The Honourable David Lametti
Minister of Justice
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H8
Dear Minister Lametti,
Congratulations on your appointment as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. This is a vitally important ministry and we pray for wisdom and discernment for you.
There are several areas within your portfolio that are currently of concern to us.
First, we are very concerned about any expansion of access to Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID). As the reports of the Canadian Council of Academies indicate, expanding access to mature minors, to individuals for whom mental illness is the sole underlying medical condition, and by advance request are very complex and controversial, and lack agreement within the medical community.
We urge you to retain the eligibility restrictions on MAID as essential safeguards. We note that in the Carter
decision, the Supreme Court of Canada adopted the conclusion of the trial judge that:
“… the risks inherent in permitting physician-assisted death can be identified and very substantially minimized through a carefully-designed system imposing stringent limits that are scrupulously monitored and enforced.” (para. 105)
These stringent limits scrupulously monitored and enforced are crucial. Protecting vulnerable Canadians is of the utmost importance. The EFC opposes all euthanasia and assisted suicide. However, in a context in which these practices are legal, we advocate for stringent safeguards to provide the strongest possible protection for vulnerable Canadians and to minimize the potential for abuse.
Second, we urge you to maintain the current prostitution laws. The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act
(PCEPA) recognizes that prostitution is a form of exploitation and violence against women, and that the most effective means of curbing commercial sexual exploitation is to target the demand for paid sex. All women and girls are safer in a society that chooses to say no woman or girl should be for sale.
This government has made fighting human trafficking a priority issue. We welcomed the Justice Committee’s strong report which made important recommendations in this area, and we have participated in consultations on the forthcoming National Action Plan to End Human Trafficking.
The vast majority of cases in which human trafficking specific charges have been laid in Canada are domestic and involved sexual exploitation, according to the RCMP Human Trafficking National Coordination Centre. This means that in Canada, it is primarily Canadian women and girls who are being trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation. While labour trafficking occurs and requires vigilance and action, it remains true that in Canada, the vast majority of human trafficking is for exploitation in the commercial sex trade.
There is a five-year review built in to PCEPA. We strongly encourage you to wait the full five years and to gather evidence from jurisdictions that are enforcing these provisions when it is time to evaluate the effectiveness of the legislation.
Third, we note with concern that Bill C-75, which is now before the Senate, proposes to make several serious indictable offences into hybrid offences. As we submitted in our brief to the Justice Committee, the hybridization of offences such as assault of religious officiants or receiving material benefits from human trafficking sends the message that these offences are of lesser concern.
We are recommending amendments to Bill C-75 so that serious offences related to human trafficking, prostitution, obstructing or assaulting clergy, infanticide and child protection maintain their status as indictable offences.
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (the EFC) is the national association of evangelical Christians in Canada, gathered together for influence, impact and identity in ministry and public witness. Since 1964, the EFC has provided a national forum for Evangelicals and a constructive voice for Biblical principles in life and society.
Please be assured of our prayers on your behalf.
Julia Beazley, Director, Public Policy
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
Author: Julia Beazley