moved that the bill be read a third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to rise and speak to Bill S-226 at third reading.
I have to first thank Senator Raynell Andreychuk , who is the author of this bill in the Senate. She has been advocating for this legislation, along with a number of us, for a number of years. It goes back to Irwin Cotler, a former colleague of ours here in Parliament, who brought it forward in 2015 calling on the Government of Canada to institute Sergei Magnitsky-style legislation, similar to legislation that has been adopted around the world. Therefore, we are continuing in that vein. I made some amendments to the bill that was originally proposed, and Senator Andreychuk went even further to make sure that this bill first and foremost is focused on human rights violators as well as corrupt foreign officials who are taking advantage of their citizens and abusing their positions of power. We have to make sure that those individuals do not use Canada as a safe haven.
One of the main pushes, of course, behind this legislation is Bill Browder, who was put on red notice and wrote a book about his experience of dealing in Russia and whose lawyer was Sergei Magnitsky. Sergei Magnitsky had uncovered the biggest tax fraud in Russian history, and for that he was falsely arrested and accused, then was imprisoned, tortured, and beaten to death in a Russian prison outside of Moscow.
I also want to thank Marcus Kolga. Marcus has been an unwavering advocate for Sergei Magnitsky and this type of legislation in Canada. He has worked across party lines to ensure that we get as close to possible to unanimous consent in support of this bill.
I want to thank the Minister of Foreign Affairs for her support for Bill S-226 and for working with me and Senator Andreychuk and all parliamentarians to find a way that the government could also support this bill. The report stage amendments that we just concurred in really do strengthen the bill in a lot of ways and clarify the language so there is consistency between Bill S-226 and the Special Economic Measures Act.
I think all of us would be remiss if we did not thank the huge diaspora in Canada: the Ukrainian diaspora, the pro-democracy Russians in Canada, the Vietnamese community, the Iranian community, and the Falun Gong and Chinese community here. They believe that having this legislation in Canada, the Sergei Magnitsky law, would enable the Government of Canada to hold those human rights abusers in their countries to account and ensure that they do not hide their money or bring their families and protect them here in Canada, and that we do not allow Canada to be used as a safe haven. I thank all of them for their support, petitions, and advocacy and holding seminars and spreading the world about how important Bill S-226 is.
As I said, this legislation is about anti-corruption. It is about protecting human rights and protecting Canadian values. It is really not just about sanctions and travel bans; it is about ensuring that Canada cannot be used as a safe haven by those criminals. By all accounts, as corrupt government officials and human rights abusers, these individuals are criminals. Each and every one of them should be held to account in The Hague at the International Criminal Court. Until that happens and until the proper investigations take place, we have to ensure that Canada is doing its part in lock step with the rest of the international community to ensure that we are not used to educate these criminals' children, to hide their families and their extra-marital affairs here in Canada, to buy homes and properties over here, or to make use of our very strong banking system.
I know some of the research that has been done shows that we have already been able to uncover oligarchs from Russia who have hidden money here in Canada and essentially used a shell game to clean their money before taking it back to Russia. Russian oligarchs have abused their authority to enrich themselves, to commit tax fraud, and other devious schemes to acquire money from the citizens of Russia, or elsewhere for that matter.
We know they would love to put their money in trusted banks like we have here in Canada, rather than being in Russian banks that are often sanctioned because of the Russian aggression in Ukraine, Georgia, and elsewhere, due to their support for Vladimir Putin's expansionist adventurism.
As I said earlier, there are other countries that have already passed Magnitsky-style legislation. The United States did it in 2012. Last year, the United States made sure that the Sergei Magnitsky law became a global Magnitsky law. It was not just about Russia, but other countries that are human rights abusers, with the people getting rich by being human rights abusers, which is atrocious.
We also know that the European Parliament passed it in 2013, Estonia in 2016, the United Kingdom passed it earlier this year, and Canada needs to get this done so that it falls in line. All three main parties, as I have said in the House before, all supported Magnitsky-style legislation in the 2015 campaign. This is about the three main parties all coming together, supporting this legislation, and bringing it into reality.
People are probably asking why we need this. Are we not already sanctioning officials, Russian oligarchs and Ukrainian oligarchs, responsible for the violence in Donbass and the illegal annexation and occupation of Crimea? The current government and the previous Conservative government have already sanctioned what I think are over 250 individuals and entities, and travel bans have been put in place. However, that only applies to the situation in Donbass and Crimea. It does not speak to the broader context of all of the different abuses taking place in Russia, or any other country, for that matter. Right now the way that the Special Economic Measures Act works is that other international organizations have to direct Canada and member states to sanction because of a certain conflict or issue, saying that we are going to put in place travel bans and economic sanctions.
Bill S-226 would put another tool in the tool box for the Government of Canada, so that we can project our Canadian values and ensure that Canada is not being used as a safe haven by corrupt foreign officials and human rights abusers. This would enable Canada to go after other countries and entities that are human rights abusers. It is not just about Russian aggression and the war in Ukraine. It is not just about Crimea's illegal annexation. This is also about the torture of political prisoners in places like Iran, the human rights abuses that we have seen in Vietnam, and the current genocide that is taking place in Myanmar with the Rohingyas.
This would give the authority to the Government of Canada to act unilaterally in the interests of Canada to stop these types of human rights abuses, send the signal that corrupt officials will not get away with it, that Canada is taking notice, and that Canada and its partners will ensure that we shut down their ability to launder their money, hide their families, and enrich themselves by benefiting from Canada's strong financial institutions and assets, whether it is real estate, businesses, or investments. This is a great piece of legislation.
I talked about the changes that were brought forward by the government with a number of amendments, a lot of which dealt with the language, to ensure that the lines between the Special Economic Measures Act and Bill S-226 are reliable, appropriate, and evident. We want to make sure that there is also fairness. I accept the government's amendments that would enable individuals on the list who are sanctioned with travel bans to have the ability to say they have been confused with someone else and have a right to a just process to appeal it. That was not available before in the way that the legislation was drafted, so Senator Andreychuk and I accepted that amendment. It is also about making sure that there is a way to determine who is a foreign official, a public office holder, and other individuals, and that it is consistent in all torts in legislation. We want to make sure there is not just an open-ended list of indicators, but hard evidence of acts of significant corruption.
It still gives power to the Governor in Council to make the determination of who goes on the list, what sources of information are used, how we compel different agencies, financial institutions, and others to provide information, and also making sure that it is valid. The government proposed a lot of major changes that cleaned up the bill and provided more strength and more tools and mechanisms, which we support.
We talked about some of the examples of where we are seeing human rights abuses outside of Russia. I already mentioned what is happening in Myanmar, with the genocide being committed against the Rohingyas. There are individuals who are responsible for that. We should be going after the current military leadership in Myanmar: Sen. General Min Aung Hlaing; Lt.-Gen. Sein Win, who is the minister of defence; Vice Senior General Soe Winn. These are individuals who are carrying out genocide, ethnic cleansing, and they need to be held to account. Canada can act unilaterally and do that.
In Venezuela, with President Maduro and everything that is happening, they are clamping down on human rights and there is no freedom of the press. We are talking about a recession and skyrocketing costs and inflation impacting everything from food to medicine to medical supplies. He is capturing his political dissidents, and imprisoning and torturing them. The Venezuela regime needs to be sanctioned. This is all about making sure that all the political leaders, military leaders, and police agencies are being held to account. The United Nations Human Rights Council says that just since April, 5,000 people have been detained, and 1,000 of them are still in custody. Bill S-226 would be able to put proper economic sanctions in place, as well as travel bans, to send a message to Maduro and his regime that this is not warranted.
In Iran, President Rouhani continues to not just imprison his political dissidents, but to executive them. Under Rouhani, who everyone thinks has this charm offensive, political executions have increased by 55% under him versus under Ahmadinejad. This individual cannot be trusted, and the Iranian regime must be held to account. He is imprisoning not just political prisoners, but ethnic and religious minorities. He continues to push out their theocracy and impugn thousands of people all the time.
We cannot forget that under Ayatollah Khomeini back in 1988, 30,000 political prisoners were killed in one summer. Those who orchestrated and participated in that, who are responsible, still serve today in the current regime. They have never been sanctioned. We could do that now with Bill S-226.
We cannot forget about what is still happening in Ukraine, in Russia, and in Chechnya. We see the human rights violations. There were 200 men who were rounded up and put into detention centres, based upon their sexual orientation. Those individuals who belong to the LGBTQ community had their rights violated, and at least three of them were killed. Those Chechen leaders who are responsible for it, especially Ramzan Kadyrov, have to be held to account. These individuals are no different than any of the other ones we want to sanction.
I will leave my final comments to the end of the debate today, but I do want to thank all members of Parliament for their support. I am looking forward to seeing this go back to the Senate as quickly as possible.