Last week on Friday, Bill C-310, which many of you asked your MPs to support, was expected to pass through its Third Reading. Through the first stages of the Bill, there had been unanimous support from all parties, and all parties had expressed that they would support the Bill in the Third Reading. However, this is what I received from MP Joy Smith:
Today (Friday) , Bill C-310, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons), was expected to be adopted unanimously by the House of Commons at Third Reading and sent to the Senate. However, at the last minute, the NDP prevented debate on Bill C-310 and delayed the Bill from passing until the end of May.
“I am absolutely stunned by this,” said MP Joy Smith. “Bill C-310 will strengthen Canada’s efforts to combat human trafficking and this should not be a partisan matter. I have worked so hard to secure the support of all parties and have appreciated the support of all MPs for this Bill up until today.”
“At each stage of this Bill, I have reached out to members of other parties,” stated MP Smith. “In advance of today’s Report Stage and Third Reading, I spoke with the NDP and Liberal House Leaders to secure their support for Bill C-310 to be adopted today. They assured me that they were fully supportive of Bill C-310 being adopted today. Then, about 10 minutes before debate was to begin, I was shocked to find out that the NDP would be opposing Bill C-310.”
“What is most astounding is that the NDP have been fully supportive of Bill C-310 at Second Reading and Committee stages. They have even jointly seconded this Bill,” says MP Smith. “My heart sank when I watched as they stood, smiling and shouted ‘NO!’ when the Speaker of the House sought consent.”
As a result of today’s actions, Bill C-310 will be voted on next Wednesday, and will drop to the bottom of the Order of Precedence instead of heading to the Senate.
“I don’t have any answers as to why this happened,” said MP Smith. “I would invite Canadians to write or call NDP members for an explanation of why they would vote against such an important, bipartisan Bill and deliberately hold it up.”
“Today, modern day slavery exists in all corners of our globe and our resolve to eliminate it must only grow stronger,” said MP Smith. “In fact, only yesterday, a judge handed out the toughest penalty for human trafficking in Canadian history for an egregious case of forced labour.”
Bill C-310 amends the Criminal Code by adding the current trafficking in persons offences [s.279.01, s.279.011, s.279.02, and s.279.03] to the list of offences which, if committed outside of Canada by a Canadian or permanent resident, could be prosecuted in Canada. The Bill also adds an interpretive aid for courts to provide greater clarity of the definition of exploitation in s.279.04 of the Criminal Code.
Since introducing Bill C-310, MP Joy Smith has presented petitions containing 1000’s of signatures from Canadians calling for the adoption of the legislation. Many organizations have also lent their support for this legislation, representing stakeholders such as law enforcement, victim’s services, and non-governmental organizations.
The NDP decided to act in a partisan manner with Bill C-310 and needlessly delay it OR the NDP made a grave procedural error.
Regardless of what the reason was, the NDP’s actions halted the debate and passage of an important human trafficking bill that the Conservative, Liberal, Green, and Bloc parties were prepared to debate and support.
Note: The NDP could rectify this by offering to move Bill C-310 back to the top of the Order of Precedence by trading one of their Private Members Bill spots with Bill C-310.
My husband Jay and I wrote to several NDP MPs, asking them why they blocked debate on this bill, as we wanted to understand what happened. We have waited for several days and not received a reply.
TODAY there will be a debate on this bill in the House of Commons. If the Member of Parliament that represents you is part of the NDP party, please contact them today and ask them to support this bill. Ask them also to grant a position change with one of their private members bills and move Bill C-310 to a sooner vote for the 3rd reading.
I don’t know what happened here. Some anti-trafficking bills are more controversial, but this one had unanimous support. I think the NDP made a procedural mistake. You can read this great article about the NDP’s decision to get more info. You can also contact MP Joy Smith’s office with any questions: 613-992-7148 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update: C-310 just adopted at Report Stage with all in favour. Could have been sooner if it had not been blocked earlier, but grateful it is now to the next stage! I will update this post once I hear more.