Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-452 at second reading, in anticipation that it will pass and go to committee. It has the support of the Liberal Party to go to committee stage. The idea of having a discussion and hearing representations, possibly from different stakeholders coming before committee, we see as a positive thing. I trust and hope that the member from the Bloc Party will be receptive to amendments, because the issue needs to be addressed.
Slavery, exploitation or human trafficking needs to be put into a couple of different perspectives. One is locally, here in Canada. Also, we do have a responsibility, on the world front, to demonstrate leadership and address the broader issue of exploitation and the trafficking that occurs worldwide.
Most people would probably be surprised to know there are more people who are slaves today than there have been in the history of the world. It costs a lot less today to purchase a slave in many different countries than it did 150 or 200 years ago. There is a need for us to address the issue of slavery and human trafficking.
When I think of the stories I have heard over the last number of years, it is horrific what individuals have had to go through in order to survive. It is not to point to any particular country in the world, but we should all be reflecting on our own countries.
Earlier we were talking about the aboriginal community, our first nations. Many thoughts came through my mind when the member was talking about the first nations. It is not necessarily the most exploited community worldwide. I do not know all the statistics on the province of Manitoba and our country, but I know there is a real issue with exploitation of many of our children in our communities. These are not necessarily individuals who have been brought in from outside of Canada.
We need to get a better understanding as to why that exploitation happens. What is the environment we have created in many of our communities that allows our children to be exploited to the degree they are? It sickens me to see the number of young children, ages 8, 10, 12, who are being trapped in a situation where ultimately they are being used for the sex trade or to sell drugs or in gangs. A lot of that is done through exploitation.
We could talk quite a bit about that particular issue, but I want to focus more attention on the trafficking that brings people from outside of Canada into Canada and the United States, with special focus on Canada.
We need to recognize that human trafficking is an industry that facilitates things such as prostitution. I suspect the sex trade is likely the number one reason that human trafficking is taking place in Canada to the degree it is today. We see individuals coming from countries, whether from Asia or Europe, to Canada, and quite often they are forced into prostitution or strip clubs and so forth. It is not by choice.
I remember meeting a family while I was in the Philippines a number of years ago. The father told me he was very concerned about Canada because of what he had heard about someone else and that now his daughter was being recruited. He referred to an ad that said, “Go to Canada and work in the hospitality industry”.
This particular young lady bought into the ad and applied, and then found out that it was more the entertainment aspect of the hospitality industry. They had a difficult time getting their daughter back to the Philippines.
At the end of the day, I believe a great deal of misinformation is out there trying to attract individuals to Canada to enter into what I believe is likely the greatest exploitation there is today in human trafficking—that is, our sex industry here in Canada.
There are also areas of concern with respect to slavery. Maybe it is not to the same degree as in the continent of Africa or other countries, but we still need to be concerned about it. We need to be aware of and concerned about the degree to which people are being trafficked into Canada and turned into servants.
One of the things that I take a great sense of pride in is a decision Canada made a number of years ago. Paul Martin, the former prime minister, said that not only do we want to have national museums in Ottawa but we also would like to see them elsewhere. Winnipeg was awarded the human rights museum, which is nearing completion. I hope it will allocate space to the whole issue of human trafficking, because that issue is very real and alive today. By doing that, hopefully, we will be able to better educate the population.
I started off by saying that there are more people in slavery today than there ever have been in the history of the world. That was, I must admit, a bit of a news flash even for me. I do not think that people realize the degree of exploitation.
I think that is the reason the member brought forward this legislation. We do have some concerns about it and our Liberal Party critic, the member for Mount Royal, has addressed this bill and will continue to follow it, but at the end of the day it will bring more public attention to the issue, so in that sense I see it as a positive.
Ultimately, human trafficking exists today because of money. It is profit that really drives it to the degree we have today. In fact, only drug trafficking brings in more money illegally. Of the top three, number one is drugs, and then it might be a toss-up between human trafficking and illegal arms. I suspect it is likely human trafficking.
We have to demonstrate through leadership, and Canada is in a great position. Our provincial governments have departments of labour to deal with labour exploitation if it is occurring. A member made reference to live-in caregivers; if live-in caregivers are being exploited, we should be encouraging them to contact the provincial departments of labour and we should be encouraging members of parliaments or MLAs to speak out and be there for them in a very real and tangible way.
I believe that at the end of the day, Canada is in a great position to not only do more to fight it at the local level but also to demonstrate leadership around the world.