Question Period: Trafficking in Cultural Property

By: The Hon. Patricia Bovey

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Majors Hill Park, Ottawa

Hon. Patricia Bovey: Thank you for being here today, minister.

International concerns regarding illegal trafficking of cultural property are serious and increasing with the alarming pillaging and looting of antiquities in many war-torn parts of the world, which now, alas, includes Ukraine. Works of art, the world’s third most trafficked commodities, have the fastest growing rate and fund the arms and drug trades.

It is clear that stronger international cooperation with UNESCO, with high, uniform operational standards that reinforce bilateral and regional cooperation frameworks of law enforcement and investigative agencies, are essential. I also believe stronger awareness and training of Canada’s border officials need to be addressed as well.

What is Canada doing to tighten and update our legal protections and regulations to meet the new challenges between source, transit and destination countries?

Hon. Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P., Minister of Public Safety: To begin with, senator, I would point out that we were in Washington, D.C., just last week when this priority was specifically discussed. We talked about how we could prevent the kind of illegal trafficking of intellectual property, other counterfeits and other properties that have been stolen across our borders so they are interdicted.

Coming out of that meeting, there were concrete assurances from both sides to share information and intelligence so that our law enforcement branches, including the Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP, and, on the other side of the border, Customs and Border Protection and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, known as ATF, are working at the highest level of collaboration so that we can stop that crime from occurring in the first place.

Your question is very timely. It comes on the heels of a very productive meeting last week to battle transnational crime on this front, and we’re committed to continuing to work on it together.

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