Deborah Meredith: Conservatives making a difference on human trafficking

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      I am the Conservative candidate for Vancouver Quadra, and ran for the first time ever in the federal by-election in the spring of 2008, losing by a scant 151 votes. I am not a career politician or bureaucrat; I have taught commercial law in the Sauder School of Business at UBC for over 30 years. I have lived and worked for my whole life in Vancouver Quadra, and have been an active community volunteer. I have deep roots in our community, and will give it a strong and sensible voice in our federal government.

      One issue of particular concern is the blight of human trafficking—read Invisible Chains by UBC law professor Benjamin Perrin. In it he shows how women are recruited unwittingly to the sex trade, then shunted from place to place—never allowed to establish connections or any support network. At his book launch was a mother who had lost track of her daughter, recruited through the Internet, last heard of in Las Vegas, and probably now in Florida. One person can make $250,000 per year from marketing one girl—so much safer than trafficking in drugs.

      In January the Quadra Conservatives sponsored a community forum with Safe Online Outreach Society executive director Merlyn Horton. She gave a compelling presentation on how vulnerable children are to sexual exploitation via the Internet. Facebook can become a vehicle for children to promote themselves in inappropriate ways, unwittingly inviting attention from predators. The problem is particularly acute in vulnerable aboriginal communities.

      Why is this issue important in Quadra and what is the Conservative government doing about it?

      In a crime bill passed by the Conservative government in 2008, the age of sexual consent (other than between those close in age) was raised from 14 to 16. Canada is no longer a place where adults can connect with children over the Internet and when charged use consent as a defence.

      Conservative MP Joy Smith from Manitoba, one of Canada’s leading anti-trafficking activists, introduced the only private member’s bill to pass through the House of Commons since October of 2008—Bill C-268, legislating mandatory minimum five-year sentences to offences involving trafficking of persons under 18. She travelled the country gathering tens of thousand of signatures, the support of NGOs, aboriginal groups, and dozens of law enforcement agencies.

      Just how important the legislation is, is illustrated in this case. Michael Lennox Mark was convicted in November of 2008 for selling a 17-year-old girl for sex 12 times per day for two years. He received a two-year sentence but only spent a week in jail after sentencing because of credit for time spent in pretrial custody (with no access to programs or rehabilitation).

      For her achievements Joy Smith has been lauded internationally and received the Ratanak International Wilberforce Award. Wilberforce was the force behind the anti-slavery act adopted by the British Parliament in 1807.

      Her legislation is an important step forward in addressing human trafficking here in Canada, but not the only step—Joy Smith is pushing for a comprehensive national action plan to combat human trafficking. Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has urged Craigslist to eliminate ads for sexual services. In May of 2010 the government introduced the Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act, requiring suppliers of Internet services to report online child pornography. In November of 2010 it introduced the Protecting Children from Sexual Predators Act, establishing mandatory prison sentences for offences such as luring a child and sexual assault.

      Joy Smith shows that one MP can make a difference. I plan to make a difference for Vancouver Quadra.

      Deborah Meredith is the Conservative candidate for Vancouver Quadra.

      Comments

      1 Comments

      prism

      Apr 22, 2011 at 12:56am

      Day by day the human trafficking is spreading like a virus in the whole world. It is the second largest criminal activity following the drug trade.

      This article reminds me of a documentary, "Inhuman Traffic" which narrates the story of Anna and Tatiana who were trapped in the trafficking chain. It also gives an insight into the trafficking chain and how each one of us can help break that chain.

      To watch this documentary online visit: http://www.cultureunplugged.com/play/2098