The mother of a girl who ran away from a Laval, Que., group home is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to put into effect a law aimed at cracking down on human trafficking and prostitution.
Marjolaine Aubé feared her teenage daughter had been lured into prostitution when she went missing from the Centre jeunesse de Laval earlier this month.
The girl has since been found, but Aubé still wants the federal government to put into effect a private member's bill from former Quebec MP Maria Mourani, C-452, which received royal assent in June 2015.
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The law, which contains a special clause requiring the go-ahead from the prime minister or justice minister, would see the Criminal Code amended to include stricter punishment for human trafficking and would reverse the burden of proof.
Aubé's daughter is one of five girls linked to the group home who ran away. Experts have raised concerns that the string of disappearances points to a larger problem involving the trafficking of young girls into prostitution.
On Monday, Aubé and a handful of his supporters delivered a letter to Trudeau's Montreal constituency office outlining their demand for action.
Aubé told CBC News she's "horrified" the government still hasn't brought the law into effect. She accused both the federal government and the province of "abandoning its children."
Mourani, a sociologist who specializes in street gangs and prostitution, said the law would mean young victims wouldn't have to testify against alleged traffickers and there would be a better chance of convicting the perpetrators.
"I don't understand. We worked on it for four years. All the parties voted for it," said Mourani, who was also at the constituency office.
Ottawa taking matters 'seriously'
The federal government responded to CBC on Monday afternoon via email, saying it "takes human trafficking and the exploitation of women and girls very seriously."
A spokesman for the Department of Justice Canada said the government is studying Mourani's private member's bill.
"We are committed to achieving Bill C-452's important objectives quickly and responsibly. Accordingly, we are urgently examining whether and how the reforms in Bill C-452 can be brought into force."
In its statement to CBC, the ministry also referred to stiff penalties for those convicted of human trafficking-related crimes.
"The existing criminal law already provides significant penalties for human trafficking-related conduct, including lengthy mandatory minimum penalties. The government is committed to strengthening our efforts to combat this problem, so that some of society's most vulnerable members will be better protected," the statement said.