Debates of the Senate  
2nd Session, 40th Parliament,Volume 146, Issue 80.
  Thursday, December 10, 2009
Question Period: Public Safety

  Prevention of Human Trafficking

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Canada is a signatory to Article 9 of the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children. Therefore, Canada ought to be active in efforts to prevent trafficking and, in so doing, leading civil society to play an active role in preventing the occurrence of trafficking.

The clandestine nature of human trafficking makes it very difficult to track once in progress. Enacting human trafficking legislation alone without other government measures will not make a significant impact on the level of trafficking, in particular taking measures to attack the root causes that lead to people being trafficked. Without undertaking preventive measures, we will likely not see a decrease in human trafficking, a crime which is an abomination to the very notion of human rights.

Would the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell the chamber what steps the government is taking in adopting article 9 of the protocol, specifically with respect to the prevention of human trafficking?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, I think we all agree that human trafficking is an abominable situation. We have a bill in the Senate introduced by Senator Phalen and carried on by Senator Carstairs. We have another private member's bill being sponsored by member of Parliament Joy Smith. It is in the chamber right now. This bill is extremely important.

With the Olympics coming, the issue of human trafficking and trying to get some control over it is paramount. It is a serious problem that requires great effort on behalf of all parliamentarians and law officials, particularly. I know that Minister Van Loan of Public Safety Canada has been working with many agencies and countries on this serious matter. I would urge the passage of Joy Smith's bill so we could get it into law and it would go some considerable way in dealing with the human trafficking issue.

Senator Dyck: With all due respect to the leader, I do not think she understood my question. It was not with regard to prosecution but with regard to preventive measures.

For example, has the government provided additional resources to the RCMP, targeted specifically to prevent any increased human trafficking and to prevent any increased demand for paid sexual services during the Vancouver Games? What actual, concrete actions has the government taken to prevent increased human trafficking during the Olympic Games?

Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator for her question. I do believe I answered her question when I said that Minister Van Loan, the Minister of Public Safety, is working with many agencies, not only in Canada, but internationally, to address this serious issue.

I specifically mentioned the Vancouver Olympics. The work of the RCMP and the resources the RCMP use might not be something I can easily put my hands on. However, I am happy to take the question as notice as to what policy positions I can table in this place with regard to this serious issue.

Again, there are some measures we can take now, and anything we can do in this area would be certainly welcome.

Senator Di Nino: Pass the bill.

Senator Dyck: Prosecution alone, I will repeat, is not sufficient to eliminate human trafficking. There needs to be a multi-pronged approach.

For example, has the government increased resources to organizations like Crime Stoppers or Stop Sex with Kids in order to prevent increased victimization of women and children during the Olympic Games?

Senator LeBreton: With regard to Crime Stoppers and similar organizations, I do not have a definitive answer. Common sense would tell us that all police forces and all provincial, municipal and federal agencies would be doing everything possible to deal with this serious crime.

Senator Dyck: Is there a policy or strategy the government has developed that relies upon more than common sense to specifically address this problem?

Senator LeBreton: Senator Dyck, I answered that question.

Senator Tkachuk: Listen to the answer.

Senator LeBreton: I thought, perhaps, the actual activities of the RCMP may be hard to acquire. I would be happy to take the question as notice to see if there is any written policy statement I can table in the Senate to answer the honourable senator's question.