Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak today on private member's Bill C-310, An Act to amend the Criminal Code in relation to trafficking in persons, put forward by the hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul. I want to congratulate her on her work in this area. It is extremely important that this legislation be brought forward.
As the previous speaker said, it arises from Canada taking up obligations internationally under the treaty known as the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, a supplement to the 200 United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime.
It is good that we are doing this. I know the member does not have another opportunity to speak, but it is worthy of note that it has taken some time for the kind of information in the bill to be passed. One would have thought that the government, instead of waiting for the work of a private member, would have taken this on--not necessarily the current government, but perhaps the previous government. The convention is very particular about definitions of exploitation, which we are finally putting into our own law, and I want to thank the member for bringing that forward.
It is all very well to use the term “exploitation”, but without proper definitions it is difficult for prosecutors and police to even know what evidence they have to present in order to get a conviction. I understand there have been only five prosecutions under this legislation since the amendments made to the Criminal Code in 2005. That seems to me to be an indication that there were serious deficiencies in the law. The evidentiary information that is required was not specific; now it will be.
Two aspects that the mover of the motion and bill put forward are very important. Extraterritoriality is obviously very important. It is extraordinary for us to do that, as previous speakers have said. In areas such as this, we are talking about a crime that is not committed only in Canada: the persons are brought here and continue to be exploited here, but much of the exploitive activity may indeed take place in another country. To have extraterritoriality is important.
The first time Canada has done this in recent years has been in respect of so-called sex tourism. Sexual exploitation of children or sexual pedophilia was the primary crime involved with Canadians travelling abroad for what came to be known as sex tourism. People were actually involved in promoting destinations for this purpose, to the revulsion of many Canadians.
The government was called upon to make this a crime of extraterritoriality. People have been prosecuted under those measures, and it has done something to suppress this particular criminal activity. We hope it will be equally successful in the case of the human trafficking that is normally brought to Canada, but within Canada it is being done as well, frankly. People are being brought from one place to another within Canada. Sometimes aboriginal people from reserves are brought to other parts of this country for exploitation, and this practice needs to be suppressed.
There are two things. One is the extraterritoriality, which we support and agree with. The second is the definition of exploitation, which is very valuable in spelling out some of the factors that can constitute exploitation. It is not conclusive or exhaustive, as the previous speaker indicated, but clearly it includes the use of violence or the threat to use violence and the use of force or the threat to use force--which may be two different things--as well as to use or threaten another form of coercion or to use fraudulent misrepresentation or fraudulent means.
Fraudulent means is probably one of the most common ones. It is carried out by suggesting that people come to Canada to do a particular type of work; then they are forced into either sexual exploitation, prostitution or forced labour. This is something that is not readily recognized, but both my colleagues opposite have mentioned it.
People have been put in servitude as a result of exploitation and human trafficking. It is very difficult for them to get out of this, because they are in places of victimization and under the control of other people. This is something that needs work. I would urge the member to talk to other parts of her government about this.
This convention talks about the countries that are party to it also taking measures, and this is extremely important. It says:
Each State Party shall consider implementing measures to provide for the physical, psychological and social recovery of victims of trafficking in persons, including, in appropriate cases, in cooperation with non-governmental organizations, other relevant organizations and other elements of civil society, and, in particular, the provision of: (a) Appropriate housing; (b) Counselling and information, in particular as regards their legal rights, in a language that the victims of trafficking in persons can understand; (c) Medical, psychological and material assistance; and (d) Employment, educational and training opportunities.
There is a whole other aspect of this. It says that when we do come across victims of this type of exploitation, we should not put them on a deportation list but protect them. Part of the threat against a person who is here is that the person who is exploiting the individual can frighten that person into believing that the government will deport him or her if the person exposes the exploitation. This is something that has to be looked after.
Article 7 of this protocol says:
In addition to taking measures pursuant to article 6 of this Protocol, each State Party shall consider adopting legislative or other appropriate measures that permit victims of trafficking in persons to remain in its territory, temporarily or permanently, in appropriate cases.
It is not automatic, but it should considered so that if victims of exploitation are discovered, there may be special programs whereby Immigration Canada would say the individual would be put in a special category. Part 2 of Article 7 states, “...each State Party shall give appropriate consideration to humanitarian and compassionate factors”. That implies obviously that particular circumstances should be taken into consideration.
Perhaps the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration should also be looking at this to see what programs or changes may need to be included in legislation. If we are truly concerned about this and want to follow through on what we agree to here, we ought to have other things.
This is a good step. It is an appropriate step, the extraterritorial and helping to define it. People may not come forward or feel they cannot come forward unless they have a sense that they will get the protection from Canada that they will need as victims to get out of the slavery or the exploitation or the abuse they are suffering. That is the important part here.
We support this legislation. I am proud to support this legislation. Members opposite from time to time suggest that New Democrats do not seem to want to support legislation that makes it easier to prosecute criminals and assist victims. Of course that is not true. That is a lot of rhetoric that we hear from time to time. A see a smile from my colleague on the justice committee. We do hear that a bit. We are here to do a proper job for Canadians and to make sure laws are passed that achieve the objectives that are stated.
In this particular case, it is entirely appropriate that we make this extraterritorial. It is entirely appropriate that we define threats and violence to assist in the prosecutorial efforts to suppress this activity and to punish those who take part in this activity.
It is also entirely appropriate that we ask for more. It may not be a private member who can deal with this. It may require the resources and the knowledge and the experience of the people who work in the Department of Citizenship and Immigration to achieve the proper tools and the proper legislation.
I fully support and endorse Bill C-310. I sought to be one of the co-seconders but I understand it was oversubscribed. That is a good indication that this is a measure that deserves the support and consent and implementation by the House and by the government