By a vote of 239-46, the House of Commons passed C-268, a private members bill which would provide a minimum five year sentence for traffickers of children. Every Bloc Quebecois MP and three NDP MPs voted against the stricter penalties for child traffickers. The three NDP MPs were: Libby Davies (Vancouver East), Bill Siksay (Burnaby Douglas) and Megan Leslie (Halifax). Davies and Siksay are open homosexuals and Leslie has a “male partner” but describes herself as a “queer activist.”
Conservative MP Joy Smith (Kildonan-St. Paul) introduced C-268 on Jan. 29 and although The Interim received word that the Justice Department had some questions about the bill and may have moved to attempt to scuttle the legislation, the entire Conservative caucus, including Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, voted for C-268 save but four abstentions. Six Liberals (including leader Michael Ignatieff), three NDP and four Bloc MPs also abstained. It was the first private members bill – of more than 250 introduced – to pass the House of Commons.
Timea Nagy, a former victim of human trafficking, sat in gallery of the House of Commons watching the vote and said that while she was pleased to see it passed, she did not “understand how anyone could feel that five years in jail is too much for those who offer children for sale.
The bill now goes to the Senate.