Why is the Trudeau government failing to combat growing human trafficking problem?
When everyday Canadians are told modern slavery remains a global phenomenon, they would likely refer to cases like Libya and its handling of Nigerian refugees or rural India, where modern slavery is most apparent.
However, when Canadians are told we have a problem with such in our own backyard, many would come across as shocked, unaware that human trafficking is indeed on the rise in 2019 Canada.
Instead of sensationalizing issues that are relative nonstarters like gun control, abortion laws, the impending ‘climate crisis,’ or even fears our healthcare will be ‘Americanized,’ perhaps, we should focus on issues that affect our most vulnerable, in the flesh. Today and now.
Blame transcends partisan lines on many prominent issues—as everyone bears some of the burdens for policy failures—but in the case of the NAP and Bill C-75, that does not stand.
In 2011, the Conservative Party of Canada pledged to tackle human trafficking, creating the National Action Plan on June 6th, 2012. It assembled “Canada’s first integrated law enforcement team(s) dedicated to combating human trafficking in Canada and abroad.”
While it was not without its flaws (i.e. need to combat implicit bias of police, need for more frontline services, etc.), it took viable first steps in tackling a severely underreported issue.
Unfortunately, the Liberal Party of Canada failed to extend NAP in March 2016 and proved inept in their ‘efforts’ to develop and implement a replacement plan. It remains a mystery as to why nothing was done to combat what should otherwise be a multi-partisan issue.
What wasn’t a mystery, however, was the fact over 50% of human trafficking cases between 2009-2016 occurred in the last two years, with 93% of victims coming from within Canada and 75% of those being forced into the industry as minors.
50% of such victims were young Indigenous women.
Perplexing were the findings of the 2016-2017 Horizontal Evaluation of the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, which called for the renewal of NAP and the need for increased intergovernmental cooperation to effectively handle that which the Liberal government conveniently ignored.
Human trafficking is defined as “the illegal recruitment, transportation or hiding someone for the purpose of exploiting them.”
While the number of traffickers has been on the decline since 2014, the number of trafficked persons has increased.
Predominantly, the victims have been Indigenous women from lower socio-economic standing, those who experienced family violence, childhood abuse, lower education levels and the intergenerational effects of the Residential School System.
Yes, 4.9% of the population are amongst Canada’s most vulnerable in the prostitution rings run by “pimps” and “madams” across the country. These criminals employ a pretense of companionship to lure vulnerable Canadians into a process police call “grooming.”
Instead of building off the NAP, providing support, housing, and trauma counselling for the victims, trafficked persons are left without help, undermining prior claims of the Liberal’s “compassion-driven” policies.
Instead of implementing legislation that maintains an acceptable standard of prosecution, protection, prevention, and partnership, none which has occurred, victims of human trafficking have been left without the help they so desperately need.
On Wednesday, May 15th, the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs voted on Bill C-75, which called for the hybridization of section 279.02(1) material benefits for human trafficking and section 286.2(1) material benefits for sexual services.
The group of 12 Senators voted to amend the above “indictable offences” into hybrid offences. Before the vote, each offense called for a maximum of 10 years imprisonment for convicted human traffickers, but now, those found guilty face no jail time at all and a meagre $5,000.00 fine.
To put things into perspective, a $5,000.00 fine accounts for only 1.6% of the potential profit a trafficker makes from trafficking one individual, which amounts to $300,000 per annum.
TPM Exclusive with MP Arnold Viersen
Launched in 2018, the All-Party Parliamentary Group to End Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking was dealt a severe blow in its efforts to combat the scourge that is human trafficking. Unfortunately, a notably partisan divide amongst the twelve senators demonstrated the common good—and what is moral and what is just—plays second fiddle to partisan politics, when deemed ‘appropriate’ to do so.
Arnold Viersen, a Conservative MP for the riding of Peace River-Westlock, spoke to the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on the implications of Bill C-75, if passed by APPG. He says, “[having] reviewed the amendments proposed by C-75 around human trafficking [we have] serious concerns about the consequences of such amendments.”
“In considering the extreme violence and degradation and torture that these victims of human trafficking often endure, the punishment proposed for the offences [under 279.02(1) and 286.2(1)] does not correlate with the crime.”
The Post Millennial was able to correspond with Viersen, one of the Co-Chairs of the APPG to End Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, on that state of human trafficking in Canada today.
TPM: With the LPC failing to extend the National Action Plan in March 2016, ultimately “scratching the surface” on the human trafficking trade in Canada, what can they do to deter human traffickers from partaking in what has been deemed “low-risk” crime with “high financial payoff?” What does this do for their campaign promise in tackling Reconciliation?
Viersen: One of the primary ways the LPC could have tackled the lucrative human trafficking taking place in Canada is by focussing on the demand. In 2014, the Conservative government passed Bill C-36 that implemented the Nordic model of prostitution in Canada. It removed criminality from prostituted women and placed it on sex buyers, who create the demand for sex trafficking and make it so incredibly profitable.
Research has shown that legalization/decriminalization increases sex trafficking, particularly of minors and those most vulnerable. Whereas, the Nordic model offers a three-pronged approach that tackles the demand, educates society about the harms of prostitution and provides assistance to prostituted individuals who wish to escape. Interestingly, the Nordic model is being adopted across Europe by left-leaning, feminist governments, and in Canada, they oppose it.
Secondly, the Liberals could have immediately brought into force Bill C-452 which, in addition to the consecutive sentences the Liberals opposed, contained two important tools that police and prosecutors have been missing for four years now.
If the LPC were genuinely concerned about reconciliation, they would focus on reducing the demand for trafficked Indigenous women and girls instead of turning a blind eye.
TPM: Proposed by a former NDP MP, Bill C-452 has attractive amendments that would have ultimately strengthened the National Action Plan and its tackling of human trafficking; therefore, do you believe the LPC’s failure to extend it was out of ignorance or, perhaps, indicative of their desire to cover up the good the CPC achieved in the Harper years?
Viersen: The LPC’s failure to extend the National Action Plan is mostly a result of fighting human trafficking just not being a priority for them. If you look at what the CPC accomplished just during their 4-year majority term, it’s a stark comparison to the hands-off approach the Liberals have taken. The only thing the Liberals have done to combat human trafficking is to fund a national hotline in their final year, and that was the result of the US shaming them into it.
TPM: If the amendments proposed by Bill C-75 are legislated, what does that say to the LPC’s efforts to combat gender-based violence, especially in the Me Too era?
Viersen: I think this is best expressed by the May 8 testimony to the Senate Legal Affairs Committee on Bill C-75 by the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, Heidi Illingworth:
“I am concerned with where the bill proposes to hybridize offences related to forced marriage, child abduction and some offences related to human trafficking. These offences, primarily committed against women and children, should not be of lesser concern. They constitute a grave violation of human rights, including the rights of women and children to live free from coercive control and violence. The serious nature and harm caused by these offences must be recognized this our laws and policies.”
TPM: Human trafficking is often described as a “modern form of slavery,” and with Indigenous Women overrepresented as victims, how do we convince the said victims to come forward and seek justice, given that structures of colonialism remain?
Viersen: Victims of human trafficking need to have confidence that when they come forward, their trafficker will both be convicted and receive significant jail time. As noted in the Bill C-75 brief submitted by the APPG to End Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking:
“The loss of consecutive sentences will also be a contributing factor to victims continued reluctance to come forward and report a crime. It is an established fact that victims are often uncooperative with human trafficking investigations, primarily due to the immense fear and psychological control that traffickers have over their victims.7 If traffickers found guilty of numerous trafficking offences are only held accountable for one victim in sentencing and no sentencing for all other offences, victims, who already are fearful to come forward to report such crimes, will be further reluctant to come forward. They will recognize that the result of their reporting, which puts them at high risk of real harm from their perpetrators, could serve no real purpose.
Indigenous women are also over-represented in the human trafficking industry and coupled with systemic racism and judicial discretion, and the amendments will specifically contribute to their continued disadvantaged position in the criminal justice system.”
TPM: How do we combat the systematic discrimination in the judicial and police systems to improve trust between Indigenous bands and the various branches of government?
Viersen: Education and awareness of human trafficking among communities, law enforcement and the judicial system are important. Many organizations have called for mandatory training for judges on human trafficking and its impact on vulnerable communities like indigenous communities. It is also important for men and boys to develop healthy attitudes about women and girls, and it is great to see indigenous leadership on this through campaigns like the Moose Hide Campaign.
TPM: How do you account for the recent uptick in human trafficking victims, despite the decline in human traffickers? 50% of reported cases between 2009-2016 occurred between 2015-2016, to put things into perspective.
Viersen: I believe a significant part of this is due to the training of law enforcement to recognize human trafficking as well as the launch of counter-human trafficking units during this time by police services across Canada.
TPM: With only 136 of 531 trafficking cases since 2005, resulting in a successful conviction, is there an amendment you’d implement to counteract the said implicit bias and racial stereotyping?
Viersen: Yes, one of the most challenging parts of the Canadian human trafficking offences is the bar set in the definition of exploitation in s.279.04. It requires a victim to possess a fear for their safety or the safety of another. Many cases of trafficking involving the psychological manipulation/deception of victims to think that their trafficker is their boyfriend or lover. So there is no presence of fear, and this makes it difficult for police to lay charges and proceed with an investigation or secure a conviction if they do proceed. The international Palermo Protocol convention does not require victims to possess a type of fear.
TPM: What was the rationale behind hybridizing subsections 279.02(1), 279.03(1), and 286.2(1)?
Viersen: The Liberal Government wanted to streamline the judicial system by hybridizing a significant number of indictable offences to include summary convictions as an option. However, there are a number of offences that are serious violent offences that should never include a summary option. Traffickers that make $300,000 a year selling women and girls should not be able to walk away with a $5000 fine. Hybridizing these offences also increases the likelihood that a human trafficking offence against an Indigenous woman would likely proceed as a summary conviction offence, further denying them justice as their offenders often receive lesser sentence then if the victim was a non-indigenous female.
TPM: What does the elimination of Bill C-452’s consecutive sentences, and per Bill C-75, the lack of jail time for convicted offenders tell to the victims, our allies in Canada and to our international commitment to combating this “horrific and brutal crime?”
Viersen: The elimination of consecutive sentences tells them that the Canadian government doesn’t recognize the gravity of human trafficking and the devastating impact it has on its victims.Further that the Canadian government is more concerned about the rights of traffickers than it is of the victims.
The Liberal government has won a minority under Justin Trudeau, returning to the House of Commons as the party in power.
While the government has celebrated victory in what can only be described as a disastrous campaign after it became public the Prime Minister had worn blackface more times than he could remember, the nation should be wary about the rather large number of broken promises coming back with the Trudeau Liberals.
According to the Trudeau Metre, the Liberals broke 67 promises throughout their first term, accounting for 29 percent of all promises made.
These broken promises include massive campaign planks such as electoral reform, failing to properly restore the veteran’s pension system, and the continuation of massive deficit which put a balanced budget potentially decades into the future rather than 2019.
With the minority governments in Canada rarely lasting more than two years, it will be interesting to see what the government attempts to do in order to keep both previous promises made and new ones brought forth during the campaign. The Liberals must make compromises with other parties.
With both the NDP and Greens cash-strapped but needing wins, and the Conservatives facing an inner-party revolt against the current leader, we will likely see a relative calm as parties adjust followed by a truly harsh period as weakened parties attempt to regain ground lost in 2015.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Senate point men have tendered their resignations. Senator Peter Harder, the Government’s Representative in the upper chamber, and Government Liaison Senator Grant Mitchell made the announcement Friday.
“The start of a new Parliament is the best time to welcome a new face in the role of Government Representative,” Harder said in a statement.
“With the Senate now well advanced on the path to becoming more independent and less partisan… it simply made sense for me to pick this moment: a new cabinet has been sworn in, new Senate groups are emerging along non-partisan lines.”
According to Harder, his term as the Senate’s government rep will expire on Dec. 31, 2019 while Senator Mitchell said he would remain in his liaison role, previously called Government Whip, until Trudeau finds a replacement for Harder.
“Serving in this role has truly been a highlight of my career. It has been a privilege to have been so directly involved with Prime Minister Trudeau’s initiative to create a more independent Senate,” said Mitchell.
For nearly 150 years, senators were appointed by the sitting prime minister, and for the most part showed unbroken partisan loyalty to their caucuses. But that all changed in April 2014 when Trudeau cut existing Liberal appointees in the Upper Chamber from the national caucus.
The decision has factionalized the Senate with both Senate Conservatives and Liberal castaways coalescing in various groups, including the Independent Senators Group and a pair of nascent upstarts; the Canadian Senators Group and Progressive Senators Group.
Harder, who is a “non-affiliated” senator entered the upper chamber in April 2016, as the first “independent” appointed senator under a purportedly, non-partisan selection process. Mitchell was appointed to the Senate in 2005 by Prime Minister Paul Martin.
Known as the “chamber of sober second thought”, the Senate is intended to provide regional oversight for government bills as well as the power to introduce laws unrelated to spending.
Pierre Poilievre is a six-term Member of Parliament, former Minister of Employment and the current Conservative Shadow Minister of Finance.
Lots of advice is pouring in for Conservatives these days.
Much of it from people who have never or will never vote for the party. They have concluded that the Conservative Party, which won the most votes in the election, is so unpopular that it must abandon its entire platform and the 6.1 million people who voted for it. The Globe and Mail, for example, has called for the party to drop its weird obsession with fiscal responsibility and low taxes.
Likewise, this headline recently blazed the pages of the Toronto Star: “Conservatives will pay for Andrew Scheer’s anti-tax stance.” Low taxes are not compatible with “a big-tent party in 2019 Canada, and we know from the past few weeks of federal election campaigning that voters are not won over by the concept,” wrote the paper’s federal finance columnist Heather Scoffield. “It’s an anti-tax, small-government dogma that hearkens back to Stephen Harper and channels Jason Kenney and Doug Ford,” she wrote, referring to three leaders who won majorities on tax-fighting platforms.
Premiers Kenney and Ford won victories in the last 18 months, with many seats in urban centres. But never mind, we’re told that their low-tax messages are unelectable or out-of-date. As for Mr. Harper, the Parliamentary Budget Officer calculated that he “reduced federal tax revenue by $30 billion, or 12 per cent. These changes have been progressive, overall. Low and middle income earners have benefited more, in relative terms, than higher income earners.” The policy helped win Harper three elections (including a majority) and become the longest-serving Conservative Prime Minister since John A. MacDonald. (We wouldn’t want to repeat that track record, would we?)
Canada already has four parties—the New Democrats, Liberals, Greens and Bloc—clamoring for bigger and more powerful government. The media believes Conservatives should become the fifth. It would not be without precedent. Past “conservative” leaders have embraced higher taxes. How did that work out for them?
When Prime Minister Joe Clark’s budget hiked gas taxes, he lost a confidence vote and an election after only nine months in office. When President, George Herbert Walker Bush, broke his “read my lips: no new taxes” pledge, he lost to Bill Clinton. Alberta Premier, Ed Stelmach, raised taxes on the energy sector by jacking up royalty rates and was gone as Premier within ten months. Ernie Eves raised taxes soon after becoming Ontario Premier and promptly lost an election, reversing the back-to-back majorities of taxfighter, Mike Harris. In the early 1990s, the federal Progressive Conservative government introduced the GST and went from a majority government to merely two seats. New Brunswick Premier David Alward’s 2013/14 budget raised taxes by $200 million and in the following year’s election he lost his government and half his caucus. Alberta’s Progressive Conservative government announced hikes to income, gas and alcohol taxes in the 2015 budget and two months later lost to the NDP, finished third place and ended their 44-year dynasty, the longest of any party in Canada’s history.
It is true that there are many factors that lead to parties or leaders losing office. But is it just an extraordinary coincidence that voters have promptly driven out of office every federal or provincial conservative leader who raised taxes in the last three decades?
No. It is no coincidence. When conservative parties support tax increases, they get crushed.
The reasons are clear.
First, how can a conservative candidate who supports tax hikes criticize the socialist parties for doing the same? If all parties are going to cost taxpayers more, the election becomes a bidding war where parties compete to offer the most generous government-funded goodies—a bidding war left-wing parties with no fiscal responsibility will win every time.
What we can believably offer is a chance for hardworking and ambitious people to build better lives for themselves, by keeping more of their earnings.
That is who we are. Without our best product (low taxes), we lose our customers. We become a baker without bread or a logger without lumber.
“How boring,” groans the left. Ms. Scoffield, for example, laments that low taxes leave no “room for big thinking on how to confront the next economic downturn, or how to take care of an aging society, or how to alleviate the shortage of affordable housing unless the private sector takes front and centre.” Confront the next downturn through tax hikes? Care for an aging society by raising taxes on retirement savings? Make housing more affordable by taxing the business that builds homes, or the worker saving to buy one? These ideas fulfil the socialist fantasy of making people helplessly dependent on government, but betray people’s desire to fulfil their own potential and chart their own destinies.
Low taxes are not a “gimmick”, like 30 cents off paper towels. Rather, they allow free workers and entrepreneurs to choose what to do with the fruits of their labour and enterprise. Costing people less is just the means. Empowering them to do more is the end.
A dollar can only be in one place at a time. Who decides where it goes?
The person who earned it or the politician who taxed it; the entrepreneur whose investments produced it or the politician who faces no real consequence for squandering it?
Whose dreams are fulfilled in the end, the family saving to start a business, buy a home or afford to make lasting memories taking the kids somewhere special; or the politician who dreams of buying himself a legacy with that family’s money?
Conservatives must be the party of human aspiration and free choice. That means ignoring the big-government cabal and always standing with the hardworking taxpayer.
In a move reminiscent of the Boston Tea Party’s tea dumping, Quebec farmers have dumped their corn outside Prime Minister Trudeau’s Montreal office in protest on Monday. Farmers were upset that Trudeau didn’t step in and use parliamentary powers to send CN employees back to work.
The farmers were protesting the Liberal governemnt’s management of the CN rail strikes which had crippled the Canadian economy. The strike, protesting long working hours and the dangerous nature of the job went on for more than a week.
On Tuesday CN resolved the dispute with the workers’ union, Teamsters Canada, with a tentative deal. Employees were back at work by 2 p.m. on Tuesday and are starting regular operations by Wednesday morning.
The strikes cut off up to 85 percent of Quebec’s propane which is delivered by rail. The strike was particularly damaging to the protesting farmers because propane is needed to power grain dryers, which are vital to ensure that their corn crop can be dried and stored to be sold later. The Grain Farmers of Ontario released a statement urging the Candian government to end the strike as it was vital to ensure the farmers’ crops do not rot.
“This strike could not have come at a worse time for Ontario grain farmers. We are still seeing the majority of corn in the fields and harvest is progressing incredibly slowly. The corn being harvested is very wet and will require extensive drying to be viable, which requires the use of propane and our access is now cut off,” said Markus Haerle, Chair, Grain Farmers of Ontario. “This is devastating.”
The Quebec protestor’s, facing the same disastrous consequences of the strike as the Ontario farmers, held signs demanding the Trudeau and government to react to their need for propane.
In response to farmers’ demands to end the rail strike, Agricultural Minister Marie Claude Bibeau met with grain farmers in Regina to discuss how the strike was negatively affecting their farms.
She told farmers, “We still believe in the negotiation process. They are still around the table, and we are pushing both parties to come to an agreement,” and “This would be the best for every party and the fastest solution as well.”
With the recent tentative deal reached with the union representing CN rail workers, the propane should flow back into Quebec and the farmers crops will be saved.