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

Sponsor

Status

Second reading (House), as of Feb. 9, 2017

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-38.

Summary

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

This enactment amends An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons) so that certain sections of that Act can come into force on different days.

Elsewhere

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.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 28th, 2018 / 4:50 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, the hon. member for St. Albert—Edmonton and I sat on the justice committee last year. I certainly appreciated the subject matter we dealt with. It is a committee that demands a lot of responsibility from its members. It requires a lot of maturity, because the subject matter is always very weighty. When we are deliberating on legislation affecting the Criminal Code, there is a real sense that the actions we take when we amend that statute will have real-life consequences for people.

He is right when he talks about the government's slow legislative agenda. I will just correct him, however. Bill C-28 was actually the victim surcharge bill, but it was residing at first reading. Bill C-32 was also residing at first reading. We also had Bill C-38 and Bill C-39. The Canadian public got the feeling that the Minister of Justice, despite coming to power with a bold agenda to reform our criminal laws, was just kind of stringing the public along and giving us little crumbs, saying “Yes we're going to fix this”. Now, we finally have Bill C-75, which I liken to a giant amoeba that has swallowed all of those previous bills, but also added a whole bunch more. We are finally getting to the stage, three years later, where we get to debate this.

I agree with him that some of these bills could have been passed really quickly, like the zombie provisions of the Criminal Code. Scholars and professors have been calling for decades for the Criminal Code to be cleaned up, and we could have passed that bill very quickly, but we are only dealing with it now.

Would the hon. member agree that when we are looking at sections, like section 287, which deals with abortion, and section 159, that they could have been dealt with very quickly by the House and that it is a real shame that we are only doing that now?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 12:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, as I stated earlier, this was brought to us early in the year, a day before we were to go on a two-day break.

Two previous bills, Bill C-38 and Bill C-39, have been thrown into this bill. Why were they not dealt with? If it is so important that this get done, why did the government wait so long to do it?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 12:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-75, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other acts and to make consequential amendments to other acts. This omnibus bill is over 200 pages. It includes major reforms to our criminal justice system.

With a concerning level of rural crime in my riding, the safety of my constituents is a high priority for me. The safety of Canadians should be the number one priority of any government.

While there are some aspects of the bill that I agree will help to reduce delays in the court system, there are several problems associated with it with which I have concerns.

First, I want to talk about the bill itself. As I mentioned, this is a 204-page omnibus bill. I want to remind the Liberals that during the election, they promised they would never table omnibus bills, but here it is. However, 80 other promises have either been broken or have not even started.

This is still on the Liberal web page, which I looked it up the other day. It states that omnibus bills “prevent Parliament from properly reviewing and debating [the government's] proposals. We will change the House of Commons Standing Orders to bring an end to this undemocratic practice.” Yet here we are today discussing an omnibus bill.

It is a mixed bag that amends a total of 13 different acts in various ways. The bill needs to be split into more manageable portions so we can properly study it. What is more is that the government also has thrown in three bills that have already been tabled, Bill C-28, victim surcharge; Bill C-38, consecutive sentencing for human traffickers; and Bill C-39, repealing unconstitutional provisions. Perhaps if the government could manage its legislative agenda more effectively, it would not need to re-table its bills, push through omnibus bills or repeatedly force time allocation and limit debates.

The Liberals are failing to take criminal justice issues seriously. In March they tabled this bill the day before a two-week break period in our sitting schedule. Then they waited a half a year. Now they have returned it when there are only a few weeks left before our six-week break period. This does not give the image that justice is a high priority for the Liberal government.

The government's lack of judicial appointments has resulted in violent criminals walking away without a trial. As of November 2, 54 federal judicial vacancies remained. Appointing judges is an effective solution that is much faster than forcing an omnibus bill through Parliament. I remember in April when the minister talked about 54 more federal judges, yet here we are, almost the end of the year, and still no action.

I also want to talk about what is actually in the bill. Again, some parts of the bill I can support. For example, I agree with efforts to modernize and clarify interim release provisions and provide more onerous interim release requirements for offences involving violence against an intimate partner.

Modernizing and simplifying interim release provisions is an important step that will assist many rural communities across the country that do not have the resources to navigate lengthy procedures and paperwork. For that reason, I support this.

However, I wish the stricter release requirements were not limited to offences involving domestic abuse. With an alarming rate of rural crime in my riding and across Canada, which is often carried out by repeat offenders, we need to make it more difficult for all violent criminals to be released. Otherwise, we have a revolving door where they commit a crime, get arrested, get released and start all over again.

I was at a rural crime seminar in the city of Red Deer last Friday. A former police officer from Calgary city police told us about one of the cases he had worked on recently. An Alberta offender was charged with 130 offences, ranging from break and enter to car theft, equipment theft and possession of stolen property.

At the last sitting in Alberta the judge released him. Out the door he went. Where did he go? He took off to B.C. Now we understand they are looking for him in British Columbia, which has 100 similar outstanding charges against him in a very short period of time. This person should not have been released.

These criminals prey on farmers and elderly people. They know that RCMP resources are lacking in these areas and take full advantage of that. What the government needs to do is to provide our law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to stop the revolving door of criminals in and out of the courts. That is happening constantly.

Victims should be the central focus of the Canadian criminal justice system rather than special treatment for criminals, which is why our party introduced the Victims Bill of Rights. The government, unfortunately, does not agree since Bill C-75 would repeal our changes to the victim surcharge and reduce its overall use and effectiveness.

I believe in protecting victims of crime, which is why I introduced my own private member's bill, Bill C-206, that would ensure that criminals who take advantage of vulnerable people, specifically adults who depend on others for their care, are subject to harder, sure punishment.

Last month, a gentleman from my riding of Yellowhead was a witness before our public safety and national security committee. He shared with us his first-hand experience. It was a terrible story. This gentleman, whom I consider a friend, is aged 83. He heard his truck start up one day when he was having lunch with his wife. He walked outside to see his truck being driven out of his yard. He lives about 70 kilometres from the town of Edson where the local police office is located. He picked up his phone and was about to call when his vehicle returned to his yard. Two youths, one aged 18 and one aged 17, got out, knocked him to the ground, repeatedly kicked him in the face, the chest, the ribs, attempted to slash his throat, and then drove off again. This gentleman is 83. This is still being dealt with in the courts despite the fact it happened a year ago. This gentleman has had to attend court 10 times so far and the matter is still not over.

We on this side of the House will always work to strengthen the Criminal Code of Canada and make it harder for criminals to get out.

I am concerned that portions of Bill C-75 would weaken our justice system. Through the bill, the Liberals would reduce penalties for the following crimes: participating in criminal organizations, various acts of corruption, prison breach, impaired driving, abduction, human trafficking, forced marriage, and arson, just to name a few of many in the bill. Participation in terrorist activities and advocating genocide were deleted from this list only because a Conservative amendment was accepted at committee. Those are just a few examples of more than a hundred serious crimes that could be prosecuted by summary conviction and result in lighter sentencing, or even fines.

The government is failing to take criminal justice issues seriously. Reducing penalties for serious crimes sends the wrong message to victims, law-abiding Canadians and to criminals.

I am also concerned about the wording used in the section that would increase maximum sentences for repeat offences involving intimate partner violence. I support increasing these sentences but I do not support replacing the language of “spouse” with “intimate partner”. I believe both should be included. I understand that not all domestic abuse is within a spousal relationship, so there is a need to have "intimate partner" included. However, it should not replace "spouse". Rather, both terms should be included.

Another problem I have with Bill C-75 is the reversal of protections for religious officials.

When Bill C-51 was referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in January, two amendments were moved by my Conservative colleagues. The first amendment proposed keeping section 176 in the Criminal Code of Canada, while the second aimed to modernize the language of that section. The Liberals agreed to them and that was good, but they need to listen more.

Imagine my disappointment when I read in Bill C-75 that section 176 in the Criminal Code was once again under attack. Assault of officiants during a religious service is very serious and should remain an indictable offence.

Thank you for the opportunity to present my views.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 20th, 2018 / 11:25 a.m.
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Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my support for Bill C-75. I would like to use my time today to discuss the proposed changes to this bill that would affect the LGBTQ2 community, human trafficking and the victim surcharge.

As special adviser to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 issues, I am particularly proud of the work of our government in advancing the rights of LBGTQ2 Canadians and the work of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in making concrete, tangible legislative changes that would improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians.

Today, on the the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, when we pause to reflect on the lives of transgender people here in Canada and around the world that have been lost to murder, suicide, hatred and discrimination; the lives diminished due to overt transphobia and misogyny; and the daily discrimination faced by trans children, siblings, parents and their loved ones, I am proud, as the first openly gay MP elected from Alberta to the House, that Parliament passed Bill C-16 to protect trans persons in the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act. I am particularly proud that our government led this charge.

I am also proud of the work of our government in passing legislation to enable Canadians who have criminal records for same-sex consensual activity to have these records expunged, and I acknowledge the leadership of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness on this file.

I would also like to thank the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada for including in Bill C-75 the removal of section 159, which discriminates against young gay or bisexual men. That would now be removed from the Criminal Code with the passing of Bill C-75.

I also applaud the work of the committee and the ministry in responding to expert testimony for the repeal of the bawdy house and vagrancy provisions that were used by police forces to arrest gay men who frequented gay clubs and bathhouses. Men arrested in these police raids, many now in their 60s, 70s and 80s, still face criminal records as a result of these charges. We heard the testimony, and the committee and the ministry responded. Should Bill C-75 pass, these odious provisions in the Criminal Code would be removed and amends could thus be made.

Parts of the bill pertain to human trafficking and the victim surcharge.

I think it is very important to clearly state that human trafficking cannot be tolerated and that our government sees it as a very serious concern. That is why we continue to work closely with the provinces, territories, law enforcement agencies, victim services groups, organizations representing indigenous peoples, and other community groups, as well as our international partners. We are working together to combat all forms of human trafficking in Canada and abroad, to provide victims with special protection and support, to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice and to ensure that their punishment reflects the severity of the crime.

Human trafficking is a very difficult crime to detect because of its clandestine nature and victims' reluctance to report their situations out of fear of their traffickers. We heard testimony about that when the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights travelled across the country to listen to victims of human trafficking and to see how we could change the Criminal Code to provide more opportunities for police to work with those organizations that work with victims.

The legislative changes within Bill C-75 would provide police and prosecutors with additional tools for investigation and prosecution. These measures would bring the perpetrators of human trafficking to justice so they can answer for the severity of their actions.

The amendments proposed in Bill C-38 would bring into force amendments that have already been passed by Parliament, but were not promulgated in the former parliamentary initiative, Bill C-452. They would also strengthen the legislation to combat all forms of human trafficking, whether through sexual exploitation or forced labour, while respecting the rights and freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution.

We heard of heinous crimes being committed not just against those who are unknown to the perpetrators, but also against family members. Family trafficking exists in this country, and we must make sure that police forces are armed with the tools they need to be able to put an end to such heinous crimes.

More specifically, the proposed changes will make it easier to prosecute human trafficking offences by introducing a presumption that will enable the Crown to prove that the accused exercised control, direction or influence over the victim's movements by establishing that the accused lived with or was habitually in the company of the victim.

In addition, these changes would add human trafficking to the list of offences to which the provisions imposing a reverse onus for forfeiture of proceeds of crime apply.

I would now like to discuss the changes that would affect the victim surcharge. Bill C-75 proposes to restore judicial discretion to waive the victim surcharge by guiding judges to waive the victim surcharge only when the offender is truly unable to pay. For certain offences against the administration of justice, where the total amount would be disproportionate in certain circumstances, the bill would also provide for limited judicial discretion to not impose a federal victim surcharge amount per offence.

The federal victim surcharge, which is set out in the Criminal Code, is imposed on a sentencing basis, and revenue is collected and used by the province or territory where the criminal act was committed to assist in the sentencing process for funding victims services. Bill C-75 would maintain that the federal victim surcharge must be imposed ex officio and must apply cumulatively to each offence. However, to address concerns about the negative impact of current federal victim surcharge provisions on marginalized offenders, the bill would provide limited judicial discretion regarding the mandatory and cumulative imposition of the surcharge in certain circumstances.

Bill C-75 would provide clear direction as to what would constitute undue hardship. These guidelines would ensure that the mandatory exemption, or waiver, would be applied consistently and only to offenders who were truly unable to pay the surcharge. In addition, the bill would state that undue hardship would refer to the financial ability to pay and was not simply caused by harm associated with incarceration. We are trying to avoid the criminalization and over-criminalization of people simply because of their inability to pay a federal victim surcharge.

For certain offences against the justice administration, in the event that the cumulative surcharge was disproportionate to the circumstances, Bill C-75 would contain provisions allowing an exception to the victim fine surcharge ratio. This exception would apply to two types of offences against the administration of justice: failure to appear in court; and breach of conditions of bail by a peace officer or court order, and only when said breach did not cause any moral, bodily or financial damage to the victim.

Studies show that marginalized offenders, especially indigenous offenders and offenders with mental health and addiction issues, are more likely to be found guilty of offences against the administration of justice.

Under the existing victim surcharge provisions, it is unlikely that much of the money collected in the federal victim surcharges that are paid out to the provinces and territories comes from groups of offenders who are unable to pay the victim surcharge or who are only able to pay part of the surcharge because of their personal situation or because of their multiple offences against the administration of justice.

In addition, offenders who suffer undue hardship as a result of the mandatory victim surcharge are, by the current application of the provisions, hampered in their ability to regain financial stability. This places them in a situation where the surcharge does not allow them to successfully reintegrate into society after serving their sentences or paying their outstanding fines, and they risk reoffending. These types of situations do not help survivors or victims of crime or the provision of services to help them. This proposed exception would be consistent with the principles of fairness and equity.

I am confident that by maintaining a higher mandatory surcharge, this proposed legislation would support the objective of the victim surcharge to provide a source of funding for provincial and territorial victim services while strengthening offender accountability regarding victims and society in general. At the same time, the bill would be in keeping with the principles of proportionality, fairness and respect for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Not having gone through law school, I can say that it is an honour to serve on this committee and to be part of making Bill C-75 appear in the House today.

Motions in amendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 8th, 2018 / 12:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, as you know, I am always pleased to rise to speak to bills that mean a lot to me or bills that I am not entirely comfortable with.

Today I will be speaking to second reading of Bill C-75, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other acts and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

On reading this large, 302-page omnibus bill, many of my colleagues agree or might agree that this bill is quite dense and complex and that it tries to slip important changes under the radar.

I cannot help point out that it was introduced in the middle of day on the eve of Good Friday as the House was about to adjourn for a week. Nice try, whoever was trying to sneak this through, especially when three new government bills were already on the Order Paper: Bill C-28, an act to amend the Criminal Code in regard to the victim surcharge, Bill C-38, an act to amend An Act to amend the Criminal Code in regard to exploitation and trafficking in persons, and Bill C-39, an act to amend the Criminal Code in regard to unconstitutional provisions and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

Given that this bill makes a number of changes to the Criminal Code, most of my speech will focus on the amendments that, I would argue and so would many victims of crime and their loved ones, totally contradict what the Liberals say when they claim that victims are being considered, that they care about victims' rights and that they are committed to upholding those rights. The reality is a far cry from that.

The Liberals are always quick to put criminals first. It seems to be their first instinct.

We do not have to look too far to see some very recent examples of that. Consider the case of the criminal Terri-Lynne McClintic, who brutally and savagely murdered a little girl, eight-year-old Tori Stafford, yet she was transferred to a healing lodge after spending just nine years behind bars and even though she is not eligible for parole until 2031, and Tori's family was never given prior notice of the transfer.

Only after dozens and dozens of interventions in the House by the opposition parties, an open letter to the Prime Minister from little Tori's father, the arrival of many protesters on Parliament Hill, and pressure from all Canadians who found the transfer to be unacceptable, inconceivable and disrespectful did the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness finally decide to take action.

It was only yesterday, after far too many weeks of waiting and unnecessary suffering for Tori's family and because of all the public pressure in this regard, that the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness finally asked Correctional Service Canada to make the transfer policies more stringent.

However, we do not yet know whether this serious mistake has been corrected. We do not know whether Ms. McClintic is back behind bars where she should be. That is of little consolation to Tori's family and to Canadians.

The minister has apparently also asked Correctional Service Canada to improve its policies for the transfer of medium-security offenders to institutions without controlled perimeters precisely because these changes could help convince the public that our correctional system holds guilty parties responsible.

Canadians were outraged by Ms. McClintic's transfer, but above all they were extremely disappointed to see—

September 18th, 2018 / 4:40 p.m.
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Kara Gillies Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform

Thank you so much.

Good afternoon and thank you for the opportunity to address you today.

The Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform is a coalition of 28 sex worker and allied organizations from across the country advocating for law reform that advances the rights and safety of people who sell or trade sex. Our member groups have expertise regarding the impact of criminal law on the lives and well-being of sex workers, so it's on those grounds that we submit our response to Bill C-75.

I'm going to be really frank and say that we are very disappointed and frustrated that the Criminal Code provisions targeting sex workers and their personal and work relations are not slated for repeal or meaningfully addressed in Bill C-75. The Liberal and NDP parties of Canada voiced staunch opposition to the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, or PCEPA, when it was introduced. In 2015, the justice minister declared that she was “definitely...committed to reviewing the prostitution laws”, yet this review has stalled.

This isn't just a matter of principle or a matter of promises unkept. Each day that passes, sex workers' rights, safety and dignity are violated through the individual and collective impact of laws prohibiting the communication for, purchase of, material benefit from, procuring of and advertising of commercial sexual services. We are past the time for review, and we need action.

We believe that excluding the repeal of PCEPA from Bill C-75 was a gross missed opportunity, given the overall alignment of many the bill's principles and elements with those of sex work law reform.

First, Bill C-75 rightly repeals several Criminal Code provisions ruled unconstitutional by Canadian courts. In 2013, the Supreme Court found in Bedford that several criminal prostitution laws caused harms that violated sex workers' charter right to security of the person. The subsequent Criminal Code provisions enacted by PCEPA replicate these harms, and their constitutionality is similarly impugned.

Second, Bill C-75 rightly repeals the offences of anal intercourse and abortion that targeted sexual or reproductive activities and autonomy and that disproportionately impacted LGBTQ2S communities and women respectively. Prohibitions on sex work activities similarly undermine the rights to liberty, autonomy and security of the person and disproportionately impact women, indigenous and migrant communities, and other marginalized groups.

Third, Bill C-75 correctly proposes to attend to the discriminatory treatment and overrepresentation of indigenous and marginalized peoples in the criminal justice system. Sex workers and/or personal and labour relations reflect the diversity and inequality of social locations in Canadian society. For many, sex work prohibitions represent the criminalization of their poverty and perpetuate the over-policing and over-incarceration of indigenous and black peoples.

Sex work laws continue to be employed and enforced in a racist and colonial manner. Indigenous women are over-policed and under-protected. Asian migrant workers are targeted for investigation and deportation, and young black men who happen to be boyfriends or associates of sex work workers are labelled and prosecuted as pimps.

We recognize that most of the PCEPA laws have been absented from Bill C-75 and thus cannot be repealed or otherwise altered through committee amendments. We note, however, that clause 111 reclassifies the material benefit offence as a hybrid offence and that clause 112 amends the sentencing provisions of the advertising offence. Because these two offences are addressed within the bill, if it's a procedural possibility, we strongly urge amending the bill to repeal these Criminal Code provisions in their entirety. By criminalizing the act of materially benefiting from another party's sex work, section 286.2 restricts sex workers' capacity to engage in supportive work relationships that enhance our safety and improve our work conditions. In fact, this provision reproduces the harms of the prior “living on the avails” offence that was struck down by Bedford for violating our section 7 charter rights.

Any proposition that the listed exceptions to the offence satisfy Bedford are false. All but one simply codifies jurisprudence that predates the Supreme Court's decision. Then there are exceptions to the exceptions, which further repress sex workers' autonomy and security. For example, paragraph 286.2(5)(e) prohibits a liability exception in the context of a commercial enterprise. This captures all escort agencies, massage parlours and any other sex work business that creates safe, structured indoor work environments.

While we appreciate that the exceptions may allow a worker to hire, say, a bodyguard or a receptionist, we are mindful that only a tiny number of highly privileged workers have the resources to do so. Instead, many of us seek out parlours and escort agencies because they offer services such as screening, secure venues and advertising without the upfront costs and overhead of independent work.

It is often the most marginalized and under-resourced workers, such as indigenous, poor, or migrant workers, who benefit from working for someone else. However, these same laws that prevent sex workers from ensuring our safety and rights are upheld, because we work for businesses, do so, ironically, because they effectively preclude us from accessing basic labour, occupational health and safety, or human rights protection. To make it worse, material benefits arising from the context of a commercial enterprise is considered an aggregating factor upon sentencing.

As with the former “living on the avails” provision, the material benefit sanction imposes an evidentiary presumption on anyone who lives with or is in the habitual company of a sex worker. In addition to reinforcing the false assumption that people, particularly women, who sell or trade sex can't be legitimate objects of affection, the threat of presumed criminality disrupts the security and autonomy of our personal relationships.

I will make a final comment on the material benefits offence. Although when we discuss it we typically describe it as benefiting from another party's sex work, the provision itself does not specify a third party benefit. Under the letter of the law, sex workers are ourselves captured in the material benefits provision. We are only granted immunity from prosecution via section 286.5. This is a clear illustration that PCEPA does indeed continue to construct those of us who sell or trade sex as criminal.

We therefore recommend that clause 111 of Bill C-75 be amended to call for the repeal of the material benefits provision, as a first step towards a more comprehensive sex work law reform.

Next I'm going to turn to Criminal Code section 286.4, which prohibits advertising paid sexual services. As with the prohibitions on communicating and purchasing, this provision undermines the safety benefits that sex workers derive from openly communicating terms and conditions with their clients, and establishing boundaries in advance of in-person contact.

Prohibiting advertising creates significant barriers to working indoors, which the evidentiary record in Bedford demonstrates is much safer than working on the street. Since the enactment of the advertising provision, many websites and newspapers will no longer publicize sex worker services. Those that do have often discontinued their virtual lounges that allowed workers to share safety and other valuable information with each other.

With these points in mind, we recommend that clause 112 of the bill be amended to call for the repeal of the Criminal Code section 286.4.

Continuing with the Criminal Code provisions addressed in the bill, we want to reiterate our opposition to Bill C-38 and Bill C-452, which is now incorporated into clause 389 of Bill C-75.

Bill C-452 introduced an evidentiary presumption that living with or being in the habitual company of an alleged trafficking victim is proof that the accused exercised control, direction or influence over the alleged victim's movements for the purposes of exploitation. Given the ongoing conflation of third party involvement with sex work and trafficking, we are concerned that, as with the reverse onus provision for material benefit, this presumption will further alienate sex workers from police and social services, as we continue to actively avoid implicating our colleagues and loved ones as traffickers.

We do support the bill's removal of consecutive mandatory minimum sentences for trafficking offences. However, like others who have responded to Bill C-75, we are perplexed as to why mandatory minimums have not been repealed across the board.

Other Criminal Code offences that are insufficiently addressed in the bill are the bawdy house, indecent acts and vagrancy sections. These have traditionally been used to condemn individuals and communities based on their sexual activities, relationships and identities, including people who sell or trade sex. The Prime Minister's 2017 apology to LGBTQ2S people should be buttressed by the repeal of these sanctions.

The alliance doesn't have a current position on the bill's Criminal Code amendments regarding intimate partner violence. However, we will note that intimate partner violence impacts our communities, not simply because sex-working women, like other women, experience intimate partner violence, but also because such instances of violence are often mislabelled and prosecuted as materially benefiting, procuring and trafficking. If criminal sanctions related to intimate partner violence were used instead of third party sex worker trafficking laws, where appropriate, we might be able to express support. However, we're concerned that they would be used as add-ons.

Additionally, we have potential concerns about increased sentences and reverse onus bail provisions, because we know only too well the effect of heightened criminalization and its disproportionate impact on the most marginalized among us. However, we have no specific recommendations on these points.

Finally, on a general note, we are concerned that elements of Bill C-75 will impede access to justice and fair treatment for people in and associated with the sex trade who come in conflict with the law for any reason, and who are further marginalized by their social or structural locations.

Increasing the maximum sentence for summary convictions risks the continued over-incarceration of marginalized peoples, both through the increased maximum sentence itself and by restricting access to agent representations.

Permitting the written admission of routine police evidence risks undermining trial fairness by complicating defence access to cross-examinations that can expose cases of police error, impropriety or actual abuse, and which are especially vital to protect the rights of indigenous and black defendants.

Those are our thoughts and concerns. Thank you for taking the time to hear them.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 7:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak in the House today to represent my constituents in opposing Bill C-71, which is causing concern not only in my riding, but across Canada, especially the rural regions of Quebec.

Let me provide a brief history lesson. The former Liberal government of Jean Chrétien promised a gun registry in 1995 at a net cost of $2 million. He believed that it would cost only $119 million to implement it and he would collect $117 million in fees. Well, it took only seven years before the auditor general sounded the alarm in 2002, saying that the cost of this initiative had reached $1 billion. Two years later, it was valued at $2 billion. It went from $2 million to $2 billion.

That does not include the harm caused to thousands of hunters and farmers across the country, some of whom lived hundreds of kilometres from major centres and risked having their guns confiscated if their registrations or renewals were not done on time. That is when we noticed the disconnect between the Liberals and rural Canada and we still see it today. We had to wait for a Conservative government to make things right.

Let us be clear. The Conservatives support common sense gun control measures and the responsible use of firearms. It always has and it always will. In fact, it was a Conservative government that added the requirement for a firearms safety course to the national safety code in 1991. A Conservative government also amended the Criminal Code to include mandatory minimum sentences for firearms offences.

Let us not forget also that street gangs do not walk around with hunting rifles. That is the first thing. They like being discreet and they prefer handguns, which are already controlled and prohibited by law since 1934. Those criminals will continue buying their firearms on the black market, probably from the box of a pickup truck in some back alley in a large urban centre. This does not necessarily happen in the regions. Bill C-71 will not change that reality.

The Conservative government suspended the mandatory registration of long guns in 2006 and abolished the firearms registry in 2012 because it was costly and inefficient. Today, instead of looking forward and finding solutions to reduce the crime rate in Canada, the Liberals prefer to take us back to the 1990s by introducing Bill C-71.

First, they tell us that the bill does not include a registry, but the wording says that a retailer who sells a firearm must check the reference number with the registrar and record it in a system, where it must be kept for a period of 20 years. What is a registrar doing other than maintaining a registry? I am not sure how this translates into English, but in French, the word enregistrement includes the word registre. The word used in the English version of Bill C-71 is “registrar”, which comes from the Latin registrum, meaning “registry”.

As Jean Chrétien said, “A proof is a proof. What kind of a proof? It's a proof.” The Prime Minister likes to say, “A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.” Well, a registrar is in charge of a registry.

They can claim that this registry will be simpler than the last, but there is still going to be a registry and they should not hide that fact. Unfortunately, that is exactly what the Liberals are doing. They are hiding the truth from us. The minister evidently recognized the lack of clarity of Bill C-71 when he introduced it on Monday, March 26, 2018. He indicated that there was no established standard for complying with the obligation to keep records for a mandatory period of 20 years. He recognized that certain small businesses still keep paper records. I can attest to that because I am a hunter. I am not a collector, but my son and I regularly exchange firearms, in accordance with the law and the rules, and the retailer who has sold us our guns still keeps paper records, which he will have to hold on to for 20 years.

Companies sometimes change owners, computer systems are changed sometimes every five years, and even tax documents are only kept for seven years. How did the minister decide on 20 years, which is three times longer? What are the penalties if the records are lost, misplaced, or destroyed as a result of a fire or technical malfunction?

Before introducing legislation, the government must ensure that it is complete.

Furthermore, Bill C-71 requires the owners of certain restricted firearms to call and request authorization to transport their firearm every time they leave home with it.

On March 26, 2018, here in the House, the minister said that owners could request authorization by phone or by Internet, and that the process would take about three to five minutes. However, there is no government office that can serve the public in three to five minutes.

The Auditor General criticized the Canada Revenue Agency, because it is almost impossible to get an agent on the line. Many have spoken out about similar situations of being stuck on hold for 15, 20, 40 minutes, or even longer, with employment insurance, immigration and citizenship, and other government agencies. The Liberals suddenly think that gun owners will be able to get someone on the line in less than five minutes. That is completely ridiculous.

Earlier, my colleague talked about how the Internet is not as fast in rural areas as it is in big cities. In my riding, there are some places where the Internet is not available at all. People have no way to access the Internet to get the PDFs. This will never work. Let's be realistic. Law-abiding people are going to get tired of waiting, and criminals who own illegal guns are not going to call the toll-free number to request permission to transport them.

With respect to privacy, the federal government is getting ready to transfer files from the old long gun registry to Quebec authorities that are trying to set up their own gun registry. Not only is the government doing that without the consent of the people involved, but it is also transferring information that has not been updated in a long time. Registration stopped being mandatory in 2006, which was almost 12 years ago, and the files have not been updated since the registry was abolished in 2012. The government is about to transfer files that have been out of date for six to 12 years.

I ask the Liberals across the aisle what guarantees the federal government obtained to ensure that Quebec's firearms registration service, or SIAF, is fully aware that this list is largely obsolete, and to ensure that Quebeckers do not end up in a situation where they have to prove that they genuinely no longer possess the firearm listed in the old registry or face fines ranging from $500 to $5,000.

Everything seems to point to the fact that this bill was hastily put together. Furthermore, instead of taking meaningful action to reduce crime in Canada, the government did the exact opposite by opposing mandatory sentences and consecutive sentences through Bill C-38.

I am not going to vote for a bill that will create more red tape for hunters in my rural riding and that has the potential of treating my law-abiding constituents as criminals.

Instead of trying to pass Bill C-71 before summer break, I urge the government to take a step back, listen to the concerns of rural residents, and withdraw Bill C-71 before the fall.

In conclusion, I can say that people in my riding are talking to me about this bill. I consulted my constituents and received tons of feedback, several dozen responses, in fact. Everyone is on our side. No one wants a registry, and yet, despite the government's claims, there will inevitably be a registry.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 8:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments and also for his service to our country, especially to the city of Toronto.

As I mentioned earlier, the bill is made up of three separate bills that have already been tabled in the House: Bill C-28, Bill C-38, and Bill C-39. One deals with the victim surcharge, one with exploitation and trafficking, and one with unconstitutional provisions, which we support.

During the last campaign, in 2015, we heard over and over from Liberal members that there would be no omnibus bills, there would be no closure, and MPs would be allowed to speak individually and have adequate time for debate.

There are so many promises that have been broken. How can the member and his colleagues stand here tonight and speak to the bill, which is clearly an omnibus bill? We support many parts of it, but because of the fact that the Liberals rolled three bills into one, it made it impossible for us to even accept some of the good things in it without buying into all of these very negative implications, which I outlined earlier.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 7th, 2018 / 8:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the constituents of Kitchener—Conestoga to participate in the debate on Bill C-75, the omnibus Liberal justice bill.

This bill is over 300 pages long and amends several different acts. One does not have to look too far into the past to recollect some of the comments made by members of the Liberal Party in regard to omnibus legislation. I am sure that many of us in this House remember the promises made during the all-candidates debate in the 2015 election not to have more omnibus bills, and many others as well. I will refer to those a little bit later tonight in my comments. However, it seems as if the Liberals have kept their reputation and have changed their minds to suit their own interests. It is a reputation they have developed quite well.

Not only is it a very lengthy bill, but its timing is also suspect, given that on the eve of the Easter long weekend, the Liberal government tabled this piece of legislation that would drastically change our criminal justice system and how criminals and victims are treated. We see again in this bill that the needs of victims are discounted and the lighter treatment of criminals is a priority of the Liberal government.

Tabling Bill C-75 on the eve of the Easter weekend, just prior to the two-week parliamentary break, clearly shows that the government knew it would not go over too well with Canadians or members of the legal community. That, in fact, is definitely what has happened since the tabling of this bill, in spite of the best efforts of the Liberal Party to hide these facts from Canadians.

Another interesting fact about this piece of legislation is that it re-tables three bills already on the Order Paper: Bill C-28, Bill C-38, and Bill C-39 have all been rolled into this new bill, Bill C-75. If anything speaks to the government's inability to handle a legislative agenda, this is surely it. The government has proven to be so badly organized that it is now just combining several previously tabled pieces of legislation in order to make broader changes to our criminal justice system in less time with less scrutiny, and less debate. It is a real shame, especially, as I said earlier, when during the 2015 campaign they promised to allow all members of Parliament to have a voice, and that the government would not use omnibus bills. They also promised that that election would be the last first-past-the-post election, and that they would run small deficits and not use time allocation. All of those promises are out the window with no respect shown for Parliament.

A primary stated objective of Bill C-75 is to reduce delays in our justice system. The R. v. Jordan ruling, which imposes strict time limits on criminals, has made this objective very important. It is a crucial issue that needs to be addressed.

Thousands of criminal trials across Canada have been stayed, including those involving murderers who have been charged. The reason these charges have been stayed is that the time limits imposed by R. versus Jordan were exceeded.

However, we know that this legislation does not achieve the objective. Do not take my word for it. A number of members of the legal community and journalists have also written about this. For example, an opinion piece in the Toronto Star stated:

On Thursday, the federal government released Bill C-75, an omnibus bill aimed at reducing court delays. Unfortunately, good intentions stop at the preamble, especially for those of us who believed in the government’s pre-election promise to bring a principled approach to criminal justice reform.

The author goes on to state:

However, C-75 reclassifies a myriad of offences, giving the Crown discretion to prosecute them summarily. To further incentivize this option, the bill increases the maximum penalty for summary offences from six months to two years. Summary offence trials, like preliminary inquiries, occur in provincial courts, which are already the most congested courts in our system. C-75 may very well take many preliminary inquiries off the provincial court docket, but it will replace them with many more trials.

What has proposed here are more backlogs, more delays, longer time limits. This justice minister is abdicating her responsibility to ensure that there is a functional justice system in Canada.

We see this inability to ensure a functional justice system with this current legislation, as well as with this Liberal government's extremely poor record of appointing judges.

I have one more comment from a legal expert from McElroy Law, a firm located right in Ottawa. She notes, “Under Stephen Harper, the Conservatives justice policies drew a clear line in the sand between criminals and victims. It was an easy sell to promise law-abiding citizens that those convicted of criminal offences will be punished harshly, in order to keep the good guys safe.”

She goes on later to say:

...the government is tinkering with the guts of criminal trials themselves, such as seeking to have police provide evidence by way of affidavit and having an accused person apply to be able to cross-examine them. The changes, if the bill is passed, will not aid in reducing delay, but will instead undermine trial fairness and may adversely affect Indigenous and other marginalized communities that are so often over-represented in our justice system.

Taken from the Ottawa citizen is the following:

Bill C-75 promises to speed up court cases by eliminating preliminary hearings for all but the most serious matters. Also, quietly slipped into the bill is a provision that would allow Crown prosecutors to simply file written copies of police officers’ evidence instead of actually calling them at trial to testify. Not only will these changes waste more court time than they save, they will erode fundamental safeguards of trial fairness.

The number one responsibility of a government is to keep its citizens safe, and this bill is seriously failing in that responsibility. It seems the government, despite all of its comments about “rigid ideology”, is clearly implementing its own rigid ideology without proper consultation with experts and lawyers in the field who are actually going to be dealing with the ramifications of this poor legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I have just been informed that I am sharing my time with the hon. member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner. I thought I had 20 minutes, but I guess I will have to move quickly.

I have not yet addressed the aspects of the bill that my colleagues and I consider to be the most egregious. I am going to move to those now, as I see my time is elapsing quickly.

Some of the offences that would see penalty decreases include, but are not limited to, leaving Canada to participate in a terrorist group or participation in the activity of a terrorist group. The bill proposes to actually reduce the penalties for these crimes, and it is important that Canadians understand that.

There is a long list of criminal offences that the government appears to think are not worthy of indictable charges: leaving Canada to participate in the activity of a terrorist group; punishment of rioter and concealment of identity; breach of trust by a public officer; municipal corruption; influencing or negotiating appointments or dealing in offices; prison breach; infanticide; concealing the body of a child; neglect to obtain assistance in child birth that results in the permanent injury or death of the child; assisting a prisoner of war to escape; obstructing or violence to, or arrest of, an officiating clergyman; keeping a common bawdy house; causing bodily harm by criminal negligence; and impaired driving causing bodily harm. The bill proposes to reduce the sentences for all of these offences.

One of the hybrid offences that the bill adds to the sequence is the obstruction of, or violence toward, an officiating clergyman. This is in section 176. This is the same section that the government proposed to repeal in Bill C-51, the justice omnibus bill. However, eventually it caved in to public uproar and feedback that was carried by our opposition members. Clearly, the government is not listening to the thousands of Canadians who are very concerned by the softening of punishment for this crime. The government is trying to diminish the severity of this crime. The issue is of crucial importance, especially now, given there is an increasing concern about sectarian violence in our world.

I could go on and speak for another 10 minutes, but hopefully I will get a chance to finish later.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 5th, 2018 / 11:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, I would like to hear from the member on this particular piece of proposed legislation. It is a combination of three other justice bills, namely Bill C-28, the victims surcharge bill; Bill C-38, the exploitation and trafficking in persons bill, which I know the member has a great interest in, as he has formed a bipartisan group of legislators in the House to study the issue much more deeply; and Bill C-39, the unconstitutional provisions bill.

I would like the member speak on the fact that the bill is a few hundred pages of what would otherwise be considered an omnibus justice bill, as it combines different parts of the justice system into one bill.

Does the bill speak to the failure of the Liberals to push forward reforms in our justice system in a meaningful way and in a reasonable time line?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 5th, 2018 / 11:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Calgary Shepard.

Bill C-75 is an enormous 302-page omnibus bill that includes major reforms to our criminal justice system. This is the second large bill that has been proposed by the Liberals. Under the proposed changes, many serious offences may be prosecuted by summary conviction and thus will result in lighter sentences.

I would like to spend much of my time talking about human trafficking and what it looks like in Canada.

First, I would like to talk a little about the government's record. The human trafficking offences are being changed a bit by this bill. I have addressed this issue many times in this place already. Modern-day slavery and human trafficking are a horrific form of injustice. They are extremely profitable. They are growing in Canada and around the world, and are probably taking place within 10 blocks of where we live.

We know the vast majority of human victims in Canada are female and young. While those most at risk include indigenous women and youth, teenage runaways, and children who are in protection, we know anyone can become a victim of human trafficking.

Sadly, the government has been in power for 30 months, and never has a government done anything so little to fight human trafficking in so much time. Every time I have asked the government what it is doing, its only response is that it is reviewing the Criminal Code. We know that fighting complex and clandestine crimes, like human trafficking and modern-day slavery, require more than just changes to the Criminal Code. They require vigorous development and application of policy.

Since coming to power, the Liberals have done little to fight against human trafficking, and they have allowed the fight to languish. The Liberals allowed the national action plan to combat human trafficking to expire and they made no effort to replace it. It is not that they did not have the time or were not prepared, they could have announced an extension or launched a new one. However, they let it lapse, becoming one of the few developed countries that no longer has a comprehensive plan to eliminate human trafficking.

The Liberals ended federal funding to NGOs that provided support and options for victims of human trafficking. They blocked important tools that were adopted in the House over five years ago. Then the Liberals introduced legislation in Bill C-38 to lighten sentences for sex traffickers. The contents of Bill C-38 are now in Bill C-75.

It was not until budget 2018 that the Liberals finally addressed human trafficking and committed to funding the national hotline and a referral mechanism. While I applaud this, and it is important, it is long overdue.

I also want to recognize the fact that the announcement came after the Canadian Centre To End Human Trafficking, which is a great Canadian NGO, partnered with an American NGO, the Polaris project, to launch the official Canadian hotline. After it was public that Canada's national hotline was supported and funded by the United States, the government stepped in to offer support to it.

In 2011, the Conservative government became the first and only party to include a campaign promise in its platform to end human trafficking. Specifically, the Conservative Party committed to developing and launching the Canadian national action plan to combat human trafficking.

On June 6, 2012, only 13 months after the election, the Conservative Party launched its four-year national action plan to combat human trafficking. The primary goals of the national action plan were focused around the four Ps, prevention, prosecution, protection and partnerships, and included launching Canada's first integrated law enforcement team dedicated to combatting human trafficking; increasing front-line training to identify and respond to human trafficking and enhance prevention in vulnerable communities; providing more support for victims of this crime, both Canadians and newcomers; and strengthening coordination with domestic and international partners that contributed to Canada's efforts to combat human trafficking.

It is also worth noting that the Conservative Party was the only party in 2015 committed to fighting human trafficking, with its promise to establish new RCMP human trafficking teams in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Winnipeg, at an annual cost of $8 million for five years, and to renew the national plan to combat human trafficking for five years at a cost of $20 million.

Here we are today. It has been two years since the national action plan has expired under the current government and, interestingly, in December, the government's own Department of Public Safety quietly released a report called “The 2016-17 Horizontal Evaluation of the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking”. I want to share with the House what the report said. It stated:

There is a continuing need to have a National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking in order to consolidate federal initiatives, for federal organizations to partner together, and to strengthen accountability:

Prior to the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, each federal organization conducted its own anti-human trafficking initiatives. The National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking consolidated federal initiatives to combat human trafficking under one plan;

The National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking is required to meet Canada’s ongoing international commitments to combat human trafficking:

That means without one, we are not even fighting human trafficking at the same level as other countries. It further states, “There are opportunities for the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking to evolve.” The department was preparing to help the government develop and advance further action items to combat human trafficking.

Human trafficking is an extremely profitable crime that preys on young and vulnerable Canadians, especially in indigenous communities. Police officers and NGOs across Canada work incredibly hard to end human trafficking and help victims, but their resources are strained. Many hours go into this, and a lot of their own time. They are asking for federal support and leadership. As I mentioned earlier, the Conservative government committed $25 million over four years to build on and strengthen Canada's significant work to date to prevent, detect, and prosecute human traffickers. The Liberal government allowed that plan to expire in 2016 and, with it, critical funding for victims of human trafficking and law enforcement. Many organizations appeared at the justice committee's study on human trafficking and urged the government to renew its national action plan.

When the Minister of Justice introduced Bill C-38 in February, she misled Canadians and the House by claiming that it had tools for police and prosecutors to combat human trafficking. Bill C-38 was only one paragraph and it is now included within Bill C-75. Let me be clear that the changes proposed by the minister, first in Bill C-38 and now in Bill C-75, have no provisions whatsoever to give police and prosecutors new tools to investigate human trafficking. However, the tools that Liberals pretend are in Bill C-38 and Bill C-75 were, in fact, unanimously adopted by the House over five years ago in an NDP private member's bill, Bill C-452.

Bill C-452 was supported by a Conservative government and voted for by the current Prime Minister. It was Bill C-452 that contained provisions to provide tools to police and prosecutors. It created a presumption with respect to the exploitation of one person by another, added the offence of trafficking in persons to the list of offences to which the reverse onus forfeiture of proceeds of crime provisions applied, and it corrected a technical discrepancy and included a provision that human trafficking sentences be served consecutively.

Bill C-452 received royal assent in June 2015 and when the Liberal government came to power, it blocked that bill from coming into force. Why? It is because the Liberals do not like the idea that sex traffickers might face consecutive sentences. They feel it is too harsh to expect that a child trafficker could serve a long sentence for exploiting a minor in sex slavery. The only thing the proposed amendments would do in Bill C-75 is prevent sex traffickers from receiving consecutive sentences. That is it. It does nothing more. This certainly does not help the police.

Eighty per cent of the victims of human trafficking never come forward out of fear. All of the human trafficking investigators who testified on Bill C-452 welcomed the consecutive sentences and highlighted that long sentences gave victims the confidence to come forward and testify. They also pointed out that without consecutive sentences, a pimp who trafficks one minor would receive the same sentence as a pimp who trafficks five or 10 minors. Consecutive sentences allow for punishments that better reflect the gravity of the offence.

When will the government stop misleading the public about its intentions with this bill, when will it stop blocking important tools for the police, and when will the Liberals stand up for victims of sex trafficking rather than blocking tough sentences for those who enslave them?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 5th, 2018 / 9:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my hon. colleague's speech. He is very learned and comes from a profession that understands things well. I did pass through law school at one time, but decided that another profession was of more interest to me, so my speech will probably be a little more the layman's type, and will probably have some rhetoric in it that I am sure he will rather enjoy.

I will be speaking on Bill C-75, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other acts and to make consequential amendments to other acts. That is quite the title, and it probably should come as no surprise that it is an omnibus bill. It makes massive reforms to our criminal justice system, and in fact, it re-tables three bills already on the Order Paper: Bill C-28, on the victim surcharge; Bill C-38, on consecutive sentencing for human trafficking; and Bill C-39, which repeals unconstitutional provisions.

The government simply cannot seem to manage its legislative agenda. It waited until late in its mandate, and now Parliament is expected to rush through debate on these important matters.

What is apparent is that Bill C-75 is a big, complicated bill that is supposed to fix the issues facing our justice system. It does contain provisions that I could support. Repealing unconstitutional provisions in the Criminal Code is a positive proposal. Increasing the maximum term for repeat offenders involved in domestic violence also makes a lot of sense.

However, the bill also introduces a host of other issues. This legislation should have been split so we could have debated and voted on some of its parts, rather than as an omnibus bill. There is far too much here to be considered in such a short time. The Liberals promised they would not introduce an omnibus bill, but here we are.

We have known for a long time that our justice system is dangerously backlogged. A primary stated objective of Bill C-75 is to reduce delays in our justice system. The R. v. Jordan ruling, now known as the Jordan rule or principle, imposes strict timelines on criminal trials: 30 months for the criminals, and 18 months for the indictable.

This objective is very important. Thousands of criminal trials across Canada have been stayed, including murder trials, for going over the imposed time limits. We have seen the stories of individuals accused of horrendous crimes being let off because of massive delays in the court system. The problem is only getting worse, but this bill is finally supposed to do something about this serious problem.

Before I get into the details of this bill, I have to ask: Why has this government not taken steps to appoint more judges? It has been pointed out that the government has appointed many, but we still have 59 vacancies. Let us get them all filled so that we can improve the justice system. Appointing judges may have been a faster way to address the delays in our justice system, rather than forcing an omnibus bill through Parliament. I know that the Liberals have left appointments unfilled in other government agencies, but the judicial ones are critical. At the very least, they need to fill those. I am sure that is something they will do quickly, right?

The biggest red flag in this legislation is the hybridization of many indictable-only offences, done by adding summary convictions as a sentencing option. Simply put, serious crimes deserve serious penalties, but some of the offences listed in the bill are undoubtedly, to me and many of my constituents, serious crimes. These include participating in a terrorist group; impaired driving causing bodily harm; kidnapping a minor; possessing stolen property over $5,000, which is a huge concern in my rural riding; participating in activities of a criminal organization; municipal corruption or influencing a municipal official; committing infanticide; extortion by libel; advocating genocide; arson for fraudulent purpose; advertising and dealing in counterfeit money; and many more. There are a lot of serious crimes in here that are going to change. Many of these crimes are classified as indictment-only for a reason. They should not be punishable under a summary conviction, with a possible mere fine. That option has been included, and it should not be there.

The bill would also delay consecutive sentencing for human traffickers. Human trafficking is a severe crime. There is a cross-party committee dealing with this crime. It is a severe problem and deserves severe punishment. We know it is taking place in Canada. It is an international issue that needs to be combatted with all the tools at our disposal. Why would the government weaken our criminal justice system with these changes? We all need to address the backlogs in our courts system, but some of these measures just do not make sense.

In my riding of Bow River, we have been dealing with serious issues involving rural crime. I am happy that motion by the member for Lakeland, Motion No. 167, was passed last week in this House. I believe it will be an important step toward actually doing something about rural crime. The statistics show that crime in rural areas has increased significantly in all three prairie provinces. However, right on the heels of adopting this important motion, we have this bill taking two steps backwards. This is going to be hard to explain to the constituents in my riding who are dealing with constant rural crime. Residents across the country are going to be shaking their heads in disbelief at this one. I have heard from many constituents who have suffered break-ins, property theft, and threats to person. We have held round tables in locations in ridings across Alberta and heard from many people who are living in fear. They do not have confidence that the criminal acts taking place around their homes will be addressed. In many cases, the RCMP is simply stretched too thinly across the vast rural areas to respond promptly.

I am particularly concerned that this bill would relax sentences for crimes like possession of stolen property and participating in criminal gangs. It is hard enough to catch criminals engaged in rural crimes. In many cases, the criminals are long gone before anyone can show up to deal with them. When it takes police officers hours or until the next day to get to the scene, there is plenty of time to disappear. This is not like crime in a city where people reasonably expect police to show up on their doorstep in minutes. When criminals are caught, there is a reasonable expectation that they will face serious consequences for their actions. It is hard enough to convince people to report crimes when they occur. We encourage them to do so because it is very important for the statistics of the police services. The police need to know what is actually happening in communities, but people are afraid to report crimes, or they say it is a waste of time. The police need the statistics to make decisions related to how to best enforce the law, but my constituents do not always believe they will make any difference in the justice system anymore. It is going to be that much harder to encourage people to report rural crimes if this bill receives royal assent. At a bare minimum, people need to know that if they report a crime and the criminal responsible is actually apprehended, there will be serious consequences for that individual. We need real deterrents, not slaps on the wrist, to keep Canadians' faith in the justice system.

They talk about Alberta judges, and yes, we are short of judges, but here is the other side of it. I have spoken with legal people and they say that the number of crown prosecutors is drastically short. There are few crown prosecutors willing to do it. As the number of crown prosecutors has decreased, there are fewer of them who will work on this huge workload. The average caseload that crown prosecutors have is twice what it used to be years ago. Legal aid lawyers are quitting. The pay they are getting has decreased, or they are not being paid at all. If they are moving to summary convictions, two years less a day, the jails are full. I have seen downloading from governments before; this is a huge download from the federal government to the provincial governments. They are going to download into the provinces' judicial systems by changing convictions from indictable to summary convictions. As the prosecutors have told me, they have been told to clear the docket and keep only the very serious cases and kick all the rest of the cases out, not to take them to court but to get the charges dropped, to kick them out.

There is a joke around the provincial jail system that if there is an arrest for car theft, the officers should make sure their car is locked when the criminal goes out the door, because the criminal is likely to steal their car to go home. With the shortage of prosecutors, the time that is available to put people in jail for two years less a day is a huge download to the provincial system.

It is especially wrong that this bill is being introduced at the same time we are considering Bill C-71. That bill would do nothing to address rural crime and gang violence. Nothing in it would make a difference to the criminals using illegal firearms. All the bill does is target law-abiding firearms owners with new, poorly designed, heavy-handed regulations.

Farmers in my riding make use of all kinds of firearms on their property. Firearms are basic to rural life in many cases. I have heard from many constituents who are very concerned about Bill C-71. Why would the government treat farmers like criminals, while reducing sentences for rural criminals at the same time? Summary convictions and fines are just kicking the cases out, because there is no time to deal with them.

Again, it makes no sense. The government's agenda is looking increasingly incoherent, especially from the perspective of rural residents. Will these measures do anything to reduce the backlog? No. They are just downloading the problem on the provinces. Just as Chrétien did with the transfer payments, the current government is going to do it with the judicial system to download to the provinces.

Our legal institutions are overwhelmed by the number of cases that need to be addressed. The bill could stretch them to a breaking point, as the crown prosecutors in Alberta told me. We could have many more cases thrown out for taking too long. Jordan's principle is going to come in and many people will walk the street because of it. In other words, criminals will walk. That is not a result anyone wants to see, especially when rural crime is involved. It is deeply painful for victims of crime and it is dangerous for the Canadian public at large to lose faith in the justice system, like the rural residents in my constituency.

The government seems to be dumping more problems on provinces and municipalities. It leaves them to clean up the mess. We have already seen how the government has done this with cannabis legislation. Its approach has left provinces and municipalities scrambling to accommodate the new laws and pay for their implementation.

I have heard from town councillors across my constituency how concerned they are about the cannabis legalization and how they are going to pay for it. They do not know how the small towns and villages will handle all the issues that are coming down the pipe, just like the carbon tax. The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association has expressed grave doubts about how its members are going to get ready for legalization. It has been conveying these concerns to the government for a long time, but the Liberals are not listening.

The federal government simply punts its problems on to subnational governments and claims to have taken action. That is exactly what it did with the cannabis legalization, and that trend is continuing with Bill C-75. We need real leadership, not just passing the buck to the provinces.

The legislation would weaken our criminal justice system by relaxing the sentences for many serious crimes. That list was not even the extent of it. It is a very broad bill. It downloads the delays in our court system onto the provinces. It also changes the victim surcharge, which is a deeply disappointing departure from our former government's priority of putting victims first. It would remove the requirement of the attorney general to determine whether to seek an adult sentence in certain circumstances. It would remove the power of a youth justice court to make an order to lift the ban on publication in the case of a young person who receives a youth sentence for a violent offence. It would delay consecutive sentencing for human traffickers, and that is wrong. It would make our justice system more like a revolving door than it is now. It would make rural crime in my riding and across Canada even harder to deal with, and it would make people not trust the justice system.

We need to deal with the problems in our justice system, but this is not the way to do it. This is simply a huge, poorly designed bill. It would make many changes that I simply cannot support.

May 29th, 2018 / 3:50 p.m.
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Québec debout

Rhéal Fortin Québec debout Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak here today.

As you can imagine, this issue — which we have often addressed in the House — concerns us very much in Quebec. The issues seem quite well defined. The solutions also seem quite well defined, but for reasons I do not understand, the government does not seem to want to move forward, which concerns us greatly. I will explain what I mean.

In Quebec, the problem of prostitution is especially concerning for young girls of 18 years of age or less. Our Montreal youth centres have become recruitment points for prostitution. There have in fact been numerous interventions over the past few years. As a member of Parliament, and as a lawyer in my previous life, I had the opportunity of meeting with many of the workers who work with these organizations, who say that they are concerned, and have been for years.

Before the 2011 election, Bloc Québécois MP Maria Mourani presented Bill C-612 on this topic, but the bill died on the Order Paper following the 2011 elections. It was presented again in 2013. In 2015, Ms. Mourani's Bill C-452 was adopted unanimously by the House of Commons. It was then passed by the Senate and received royal assent on June 18, 2015.

What did this bill say? First, it created a presumption that an individual living in the same apartment as a person practising prostitution is reputed to be living from the avails of prostitution, and reputed to be a pimp. This reversed the burden of proof, which meant that these young girls, often very young, as my Senate colleagues have said — young girls who were sometimes 12, 13, 15 or 16 — could avoid having to testify about the guilt of a pimp, who scared them and controlled them. This made it very hard for them to give this kind of evidence. And so the burden of proof was reversed.

The bill also made it possible to seize goods acquired from the avails of prostitution. There was an issue of consistency, and also the matter of consecutive sentences, which seemed to us to be an important deterrent in the fight against prostitution.

Bill C-452, which dealt with these important issues, received royal assent in June 2015. Everyone had hoped that during the summer, it would be enacted, and we could finally tell young girls that we would provide some effective protection. Unfortunately an election was called at the end of the summer, and when the new government took power in October 2015, Bill C-452 was shelved and forgotten about for a time.

Subsequenty, as you know, considerable pressure was applied by my party and its members, and by civil society, and finally the current government decided to introduce another bill, C-38, on February 9, 2017. Bill C-38's only objective was to bring Bill C-452 into effect. It did nothing else. It indicated that we were in agreement with Bill C-452 and that its clauses 1, 2 and 4 would be adopted immediately; as for clause 3 regarding consecutive sentences, that was not certain. People felt that this clause would not survive a constitutional challenge. So the coming into force of consecutive sentences was postponed to a later date.

In February 2017, everyone hoped that the bill would be tabled and that it would be passed quickly. Unfortunately, today, in May 2018, a year and several months later, nothing has yet been done, and moreover, another way of doing nothing is to simply push things forward. And so Bill C-75 was introduced, a mammoth bill, as you know. Bill C-38was included in it, and it will be dealt with at some point.

Since 2011, we have not dealt with this seriously. I am embarrassed to say that I am sitting in a Parliament that is not taking this issue more seriously. We keep postponing it. There were bills C-612, C-452, C-38 and C-75.

Are we in agreement or aren't we? We adopted a bill unanimously, it received royal assent, and then we let things go. Personally, I think it is indecent and embarrassing that these young girls who are counting on us are still having to deal with pimps. People don't just depend on us to extend apologies and say that what happened to them 100, 50 or 200 years ago was very sad. They are counting on us to help eliminate daily, current problems they are facing.

Sometimes there is no solution. It happens. In certain cases, solutions are complicated and take time. However, we are talking here about a problem to which there is a solution we agreed on and had adopted.

Can this order be issued?

That is what I had to say today, Mr. Chair. I'll stop here. I think my message is clear.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Madam Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-75, another omnibus bill introduced by a government that said it would never introduce an omnibus bill, but here we are again with another 300-page bill.

Quite frankly, there are some provisions in Bill C-75 that I support, but on the whole I believe this legislation to be deeply problematic.

Before I address the substance of Bill C-75, I want to talk a bit about the process surrounding Bill C-75.

This omnibus legislation reintroduces four government bills currently before the House of Commons: Bill C-28, Bill C-32, Bill C-38 and Bill C-39. This is the third piece of legislation the government has introduced to repeal section 159 of the Criminal Code, the unconstitutional section related to anal sex.

With much fanfare, the Liberals introduced Bill C-32. They wanted to take tremendous credit for introducing that bill that proposes to repeal section 159. It was such a priority for the government that a year and a half later, Bill C-32 remains stuck at first reading.

Not to be outdone, they proceeded to introduce Bill C-39, which would remove unconstitutional sections of the Criminal Code, also known as zombie laws. That included section 159 of the Criminal Code. It was introduced on March 8, 2017, and it was such a priority of the government that more than a year later, Bill C-39 remains stuck at first reading.

Now, for the third time, the government has introduced, with Bill C-75, another attempt to remove section 159 of the Criminal Code.

How many bills is it going to take the Liberal government to repeal one simple section of the Criminal Code? It speaks to the utter incompetence of the government and its complete inability to move justice legislation forward. In light of that record of incompetence and failure, Canadians should be left to ask the question: how it is that the government can be trusted to address delay in our courts when it cannot even manage its own legislative agenda?

The purported objective of Bill C-75 is to deal with the backlog in our courts. It arises from the Jordan decision that was issued by the Supreme Court almost two years ago. The Supreme Court of Canada determined that there would be strict limits before delay would become presumptively unreasonable. The remedy that the Supreme Court provided in the case of delay was that the charges against the accused person would be stayed, in other words, thrown out of court. The strict timeline that the Supreme Court provided was 30 months between the laying of charges and the anticipated or actual conclusion of a trial for matters before superior courts, and 18 months for matters before provincial courts.

It has been almost two years since the Jordan decision and in those nearly two years, the Minister of Justice has sat on her hands and done absolutely nothing to deal with delay and backlog. The minister is so incompetent that she could not get around to doing the simplest and easiest thing, which is to fill judicial vacancies in a timely manner.

Under this Minister of Justice's watch, we have seen a record number of judicial vacancies. Indeed, the average number of vacancies has consistently been between 50 to 60. In the province of Alberta, where the issues of backlog and delay are most acute, the provincial government tried to respond in 2016, by way of order in council, establishing 10 new judicial positions, nine Court of Queen's Bench positions and one Alberta Court of Appeal position. The government, to its credit, in budget 2017, provided funding for additional judicial positions. All the minister had to do was fill them.

Do members know how long it took the minister to appoint a new judge in Alberta?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2018 / 3:15 p.m.
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Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved that Bill C-75, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today to speak to Bill C-75, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other acts and to make consequential amendments to other acts. The legislation represents a key milestone in our government's commitment to modernize the criminal justice system, reduce delays, and ensure the safety of Canadians.

For more than a decade, the criminal justice system has been under significant strain. Although the crime rate in Canada has been declining, court cases are more complex, trials are getting longer, and the impacts on victims are compounded. In addition, indigenous people and marginalized Canadians, including those suffering from mental illness and addictions, continue to be overrepresented in the criminal justice system. For these reasons, I was mandated by the Prime Minister to reform the criminal justice system, and it is why I was proud to introduce this legislation as part of our government's response to those fundamental challenges.

Bill C-75 also responds to the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in 2016 in R. v. Jordan. The decision established strict timelines beyond which delays would be presumptively unreasonable and cases would be stayed. In such cases, the accused will not stand trial. This is unacceptable, and it jeopardizes public confidence in the justice system.

The bill also addresses issues raised in the June 2017 report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, which called on the government to address court delays, and it reflects our government's commitment to bring about urgent and bold reforms, many of which were identified as priorities by all provincial and territorial justice ministers in April and September of last year.

The bill proposes reforms in seven key areas. First, the bill would modernize and streamline the bail system. Second, it would enhance our approach to addressing administration of justice offences, including for youth. Third, it would bolster our response to intimate partner violence. Fourth, the bill would restrict the availability of preliminary inquiries to offences with penalties of life imprisonment. Fifth, it would reclassify offences to allow the crown to elect the most efficient procedure appropriate in the circumstances. Sixth, it would improve the jury selection process. Seventh, it would strengthen the case management powers of judges. The bill includes a number of additional reforms related to efficiencies, which I will touch on briefly later.

As noted, the first area of reform would modernize and streamline the bail regime. Under the charter, an accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. If charged with an offence, that person has the right not to be denied bail without just cause. The Supreme Court of Canada has repeatedly stated that bail, including the types of release and conditions imposed, must be reasonable, yet we know that police and courts routinely impose conditions that are too numerous, too restrictive, and at times directed toward improper objectives, such as behaviour and punishment. These objectives do not protect public safety.

We also know that there are more individuals in remand than those convicted of a crime. In other words, our correctional facilities are more than half-filled with people who have not been convicted of an offence.

In addition, the current approach to bail uses a disproportionate amount of resources, taking away from more serious cases. It perpetuates a cycle of incarceration.

Consistent with the 2017 Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Antic, the proposed bail reforms would codify a principle of restraint. This would direct police and judges to consider the least restrictive and most appropriate means of responding to criminal charges at the bail stage rather than automatically detaining an accused. The individual circumstances of an indigenous accused and a vulnerable accused, such as a homeless person or one with mental illness and addiction issues, would become required considerations when making bail decisions. This means that an accused's circumstances would have to be considered prior to placing conditions upon them that were difficult or impossible to follow.

The principle of restraint would make bail courts more efficient by encouraging release at the earliest possible opportunity, without the need for a bail hearing in every case, and would take significant steps to reduce costs associated with the growing remand population currently detained in custody awaiting trial.

The bill would also strengthen the way our bail system responds to intimate partner violence by providing better protection for victims. If an accused has a history of violence against an intimate partner and is charged with similar conduct, the amendments would impose a reverse onus at the bail hearing, shifting the responsibility to the accused to show why the accused should not be detained pending trial.

I will now turn to the second area of reform proposed in Bill C-75, which is to enhance the way our justice system responds to administration of justice offences. These are offences that are committed by a person against the justice system itself after another offence has already been committed or alleged. Common examples are failure to comply with bail conditions, such as to abstain from consuming alcohol; failure to appear in court; or breaching a curfew.

Across Canada, accused people are routinely burdened with complex and unnecessary bail conditions that are unrelated to public safety and that may even be impossible to follow, such as when a curfew is broken by an accused because he or she missed the bus in a remote area. In other words, accused people are being placed in circumstances in which a breach is virtually inevitable. We are setting them up to fail.

Indigenous people and marginalized Canadians are disproportionately impacted by breach charges, often because of their personal circumstances, such as a lack of family and community supports. As a result, indigenous people and marginalized Canadians are more likely to be charged, more likely to be denied bail, and if released, more likely to be subject to stricter conditions.

In addition, administration of justice offences impose an enormous burden on the criminal justice system, as nearly 40% of all adult cases involve at least one of these administrative charges. To respond to these challenges, Bill C-75 proposes a new approach. Police would retain the option to lay a new charge for the breach or failure to appear where appropriate. However, if the offence did not involve physical or emotional harm to a victim, property damage, or economic loss, the police would have an additional option of referring the accused to a judicial referral hearing. This would be an entirely new tool that would serve as an alternative to an unnecessary criminal charge and that would substantially increase court efficiencies without impacting public safety.

In the youth context, these proposals would encourage police to first consider the use of informal measures, as already directed by the Youth Criminal Justice Act, such as warnings, cautions, and referrals, and would require that conditions imposed on young persons be reasonable and necessary. This aligns with the overall philosophy of the act, which is to prevent our youth from entering a life of crime, in part by providing alternatives to formal criminal charges and custody.

At the judicial referral hearing, a court would hear the bail conditions and have three options: release the accused on the same conditions, impose new conditions to better address the specific circumstances of the accused, or detain the accused. This approach would allow for alternative and early resolution of minor breaches and would ensure that only reasonable and necessary conditions were imposed. This is a more efficient alternative to laying a new criminal charge and would help prevent indigenous persons and marginalized Canadians from entering the revolving door of the criminal justice system.

The third area of reform in Bill C-75 is with respect to intimate partner violence. In 2015, Canadians elected our government on a promise to give more support to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and sexual harassment and to ensure that more perpetrators were brought to justice. I am proud to follow through on this commitment within this bill.

As I already noted, those accused of repeat offences involving violence against an intimate partner would be subject to a reverse onus at the bail stage. In addition, the bill does the following: (1) proposes a higher sentencing range for repeat offences involving intimate partner violence; (2) broadens the definition of “intimate partner” to include dating partners and former partners; (3) provides that strangulation is an elevated form of assault; and (4) explicitly specifies that evidence of intimate partner abuse is an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.

Intimate partner violence is a reality for at least one in two women in Canada. Women who are indigenous, trans, elderly, new to Canada, or living with a disability are at increased risk for experiencing violence due to systemic barriers and failures. The personal and often lifelong consequences of violence against women are enormous.

The fourth area of reforms is to increase court efficiencies by limiting the availability of preliminary inquiries. Preliminary inquiries are an optional process used to determine whether there is enough evidence to send an accused to trial. Bill C-75 would limit their availability to accused adults charged with very serious offences punishable by life imprisonment, such as murder and kidnapping.

I recognize this represents a significant change. It is not a change we propose lightly. It is the product of an in-depth consultation process with my counterparts in the provinces and territories and with the courts, and it is based on the best available evidence. For instance, we know in 2015-2016, provincial court cases involving preliminary inquiries took more than four times longer to reach a decision than cases with no preliminary inquiry.

It is important to note that there is no constitutional right to a preliminary inquiry, and one is not necessary for a fair trial so long as the crown satisfies its disclosure requirements. In the Jordan decision, the Supreme Court of Canada asked Parliament to take a fresh look at current processes and reconsider the value of preliminary inquiries in light of the broad disclosure rules that exist today. The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs also recommended that they be restricted or eliminated.

The proposed measures would reduce the number preliminary of inquiries by approximately 87%, ensure they are still available for the more complex and serious offences, help unclog the courts, and reduce burdens on witnesses and victims from having to testify twice, once at a preliminary inquiry and once at trial. For example, this measure would eliminate the need for a vulnerable witness in a sexual assault or child sexual assault trial from having to testify twice.

I am confident these reforms would not reduce trial fairness, that prosecutors would continue to take their disclosure obligations seriously, that our courts would continue to uphold the right to make full answer and defence, and that there would remain flexibility in existing processes, such as out-of-court discoveries, that have been implemented in some provinces already—for example, in Quebec and Ontario.

I will now turn to the fifth major area of reform proposed in Bill C-75, which is the reclassification of offences. The Criminal Code classifies offences as summary conviction, indictable, or hybrid. Hybrid offences may proceed as either a summary conviction or as an indictable offence. That choice is made by the prosecutor after considering the facts and circumstances of the case. The bill would hybridize 136 indictable offences and standardize the default maximum penalty for summary conviction offences in the Criminal Code to two years less a day.

These proposals would neither interfere with the court's ability to impose proportionate sentences nor change the existing maximum penalties for indictable offences. What Bill C-75 proposes is to provide more flexibility to prosecutors to proceed summarily in provincial court for less serious cases. This would allow for matters to proceed more quickly and for superior courts to focus on the most serious matters, resulting in an overall boost in efficiency in the system.

Let me clear: this reform is in no way intended to send a message that offences being hybridized are less serious or should be subjected to lower sentences. Rather, it is about granting greater discretion to our prosecutors to choose the most efficient and appropriate procedure, having regard to the unique circumstances before them. Serious offences would continue to be treated seriously and milder offences would take up less court time, while still carrying the gravity of a criminal charge.

A sixth area of proposed reforms in Bill C-75 is with respect to jury selection.

Discrimination in the selection of juries has been well documented for many years. Concerns about discrimination in peremptory challenges and its impact on indigenous peoples being represented on juries was raised back in 1991 by Senator Murray Sinclair, then a judge, in the Manitoba aboriginal justice inquiry report. That report, now over 25 years old, explicitly called for the repeal of peremptory challenges. More recently, retired Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci addressed these issues in his 2013 report on first nations representation on Ontario juries.

Reforms in this area are long overdue. Peremptory challenges give the accused and the crown the ability to exclude jurors without providing a reason. In practice, this can and has led to their use in a discriminatory manner to ensure a jury of a particular composition. This bill proposes that Canada join countries like England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland in abolishing them.

To bring more fairness and transparency to the process, the legislation would also empower a judge to decide whether to exclude jurors challenged for cause by either the defence or prosecution. The legislation will strengthen the power of judges to stand aside some jurors in order to make room for a more diverse jury that will in turn promote confidence in the administration of justice. Courts are already familiar with the concept of exercising their powers for this purpose.

I am confident that the reforms will make the jury selection process more transparent, promote fairness and impartiality, improve the overall efficiency of our jury trials, and foster public confidence in the criminal justice system.

The seventh area of reforms will strengthen judicial case management. As the Supreme Court of Canada noted in its 2017 decision in Cody, judges are uniquely positioned to encourage and foster culture change. I completely agree. Judges are already engaged in managing cases and ensuring that they proceed promptly and fairly through the existing authorities in the Criminal Code, as well as provincial court rules. These reforms would bolster these powers—for instance, by allowing case management judges to be appointed at the earliest point in the proceeding.

In addition to the major reforms I have noted thus far, Bill C-75 will make technical amendments to further support efficiencies, such as by facilitating remote technology and consolidating and clarifying the Attorney General of Canada's power to prosecute.

Finally, the bill will make better use of limited parliamentary time by including three justice bills currently before Parliament: Bill C-28, Bill C-38, and Bill C-39.

In closing, Bill C-75 proposes meaningful reforms that will speed up criminal court proceedings and improve the safety of our communities while also taking steps to address the overrepresentation of indigenous peoples and marginalized Canadians in the criminal justice system.

Our criminal justice system must be fair, equitable, and just. Victims, families, accused, and all participants in the justice system deserve no less. I urge all members of this House to support this important piece of legislation.

May 10th, 2018 / 3:40 p.m.
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Professor Janine Benedet Professor of Law, Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia, As an Individual

Thank you very much to the members of the committee for inviting me.

As has been said, I'm a Professor of Law at the University of British Columbia. For the past two decades, my scholarly research and a good deal of my pro bono legal work has focused on the issue of sexual violence against women, including the criminal laws surrounding sexual assault, prostitution, and pornography.

I'm here today speaking from that perspective, and I'm going to focus on the criminal law specifically. I understand that at least part of the impetus for these hearings was the proposed coming into force of Bill C-38, which originally started as a private member's bill. I've addressed the specific provisions of the bill in my written submissions, and I'm happy to take questions on that.

What I will say overall is that I think the amendments that are being proposed to come into force are positive but modest and really somewhat peripheral to the core issues with the criminal laws relating to trafficking and prostitution.

In the short time I have with you this afternoon, I want to address three things. First, what do we mean when we talk about sex trafficking, and how does it relate to the prostitution industry as a whole? Is Canada meeting its international legal obligations to fight sex trafficking? What role do prostitution laws more broadly play in terms of Canada's meeting those international legal obligations?

Turning to the first of those questions, I'm sure the committee is aware of the confusion and misinformation surrounding these terms and that, really, some of the most common misconceptions are that trafficking requires crossing an international border. That's not true, but it is true that global poverty provides a supply to meet local demands when that local demand is not present, and that's why it's not enough to say we can just leave it to Canadian women to choose or not choose to enter the sex trade, or that if somehow we improve the conditions for Canadian women sufficiently, we'll know whether they are truly choosing or not. The reality is that there is an inexhaustible supply of poor women from around the world to fill that demand.

The second and related misconception is that trafficking requires movement of a person, but, of course, that's also not true legally. You don't have to move anyone to traffick them, although moving victims around does help to isolate and destabilize them. I have met many women who, during their time in prostitution, have been moved around from city to city, motel to motel, and to different provinces to isolate them from family and friends and to put them in situations in which they were wholly dependent on their pimp or trafficker.

Finally, I think the other big misconception about the relationship between trafficking and prostitution is that trafficking is forced and prostitution is free, and that's when we rename it “sex work”. That is not true. The reason these terms are not synonymous is because trafficking requires a third person. You can't traffic yourself, so it's true that not all prostitution is trafficking, but the reality is that plenty of women and girls are exploited in prostitution without a middleman or a trafficker. Their poverty, addiction, youth, indigeneity, or racialization is exploited directly by the men who buy them.

The idea that trafficking is the bad prostitution and everything else is the okay prostitution is wrong. Once you have a third party involved, trafficking is simply the exercise of influence, coercion, threats, or pressure to get someone to participate in or to remain in prostitution. Given the nature of the prostitution industry, trafficking is not rare. It is, in fact, pervasive where third parties are involved.

How has Canada then attempted to meet its international obligations? Well, as you know, Canada is a signatory to the Palermo protocol that requires Canada to take necessary measures to prevent and punish the trafficking in persons. Canada has attempted to meet this in two ways, first through the trafficking provisions of the Criminal Code starting in 2005. The problem, of course, is that we've adopted a definition that is much narrower and much harder to prove than the definition of trafficking that you will find in the Palermo protocol.

The definition of exploitation in Canada requires a proven threat to safety, and does not extend to keeping someone in prostitution through the exploitation of a condition of vulnerability, which is part of the Palermo definition.

The reality is that you don't need to use force or violence or threats if you can find someone sufficiently vulnerable. It's, in fact, better for your bottom line if you can get people who will comply without your having to threaten them with violence or rough them up. It can be enough, in fact, in many cases, for the pimp trafficker simply to threaten to reveal that the girl or woman is in prostitution to have her stay and comply.

It's because of how narrow this definition is that we see cases prosecuted instead under the procuring offence and under what used to be the “living on the avails” offence, now called “material benefit”. The fact that police and prosecutors are shifting trafficking cases over to these other offences, because it's so difficult to actually prove the very narrow and strict definition of trafficking, I think fuels the false claim of prostitution industry supporters that trafficking doesn't really exist in Canada. That's a reminder that with the way we've currently structured our laws, both the procuring and material benefit offences are crucial to the fight against sex trafficking, because, in fact, they are the main charges being laid.

The second way in which these obligations are addressed is through the 2014 amendments to the prostitution laws more broadly. You have already heard Judge Morrison talk about the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act. These provisions respond to the protocol's recognition that it is important to use the law to target the demand for prostitution directly, something that is not addressed at all by the trafficking provisions, which only apply to the traffickers. The greater the demand for prostitution, the more money traffickers stand to make and the more women and girls they need to meet that demand.

Targeting demand by criminalizing sex purchase is consistent with the emerging international trend based on the human rights of women and the evidence of the pervasive inequality of the prostitution industry. Canada has followed the lead of Nordic countries, such as Sweden, Norway, and Iceland, and has been followed by France, Ireland, and Northern Ireland in adopting this kind of model. I would say to you that a society that is committed to sex equality, to reconciliation with indigenous women and girls, and to the rejection of sexualized racism cannot support men's purchase of sex by decriminalizing that activity.

One hundred percent of men who buy sex, at least from everything I have seen, choose to do so. They are choosing. We don't have to know the backstory of each individual woman to see if she is worthy of our compassion in some way. We simply have to know that the men are choosing, and they are choosing to create that market.

I remain deeply concerned, and I will just say this in conclusion. Based on relentless pressure and misinformation from those who want to legitimize a commercial prostitution industry in Canada, this committee's process will be used as a pretext. We will be told that the government has strengthened the trafficking provisions, so we don't need laws that target prostitution. I want to say explicitly that if that happens, I and others will be there to call you on it.

I want to urge you to take a gender-equality and human rights approach that puts the interests of those who make up the vast majority of those in the sex trade first. Prostitution markets are not inelastic. Traffickers are dissuaded by inhospitable environments. I would say that we are not there yet, but in terms of the legal provisions we have put in place, we are moving in the right direction.

That's what I have to say.

JusticeOral Questions

March 29th, 2018 / 12:05 p.m.
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Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Marco Mendicino LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, human trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, and our government is working to combat it in many ways. We are committed to strengthening efforts to combat it and to better protect the victims of this crime. Bill C-38 proposes to give law enforcement and prosecutors new tools to investigate and prosecute human trafficking offences that can be particularly difficult to prove. Our government is committed to advancing this legislation and we look forward to receiving support on its passage into law.

JusticeOral Questions

March 29th, 2018 / noon
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Québec debout

Rhéal Fortin Québec debout Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, we attempted to better protect young girls in Canada by fast-tracking the passage of Bill C-38, a government bill to combat pimping.

We would have preferred Bill C-452, but the Prime Minister went back on his vote. In collusion with the Conservatives, the Liberals said no to our motion. They said no to making life hard for pimps. The Liberals and the Conservatives would rather preserve the status quo than protect our young girls.

How can the government justify refusing to pass its own bill?

JusticeOral Questions

March 29th, 2018 / 11:20 a.m.
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Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Marco Mendicino LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, human trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, and our government is working to combat it in many ways. We are committed to strengthening efforts to combat it and to better protect victims. Bill C-38 proposes to give law enforcement and prosecutors new tools to investigate and prosecute certain human trafficking offences that can be particularly difficult to prove. These are strengthening measures, which will help law enforcement.

Our government is committed to advancing this legislation and looks forward to receiving broad support from all parliamentarians on its passage into law.

Status of WomenOral Questions

March 28th, 2018 / 3:10 p.m.
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Québec debout

Rhéal Fortin Québec debout Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think you will find the unanimous consent of my colleagues in the House for the following motion: that, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, Bill C-38, an act to amend an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding exploitation and trafficking in persons, be deemed debated at second reading, deemed read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, deemed considered by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at the report stage and deemed read a third time and passed.

Status of WomenOral Questions

March 28th, 2018 / 3:10 p.m.
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Québec debout

Rhéal Fortin Québec debout Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-452 was passed unanimously and received royal assent in June 2015. This bill included consecutive sentences and reversed the burden of proof. It was a strong and tangible gesture to take action against pimps. However, the Liberals backtracked and introduced Bill C-38, a truncated version of Bill C-452, which itself has been gathering dust since February 2017. It has yet to be debated.

Did the Prime Minister really want to take action against sexual exploitation or was this just another show?

Human Trafficking and Child ProstitutionStatements By Members

March 27th, 2018 / 2 p.m.
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Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, human trafficking and child prostitution has been a growing problem in Canada in recent years. Innocent young girls are falling victim to pimps who destroy their lives. In order to address this serious problem, all parties unanimously passed the former Conservative government's Bill C-452, but the current government is refusing to sign the order in council for the coming into force of this bill. Instead, the Liberals introduced their own revised and watered down version of the bill, Bill C-38. Since then, there has been a growing number of victims, making this government complicit in this unacceptable plague on society.

Like all Canadians, I am outraged by the rise in the phenomenon of pimping in Canada and even more so by the fact that this so-called feminist government has stood idly by and allowed criminals to continue to destroy the lives of the young women it claims to want to protect and help reach their full potential. The government has a responsibility to take immediate action to help victims. It is a matter—

Access to Information on Prime Minister's Trip to IndiaPrivilegePrivate Members' Business

March 26th, 2018 / noon
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate your reference to the rules of this place, because that is very important to what I am going to say. My additional representations on my question of privilege of March 2 are based in large part on the submissions made by the deputy House leader on March 20. Therefore, I am trying to take a substantive approach to his response to my privilege motion.

At the outset, I want to thank everyone. I tried to raise a number of these points during our long period in the chamber last week, but I did not have the opportunity to do so. I said I would bring these forward at the first opportunity after the vote series. However, I would be remiss if I did not thank you, Mr. Speaker, as well as everyone else in the Chair and all the table officers, for your tremendous efforts last week. I know that parliamentary democracy is sometimes grinding and tiring, and I appreciate everyone's efforts, including those of Christianne in the library, who helped me with some of the references to previous speakers' rulings that the deputy House leader of the Liberal government brought forward in his rebuttal of my question of privilege.

I will try to be succinct, but it is very important for me to address and distinguish all the decisions he brought forward, because none is germane. It also seems that he did not understand the core elements of my motion.

Very briefly, my parliamentary privilege as an individual MP was sacrificed or fettered, as was the collective privilege of the House, specifically the privilege of the House of Commons to call witnesses and institute inquiries. Those elements of privilege of the House, collectively, are fundamental and well documented. My individual privilege is not just about me as an MP and my right to free speech and inquiry, which I mentioned. I wear an additional hat as the foreign affairs shadow minister. Since the Atwal affair stems from the Prime Minister's trip to India, the international negative headlines that stemmed from it, and the allegations levelled by the government at the Indian government, it falls squarely into my responsibilities. Much like my friend the deputy House leader, who is an MP for Winnipeg North and has an additional hat of responsibility, as an individual MP I have that additional hat.

It appears he believes that I cited the Milliken decision in the Afghan detainee documents case because it was directly relevant to certain elements of this case. I cited the Milliken decision because the Afghan detainee decision of the Chair was fundamental in that it showed that the unconditional authority of the executive, the Minister of Public Safety or the Prime Minister and his office, to censor information is not acceptable. What that decision meant, for purposes of my question of privilege, is that MPs are entitled to all information, and safeguards can be done, such as in camera and other things. However, that was the fundamental element of the Milliken decision I was relying upon, not because of other elements of that decision. I thought I would reiterate that.

The deputy House leader for the government had four or five direct decisions from previous Speakers. I will briefly refute them. He put those forward in response, but none is actually relevant to my question of privilege. The fact that we have spent hours in this place debating our basic request to have the same briefing as the one provided to journalists demonstrates that, as per the Milliken decision, we are entitled to that information, even if it is classified. It should not have been classified, because it could not be going to journalists if it was. We are entitled to that, and the decisions my friend the deputy House leader cited are just not on point.

The first was a decision from your predecessor, Mr. Speaker, who is now the leader of my party. I do not think I can say his name, although he was a fantastic Speaker, and is a great leader of our party.

The June 13, 2012, decision was cited by the member. The decision was brought by an opposition member who was trying to assess the impact of legislation, Bill C-38, and was unable to get satisfactory answers. It was being cited as a means to dismiss my motion.

I will direct you, Mr. Speaker, to that case and quote from the decision. It states:

In the case before us, the opposition House leader has acknowledged that information was unsuccessfully sought through various means including written questions, questions posed during question period and questions posed in committee. I cannot presume to judge the quality of the responses that have been received.

There are many decisions from that Chair, going back to the early days of our Parliament, that clearly say that the accuracy or quality of a response is not subject to privilege. In that case, the quality of a responses was not a breach of the member's privilege. That is what the decision says. It can easily be distinguished from this case, because we cannot assess any quality since there has been an outright refusal to provide the same briefing.

Therefore, it is not about judging the quality of the response, but whether we are entitled. As I will outline to refute several other cases he has made, we have been denied this at committee, in the House, and in question period. On all three of these elements of fundamental proceedings of Parliament we have been 100% stymied. It is not about assessing the quality. That first decision of the previous Chair occupant from June 13, 2012, in no way touched on why my individual privilege was fettered, and the collective rights of the House.

The second decision my friend, the deputy House leader for the government, cited to refute my point with respect to parliamentary privilege was another decision by the previous Speaker. It is from December 4, 2014. That one related to an inquiry from the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley with respect to the launching of an economic update of the government and it being done outside of the confines of Parliament. It is quite regular that economic statements or events surrounding the minister are not always delivered in the House. They can be delivered at Canadian club luncheons and events across the country. Also, it was an economic update, not a budget.

In that decision the Speaker said:

That is not to say, however, that every proceeding or activity related to delivering or accessing information by members implicitly involves their parliamentary duties.

In that case, the question of privilege brought by the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley was that his privilege as a member was violated because the minister at that time delivered the economic statement to a private audience of financial professionals and others. This did not meet the threshold for violating the individual privilege of that member. The Chair said that he could find no cases of privilege or points of order in relation to updates happening outside of the House.

It has no application here because, while the briefing by the national security adviser with journalists did happen abroad, the attempts for parliamentarians to inquire, to call witnesses at committee, and to ask questions in the House during question period have been stymied by the government's consistent refusal with respect to Mr. Jean. It does not relate to the fact that Mr. Jean's briefing was held elsewhere. My friend the deputy House leader seems to have conflated the two issues. Therefore, the second case he brought forward is not applicable.

The third case to refute my question of privilege, from Speaker Parent on October 9, 1997, was cited as well in his submission of March 20. That case involved the MP for Wild Rose in Alberta. It related to the MP being in his constituency and attending a meeting on a first nations reserve. At one point in the meeting, government officials from the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development asked the member to leave the room because some items would be discussed of which he was not entitled to be a part.

When the House resumed and constituency week was over, the member of Parliament for Wild Rose stood in the House and said that his privileges were violated because he was not entitled to that departmental briefing to the full extent. The departmental officials asked him to leave the meeting and he felt that violated his privilege as a member.

There have been some Speakers' decisions, including this one, that have said the constituency affairs of a member of Parliament, which is what I think all of us believe is a fundamental aspect to our job, does not involve or export the privileges from the chamber.

This is the precedent that the Speaker's decision of 1997 provides to us, that some of the privileges granted to members in the House in a collective sense or an individual sense cannot be ported with us to our riding even if government officials are in an MPs riding for a briefing. The finding in the end was that there was no breach of parliamentary privilege because the member was not “participating in a proceeding of Parliament”.

This is the critical element of what my friend the deputy House leader seems to miss with all of these decisions he is putting forward. He is suggesting that the need to have Mr. Jean does not involve the proceeding of Parliament, thinking that because Mr. Jean provided this briefing to journalists abroad or outside of Parliament somehow it does not apply to a proceeding of Parliament.

We certainly know that the first vote last week before the cavalcade of votes that followed related to the request to have Mr. Jean appear before a proceeding of Parliament, a parliamentary committee. In fact, the opposition day motion that day was a proceeding of Parliament. The question period responses by the minister and the Prime Minister were a proceeding of Parliament.

The fourth decision that he cited, which I am responding to in an effort to show that it can be easily distinguished, was a May 15, 1985, decision of Speaker Bosley. It related to a grant program at the time called “Challenge '85”. MPs were trying to find out whether grant applicants in their ridings were successful in obtaining grants under Challenge '85. I am trying to be brief, so I will not relate to the Liberal government's problems with the Canada summer jobs program, but it came to mind when I read this decision.

In this case, the Speaker found that there was no question of privilege violating the individual rights of MPs to find out the status of their grant applications because “actions or inactions” of a government to update an MP or provide the yes or no to a grant application was a decision of that department. It is not a proceeding of Parliament.

Much like the previous case, finding out whether an important group in one's riding received funding for a grant program does not relate to the MP's privileges as a member in the proceeding of Parliament. Once again, it was a constituency-based issue and that was how it was distinguished. However, that does not apply to this case. All aspects of the request for the national security adviser to appear before a committee, the opposition day motion, all of those things are proceedings of Parliament.

There was another case cited previously, Speaker Parent's decision of November, 1999. This focuses on looking at what is a proceeding of Parliament, and it acknowledges that question period, committees, and those sorts of things are proceedings of Parliament. With respect to privilege, it identifies the categories of individual and collective privilege.

I will highlight a very important quote from that decision because, as I said, my March 2 question of privilege showed that both individual and collective rights were violated. Speaker Parent said:

As for the rights and powers of the House as a collectivity they may be classified as follows: the regulation of its own internal affairs, the authority to maintain the attendance and service of its members, the power to expel members guilty of disgraceful conduct, the right to institute inquiries and to call witnesses and demand papers, the right to administer oaths to witnesses, and the authority to deal with breaches of privilege or contempt.

Former Speaker Parent then goes on to cite Maingot in Parliamentary Privilege in Canada to highlight that in exercising their functions as members, anything they do with respect to committee and other things are proceedings of Parliament.

As I said, my friend, the deputy House leader for the government, seems to suggest a number of cases where MPs were demanding information in their ridings, the status of grants, whether an answer or a response from the government was accurate or fulsome enough. None of that applies here.

In this case, in committees of Parliament, in the House, and in question period, we have been seized for weeks with respect to the issue of Mr. Jean, the national security adviser, and whether members of Parliament, both myself both as an MP and the shadow minister for foreign affairs, or my colleague, our public safety shadow minister, who has been trying to call Mr. Jean at committee, or the responses we have been receiving from members of the executive, our individual and collective rights for proceedings of Parliament, such as question period, debate, and committees, are all being impeded by the government's consistent refusal to provide Mr. Jean under the same circumstances that the executive provided him to select members of the press gallery. Therefore, we have a double standard here or some have suggested a cover-up in respect to our rights to have the same amount of information.

The Minister of Public Safety, again on the weekend, in an interview with CTV Question Period, refused to provide the same briefing that journalists received to—

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

March 2nd, 2018 / 10:30 a.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley is absolutely right. To me, the question suggests its own answer, which is that had we not been put through a process that is not part of that history of environmental review that I reviewed, the National Energy Board had no expertise in doing reviews.

This allows me to mention another carry-over bad aspect of Bill C-38 into Bill C-69. The time limits that were put into Bill C-38 are how the National Energy Board determined that it would not allow people like me as an intervenor to cross-examine Kinder Morgan's witnesses, which led to an abuse of process and not really getting to the facts of the matter.

That aspect of time limits has not only been continued in Bill C-69, but the time limits have also been shortened.

February 15th, 2018 / 4 p.m.
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Acting Senior Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Policy Sector, Department of Justice

Matthew Taylor

You're correct that the amendments that were passed through Bill C-452 by Parliament are not yet in force. Bill C-38, which was introduced by the government, is in the House of Commons currently. It proposes to amend the coming into force clause of Bill C-452 for the reasons you have outlined with respect to the mandatory consecutive sentencing. It's no surprise that it's complicated to follow because it also relates to another piece of legislation that was passed by Parliament, Bill C-36, which I spoke about, and that was the bill that enacted mandatory minimum penalties for trafficking.

February 15th, 2018 / 4 p.m.
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NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Thank you, Chair.

Thanks to all the witnesses for getting us started on this fascinating area.

I want to build on what Mr. Fraser asked Mr. Taylor about initially. I'm trying to get my head around the Criminal Code. Forgive me, but I tried, first of all, to understand where we are with Bill C-38, which you mentioned. To my understanding, the original bill, Bill C-452, was introduced by Maria Mourani to amend the code to provide for consecutive sentences for offences related to procurement and trafficking in persons, and it created what you talked about in another context, a presumption regarding the exploitation of one person by another, and added circumstances that were deemed to constitute exploitation.

Then Bill C-38, which amended that bill, passed with unanimous support almost a year ago, if I'm not mistaken, and it would implement every part of the original bill but the section that implemented the consecutive sentencing part, because the Liberals were reviewing, and still are reviewing, the issue of mandatory minimum sentences.

I just want to know if I have that right. Is that essentially correct? It's not in force yet—or is it in force?

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.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2018 / 6:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Madam Speaker, one of the issues referred to more and more today is the victims and how we need to listen to them. As a Conservative, I know we are very proud of the Victims Bill of Rights that we passed. I know my colleague had something to do with that.

Particularly, I would like to mention the current Bill C-38. It spells out consecutive sentencing for human trafficking. This is a trend we see with the government. It talks a good game but when it comes to actually doing things, like standing up for victims, as we have seen with Bill C-38, the government seems to just avoid the issue altogether.

JusticeAdjournment Proceedings

December 11th, 2017 / 7:10 p.m.
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Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Marco Mendicino LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is regrettable to hear that kind of hyperbole and rhetoric from my hon. colleague. It would be more appropriate to hear that from his usual seat in the House. I notice he has come to this side of the aisle. On this side of the aisle, we are actually quite proud of our record when it comes to human trafficking. I will get to that in just a moment, but I would point out that, perhaps it was not my hon. colleague, but certainly the last Conservative government cut close to $1 billion from the public safety portfolio, including from the CBSA and the RCMP. All of that undermines many of the gross assertions he just made.

Returning to the question at hand, human trafficking is a heinous crime and a human rights offence. In collaboration with provinces and territories, indigenous communities, law enforcement, and community organizations as well as international partners, we are using a wide variety of measures to combat human trafficking, to support victims and potential victims, and to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

The national action plan to combat human trafficking was a four-year initiative that ran until last year. Since then, Public Safety Canada has been leading a formal evaluation of the action plan to help inform how we move forward on this important issue. While that evaluation has been going on, federal departments and agencies have continued to combat human trafficking through a full range of initiatives. We have, for example, and my hon. colleague referred to it, introduced Bill C-38.

Contrary to what he said, the House has debated, and thoughtfully had a discourse about, reversing or easing some of the presumptions when it comes to the burden of proof so that prosecutors can ensure that offenders who participate in human trafficking are held to account. Unlike the last Conservative government, we believe we have an appropriate sentencing regime where we place faith in our judiciary. That means not supporting unconstitutional mandatory minimums, like the last Conservative government introduced, which was struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada. That means ensuring that we have an appropriate mandatory minimum sentencing regime, one that is evidence-based.

In addition to Bill C-38, we also introduced Bill C-21, which will be an important new tool to combat cross-border crimes. The RCMP has several initiatives that target human trafficking. Its human trafficking national coordination centre conducts public awareness campaigns, training, and awareness sessions for law enforcement and stakeholders, as well as national threat assessments on human trafficking.

This past October, the RCMP partnered with police agencies and community organizations across Canada in a coordinated anti-trafficking effort called Operation Northern Spotlight. There was also Project Protect, a joint initiative between the Government of Canada and the private sector. It allows Canadian financial institutions to report transactions that are suspected of money laundering related to trafficking in persons for sexual exploitation. The impact of Project Protect on identifying suspicious transactions linking money laundering to human trafficking has been phenomenal. In 2015, prior to Project Protect, there were 19 such disclosures.

In 2016-17, the government made over $21 million available to provinces, territories, and non-governmental organizations through the federal victims fund. In budget 2017, the government allocated $100.9 million over five years to establish a national strategy on gender-based violence, which obviously overlaps with human trafficking.

The point is, on this side of the House, contrary to where my hon. colleague is currently sitting, we believe in evidence-based policy-making. We believe in supporting our law enforcement branches to ensure women and girls are protected as part of our overall national plan when it comes to human trafficking.

JusticeAdjournment Proceedings

December 11th, 2017 / 7:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, earlier this month I highlighted the fact that every year, hundreds of young Canadian women, girls, and boys are lured into the vicious cycle of sex trafficking. I asked when the Liberal government would start fighting this horrific form of modern-day slavery.

This is not the first time I have raised the issue of sex trafficking and this government's lack of action on it. In fact, exactly one year ago, I stood here to raise the same issue during adjournment, and in the past 12 months this government has done nothing. In fact, since coming to power, the Liberals have allowed the fight against human trafficking to languish. They have allowed the national action plan to combat human trafficking to expire. They ended funding for NGOs. They have blocked important tools for police that were adopted by this House over four years ago, and then the Liberals introduced legislation, Bill C-38, to lighten sentences for sex traffickers.

A week ago the parliamentary secretary to the minister of public safety, in his response to my question during question period, claimed that the government's Bill C-38 would give police and prosecutors new tools to investigate human trafficking.

I would never suggest that the member was misleading the House, but I would rather give him the benefit of the doubt that he may not have read Bill C-38 in answering the question. If he had read it, he would know that Bill C-38 is only one paragraph long and does not have any provisions whatsoever giving police or prosecutors new tools to investigate human trafficking. Even the Minister of Justice, when she introduced Bill C-38 last February, wrongly claimed that Bill C-38 included tools for police and prosecutors to combat human trafficking.

However, the tools they pretend to be in Bill C-38 were in fact unanimously adopted by this House four years ago in an NDP private member's bill, Bill C-452, which was supported by a Conservative government and voted on by the current Prime Minister. It was Bill C-452 that created the presumption with respect to the exploitation of one person by another, added the offence of trafficking in persons to the list of offences to which the reverse onus forfeiture of proceeds of crime provisions would apply, corrected a technical discrepancy, and included a provision that human trafficking sentences would be served consecutively.

Bill C-452 received royal assent in June 2015. Then the Liberal government came into power and has since blocked Bill C-452 from coming into force. Why? It is because the Liberals do not like the idea that sex traffickers might face consecutive sentences. They feel it is too harsh to expect that a child trafficker should serve a long sentence for exploiting a minor in sex slavery.

All Bill C-38 does is to prevent sex traffickers from receiving consecutive sentences. That is it. Nothing more. It certainly doesn't help the police.

Eighty percent of the victims of sex trafficking have never come forward because of their fear. All of the investigators of human trafficking who testified on Bill C-452 welcomed the consecutive sentencing and highlighted that long sentences give victims the confidence to come forward to testify. They also pointed out that without consecutive sentencing, a pimp who traffics only one minor will receive the same sentence as a pimp who traffics five or 10 minors. Consecutive sentencing allows for punishments that better reflect the gravity of the situation.

When will this government stop misleading the public about Bill C-38? When will it stop blocking important tools for the police? When will the Liberals stand up for the victims of sex trafficking instead of blocking tougher sentences for those who enslave them?

JusticeOral Questions

December 1st, 2017 / noon
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Ajax Ontario

Liberal

Mark Holland LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, human trafficking is abhorrent, and we must do everything within our power to stop it. That is why we work with our domestic and international partners to protect victims and to ensure we do everything we can to stop this practice. Recently, we introduced Bill C-38 to give police and prosecutors new tools to investigate and prosecute human trafficking offences. We have also introduced Bill C-21, which gives important tools to combat cross-border crimes.

I look forward to working with the member on this important issue.

Transport, Infrastructure and CommunitiesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

October 16th, 2017 / 3:35 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I agree with my friend from Chilliwack—Hope that it is most unfortunate when important bills have closure on debate. That is the only point with which I agree with him.

I am dismayed by the political willingness to try to claim credit or score partisan points for a business decision, TransCanada's decision. I think it was well explained by Andrew Leach, associate professor, School of Business, University of Alberta, who pointed out quite clearly that what we have is a declining price for bitumen. It is a product that is expensive to produce but gets a low price on the market, because it is a solid. It is not even synthetic crude. It cannot go into a refinery until it is upgraded. Personally, and on behalf of the Green Party, we think that exporting raw bitumen to other countries for upgrading and refining is a loss for Canadian jobs. In that we are supported by the largest unions in northern Alberta.

However, I put to the member that with regard to the analysis that claims that this is somehow a regulatory process or uncertainty, that regulatory process was put in place by Bill C-38 in the spring of 2012, when, for the first time, the National Energy Board started doing environmental reviews. It is unsuited for it. There has been more uncertainty and more confusion and there are more court cases because of the shemozzle of reviews we have had post the previous prime minister. Mr. Harper's approach to reviews, which was to fast-track approvals, had the opposite effect.

Meanwhile, there is a glut of pipelines. As Professor Leach pointed out, when Trump approved Keystone, the same producer had a problem. It could not find enough long-term contracts from suppliers who were willing to convey their product through the pipeline to justify it. It was the better business decision to kill energy east in order to line up long-term contracts for Keystone, which is more advantageous to that industry. We can twist ourselves into all kinds of knots to say that it was someone's political fault. However, this was a business decision based on a low price globally for oil, retreating investments in the oil sands, and so many pipelines approved that there is a glut.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

September 18th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Peter Fonseca Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to be back in the House of Commons and in this chamber to be able to speak to and debate important pieces of legislation, as we are doing here today on Bill C-21.

I know I speak for all of us when I say, with a very heavy heart, that I am very saddened that one of our colleagues, the member for Scarborough—Agincourt, Arnold Chan, has passed away and I send condolences to his wife, Jean, and their three kids.

I will be splitting my time today with the member for Vaughan—Woodbridge.

I will be supporting Bill C-21, an act to amend the Customs Act, because it is really about safety and security for Canadians. It is about respect for our laws and accountability and ensuring that we keep a safe and smart border.

In simple terms, the proposed changes would provide the Canada Border Services Agency with the legislative authority to collect basic exit information on all travellers leaving Canada. In so doing, these changes would further advance two of the government's most important priorities: ensuring Canada's national security and its economic prosperity.

As hon. members well know, the women and men of the CBSA play a critical role in keeping our borders secure and in facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel. They are highly trained professionals on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. At the same time, no matter how well we train our border services officers, and regardless of how vigilant they are, we must recognize that they cannot be fully effective in the performance of their duties if they are not equipped with the tools they need to do the job, the job we expect of them.

That is what the bill is about, ensuring that Canada's border services officers have the tools they need, namely, more complete and more accurate information about who is crossing our borders and when they are doing so.

Today, on entry into our country, this information collection and exchange happens for approximately 80,000 travellers a day, with no impact on their travel experience. While this information is useful, it does not provide a complete picture, because while entry data is collected for all travellers, exit data is collected only for people who are not Canadian citizens who leave the country by land. This creates a number of problems. For example, with no means of identifying precisely who is exiting our country, we cannot know if wanted individuals are fleeing Canada to escape prosecution, if an abducted child who is the subject of an Amber alert is being snuck out of the country, or if a radicalized individual is leaving Canada to participate in terrorist activities abroad.

Bill C-21 would ensure that Canada, like most of our allies, knows when someone leaves the country. It is pretty straightforward. It is pretty standard around the world. This is a big step toward safer and more successful border management.

Expanding our collection of exit information would offer a range of benefits. For instance, with access to exit information from airline passenger manifests prepared up to 72 hours in advance, the CBSA and its law enforcement partners would have a new capacity to respond to the outbound movement of known high-risk travellers and goods prior to their actual departure from Canada, and they would become aware very quickly if such a traveller crossed by land into the United States.

In a contemporary environment, where criminal activity frequently crosses international boundaries, I am especially encouraged by how this legislation would help combat human trafficking and exploitation.

There are a great many things we are already doing to pursue the perpetrators and rescue the victims of human trafficking. Other legislation is before the House, such as Bill C-38, which would give police and prosecutors important new tools to facilitate human trafficking investigations and prosecutions. The government has been partnering since last year with major financial institutions to track financial transactions related to human trafficking. Millions of dollars are being invested through the national crime prevention strategy to support programs in communities across the country that help people exit exploitative situations. Fifty-three law enforcement partners across nine provinces participated in the most recent operation, Northern Spotlight, which identifies and helps people who are being exploited or who are at risk of exploitation. However, if Canadian authorities do not know when a human trafficking suspect or victim is leaving the country, that is a significant blind spot for investigators.

With Bill C-21 in place, law enforcement would be better able to work with international partners to locate traffickers and their victims and to identify travel patterns, human smuggling destinations, and implicated criminal entities. This would help investigators break up a human trafficking operation and help prosecutors secure convictions in court.

As well as being very useful for criminal investigations, knowing who has left Canada and when would help immigration officials identify people who have remained in the country beyond their authorized periods of stay. It would also help protect the integrity of benefit programs with residency requirements by allowing officials who administer those programs to make eligibility decisions on the basis of information that is more reliable and complete.

To be clear, everyone collecting benefits in accordance with the law would continue to receive them. For example, this would not affect snowbirds collecting old age security, because anyone who has lived in Canada as an adult for 20 years can collect OAS, regardless of where a person lives. It would not have any impact on medicare eligibility, because the information would only be used at the federal level. I am sure that all Canadians want to know that eligibility requirements for benefit programs are being respected, and the bill would help ensure that they are.

Also, Bill C-21 would address a problem highlighted by the Auditor General in the fall 2015 report. At that time, the Auditor General found that the Canada Border Services Agency, “did not fully have what it needed to carry out its enforcement priorities” related to the export of controlled or illegal goods. He recommended strengthening CBSA's export authorities, information, practices, and controls to better protect Canada and its allies, fight organized crime, and meet its international obligations.

Bill C-21 is a major advance in that direction. It would give Canadian border services officers authorities with regard to the export of goods similar to the authorities they have when goods are imported into Canada. It would make it an offence, under the Customs Act, to smuggle prohibited or controlled goods out of the country.

We will achieve the advantages I have outlined, and my examples are by no means an exhaustive list, without any additional burden or requirements imposed on travellers. Under Bill C-21, people would continue to simply show their passports when crossing the border. Their basic information, such as name, date of birth, and nationality, would be collected, just as it is now, at land ports of entry for all travellers entering the U.S. from Canada and all travellers entering Canada from the United States. Each country would share that information with the other. In other words, when people told the U.S. that they were coming in, the U.S. would let Canada know that they had left. For travellers leaving Canada by air, the same basic biographic information would be obtained through electronic passenger manifests received directly from air carriers. Information collected in this way would not be shared with the U.S.

I emphasize that these changes would not be felt by travellers. They would, however, strengthen our border security and integrity and thereby improve the security of Canada as a whole.

At its core, Bill C-21 is about keeping Canadians safe and about having a border that is secure and efficient. Given the extent to which our prosperity relies on the movement of people and goods across the border, Canada must be a world leader when it comes to border security. At the moment, when it comes to maintaining awareness about who and what is leaving our country, we are at the back of the pack. The measures proposed in Bill C-21 would serve to align Canada with international partners that have implemented, or a are in the process of implementing, such systems, such as New Zealand, Australia, the U.K., the European Union, and the United States. We need to keep pace, and we need to ensure that the women and men of the Canada Border Services Agency have the tools they need to carry out the vital work we expect of them.

I urge all hon. members to join me in supporting this important bill.

JusticeOral Questions

March 8th, 2017 / 2:25 p.m.
See context

Sturgeon River—Parkland Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, here in Canada and around the world, human traffickers physically and sexually exploit women and girls. It is a brutal and disgusting crime that deserves to be punished harshly, but when the Liberals introduced their human trafficking law, they weakened the punishments that could be handed out to these criminals. They crafted Bill C-38 to deliberately get rid of back-to-back sentencing for those convicted of multiple crimes of human trafficking.

Why is the Prime Minister unwilling to get tough on human traffickers and will he protect vulnerable women and girls by returning back-to-back sentencing to Canada's human trafficking laws?

JusticeOral Questions

February 22nd, 2017 / 3 p.m.
See context

Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question because it gives me the opportunity to speak to Bill C-38, which we introduced. Our government is committed to combatting human trafficking and better protecting victims of these crimes. We are going to ensure that this bill moves forward as expeditiously as possible. The changes that we made with respect to the previous private member's bill, Bill C-452, were to ensure that our bill is in compliance with the charter.

JusticeOral Questions

February 22nd, 2017 / 3 p.m.
See context

Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, we will try another question for the justice minister.

Women and children are disproportionately the victims of human trafficking and are most commonly exploited for sex, yet the Liberals introduced Bill C-38, which would remove the requirement for human trafficking sentences to be served consecutively.

If the Prime Minister wants to have any credibility as a feminist, then he should start protecting the rights of human trafficking victims over the rights of perpetrators. Why is he giving human traffickers a break and turning his back on their victims?

JusticeOral Questions

February 13th, 2017 / 2:40 p.m.
See context

Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the multipronged question.

Again, we are pleased to be doing a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system, including sentencing reform, to ensure that we provide a way forward that is comprehensive; and that speaks to what we have heard from stakeholders, provinces, and territories, and from what we are hearing from judges to ensure that the judges have the necessary discretion in order to administer the appropriate sentence based on the individual who presents before them.

In terms of Bill C-38, I was pleased to introduce that bill to combat human trafficking and to provide protection to vulnerable people in this country.

JusticeOral Questions

February 13th, 2017 / 2:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, for some time now we have noticed the laxness of the Liberal Party and its propensity to reduce criminals' sentences.

The Liberal government's priority clearly seems to be lighter sentences for criminals, as demonstrated by its Bill C-38. We can see that the Liberals care more about criminals and that they have no consideration for victims and their families.

When will the Prime Minister stand up for victims of crime?

JusticeOral Questions

February 10th, 2017 / noon
See context

Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

Bill Blair LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, our government is very committed to ensuring that we do the right thing to protect victims and to combat human trafficking, the victims of which are among society's most vulnerable.

The bill introduced by the Minister of Justice yesterday would give law enforcement and prosecutors new tools to investigate and prosecute certain human trafficking offences that could be particularly difficult to prove. It would also strengthen Canada's criminal law and respond to trafficking of persons in a manner that would be consistent with the charter.

Bill C-38 would bring into force private member's Bill C-452, with amendments, to better protect victims, while at the same time ensuring consistency with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

JusticeOral Questions

February 10th, 2017 / 11:55 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives support tougher sentences and penalties for human trafficking.

Through Bill C-38, the Liberals are shamelessly attempting to remove consecutive sentencing for human trafficking offenders. They are delaying taking action to combat this serious issue. We know the Liberals' track record of putting offenders ahead of the rights of victims. The minister claims to be compassionate for vulnerable people.

When will the minister take concrete action to empower survivors of human trafficking and protect victims?

JusticeOral Questions

February 9th, 2017 / 2:55 p.m.
See context

Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to combatting human trafficking and better protecting victims who are among society's most vulnerable.

Bill C-38 would bring into force the former private member's bill, Bill C-452, and also make it in compliance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The bill would give law enforcement and prosecutors additional tools in terms of investigations and prosecutions to assist in combatting this challenge.

JusticeRoutine Proceedings

February 9th, 2017 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table, in both official languages, the charter statement on Bill C-38, An Act to amend An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons).

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

February 9th, 2017 / 10 a.m.
See context

Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-38, An Act to amend An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons).

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)