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View Peter Milliken Profile
Lib. (ON)
Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:
Rideau Hall
March 25, 2011
Mr. Speaker:
I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 25th day of March, 2011 at 7:55 a.m.
Yours sincerely,
Stephen Wallace,
The Secretary to the Governor General and Herald Chancellor.
The schedule indicates the bills assented to were Bill C-442, An Act to establish a National Holocaust Monument--Chapter 13; and Bill C-475, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine and ecstasy)--Chapter 14.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-644, An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act (funeral arrangements).
He said: Mr. Speaker, if my career continues I am sure that no one would say in my riding that there had been such zeal and zest as you have done over these past few years, and I thank you for it. I thank you for the tremendous example you have given me as a parliamentarian.
On my private member's bill, I do not mean to make light of the situation, but death and taxes are always a certainty. Unfortunately, when both are combined it is unjust, in my opinion. When it comes to funeral arrangements, I propose that the government get rid of the federal portion of the taxes required. It is an indignity.
I want to thank my hon. colleague from Random—Burin—St. George's who feels as passionately as I do about this. She is seconding this bill.
I leave this with the House as what is seemingly my final moment here to bring forward some legislation.
View Megan Leslie Profile
View Megan Leslie Profile
2011-03-25 12:50 [p.9270]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-645, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (gratuities).
She said: Mr. Speaker, it may seem a bit futile to introduce private members' bills on a day like today, but after working so hard with the community to get this done, it is definitely worth putting on the record.
I am very pleased to present a bill that aims to rectify a gap in our employment insurance regime. Currently, EI payments for qualifying restaurant servers are not calculated so that the servers' tips are taken into account, even though they are included when they pay taxes. That means that the EI payments servers receive are not based on their actual income but on their wages, which are very often low, as is a custom in the restaurant industry. This leaves servers at a significant economic disadvantage when they lose their jobs. It is unfair and discriminatory.
This bill would make it mandatory for servers to claim their tips as income and that EI calculations be based on that total amount. It would give servers the economic security and equal footing that they deserve.
I would like to extend my thanks to a constituent of mine, Caitlin Rooney, who brought this to my attention and for her help in the development of this bill.
View Megan Leslie Profile
View Megan Leslie Profile
2011-03-25 12:52 [p.9271]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-646, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (victims of trafficking in persons).
She said: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be tabling a bill that takes real steps toward better ensuring the safety and security of victims of human trafficking and their ability to seek help and advocate for themselves and their rights.
The amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act within this bill would provide for victims of trafficking protection permits that authorize a foreign national who is a victim of human trafficking to remain in Canada as a temporary resident. Provision is made for holders of such permits to be eligible to receive the same federal health services as a person who has made a claim for refugee protection in Canada.
We have long touted Canada as a nation that prioritizes human rights and this bill would do just that. It would also help in the efforts to prosecute the persons guilty of human trafficking by easing the fear of coming forward that is held by many victims of trafficking.
I thank my colleagues from Vancouver East and Burnaby—Douglas for their work on developing this bill and their tireless efforts toward ensuring that the legislation passed in this country is based on human rights and social justice principles first and foremost.
View Marlene Jennings Profile
Lib. (QC)
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-647, An Act to amend the Civil Air Navigation Services Commercialization Act (environmental impacts).
She said: I am proud today to rise to introduce Bill C-647, An Act to amend the Civil Air Navigation Services Commercialization Act (environmental impacts).
I am delighted that my colleague from Newton—North Delta is seconding this bill. He was worked tirelessly with me to see this bill come to fruition.
It is clear that night flights can present a health hazard. The effects of repeated exposure to the deafening noise of the huge aircraft that fly at night have been clearly documented.
On January 20, I organized a non-partisan round table that united some 40 to 50 elected officials from the three levels of government in the metropolitan region of Montreal in order to discuss this issue of airplane noise.
This bill represents one of the recommendations in my final report, which was released on March 7, 2011, to help resolve this problem.
I look forward as well to tabling a second bill entitled “the Canada airports act” in the near future.
The citizens of my riding and citizens from across Canada have been asking for their health to be protected from the risks associated with airport noise. The federal government has a responsibility. I urge the government to act on it.
View Claude Gravelle Profile
View Claude Gravelle Profile
2011-03-25 12:56 [p.9271]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-648, An Act to amend the Investment Canada Act (enhanced ministerial oversight).
He said: Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Windsor West for allowing me to work on this file.
I am so pleased to table this important legislation that would provide substantive improvements to the Investment Canada Act. This bill is the culmination of consultations with stakeholders, experts, academics and labour organizations.
This bill, entitled “an act to amend the Investment Canada Act (enhanced ministerial oversight)”, would, among other things, require the Minister of Industry to consult with representatives of industry and labour, provincial and local authorities and other interested persons in exercising their powers under the Investment Canada Act; lower the threshold for ministerial review to $100 million; invite submissions from interested parties; require sureties from non-Canadian investors; broaden the minister's consideration when evaluating net benefits; eliminate the prohibition against communication of information related to the investment; and extend the timetable for review from 45 to 90 days.
In other words, this bill would strengthen the Investment Canada Act to protect workers and their communities, something the Conservative government and previous Liberal governments have refused to do.
View Helena Guergis Profile
Ind. Cons. (ON)
View Helena Guergis Profile
2011-03-24 10:08 [p.9165]
seconded by the hon. member for Portneuf—Jacques Cartier, moved for leave to introduce Bill C-643, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (contributions).
She said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to introduce, in both official languages, a bill that will enact amendments to the Canada Elections Act so that contributions may be made in any calendar year to the candidate who is not the candidate of a registered party.
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Rodger Cuzner Profile
2011-03-24 15:15 [p.9211]
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I stand to ask for unanimous consent that Bill C-624, the Nortel bill, be deemed read, debated and passed at all stages.
View Maria Mourani Profile
View Maria Mourani Profile
2011-03-24 17:31 [p.9231]
moved that Bill C-612, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons), be read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
She said: Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure today to speak to Bill C-612, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons). This is a bill upon which we have been working for more than a year. Many women’s groups have been consulted, as well as victims’ groups, police forces and even the Barreau du Québec. Before giving a brief outline of the bill, I would like to sketch a quick picture of trafficking in persons and provide some information, including statistics.
According to 2009 figures from the UNODC, 79% of trafficking victims in the world are trafficked for purposes of prostitution. According to 2005 figures from the International Labour Organization, 80% of trafficking victims are women and children, particularly young girls, and 40% to 50% of all victims are children.
Women and girls make up 98% of the victims of sexual exploitation. Hence the violence inflicted in this sort of trafficking mainly affects women. According to 2007 figures from the UNODC, the annual proceeds of this criminal activity are estimated at $32 billion. This is estimated to be the third-largest criminal trade after drugs and weapons trafficking. Certain research even estimates it to be the second-largest. This trade is dominated by criminal groups, and the traffickers are difficult to apprehend since they are extremely dangerous and violent. Naturally, as one can understand, the victims are forced to remain silent.
Here is a picture of the situation in Canada: Canada is considered to be a country of recruitment, destination and transit, particularly transit to the United States. Unfortunately, Canada is also a place of sex tourism. Contrary to what one might think, this sort of thing does not happen only in Thailand. Criminal Intelligence Service Canada indicates in its 2001 report that, in Canada, the average age of entry into prostitution is 14. According to 2004 figures from the U.S. State Department, every year an estimated 1,500 to 2,200 persons are victims of trafficking from Canada to the United States. It is estimated that traffickers bring approximately 600 women and children into Canada to service the Canadian sex industry.
The main points of transit and destination for victims of interprovincial and international trafficking are Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver. It is estimated that over 65,000 persons in Canada engage in the online exchange of child pornography, in photos and videos. And this is a fairly conservative figure, if one can say that.
The Sûreté du Québec estimates that 80% of the strip clubs in Quebec under its jurisdiction are owned by criminal groups, often under fronts. So this is an industry that is dominated by organized crime and, of course, street gangs. It is said that a girl can be ordered much as one orders a pizza. This is quite incredible. In the city of Montreal alone, it is estimated that 300 minor girls aged 12 to 17 are sexually exploited, whether through pornography or prostitution, although the figures vary depending on the research. Some studies talk about 800, others 488, or even 1,500 children and adolescents in the Montreal region alone.
The city that comes second to Montreal is Quebec City. The sites of prostitution are varied: bars, strip clubs, prostitution networks, escort agencies and massage parlours. A girl may be moved from Canada to the United States or from one province to another. With reference to sexual exploitation, the majority of prostitution networks can be found in the big cities such as Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Vancouver, Niagara, Peel, etc.
Girls recruited in Atlantic Canada can wind up in Quebec and Ontario, or in Alberta and British Columbia, and vice versa. Although this odious trade is dominated by organized crime, street gangs have now become new players in this trafficking. The Montreal police service has declared human trafficking to be its number one priority.
It is estimated that since the late 1990s, members of street gangs have changed from small recruiters to high-level procurers. They are also involved in interprovincial trafficking and of course in trafficking with the United States. Their preferred clientele, not to play on words, their target, is girls between the ages of 11 and 25. They specialize in child prostitution. One girl can bring in around $280,800 per year. Twenty girls earn $6.552 million a year, and 40 girls $13.104 million. This is a business that is not very risky and that is also inexpensive and very lucrative.
The penalties are negligible. I will give you an example of a pimp in Peel region who exploited a 15-year-old girl for two years. This earned him $360,000 per year. He received a three-year sentence. Unfortunately, the girls refuse to testify, simply because they are understandably afraid, for they are frequently beaten and tortured, and so on.
So you will understand the full importance of this bill, which targets a number of different points. Given the time allotted to me, I will try to review them very quickly for my colleagues.
The first point was to clarify the definition of the words “trafficking” and “exploitation”, because they were sometimes confusing. It was explained to me by the police community that sometimes, or even very often, the legal community regards trafficking as being international. All that we have done in subsection 279.01(1) of the Criminal Code is add “in a domestic or international context”. It must be made clear that trafficking is interprovincial, inter-country and transnational, in the same way as it can be from city to city or district to district.
We have also clarified the definition of the word “exploitation”, for the current definition is a bit of a catch-all, in the sense that it can cover anything from forced labour to sexual exploitation. So we have added a clause that clarifies and adds sexual exploitation and that in a way allows prosecutors, legislators and the police to pinpoint this type of crime. Section 279.04 of the Criminal Code is amended by adding the following at the end of paragraph (a): “(a.I) cause them to provide or offer to provide sexual services by the use or threat of force...”. Everything has been included.
In a way, this definition copies or is modelled on the Palermo protocol and would permit Canada to honour its signing of that text. I leave it to my colleagues to take a closer look at this. I continue with the reading of the clause: “...or of any other form of coercion, by fraud, deception, manipulation, abuse of authority or situation of vulnerability...”. So we touch upon different ways in which a pimp or a trafficker can cause a victim to be exploited.
In modifying this definition, Canada will thus be able to comply with and honour its signing of the Palermo protocol.
In listening to the police, we realized that the common complaint was that sentences were not harsh enough. We did not consider minimum sentencing because we think judges should have as much latitude as possible in handing down a sentence. Nonetheless, we focused on consecutive sentencing. When a person is charged with trafficking, prostitution or aggravated assault—quite often these types of charges go hand in hand with this type of crime—the judge, after all the legal steps, all the plea bargaining, could add up the sentences he will impose according to the remaining charges. We are leaving it up to the judges, but at the same time we are leaving room for more substantial sentences than what we are currently seeing. This provision will apply to human trafficking—therefore sections 279.01 to 279.03—and could also apply to provision 212.01—or procuring offences.
What is more, we tried to resolve the issue of evidence. I believe we have done well. The police were telling us that it was often very difficult to get testimony from a victim. Victims do not necessarily want to testify, out of fear. The police suggested establishing reverse onus, as in subsection 212(3). If the police could have enough evidence, they would not need a victim's testimony to press charges. The wording for the provision was modelled after the wording for the provision on prostitution.
For the purposes of subsection (1), a person who is not exploited and who lives with or is habitually in the company of or harbours a person who is exploited shall, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, be deemed to be exploiting or facilitating the exploitation of that person.
This point has already passed the constitutional hurdle in regard to the provisions on procurement. I do not think there will be any constitutional problems in this respect, given that this was already tested regarding prostitution. I submitted it to the Barreau du Québec and have not heard anything back. We were very careful about proposing this.
The victims groups with whom I met were very happy with this provision because it removes the burden of proof from victims.
There is another very important point that will address what is reported to us from the field. This will be very beneficial financially of course, but also in terms of arrests, charges and denunciatory sentences. By introducing subsection 462.37(2.02), we are adding the offences of procuring and human trafficking to the existing section of the Criminal Code, which deals with offences committed by criminal gangs liable to sentences of five years or more, as well as all offences under section 5, 6 or 7 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
This section already exists in the Criminal Code. We are just adding the offence of procuring and human trafficking so that people charged with human trafficking can have the proceeds of their crimes confiscated. This is not done now, unfortunately, and these people continue to enjoy the proceeds of their crimes. When someone is charged with and found guilty of trafficking, he will have to prove that the millions of dollars he has in the bank, his big houses and cars, are not proceeds of crime.
Finally, our changes to section 7 of the Criminal Code are based on what the police told us, especially the child sexual abuse unit. They said Canadians could go abroad, commit human trafficking offences there, and return to Canada with impunity. They could not be prosecuted. I was told about three Canadians who went to Somalia and opened an orphanage, where they trafficked several children. They returned to Canada with impunity, without being charged with anything at all, because unfortunately there is still no provision in the Criminal Code providing that a Canadian or permanent resident, within the meaning of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, who commits such an act abroad can be charged as if he had committed the act in Canada.
We have worked very hard on this bill, which was supported by a number of groups and various police forces we consulted. I did not consult them all, of course.
I encourage all my colleagues to support this bill. Not only will it give police and prosecutors the tools they need to do their jobs, but it will also do justice to the victims, who will no longer have to bring a case before the courts. They can be better protected. Finally, the bill will make it possible to confiscate property.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand here and talk about this issue. It is one that has concerned me for some time, and certainly for the past five years.
I congratulate my colleague on her speech, as I support this. The identification and definition of exploitation is certainly a serious issue around the world that we struggle with in many jurisdictions. It is nice to see that we have legislation, albeit a private member's bill, that brings us in line with what many jurisdictions around the world are doing, especially in Europe right now as they look at that.
Some of the details around section 279 also concern me, but I do believe that in this particular situation we need to provide the identification of this for the international and domestic victims of human trafficking. The member pointed out, quite rightly in her speech, just how severe this is and how it ranks third to weapons and drugs.
I like this because now we can have a wholesome debate about the rehabilitation and identification of these victims so they can get the help they need. Specifically, we had a debate before regarding punishment, and I congratulate my colleague in the government for doing that at the very beginning.
I do want to add to this debate by talking about the social concerns. My opinion is that we need to open up a discussion with provinces for the services provided to victims.
View Maria Mourani Profile
View Maria Mourani Profile
2011-03-24 17:48 [p.9233]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. He is quite right. Very few resources are being made available to victims of trafficking. Nearly 80% of trafficking victims are used for purposes of prostitution. There are a few services, but not a great many, given the extent of the problem. Furthermore there are no services for women who want to get out of prostitution and out of the exploitation of which they are the victims.
In the course of my career, I have met with many female prostitutes and minors who were victims of exploitation. What is very clear to me is that when they want to leave that life, they do not have the necessary resources to return to work or school, for example, or to receive psychological assistance. When a girl forced into sexual exploitation at age 12, 13 or 14 gets to be 18 or 19, it is difficult for her to leave that life behind when she has nothing.
There is a huge lack of resources, and we have to address this: the hon. member is perfectly correct.
View Joy Smith Profile
View Joy Smith Profile
2011-03-24 17:50 [p.9233]
Mr. Speaker, I commend my colleague for bringing this issue to the House of Commons again.
I listened very carefully to what my colleague had to say. We did share some time on the status of women committee on this issue. I appreciated her input at that time.
I was disappointed when my own bill came forward that the Bloc as a whole voted against it. I do feel very strongly that there was some pressure on the member not to participate, but I do not know that for sure.
This is a horrendous issue in this country right now. In reference to the man who was the first criminal convicted of human trafficking, his name was Imani Nakpamgi. I worked with his victim very closely. She was 15.5 years old when she was initially trafficked.
What would the member consider the most important thing for these victims to be able to recuperate?
View Maria Mourani Profile
View Maria Mourani Profile
2011-03-24 17:51 [p.9233]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. I know that human trafficking is a major concern for her as well. I would like to explain that the Bloc Québécois voted against her bill not because it is against the principle of increased sentencing, but because it does not agree with minimum sentencing.
I have spoken with certain police officers and asked them whether minimum sentences worked. They told me they did not. When it is time for plea bargaining, the lawyers do everything they can to get charges that carry minimum sentences dropped. Unfortunately, this serves no purpose and prevents the judge from making an informed decision.
What I can say to my colleague is that this bill is a good bill. I hope that she is not overwhelmed by her disappointment and that she is able to move forward with this bill.
View Daniel Petit Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on private member's Bill C-612, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons). I would like to thank the member for Ahuntsic for this initiative, which seeks to deter people from committing these crimes and to ensure that those who profit from them are punished accordingly. I believe that we all agree that these objectives deserve our support. In fact, thanks to the hard work of the Conservative member for Kildonan—St. Paul, there is now a minimum sentence in the Criminal Code for those found guilty of trafficking in persons under the age of 18, an initiative that was supported by all opposition parties except the Bloc. It is a shame for this party and a sad day for Quebec's children.
Although we support the good intentions of the bill, I believe that, in its current form, it could prevent the desired objectives from being attained. I will spend my time pointing out some of the problems with the bill, but I will do so in a constructive manner and in the hope of making it as sound and effective as possible. In my opinion, changes need to be made to fill in the gaps in current criminal law and provide sufficient legal clarification so that such changes are useful to police and prosecutors. In the end, it would allow the member to attain her objectives of deterring and punishing this crime.
Human trafficking is a problem that comes up often. It garners a lot of attention from the public, media, police and legislators across the country and around the world. I believe that this interest stems from the fundamental human concern we have for one another and from the fact that we all recognize that no one should be treated as merchandise that can be bought and sold for profit. It is a form of modern slavery. Despite the attention that this crime garners, we are only just starting to comprehend the nature and scope of this crime in Canada and abroad. We do know, however, that women and children are disproportionately victimized by this crime.
According to the United Nations, in 2009, 66% and 13% of the victims were women and girls, respectively, compared with 12% for men and 9% for boys. The United Nations estimates that more than 700,000 people are victims of human trafficking every year. And this crime is clearly very profitable. The United Nations estimates that this crime nets nearly $32 billion each year for the offenders.
Police investigations and prosecutions in Canada provide us with useful, albeit incomplete, information about human trafficking. These cases have demonstrated that the majority of victims were trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. But there are also cases of trafficking for forced labour. Most of the victims were women and the majority of these human trafficking cases took place here in Canada.
In December 2010, RCMP statistics showed that there were at least 36 cases involving human trafficking before our courts. That is an encouraging number because it shows that the criminal justice system is becoming more comfortable with the relatively new offences involving human trafficking.
In light of this, we must ensure that we do not inadvertently make our laws less effective. I am concerned that certain proposals that have been put forth could do just that. And in that context, I would like to speak to the content of this bill.
First, it would grant the extraterritorial power to bring legal action in Canada against Canadians or permanent residents who commit offences related to adult trafficking abroad. This seems logical to me and I know that extending jurisdiction in this matter is encouraged under the relevant international law. In fact, other countries have taken measures in this regard, including the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand and Australia.
I believe—and I am asking members to think about this—that this type of amendment should have been extended to offences involving the trafficking of children, which fall under section 279.011 of the Criminal Code. This offence was enacted last year further to private member's Bill C-268, which was introduced and sponsored by the hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul. The addition of a human trafficking offence involving both adults and children would allow us to ensure that Canadian laws and, of course, this bill, are consistent, as well as to take legal action no matter what the age of the victim.
I also support the bill's proposal to the effect that human trafficking offences should result in the reversal of the onus of proof in cases related to proceeds of crime. The existing regime limits this possibility to serious offences involving organized crime and other serious drug offences that are directly related to organized crime. We know that members of organized crime groups also participate in human trafficking. This amendment would target financial incentives and make this type of crime less appealing to criminal organizations.
This bill also proposes a “presumption” that appears to be an attempt to make prosecution easier. In cases involving adults, this presumption would require the court to find that the accused is exploiting a victim if he lives with a person who is exploited or is habitually in the company of or harbours a person who is exploited.
Presumptions help prosecutors prove an element of the offence by establishing a fact. However, as it is written, I do not think that the presumption achieves its goal. That said, I think that the goal could be achieved if the proposal could be amended to ensure that it produces the desired results and that it is compatible with the existing presumptions in the Criminal Code. I urge hon. members to think about the need to make such amendments to the bill.
Furthermore, I am concerned about a number of amendments this bill proposes to section 212 of the Criminal Code, which is commonly known as the procuring provision. Two amendments are proposed. The first would require that individuals found guilty of this offence must serve their sentences consecutively to any other punishment they have received. The second would apply reverse onus to this offence in cases related to the proceeds of crime.
As the House surely knows, our government is currently defending the constitutional validity of certain provisions regarding prostitution. Therefore, I think it would be ill-advised to make more amendments to these provisions before a ruling is made.
I would like to tell the member that I am absolutely willing to work with her to strengthen this bill in order to hold traffickers responsible for their horrendous crimes.
However, I am outraged that the Bloc has introduced this bill, since it knows that it wants to defeat the government. This is a case of opportunism. That party is trying to pretend that it defends victims, when all it does is defend the rights of criminals.
View Marlene Jennings Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Ahuntsic for introducing this bill, for having put so much effort into creating it and for introducing it here in the House. I am very proud to have the opportunity to speak to this bill during the first hour of debate at second reading.
On behalf of my party, I would like to say right away that I intend to recommend to my caucus that we support this bill when the time comes to vote to send it to committee, with the hope that there is one some day. If this bill dies on the order paper, I hope it will be introduced again in a future Parliament, so that it may be revived and find its way before a standing committee of the House.
I will not repeat the bill's objective. I believe the hon. member for Ahuntsic described it very well, as did the parliamentary secretary, although he concluded his speech with an absurd remark. Until then, I found his speech rather interesting. I thought the points he raised in such a thoughtful, serious manner were interesting and worthy of our attention. It is unfortunate that he chose to resort to petty politics and to attack the Bloc Québécois. The Bloc has a role to play, just like the Liberal Party of Canada or the NDP, in ensuring democracy in the House of Commons, in the Parliament of Canada. Our Parliament is the pillar of democracy in Canada.
We have watched this government, this Conservative government, attack our institutions one by one, finally arriving at the last bastion, Parliament. The Conservatives arrived at its doors and attacked with contempt of Parliament. I do not wish to stray too far from my speech, but I believe this is pertinent.
It is regrettable that we have a Conservative government that has not developed a national strategy on human trafficking in Canada. It is regrettable that they have left it up to private members to try to amend the Criminal Code, address its shortcomings with respect to human trafficking in Canada and trafficking committed elsewhere by Canadian citizens or permanent residents, and ensure that perpetrators are charged, brought before the courts, prosecuted and held accountable.
It is regrettable that this Conservative government has not taken this issue seriously and that it has left it up to private members to try to address the shortcomings of our system.
I congratulate the Bloc member for Ahuntsic. I would also like to say well done to the Conservative member for Kildonan—St. Paul.
The member made an attempt as well to try to close the gaps in Canada's legislation dealing with human trafficking. It is simply unacceptable that a government, like the Conservative regime, does not take this issue seriously. It does not see it as a priority to be dealt with in order to ensure that our legislative framework, our laws, deal with this issue with the gravity, the seriousness, and the severity with which it should be dealt with. The government has left it to simple MPs to attempt, through the laborious process of private members' bills, to fix the problem.
I find it shameful that the government has done nothing on this. I find it shameful that its own member had to come up with her own national strategy on human trafficking because her own government did not act and still has yet to act on the issue. It is shameful.
There are a number of issues which are of concern, such as the issue of the reversal of the presumption of innocence. I understand provisions already exist in the Criminal Code for other criminal offences on reversal. We look forward to examining this in committee should it get to committee, which is quite doubtful.
We also have a concern that by stipulating the sentences would be served consecutively to any other sentence removes judicial discretion. We prefer to see judicial discretion and, if necessary, if we find judges are not exercising their discretion in a manner that achieves the objective intended by the law, then we amend and put in criteria that the judge has to take into account in exercising his or her discretion.
Therefore, we would afford the opportunity to look at that. We are looking forward to hearing from expert witnesses, including the Quebec Bar Association.
I would like to give a bit of history on the Liberal position.
In 2009, in Volume III of the Pink Book, the Liberal women's caucus recommended that a national strategy be developed in partnership with the provinces and territories to prevent the trafficking of girls and women. As recommended by the Liberal women's caucus, this strategy would incorporate measures related to prevention, protection and justice, and increased funding to support victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation.
The House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women studied the issue of human trafficking in 2007. It released a report entitled, Turning Outrage into Action to Address Trafficking for the Purpose of Sexual Exploitation, which could also form the basis for a comprehensive national action plan.
It is simply unacceptable that, under the Conservative government, Canada is one of the few countries that does not have a national strategy to prevent human trafficking.
The Liberal Party has been calling on the Conservative government to act for the past three years. The Standing Committee on the Status of Women has been asking for that as have the other opposition parties. I know the Conservative member for Kildonan—St. Paul has also been calling for that.
Should this Parliament continue, which I doubt, and a vote happens at second reading, I call on each and every member of the House to support sending the bill to committee.
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