Plan to combat human trafficking announced
By Deborah Gyapong
Canadian Catholic News
OTTAWA (CCN) — The government’s National Action Plan (NAP)
to Combat Human Trafficking announced June 6 will be a “huge help” in
combating modern-day slavery, said Conservative MP Joy Smith.
“There are so many aspects of the National Action Plan that are
so good,” she said, citing the establishment of an integrated law
enforcement team to hunt down traffickers and an educational and public
awareness campaign to help people detect trafficking activities and identify
and protect vulnerable groups at risk. “I really like the part
of support for victims and victim support organizations,” she said.
The plan provides $500,000 to help victims.
Smith has led the government’s efforts in combating
human trafficking. Her 2007 motion calling for an national strategy passed
unanimously in the House of Commons. Her 2010 Connecting the Dots document
fleshed out the elements of an effective plan.
The NAP, however, does not propose any changes to Canada’s
prostitution laws, which are now before the courts after an Ontario judge
struck down parts of the law as unconstitutional.
Smith said the NAP is not designed to tackle the legislative
aspect of fighting human trafficking. Smith said she plans to continue
a legislative agenda that she hopes might eventually lead to Canada’s
adopting the so-called Nordic model pioneered in Sweden in 1999 that
criminalizes the purchase of sex instead of its sale.
Smith said she is “very worried” about the “collapsing
of prostitution laws in Ontario.” The laws stand while the case
is under appeal.
“Prostitution should not be legalized,” she said. “It’s
been proven globally that legalized prostitution brings in organized
crime, and leads to more violence against women, more people trafficked
and puts more young people at risk.”
“I believe we should be targeting the market,” she said,
calling for a “made-in-Canada” Nordic model that shifts the
onus away from the women and children who sell sex onto those who buy
it or who exploit prostitutes, most of whom are trafficking victims.
Wherever the Nordic model has been tried, levels of human
trafficking fall off, she said. “Once you cut off the market, it’s
not lucrative anymore to push young people into these terrible positions.”
Canadians who disagree with legalization of prostitution
need to speak up, she said. “Now is the time to say loud and clear
prostitution should not be legalized.”
“I’ve seen so many young people victimized because they are
bought and sold. It’s all about money, how the perpetrators make
money,” she said.
On June 6, Smith participated in one of several news conferences across
the country announcing the NAP. In Ottawa Public Safety Minister Vic
Toews and Public Works and Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose jointly
announced the initiative.
“Our government is firmly committed to the global fight against
human trafficking and is stepping up its efforts to address this heinous
crime in Canada and abroad, whose victims tragically include young Canadian
women and girls,” said Toews.
The NAP co-ordinates the activities of 18 federal departments. It will
provide training to help those in law enforcement and social services
to identify and respond to trafficking and take steps to protect vulnerable
communities such as Aboriginal youth.
The plan will also co-ordinate domestic and international efforts to
Meanwhile, Smith’s Bill C-310 is now before a Senate
committee which has been conducting hearings on the issue. This bill
would make human trafficking an extra-territorial offence, allowing Canada
to prosecute Canadian citizens and residents for trafficking offences
in other countries.
Her bill also expands the definition of human trafficking
to include non-violent forms of coercion and deception. “Perpetrators do not
come on initially as enemies or bad people because they want to get the
trust of their victim, then the whole scene changes,” she said.
Expanding the definition will give the courts the tools they need to
recognize the more subtle forms of coercion than overt threats and violence,
so prosecutors can get a conviction in a court of law, she said.
Smith’s first private member’s bill brought
in mandatory minimum sentences for any trafficking offence involving
children 18 or under.