An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (trafficking in human organs)

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to create new offences in relation to trafficking in human organs. It also amends the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to provide that a permanent resident or foreign national is inadmissible to Canada if the appropriate minister is of the opinion that they have engaged in any activities relating to trafficking in human organs.

Elsewhere

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

Votes

Dec. 14, 2022 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill S-223, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (trafficking in human organs)
May 18, 2022 Passed 2nd reading of Bill S-223, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (trafficking in human organs)

November 16th, 2022 / 5:25 p.m.
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Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Montarville, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I was wondering if my turn would come at some point today.

I am very happy to be part of this exchange.

I thank the witnesses for joining us today to discuss this bill.

I would like, first of all, to discuss the procedural aspect that Mr. Genuis mentioned. I must say that I am sensitive to the point he made that it was already 15 years ago that this Parliament, and not just this legislature, was considering a law to prohibit organ trafficking.

In light of what we have seen in relation to what is happening in Xinjiang, it is clear that we cannot stand by and do nothing.

On the other hand, I must say that I feel a certain discomfort at the idea of assuming that, in this Parliament, we are at exactly the same point as we were in the previous Parliament and that, consequently, we must eliminate the clause-by-clause study of Bill S‑223, on the pretext that the exercise has already been carried out in a previous Parliament. I confess to some discomfort with this idea, especially as it is not entirely accurate to say that the bill is 100% identical to the previous one and that there is no difference between the two.

I'll give you an example, and it was our analysts who submitted it. The summary of Bill S‑204 stated that the proposed amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act gave the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration the power to remove and declare inadmissible to Canada a permanent resident or foreign national who engaged in activities related to human organ trafficking. According to the summary of the current bill, Bill S‑223, this power is now vested in the appropriate minister.

Why did we go from a power vested in the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration in Bill S‑204 to a power vested in the appropriate minister in Bill S‑223, if the two bills are identical?

November 16th, 2022 / 4:35 p.m.
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Senator Salma Ataullahjan Senator

Thank you.

Good afternoon, honourable members.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to appear before this committee as a witness and as a sponsor of Bill S-223, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (trafficking in human organs).

Bill S-223 proposes to strengthen Canada's response to organ trafficking by creating additional Criminal Code offences in relation to such conduct and extends extraterritorial jurisdiction over the new offences. It also seeks to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to provide that a permanent resident or foreign national is inadmissible to Canada if the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration finds that they have engaged in trafficking of human organs.

Currently there are no laws in Canada banning Canadians from travelling abroad, purchasing organs for transplantation and returning to Canada. This is shameful, especially when we have joined most of the world in condemning the sale of organs and transplant tourism.

Over 100 countries, including the United Kingdom, Norway and Portugal, have passed legislation banning the trade of organs. Additionally, several countries have responded with legislation strengthening existing laws that ban organ trafficking and sales. There are a number of governmental and professional bodies with initiatives to regulate domestic and international organ transplantation and tackle organ trafficking, including, for example, the Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs.

In 2012, the World Health Organization claimed that an illegal organ was sold every hour. Overall, the number of illegal transplants worldwide is believed to be around 10,000 a year. It is important to note that this is a conservative number, as many illegal organ sales remain unreported.

Despite our inability to eradicate human rights violations around the world, we can enact change at home. It is entirely within our power to avoid complicity with transplant tourism within our own borders.

Sadly, an illegal organ transplant is not a lifeline for Canadians needing a vital organ. Instead, the recipient can often suffer from surgical complications, infections and poorer outcomes overall. These patients experience loss of the organ and death at higher rates than domestic organ transplant recipients.

Despite the growing body of information on the ramifications of transplant tourism, Canadians continue to travel abroad for commercial organ transplants. Doctors have reported that three to five people a year still arrive at St. Michael's Hospital having obtained a kidney in countries such as China, Pakistan or India. St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver also reports seeing three to five returning organ tourists a year.

A study on the clinical outcomes of patients treated at an Ontario transplant centre after receiving organs through commercial transactions abroad found that most of the patients needed follow-up care on an urgent basis and some required lengthy hospital stays. This not only puts Canadian citizens at risk, but also contributes to burdening our already-struggling health care system.

To make matters worse, my entire allotted speaking time could be spent recounting story after story of victim organ donors, such as the missing six-year-old boy who was found alone in a field crying, with both of his eyes removed, presumably for their corneas. There was the young girl who was kidnapped and taken to another country for the sole purpose of harvesting her organs. There was the group of terrified women and men who were found locked inside an apartment, being held through deception and threats, waiting to be taken to a clinic to unwillingly have a kidney removed.

As a prosecutor in the Kosovo case said that organ trafficking is “the exploitation of the poor, the indigent, the vulnerable and the marginalized in our society”. He said that the recipients of those organs are wealthy, influential citizens from foreign countries and largely western countries, who should be held criminally responsible.

Trafficking in human organs is indeed a cruel harvest of the poor.

Thank you.

November 16th, 2022 / 4:35 p.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Ali Ehsassi

I call the meeting to order.

Welcome to meeting number 37 of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.

Today's meeting is taking place in a hybrid format. Members are attending in person in the room, as well as remotely using the Zoom application.

I would like to take a few moments to provide some explanations for witnesses and members.

First, please wait until I recognize you by name before speaking. For those participating by video conference, click on the microphone icon to activate your mike, and please mute yourself when you are not speaking.

Interpretation for those on Zoom is at the bottom of your screen, and you have a choice of either floor, English or French. Those in the room can use the earpiece and select the desired channel.

In accordance with our routine motion, I'd like to inform members of the committee that all witnesses have completed the required connection tests in advance of our meeting.

Pursuant to the order of reference of Wednesday, May 18, 2022, the committee will commence consideration of Bill S-223, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

With regard to the drafting of amendments, I would like to remind members to contact Alexandra Schorah, the legislative counsel, should there be any amendments to the draft or should there be anything that they would like to bring to her attention and ask for her guidance on.

Now it is my pleasure to welcome our two witnesses on this specific bill. We have the Honourable Salma Ataullahjan, senator; as well as Mr. Garnett Genuis, who is well known to you all, the MP for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan. You will each be provided five minutes, after which we will proceed with questions from the members.

Senator, you have the floor. You have five minutes. When you only have 30 seconds left, I will put this up to provide you with some context. Please do proceed. The floor is yours.

November 14th, 2022 / 4:55 p.m.
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Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Montarville, QC

Mr. Chair, first, I must say that I'm a bit uncomfortable. We were supposed to hear from other witnesses on Bill S‑223. If we are planning to do that, I wonder if we wouldn't be better off thanking these witnesses and letting them go because the discussion on our colleague Mr. Genuis's motion seems to be dragging on.

With respect to the motion, and in response to Mr. Oliphant's remarks, with which I largely agree, I would say that it was appropriate for this committee to address the decision made by the Government of Canada. The decision did put us at odds with the Ukrainians, as well as the Germans and many other Europeans.

From the outset, I thought that it must not have been an easy decision for the government to allow this turbine to be returned to Europe. We wanted an opportunity to let the government explain its decision, which it did. For quite some time now, we've felt we should end this turbine study because there's no need to debate the issue any longer, for a number of reasons.

First, we've called Mr. Putin's bluff. Whether or not we return the turbine, we realized that the Kremlin had no intention of continuing to supply Germany or any other European nation via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which the Russians likely bombed themselves.

When she appeared before this committee, the German ambassador herself alluded to Canada suspending the permit given that the bluff had been called. The turbine was no longer relevant, and leaving the permit open when the government had planned to be able to revoke it is not only inappropriate, it's bordering on laughable, absurd, ridiculous.

For the sake of credibility, the committee must end its work on the turbine issue. If it were up to us, we would have stopped working on this a long time ago. It was our Conservative friends who insisted that we add witnesses. However, as Mr. Oliphant pointed out, the additional hearings did nothing to further fuel the debate.

It's very clear from our perspective. While controversial, the government's reasons for allowing the turbine to go back to Europe seemed to us to be justified in the circumstances. They are no longer justified, they haven't been for some time, and we should have come to an agreement on that long ago.

That's why, despite Mr. Oliphant's reservations, which I mostly agree with, we have to conclude that the government needs to suspend and revoke the permit, and we need to move on.

Again, I regret that this debate has somewhat dragged on and kept our witnesses waiting.

Because you momentarily refrained from speaking when I was talking about this, Mr. Chair, I would again suggest that we thank the witnesses, let them go and call them to appear at a later date.

Thank you.

Human Organ TraffickingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

November 4th, 2022 / 12:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Barrett Conservative Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

Madam Speaker, I have two petitions I would like to present. The first is in support of Bill S-223. It is a bill that seeks to combat forced organ harvesting and trafficking. The bill has passed the Senate twice and the House once in its current form. It is currently stalled before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, and petitioners hope it will soon be passed. The families of victims of forced organ harvesting and trafficking have now waited almost 15 years for Canada to pass this legislation. Let us end the delays and get this law passed.

November 2nd, 2022 / 6:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

If it's helpful, I will just make a comment on Bill S-223. I am of the view that this bill can be studied and proceeded with relatively quickly because it's been studied on multiple occasions by committees in the House and the Senate. This committee and the House previously studied this bill and amended it. The form in which we are receiving it from the Senate in this Parliament is identical to the form amended by a previous version of the House foreign affairs committee.

I'm a little biased. It's a bill that I am sponsoring, but this bill has gone through about five different versions and different Parliaments over 15 years. I think the argument for a somewhat more expedited timeline around hearings on this is that there's been extensive testimony and discussion in previous Parliaments.

While I would generally agree with the principle of the argument that Mr. Bergeron is making in the context of a new bill, I think the process makes sense in the context of a bill that, frankly, every time it's been voted on, everybody has agreed to. It has nonetheless not managed to complete its legislative journey in 15 years.

November 2nd, 2022 / 6:30 p.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Ali Ehsassi

Fair enough. We could just proceed with that.

There is one more issue, and we don't necessarily have to do this in camera. I just want to confirm that it is the will of the committee that in the context of Bill S-223, the deadline for the submission of amendments to the clerk of the committee be no later than noon on Thursday, November 10, 2022.

Is everyone in favour? Are you unanimous on that?

Go ahead, Mr. Bergeron.

October 26th, 2022 / 7:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Chong Conservative Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Okay, it would be all three budgets, yes.

I will move the third budget, which is the request for Bill S-223 for the amount of $5,225.

Uighurs and other Turkic MuslimsPrivate Members' Business

October 26th, 2022 / 6:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Sameer Zuberi Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

moved:

That, given the motion adopted unanimously by the House on February 22, 2021, recognizing that a genocide is currently being carried out by the People's Republic of China against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims, in the opinion of the House, the government should:

(a) recognize that Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims that have fled to third countries face pressure and intimidation by the Chinese state to return to China, where they face the serious risk of mass arbitrary detention, mass arbitrary separation of children from their parents, forced sterilization, forced labour, torture and other atrocities;

(b) recognize that many of these third countries face continued diplomatic and economic pressure from the People's Republic of China to detain and deport Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims leaving them without a safe haven in the world;

(c) urgently leverage Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program to expedite the entry of 10,000 Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in need of protection, over two years starting in 2024 into Canada; and

(d) table in the House, within 120 sitting days following the adoption of this motion, a report on how the refugee resettlement plan will be implemented.

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to be here in the House with all members today. I would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on Algonquin territory.

Today is an important day. We will be discussing an important program that is within Motion No. 62, a motion to welcome 10,000 Uighur who are facing genocide within China right now, at this moment in time.

This motion calls for the Government of Canada to resettle 10,000 Uighur as of 2024 from third countries. Why third countries? It is because we cannot welcome, unfortunately, Uighur who are currently undergoing the genocide within China, but we can provide safe haven for vulnerable Uighur within third countries. These third countries primarily include countries from north Africa and the Arab world, but not exclusively. There are several other countries where Uighur people are living and are present.

We have heard a lot of testimony from survivors at committees and at the Subcommittee on International Human Rights. In the past we have heard horrifying nightmare stories of people being abused in unspeakable ways, of women being violated and men too. We heard about forced labour. There are over a million people currently in forced labour camps. We heard about children, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, being separated from their families when they should be in the care of their moms and dads.

We know that 20% of the world's cotton is produced in China, likely tainted by forced labour. We know that 35% of tomato products are also tainted by forced labour because they come from the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region. We know that 45% of polyurethane, which is the base material for solar panels, as the world tries to go green, is also tainted by forced labour. This is wholly and entirely unacceptable. This is something that we, as a country and as a human family, must stand up against.

We had a motion from the benches opposite in February 2021 that called on the House to recognize that a genocide is in fact occurring. Thankfully the House voted unanimously and spoke with one voice on that matter. Not a single person voted against it. We unanimously voted to recognize that a genocide is in fact occurring toward the Uighur people.

This issue is not a partisan issue. For those who make it such, shame on them. They know who they are. This is an issue about people who are dying, who are being violated and who are being mistreated. We said after World War II that this would not happen again. After Bosnia and Yugoslavia, we also reconfirmed that intent. After what happened in Rwanda, we did the same, and with the Rohingya again. Now we know, a genocide is occurring.

What are we going to do? We heard the reports. We know the reports. Many of us have read the reports, over 50 pages long, from Michelle Bachelet, the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. She said that these allegations of the Uighur people are well-founded, and they also may amount to international crimes, including crimes against humanity. These are high crimes in international law, as is genocide.

The international community, in 2005, said that these types of international crimes must be prevented. Therefore, each and every country has a responsibility to protect when we see crimes against humanity occurring, or the threat of them occurring. When we see genocide occurring or the threat of genocide occurring, we, as a human family, as a collective of countries and as Canada, all have a responsibility to protect.

Our responsibility is engaged and we must act. One way in which we can answer this is by voting for this program to welcome 10,000 Uighurs here in Canada. We have a proud tradition in our country of welcoming refugees and asylum seekers. This is a proud Canadian tradition.

This program will not halt the genocide. It will put a slight dent in it. This program will not answer our obligation, the responsibility, to protect. It will in part answer it. This is something that speaks to our tradition. This is something that we can do, should do, must do.

In the past, we have welcomed many different people who have been fleeing for their lives from genocides, from crimes against humanity. Recently, we can think of Yazidis, Syrians and Afghans. We can think of Hongkongers. We created some special pathways. We can do this again, now, today.

I will share some facts about the Uighur people. Who are they? We hear the term but we do not know who they are.

Like all people, they are a proud people. They live in the western part of China, what they have traditionally called East Turkestan, what we know in international law as Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region.

Xinjiang has a particular meaning. It means “new frontier” in the tongue of the majority of people within China. It is approximately, as I mentioned, one-sixth the land mass of China. It also has many vast deserts and mountains. It historically has been part of the ancient Silk Road trade route that connected China, that allowed for trade to occur to Europe and the Middle East. That trade route is being revived, but with a modern update, with highways and the free flow of goods.

That is why the supply chain issue is a big question. The current belt and road initiative runs through Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

As I mentioned earlier, 20% of the world's cotton is produced there. Eighty per cent of China's cotton actually comes from the region. I will repeat that for all of us who buy cotton. Eighty per cent of Chinese cotton comes from Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, as does 35% of tomato products, pasta and pizza.

I love pasta and pizza. Contrary to first impressions, I am actually one-quarter Italian and one-quarter Sicilian. I joke sometimes that my colour comes from my Sicilian side. It is a bad joke, but I say it sometimes.

We know that approximately 45% of the base materials for solar panels come from that region also. Minerals, such as gold, silver and zinc come from there. It is very mineral-rich.

There has been atomic testing also in the region since the 1960s. In addition to all of the horrors that we heard, these things are occurring.

These horrors are real, so real, as I mentioned, that the former high commissioner of human rights, Michelle Bachelet, said that these allegations are well-founded.

Thankfully, in addition to my motion, we had a preview this week in the House when we were discussing and then voted to concur in the immigration committee's report, which called for immigration. That report unfortunately, or fortunately, did not specify something. That report that we all unanimously concurred in this week said that we should create special immigration measures for Uighur people and other Turkic minorities, but we did not specify what those measures should be.

This motion does exactly that. It completes what happened earlier this week, when we said, “Let us do this.” This motion says how. This motion is precise. It is specific. It is time-bound. It is what we need.

In addition to this, we thankfully have a number of initiatives in the House, and I would like to see them all pass and made into law.

First is Bill S-211, which is on forced labour. It is a very important bill. Thankfully, our foreign affairs minister has said that we support it. She said that in August, when replying to Michelle Bachelet's report that there may be crimes against humanity occurring within the region, so already our foreign affairs minister has said such. This initiative started in the Senate and now is in the House. It is actually heading to committee.

We also have a second initiative on organ harvesting: Bill S-223, which is also an important piece of legislation. Organ harvesting does occur within Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region, but not exclusively there. We know that Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, practitioners have been subject to this in the past. It is well documented.

These are a number of the initiatives that are in progress and happening right now. They are initiatives that we should all be supporting.

Our government has done a handful of things. We have implemented Magnitsky sanctions against four individuals and one entity that are active and responsible for these crimes. This was done in advance of the genocide motion of February 2021. We also have a number of advisory opinions for companies operating within Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region. As an advocate, I would like always to see that strengthened, and that must be strengthened through Bill S-211.

I would like to highlight something. While we are speaking squarely about the crimes against humanity and genocide occurring within China, we need to be careful not to fall into unconscious bias about Asians and Chinese people. That is very important, as we advocate clearly and unambiguously, to not to fall into that. At the end, I personally have, on this issue, no qualms, if and when the government in China were to stop doing what it is doing, I personally would not speak on this issue, but only if and when China does stop doing what it is doing. However, until then, all of us, including myself, must speak on this issue.

I would like to impress upon the House how we united behind my motion. I want to share something. My seconder is Rachel Bendayan, a colleague of mine in the benches.

Human Organ TraffickingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

October 26th, 2022 / 4:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a number of petitions to present today.

The first petition is in support of Bill S-223. The folks who have signed this petition, who are from across Canada, are concerned about international forced organ harvesting that happens around the world.

The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to ensure that Canadians cannot go abroad to get organs that have been forced harvested around the world, and also to ensure that financial transactions that happen are rendered inadmissible in Canada to all permanent residents and foreign nationals who have participated in this. It is kind of a sanction.

Citizenship and ImmigrationCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

October 24th, 2022 / 8:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, today, several petitions were presented on combatting forced organ harvesting around the world.

Does the hon. member have any thoughts or opinions about the passage of Bill S-223 through the House?

Citizenship and ImmigrationCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

October 24th, 2022 / 8:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Brad Redekopp Conservative Saskatoon West, SK

Mr. Speaker, we cannot really control what the rest of the world does with this. We can designate this situation to be a genocide here in Canada. We can take those actions.

More importantly, actions we can take that are significant are, for example, blocking products that are made with Uighur forced labour. That is something we can do in Canada. Just last month the European Union banned exactly that. It banned products made with Uighur forced labour. That is an example of something within our control to do, and we can do it.

We can also halt complicity in organ harvesting. This is a very significant thing where organs are actually being harvested from people, such as Uighurs in China, and are being sold all around the world. This is a horrific thing that should not be happening.

There is a bill right now, Bill S-223, that is at the foreign affairs committee. That is another very important piece of legislation. It is something we can do to take action on this important file.

Citizenship and ImmigrationCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

October 24th, 2022 / 7:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, it has been a pleasure to work with the member's colleague from the Bloc on many of these issues. His colleague proposed the amendment. He talked about this in relation to an Olympic boycott, which was, I think, one potential way of the international community sending a strong signal. Unfortunately, that signal was not sent early enough with sufficient magnitude to achieve the result that his colleague and other members of this House were advocating for.

There are many different things we can do legislatively to push for justice for Uighurs. I really appreciated the speech given by another one of the Bloc member's colleagues on Bill C-281, which is an important international human rights piece of legislation. We have Bill S-211 and Bill S-223 as well, which are both before the foreign affairs committee and are unfortunately waiting to move forward. There are also the immigration measures, the concurrence motion and the motion to be debated later this week. There are many different things we can do.

I wonder if the member would like to comment on the breadth of areas where Canada's Parliament could take action and on the fact that we can make a difference through the steps we take here in Canada's Parliament, even to impact injustices that are half a world away.

Citizenship and ImmigrationCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

October 24th, 2022 / 6:45 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, there are many ways I could start my comments with respect to the debate on the motion that was moved earlier today after question period, but I want to highlight the importance of the day itself for a moment or two. One might think that I am going to talk about Diwali, because today is in fact a very special celebration. However, there is something else that should be highlighted, which is the fact that it was 77 years ago today that the Charter of the United Nations was formed.

When we think of the issue of human rights, the Liberal caucus believes in the future of the United Nations as a shining beacon for the world when it comes to the issue of human rights and dignity of the person. It is important that we recognize this and the fact that Canada is a charter member of the United Nations, which we should take a great deal of pride in.

In approaching the debate that we are having this evening, I do not want to do anything that would minimize in any fashion whatsoever what has happened to the Uighur people and the Turkic Muslims. The severity of what they have had to endure over the years is significant. Whether it has been individual countries or the United Nations that have looked into some of the things that we often hear about, we all take it very seriously. We all understand what is taking place and the issue of propaganda that is out there, so I do not want to take anything away from it and I will get back to this.

First and foremost, I want to talk about the reason we are having this debate today. The Conservative Party, over the last number of years, has used concurrence motions not as a way to raise an issue, as its members often try to imply when they bring forward the motions, but as a way to prevent debate on government business, which is why I asked the mover of the motion why he chose to bring forward this motion. In his response, he said that, if things had taken place in the foreign affairs committee, he then would not have had to move this particular motion.

I will talk about Bill S-223 in regard to the illegal harvesting of organs, as members of all political parties have supported that legislation. However, what we see is a Conservative Party that is in every way trying to prevent the government from advancing important legislation.

It is just like we saw moments ago with Bill S-5. Members will recall that last week we were ready to debate Bill S-5, but the Conservatives moved a motion of concurrence to talk about yet another issue during Government Orders on a day when there was government business. They will not move one tomorrow because that is an opposition day, but today is a government day. Therefore, they moved a motion to have the debate on the Uighurs and Turkic Muslims and what is taking place in China. Why? It is because they do not want the government to advance important legislation

I cite Bill S-5 because the Conservatives are actually voting in favour of it, even though last week they tried to prevent it from being debated. Again, today, they tried to prevent it from being debated. The government suggested that we have 20 minutes or a half an hour of debate on the issue and then continue the debate after the House finished government business at 6:45 p.m.

I do not say this lightly. It could be said that the most precious commodity we have inside the House of Commons is time. There is never enough time to debate all the things that need to be debated inside the House. A good example of that is Private Members' Business, let alone government legislative business and all the demands on it.

If we are going to debate human rights, which in essence is what the Conservative Party wanted us to debate today instead of debating Bill S-5, which they support, there are other issues we could have debated regarding human rights. I am thinking of what is happening today in Ukraine. There have been so many allegations, substantiated in many ways, of things like torture, rape and mass killings. Defining “mass” is another challenge in itself, but that is something that is taking place today in a war in Europe.

I suggest that on a human rights scale, much like dealing with the Uighurs and the Turkic Muslims, it is an important issue. Both deal with human rights issues. If the Conservatives really wanted to have a debate on human rights, I think what they should have done was bring forward an opposition day motion. Had they done that, they could have highlighted a number of different issues.

Depending on where one sits and the area one might represent, one might bring a different perspective of human rights and what is happening around the world. If someone were to ask me to pick an area that I would like to talk about when dealing with human rights today, there is no shortage of areas. I think one of the areas that we could definitely give more attention to would be to what is taking place in Ukraine. What about the Iranian refugee situation, where protesters have been killed, not dozens but hundreds? Allegations of all sorts are taking place there. I suspect we would have had members in the House standing and wanting to talk about that. There are so many people, so many MPs, who are still touched by people like former Senator Dallaire and what took place in Rwanda. Others might want to go back to World War II and the genocides that took place.

What we see around the world is truly amazing. One would think we would learn from it. That is the reason why I say the future is the United Nations. That is something the government of the day works with every day. We have a Prime Minister and a Minister of Foreign Affairs who actually sent out a release. If it had not been for that release, I do not think I would have realized that it was the 77th anniversary of the United Nation.

It is through those multilateral relations, an alliance of like-minded nations, that we are going to be able to make the world a better place for humanity into the future. At the end of the day, I would have preferred to have that type of debate on the floor of the House of Commons during an opposition day motion or even a take-note debate this evening. The Conservatives could have raised the issue and said, instead of moving concurrence on a report, let us have a take-note debate on human rights violations and put in the request for what they wanted emphasized.

We are very aware of what is taking place in China. Today and last week, I presented petitions regarding the illegal harvesting of human organs. I made reference to the fact that there are well over a million people around the world who have signed a petition calling upon governments at all levels to recognize what is taking place with the Falun Gong. These are the types of things that should be debated and need to be debated. I do not question that, but there are forums for us to ensure that takes place.

Where I take objection is when the official opposition, in the name of debating human rights, brings forward a concurrence motion in order to prevent substantial legislation from being debated. That is what we see from the Conservative Party time and time again.

The Conservatives have sent a message through their behaviour on Bill S-5, even though they support it. The message is that, if the government wants to pass S-5, it is going to have to go to the NDP or the Bloc, and the NDP or the Bloc are going to have to support us in bringing in time allocation. Otherwise, the Conservatives are going to continue to filibuster, unless we shame them a little.

That is the reason we are having this debate this evening. It is not because there was a consensus among all parties to talk about human rights, but rather because of an irresponsible opposition that will do whatever it can to try to frustrate the legislative process during government business.

If we look at the substance of the legislation, Canadians having a right to a healthy environment is within the legislation description. We could talk about other pieces of legislation. There is legislation that would provide children 12 and under the opportunity to have access to dental care. We could also talk about supporting renters by making their rent a little more affordable.

Conservatives do not want to have those debates because they oppose them. I believe they oppose that legislation. Maybe we can take that into consideration, at least in part. The Conservative Party likes to say it is a minority government and it has a responsibility, but so does the official opposition. The official opposition also has a responsibility to ensure there is some functionality inside the House. They were not elected to prevent all forms of legislation and hold them up.

I understand what it means to be in opposition. For over 20 years as a parliamentarian, I was in opposition. Hopefully, I will get that same time in government. The point is that, as an opposition party, the Conservative Party has fallen off track by believing everything it does needs to be obstructive and prevent the government from being able to pass anything, whether it is good or bad. This is until it comes to a point in time where the Conservative Party is embarrassed and shamed, or maybe even, like with the GST, it actually changes its opinion and supports the legislation. In fairness, there have been a couple of instances where that has taken place.

I would really encourage the Conservative opposition, when it says it wants to debate something, to allow that debate to take place. If there is something its members would ultimately like to see take place and they feel frustrated by government, there are other alternatives and other tools.

When we talk about the Uighurs and Turkic Muslims and what is happening to them, we need to get a sense of what it is, because most people do not necessarily have that understanding. They hear there are issues surrounding human rights violations. With a very little amount of research, one can easily get an appreciation on the types of things we are actually talking about.

It is estimated the Uighur population is in and around 12 million people. If we put that into the perspective of Canada, Canada has 38 million people. Imagine 12 million people, and I have not done the math but I suspect it would be all of western Canada plus, being suppressed and all sorts of violations taking place against human dignity and against basic human rights.

We often hear of the issue of genocide. We often hear how the government of China is in complete denial, saying it is more about propaganda by people who are against China. We see the results of other nations, the United Nations and others, that have been working with and listening at the ground level. When we talk about the uniqueness of the Uighur people and the degree to which it is getting the necessary attention worldwide, I think the world could be doing more. There is a need for us to collectively work within the United Nations and with other like-thinking allied countries to continue to put pressure on China.

I made reference to the Magnitsky act, which is legislation the United States first brought in based on what took place in Russia many years ago. It is the idea of sanctions and the idea of the world recognizing this. Many other countries, including Canada, have actually adopted similar legislation, recognizing there is always room for us to do more.

I will continue to do what I can. I would encourage members of all political entities to recognize what I suspect is a common value Canadians share: our rights, which are embodied in our Charter of Rights. Our Charter of Rights and the rule of law are things that matter to Canadians, and we should be sharing these with the world.

With those few thoughts, I appreciate the time to speak.

Human Organ TraffickingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

October 24th, 2022 / 4:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, I will table my last petition on forced organ harvesting and trafficking in support of Bill S-223. This bill would make it a criminal offence for persons to go abroad and receive an organ taken without consent.

It has been before the House in various forms for 15 years and petitioners are hopeful this Parliament will be the one that gets it done.