moved that Bill C-452, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons), be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, I must say that it is a great victory that Bill C-452, a private member's bill, has made it as far as third reading. It is not my victory, but that of many groups. I feel it is important to name them because they are the ones who worked hard to develop this bill and who supported it throughout the process.
They are: the Council on the Status of Women, police experts from the SPVM morality branch and child sexual exploitation unit, the Comité d'action contre la traite humaine interne et internationale, the Association féminine d'éducation et d'action sociale, the Regroupement québécois des centres d'aide et de lutte contre les agressions à caractère sexuel, Concertation-Femme, Concertation des luttes contre l'exploitation sexuelle, the Association québécoise Plaidoyer-Victimes, the Collectif de l'Outaouais contre l'exploitation sexuelle, the diocèse de l'Outaouais, Maison de Marthe and the YMCAs of Quebec.
Many groups participated in the development of this bill. I thank them very much and I commend them for all the work that they did. These groups also appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to explain the importance of this bill and, in particular, the results it will achieve on the ground.
I would like to quickly mention the things that came up in committee that I found a bit surprising, since a significant number of amendments were made to the bill. First, no major changes were made to the provisions related to human trafficking, whether with regard to presumption or the reversal of the burden of proof, consecutive sentences for offences related to trafficking in persons, or the forfeiture of the proceeds of crime for people who are charged with human trafficking. These provisions did not really change, and that is a good thing.
The provision regarding the definition of sexual exploitation was changed. A government amendment removed this provision on the basis that it could make the definition hard to understand. These were not major changes. The principles underlying the provisions on human trafficking stayed the same. I am very pleased about that.
By the way, the NDP did not propose any amendments. The Liberals proposed amendments that were rejected and that I did not support either, and the majority of the amendments proposed by the Conservatives were kept since the Conservatives have the majority. Nonetheless, some of the amendments they proposed were supported by the NDP and the Liberals.
One of the government's amendments leaves me extremely perplexed. It is the amendment that replaced our wish to have the bill come into force 30 days after royal assent. The government's amendment would have the bill come into force on a day to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council. It seems that the government wants to control the implementation of the bill.
If the bill receives royal assent, I hope that it will come into force very quickly because, as all the witnesses said, this is an urgent matter. It is essential that the police, prosecutors and victims advocacy groups have the necessary tools to combat human trafficking.
As far as the provisions on procuring are concerned, I was very shocked. I did not at all expect the government to propose amendments to the procuring provisions. On the contrary, I expected the consecutive sentences for pimps, and the forfeiture of the proceeds of crime of pimps, to be provisions that the government would support.
In committee, the government said it wanted to wait for the Supreme Court ruling in the Bedford case.
We know that 80% to 90% of people who are victims of human trafficking are trafficked into prostitution, especially in Canada.