House of Commons Hansard #208 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was crime.

Topics

Youth Criminal Justice Act
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Reform

Jim Pankiw Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order to seek the unanimous consent of the House to extend the question and answer period for the honourable and well respected member for Wild Rose for 10 minutes.

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5:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Is there consent to extend the time?

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5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yes.

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5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

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5:10 p.m.

Liberal

John O'Reilly Victoria—Haliburton, ON

Madam Speaker, I feel like I have reached into the bag and drawn the black marble. After the member for Mississauga West has spoken and gets the member for Wild Rose all riled up, I happen to be the next person to speak.

Because I have already spoken on the bill, I am speaking on the amendment brought forward by the Bloc which basically takes the bill away from what it was intended to do. The bill was intended to deal with the youth justice system in a fashion that is reasonable. For some people it would be going too far and for others, not far enough.

In my experience as a parole officer in Ontario for a short time in my former life, I dealt with the Young Offenders Act when it came in in 1984. I knew when it came in that it needed to be refined, retuned and readjusted because it did not address some of the glaring problems.

Bill C-68 has addressed some of the problems that were in evident need to be addressed. It was done after much consultation and time spent with the various people in the criminal justice system, in the parole system and the people who work with youth. A lot of thought has gone into it.

I do not know that it addresses the systemic problem that exists in our society that we as the highest court in the land have to deal with, and that is lack of education, lack of training for parenthood, disadvantaged people, people from broken homes. If I were to sit down and write a report before I saw a case file and I put broken home, substance abuse, dropped out of grade 8, lack of motivation, lack of confidence, abused as a child, I would catch probably 80% to 90% of the people I dealt with in that system.

We look at the answers and the simplistic approach of the Reform Party. The member for Calgary Northeast was going to study caning as a way to address the problems of the youth justice system. Certainly, I found that not a way I could agree with. If our answer to a person who has been beaten all their life is to give them another beating, somehow that has absolutely nothing to do with what is being proposed in Bill C-68. It has nothing to do with the systemic problems of our society and that is how to deal with people at a young age.

My wife is a special education teacher in an elementary school, a resource person as they call it. She deals with people who are in trouble at a very early age. As with the problems I talked about, there is the lack of parenting, the lack of people having some kind of a system of rules, a system of looking at whether courses should be mandatory for certain people, whether it is more involvement with the Children's Aid Society or whether it is more involvement with the youth justice system very early in our schools. That is what we have to look at.

What do I do in a parole hearing when a young woman has dropped a baby off a balcony because the baby was crying too much? We look into the problems that exist with that person being tried in an adult court, as she was, and not having any of the advantages of people who grew up in a home where maybe two people were working.

Here we have a person who is suffering from serious substance abuse and serious societal problems who ends up in jail and has to be kept in the hospital section for fear of being attacked by the other inmates who feel that this crime is very serious. Their way of approaching and dealing with that crime is to inflict more pain on the person who committed the crime, somehow falsely thinking that would be a cure or that suddenly the problem would dissolve.

That is what we are trying to do here with Bill C-68. Basically the amendment would gut the bill and make it worth nothing. I think the bill requires us as a government to promote it, to take advantage of all the study that has been done and to analyse it.

Members of parliament should look at it, analyse it and decide where they want to make changes. They should follow them through. They should not make changes because they belong to the Reform Party or because they are against everything that the Liberal Party does.

I run into people in society who hate Liberals, who hate Catholics and who hate Christians. I am all of those so I have a problem sometimes right at the start in dealing with that. People are like that in society. They grow up in certain areas and are expected to do certain things. We have to break out of that mould in order to advance and to advance our youth.

Some of the problems were dealt with by the hon. member for Mississauga West, although he does it in a way that inflames members of the Reform Party. He even attended their UA convention. This was after they actually voted non-confidence in the Reform Party and said they could not govern. They wanted to bring in the people left in the Conservative Party, the rest of the Conservative Party, and were to do great things.

Jurassic Joe Clark must be having a field day. Have not all the right wing fanatics gone out of the Conservative Party? Have they not all gone to the Reform Party? Now they have voted non-confidence in themselves and they are coming back. It is sad to see a party, which actually had a chance to be a sound official opposition, all of a sudden vote non-confidence in itself and go around like a band of sheep wondering which way to go. I have a problem with that, and I appreciate now that the hon. member for Mississauga West has come in here to straighten me out.

Youth Criminal Justice Act
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Steve Mahoney Mississauga West, ON

Not at all. To support you.

Youth Criminal Justice Act
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5:15 p.m.

Liberal

John O'Reilly Victoria—Haliburton, ON

I supported him, of course, but to follow the hon. member for Mississauga West after he has inflamed the hon. member for Wild Rose—

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5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Steve Mahoney Mississauga West, ON

He just threatened to punch me out.

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Liberal

John O'Reilly Victoria—Haliburton, ON

Well, no doubt, and that is how they would cure you.

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5:15 p.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I fail to see the relevance of the hon. member's speech given the fact that we are discussing youth crime.

Youth Criminal Justice Act
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

I am sure that the hon. member is about to make a link between all that.

Youth Criminal Justice Act
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5:15 p.m.

Liberal

John O'Reilly Victoria—Haliburton, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for coming in on the conversation and reminding me that I was speaking to the amendment to Bill C-68, in fact the amendment in all its glory. I know the hon. member wants to be leader of the Reform Party. He has indicated that. I appreciate that he would get up and get involved in doctoring the speech that is going on.

Anyway, he has some obviously good points that are almost liberal in a sense and that would create some type of a problem for his party. He would be an excellent candidate and I appreciate him intervening.

Let us go back to the main talking points on Bill C-68. I am speaking to the amendment because I already spoke to the bill and I know the hon. member listened intently. I want to correct something that I said when I was heckled by one of my own members when I spoke to Bill C-68. I said that I had spent three years in grade eight and that they were the happiest years of my life. That is not true. My wife asked me to have that corrected. It was actually the member who had heckled me. I indicated those were the happiest years of his life but it came out differently in Hansard .

Going back to lowering the age to 14 and 15 years olds, that part of the youth justice system was not addressed in the original Young Offenders Act. Young offenders come from three sectors. There are the very young first offenders who commit a crime and are caught. Sometimes it is the very first crime they have committed and they are caught. It may be a misdemeanour of some type. They go into the justice system and for the first time in their lives they are taught some values.

When they realize those values and are pressured by different peers and not the peers or the gang they hang out with, many of them are success stories. They actually spend time with people who counsel them. They spend time with very intelligent lawyers. We even have some in the back row who wail away here. They spend some time with people who teach them values.

The part of the Reform Party's platform that always bothers me is that it wants to pretend that this does not happen, that people are not helped by the Young Offenders Act and are not put on the right track.

I can give many instances of people who we deal with once and they never come back into the justice system. They rearrange their lives. They take the talent they have and use it to be productive members of society. The lowering of the age to 14 or 15 years gives me the feeling that the bill is on the right track.

When 14 to 17 year olds commit a very serious crime I do not see anything wrong with publishing their names. Right now they could go back into school without people knowing that they have committed a serious crime. That part of the system has to change so that educators know who they are dealing with when there are violent offenders in their school system. If youths are sentenced for murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, aggravated sexual assault or they repeat serious violent offences, their names are then subject to publication.

We sometimes think publishing their names in the paper is what this deals with. It is more than that. It is the publication of their names so that the people who are dealing with them on a day to day basis know their backgrounds and are able to come to grips with them. They could be sitting in front of them in a classroom. I am not taking about an elementary school system. I am talking about training courses or rehabilitation courses, whether it is Alcoholics Anonymous or courses dealing with people who have come in contact with cocaine, marijuana, heroine or any of those evil drugs that are out there and so easily available. A person dealing with those people should know that a violent reaction could happen at any time. The publication of names when a judge considers them to be dangerous is a very important part of the act.

It is very easy to tell if someone is dangerous. All we have to do is look at their file or rap sheet to see the number of convictions, arrests and times they have appeared before the criminal courts. Bill C-68 is a very positive step toward have a more refined justice system for youth but it will not stop someone from committing a serious crime. That will not happen.

We have already heard the Reform Party saying that the Liberals have this idea that the bill will be the be-all and the end-all. Well, it will not. Once again I go back. We have to look at not the simplistic approach but the systemic problems in society. Until the government and all other parties deal with them our chances of having a perfect society, which will never exist of course, are diminished. This helps the people in the youth justice system to better apply the power of the courts to help youth, to rehabilitate them.

We are trying to make the public institutions a safer place to work. In order to do that we require crime prevention. The only way to have crime prevention is to educate people eliminate poverty, lack of training, lack of education and sometimes the lack of discipline. However, quite often, if we look at the people we are dealing with, giving them another beating is not the answer.

We have to find ways to deal with them that challenge them to do something different with their lives and that challenge them to have more confidence in themselves. A lack of confidence is the largest problem in youth suicide. No matter where it is one is too many. Lack of confidence and a lack of resources or ability to cope comes from the lack of the basic essentials that one needs in life.

People with money, people who are rich, still have suicides in their families. It is not because they have given them too much. It is because they have not given them the confidence. They do not have the ability to cope with the pressures that are existing today in society.

Bill C-68 is a good start in addressing our criminal justice system for youth. When we seriously look at the bill in committee and when we offer any kind of amendment to it, we should take into account the research that was done on the bill and the consultation that was done on it with the various people that came forward and will still come forward to give submissions on a bill which I think is worth the consideration of the House to pass as quickly as possible.

I hope I have added something to the debate that will promote Bill C-68 and a new youth justice system.

Youth Criminal Justice Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Reform

Howard Hilstrom Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, extensive comment was made about the United Alternative. I would like to say I was happy and proud to be at the United Alternative conference.

There were 1,500 delegates from all over Canada. These delegates were not associated with a given political party. They came there as Canadians realizing that an alternative had to be created to get rid of the federal government.

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5:25 p.m.

Liberal

John O'Reilly Victoria—Haliburton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Selkirk—Interlake for his intervention on Bill C-68. I noted he made some very deep thoughts and contributed to the promotion of Bill C-68. I thank him for that. I know he is a strong supporter of the youth justice system.

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5:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

It being 5.30 p.m. the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's order paper.