Victims of Human Trafficking Protection ActPublished on 17 December 2009 Hansard and Statements by Senator Mobina Jaffer
Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer:
Honourable senators, I also rise today to speak on Bill C-223, to provide assistance and protection to victims of trafficking in persons.
At this time, I want to recognize the yeoman work Senator Phalen has done to bring this bill to this chamber. When Senator Phalen first drafted the bill, he was very careful to speak to many people. He spoke to victims of trafficking. He spoke to individuals and groups who help victims of trafficking. He spoke to advocates who help victims of trafficking. I know he had numerous conversations with various immigration officials to understand how temporary resident permits are to be used and how to assist victims of trafficking. I know he attended many conferences across Canada on the issue of trafficking, as I often accompanied him.
Honourable senators, Senator Phalen is very committed to the issue of victims of trafficking who are foreign nationals in our country, and I salute him for his work.
I would also at this time like to thank Senator Carstairs for bringing her considerable expertise and experience to shepherd this bill through the committee and the chamber. She gave life to a bill for protection to victims of trafficking in persons once Senator Phalen retired. I thank her for her work.
Senator Carstairs has worked diligently with the Minister of Immigration, and both of them have agreed to amend the bill that was originally introduced in this chamber. The Human Rights Committee has accepted these amendments.
Honourable senators, we have set up a fairly new system in our country to help victims of trafficking who are foreign nationals. There is still much work to be done. We were advised in the committee that only 18 foreign national women have so far applied for protection. We all know that there are many more women and children who have been trafficked into our country from other countries, so we all have a lot of work to do to build trust for women to seek help and to escape the degrading life they have been forced to live in our country. As we know, often they are brought to this country under false pretenses.
One amendment — Senator Carstairs touched on it as well — gave me great concern. I am referring to proposed sections 24.1(1) and 24.2(1). The wording as it now stands, as amended, is that the ‘victim of trafficking protection permit . . . may be cancelled at any time.’ I am concerned as to the arbitrariness of the cancellation. I would like, therefore, that notice be given in this chamber that we will have to look at this amendment. Originally, I would have liked the amendment to say that the temporary permit shall only be cancelled if warranted.
At clause-by-clause consideration of the bill, Department of Justice and Department of Immigration officials again appeared before the committee. They assured us that there is a system of procedural fairness in place for the cancellation of the temporary resident permit. They filed a letter with us, and I would like that to be read into the record today.
The question I asked was in reference to the cancellation of the temporary resident permit, whether the department would consider wording such as ‘cancel for reason.’ The department said, ‘The wording proposed by the government for the cancellation of the victim of trafficking protection permit is consistent with the current wording in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act for the temporary resident permit. According to section 24 of IRPA, a temporary resident permit may be cancelled at any time. As such, including the language ‘cancelled for reason’ would create inconsistency within the Immigration Act. In addition, the language ‘cancelled for reason’ is not found elsewhere in the Immigration Act and has not been previously defined through guidelines or case law. The concern that an officer may cancel a victim protection permit arbitrarily is unfounded.’ He goes on to explain what the Supreme Court has stated.
Basically, the department has assured the committee that, in addition, there will be a system of procedural fairness in place for the cancellation of the temporary resident permit. The same procedure will be applied to the victim of trafficking protection permit.
Honourable senators, with this assurance, I also ask that you support this bill, as amended.