OTTAWA – Andrew Scheer, Leader of Canada’s Conservatives and of the Official Opposition, today announced his plan to protect vulnerable people by combatting human trafficking.
Scheer’s plan builds on the previous Conservative government’s National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, a plan that Justin Trudeau’s government callously cancelled.
“For the last three and a half years, human traffickers have received the message that fighting their crimes is not a priority,” Scheer said. “A Conservative government under my leadership will ensure that prosecutors have the strongest laws behind them to keep human traffickers off our streets and away from survivors and those they seek to harm.”
Currently, 95% of those being trafficked are women, and more than a quarter of victims are under the age of 18. Indigenous Canadians are disproportionately impacted, representing half of all victims, despite being only 4% of Canada’s population.
“Human trafficking exploits the most vulnerable populations in Canada. These horrifying statistics represent real people whose lives have been torn apart,” said Scheer. “Every victim deserves justice and our support and protection.”
The four proposals announced today include:
- Renewing the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking
- Updating the Criminal Code to reflect the international definition of human trafficking in the Palermo Protocol
- Ensuring that human traffickers receive consecutive sentences for their crimes
- Ending automatic bail for those charged with human trafficking offences.
“Canadians deserve to feel safe where they live and to know that their government takes heinous crimes seriously,” Scheer said. “A Conservative government will deal swiftly and firmly with human trafficking as part of our overall plan for A Safer Canada.”
Canada is seeing a shocking and disturbing rise in human trafficking. The literal selling of people into slavery has increased to the point the Toronto Police have referred to it as “an epidemic” with over 1,000 cases in the past 5 years, many involving children.
In December of 2018, more than twenty-five men were arrested in London, ON for human trafficking involving 24 women from London, 11 from Toronto and 15 from smaller Canadian towns and two from other countries.
It is also a fact that human trafficking disproportionately victimizes the most vulnerable in our society. 72% of victims are under the age of 25, and a quarter of victims are under the age of 18.
Furthermore, while only 4% of Canada’s population is indigenous, at least 50% of victims are Indigenous Canadians.
Conservatives believe that we must protect the most vulnerable in our society and end human trafficking once and for all.
Why Action is Needed
For the last three and a half years, human traffickers have received the message that fighting their crimes is not a priority. This must stop.
The current Liberal government also inexplicably and callously cancelled the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking which was created by the previous Conservative government.
Andrew Scheer’s plan consists of the following proposals:
1. Renew the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking
A Conservative government will renew the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking with robust funding for law enforcement, survivor rehabilitation and public awareness.
2. Strengthen Criminal Code Provisions against Human Trafficking
Under current definition (s.279.04) the Crown must prove that there was an element of fear present in the victim to secure a conviction. This stands in contradiction to the internationally accepted definition in the Palermo Protocol.
This makes convictions very difficult to secure. The majority of charges are stayed or withdrawn as the Crown can’t prove that the victims possessed the level of fear described in s.279.04.
A Conservative government will amend the human trafficking offence in the Criminal Code to reflect the international definition of human trafficking in the Palermo Protocol which would empower our justice system to secure convictions.
3. Ensure that human traffickers receive consecutive sentences for their crimes
Every girl, boy, woman and man trafficked in Canada deserves justice. When sentencing human traffickers, the trauma that they have endured must be taken into account.
A Conservative government will ensure that human traffickers receive sentences that reflect the gravity of their crimes.
4. End automatic bail for those charged with human trafficking offences
Those who literally sell other people into slavery need to know that the full weight of the Canadian justice system is waiting for them.
A Conservative government will put the safety and well-being of victims ahead of those who traffic them and end automatic bail for those charged with human trafficking.