Mr. Speaker, I am very proud and happy to rise in this House today to speak to Bill C-452, which was introduced by the member for Ahuntsic. This is not exactly her first try, but I hope it will be the last and that it will be successful, possibly just as successful as the work that was done by the member for Kildonan—St. Paul on Bill C-310. I had the pleasure of examining this bill, debating it and discussing it. It opened my eyes.
I come from Gatineau and we do not often hear about human trafficking there. I learned about it when we examined the bill from the member for Kildonan—St. Paul. This will sound strange, but I also met with the US ambassador-at-large, who came to speak to me about human trafficking and how this problem exists all over the world. I was then able to see that issues that we sometimes consider foreign are also going on right here at home. It can be quite ugly, even horrific, as described by the member for Ahuntsic, and it is often happening right under our noses and we have no idea.
As the justice critic for the official opposition, the New Democratic Party, I can say that we will support sending our colleague's Bill C-452 to committee. I have also taken note of some of the comments the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice made.
When it comes to justice issues, the NDP always wants to be reasonably satisfied with the laws that are passed and that have a significant impact in terms of justice. These laws must pass the tests they will be subject to when they go before the courts. As legislators, we must do our job properly.
I wish I had a little more time. Five minutes is not long enough to ask questions. We have to talk about reversing the burden of proof. In cases like this one, that is a real concern given the seriousness of the offences. Still, we have to see if this passes the test to which the courts usually subject such a reversal of the burden of proof. This always seems counter to the presumption of innocence that is central to criminal law in Canada.
It is also important to ensure that laws do not contradict one another. The parliamentary secretary alluded to that. Will the passage of Bill C-310 cause parts of Bill C-452 to be reviewed? Are some of these elements in conflict? At first glance, I do not think so. However, we will consider all of these issues during meetings of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights once we complete our two hours of debate here. From what I have seen, I do not think that our colleague will have any trouble getting her Bill C-452 referred to committee. That will give us the opportunity to hear from witnesses.
The fact that we have the right to debate these issues, to have our say and to hear from witnesses is extremely important. As I said, if not for Bill C-310, even people who watch television, who are well-informed and up to date, would not have had the opportunity to hear first-hand about what is going on, often under their very noses, what is happening to society's most vulnerable people, to women and children. The situation is appalling. It would serve us well to hear about other specific cases.
I was pleased to see that in my region, the Outaouais, there was a great deal of support in the community from women's groups. My colleague mentioned the Collectif de l'Outaouais contre l'exploitation and the diocèse de l'Outaouais, among others, but I know even more groups that have told me that they support this bill.
I will support any law that we can enact to eliminate these scourges. We have to do everything we can and use every tool we have to stop this.
The message I would like to send to my friends opposite is that it takes people to implement these great laws. If we have good laws against human trafficking, then we have to ensure that we have the police officers needed to do the work and to find these vile human traffickers. We must drag them before the courts and they must serve these sentences so that one day we will no longer have to adopt such laws. When we go home, we have to be able to say that we did a good job because the most vulnerable are not being sexually exploited, tortured or are afraid to speak out and stop being victimized. Would it not be wonderful to have a society where there are no victims?
In addition to these fine speeches and bills, we have to ensure that there is a coherent approach. If we say that we support the victims and that we want to be there to help them, then we have to provide assistance and services. If we say that we are against the criminals, then we have to ensure that we catch these damn criminals and that we have enough police officers. We can reverse the burden of proof all we want, but if the victim is terrified and will never report the horror experienced, all this work is in vain.
We have to realize that this is happening in our communities. It may be happening in a street not far from our own homes. It is scary, but it does happen. We have to have our eyes wide open and realize that a bill such as this one solves real problems. However, it takes more than that.