Evidence of meeting #87 for Justice and Human Rights in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was victims.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Matthew Taylor  Acting Senior Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Policy Sector, Department of Justice
Carole Sheppard  Acting Director, Headquarters Counsel Group, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions
Trevor Bhupsingh  Director General, Law Enforcement and Border Strategies Directorate, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Commissioner Joanne Crampton  Assistant Commissioner, Federal Policing Criminal Operations, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Lynn Lawless  Director, Intelligence, Targeting and Criminal Investigations Program Management, Canada Border Services Agency
Michael Holmes  Director, Serious and Organized Crime Strategies Division, Law Enforcement and Border Strategies Directorate, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Go ahead, Mr. Holmes.

4:15 p.m.

Director, Serious and Organized Crime Strategies Division, Law Enforcement and Border Strategies Directorate, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Michael Holmes

I could add a couple of other elements to that. It should include trauma-informed services and providing a link between victims who do come forward, having them able to seek services that can address their particular needs. The needs of victims of human trafficking are very particular and quite different from those of many other victims of different crimes. That's an area where there could be a need.

As part of that, housing needs for victims and for survivors of human trafficking have particular elements to them that make them special. We are pursuing further research and initiatives along that line to see if those can be developed and distributed and used across Canada. There's also research and just enhancing our knowledge overall. Awareness of the particular vulnerabilities and what leads someone into being a trafficked individual is an area where we could gain better knowledge. There's also looking at demand areas and addressing the demands that lead to persons being trafficked.

Those are a few other elements where I think there is greater need for knowledge and awareness.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Great. Thank you.

Those are my questions, Chair.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Thank you very much.

Mr. Casey, Mr. McKinnon has pretty much taken up his time. That's okay, because now we're going to our short snapper round where anybody can ask questions, and I'd like to recognize you for the first question.

Who else has some questions they'd like to ask? Mr. Rankin, Mr. Kmiec, Ms. Rudd, and Mr. Aldag: no problem.

These are shorter questions, with shorter answers, if possible. The answers have been excellent to date.

We'll start with you, Mr. Casey.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I'm just trying to get my head around how I can make this into a short question. I was on this committee back in 2014, when certain provisions of the prostitution law were found to be unconstitutional and the government was obligated to respond. We always wonder, after the exhaustive examination we did, whatever happened.

Mr. Taylor, you referred to it a couple of times, but I think Commissioner Crampton is probably closer to the ground. What impact has Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, had on the phenomenon of human trafficking?

I direct it to you, Commissioner Crampton, and to you, Mr. Taylor, if you have something to add.

Thank you.

4:15 p.m.

Acting Senior Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Policy Sector, Department of Justice

Matthew Taylor

To be very quick, because I know that's what we've been asked to do, I think we would always say that having more tools in the tool box is a good thing for police officers. We knew before the provisions were found to be unconstitutional, and since, that police officers would always, or often, charge both trafficking charges and prostitution-related offences. I think that continues to happen today. It just provides additional tools for police to respond to a particular set of facts. I think that's a good thing.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

I'm not that inflexible. You can ask a follow-up.

4:20 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Okay.

Thank you, Mr. Taylor, but I was actually hoping that one or both of you might be able to provide, if not necessarily an answer in terms of statistics and qualitatively, the impact on human trafficking and on prostitution and the impact on the ability to prosecute. I mean, you've given the general answer that I would expect from somebody in the policy division of the Department of Justice. I'm sort of hoping, if there is someone closer to the ground, they can tell us what's actually happening there—if they have that. If they don't, I expect there will be witnesses coming forward later in the study who do.

Thanks.

4:20 p.m.

Acting Senior Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Policy Sector, Department of Justice

Matthew Taylor

We can certainly give you the statistics. I think the front-line experience is best addressed through the front-line officers.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Thanks very much.

Mr. Kmiec.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

At the very beginning of the presentation, either Commissioner Crampton or Madam Sheppard used the statistic of 118 convictions. I'm not sure whether it was convictions, or which Criminal Code sections we were referencing. Was it a package of them? Out of 433 cases, which I think somebody else mentioned, that would be like a 27% conviction rate.

What stat was it, and which Criminal Code sections were we referring to? Were they cases? Were they specific sections? I'm just trying to grasp the rate of conviction, basically.

4:20 p.m.

A/Commr Joanne Crampton

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'm sorry, but which number did you refer to?

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

I believe 118 was the number used.

4:20 p.m.

A/Commr Joanne Crampton

It was human trafficking-specific or -related convictions, so any number of Criminal Code sections would apply.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Okay. This is out of 433 cases?

4:20 p.m.

A/Commr Joanne Crampton

That's correct, out of—sorry—455.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

That's out of 455. Okay. That's a 25% conviction rate. That's really low. What's the main problem with convicting?

4:20 p.m.

A/Commr Joanne Crampton

Not all of those cases have gone through the court system yet, so the rest are still in the court system. If we go through the numbers, you would see that some are no longer moving forward, but the rest are in the court system still.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

What is the timeline for all of these cases from the moment section 271 was introduced? I just want to get an idea of the time span we're talking about.

4:20 p.m.

A/Commr Joanne Crampton

This was from 2005 to November 2017. As I mentioned before, there's a caveat on those statistics, in that—

February 15th, 2018 / 4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

I was just going to ask about international crimes, Mr. Bhupsingh. There were brief references to it. I know that International Justice Mission does a lot of work overseas to try to reduce the prevalence of and kind of impunity that a lot of predators and sex criminals have in jurisdictions where it's difficult to prosecute.

This question is maybe also for Madam Lawless. The Philippines is a country that has a lot of issues with this. According to International Justice Mission's website, there are cybersex crimes, where the crime is basically taking place in two different jurisdictions, with children as young as two years old being abused over the Internet or over a smartphone, but the person watching and paying for the abuse, for as little as $20, is doing so possibly in Canada. What's being done to help other jurisdictions, and in those cases, are we able to lay charges against Canadians for a crime that is committed in two different jurisdictions? Help me understand this. Can we lay a charge? Is this a criminal act in Canada? Is this something that would be easy to [Technical difficulty—Editor]?

4:20 p.m.

Acting Senior Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Policy Sector, Department of Justice

Matthew Taylor

I'll start. You asked about what happens when some conduct occurs in one country and another conduct occurs here in Canada. I mentioned the extraterritorial application of our human trafficking laws. It's a slightly different scenario from what you've articulated, but if a Canadian citizen or permanent resident commits human trafficking abroad, Canada can assume jurisdiction to prosecute it here in Canada, and we will do that where the home country in which the crime has occurred is either unable or unwilling to prosecute within its jurisdiction. In terms of the scenario in which the individual is accessing the video in Canada, hypothetically, for instance, they could be charged in Canada with accessing child pornography, or things of that nature. Again, every case is going to depend on the particular facts, but there are some tools available. I think as Ms. Sheppard said, there are always challenges with transnational crimes, which take place in more than one jurisdiction.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Thank you very much.

Ms. Rudd and then Mr. Rankin.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Kim Rudd Liberal Northumberland—Peterborough South, ON

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Thank you for joining us today. I am fascinated and depressed by some of the conversation we're having around here today.

I have a couple of fairly quick questions.

I'm going to start with you, Mr. Taylor. I believe it was you who talked about training for prosecutors and for those on the ground, if you will. Is there training for judges?