing submissions, bail proceedings, and things of that nature in a human trafficking context. Justice officials have participated in similar efforts internationally, working closely with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to develop similar technical assistance tools to support implementation around the world.

The department is also supporting improvements to victim services. A copy of initiatives that have been funded since 2012 by the department through the victims fund has been provided to the clerk of the committee, I believe, detailing the specifics of each project. Examples for your information include: enhancing victim services delivery in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec; supporting the development of a resource handbook for indigenous women and girls who were victimized through human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation; and, developing a mental health and addictions program for women and girls who were victims of trafficking.

I'm going to conclude my remarks there. I look forward to any questions.

Members not seeking re-election to the 42nd ParliamentGovernment Orders

June 9th, 2015 / 8:25 p.m.
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Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Chair, it is my pleasure tonight to give my farewell speech here in the beautiful Parliament of Canada. These past 11 years have been a very interesting time here in Canada.

I have to thank first of all my beautiful family. My son Edward actually inspired me to come to Parliament because of his work in the ICE unit, because of his heart for those who could not help themselves, the trafficking victims and the child abuse cases he worked on. As my son, he turned my heart as a mother and subsequently the nation's heart was turned, because in this place I was able to come and represent the survivors of human trafficking. I thank my son Michael, who is a brilliant young man; Janet who is a top supporter of everything that I have done; Natasha, who is absolutely creative and brilliant; Alexandra, of course, who does so much on my foundation and who is truly a wonderfully caring human being; and Jenna. Those are my six children, and there are my grandchildren.

I am eternally grateful to my family for supporting everything I have done since I came to Parliament Hill. Of course, I thank my husband. He has suffered cancer through a large part of my stay here over the 11 years. I thank him for believing in my work and inspiring me to carry on.

Also, I thank my EDA who supported me in everything I have done, especially John Feldsted and Kaz Malkiewicz. John Feldsted was the president of my EDA for three years and continues to do much to further the cause of the political side of what I do.

I thank all the people across the country for their prayers as I did my work to bring laws to this place to combat human trafficking. Those prayers mean a lot because first in my life is my God. He is my strength. Second is my family, and everything else comes underneath that.

There are three people who I have to recognize as well: Brian McConaghy of Ratanak, who is my brother in terms of fighting human trafficking here in Canada and worldwide; Jamie McIntosh, who started International Justice Mission; and Benjamin Perrin, who started The Future Group. It is like the group of three. These people have always been with me through the many years, even before I came to Parliament and certainly during the time that I spent here.

Most of all, I would like to thank the survivors of human trafficking. When I came here I had a vision to stop human trafficking. I had a vision to get laws through to protect the victims of human trafficking. I did put two laws through that made Canadian history, thanks to the grace of God. They are survivors like Timea Nagy, Natasha Falle, Bridget Perrier, Trisha Baptie, just to name a few. They are absolutely amazing young women.

Around this place, to my colleagues in the Conservative caucus and my colleagues across the way, there have been real friendships welded together because of the common good. I believe everyone in the House has the good of the country at heart.

There is a man who sat in our lobby for years, John Holtby. He was such an encouragement to me. He was a brilliant man who cared very deeply about the issues and about my work.

There is a young lady, Kelly Williams, who worked with me, and on me as a matter of fact, when I was chair of the health committee. She did a lot of work around the committees.

Of course, there are the security people, the restaurant people, the pages and all who make Parliament work.

When I stop to look back at why I came here, for me, I came to stop human trafficking in our country. If it was not for the survivors who use their bravery to speak out, if it was not for ministers, like the Minister of Justice, and others, I would never have been able to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish.

When I think about the leaders in this Parliament, I know there have been many who have been very strongly affected by the human trafficking issue here in our country and who stood up in this Parliament to protect the most vulnerable. I thank them for that.

I thank Susan Finlay, my prayer partner. She has been my prayer partner for years, and she has always been with me. In my down times and triumphant times, she was always there.

This Parliament is a place where we change the laws of the land. There are very talented decision makers in this place, and often we do not see the small things that are there. To me, especially, the small things but very important things and people are the people like my staff.

Joel Oosterman, my chief of staff, and his wife Kristy have been with me for a very long time. I love them like family. Marian Jaworski, who runs my constituency office, is just an amazing person. I have to say that those are the people who saw the vision with me and who helped me. Joel is one of the most talented writers I have ever come across. If anyone needs anything, even a kidney, ask Marian. He will find it. He is that kind of staff member. He is just an incredibly honest man who stands above many.

All these people come together for such a time as this, to stop human trafficking here in Canada. God rest her soul, my mother always said that we should leave the world a better place and I hope that, because I have been here, that has occurred.

I have to say that there are many laws we have here, such as Bill C-268, regarding mandatory minimum sentences for traffickers of children age 18 years and under. There is Bill C-310, where we reached the long arm of Canadian law into other countries when Canadian citizens or permanent residents go to traffic or exploit others. We can now bring them back to Canada.

My heart started to really look to leaving this place on December 6, 2014. On that day, we passed Bill C-36, on which I worked with the Minister of Justice. For the first time in Canadian history, the buying of sex is illegal in this country. Now, we are at a point where we can press the button and have a new start. At that point in my career, I knew I had to leave this place.

I knew I had to do something else, so I am working on my foundation, the Joy Smith Foundation. I will continue to do that, I believe, until the end of time. The foundation is going very well. I have had hundreds of lovely letters from around the country from victims who have said thanks and that the foundation has helped them to restart their lives. What could be better than that?

I have a book coming out before Christmas, called I Just Didn't Know. All of the proceeds will be going to my foundation. I really hope the book touches the hearts of Canadians and people across the country who read it, because it has real life stories in it. Brave survivors have agreed to tell their stories, put their pictures in it, and explain how traffickers are able to lure young people.

It is my very great honour to have served and to continue to serve my country in this great place, the Parliament of Canada. It is rare to have the privilege of doing that and it is rare to have met all of the people in my caucus who I call friends and who are astoundingly strong leaders and decision-makers in this country.

I thank God for the opportunity that I had here, and I look forward to rekindling and keeping those friendships along the way as I go on to my other career.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 10:05 a.m.
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Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, as I rise today, I am pleased to say that we are in third reading on Bill C-36, one of the most important bills this country has ever had in this Parliament. I will tell you why. It is because so many innocent victims are being lured into the sex trade under human trafficking. We have numerous cases all across this country.

Last Christmas, Canadians got a Christmas present. While they were busy packaging their presents, while they were busy doing things around the house, getting ready for Christmas preparations, the Supreme Court of Canada deemed all the laws around prostitution unconstitutional.

What happened after that? One wise thing the Supreme Court did was to give the government a year, until December 20 this year, to respond to that proclamation. Having done that, our government has put together Bill C-36. It is the first of its kind that Canada has ever seen. For the first time in Canadian history, those who buy sex will be brought to justice. It will be against the law to do that.

Second, the thing that is so unique about Bill C-36 is that there is help for the victims of human trafficking. Many in this Parliament do not understand human trafficking. They talk about prostitutes, the rights of others to set up shop and control a bunch of women, and young men now, in Canada, control and force them into the sex trade. It is the most devious, under-the-surface kind of crime that people now, finally, are starting to understand.

In this country right now it has been accepted that the buying of sex is just fine, because that is what women do. However, women do not want to service up to 40 men a night. Women do not want to be coerced into the sex trade. Women do not want to give their money to people who beat them if they do not. This is not what women want.

What women want in this country is to be safe. They want to be able to grow up. They want to be able to have a life they can be proud of, and grow and prosper like anybody else.

In this House, I have heard so many speeches, but what I need to tell my colleagues is that Bill C-36 has to be supported. It has to be supported because all of Canada is watching what is going on in this country right now. All of Canada, Canadians all across this country, have sent numerous emails to me, numerous petitions, numerous postcards, and what they have said is that they want their children to be safe. The majority of trafficked victims are underage, and we are finding that now. We know that now.

If members put human trafficking in a Google search, they would see how many human trafficking cases have come to the forefront, from coast to coast to coast across this country.

I have to tell my colleagues in the House what I have done with all those petitions, all those postcards and all those emails. I have categorized them. I know every single part of what is happening in this country, because of all the compilation we have done over 10 years. I know what the people are saying in each of the constituencies across this country.

I am going to be making sure that trafficked victims and their parents are very well aware in every constituency of what all the parliamentarians are saying and doing as far as it relates to Bill C-36.

There is no reason now to do archaic thinking. There is no reason now to say, “I am confused.” Quite frankly, that is a very stupid comment. It does not matter who they are or on what side of the House, right now, in this country, Bill C-36 is a bill that parliamentarians from all sides of the House should embrace.

As I said, for the first time in Canadian history, the buying of sex will be illegal. For the first time in Canadian history, there is significant money being put in to help the victims of human trafficking. For the first time in Canadian history, the advertising of sex, those big ads for fresh Asian girls, any size, any age, anything people want, will be illegal. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that it is not the girls putting that kind of advertisement in the newspaper. It is predators who are making between $260,000 to $280,000 per year, per victim.

In this Parliament, a mom, who members would know but I cannot name right now, came to see me because her 16-year-old daughter was trafficked. When I met her, she was a typical staffer, a typical person, well-dressed, well-educated, well-respected. She sat on my couch in my office with tears rolling down her face when she said, “Why don't the parliamentarians in this country stand up for the victims of human trafficking?”

I have heard some of the speeches in the House. They are all in Hansard and everyone knows what members are saying. Parliamentarians ought to know more than the average citizen about human trafficking. It is the right of every single young person to be safe in this country. I heard a speech the other day by a member who talked about how we are taking away the rights of a person to set up a brothel. Basically what the member said was that it is a woman's right to exploit other women. Meanwhile right in her riding there is a trafficking ring going through to the U.S. It has not hit the papers yet, but it will.

However, I am going to take that speech and I will personally put my feet in that constituency and get the parents and the trafficked victims together and tell them what their MP said and ask them what they think about that.

In Parliament it seems that all of us think that we are wonderful, learned people. We are here for one thing. We are here to serve the people of Canada. We are here to listen to what is going on in our country and everyone here knows about human trafficking. Some members on all sides of the House have really taken up the torch. There are members from the NDP, the Liberals and from our side who have taken up the torch. Unfortunately, many members and leaders have suppressed the voices of members who want to support Bill C-36.

Today is the last time I will have a chance to speak to the bill. Over summer, we came to Parliament to sit on the justice committee and we brought in the most dynamic people, the survivors. I say survivors, not victims, because these victims now have a voice. They have become the survivors and they are listening to everything that is happening in Parliament. Members should choose their words carefully and choose their vote carefully because their voices will go across. The voices of parents, grandparents, victims and organizations that take care of victims, my dear colleagues, are far stronger than anyone else who has a vested interest.

When we hear people saying this is a right to legalize prostitution; it is an industry. Members should shake their heads. It is not an industry and it is not what the elected people in this Parliament of Canada should be professing. They should not do that. If they dare to do it, I promise I am going to make sure I will go to every city, every town, every constituency and I will let their constituents know. They can decide whether they want to elect them to the Parliament of Canada with that kind of attitude.

We have to do something in this Parliament to suppress the human trafficking that is happening across this country.

All we have to do is talk about the victims. All we have to do is talk about what happens to them. Predators come on as the victim's friend to get their confidence and lure them. It can even be a family member. It can be a friend. It can be a woman. It is not just men.

I had one case very recently where a boyfriend said to this young girl, “We'll get married. I love you”. He was her knight in shining armour. What she did not know was that behind the scenes he was part of a little gang that were targeting young girls, getting their confidence, taking away all their support systems through their families, their schools, their churches, all their supports, my beloved colleagues, and he sold her. She serviced up to 40 men a night before we got her out of that ring.

This is something we cannot be silent about. This kind of crime has been below the radar screen for so many years here in Canada. Everybody talks about every other country but Canada. In Canada, predators are making between $250,000 to $280,000 a year off their victims. That is tax-free money. That is why they do it. Mostly, it is because they follow the cash.

Unfortunately, in this country, we have had films like Pretty Woman. We have had films glorifying prostitution. It is not prostitution; it is human trafficking. This is where people do not have a choice, where they are being targeted and are mostly underage victims. What happens is that these victims just give up after a while. They get post-traumatic stress. They sort of look to their predators because that is where they get their one meal a day. That is where they have some semblance of security. This is how they look at it. It is a very sick kind of crime in our nation.

If we look at the trafficking cases in Vancouver Island, the Nanaimo newspaper and the people who work with the trafficking victims say that this ring has been undisturbed for years. We know that.

In Ottawa, 10 minutes from Parliament Hill, we have had trafficking cases.

What is happening in this country, now, is that police officers are beginning to become schooled in human trafficking. Some police officers who used to think it was just part of a daily occurrence that they did not need to pay attention to, are starting to understand now that behind those young women and young boys on the street is a very sad story where they are being brutalized on a daily basis and huge money is being made off them.

In the country right now “herds of girls”, as they call them, are actually tattooed by the person who owns them.

Years ago, long before the Speaker and I came to Parliament, Wilberforce said that once you know, “you can never again say you did not know”. The other part of that is: what are you going to do about it?

Every parliamentarian in this Parliament knows that human trafficking is happening. Every parliamentarian knows that it is basically our young people. This is not about politics. This is about doing the right thing. This is about representing our constituencies so that our children, our young people, are safe and they are not targeted, because this trafficking has grown to epidemic proportions at this point in time.

We had a nanny in Ottawa who was caught up in human trafficking. They are people who are often in a position of trust, a position where they can have access.

It happens everywhere. It happens in our communities, in our schools, in our churches—everywhere—and the victims have been silent. They are silent no longer, and they will not be silent during the next election, no matter what happens on any side of the House.

Bill C-36 is one of the most important bills we have ever put through Parliament. It makes a statement about our country. When the bill goes through, parliamentarians, on all sides of this House, can say that we will not allow our children to be bought and sold in this country.

When one talks about the pornography and everything around human trafficking, that is a conditioning of a society. A 10-year-old boy wrote to me about being addicted to porn. I was interviewed at the National Post, and the next day the National Post stated that this parliamentarian did not know a 10-year-old who was addicted to porn. The parents read this and called the National Post, and said, “We're the parents. I'll tell you about what happened”.

They came to visit me in Ottawa. I met the little boy, and we found out that a whole school division, and other school divisions all across this country, had porn popping up on their computers. It was not because they wanted it, but because the system is set up in a way that porn inadvertently pops up at random. It has happened on everybody's computer. It is a type of conditioning, a type of acceptance.

We should not accept, in any way, shape, or form, the exploitation of our youth. We should not do that. However, let us be careful. The world is watching what we are doing as parliamentarians here in the Parliament of Canada, on all sides of the House. They all know. It is not a partisan thing.

We have talked about human trafficking, and I have to commend you, Mr. Speaker. You are a man of great honour and you have given much support for this human trafficking. You stood by me a long time ago, when I first introduced Bill C-268. I honour the set of standards you have for what you feel is good for Canada.

There are people on all sides of the House who have done that, but there are too many today who are resisting Bill C-36 and are making statements in this Parliament that they will live to regret.

I have been in Montreal a great deal. I have worked with the head of the vice squad there, Dominic Monchamp. I have worked with and rescued victims of trafficking around that area. I do not speak French. Two of my children speak French very well. I wish I did. I try. I love French. However, I have not had the time to speak it eloquently, like most of the people do here. However, I have done a lot of work, and it does not matter what language we have, people know. Some of the most courageous people have come from Montreal, in terms of the human trafficking initiative. They are amazing people. I want each parliamentarian here to be able to leave this place knowing that their lives made a difference in the life of someone who has no voice.

I look forward to the speeches, and I would implore members to get behind Bill C-36. It is the right thing to do. If they have anything to say, they will hear it again in the subsequent months. I will ensure that happens in each constituency that each one of us lives in.

July 7th, 2014 / 1:15 p.m.
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Naomi Sayers Spokesperson, Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform

Thanks, Émilie.

My name is Naomi Sayers. My group is South Western Ontario Sex Workers, which is a member of the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform. I am an indigenous woman from northern Ontario and a former sex worker with experience in working both in northern and southern Ontario. I will elaborate on how Bill C-36 negatively impacts indigenous women, and will finish with recommendations for moving forward.

We make it clear from the outset that we do not support Bill C-36 or the use of criminal laws that target sex work. We propose, instead, a process that meaningfully includes people who work in the sex industry, and that includes labour and regulatory measures that prioritize safety.

Canada's greatest social injustice is the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women. Other witnesses will argue that the criminal laws against clients and third parties will protect indigenous women from going missing and murdered. We argue the opposite. Not only does this flawed argument ignore the fact that not all missing and murdered indigenous women do not work in the sex trade, it also ignores the fact that they experience institutional and systemic violence as indigenous women, especially the state's role in making a sex worker vulnerable to violence, such as Chief Justice McLachlin highlighted in her decision.

Wally Oppal, in his missing women inquiry report, also recognizes this when he states that the marginalization of women is due to the “retrenchment of social assistance programs, the ongoing effects of colonialism, and” —I emphasize—“the criminal regulation of prostitution and related law enforcement strategies.”

The Chief Justice reiterates the harmful effects of criminal regulation of prostitution when she states that the criminal laws not only impose conditions on how prostitutes operate but also the laws “go a critical step further, by imposing dangerous conditions on prostitution”. This reminds us to respect the spirit of the Bedford decision and that our objectives need to prioritize the health and safety of people working in the trade, not the elimination of the industry.

The criminalization of clients, in Bill C-36, has devastating impacts for indigenous women who rely on income generated from prostitution, particularly in the context of inadequate housing, social services, or education. Indigenous women will seek out clients in more dangerous areas, and clients will rush negotiations, putting women at risk. The isolation and inability to screen clients for safety contributes to the rising violence against sex workers. Indigenous women are already targeted by aggressors, as seen for over 20 years in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. The Chief Justice wrote, “If screening could have prevented one woman from jumping into Robert Pickton's car, the severity of the harmful effects is established.”

Trafficking has also been raised in the discussion of the bill. While exploitation happens in the context of trafficking, Bill C-36 does not distinguish between exploitation and prostitution. It assumes that prostitution is exploitation. The Chief Justice highlighted that the old laws were overbroad and that conflating prostitution with human trafficking does an injustice to the victims of exploitation.

The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, an organization that prioritizes trafficking victims, highlights that criminalizing clients diverts precious resources from protecting victims of trafficking who urgently need help into a politically contested and futile anti-prostitution campaign, and that criminalizing clients ignores the structural issues that cause forced labour, thereby distracting from the government's responsibility to victims of exploitation.

Consequently, we argue for the use of current existing criminal laws that address exploitation rather than reframing prostitution as exploitation, itself. More importantly, Bill C-268 made further amendments to the Criminal Code to combat human trafficking related to children. This bill received assent on June 29, 2010. As the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women asserts, conflating exploitation with prostitution ignores structural issues contributing to forced labour and diverts resources away from victims of exploitation and toward a highly politicized and futile anti-prostitution campaign.

We argue that we need to adopt a model respecting Canadian values entrenched within the charter. We recommend adopting a rights-based approach, like the New Zealand model, to protect the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in society. In 2003 prostitution was no longer regulated by criminal law in New Zealand. The trade is regulated through labour laws and occupational health and safety standards. New Zealand's sex workers find it easier to report incidents of violence to police, with police taking reports of violence seriously. Additionally, since 2004 New Zealand maintains their tier 1 ranking status, the highest and most favourable status for combatting trafficking, as reported by the United States' 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report.

We should focus on investing into resources, social supports, and sex worker-led organizations that work directly with sex workers to protect the safety of sex workers. The goal should be to ensure the safety and protection of all women in the trade by utilizing already existing Criminal Code sections.

Despite what people may feel about prostitution, the reality is that people will continue to work in the sex trade. In the context of Bill C-36, they will be at risk of more violence. Bedford demonstrated this risk. We hope the government will recognize this and prioritize health and safety.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

November 26th, 2013 / 6:30 p.m.
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Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to support Bill C-452, an Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons). This is an important bill that would address a pressing issue. Human trafficking involves continuous violations of fundamental human rights whose protection forms the basis of our free and democratic society.

I would like to start by thanking the member of Parliament for Ahuntsic for bringing this pressing issue to the attention of the House again. As she knows, this is a very important issue for our government. Her previous bill, former Bill C-612, an Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons), which proposed similar amendments, died on the order paper in 2011.

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 impacts on its victims, to underscore the importance of ensuring the strongest possible criminal justice response to this crime.

Traffickers force victims to provide labour or sexual 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. The reality is that victims suffer physical, sexual and emotional abuse, including threats of violence or actual harm to their loved ones. This abuse is compounded by their living and working conditions.

To further aggravate the problem, this type of criminal conduct is not something that just happens occasionally or on the margins of society. Rather it is widespread, as evidenced by the global revenues garnered by it, which are estimated to amount to as much as $10 billion U.S. per year. This puts human trafficking within the three top money makers for organized crime.

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

First, we have a virtual arsenal of criminal offences that apply to this reprehensible conduct.

In 2003, trafficking specific 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, the member for Kildonan—St. Paul. This offence imposes mandatory minimum penalties on those who traffic persons under the age of 18.

In 2012, former Bill C-310, an Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons), sponsored by myself, the member of Parliament for Kildonan—St. Paul, extended extra territorial jurisdiction for all Criminal Code trafficking offences and enacted an interpretive tool to assist the courts in interpreting the trafficking in persons provisions.

All of this is 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 traffic related conduct, such as forceable confinement, kidnapping, sexual assault and uttering threats, to give a few examples.

However, that is not all. In recognition of the multi-faceted nature of this problem, the government launched a national action plan to combat human trafficking on June 6, 2012. The action plan recognizes that a comprehensive response to human trafficking must involve efforts to ensure what we refer to as the 4 Ps: the protection of victims; the prosecution of offenders; the partnerships with key players; and, of course, 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 and where more can be done, more should be done, especially, when efforts serve to address a crime as insidious as human trafficking.

Bill C-452 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 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 and it would require a sentencing court to order the forfeiture of an offender's property, unless he or she proved that the property was not proceeds of crime.

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 our support.

Legal concerns would have to be addressed. For example, the bill should not overlap with amendments that have already been enacted by the previous bill, such as the former Bill C-310, as this would cause confusion in the law. The bill should also avoid compromising the government's efforts to defend the living on the avails offence, paragraph 212(1)(j), along with other prostitution-related Criminal Code offences whose constitutionality is now before the Supreme Court of Canada in the Bedford case. The procuring provision, which Bill C-452 proposals would affect, contains the living on the avails offence.

However, these concerns and others should not detract from the positive contributions the bill would make if it were enacted. The legal concerns I have outlined can easily be addressed through amendments.

We must continue to be vigilant. We must continue to support legislative initiatives that would improve our ability to hold accountable those who exploit the vulnerabilities of others. The impact of human trafficking on its victims is almost impossible to comprehend. We cannot tolerate it. We must ensure that those who engage in such heinous conduct are brought to justice, that their punishment appropriately reflects their crime and that they are not permitted to reap the rewards gleaned from the suffering of others.

Toward that end, I ask all members in the House to join me in supporting Bill C-452. I look forward to examining and analyzing its proposals more deeply in the context of committee review. At that stage, amendments can be moved to ensure that the bill achieves its laudable objectives without creating any confusion or inconsistency in the law.

I am sure that we all agree that we can never do enough to combat human trafficking. I am grateful that Bill C-452 has provided us with yet another opportunity to do more.

Again, I thank the member for Ahuntsic for her attention to this very important bill. Certainly it has our full support on this side of the House.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 18th, 2013 / 6:20 p.m.
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Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick


Robert Goguen ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of private member's Bill C-452, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons). I would like to thank the member for Ahuntsic for introducing this important piece of legislation.

The purpose of Bill C-452 is essentially to step up the criminal justice system's response to human trafficking, one of the most odious violations of fundamental rights and freedoms.

It is generally acknowledged that trafficking in persons occurs in three stages: the recruitment, transportation and accommodation of a person for a specific purpose; exploitation, usually sexual exploitation; and forced labour. The existence of one of these factors is enough for a person's conduct to constitute the crime of trafficking in persons. A person who recruits a victim for the purpose of exploiting that person is engaged in human trafficking to the same degree as someone who transports or houses a victim for that purpose.

Traffickers force victims to work or provide services in circumstances in which they believe that any refusal on their part would threaten their safety or that of a person they know. The expression “labour or a service” includes, for example, all types of sexual services, domestic services, agricultural work and factory work.

Victims suffer physical, sexual and psychological violence and face threats of violence against family members, including violence or threats of physical violence that may be carried out.

A crime this serious requires that more rigorous measures be taken in criminal law. My colleague, the member for Kildonan—St. Paul, has introduced two bills to combat these reprehensible crimes. We must all stand up and help the victims of human trafficking.

I see that the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights made amendments to this bill. I believe my colleague who introduced the bill is of the view that those amendments contribute to the bill's main objectives, particularly those of making offenders accountable for their acts, providing for penalties that reflect the seriousness of the crime and ensuring that offenders do not reap the benefits of their unlawful acts.

Before commenting on the specific proposals contained in the bill and explaining why I believe they deserve to be supported, I would like to put them in context. This bill would make it possible to expand the exhaustive framework of statutory provisions against trafficking in persons.

In 2005, three specific human trafficking offences were added to the Criminal Code. In 2010, a new offence of trafficking in children was adopted when Bill C-268 sponsored by the member for Kildonan—St. Paul was enacted. An offender convicted of that offence is liable to mandatory minimum penalties when trafficking victims are under 18 years of age.

In 2012, another bill sponsored by the member for Kildonan—St. Paul granted extraterritorial jurisdiction over all Criminal Code trafficking offences and created a tool to assist the courts in interpreting the human trafficking provisions.

In addition, section 118 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act prohibits transnational trafficking in persons, and many acts related to trafficking in persons, such as forcible confinement, kidnapping, sexual assault and uttering threats, to cite only a few examples, are offences under the Criminal Code.

However, it is possible to do more. Bill C-452 provides, first of all, for the creation of an evidentiary presumption that would help prosecutors establish that trafficking in persons has been committed. We know that victims are vulnerable and that they fear their traffickers. That means that they may well be reluctant to testify, and we understand that.

The presumption would allow prosecutors to establish the commission of the offence of trafficking in persons by submitting evidence that an accused lives with or is habitually in the company of a person who is exploited.

The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights amended this proposal to make it compatible with other similar presumptions currently set out in the Criminal Code, particularly subsection 212(3), which establishes a presumption for the purposes of procuring provisions, namely paragraph 212(1)(j), and subsections 212(2) and 212(2.1).

Prosecutors also find it difficult to establish that the offence was committed because victims in these situations are often too afraid of their pimps to testify against them.

In 1992, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the constitutional validity of this presumption in R. v. Downey. The final submissions of the majority are significant and directly relevant to trafficking in persons:

Prostitutes are a particularly vulnerable segment of society. The cruel abuse they suffer inflicted by their parasitic pimps has been well documented. The impugned section is aimed not only at remedying a social problem but also at providing some measure of protection for the prostitute by eliminating the necessity of testifying.

Surely the same considerations apply to the victims of human trafficking.

Bill C-452 also provides that a sentence handed down for an offence involving trafficking in persons shall be served consecutively to any other punishment imposed on the person for another offence arising out of the same event or series of events. Establishing mandatory consecutive sentencing sends a clear message: committing an offence leads to a long prison term. Is this not a message we want to send to the perpetrators of human trafficking offences? There are few crimes that deserve such lengthy sentences. I applaud this proposal.

Bill C-452 would also require an offender to prove that his property does not constitute proceeds of crime for the purposes of the Criminal Code forfeiture provisions. Trafficking in persons necessarily involves profiting from the suffering of others. In fact, global revenues generated by this crime are estimated at some $10 U.S. billion a year. That is unacceptable.

Trafficking in persons is thus one of the three most lucrative organized crime activities. We must ensure that traffickers are not allowed to keep their ill-gotten gains. It is essential that we strip them of the monetary benefits they derive from the exploitation of others so that the public can trust in the justice system's ability to hold offenders accountable for their actions and to bring them to justice. Justice is not served if an offender is allowed to profit from the suffering he inflicts on others.

The provisions of Bill C-452 contribute to the existing legislative framework to fight this crime, supplemented by a multi-pronged response to a complex problem.

I am particularly pleased to note that, on June 6, 2012, the government introduced the national action plan to combat human trafficking, which acknowledges that an exhaustive approach must be taken to consolidate efforts to fight this crime by emphasizing the four Ps: the protection of victims, the prosecution of offenders, partnerships with key stakeholders and, of course, the prevention of trafficking in persons.

All activities are coordinated by the working group on trafficking in persons, which is managed by Public Safety Canada. This shows that Canada is currently taking a strong approach to human trafficking. However, that does not mean that we cannot do more. We must be vigilant and do everything in our power to ensure that our approach is as rigorous as possible, which inevitably presupposes ongoing analysis to determine what else we can do.

Bill C-452 is precisely an example of what else we can do. We can support Bill C-452, which would assist in securing convictions, guaranteeing penalties that are proportionate to the severity of the crime and depriving offenders of their ill-gotten gains.

I believe that all members of the House should join me in supporting this bill.

May 6th, 2013 / 5:05 p.m.
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Robert Goguen Conservative Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

I'm just kidding, Mr. Chair.

We propose that subclause 2(2) be amended.

This clause proposes to add a presumption that an accused is exploiting a trafficking victim if they are shown to be habitually in the company of that person.

Our proposed amendment would ensure that the clause creates a true presumption, consistent with the existing Criminal Code presumptions, such as that found in subsection 212(3) of the code. Presumptions enable prosecutors to prove a required element of the offence by proving a fact related, which is not an element of the offence.

As currently worded, the proposed presumption does not accomplish this objective, primarily because the presumed fact that the accused is exploiting the victim, is not actually an element of the trafficking offence.

Our amendment would also ensure that the proposed presumption applies equally to the child trafficking offence in subsection 279.01(1), as enacted in June 2010 by Joy Smith's private member's bill, Bill C-268, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (minimum sentence for offences involving trafficking of persons under the age of eighteen years).

May 6th, 2013 / 4:05 p.m.
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Naomi Krueger Manager, Deborah's Gate, Salvation Army

I would just say, on behalf of the victims whom we serve on a day-to-day basis at Deborah's Gate, that certainly the efforts of Mrs. Smith and Bills C-268 and C-310 have created opportunities to better support these victims. Our message here today is that we want to continue to see these types of provisions created for law enforcement officers that reinforce the work we do on the front line. In the past year, we've been in court with two separate witnesses who have testified and been disheartened by the response at the justice level, because of a lack of understanding and a lack of ability on the part of the courts to respond from a criminal justice perspective.

Certainly, we would support any efforts to create opportunities for our residents to accomplish the goals and dreams they have for themselves, for them to be able to be empowered and be restored, and for them to be able to complete high school and to be able do all of the things they want for themselves now that they've been able to be free and to experience what life looks like without exploitation.

May 6th, 2013 / 3:40 p.m.
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Michael Maidment Area Director, Public Relations and Development, Federal Government Liaison Officer, Salvation Army

Thank you, Mr. Chair and committee members. My name is Michael Maidment. I'm the federal government liaison officer for the Salvation Army in Canada.

I'd first like to thank you for the opportunity to present to you this afternoon on the issue of human trafficking and, more specifically, on Bill C-452.

I'd like to begin by commending Madame Mourani for her work in this important legislation and for her commitment in presenting complex solutions to the issue of human trafficking in this country. I am delighted today to be joined by Naomi Krueger. Naomi is the manager of one of Canada's first shelters dedicated exclusively to caring for the victims of human trafficking. Deborah's Gate, which opened in 2009, aims to provide confidential, professional, and culturally sensitive community-support networks for survivors of this terrible crime.

The case management team at Deborah's Gate coordinates appointments with law-enforcement officials, immigration officials, legal counsel, trauma counsellors, and other service providers. Additional programs provide residents of the shelter with access to income assistance and/or sustainable income, addiction-treatment programs, health and dental care, and community-integration programs.

I want to frame my comments this afternoon by saying that the Salvation Army appears before you today in our capacity as Canada's largest social-service provider and with our 130 years of service-delivery experience, which includes, of course, programs such as Deborah's Gate. I hope to convey the perspective of our organization, as the leading social-service provider, on this legislation.

First off, I want to say that the Salvation Army wholly supports legislation that strengthens the ability of the criminal justice system to respond to the crime of human trafficking. Just as we supported Bill C-268 and Bill C-310, we, too, support Bill C-452. We believe the bill will provide law-enforcement officials with more tools to prosecute those who commit this heinous crime and that it is essential to preventing future victims.

With specific reference to the proposed amendments in the bill, we believe that allowing consecutive sentencing for offences is positive in two ways. First, a significant sentence is important to victims of human trafficking in so far as it provides a period of safety during which a victim doesn't need to worry about their trafficker being at large. This period is critical to a victim's ability to access restorative resources and engage in a long-term healing process.

The effects of violence and exploitation on a victim do not disappear when the trafficker is arrested. Instead, fear, anxiety, and hopelessness often increase, at least until the victim knows the trafficker will be held in custody for a designated period of time.

Second, we think this proposed amendment would strengthen the deterrent for perpetrators of human trafficking who believe the financial gain of the exploitation outweighs the loss experienced during shorter prison sentences. One such victim and resident of our shelter estimated that her trafficker earned $620,000 over a two-year period through her sexual exploitation.

I would like to raise one area of consideration regarding this amendment, that we're seeing more and more situations where victims who were once trafficked themselves have turned to aiding their traffickers with procuring and grooming other victims. This is generally a strategy that victims of human trafficking use to improve their own circumstances in an attempt to escape the exploitation they have undergone. Providing the courts with flexibility in the application of consecutive sentencing may prevent victims of human trafficking from being punished by the criminal justice system for attempting to escape from their exploitation.

With reference to adding the term “domestic” to the charge of human trafficking within the Criminal Code, the Salvation Army feels that this proposed amendment provides important clarity to the code. Human trafficking is a domestic issue. We've already heard that this afternoon. Yet the myth that trafficking is exclusively an international issue persists among many Canadians. Accurately describing human trafficking as a domestic issue will aid in correcting this long-term myth.

Deborah's Gate opened in 2009. Over half its residents have been victims of domestic trafficking, Canadian residents trafficked within Canadian cities, most often for sexual exploitation by Canadian men. Furthermore, our organization has found that women in our shelter systems were targeted as children as young as 12 years old, many from reserves in northern B.C., Alberta, and Manitoba, both by traffickers with gang affiliation and by individuals working alone.

The change this bill offers—the reversal of the burden of proof for the charge of human trafficking—is an important recognition of the devastating impact that sexual exploitation has on its victims. This reversal will not only make it easier to prosecute traffickers but will also protect victims who are struggling with the effects of being exploited.

With reference to extending the human trafficking charges to those who harbour a person who has been exploited, the Salvation Army is pleased that this proposed legislation considers the reality that many different individuals can play a role in the crime of human trafficking without ever meeting the conditions set forth by the legal definition.

While many individuals can share responsibility for holding a victim captive, it is rare that all parties involved are prosecuted. In our experience, traffickers are aided by multiple associates, each of which plays a role in facilitating their exploitation. While none of the associates may profit directly from a victim's exploitation, they supervise the victim's sexual services, assault victims when they fail to comply with their traffickers' orders, and coordinate travel from one abuser to another.

The proposed amendment would better equip law-enforcement officers to respond to the severity and complexity of trafficking operations holding all those involved accountable for the crime in its entirety.

It should be noted, though, that while this amendment in general enables effective enforcement of the offence, unintended consequences of the wording and the absence of evidence to the contrary may arise.

In particular, information that victims communicate to the police, health care practitioners, and other front-line service providers while they are in a state of fear or as a means to survival could be used as evidence to contradict exploitation or facilitation of exploitation at a later date. Victims have repeatedly reported that they were at times coached on what to say when questioned by authority figures.

Many times this coaching has led to the gathering of contradictory statements that could be used as evidence to the contrary if needed. A provision preventing the use of statements made by victims while in a state of trauma or coercion might help to avoid this unintended consequence.

In conclusion, while it is important to strengthen the tools available to prosecute those who commit the terrible crime of human trafficking, it is equally important, if not more so, to consider strengthening our ability to prevent human trafficking from occurring in the first place.

Thank you again for the opportunity to address you this afternoon and for your commitment to eradicating human trafficking in Canada.

May 1st, 2013 / 5 p.m.
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Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Thank you very much.

Thank you very much for coming to committee today. We appreciate it.

As you know, we're talking about human trafficking. Research is showing us that it's primarily underage youths who are duped and deceived into servicing men, and if they don't do it, they get beaten, raped, shot up with drugs. I've worked with victims for 14 years now, so that's the way it happens.

As you know, in this country, Bill C-49 was the first bill, in 2005, that addressed human trafficking. They got one conviction, Imani Nakpangi. He trafficked a 15-and-a-half-year-old girl. You know about that one. Then Bill C-268 and Bill C-310 came in, in 2010 and 2012. Now we have this bill before us today.

I ran out of time on the other session, but this is why we don't have all the hard statistics, because the bills are so new. They are brand new in Canada.

You mentioned something that I thought was so relevant. I want to talk to Ms. Duval. You talked about human dignity. You talked about the right for people to be free, the right for them to make their own choices. Can you tell me, in terms of this bill of Maria Mourani's, why this is so important to help the victims of human trafficking?

May 1st, 2013 / 4:25 p.m.
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Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

I'll address this to Mr. Hooper.

The question keeps coming up as to why don't we have the statistics. We all know that in 2005, Mr. Cotler, one of the members from the Liberal Party, passed Bill C-49, and that Imani Nakpangi, the first offender, was convicted in Canada. Then my bills came in—Bill C-268, in June 2010, and Bill C-310, in June 2012—so there was very little time....

People sometimes get human trafficking mixed up with human smuggling. Can you define the difference between human trafficking and human smuggling?

Mr. Hooper, could you perhaps answer the question?