Bill C-268, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (minimum sentence for offences involving trafficking of persons under the age of eighteen years), was only the fifteenth Private Member’s Bill to change the Criminal Code since 1867 and the sponsor of the Bill made history with Bill C-310, becoming the first MP in history to change the Criminal Code twice. This article looks at the background and content of these two Bills.
I was first drawn to the issue of human trafficking in Canada through the work of my son, who was a member of the RCMP and served in the Integrated Child Exploitation Unit (ICE). Overnight, I noticed a huge change in him; his hair turned grey and I could tell things weighed heavily on him. I was appalled to find out that children in Canada were being bought and sold in exchange for sex and money and even more horrified that this issue was completely off the public’s radar screen. As I became more aware of the magnitude of the problem, I realized this exploitation was happening in communities all across our nation. Gradually I began working with victims of human trafficking and not only saw, but felt their pain and humiliation. Perpetrators used coercion and manipulation to gain control of these innocent victims. The victims were and are subjected to every imaginable sexual, physical and mental abuse, involuntary drug use and even threats against their victim’s families.