Evidence of meeting #21 for Justice and Human Rights in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was youth.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Simon Fournel-Laberge  As an Individual
  • Gaylene Schellenberg  Lawyer, Legislation and Law Reform, Canadian Bar Association
  • Scott Bergman  Section Member, National Criminal Justice Section, Canadian Bar Association
  • William Trudell  Chair, Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers
  • Julie McAuley  Director, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada
  • Martha Mackinnon  Executive Director, Justice for Children and Youth
  • Agnes Samler  President, Defence for Children International-Canada
  • Les Horne  Executive Director, Defence for Children International-Canada
  • Mia Dauvergne  Senior Analyst, Policing Services Program, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada
  • Craig Grimes  Chief/Advisor, Courts Program, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada
  • Irwin Elman  Provincial Advocate, Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth (Ontario)
  • Lee Tustin  Advocate for Children and Youth, Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth (Ontario)

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

You were not.

I wholeheartedly endorse your comment. It's not as if we haven't asked, but it seems to me that we've heard a number of times now that there were people who were not in the discussions, or the consultation process in each province, who should have been, like you.

We've also heard from people who were part of the consultations. One said just recently—and maybe you were in the room—that she didn't hear a person speak against the way the YCJA was working.

So I think it behoves us as members of the committee—and you will recall people asking the minister and members for a report on those consultations—to drive that point more strongly. I thank you for echoing those concerns.

My question is the following. The YCJA is working adequately. What this bill does, however, is it seeks on its face to address some of that act's shortcomings in a positive way, changes most of us agree with. The government, in perhaps over-reaching, to use my term, seeks to put a little philosophy in there that perhaps we on this side disagree with. To use the phrase “throw the baby out with the bath water”, what I fear is that we will throw the whole thing out and not achieve some meaningful amendments, or the whole thing will come in and do some irreparable harm in some regard.

I'll zero in on one very specific part of this, because we've had a longer debate on some of the deeper issues. I'd be very interested in your comments on the publication ban. Your group obviously cares very much about youth, but there is this element of protection of the public, and we heard that in some cases there ought to be a lifting of the publication ban.

Do you think that if the wording were a little more specific around “violent” and “serious” offences involving repeat offenders, even though they are youth, and if we still have that stopgap of judicial discretion, that would be effective?

June 3rd, 2010 / 1:20 p.m.

Lee Tustin Advocate for Children and Youth, Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth (Ontario)

I think I can answer that.

The lifting of the publication ban is really one of the violations of the UN convention, in my view, specifically of the young person's right to privacy. It also undermines a young person's ability for rehabilitation and reintegration.

In answering your question, I would say we need more consultation on it. We need to hear from the people all over the province. We need to hear when it works and when it doesn't work, before we change anything.

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Knowing that our time is short, I'm going to cede the rest of my time around the table to you, Mr. Chair, to use when you have time.

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Fast

Thank you for ceding your time, Mr. Murphy.

Go ahead, Monsieur Ménard.

1:20 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Ms. Tustin, could you send us a copy of the international convention article that you just made reference to?

1:20 p.m.

Advocate for Children and Youth, Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth (Ontario)

Lee Tustin

Do you mean the article from the UN?

1:20 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Yes.

1:20 p.m.

Advocate for Children and Youth, Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth (Ontario)

Lee Tustin

Yes.

It's actually article 16 of the UN convention, if you happen to have a copy.

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Fast

Actually, could you get that to the clerk? Then she'll distribute it.

Thanks.

1:20 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Do I understand you--

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Ed Fast

Mr. Norlock has a point of order.

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

On a point of order, Mr. Chair, if we're going to get the article, could I also ask for a list of the countries that are signatories to it so that I can compare which countries are telling us how we should be doing our business? Thank you.

1:20 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

I understand that Canada is one of these countries.

You will tell me if you do not agree, but I believe that the basic philosophy of the current legislation is well expressed in section 3 of the Act. You will note that a significant change is proposed to section 3 in the bill. What is important and troubling is not so much what is added than what is removed.

Do you agree with me that this change could result in significant differences in the way sentences will be handed down by judges? You are saying yes and Ms. Tustin, you are almost saying yes, is that right?

1:20 p.m.

Advocate for Children and Youth, Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth (Ontario)

Lee Tustin

I do agree with you. I think our position is that section 3 ought to remain the same. That change, we feel, is really making a change for a small group of individuals and ignoring the rest of the group of youth justice folks, and it really changes the philosophy. It shifts the philosophy of the principles, and I think it would make a huge difference in every decision that's made throughout the entire process. It actually ignores article 3 of the UN convention as well, so again it's a contradiction of the preamble of the YCJA.

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

In your answer, you were alluding to a small group of violent and dangerous re-offenders. They are a tiny group among the youth that are being treated, is that right?

You are nodding, but I must remind you that you are not on camera.