July 10, 2019
The Honourable Ralph Goodale, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General
The Honourable Bill Blair, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction
House of Commons
Ottawa, K1A 0A6
Re: Report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights – “Moving Forward in the Fight against Human Trafficking in Canada” (Dec. 2018)
After reviewing the report “Moving Forward in the Fight against Human Trafficking in Canada” and your “Response”, the Canadian Criminal Justice Association (CCJA) would like to provide our views.
CCJA supports the goals enunciated in your “Response” particularly in protecting the most vulnerable, including “indigenous women and girls, children, women with disabilities, racialized individuals, socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, migrants, children in foster care, young runaways, and members of the LGBTQ2 community”.
We agree that in order to tackle human trafficking, the starting point should be developing a clear and unequivocal definition of human trafficking, which includes labour and sexual trafficking. The defining characteristics of human trafficking are coercion and control over a person, and the exploitation of that person, including financial, physical and sexual exploitation. This definition should be identical in all federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions.
The issue of human trafficking is indeed complex and requires collaboration among federal, provincial, territorial and international government institutions. Volunteer organizations should also play a role in identifying all forms of human trafficking, supporting the victims and prosecuting the perpetrators.
We support your position that it is vital to educate the public and professionals in the criminal justice, labour market and education systems regarding various aspects of human trafficking. Information pertaining to its prevalence and identification, effective protocols and practices in enforcing human trafficking laws, best practices for prosecuting perpetrators, and best strategies in providing support for the victims, all need to be shared. The media should be a key instrument in this public and stakeholder education process.
We should point out, however, that non-coercive, voluntary participation in the sex trade by an adult should not be viewed as sexual trafficking, and therefore, should not be targeted by governments and the criminal justice system. To do otherwise would be to violate an individual’s right to personal security (Bedford, S.C.C., 2013).
CCJA appreciates the opportunity to comment on this very important matter of the ‘Fight Against Human Trafficking in Canada’, as represented in the “Report” and in your “Response”.