House of Commons Hansard #24 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was crime.

Topics

Canada-United States Tax Convention Act
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Canada-United States Tax Convention Act
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4:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, this bill is referred to the Standing Committee on International Trade.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

The House resumed from November 22 consideration of the motion that Bill C-25, An Act to amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the motion that this question be now put.

Youth Criminal Justice Act
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4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Dhalla Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand before you today and speak to Bill C-25, An Act to amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

It is an act that is extremely important to many of my constituents in Brampton--Springdale. When we take a look at the recent deaths of youth in my riding, they have caused extreme fear, angst and anguish among those living in our community.

As one of the fastest growing cities in the country, Brampton has become a true symbol of hope for so many. However, the recent deaths of youths across Brampton have left many feeling shocked, dismayed and with a feeling of profound sadness. From youth who have been killed by gangs to people dying as a result of drunk drivers, families not only in Brampton but across Canada are suffering.

Many constituents in my riding have written to me to express their frustration about these senseless acts of violence. They, like many Bramptonians, are calling on the federal government to take a stand against the violence that is plaguing our communities.

What we need is a comprehensive crime strategy, one that commits to putting more police officers on our streets, more prosecutors in the courts, and protecting the most vulnerable, our children and seniors. We must ensure that our police officers have the resources and tools that they need to do their jobs, and we must demand that government bring forward legislation which will make people think twice about their actions.

However, in talking to many of these constituents and Canadians across the country, one realizes that the answer to fighting crime is not the republican or the Bush strategy of locking everyone up and throwing them in jail.

To ensure the safety of all Bramptonians, we need an effective program to fight crime, one that has input and involvement from our young people. Spending money today on skills training and providing youth with opportunities is going to ensure that if we combine that with strategies to fight crime, it will actually prevent it. It will be money that is saved in the future on putting people in prison.

We need to listen to the youth of Canada. To help jump-start this process in my own riding of Brampton--Springdale, I have created a youth advisory council which will provide student representatives from all the schools in Brampton--Springdale an opportunity to speak openly and directly to their elected officials and community organizations on issues that matter to them, on issues of violence, gangs, and drugs in their schools and neighbourhoods.

It is my hope that this youth advisory council will empower students, community members and elected officials to take a stand against violence, the violence which we are discussing in this particular act today. The youth advisory council will work closely with all stakeholders and organizations to discuss strategies that will actually prevent crime, initiatives to create a safe city and rehabilitate criminals.

The Liberal Party has been trying to put an end to violence in our neighbourhoods by offering to fast-track many of the pieces of justice legislation. Unfortunately, many of these bills have not moved forward. In fact, last fall, we offered our support to the government for fast-tracking six of these criminal justice bills, but unfortunately, rather than accepting our offer, it chose to only fast-track one of the bills.

These delay tactics have resulted in Canadians having to live without effective legislation. We need to put aside political gamesmanship. We need to put aside political partisanship and ensure that we get results for the people that we are representing.

We acknowledge that the Youth Criminal Justice Act has been a significant improvement over the old young offenders legislation, and we now see that there are gaps in the legislation, specifically with respect to repeat violent youth offenders. We must address these gaps, but we must ensure that this bill is not undermined by any of these amendments that are being brought forward today.

We have been stating for some time that the Conservatives need to look at the report that was issued by Justice Nunn in Nova Scotia for reasonable reforms to the Youth Criminal Justice Act to address the problem of repeat youth violence. We believe that Justice Nunn, who led a public inquiry on this issue, actually struck the right balance with the recommendations that he provided.

Some of the changes that are being proposed in this particular bill today are actually similar to the recommendations made by Justice Nunn.

However, there are some changes that are contained in the bill which have not been supported by nor come from Justice Nunn. We need to ensure that the changes brought forward actually concern a judge's ability to detain repeat violent offenders pre-trial.

We must ensure that when we talk about this bill and the amendments being brought forward that there is the right balance to achieve the goals to prevent youth violence across the country. In particular we take a look at this bill and realize that the Conservatives are attempting to reintroduce deterrence, a sentencing principle which many experts across the country have warned is a mistake.

Martha Mackinnon of Justice for Children and Youth, a legal aid clinic for low income youth, has stated that the Conservatives are addressing a perception that has actually been exacerbated by politicians and the media. She has criticized the government's move to bring back general deterrence for youth and has pointed out that there is no evidence that deterrence works for young people.

It has been said that this bill ignores many of the important concerns Canadians have about legislation which is going to be fair and adequate and which is actually going to produce results. Canadians and Bramptonians are looking for real leadership when it comes to fighting crime in Canada.

We need to have a comprehensive and integrated strategy that talks about the root causes of crime. We need to have a strategy which is comprehensive and talks about the rehabilitation of those who have committed crimes. We need to ensure that we provide assistance for those who are the victims. It is only going to be by putting aside our partisanship and our gamesmanship that we are going to ensure that we have legislation which is fair and adequate, and ultimately produces results for our end goal, which is to help the children of Canada.

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5 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her speech. It brought back fond memories of the time when we were both sitting on the Standing Committee on Health. Unfortunately, I no longer have the pleasure of sharing that experience with her, but I am convinced that the member for Québec does so brilliantly.

Our colleague has concerns, and rightly so, about this being a somewhat isolated bill, about the government's lack of vision and scope when it comes to strategies to fight poverty or help young people.

We in the Bloc Québécois have had longstanding concerns about the whole issue of poverty reduction. On many occasions, we introduced bills or motions on the subject. For example, we have introduced a motion to amend the Canadian Human rights Act to add social condition to the prohibited grounds of discrimination. It is pretty incredible that all the provinces are subject to that prohibition, but not the federal government.

My hon. colleague is right also to be concerned about the bill not being appropriate because it is not respectful of the provinces' demands, and those from Quebec in particular.

I would like her to share with us her views on an eventual anti-poverty strategy. What should such a strategy contain? I imagine that she will not be able to stop herself from referring to the wealth of experience in Quebec, where anti-poverty legislation was passed under Bernard Landry's PQ government.

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5 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Dhalla Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his great question and also for his concern in regard to fighting poverty in this country.

We have had a chance to see the extensive number of poverty levels. In a country such as ours which is probably one of the leading nations in the world in terms of our economic surplus and our economic prosperity, a million children continue to live in poverty.

Research has shown that those children who are living in poverty are perhaps in some way, shape or form going to commit some of the crimes that we are talking about in this very bill.

We need a poverty strategy that talks about targets, which has benchmarks and ultimately has a vision and a plan. That is why it was a great honour for me that the leader of the Liberal Party introduced his poverty plan, the 30:50 plan. This plan would ensure that over a period of five years poverty would be reduced by 30% for Canadian families, and children living in poverty would be reduced by 50%. We need action and we need a game plan. In that regard, Quebec is to be commended for its great policy in regard to early learning and child care which is going to ensure that we not only prevent poverty, but provide the tools and mechanisms for families to succeed.

Youth Criminal Justice Act
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5:05 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the hon. member's very thoughtful speech with respect to this bill. I could not agree more with some of her commentary with respect to the need to focus on some of the root causes and some of the programming that has to accompany our youth criminal justice system. That is exactly the essence of what we are trying to accomplish here.

One of the fundamental underpinnings of our justice system is an element of denunciation. The need to send a message of general and specific deterrence is implicit in our justice system. It is used by judges, prosecutors, aid workers and lawyers throughout the justice system.

To that point, I would ask the member whether she acknowledges that the element of deterrence and denunciation which is encompassed in this bill is a necessary part of the approach to reforming and bringing about better behaviour on the part of young people. That, coupled with the necessary programs envisioned, the necessity to help young persons along when it comes to anger management, when it comes to rehabilitations for drugs and alcohol, all of these things are part of a total package, but denunciation has to be at least part of that overall approach. Would she agree with that?

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5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Dhalla Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the experts across this country have stated that reintroducing deterrence would be a mistake. That is why we on this side of the House are recommending that the bill go to committee and that we ask the experts and the witnesses to put forward solutions which are actually going to achieve results to reduce crimes committed by young people in Canada.

Youth Criminal Justice Act
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5:05 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the history of the Bloc Québécois, the question of young offenders has been extremely important. Those who have sat in this House since 1993 or 1997 will recall that we had a colleague by the name of Michel Bellehumeur, who today has been raised to the bench. He was the member for Berthier—Montcalm and was our critic on justice and matters relating to the Attorney General. In 1999 he fought a fine battle on behalf of Bloc Québécois members. The minister at that time was Ms. McLellan, from Alberta. I am not sure whether I am recalling good or bad memories for the House, but she was the justice minister. She was succeeded by Allan Rock and, after that, Martin Cauchon.

At the time, we were examining a bill that was extremely negative concerning practices of the Government of Quebec. The National Assembly had unanimously passed a motion demanding that the bill be withdrawn. The Quebec Minister of Justice at the time was a Quebec City lawyer. We all know how the Quebec City area has always appreciated wisdom in the field of justice. The Quebec City lawyer, now minister, Linda Goupil, formally wrote to the Government of Canada asking for withdrawal of the bill.

What were the issues involved? The Government of Quebec was very resistant to pretrial detention and any kind of measure that had the consequence of prematurely incarcerating people, especially young people. Let us remember that the Liberal bill wanted to refer young people of 14 and 15 to adult courts.

The philosophy of the National Assembly, regardless of government, whether Parti Québécois or Liberal, was to use the right measure at the right time. In some circumstances it could be appropriate to send a youth to a youth centre, while in other cases, the young person should be kept in the community under the guidance of a responsible adult.

There are actually few cases where early incarceration is the appropriate avenue. Of course, it cannot be totally excluded. We can understand that there may be cases of very violent youth, with psychotic behaviour, who have difficulty in controlling their sex drive. Obviously, no one in this House would want that kind of young person to go free in the community. However, that is the exception, rather than the rule.

Minister McLellan’s bill nevertheless had one merit. Although it was a badly defined bill that, in far too many cases, would send young people into adult courts, it did address the issue of pretrial detention.

We made the following observation. The federal and provincial ministers and those who analyzed the issue of young people in the justice system recognized that instead of providing meaningful interventions or offering measures of support, they were opting for the most repressive measures by allowing pretrial detention.

The bill that is now before us not only re-opens that debate over pre-trial detention but it would also deal with an extremely unsettling principle, that of including the principle of deterrence among the very objectives of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

We are well acquainted with the principle of deterrence. It is common knowledge that my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue is a renowned jurist, a progressive spirit in all circumstances. In any case, that is my wish. I believe that my colleague from Quebec City will join me in paying tribute to the member from Abitibi-Témiscamingue and acknowledging his wisdom in the area of law.

Even though we know that the goal of deterrence is found in section 718 of the Criminal Code and that it may be appropriate to resort to it, the fact remains that there is a very specific reason why Parliament did not include it in section 2 of the Youth Criminal Justice Act . In terms of youth criminal justice, deterrence must not be the priority. Naturally, when someone is kept in prison, in detention, the judge will bear these considerations in mind when handing down a sentence; however, this must not be our priority.

I would like to read an excerpt from Supreme Court decision R. v. B.W.P.; R. v. B.V.N. It deals simultaneously with two appeals. It makes it very clear why it is undesirable for deterrence to be included in the stated objectives in the Youth Criminal Justice Act. It says:

Unlike some other factors in sentencing, general deterrence has a unilateral effect on the sentence. When it is applied as a factor in sentencing, it will always serve to increase the penalty or make it harsher; its effect is never mitigating. The application of general deterrence as a sentencing principle, of course, does not always result in a custodial sentence; however, it can only contribute to the increased use of incarceration, not its reduction. Hence, the exclusion of general deterrence from the new regime is consistent with Parliament’s express intention to reduce the over-reliance of incarceration for non-violent young persons. I am not persuaded by the Crown’s argument—

Those are the words of Justice Charron who wrote the decision. She continues:

I am not persuaded by the Crown’s argument that the words of the preamble referring to the public availability of information indicate that Parliament somehow intended by those words to include general deterrence as part of the new regime. The reference in the preamble to the desirability that certain information be available to the public, in and of itself and in context, cannot reasonably support such an interpretation.

So we can see in which direction the government wants to take us. I know that all the Bloc Québécois members will oppose this bill and will ask that it be withdrawn. Furthermore, this bill is not what the National Assembly wants. Again, focusing on deterrence, an objective of criminal law or penology, is not the way to address the issue of youth justice. The exemplary nature of sentences is the deterrent, and that can only be achieved by longer sentences.

I know that other Bloc Québécois members will expand on this, but I am calling on the government to be very careful about the precedents it could set. It would be very irresponsible for members elected by the people of Quebec to support a bill like this one. That does not mean we should not look at the issue of youth crime, but I must remind everyone that youth crime is going down, as is crime in general.

Since my time has expired, I will stop here, but I would like to say that the Bloc Québécois will not support this ill-advised bill, which is legally unsound and does not respect the wishes of the National Assembly.

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5:15 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address the bill on youth crime. While we believe the bill falls short in many ways, we believe it should be debated and amended in committee.

As previous speakers have said, the bill contains two specific sections, one dealing with youth and pre-trial custody and the other dealing with sentencing provisions. We support the notion that judges should be allowed the discretion to impose pre-trial restrictions on those who pose a serious threat to society. The section dealing with pre-trial detention maintains judicial discretion and simply entrenches principles that are already being practised by most courts, so it is not a huge change.

The sections in the bill dealing with sentencing principles are more problematic. There is no evidence to suggest that the adult principles of deterrence and denunciation will have any positive outcome for public safety. Blurring the differences between adults and youth is something that the courts and surely society does not sanction. Therefore, we believe this part needs to be amended and improved on.

I will take a step back and speak a bit about some of the challenges that youth face today.

I come from the city of Toronto. I was there today when the United Way of greater Toronto released its report called “Losing Ground: The Persistent Growth of Family Poverty in Canada’s Largest City”. I want to share with the House some of the findings of this very serious report, which I believe ought to ring alarm bells with the government if it is serious about crime prevention and the need for greater safety in our communities.

Let me cite some of the findings from the United Way study.

The study found that the median income of Toronto families with children under 17 had fallen well behind the median income of families throughout the rest of Canada. It found that one in five two-parent families lived in poverty. That is twice the rate of families in the rest of Canada.

The study found that over 50% of single parent families lived in poverty compared with one in three at the beginning of the last decade, in 1990. One in four Toronto families struggled with poverty. Our poverty rate in Toronto is at 28.8% compared with 19.5% in the rest of Canada. Therefore, we are 10 percentage points higher in the city of Toronto for family poverty.

A lot of people are taking on high debt and we are finding bankruptcies. Insolvency rates in Toronto were up 52.3%, between 2000 and 2005, compared with a 16.8% increase nationally. Eviction applications have increased by 26% over the last seven years. Debt management caseloads have increased 50%, between 2001 and 2007. Payday loan and cheque cashing outlets have increased from 39 in 1995 to over 317 in 2007, with most concentrated in high poverty neighbourhoods.

I believe these statistics are even more pressing and compelling than even these numbers show because Toronto is the most expensive city in the country. Therefore, people who are experiencing these greater levels of poverty are trying to live in the most expensive city in the country.

Behind all these statistics, as devastating as they are, are individuals, families and children trying to survive in extremely stressful and hostile circumstances.

How did we get here? We have seen a massive de-industrialization in the city of Toronto. We have lost over 125,000 manufacturing jobs over the last few years. These were jobs in which people made a decent wage with benefits, with some security and stability of hours of work. They were able to support themselves and their families.

The government will say that jobs have been created. Where are those jobs? They are increasingly in the low wage, precarious, part time, contract jobs. Many people working in these jobs, even if they manage to get 40 hours a week, or the equivalent of a full time job, are living below the poverty level. More than one million people working in the city of Toronto make less than the poverty level; that is they make less than $10 an hour, which is disgraceful. We have these precarious jobs.

Then the previous Liberal government abolished our national minimum wage. We have no national minimum standard that would protect these workers from falling below the poverty line, which is why I introduced a bill to re-establish a national minimum wage and set it at $10 an hour. This would help workers get out of poverty.

One of the major challenges for families in the city of Toronto is to find affordable housing. The previous government got out of providing affordable housing. We have no national housing strategy. The real estate market in Toronto is sky-high. People trying to pay rent or maintain a mortgage are finding the costs really unsustainable.

I hear from many people in my community who tell me, especially single parents trying to pay $1,000 a month in rent when they are working in a fairly low wage job, that it is simply untenable.

What does it mean for children growing up in this environment? It means their parents are working longer hours. The parents are often away from home. The children do not have supervision when they need it, or the guidance and the resources that are needed.

If we truly want to prevent crime among young people, if we truly want to make alternatives to negative activity in society, if we want to make those more attractive, then we have to invest in families. The government has to invest in a city such as Toronto, which ought to be the engine of our national economy.

A situation that I find quite shocking is the rise of payday loan companies. They charge outrageous and exorbitant levels of interest. These companies are blossoming in poor neighbourhoods. People become locked into debt perhaps to get an advance on a paycheque. Suddenly they are into these spiralling loans that can charge hundreds of percentage points on a very small loan and suck people in.

Another problem that people in Toronto face and that affects young people is when a parent loses a job or they are between jobs. They cannot access employment insurance. Almost 80% of unemployed workers in the city of Toronto do not receive benefits from employment insurance. Therefore, they are denied the benefits they pay into.

The challenges are huge. I believe the best way to deal with youth crime is to invest in prevention. We need to invest in affordable housing. We need to get the loan sharks and the payday loan people out of the communities. We need to provide clear banking alternatives for people. We need to invest in good paying jobs that allow people to support themselves and their families. We ought to invest in programs for young people that help them succeed in school, develop leadership qualities and prepare them for the world of further education or the world of work.

Clearly, we are failing our young people and our families. I believe the report today from the United Way is a national shame. Every Canadian ought to hear an alarm bell. We ought to take action on this report immediately.

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5:25 p.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to commend the hon. member on her clear presentation on poverty issues.

I would like her to get into the problems in connection with housing in particular, because we very recently received a new report from the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada on the number of households in difficulty. If I am not mistaken, 1.85 million Canadian households, or more than 3 million people, are in core housing need.

The hon. member talked about the situation in Toronto. In this report, I notice that the situation is pretty much the same across Canada and very poorly addressed.

I would like the hon. member to explain how important housing is in connection with the poverty of households, particularly single parent ones.

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5:25 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question.

Affordable housing does play an important part in the rise in poverty. In Toronto, housing is expensive, especially for single parent families. These families cannot afford the housing they need. The problem is that the federal government has abandoned Canadian families, as we can still see in Toronto, and in Quebec as well.

This is a matter of real urgency because we live in a northern country. Living and surviving on the streets is not an option. To promote successful families and prevent crime, we must invest in families and affordable housing. This is an urgent matter across the country.

In light of this report today, and the one released last week about affordable housing, this is indeed an urgent matter. It is truly a national disgrace that no immediate action was taken. It is a disgrace that the federal government is not acting.

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5:30 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to what my colleague had to say. I have a specific question for her. There is talk of repression and deterrence with young offenders.

I would like my colleague to explain something. I heard her say that she was from the greater Toronto area. Our Conservative friends tell us that Toronto has a street gang problem, and I would like to understand. Has my colleague experienced this problem? Does she think Bill C-25 could solve the problem of street gangs in the Toronto area?

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5:30 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

Yes, there are problems related to street gangs in Toronto, as there are in other cities in this country. However, I do not see anything in this bill that would prevent young people from joining street gangs.

I already spoke about the issues of poverty in Toronto, but much could be done in terms of training young people and investing in youth leadership programs. We must invest in youth so that they can have a secure future and can aspire to success, instead of seeing street gangs as the only alternative.

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5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today and take part in this debate on Bill C-25. Some excellent points have been brought up through the course of this debate. I hope to add to them.

I bring to the debate 25 years of experience in coaching and working with young people through recreational activities as a former recreation professional. I am comfortable in speaking to the fact that the vast majority of the young people I had an opportunity to work with were very good young individuals. They were fairly focused. They understood the difference between right and wrong. For the most part, they just wanted to make their way in this world and find their own place and in some way try to contribute to whatever they were involved in at the time.

Unfortunately, a lot of these average young Canadians might make a bad decision on occasion. They could be with the wrong group on a particular night or in the wrong place at the wrong time, or whatever the circumstances might be, and sometimes the results are not great. However, I have known a number who have benefited from the current approach to dealing with youth crime.

The Young Offenders Act was improved upon by the legislation brought forward through the Youth Criminal Justice Act, but again we stand here tonight to try to improve it. I am comfortable in saying that the Youth Criminal Justice Act was an improvement over the Young Offenders Act, but there are gaps. There are aspects that certainly deserve to be looked at again and improved upon so we can better deal with these particular issues.

I think crime changes from community to community. Some of my colleagues from urban areas have spoken about their experiences. There is not as much gang related crime in rural areas, not that this is a youth crime, but we do see our share.

We have been very active in my own community in Cape Breton--Canso. The Cape Breton Regional Municipality and the police services board, under the direction of Dave Wilson and Myles Burke, have done an excellent job.

The past chief, Edgar MacLeod, just recently stepped down. He was a leading advocate in this country for community based policing. He did a tremendous amount of work in community based policing and had a very solid line in with the youth of our community. I know that went a long way toward finding out the needs, the wants and the concerns of the youth in our community. I think that is at least the beginning of communication with young people at risk. It is a positive step.

These individuals are to be commended for their efforts.

Our justice critic, the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, joined us in Cape Breton, where we sat down with a number of different stakeholders to talk about some of the issues around youth criminal justice and other justice activities. What we heard from most of the stakeholders is that when we are talking about youth, the Nunn report, which has been referred to during the course of the debate, has very significant measures that can go a long way toward ratifying some of the gaps in the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

All of us here in the House know of the terrible tragedy of Theresa McEvoy, a 52 year old mother who lost her life when a 16 year old offender drove his car into hers. It was a terrible tragedy and it was significant because just two days before it happened he had been released from custody.

The young offender had 36 charges against him at the time, but the courts could not hold him. There was miscommunication on the part of those doing the administering, but nonetheless, the officials did not believe they had the power to keep this young person incarcerated, so he was on the streets and that terrible tragedy occurred.

In June 2005 the Nunn commission was struck. Eighteen months later, it delivered its report. I want to read from the report for members. As I have said, the Youth Criminal Justice Act does serve the vast majority of young people in this country very well. Those young people who come in contact with our legal system are very well served by the act. Mr. Justice Nunn said in the report that the act:

--has been highly successful in the manner in which the vast majority of youth is handled....

The challenge is whether the [Youth Criminal Justice Act] in its present form is adequate to deal with that smaller number of repeat offenders that the justice system is concerned with on a regular basis.

Much credence was given to this report. It was an excellent report as it was tabled, but also, there was input from those who deal with those issues on a day to day basis. I want to put this on the record as well. This is a comment from Mr. Justice Nunn's report:

--I must make it absolutely clear and not open to question that all the witnesses I heard--police, prosecutors, defence counsel, and experts--agree with and support the aims and the intent of the act. They accept it as a vast improvement over the previous legislation. All are convinced it is working well for the vast majority of young offenders, though it needs to be fine-tuned to provide effective means to handle the smaller, but regular number of repeat young offenders.

The two issues that are identified more specifically and which we hear about the majority of time when we speak with stakeholders are violent offences and of course repeat offences.

With regard to the violent offences, Justice Nunn boiled it down. His concern was pretrial detention. His concern was that the Youth Criminal Justice Act went too far in restricting any pretrial detention. In order to strike a balance between the rights of young offenders and public safety, he recommended that the definition of “violent offence” be changed to include “endangerment to the public”. That is significant. I am sure that we on this side can support that. His recommendation was the change in that context.

The other issue was repeat offenders. I want to talk about repeat offenders because again we go back to the classic adage that a few apples spoil the whole bunch. I do not think that is uncommon, but the recommendation that came from Justice Nunn, and I know that we on this side can support it, is:

--that the federal government should amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act so that the requirement for a demonstrated “pattern of findings of guilt” is changed to “a pattern of offences”....

In this case, I believe the young man who was involved in the McEvoy tragedy probably would not have been out had that change already been made to the legislation. I hope we will see that as this goes forward.

I believe this legislation as put forward today should go to the justice committee. We should hear expert witness testimony and then it should be brought to the House for a vote. We certainly support the movement of the legislation to committee.