Working together to ban organ harvesting

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to speak in favour of Bill S-223, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (trafficking in human organs).

This bill seeks to create new offences under the Criminal Code of Canada in relation to trafficking in human organs. It also amends the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to ensure permanent residents or foreign nationals are inadmissible to Canada if they have participated in this appalling practice.

Organ trafficking is a $1.7 billion a year global industry. Many countries turn a blind eye to this dehumanizing and often dangerous practice.

In some cases, individuals—often those who live in poverty—sell their own organs. In others, organs are obtained without the consent of the donor. An example of this would be what we see happening in China with political prisoners, primarily people of faith.

Again and again, Conservatives have raised the plight of the Uighurs, practitioners of Falun Gong, and, of course, Christians who have long been persecuted by China’s brutal regime. Organ harvesting of these religious minorities by China is well documented.

Typically, these extractions and the transplants take place outside of national medical systems, so even assuming the donor is kept alive—never a guarantee—there is a high degree of risk associated with the extraction and implantation of these organs.

I’m in favour of the Bill’s crackdown on foreign nationals attempting to come to Canada who’ve been involved in organ trafficking. I think it’s high time we cracked down on who is allowed to come to Canada and who is not.

That said, I think we need to be very careful to differentiate between those who have been involved as traffickers and those whom traffickers may have exploited.

If an individual has been involved in trafficking proper—that is, they have facilitated or received monetary benefit from facilitating the illegal trafficking of organs—like those who traffic in drugs or slaves, that individual should not be admissible to Canada.

That said, I think we need to clarify between criminals and those who have (albeit illegally) willingly donated their own organs. We don’t want to punish individuals for being poor, exploited, and making choices based on a desperate situation.

I’m pleased to see Parliamentarians across party lines standing up for the value of human life.

That said, I think it is hypocritical for this government to support this legislation having brought forward Bill C-75, which lowered the penalties for those involved in human trafficking. It is an absurd disconnect. It would also be nice if Parliament had the courage to finally follow the instructions of the Supreme Court and enact legal protections for the pre-born.

Despite this disconnect, it is nice to work together to get something like this done.

While this bill is just one piece of a much larger conversation (and still has areas that require further clarification), I am pleased all parties are moving forward to address this important issue and help vulnerable people.