2nd Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 149, Issue 89
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Boisvenu, seconded by the Honourable Senator Beyak, for the second reading of Bill C-452, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons).
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak at the second reading of Bill C-452, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons).
First, I want to start by thanking Maria Mourani, the MP, for sponsoring this private member’s bill, which focuses on a very important issue of human trafficking, in the House of Commons. Also, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Senator Boisvenu for his continuing work on this issue.
Honourable senators, I want to give you a summary of this bill before I go into to my personal remarks. This bill seeks to amend the Criminal Code of Canada to provide consecutive sentences for offences related to trafficking in persons; to create a presumption regarding the exploitation of one person by another; and to add the offence of trafficking in persons to the list of offences to which forfeiture of proceeds of crime applies.
Clause 1 of the bill creates a presumption of exploitation for the purposes of general trafficking prohibition.
Specifically, proposed new section 279.01(3) has the effect that any person who is not exploited who lives with or is habitually in the company of a person who is exploited would be presumed to be exploiting or facilitating the exploitation of that person in the absence of evidence to the contrary.
Clause 3 amends the French version of the definition of exploitation for the purposes of trafficking in persons contained in subsection 279.04(1) of the code, to bring it in line with the English since the French apparently refers only to “providing” and not to “offering to provide” labour or services.
Clause 3 adds a new section 279.05 to the Criminal Code to require that a sentence for any of the trafficking in persons offence sections 279.01 or 279.03 be served consecutively to any other punishment imposed for an offence arising out of the same series of events.
Honourable senators, the bill seeks to ensure that traffickers do not profit from their actions. We agree that the government must be able to seize the profits made from the transaction of selling a fellow human being as a commodity. The bill reverses the onus of proof and states that an individual who is habitually in the company of a person who is exploited, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, proof that a person exercises control, direction or influence over the movements of the person for the purpose of exploiting them or facilitating their exploitation. The bill aims to deter expansion of human trafficking by requiring offenders to serve their sentences consecutively.
Honourable senators, I dream that one day we will eradicate trafficking, especially of children, in our country. If there is any country where trafficking of people, especially of children, can be eradicated it is Canada. This is not the first time I have spoken on this issue of trafficking in the chamber. In 2005, I sponsored the first bill on trafficking in the Senate when I stated:
. . . to speak in strong support of Bill C-49, to amend the Criminal Code in respect of trafficking in persons. I am very happy that Canadians are taking the necessary steps to stop the heinous crime of human trafficking, but I am very sad that these kinds of deplorable acts happen anywhere in the world, let alone right here within our borders.
Honourable senators, at that time I stated that the previous week I had gone to Abuja, Nigeria, where I met with officials of the Nigerian National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons.
I also met with nine girls from the ages of 12 to 15 who had, a few days ago, been rescued in a bus station. These girls were with a woman — in Nigeria they call them “Madams” — who was preparing to traffic them as house girls in Lagos and later, when they were a little older, as sex objects in Italy. All these girls were in school, but their parents had sold them to a Nigerian Madam.
While talking to the girls, I really bonded with a young 12-year-old who was so innocent. There are many girls like her who will not be rescued.
I spoke about what a difference Bill C-49 would make not just overseas but in our country as well. I stated that this bill was about protecting the fundamental values of human security and human dignity that we value as Canadians.
Then, in 2009, I once again spoke about trafficking in Bill C-233. As you may remember, Senator Phalen and Senator Carstairs worked very hard with the Minister of Immigration to stop trafficking in our country. Yet again in 2012 I rose to speak on this issue on Bill C-310, when I said to honourable senators that a time had come when we had to stop talking about having many bills and start talking about putting in resources.
Honourable senators, often there is an understanding that trafficking of girls does not exist in Canada. I’m very sad to say that trafficking of young girls also exists in Canada. Our own girls are also trafficked. Our country is considered to be a source, transit and destination country for the trafficking of human beings and forced labour. We have heard estimates from the RCMP that about 600 to 800 victims are trafficked into Canada each year, mostly entering into forced sex work. We have also heard that 1,500 to 2,200 persons are trafficked through Canada to the United States annually.
Unfortunately, in Canada, information is not collected systematically so we have no way of knowing the real effects of human trafficking in our country. The result is that ultimately the numbers available likely show a stark under-representation of the harsh truth.
A relatively new report from the International Labour Organization puts forth a very dark image of the global impact of human trafficking. The report is said to take into consideration the highly under-reported nature of this crime.
Honourable senators, I can honestly tell you that I was shocked when I read statistics in the International Labour Organization’s 2012 global estimate of forced labour report. The International Labour Organization estimates the number of victims of forced labour and trafficking globally are 20.9 million — 20.9 million people around the world have been coerced or deceived into jobs where they are held captive. That means that right now, in this moment, 1 out of every 1,000 persons is forced into labour.
The definition of trafficking of persons is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or a position of vulnerability, or the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation. It goes on to say that exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation or the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or removal of organs.
Quite plainly, honourable senators, I truly believe that human trafficking is a form of modern slavery. When we use the term “slavery” we can all easily agree that we are talking about an assault on human dignity, a violation of natural laws and a sickening manifestation of man’s disregard for human rights. These characterizations are for slavery as they are for human trafficking. We are talking about a crime against the very heart of our democracy — the liberty and security of the person.
Honourable senators, I know that combatting human trafficking in this chamber is a non-partisan endeavour. Our work together in the past to reform and modernize the law in this regard has been very positive, yet more needs to be done. Where a person’s freedom has been taken away in a barbaric way, it is our job as leaders to find justice.
I have spent a number of years working on this issue and every time I travel somewhere new for this purpose I am struck by the similarities in the victims I meet. They are mostly girls who are young and hopeful for a better life outside of their own, where they would find no poverty and no violence. They all want to go to school, to play and grow up and be teachers and doctors. These girls were promised all those things but in a horrific turn of events they have been enslaved and brutally exploited.
What really bothers me when I travel to foreign countries is when I come across Canadian men who are also perpetrators in the global crisis. Canadian men travel abroad to engage in the exploitation of women and children, believing they cannot be prosecuted when they come back.
We all know that the laws have changed in Canada and we have laws for sex tourism, but really a law is only a good law if we provide resources and we have the political will to enforce those laws. Having a law on paper is not even worth the paper it’s written on.
Sex tourism is a big issue in Canada. In the 15 years that this bill has been in place, there have been five successful prosecutions in Canada of child sex tourism, most of which were by happenstance and not because of investigative work.
One of the five successful prosecutions was of Kenneth Klassen, an art dealer from my province of British Columbia. A mere 48 hours after landing in Cambodia, Mr. Klassen had assaulted and videotaped almost a dozen young girls, the youngest of whom was eight years old. After unsuccessfully making the claim that Canada’s sex tourism laws were unconstitutional, Mr. Klassen pleaded guilty and received the same charge he would have received had he assaulted and exploited a Canadian girl.
Unfortunately, there are many men like Mr. Klassen who have not been held accountable for their actions. The fact there have been only five prosecutions in one and a half decades demonstrates this. This is largely due to the fact that proper resources have not been put in place to enforce the legislation.
Honourable senators, if we are to take a real stand against the trafficking of persons, we must put forward an honest effort to ensure that the bill is accompanied by the necessary resources.
I’m sure in the recent issue of The Economist you read about the virtual depravities that exist in Canada, Australia, the U.S. and other western countries of men using the Internet to continue trafficking women and girls. I will speak more about this in debate on Bill C-13, which is about cyberbullying.
Honourable senators, when I was asked by my deputy leader to speak to this issue, I said yes because this is one of the issues that I work on. Standing here now, I’m saying in my speech the same thing that I said in 2005, in 2009 and in 2012. Yet, I can look each and every one of you in the eye and say that when I walk the streets of Vancouver, I see no difference. I see that the situation has worsened.
I have often said to honourable senators that this is the place where we look after the rights of the most vulnerable. We can pass a bill every year on trafficking, but it will make no difference to the lives of girls in our country. I want to share with you something that I told Senator Frum I would say this week.
Last year, I went with International Justice Mission Canada, which is a group of people from Canadian churches trying to stamp out trafficking around the world. I learned so much from them. They finance the investigations of girls being trafficked; take care of such children; make sure there’s prosecution of the trafficker; give aftercare to the children; and work hard to integrate children into the community.
Honourable senators, I stand today in front of you to say, don’t bother with this bill; it’s going to change nothing. Truthfully, we have to look at a comprehensive effort if we are going to change the lives of our girls.
Let me tell you what I saw in Calcutta, India that was being done by Canadian churches from my province. They were financing this project in Calcutta, which has a huge problem with trafficking. When I went to Calcutta, I saw investigators go into homes and brothels where young girls are hidden at the back. They ask for a young girl and then they befriend her. Over months and months of work, they earn the trust of the girl, and then they call the police. When the police arrive to rescue the girl and to arrest the trafficker, International Justice Mission Canada arrives with its social workers to take the girl in their car. The trafficker goes in a police car, and they all arrive at the police station.
One of the most awesome things I saw was the biggest bag of goodies from the social workers for the girl. You have to remember that when you take the girl away from that house or brothel, she leaves everything behind. The bag of goodies was bigger than a hockey bag. A social worker sits with the girl all night or however long it takes for the girl to make her statement. You must remember that the young girl does not trust the social workers. The only person she trusts is the trafficker, because that’s the only person she knows. The social workers have to gain her trust. Once she makes her statement, the social workers take her away so that the trafficker can never influence her. Then, they finance the prosecutors in Calcutta to make sure that the trafficker goes to jail.
Honourable senators, one of the happiest moments for me was when I sat in the courts in India when a trafficker was applying for bail for the eighty-first time — he had been in jail for a while. After a long day, we were sure he would be free to go, but the judge did not grant him bail. Thanks to what Canadians are doing in Calcutta, a number of traffickers have been convicted and sent to jail for over ten years. They are starting to make a difference.
After all that, the girl is not forgotten but is given aftercare. It was amazing for me to see that. A young girl who has been raped 20 times a day is not like a young girl who lives here. She needs a tremendous amount of aftercare, which is provided. She is also provided with an education so that she can integrate into society. Once she is educated, an effort is made to integrate her into the community.
Honourable senators, this law can be passed, but nothing will change in Canada because we do not provide the resources to protect our girls.
Many times I’m asked why I say that our girls are being trafficked. Honourable senators, once a month I walk the streets with outreach workers in Vancouver where I see many girls being trafficked. I want to share with you something that happened to me during the Olympics.
We know that the Olympic Games in Canada were a proud moment for all of us. I am proud to say that Prime Minister Harper and Minister Kenney worked exceptionally hard to stop the trafficking of girls into Canada. All groups succeeded in stopping the trafficking of girls and women from outside the country. As honourable senators know, when the World Cup or the Winter Olympics occur, there are games during the day and the trafficking of women and girls at night. We were able to stop the trafficking of women and girls into our country. However, to my utmost shock, girls were brought in from reserves in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan to the streets of Vancouver.
We were able to stop girls from around the world coming into our country, but our own girls were exploited during the best time in my province, the Winter Olympics.
Honourable senators, I say to you that we can pass a trafficking bill every year, but it does not mean anything if we do not have the political will to provide the resources.
I want to talk to you about a young girl that I met who was trafficked during the Olympics. I will call her Grace. I saw Grace the day the Winter Olympics were brought to my city. She was an innocent 10-year-old who had come from the reserve. On that day she was playing with beautiful earrings that her trafficker had given to her. For us, they would be earrings we would throw away, but for her it was the most beautiful thing. She had the most beautiful face in the world, but since the Olympics — and I saw her last week — Grace now looks old, she has lost her teeth, she’s on drugs and we have lost that child.
Honourable senators, of course I support this bill, but will it change the life of a girl? I don’t think so.
Thank you very much.
Hon. Ghislain Maltais (The Hon. the Acting Speaker): Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to and bill read second time.)
Hon. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu: Honourable senators, before I move that this bill be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, I would like to congratulate Senator Jaffer on her very inspired speech and thank her for supporting this bill. I am sure we will work together on this bill in a collaborative way in committee.
The Hon. the Acting Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?
(On motion of Senator Boisvenu, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.)