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.

JusticeAdjournment Proceedings

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

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.
See context

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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)