Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to put a few words on the record. I had the opportunity to read over some of the comments by the Liberal Party's critic for justice and human rights and I thought he actually said it quite well. I will just repeat some of the comments that he has put on the record in previous times in the House because he has come to best understand this issue and the importance of it.
I will read the quote into the record again. He said:
We know that this grotesque trade in human beings now generates upward of more than $12 billion a year.
In other words, he says that human trafficking is so profitable that “it is the world's fastest growing international crime. We know that the majority of victims who are trafficked are women and girls under the age of 25, and that many trafficking victims tragically also include children”.
UNICEF has estimated that 1.2 million children are trafficked globally each year. The International Labour Organization estimates that 2.5 million children are currently in situations of forced labour as a result of being trafficked.
He made reference to his daughter who has always counselled him, highlighting just how important this issue is and how important it is that we deal with it here in the House of Commons.
He further states that, “Simply put, trans-border trafficking is a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that challenges law enforcement people, that flouts our immigration laws, that threatens to spread global disease and constitutes an assault on each of our fundamental rights”.
Our critic for justice and human rights was not able to express that here today and I just wanted to get that on the record.
I look at it from a personal perspective over the years. I can recall back in 1993 when I happened to be in the Philippines. After talking with some local residents, I distinctly recall one of the colonels, who was in the forces in the Philippines, telling me a story about one of his daughters. His daughter was being told about how she could ultimately come to Canada and work in a restaurant and so forth, and how wonderful an opportunity it would be for her. What ended up happening in this particular case was that the young lady was quite excited about the economic opportunity, the opportunity to come to Canada, and thought it would be a good thing to do. She came to Canada and quickly found out that the individuals who were promoting her being able to come to Canada were really bringing her into the sex trade here in Canada.
The colonel, back then, was obviously very upset to find that out. He was able to get his daughter back out of this horrific situation, and I am really glad for the family. However, as someone who was fairly young in politics back in 1993, it left a lasting impression because of the passion with which he spoke. I hesitate to think of what would have happened had she not had that supportive father, someone who was truly in a position to get her out of the situation she found herself in here in Canada.
I will fast forward a number of years to when I was in Kansas. It was while I was on a parliamentary conference of sorts in Kansas that I really started to get a better appreciation of the degree to which it was a major world issue. I had observed a particular committee and, as fortune would have it at that time, they were talking about human trafficking, in particular dealing with the sex trade.
I was amazed by the numbers they were talking about. They were not talking about the odd case of women being brought over to feed the exploitation that is very real in North America today. They were not talking about a few or a hundred. They were talking about thousands of women being exploited through trafficking. That was an eye-opener for me and, since then, I have tried to keep up as much as possible on the issue.
I am aware of the bill the member has introduced to the House and of the previous bill she introduced, as well as some of the discussions that bill entailed. Many people from Winnipeg were following what was happening as it was an important issue. A number of people feel very passionate about this issue.
When I made some inquiries about 12 months ago on this issue, I was told that if we were to look at all the human trafficking that occurs around the world, we would see that somewhere in the neighbourhood of 80% is used in some form of sexual exploitation. When we think of sexual exploitation, there are two things that come to mind: one, the area of prostitution; and two, the production of pornography.
The more I look into it, I find it amazing the circumstances in which we often find the people being exploited, as well as how young they are. The member for St. Paul's made reference to one particular case that I believe involved a four-year-old boy. There is far too high a percentage of youth under the age of 10 who are being sexually exploited. I think it would not only sadden but it would anger a lot of people to hear of those numbers.
Then there is slavery. It is estimated that worldwide there is somewhere in the neighbourhood of between 20 million to 30 million people who are experiencing some form of slavery.
When we look at the whole area of exploitation, the impact it has on society and the role Canada can play on the international scene, I would suggest that legislation such as this does have merit. Canada can play a leadership role. As other countries have recognized the exploitation that is out there, Canada can too. There are things we can do that would make a difference.
We want to send a message to all Canadians that we have laws in Canada that we expect Canadians to abide by and respect. However, as a sovereign nation, we have the ability to ensure that there are consequences for Canadians who commit these hideous crimes outside our borders.
I believe we would find a great deal of sympathy from politicians and all Canadians to look into ways in which we as a society can say that it is not right and that there needs to be a consequence to what is taking place. In terms of this particular bill, it is something I see going to committee for some feedback from some of the stakeholders.
The member herself makes mention that she has some friendly amendments; we look forward to seeing those friendly amendments.
At the end of the day, I am sure there is a high sense of co-operation in terms of trying to do the right thing on the issue of exploitation of this nature.