Garnett Genuis is targeting China’s alleged practice of taking organs from criminals and political dissidents in re-introducing a private-member’s bill once proposed by former Liberal Irwin Cotler.
Bill C-561 would also deny entry into Canada for foreigners who participate in these types of transplants.
“In other parts of the world, most notably in China, people who have committed no crime are murdered by the state so that their organs can be used for transplantation and for other purposes,” said Genuis April 6 in the House of Commons.
“Here in Canada we have a legal gap which must be addressed. There is no law to prevent a Canadian from going abroad to receive a harvested organ. Supporting forced organ harvesting is a crime against humanity in international law, so it should be a crime here in Canada as well.”
Genuis said he was “reaching across party lines to get this done,” noting the bill was originally written by Cotler, a former Liberal justice minister.
“As the government pursues closer ties with China, it must allay legitimate fears that human rights will be sacrificed along the way,” he said.
“Fixing gaps in Canadian law on organ harvesting would be a very good step.”
Former Miss World Canada 2015, actress and human rights activist Anastasia Lin, who grew up in China, said she learned of China’s harvesting policies through research conducted by former MP and cabinet minister David Kilgour and human rights lawyer David Matas.
“I was shocked,” she said. “It took me a while to understand the gravity. Prisoners of conscience, people who did not commit capital crimes, who are being harvested of their organs and having their organs sold for profit.”
About 165 hospitals in China engage in organ harvesting — each performing between 5,000 and 6,000 transplants a year, Lin said.
“In China, organ transplants are available on extraordinarily short notice,” she said. “In the West you have to wait months or sometimes even years for a donor.”
The harvested organs come from prisoners of conscience who practice Falun Gong, who attend underground Christian house churches, who are Tibetan Buddhists or Uyghur Muslim, she said.
Lin wants Canada to “publicly condemn the continuing practice of organ harvesting,” to urge China to end the practice and work with the United Nations to bring international pressure to bear.
Kilgour said Spain and Taiwan have already passed legislation like Bill C-561, noting Spain “has the best voluntary organ program in the world.”
“David Matas and I have travelled to 50 countries talking about this,” he said.
Kilgour noted Canada already has a sex-tourism law, making it a criminal offence to go outside the country to engage in the sexual abuse of children.
“We can do exactly the same thing for organ tourism,” Kilgour said.
Though the bill does not specify any country, only China engages in organ harvesting on an “industrial, state-sponsored level,” he said.
So far, about 100 Canadians have gone from hospitals in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto to China for organ transplants, he said. Those who have gone have probably arranged the surgery through the Internet or through a broker.
After paying “huge amount of money,” the patient flies to a Shanghai hospital for blood and tissue tests, he said. Then someone who matches the tests is taken from a labour camp or prison and killed.