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)

Human Organ TraffickingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

October 24th, 2022 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

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

The first petition I want to present is from people across Canada in support of Bill S-223, a bill that seeks to combat forced organ harvesting and trafficking. This bill has been before this place for over 15 years, and the petitioners are urging the Parliament of Canada to move quickly on proposed legislation so as to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to prohibit Canadians from travelling abroad to acquire human organs that might be removed without consent, as we have heard. I am happy to present that petition.

Human Organ TraffickingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

October 24th, 2022 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Madam Speaker, I too wish to table a petition today in support of Bill S-223, as many of my colleagues in the House from all parties have. It is a bill seeking to combat forced organ harvesting and trafficking that has been before the House for, as my colleagues have said, over 15 years. The petitioners want to see Bill S-223 passed as soon as possible.

Human Organ TraffickingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

October 24th, 2022 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, I am tabling this petition in support of Bill S‑223, which seeks to combat trafficking in human organs. This bill has been debated in the House for almost 15 years now in various forms. The petitioners would like us to debate and pass Bill S‑223 as quickly as possible.

Human Organ TraffickingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

October 24th, 2022 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Rob Morrison Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Madam Speaker, I am presenting a petition today in support of Bill S-223, a bill that seeks to combat forced organ harvesting and trafficking. This bill has been before the House in various forms for approaching 15 years. The petitioners want to see the bill, Bill S-223, passed as soon as possible.

Human Organ TraffickingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

October 24th, 2022 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Madam Speaker, I am tabling a petition today in support of Bill S-223, a bill that seeks to combat forced organ harvesting and trafficking.

The bill has been before the House in various forms for approaching 15 years. The petitioners want to see Bill S-223 passed as soon as possible.

Human Organ TraffickingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

October 24th, 2022 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to table a petition about Bill S‑223, a bill that seeks to combat trafficking in human organs.

This bill has appeared in various forms in the House of Commons over the past 15 years at least, and I think we need to pass it. This petition urges us to pass Bill S‑223 as quickly as possible.

Human Organ TraffickingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

October 24th, 2022 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Madam Speaker, I am tabling a petition today that a colleague has already tabled. The petition is on Bill S-223, a bill that seeks to combat the terrible practice of organ harvesting and trafficking. It has been before the House, as many of us have heard, for the last 15 years and beyond. Unfortunately, it was supposed to be at the foreign affairs committee today, but the committee cancelled its meeting.

The petitioners want to see Bill S-223 passed as soon as possible.

Human Organ TraffickingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

October 24th, 2022 / 4 p.m.
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Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, I am tabling a petition today in support of Bill S-223, a bill that seeks to combat forced organ harvesting and trafficking. This bill has been before the House in various forms for approaching 15 years now. The bill was supposed to be considered at a meeting of the foreign affairs committee happening right now, but the meeting was cancelled at the last minute without consultation by the committee chair.

The petitioners want to see Bill S-223 passed as soon as possible.

Citizenship and ImmigrationCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

October 24th, 2022 / 3:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, I look forward to speaking to Bill S-5 when the time comes for that. The member misstated what I said in that I believe this is a debate that should happen and that we would benefit from having happen. I simply pointed out, as well, that Bill S-223 is an important piece of legislation that relates to the rights of Uighurs and was scheduled for the foreign affairs committee, but the foreign affairs committee was cancelled.

This is actually the time that exists for concurrence motions. That is why we are discussing a concurrence motion. The Conservative Party was very clear well in advance. We communicated to the government and publicly, in this morning's Globe and Mail, that we intended to move a motion of concurrence during the time of the parliamentary day that is set aside for concurrence motions. That is why the Chair stands up and says, “Motions,” and people who have motions move those motions. That is how the process works.

The member is trying to delegitimize concurrence discussions when in fact concurrence is part of the process. It is a way of building on work done at committees to affirm the importance of things committees propose and to have those things adopted by the broader House.

Citizenship and ImmigrationCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

October 24th, 2022 / 3:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, we will see how the vote on this proceeds tomorrow. Following that vote, there will be votes on other measures.

There are sometimes instances where the government may not want to proceed with something but also not want to talk about it. For example, we have the issue of forced organ harvesting and trafficking before the foreign affairs committee. We think we should move that issue forward. I will give the Liberal members credit that every time the issue has been brought to a vote in the House, they have voted in favour of that bill, yet we are not seeing a will to move it forward. If the foreign affairs committee had been going forward, I would not be here in the House speaking on this issue, but at the foreign affairs committee testifying on Bill S-223. However, the chair cancelled that meeting arbitrarily without consulting with other parties, which meant I was not able to be there and we were not able to move the bill forward.

I hope members of the government will reflect on why that meeting was cancelled, because bills like Bill S-223 are important bills on forced organ harvesting and trafficking that should be moving forward at the committee and are not. There are other bills, like Bill S-211, where a lot of work is required but things are being slowed down.

Citizenship and ImmigrationCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

October 24th, 2022 / 3:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I move that the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, presented to the House on Friday, April 29, be concurred in.

I appreciate the opportunity to open debate, a debate that I understand will be, by unanimous consent, continuing this evening, on the sixth report, which deals with the ongoing injustices facing Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims and the work that we need to do as a House in response to it.

I am grateful for the work of the immigration committee. This is a unanimous report that highlights many important issues, and I want to start the debate by reading points from the report into the record and then discussing them.

The report states:

In light of the fact that Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in China face an ongoing genocide, and in light of the fact that those in third countries are at continuing risk of detention and deportation back to China, where they face serious risk of arbitrary detention, torture, and other atrocities, the committee calls on the government to:

a) extend existing special immigration measures to Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims, including the expansion of biometrics collection capabilities in third countries and the issuance of Temporary Resident Permits and single journey travel documents to those without a passport;

b) allow displaced Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in third countries, who face risk of detention and deportation back to China, to seek refuge in Canada;

c) waive the UNHCR refugee determination;

d) and the government provide a comprehensive response by letter to the committee within 30 days.

This motion follows an important step taken by the House about a year and a half ago when the House voted to recognize the Uighur genocide. It was a unanimous vote of all who voted in this place. As members will recall, cabinet abstained and still has not declared its position, but the vote that will take place on this motion, because it is a vote to agree with this report, will provide cabinet and the government with another opportunity to declare their position with respect to the Uighur genocide.

I reflect as well on the fact that much of this conversation was started in the House with the recognition of the genocide motion, but there has been much more discussion in the international community and evidence that has come out since. Just recently, there was the report of Michelle Bachelet. There were significant efforts to influence that report and there were significant limitations with respect to the work she was able to do, but, nonetheless, very damning conclusions came out of that report.

Various analyses have shown forced sterilization, systemic sexual violence targeting Uighur women, people being taken away and put in concentration camps, clear violations of the UN definition as it pertains to genocide and states that are party to that have an obligation to recognize and respond in those cases. This report recognizes and reaffirms that.

The focus of this report is on other measures that the House and the government need to take in response to these events. I want to focus on the ones in this report, as well as other additional measures that can and should be taken.

Following that recognition, even while the government has still not declared its position, other members of Parliament have been trying to put forward constructive initiatives that respond to the question of what Canada can do to advance the issue of justice and human rights for Uighurs. There have been a number of different areas where proposals have been put forward in the House.

This report speaks on additional immigration measures that have been put forward, and I know that later this week we will be having the first hour of debate on Motion No. 62. I should have made note of my colleague's constituency name before, but my colleague from somewhere in Montreal is proposing that and we will be debating that for the first hour on Wednesday. We are seeing a number of different initiatives on the immigration front.

We recognize the reality that Uighurs in China obviously often struggle to get to safety, but, increasingly, the efforts of the Government of China to have influence beyond its borders are creating greater and greater challenges, escalating pressures on refugees who have fled, maybe thought they were in a safe place and are now facing intimidation and persecution that is being pushed on the countries where they are resident as a result of pressure from the Government of China.

As it relates to third countries, it is worth mentioning the case of Huseyin Celil, who is a Canadian citizen detained in China. This was a case where he did not travel to China. Mr. Celil was in Uzbekistan, but was taken from Uzbekistan and sent back to China, where he has been detained for over a decade and a half. Underlining that is the fact that we need to recognize how CCP pressure on third countries can lead to people being sent back and facing human rights violations in the process.

Canada can be a place of safety for these folks in the Uighur diaspora who have left China but who are still facing the risks of potential persecution and repatriation in the countries where they are.

That is why Canada should be looking at strengthening special immigration measures. Our view on this side of the House is that we need to recognize the important role played by private sponsoring organizations and a strategy for responding to persecution and supporting victims of human rights abuses should involve collaboration between governments and private sponsoring entities.

We need to recognize that there may not be resources within those private sponsoring entities to cover all of the needs that exist, and there could be vehicles for joint sponsorship. There could even be cases, perhaps, where the government provides the funding but organizations on the ground here in Canada play a specific role in welcoming newcomers.

All of the data suggests that those who are privately sponsored have a greater level of success once they are here in Canada, so we should look for opportunities in the process to engage private sponsors, such as mosques, churches, synagogues, faith groups, community groups and civil society, to help people acclimatize to coming to Canada. We recognize that this is not just a question of state policy, but the process of welcoming refugees is a collective effort that all Canadians can be involved in. I think, in many cases, people from different backgrounds and different experiences want to be involved, and they certainly get a lot out of it.

I want, as well, to discuss some of the other measures that we need to be taking about, coming out of where we were a year and a half ago.

I have sponsored a private member's bill in this place that comes from the other place, from Senator Ataullahjan. Bill S-223 is a bill that would combat forced organ harvesting and trafficking. The bill would make it a criminal offence for a person to go abroad and receive an organ taken without consent. This is a private member's bill that would have Canada doing what it can to combat this horrific practice of forced organ harvesting and trafficking.

I do want to note that, unfortunately, the progress of Bill S-223 has been stalled. It has been sitting before the foreign affairs committee for months and months. We have not been able to get it adopted and sent back to the House. In fact, I was not originally scheduled to be here in the House right now. I was scheduled to be testifying before the foreign affairs committee, but at the last minute, the meeting scheduled to conduct hearings on Bill S-223 was cancelled by the Chair. That has further delayed the process of bringing this bill forward.

The bill to combat forced organ harvesting and trafficking is pertinent now because we are hearing more about Uighurs being victims of this practice, but it is something that has been going on for decades. In particular, the Falun Gong community has highlighted the abuse of forced organ harvesting and trafficking and how it impacts their community.

It has actually been 15 years that parliamentarians have been working on a bill to combat forced organ harvesting and trafficking. Borys Wrzesnewskyj was first to bring one forward. Irwin Cotler also had a bill.

Since I was elected in 2015, I have been working on this with Senator Ataullahjan through the last three Parliaments. This bill has passed the Senate three times, twice in its current form. It has passed the House once in its current form. It has been studied multiple times by Senate committees and by a House committee, so I think it is time that we finally get it done, if we are able to end the logjam around it at the foreign affairs committee. It should not be about any one individual. This is a bill that will save lives if it is passed. I hope we are able to get it done.

A lot of work, as well, has been done on this issue of forced labour. There are significant concerns about how Uighurs are victims of forced labour and, in general, how Canada's laws to combat forced labour are totally inadequate. There is much more work that needs to be done. Another bill before the foreign affairs committee, also with an unclear timeline around it, is Bill S-211, a bill from a colleague on the government side. It has broad support in the House, and Conservatives supported fast-tracking it at second reading, but it is, again, not moving forward at the moment.

We need to move forward with these bills that are currently before the foreign affairs committee. Bill S-223 and Bill S-211 are two excellent bills. One is on organ harvesting, and the other is aimed at addressing an issue of forced labour.

Bill S-211 would create a reporting mechanism. It is an important step forward, but the other thing we need to do is recognize that in the Uighur region, for example, there is a very significant, very large issue of forced labour. I support measures, such as the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act in the United States, a bipartisan piece of legislation, that would recognize the particular issues in that region, and perhaps in other regions, where there are really significant and coordinated state-pushed efforts to have forced labour. We need to specifically designate those regions.

We need to look at, for instance, Bill S-204, a bill put forward by Senator Housakos that is not in the House yet. It is still in the other place. That bill would impose a ban on the import of any goods coming out of Xinjiang or East Turkistan, the region where Uighurs are in the majority. The goal of this is to recognize the reality that so much of what is produced and exported in that region is tainted by slave labour. We need to have an approach that recognizes the particular risks in this region and targets that region as well. That is another issue that we need to move on legislatively and there may be other measures we can consider that involve the designation of specific regions. This would target the specific regions in the world where we know there is a very high level of forced labour and a high risk that goods coming out of there will have involve slave labour.

There are many mainstream brands that people will be familiar with, that they may use products from, that import products from that part of the world. It is very concerning. The government announced a new policy on combatting these imports, but, in fact, there was only one shipment that was ever stopped and it was subsequently released. Therefore, we are clearly lacking in this area, and there is much more work that needs to be done.

In terms of some of the legislative proposals that are coming forward, I want to also recognize Bill C-281, a bill that had its first hour of debate recently and has its second hour of debate coming up soon. It is from my colleague in Northumberland—Peterborough South.

Bill C-281 is the international human rights act. It contains a number of measures that would push forward Canada's response on international human rights, including requiring the minister of foreign affairs to table an annual report regarding the government's work on international human rights, include listing, as part of that report, prisoners of conscience, which is of particular concern.

It would also create a mechanism by which individuals could be nominated for sanctions under the Magnitsky act and a parliamentary committee could pass a motion suggesting that someone be sanctioned under the Magnitsky act. If that motion were to pass, the minister would be obliged to provide some kind of a response. This parliamentary trigger mechanism for Magnitsky sanctions has been adopted in other countries. It is very important because a Magnitsky sanctions tool, though a powerful tool, still leaves the discretion entirely in the hands of the government.

There have been many countries around the world where there are serious human rights abuses, and the government has actually failed to sanction anybody from that country. There has been very limited use of Magnitsky sanctions in response to the Uighur genocide. That is why I support this proposal from my colleague to have a parliamentary trigger mechanism, so that a parliamentary committee could, if not compel the government to sanction someone, at least compel the government to provide some kind of a response with respect to why they are or are not considering moving forward with a sanction.

These are some of the measures that we have moved on, from the act of recognition by Parliament a year and a half ago to now, trying to propose concrete, constructive measures that would see Canada play a greater and greater role in combatting this ongoing injustice. We have talked, of course, about the immigration measures that are called for in this report as well as immigration measures that have been put forward in other initiatives that we have seen. We have talked about the issues of forced organ harvesting and trafficking and the legislation that has been put forward on that.

We have talked about different kinds of trade measures, such as those contained in Bill S-211 from Senator Miville-Dechêne, as well as Bill S-204 from Senator Housakos. Bill S-211, which is the general reporting mechanism requiring companies to be involved in reporting on these issues, also has the designation of particular regions of concern and the issues that come out of those. Then there are the other measures in the International Human Rights Act from my colleague, in Bill C-281.

As such, we have seen many different legislative initiatives. I guess one thing to acknowledge that they all have in common is that they are all private members' initiatives, so we are seeing a flurry of activity from individual members, many from our side, many from the Senate and some from other parties as well. However, we have not really seen any government legislation that is aimed at closing the gap, and I think members understand the processes of this House and the long and arduous journey every private member's bill has to make. I have seen it myself in the work I have done on the organ harvesting and trafficking issue. I work on a piece of legislation, and every time it is actually voted on it is unanimous, yet there are so many steps it has to go through, little amendments here and there, that it ends up not getting done.

We are in the third Parliament in which I have worked on this bill, and it has been attempted in two previous Parliaments as well, so there is this long journey private members' bills have to go on, and the risks are the same for other good private members' bills that are responding to urgent and present human rights concerns. That is why the government should take a look at some of these initiatives and maybe consider putting forward proposals that advance them through government legislation.

There is so much more that needs to be done on this issue of forced labour, like even getting it out of government procurement, never mind addressing the import of products of forced labour that come into the private sector. We are relying on private members' legislation to do that job, and we should support these private members' bills, but the government should be willing to lead on this and provide really comprehensive solutions.

One of the areas the government can particularly lead in combatting the injustice facing Uighurs is in working more closely with our allies on combatting the importation of products made from forced labour. There is obviously a lot of tracing and data work that is required in terms of blocking out products made from forced labour from coming into Canada, and this is why we can benefit from sharing information with our allies. If we have consistent laws and are sharing information around forced labour, then we can be more effective working in collaboration.

In fact, we have already started down this road by recognizing as part of our trade deal with the United States and Mexico an obligation around combatting forced labour, but Canada needs to now live up to that obligation. We can share information. We can adjust our policies to really strengthen the work that is required to prevent products from forced labour from coming into this country.

In conclusion, I want to recognize the incredible work that has been done by the Uighur community in particular, but more broadly by other communities, like the Muslim community in general and many other communities that are coming alongside as allies in support of justice and human rights, who have been advocating on these various points related to the injustices the Uighurs have faced.

The information has very clearly been exposed, despite the best efforts of certain actors to suppress it. It is now widely known: the existence of a campaign to put people in concentration camps, forced sterilization and systemic sexual violence. The subcommittee on international human rights two years ago heard brutal testimony from survivors about what had happened, and I reflected at the time on this quote from William Wilberforce, who said, “[Y]ou may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know.”

Members of Parliament answered that call; the subcommittee on international human rights was unanimous and the House was unanimous, but the cabinet has still been silent and unclear, so this motion would provide the cabinet with an opportunity to vote again on the question, since this motion would reaffirm a recognition of the genocide.

It would also go further. We are not waiting for the cabinet; we are pushing forward with measures that are required in terms of pushing for additional immigration measures, and I have talked about the need to combat forced organ harvesting and trafficking, the need to bring in new trade measures and the important additional measures in Bill C-281.

I hope members will support this concurrence and the other measures that are urgently required to stand with our Uighur brothers and sisters, who face so much injustice in China as well as threats even after they have fled.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

October 21st, 2022 / 12:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to have the opportunity to speak today on Bill C‑9, right after my friend, the member for Battle River—Crowfoot.

I want to begin by entering this debate midstream and responding to some of the comments that I was hearing in the questions and comments period immediately prior to my speech, before shifting into some of the other comments I want to make specifically about this legislation.

A favourite subject of the member for Winnipeg North is legislative timing and the processes of the House, and I must confess that it is a subject I enjoy engaging in dialogue about as well. However, I think he is always selective in his presentation of the story when it comes to the timing or process of legislation. There are a number of different aspects to that. In particular, he is essentially telling my colleague that we should not be debating this bill because he wants the bill to move forward on a certain timeline.

It is important for everybody listening to know that it is the sole prerogative of the government to schedule the legislation it is moving forward for debate in the time slots we have for presenting it, which is the vast majority of the parliamentary calender. The government needs to set aside some time for opposition days, where opposition parties put forward motions, and there is the possibility for members to move concurrence of committee reports. However, those are quite constrained given the time that those debates take. Of course, there is also Private Members' Business.

There are therefore some opportunities outside of government for legislation, policy or motions to be put forward for debate in the House, but the vast majority of the time is available to the government to schedule at their sole discretion. It is the government that makes decisions about which bills are priorities and which bills to put forward. If it wants a bill to advance, then I think it has an obligation to schedule it for enough days of debate so that debate can be brought to a conclusion. That principle applies for Bill C-9, as it does for any other bill.

What we often see the government do is fail to prioritize a bill within its own allocation of time. Then it acts mystified about the fact that it is not moving based on some artificial timeline that it has set. We saw this with Bill C-22, where the government scheduled it for one day of debate, did not schedule it for weeks afterwards and then asked why the bill was not moving forward. Of course, debate concluded the next time it was scheduled, but it would have moved forward faster if the government had chosen to prioritize it.

I detect the same string of argumentation again here from my friend from Winnipeg North. He is keen to see Bill C-9 move forward, apparently, but not keen enough to have successfully lobbied his House leader to schedule this bill and put it forward on a larger number of days. Friday is a very short day relative to the time we get.

I wanted to spend a few minutes on that particular point because I know it comes up again and again, and to pre-empt, in a sense, what I suspect will be a question from my friend from Winnipeg North, although I will say that I did appreciate him tabling a petition relating to Bill S-223 on organ harvesting. I hope that is a bill the foreign affairs committee will prioritize for deliberation and move forward, because as members know, it has been a long time.

Having responded to that, I want to add my voice to the comments by my friend from Battle River—Crowfoot pertaining to the larger issues of trust in our institutions and independence. We are talking today, in the context of Bill C-9, about certain circumstances, events and comments that have impacted trust and faith in the judiciary, and I think we need to affirm the importance of institutions.

We want to see that our institutions are trusted, but we also want our institutions to be worthy of that trust. Sometimes what we hear from some members is a call to trust institutions without being willing to note when there have been significant problems in the conduct of individuals in those institutions. I think the issue raised by the opposition House leader today with respect to interference by the government in a criminal case is another important issue in the ongoing conversation about trust in our institutions and the actions of government. Acts of interference by the government certainly do have an impact on how our institutions are perceived and the degree to which they are trusted. These matters of interference and the independence of institutions are important in their own right, but they are also important in terms of how they contribute to the level of trust that Canadians can reasonably have, in light of the facts, in the institutions that are so critical for holding our public life together.

Bill C-9, the piece of legislation we are debating today, is, on the face of it, a relatively technical piece of legislation, although as members know, every technical piece of legislation has interesting philosophical issues and questions underneath it. The legislation is about making changes to the mechanisms or processes that are in place around judicial discipline, or the discipline of judges. I will just read the summary. It states:

This enactment amends the Judges Act to replace the process through which the conduct of federally appointed judges is reviewed by the Canadian Judicial Council. It establishes a new process for reviewing allegations of misconduct that are not serious enough to warrant a judge's removal from office and makes changes to the process by which recommendations regarding removal from office can be made to the Minister of Justice. As with the provisions it replaces, this new process also applies to persons, other than judges, who are appointed under an Act of Parliament to hold office during good behaviour.

It creates mechanisms by which individuals who have been appointed to hold office, pending “good behaviour”, could be considered not to have fulfilled the standards required around good behaviour and could therefore be removed from office and/or face other mechanisms of discipline. I think the details and mechanics of these mechanisms are extremely important, and are things that will be important not only for the House to consider but for committee to go into further.

After reading through the legislation, one thing I found quite interesting was the presence of a review panel of lay people who, by design, cannot have any legal background. It is always interesting to me when there is this balance where, on the one hand, there are aspects of our judicial system where we demand a certain level of expertise, and then on the other hand, there are certain places where, I think for good, understandable reasons, we demand a lack of expertise formally and in practice as a means of saying that we want some people involved in the decision-making who are non-experts.

I recall a quotation from former British prime minister Clement Attlee, who talked about how he wanted his ministers not to be experts on the subjects they were ministers of. I know that is a bit of a parenthetical question, but it is one that has been debated over the years regarding various kinds of appointments.

In any event, this legislation includes a specific, designated role in the termination process for lay people. I want to note as well the justifications by which a judge could be removed from office. Proposed section 80 says, “For the purposes of this Division, the removal from office of a judge is justified only” for these reasons:

(a) infirmity;

(b) misconduct;

(c) failure in the due execution of judicial office;

(d) the judge is in a position that a reasonable, fair-minded and informed observer would consider to be incompatible with the due execution of judicial office.

These are, in some ways, notionally objective criteria, but naturally there is going to be some level of subjectivity in how they will be applied.

There is a history to the consideration of this issue, and there is a history to the discussion of judicial misconduct that touches on some very important and sensitive issues. In my time as a member of Parliament, there has been a fair bit of discussion specifically around the issue of comments by judges dealing with cases of sexual assault. There was a judge who made some very offensive and outrageous comments in the context of a sexual assault trial that he was presiding over. That provoked a lot of conversation about the reality that someone is not rendered all-knowing and all-virtuous simply by the fact that they have received a judicial appointment, and that maybe there is a legitimate place for saying that someone, by their comments or lack of understanding certain things, is no longer fit to be a judge.

How do we preserve the principle of judicial independence, the principle that judges should be making decisions based on the facts of a case and the law rather than making decisions as democratic legislators do, based on other factors, including public opinion? How do we preserve that principle of judicial independence and also say that there are certain societal norms and values that we would like to see reflected in the conduct and statements of judges? There is a point at which a person can go beyond the pale and simply no longer be suited to that position as a function of some of their comments.

There have been a number of ways of getting at this issue. One was from former Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, who put forward a private member's bill, in 2016 or the first half of the 42nd Parliament, that sought to promote judicial education around sexual assault. That is one way of dealing with comments like this: We can say that maybe it is simply about a lack of knowledge and education.

That bill did not pass in Parliament, but a similar bill was put forward and was passed in the 43rd Parliament. As I said at the time, I think we need to recognize the importance of education around these issues, but also recognize that education is not always the full solution. I think there is a lot of data to suggest that when we mandate certain kinds of training courses, for some people it is a meaningful opportunity for them to learn about the matter at hand, but for other people it is just a matter of checking the boxes that are required. Whether it is a meaningful engagement exercise or a box-checking exercise depends somewhat on the way the material is presented, but a lot of it will depend simply on the disposition of the individual and how willing the individual is to substantively engage with the matter at play.

My conclusion is that the proposal from Rona Ambrose about judicial education was very important and worthwhile, but it does not solve the whole problem of either judicial misconduct or potential issues where a judge is making comments in the context of a trial that are very offensive to the victim and to society at large.

That is some of the history of the issue, but there are also other potential issues. This is not just about comments judges make in trials; it could also be about concerns over personal corruption and other things that could be at play in the context of judicial discipline. This is a piece of legislation that, coming out of that long-running public discussion, seeks to make refinements to the processes around judicial discipline.

One thing I would like to note about this discussion is that it presumes the personal fallibility of judges. Maybe it should be fairly obvious, but with the way some of our Canadian debates have proceeded, maybe it is not so obvious that judges are human beings. They have the potential to develop great expertise, great virtue and commitment to their work.

Judges also, like any other human beings, have the potential for grave errors in reasoning, as well as moral errors of various kinds, including misconduct or corruption. They are human beings, are fallible and can make mistakes in various kinds of situations or ways. The heavy criticism of former justice Robin Camp, some of the subsequent discourse and arguments for judicial education the government has supported, and the very existence of this legislation, affirm the reality of judicial fallibility. However, at other times when we are having debates about criminal justice issues and how we respond to particular kinds of charter litigation, the discourse in the House seems to presume something else, which is the infallibility of judges.

It was very striking to me, when I was first elected as a member of Parliament, that we were, on the one hand, dealing with this whole question of former justice Robin Camp and the issues around judicial fallibility, but on the other hand we had members making comments about at the time Bill C-14, which followed the Carter decision of the Supreme Court, where it was repeated that this was a unanimous court decision. Therefore, our goal as a legislature should simply be to interpret the wisdom we were given from this wise council's vision.

I have a great deal of respect for the role the Supreme Court plays in our democracy, but I also think it is legitimate to disagree with decisions that the courts have made. Part of the process of democratic deliberation is recognizing that, if judges can be personally fallible regarding their own conduct, fallible in the sense of making inappropriate comments in a sexual assault case, then they can also be fallible in there determinations about the appropriate sentence and balance of rights that emerge from a series of arguments about how to interpret given facts in light of the charter.

The fact there is diversity in courts of dissent underlines the potential fallibility of judges, and I think we should, in our Canadian democratic discourse, seek to affirm the importance of judicial independence, and the respect that is owed to that institution, while also recognizing that judges make all kinds of mistakes and that Parliament has a role to deliberate about substantive questions of justice and human dignity and to engage in a constructive and healthy back and forth when it comes to decisions, legislation and how we respond to that.

I could cite other cases that brings this issue to the fore, but I see that I am up against my time to some extent. Therefore, I am grateful for the opportunity to address the issues around Bill C-9, to share a bit of the history, and to underline that, for me, one of the lessons coming out of this is to let us acknowledge that judges are human beings. They have an important job to do, but it is legitimate to disagree with and debate the determinations that are made, and to use constitutional tools that affirm the rights and the role of the legislature when it comes to establishing and advancing common values that are determined through democratic deliberation.

Human Organ TraffickingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

October 18th, 2022 / 1:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, the next petition is in a way similar. It relates to organ harvesting.

The petition is in support of Bill S-223, a bill proposed in the other place by Senator Ataullahjan, which is currently in the House before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. It is currently stalled before that committee, and petitioners want to see this Parliament be the one that finally gets Bill S-223 passed.

The bill would prohibit someone from going abroad to receive an organ taken without the consent of the person whose organ it is. It would also create a mechanism by which people could be deemed inadmissible to Canada if they were involved in forced organ harvesting and trafficking.

Human Organ TraffickingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

September 27th, 2022 / 10 a.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to table three petitions before the House.

The first petition deals with the issue of forced organ harvesting and trafficking. The petitioners have submitted this petition in support of Bill S-223, a bill that would make it a criminal offence for a person to go abroad to receive an organ taken without consent.

This bill has passed in the Senate three times and has already passed in the House in a previous Parliament in its current form. It is currently stalled before the foreign affairs committee. I know the petitioners are hoping that this is the petition that gets it done.

Human Organ TraffickingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

September 26th, 2022 / 3:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Frank Caputo Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am tabling a petition in support of Bill S-223, a bill that seeks to combat forced harvesting and trafficking of organs. I understand that similar legislation has passed twice in the Senate and in the House in its current form.

Families of those who are impacted obviously want to see change, as do a number of Canadians, as reflected in this petition.