Madam Speaker, I would like to start by thanking the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
I also want to thank Senator Ataullahjan, who has created this conversation within our House, the lower house, the House of Commons.
This Senate bill, Bill S-223, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (trafficking in human organs), is a critical piece of legislation that would help us address a grave and serious human rights concern. It is new legislation that adds to an existing body of law, which addresses criminality but not with respect to organ harvesting outside of Canada's territory.
I want to acknowledge our collective commitment to ensuring that these important reforms become law. This is a commitment from all members of the House, from what I can see. The important and beautiful thing about this legislation and discussing it is we are focused on the public good, putting aside our partisan squabbles to promote what is right and just.
First, I would like to review the history of the legislative reform proposed in this bill.
The issue of organ trafficking has been before Parliament for a decade. Prior to Bill S‑223, there were two Senate public bills that proposed nearly identical reforms. They were Bill S‑240, introduced in 2017, and Bill S‑204, introduced in 2020. In addition, two private member's bills introduced in 2017 and 2013 proposed similar reforms. They were Bill C‑350 and Bill C‑561. We all agree that organ trafficking is a heinous crime. It requires a legislative response.
As I said earlier, this piece of legislation would create something new within the Criminal Code that speaks specifically to the trafficking of organs extraterritorially, or outside the territory of Canada. Additionally, it would amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act so those who are seeking to reside permanently in Canada or foreign nationals would be inadmissible to our beautiful country for engaging in conduct that constitutes one of the offences proposed in this legislation. These offences target anybody who obtains organs, or who participates in or facilitates the trafficking of organs, from a person who did not provide informed consent. This legislation also seeks to target those who obtained organs that are purchased and those who participate in or facilitate the transfer of purchased organs.
These are coercive practices. They are difficult to prove, but we want to send a clear and strong signal that we as a country do not accept them.
Unfortunately, we know that people who are wealthier unwittingly or sometimes wittingly engage in this practice. Those who are victims of this practice are almost always deeply vulnerable. The transplant of organs without consent is abhorrent. Oftentimes, it leads to devastating impacts on those who had their organs trafficked. They are uncompensated, they live with lifelong problems and they sometimes die.
The member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan and I participated in an important study on the Uighur people. This was over two years ago at the parliamentary subcommittee on international human rights.
We heard testimony from a survivor of the concentration camps within Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. He recounted to us, in testimony, how he was apprehended. He was asked to sign a forced confession and refused to do so. He was medically examined to such an extent that he thought he would be dissected on that table, that his eyes were going to be removed or that his organs were going to be harvested on the spot during the examination.
This piece of legislation seeks to target any behaviour that harvests organs from people.
I recognize that the Criminal Code may apply currently to some of the conduct that this bill is seeking to legislate. Right now, the Criminal Code has assault offences that apply when organs are harvested here in Canada with coercion. This piece of legislation, as I mentioned earlier, also looks at what happens outside of Canada.
Right now, there is no international covenant from the UN that speaks specifically to organ harvesting in its essence as the main thrust of the covenant. However, there are two covenants that do touch upon organ harvesting, and Canada is party to both of these UN instruments. The first is the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. This supplements the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which was ratified on May 13, 2002.
After this first piece of international law came the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. This protocol addresses offering, delivering and accepting a child for the purposes of transferring children's organs, particularly article 3. This was ratified on September 14, 2005.
The Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs, adopted in 2014, also speaks directly to organ harvesting.
I will conclude by recognizing the important work that has been done around this, in particular by David Kilgour and David Matas. They have done extensive research around Falun Gong or Falun Dafa practitioners and have dedicated years to highlighting this particular issue around organ harvesting.
We know that David Kilgour served in the House for many years with the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party. He was a person of conviction. He was a person who continued to remain active after serving the House. He was somebody I crossed paths with before entering the House. I remember this gentleman as a sincere person who advocated for the public good and for human rights.
It is important to also mark David Matas, who along with David Kilgour conducted extensive research. It allowed us to build a body of evidence that proved not only anecdotally but also empirically that this is an abhorrent phenomenon occurring right now.
Recently, in the Subcommittee on International Human Rights, we heard how this is currently happening to the Uighur people. In the airports in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, in Urumqi, if my memory serves me correctly, there were lines on the floor as one entered the airport that specifically demarcated where one could pick up organs. This is abhorrent. This type of practice must stop. This practice might exist currently within a region of the world that we know, but this legislation applies across the board.