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e-4151 (Foreign affairs)

Initiated by Curtis Smecher from Bamfield, British Columbia

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • The Criminal Code recognizes International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA) as a criminal act detrimental to the abducted child;
  • In 1997, a federal committee undertook a series of hearings on IPCA. These resulted in comprehensive recommendations delivered to the government as FAIT Committee Report No. 4 (36-1);
  • 25 years later, the issues raised in this report are unresolved. The federal government does not provide adequate support or effective solutions to victims of IPCA;
  • In response to a lack of effective advocacy from the Canadian government in their cases, Canadian parents of abducted children have formed an organization named Return Our Children Home Canada; and
  • The organization’s goals are to support victimized parents, to engage the government to promote change, to seek justice for abducted Canadian children, and to prevent future abductions.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to:
1. Deliver a renewed mandate to the appropriate committees to update the 1997 FAIT Committee Report and compel the government to respond comprehensively;
2. Require that representatives of parents of abducted children participate in this process;
3. Designate an ongoing contact within the appropriate committees who will be available to engage with victimized parents at a strategic level;
4. Designate April 25th as a day of observation for the victims of IPCA; and
5. Articulate a clear policy in support of abducted children’s rights in cases where mechanisms such as the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction are not applicable or not respected.

Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Rob Oliphant

Canada takes very seriously its obligation to protect children from harm, including by preventing and addressing international parental child abduction (IPCA). Canada is committed to respecting and promoting the rights of children in accordance with international treaties, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child – which recognizes the right of every child to maintain contact with both parents, unless this is contrary to the child's best interests; and which provides that States shall take measures to combat the illicit transfer and non-return of children abroad, notably through the conclusion of bilateral or multilateral agreements or accession to existing agreements.

Canada is a party to the 1980 Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Convention), which provides a tool that can help parents of children abducted internationally. It allows parents to ask for an order for the return of their child from the courts of the Contracting State to which their child was abducted. The Hague Convention also creates a system of cooperation between the authorities of Contracting States, through designated Central Authorities.

In Canada, the provinces and territories are responsible for the operation of this Convention and there is a Central Authority in each jurisdiction responsible for managing applications under the Convention. At the federal level, Justice Canada leads on policy work related to the Convention and the Minister of Justice acts as the Federal Central Authority under the Convention. Canada engages actively with other Contracting States, either bilaterally or multilaterally, through the activities held at the regional and international levels to promote greater consistency in the interpretation and application of the Convention globally.  When there are concerns about the operation of the Hague Convention, Canada engages in constructive dialogue with the State(s) involved bilaterally or jointly with a small group of States sharing the same concern. 

IPCA is a criminal offence in Canada and a complex situation that affects many Canadian children every year.  Canada provides assistance and guidance to parents whose children have been abducted or are at risk of being abducted abroad through various resources. This includes a guidebook for affected parents, International Child Abductions, with guidance on how to prevent or stop an abduction, or to find and recover an abducted child. Global Affairs Canada operates the Emergency Watch and Response Centre that can be contacted if a child is missing or involved in a custody dispute abroad; and manages a network of consular officers abroad who work closely with authorities in other countries to advocate for the safety and well-being of Canadian children outside Canada.  Federal, provincial and territorial government departments and agencies are also partners in the Our Missing Children program, which aims at intercepting and recovering missing, abducted and exploited children and returning them to their parents and legal guardians.

Open for signature
October 31, 2022, at 10:24 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
November 30, 2022, at 10:24 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Randall Garrison (Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke)
March 29, 2023 (Petition No. 441-01219)
Government response tabled
May 12, 2023
Photo - Randall Garrison
New Democratic Party Caucus
British Columbia