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Evidence of meeting #8 for Citizenship and Immigration in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was c-17.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Les Linklater  Director General, Immigration Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Andrew Chaplin
Leslie Ann Jeffrey  Associate Professor, Department of History and Politics, University of New Brunswick, As an Individual
John Muise  Director, Public Safety, Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness
Janet Dench  Executive Director, Canadian Council for Refugees
Francisco Rico-Martinez  Former President, Canadian Council for Refugees

5:15 p.m.

Associate Professor, Department of History and Politics, University of New Brunswick, As an Individual

Leslie Ann Jeffrey

I can't overemphasize the problem in terms of what the bureaucracy was saying, that this would be based on evidence. It won't be. There is no evidence, hard evidence, of human trafficking worldwide. It's a huge problem. The Government Accountability Office of the United States has issued a slap on the hand to the CIA and to the State Department for their failure to provide statistically sound numbers. It's a huge step for the U.S. government itself to say their numbers are horribly out of whack. They have said they get 17,000 trafficking victims a year. They have found 150 a year. There is something very wrong. The Attorney General said to Congress in 2006 that the State Department's numbers may be far out of whack.

We use the State Department's numbers via their report on Canada to estimate Canada's problem. There is no hard evidence, and even in the peer-reviewed literature there is a great deal of debate about the methodologies used. There is no provision in this legislation for input from actual trafficked victims to find the evidence. There is no monitoring mechanism on the gendered effects or whether this is actually working and there is no appeal process if someone is denied.

All of these are problematic.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Norman Doyle

Thank you very much.

Ms. Chow.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Chairman, can I just ask a question in terms of order?

Is it possible that we take this bill and add a huge number of amendments to it that address all the things that are being proposed? If so, then it makes sense for me to ask all these questions.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Norman Doyle

Yes, it's possible we could very well send this bill back to the minister with proposals for amendments, but first we have to hear the various people who come before the committee. Then we will get together to see if any amendments would be made. Members will have that opportunity, of course.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Thank you for that.

I'm wondering if you work with overseas counterparts. The question I asked earlier was about these consultants, these go-betweens. These go-betweens are, in my mind, a huge problem.

My understanding is that the field operation manual, called IP 9, or something like that, has been in the works for two years. It still hasn't come out, which means that in the field operation the people who are out there interviewing these migrant workers—or whatever you call them, people who are being exploited when they come into the country—don't really have any power or instructions to go after them. Right now in Canada, under the CIC, the immigration department, the secretariat is supposed to go after these folks, but the secretariat is in immigration while it is actually CBSA that does the enforcement. It is as if the right hand and the left hand are not connected in any way, which means the people we really need to punish are the go-betweens, the consultants, the pimps, the ones who actually traffic these people.

Is there some way, through this bill or through whatever bill or manuals or what have you, to tighten it up that would get to the root of the problem to stop the consultants, whether they are bringing farm workers or live-in caregivers or exotic dancers or whatever into the country?

January 30th, 2008 / 5:20 p.m.

Director, Public Safety, Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness

John Muise

What exactly consultants are doing is not my expertise.

The other thing is that human trafficking, from an enforcement perspective in this country, is a very new thing. I can tell you my ex-counterparts in policing, with whom I communicate on a regular basis, all know about Bill C-49, from 2005, and they know about the amendment in terms of expanding the work visa. They recognize that they have a special victims unit, and these people are victims. They need to change the way they conduct business, and they have done it across a number of fronts.

You can pass this amendment—and I support it—but you're not going to get to where you want to go, Ms. Chow, without, for instance, that back-and-forth where you have, as one example, dedicated police units on the ground that are actively working with the visa officer or CBSA or the visa officers' counterparts here in this country and sharing the kind of information, for instance, where they can tell the overseas visa officer they now have evidence, as opposed to gossip, that a particular consultant or a particular employee on the ground here in Canada is doing bad things, they are trafficking and have indentured sex slaves, who are working at this place.

That's how it happens. Right now, I have to say, in terms of exploitation, much of the focus by the police services, law enforcement, that actually have specialized units has been on Internet child abuse. They need the resources.

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

How many people do you know, among the sex workers, who have been deported prior to being witnesses in court cases? I keep hearing that this is happening. It's supposed to stop.

5:20 p.m.

Associate Professor, Department of History and Politics, University of New Brunswick, As an Individual

Leslie Ann Jeffrey

Actually, there's only been one case in trafficking under the IRPA, and he was found not guilty. In fact, what we're finding among sex workers I speak to, and among those who talk to migrant sex workers, is that they know they're coming in to do this kind of work, and that immediately puts them under the Criminal Code of communicating or being found in a bawdy house. It doesn't fit the IRPA definition of “trafficking”.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Norman Doyle

Okay. Sorry, I wish I could give you longer, Madam Chow.

Mr. Komarnicki, please.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

I'll be brief and share my time with Ms. Grewal.

I'd like to commend John Muise with respect to identifying the fact that what we're talking about is not just necessarily trafficking itself, but it's the difference between a foreign national and anyone else, and the fact that the foreign national may be more vulnerable because of a variety of circumstances that we've indicated. As I understood from him, this legislation, although it may not encompass a whole lot of other things, is a step in the right direction.

I also noted that the Stop The Traffik coalition had indicated that they support the announcement regarding changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to protect vulnerable workers. Also, The Future Group said that the immigration minister, and I quote, “...has taken an important step to protect women from sexual exploitation and end a program that made Canada complicit in human trafficking.”

Now, it's a step in the right direction. Of course, the whole objective is to prevent persons from being subjected to humiliating and degrading treatment. I find it interesting, and I make this just as a comment, that the Canadian Council for Refugees would, as I understand it, sooner see no steps being taken unless they were of a comprehensive nature. I don't think anyone would argue that there are other steps that could be taken, but as I understand it, I find it interesting that they would oppose even a first-step piece of legislation.

I'll pass it on to Ms. Grewal.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Norman Doyle

Ms. Grewal, go ahead. Then we'll have comments from Mr. Rico-Martinez.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Conservative Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Muise, on May 16, 2007, during your appearance on CTV Newsnet, you said of this legislation that the bill is part of the response that needs to occur in terms of protecting women and children in this country. Would you care to elaborate on your comment in support of this bill?

5:25 p.m.

Director, Public Safety, Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness

John Muise

Sure. At the risk of repeating myself, I think this bill is, in effect, overarching legislation. Quite frankly, along with the overarching section, people are saying the minister has an unfettered ability to do what they want. Well, the only difference now is it actually gets published in the Canada Gazette which we can all read. I suspect if what's published in the Canada Gazette is seen as inappropriate by any member of the House, they're going to be quick to bring it up in question period. I happen to think that's a really good thing.

To me, it's statement legislation, and if it was coupled with some of these other policy considerations where law enforcement in the community was actually able to get on top of some of these establishments and identify.... Ms. Beaumier is not here, and that's why I speak about children because there are children in these establishments too, along with trafficked women. If law enforcement could work in these establishments and set up the kinds of communications with overseas immigration officers and their counterparts here in this country and be communicating on all fronts, we could use the legislation--

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Don't you think that's already happening?

5:25 p.m.

Director, Public Safety, Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness

John Muise

Minimally, Mr. Karygiannis. In terms of enforcement locally around the country, we are at baby steps. When there is actually enforcement, whether it's the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act or Bill C-49 or the Criminal Code, it's more often an accident because there's a unit looking at all of this. We are in the Dark Ages.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Norman Doyle

Thank you, Mr. Muise.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Conservative Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Do I have some more time left?

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Norman Doyle

You have about five to ten seconds. I wanted to get the last speaker in here before I go to another piece of business we have to look after.

Mr. Telegdi.

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Liberal Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Thank you very much.

I think the Canadian Council for Refugees wanted to respond to what the parliamentary secretary had to say, Mr. Chair, and they never had their opportunity.

Dr. Jeffrey, I very much appreciated your input, and the same goes for the Canadian Council.

In the last couple of weeks there was a write-up in the paper--and maybe you can help. I was thinking to myself where it might be, because I'd love to follow up on that case. It was a case in which, in Toronto, some trafficked persons of Russian origin were being exploited, and they ended up going to the police and they ended up getting an operation busted.

Now, it seems to me that if you want to deal with breaking up those rings, you let the people know that if they come forward, they're going to have some kind of an amnesty.

I'm going to do something here. I'm going very quickly give you an example of an undocumented worker who was sexually assaulted. She phoned up and got the police involved. She looked really young, and the pedophile was taken off the street. Then Immigration turns around and wants to deport her for being an undocumented worker in Canada.

I'm going to say something nice about Mr. MacKay and Mr. Jason Kenney, because I got them involved, and we stopped the deportation of this woman in less than 24 hours. She has since been landed.

The big policy question, as I put it to them, was whether they wanted to send a message to all these undocumented workers that if they came forward and put somebody behind bars, we were going to deport them because they're undocumented. Those two folks managed to give a permit and let this woman stay, and this woman has stayed. I think those are the kinds of messages we should be sending out.

John, I think you'd agree with that as well. Those are the very realistic approaches we can take if we want to deal with the problem.

The problem with this piece of legislation--and it really bothers me--is that from the bureaucratic perspective, I'd say, hey, we have more powers to turn people down and we get more money to do it. From the political viewpoint, I'd say--and I can see it already going in the next election--we passed legislation to stop strippers coming into Canada.

These two, one as a political consideration and one as a bureaucratic consideration, are an unholy alliance that ends up producing bad legislation. There's no way we're going to deal with this. There's no way we're going to be passing any of this kind of legislation.

In the meantime, we have lost Canadians--second generation born abroad--who are losing their citizenship every day that we put off passing new legislation. The government said that this was a priority and nothing is happening on this. We're going on a wild goose chase on legislation that's going to go absolutely nowhere, except the government would love to posture and say, “Hey, we stopped this”. It ends up serving no one's interest.

John, because you said you kind of approve of this stuff, $50 million going out, educating people, investigating trafficking--because Canadians get trafficked as well--don't you think that would be a better way of spending those resources to have a better impact?

I will ask all three of you to very quickly answer.

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Norman Doyle

Mr. Muise.

5:30 p.m.

Director, Public Safety, Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness

John Muise

I like the legislation. I'm a dreamer. I'm hoping it will lead to those kinds of additions.

5:30 p.m.

Associate Professor, Department of History and Politics, University of New Brunswick, As an Individual

Leslie Ann Jeffrey

I think the legislation must be stopped. It will have the absolute opposite effect of what you're trying to do.

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Norman Doyle

As I understand the order here, unless I have unanimous consent to keep going here for a few minutes, then we have to suspend.

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Batters Conservative Palliser, SK

There are two responses. We didn't have a third.

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Norman Doyle

Is there unanimous consent to have another response?