Mr. Speaker, tonight I am so pleased to have the opportunity to support Bill C-452, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons).
As I have listened to the speeches tonight. It warms my heart to see members in the House who have worked together, and are continuing to work together, to stop this heinous crime in our country.
The member for Mount Royal has done much over the years to stand up for human rights. His Bill C-49 did much to bring the awareness of human trafficking to the forefront, and I thank him for that.
I also want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, as the member for Windsor—Tecumseh. When I first started working on my Bill C-268, I remember your support and your questions. I remember your input in making that bill go through.
As parliamentarians we are standing up against the perpetrators who feed on innocent victims in our country. Now public awareness is coming to the forefront. This is a pressing issue that we are addressing. Human trafficking, as we all know, continues to be a violation of fundamental human rights whose protection forms a basis of our free and democratic country. I want to thank all members for the input we have heard today.
Before I turn to the proposals in the bill itself, I would like to make some general comments on the nature of human trafficking and its severe impact on the victims to underscore the importance of ensuring the strongest possible criminal justice response to this crime.
Traffickers force victims to provide labour or services in circumstances where they believe their safety or the safety of someone known to them will be threatened. If they fail to provide that labour or service, they are deprived of the very rights that underpin a free and democratic society, a society that we hold dear in Canada.
The reality is that victims often suffer physical, sexual and emotional abuse, including threats of violence or actual harm to their loved ones. It does not only encompass the victims. One technique the predators have is to threaten their siblings and their relatives by telling them that they will be next. I have numerous cases where that has happened. That is how they control the victim from whom they earn so much money. Records show right now that a perpetrator earns between $250,000 and $260,000 a year from a victim. It is all about money. It is all about a despicable crime that is happening in our country that touches everybody. Everybody should be aware of it because sooner or later they will hear about it or be touched by it.
In Parliament today we are taking one more step to ensure that Bill C-452 is passed, examined in committee to make it even stronger. By working together, we can make this happen.
To further aggravate the human trafficking problem, the type of criminal conduct is not just something that happens occasionally on the margins of society. Rather, it is widespread in our communities as evidenced by the global revenues generated by it, which are estimated to be about $10 million U.S. per year. This puts human trafficking within the top three money-makers for organized crime. However, it is not just organized crime that is involved in human trafficking. So too are entrepreneurial people who feed off the suffering of innocent victims and control them so they can have money in their pockets to have a better life.
What are we doing about it? I am pleased to report that the government's response to this crime is strong and multifaceted.
First, we have a veritable arsenal of criminal offences that apply to this reprehensible conduct. In 2003 three trafficking offences were added to the criminal code. In 2010 a new offence of child trafficking was enacted through Bill C-268, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (minimum sentence for offences involving trafficking of persons under the age of eighteen years), which was sponsored by myself at that time. This offence imposes mandatory minimum penalties on those who traffic in persons under the age of 18.
In 2012 former Bill C-310, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons), which was another bill sponsored by myself, extended extra territorial jurisdiction for all Criminal Code trafficking offences and enacted an interpretative tool to assist the court in interpreting the trafficking in persons provisions. Why did that happen? When we sat in a court, we heard lawyers trying to prove that the victim initially was not afraid. Was not afraid, why? How perpetrators work is the victim is not afraid. Most perpetrators come on as the victim's friends. They give the victims everything they want. It is only after they separate them from their infrastructure, family, community and friends and get them alone and take all their identification does the relationship change.
That is when the victims are beaten, raped and shot up with drugs. They are unrecognizable when they are seen on the street corners. These are innocent victims who need the love, care and rescuing to renew their lives. Many young girls who have been rescued are doing phenomenal things.
I was at a special event for Walk With Me, with Timea Nagy, a former trafficking victim in our country. She has done much to rescue victims, much to help restore the lives of these innocent victims.
All of these things, in addition to the trafficking specific offence contained in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, section 118, which prohibits transnational trafficking and the numerous Criminal Code offences that address trafficking-related conduct, such as forcible confinement, kidnapping, sexual assault and uttering threats, are few examples of the arsenal of crime bills that we have to protect the innocent victims in our country.
That is not all. In recognition of the multifaceted nature of this problem, our government launched the national action plan to combat human trafficking June 6, 2012. The action plan recognizes that a comprehensive response to human trafficking must involve efforts to ensure what we refer to, and I know everyone here in the House is familiar with, as the four Ps: the protection of victims; the prosecution of offenders; partnerships with key players; and the prevention of the crime in the first place.
All activities are coordinated through the human trafficking task force, which is led by Public Safety Canada. This is without a doubt a comprehensive response to a complex problem, but more can always be done. Where more can be done, more should be done, especially when efforts serve to address a crime as insidious as human trafficking.
It seeks to impose consecutive sentences for trafficking offences and any other offence arising out of the same event or series of events. The bill would also create a presumption that would assist prosecutors in proving the main human trafficking offence. It would require a sentencing court to order the forfeiture of the offenders property unless they could prove their property was not the proceeds of crime.
The very first trafficking case that came to justice in Canada was a very short while ago. It was the Imani Nakpangi case where a 15 and a half year old girl was trafficked. He made a lot of money out of her, over $360,000 that we know of today. The forfeiture of the proceeds of that crime is so important. Bill C-452 has that element in the bill.
Although some amendments would be required to address specific legal concerns, Bill C-452 would undoubtedly strengthen the response to human trafficking and as such merits all our support.
Legal concerns would have to be addressed. For example, the bill should not overlap with amendments that have already been enacted by previous bills, such as Bill C-310, as this would cause confusion in the law. We do not want that to happen. The bill should also avoid compromising the government's efforts to defend the living on the avails offence along with other prostitution-related Criminal Code offences. These are the kinds of things that we will examine and work on in committee, and we are very proud to do that.
I want to thank the member once again for her hard work on this human trafficking issue. I want to thank all members in the House for taking up this cause and protecting the rights of innocent victims.