House of Commons Hansard #21 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was youth.

Topics

Youth Criminal Justice Act
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to expand a bit more on the use of deterrence and denunciation. They just simply do not have any place in the framework of this act or how we deal with youth. As I have repeated now about a half dozen times, deterrence does not work. It is of absolutely no use for youth crime.

The denunciation allows the court to, in effect, say that the crime was so heinous that it will add some more time on. It is really not necessary, especially when we look at what the principle is here, which is to ensure the individual, hopefully before he or she turns into an adult, will be rehabilitated.

It is all about getting proper treatment, not about having youth spending more time in custody. Many of these cases involve drug abuse, alcohol abuse and substance abuse generally, or serious mental health problems that have not been captured when the person was younger and perhaps, as a society, we would have been able to deal with it much more easily.

I have one final point. With regard to the point that was made earlier today by the member from the Liberal Party on what came out of the Nunn report on this need to change the sentencing provisions in the Youth Justice Act that would incorporate the concept for a judge to take into account sentencing with regard to the principle of protecting society, that is very much one of the amendments I would like to be able to support when it gets to committee.

Youth Criminal Justice Act
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member for Windsor—Tecumseh seems to be prepared to reluctantly support the first amendment but not the second. I gather from what he is saying is that young people today know not what they doeth. I say that they do know what they are doing and they do know what the penalties are. The problem is that they know no one can touch them. The police cannot touch them. The lawyers cannot touch them and, more important, the judges cannot touch them.

He does not like this philosophy. I understand that and I respect him for saying that. However, what would he do as an alternative? Whatever we are doing now is not working.

Youth Criminal Justice Act
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, just to be blunt, the member is wrong.

We have dropped the youth crime rate in this country over the last 20 years by roughly 12% to 15%. The system as it is now has had that effect. That moved away from exactly the kind of system where we used incarceration much more extensively. It was a training ground for people to come out better criminals than when they went in.

The member is wrong when he says that it is not working. He is also wrong when he says that the youth have serious knowledge. We can find, in any community, particularly in our big cities, the odd individual who will say that he or she will be treated more leniently because he or she is a youth and not an adult. That knowledge is in a very small group and usually within the gangs.

They know that but how do we deal with it? We do in fact. People can be incarcerated under the Youth Criminal Justice Act for up to 10 years. We do have the penalties in those more extreme cases and our courts are using them. The problem is not there.

The problem is that we do not have enough police officers. The government has not complied with its promise to the Canadian people to put 2,500 more police officers on the streets. It has not put one new police officer on the street. If the government had done that, it probably would have driven down the youth crime rate, especially the serious, violent ones involving gangs.

Youth Criminal Justice Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, if I were to say that there is a program that would reduce youth crime 60%, members would probably take it, particularly since it would save the taxpayer $7 for every dollar invested. That program is the headstart program, which the government should be adopting and supporting.

On the issue of drug dealers, the low level drug dealers are themselves addicts and users. The incorporation of a more comprehensive drug reduction strategy would be far more sensible based on fact, not on ideology. What does the member think about that?

Youth Criminal Justice Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca burned the whole minute, but I will allow the hon. member for Windsor—Tecumseh a short moment to respond.

Youth Criminal Justice Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

I am not quite sure, Mr. Speaker, but I think the member was addressing the other bill that is coming tomorrow or the next day on the drug issue.

There is no question that the use of diversion, the use of restorative justice and the use of treatment facilities have a higher rate of success than simply incarcerating people and throwing the key away. The ratio of incarceration in the United States--

Youth Criminal Justice Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Kitchener—Conestoga.

Youth Criminal Justice Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is of particular significance to me that I have the privilege of joining this debate on the government's proposed amendment to the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Over the past two years I have had the opportunity to meet hundreds of youth within the riding of Kitchener—Conestoga and many other parts of Canada, including right here in Ottawa. I have been impressed with the character and integrity of the young Canadians I have met.

The overwhelming majority of youth in Canada today are contributing so much to the high quality of life that we enjoy. Many of them are excelling in their studies and achieving extremely high marks in their academic pursuits. At the same time, many of these same youth are participating in sports, both for their school teams and on community based hockey, baseball or soccer teams. Still others volunteer hundreds of hours helping out with children's programs, seniors' activities, camping trips for those with disabilities and many other worthwhile projects.

The past two years have provided me with some of the most positive experiences of my life as I have had the honour of representing the people of Kitchener—Conestoga. I have had the pleasure of visiting a number of schools where I have met energetic youth who are eager to learn, eager to serve, and eager not only to talk about how they can improve our world, but actually take concrete action to accomplish those ideas for improvement.

I have attended sports and music events, cultural and heritage events, and in every case there are solid upstanding young people who are engaged in positive community building. Many of them are serving sacrificially, volunteering time and money to help disadvantaged kids or isolated seniors, shovelling sidewalks for residents unable to keep up with the maintenance demands of owning their own homes.

I have had the chance to formally recognize and honour hundreds of these young people by presenting them with certificates or congratulatory notes for their accomplishments. I will gladly use every possible opportunity to applaud these great Canadian youth. They deserve the thanks of every Canadian for the difference they make for all of us.

As I have indicated, the overwhelming majority of our youth contribute very positively to their communities and to our country. Unfortunately, a very tiny minority continues to leave a black mark that is a terrible blight on our society.

My involvement and interest in bringing this much needed change to the Youth Criminal Justice Act is rooted in a desire to protect youth. This very small minority of youth who currently encounter conflict and eventually end up being charged with criminal offences need earlier intervention. If the propensity toward criminal activity is intercepted at an earlier time with meaningful direction to custody and treatment options, I believe that many of Canada's youth would be spared from spiralling into deeper criminal activity.

Mr. Speaker, it is very unfortunate that my time is up.

Youth Criminal Justice Act
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

It being 5:30 p.m., we must now adjourn the debate on Bill C-25. The hon. member for Kitchener—Conestoga will be pleased to know that his time is not up and when we return to the study of Bill C-25, he will have 17 minutes left.

The House resumed from November 15 consideration of the motion that Bill C-287, An Act respecting a National Peacekeepers' Day, be read the third time and passed.

National Peacekeepers' Day Act
Private Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill C-287 under private members' business.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #11

National Peacekeepers' Day Act
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

The House resumed from November 16 consideration of C-284, An Act to amend the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act (Canada access grants), as reported with amendment from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Canada Student Financial Assistance Act
Private Members' Business

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at report stage of Bill C-284 under private members' business.

The question is on Motion No. 1. A vote on this motion applies also to Motions Nos. 2 and 3.