Sébastien's Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders)

An Act to amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act and to make consequential and related amendments to other Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.

Sponsor

Rob Nicholson  Conservative

Status

In committee (House), as of May 3, 2010
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the sentencing and general principles of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, as well as its provisions relating to judicial interim release, adult and youth sentences, publication bans, and placement in youth custody facilities. It defines the terms “violent offence” and “serious offence”, amends the definition “serious violent offence” and repeals the definition “presumptive offence”. It also requires police forces to keep records of extrajudicial measures used to deal with young persons.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Sébastien's Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders)Government Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 4:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, as a former solicitor general for Quebec, I know the member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin is extremely knowledgeable on all of these issues.

I was interested in the fact that the government is going to, by this bill, make certain that youth are kept separate from adults. That is great, except that, as the member pointed out, the provinces will be responsible for enforcing this act that the government will pass and a number of the provinces do not have the facilities available to house those youth offenders.

If the provinces follow the act, it might be another decade before they get the proper facilities built where they can keep the youth separate and, if they do not have the facilities, what will they do? Will they put them in with the adults?

Could the member expand on that as to the validity of the government passing legislation when it knows full well that the provinces will not be able to implement it at any time soon in some cases, and whether the federal government should be responsible for providing some moneys to the provinces to make certain that the intentions of the bill are able to be carried out by the provinces?

Sébastien's Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders)Government Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 4:30 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, it would be a good thing if there were youth centres elsewhere. The government is prepared to spend more money to build more prisons to jail more young people. That is a colossal mistake. It should give the provinces more money to hire more qualified professionals who would oversee the rehabilitation of young people and even the rehabilitation of the most difficult cases.

It is difficult to take a youth out of his environment when he has grown up in a family that lives off the avails of crime and when he has joined a gang. It costs a lot. That is how Quebec came out on the losing end in the 1980s. The federal government gave money to the provinces. Ontario used it to build prisons. Quebec received less money because it focused on staffing and it could not use the money for buildings. However, it is a very important long-term investment. For $100,000 per year, the cost of incarcerating one inmate, we can hire at least two or three professionals and be much more effective. The rest of Canada should realize that there is a system nearby that works and they should use it as a model. When I defended the Quebec system in 1998, people from the Maritimes came to see me to learn about it.

Sébastien's Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders)Government Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 4:30 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I wish to congratulate my colleague for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, who is an expert on this subject.

My question is simple. In Quebec, our ancestors left us a society that struck a balance between incarceration and rehabilitation. Today, why are the Conservatives absolutely bent on steering us to the right? Can my colleague explain this right-wing approach to incarceration?

Sébastien's Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders)Government Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 4:30 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a matter of ignorance. They are not familiar with the success Quebec has had. When they want a model, they choose a simplistic model. If my dog does something bad, I just give him a little tap. That is not how it works with adults, and certainly not with young offenders.

The Conservatives want to be tough on crime. They are now telling us—like the Minister of Justice has said—to listen to voters, who will tell us what to do and what measures to take. But the people are not experts on young offenders. There are some situations in life when we must turn to the experts. When our car breaks down, we do not take it to our uncle the plumber. We take it to a mechanic.

Sébastien's Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders)Government Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 4:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the most important responsibility of members of Parliament is the duty to protect the citizens of the communities they represent.

I have the honour of representing the great city of Abbotsford here in Parliament. The residents of my riding understand, perhaps better than most Canadians, the impact that violent crime, especially youth-related crime, can have on their sense of safety and security.

Despite a declining overall crime rate, drug-related violence in my community was up steeply last year. Much of it involved youth. If members went to my community and read the newspapers for the last two to three years, they would notice that week after week, there were stories about gang violence and drug-related violence. They would read about young teenagers being murdered because of their involvement in the drug trade, young kids who had a great future in this great country of ours, and those lives were snuffed out.

Since we were first elected, our Conservative government has been relentless in taking action to tackle violent crime and to protect Canadians. Our approach has been a balanced one. It includes prevention, enforcement and rehabilitation.

Today the bill before us is a new law which takes action against youth-related violent crime, especially where such crime is committed by prolific young offenders. The bill, which we have called Sébastien's law, is an amendment to the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Our government recognizes that young people who commit serious, violent and repeat criminal offences must receive sentences that are proportionate to their crimes, even as those very individuals work toward their own rehabilitation and reintegration into society. In short, violent young offenders need to take personal responsibility for their violent crimes.

What our government's bill also highlights is that our laws must make the protection of society a primary goal of sentencing, something which has been sorely lacking in the past. Law-abiding citizens have a right to expect that their lawmakers will protect them against the most violent young offenders.

As I have talked with Canadians, I have realized that a large number of them have lost faith in the youth justice system. They complain that the prison sentences given to violent and repeat young offenders are generally too light to make any difference in rehabilitating these offenders and holding them accountable for their actions. Canadians have also lost faith in a system which does not have the legislative tools to keep the public safe. Our government is changing that.

Exactly what is it that this bill does? With Sébastien's law, our Conservative government is introducing nine key changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The first change will add deterrence and denunciation as principles which the judge will have to take into account when sentencing serious, violent and repeat young offenders. Right now a judge cannot use deterrence and denunciation in making a decision about sentencing, even though many Canadians believe that serious, violent young offenders must get a clear message that doing the crime means doing the time.

The second change is that the amended act would allow detention and jail before trial if a youth is charged with a serious offence and if that youth is likely to commit another serious offence if released. Up until now, pretrial custody rules have been confusing and quite frankly, inconsistently applied.

The third change is that the amended act would define the term “serious offence” as an indictable offence with a maximum sentence of five years or more. This will not only include violent offences but also property offences, such as theft over $5,000, and offences that pose a danger to the public, such as possession of a firearm, sexual exploitation, robbery and murder. Right now there is no definition of “serious offence” in the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The fourth change will mean that the term “violent offence” will be expanded to include offences where a young person endangers the life or safety of another person by creating a substantial likelihood of causing bodily harm.

In the past, the legal definition of “violent offence” was left up to the courts to interpret. The courts' interpretation, although it included actual or threatened bodily harm, said nothing about endangering someone's life or safety. We are changing that.

For our fifth change, we are making it easier to put violent young offenders behind bars by allowing the judge to take into account a previous history or perhaps pattern of guilty behaviour, even if there is no actual formal record of that criminal behaviour. Currently, the law is too narrow and allows youth who may have broken the law many times before but were dealt with outside of the justice system to escape personal accountability for their actions.

The sixth change will require a prosecutor to consider seeking an adult sentence for young offenders who are 14 years of age and older where they commit serious violent offences. This provision will vary from province to province. Prosecutors will also have to inform the court if they do not apply for the adult sentence. Right now, adult sentences are available for those 14 years of age and over and can be used where appropriate, but prosecutors do not always apply for them, even in the most serious cases.

The seventh key change is that we are giving judges the power to make the names of young offenders public whenever they are convicted of a violent offence, even when a youth sentence is imposed. This is something many Canadians have asked for, including the residents of Abbotsford. Although there are presently no publication bans on young offenders who receive adult sentences, those who receive youth sentences for violent crimes rarely, if ever, have their names published.

The eighth key change will see the act amended to make it clear that no young person under 18 will serve his or her sentence in an adult institution, regardless of whether the young person was given an adult or youth sentence. This is consistent with our government's desire to ensure that young offenders serve their sentences in an environment more conducive to genuine rehabilitation.

For the ninth and last change, Sébastien's law, as we have called it, will require police to keep records of the use of extrajudicial measures, such as warnings, to make it easier to identify patterns of reoffending. Right now, there is no requirement for the police to keep such records.

Our government believes that the law should place the highest priority on victims. This week we are celebrating and honouring National Victims of Crime Awareness Week, when we make the statement that victims have been forgotten for far too long. Our Conservative government is taking notice. We have implemented many new initiatives that address the needs of victims, including establishing a national awareness day. We have also established the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime.

We have enhanced the funding for victims. In fact, even in this year's budget, we added another $6.6 million to provide services to victims. Indeed, it is our goal to significantly reduce the number of Canadians who are victimized by violent youth crime. We cannot do that without having a tool chest that has the legislative tools to address youth crime, especially when it is violent.

The amendments to the Youth Criminal Justice Act that our Conservative government has proposed make significant progress in keeping Canadians safe. These changes will hold violent young offenders more accountable for their actions and will better protect Canadians. After all, that is the very least Canadians should expect of their elected representatives. It is the very least the residents of my community of Abbotsford should expect of their representative right here in Ottawa.

Since 2006, our Conservative government has been relentless in trying to find new ways of addressing crime, addressing the needs of victims and ensuring that rehabilitation is available in our federal prison institutions. I am pleased to support this legislation. It is something that is long overdue. Someone asked me the other day why it was taking so long. I had to remind him that we just came out of 13 years of a Liberal government and it did not take crime seriously.

This Conservative government, under our Prime Minister and our Minister of Justice, takes crime very seriously. Ultimately, we want a safer society. I want a safer Abbotsford. When we do that, all Canadians win.

Sébastien's Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders)Government Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 4:40 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I must admit I did not get a lot of new information from the member about the bill or about the foundations of the bill.

All of the evidence indicates that sentencing is not a deterrent. Recidivism in fact is lower when there are early release programs, such as house arrest, to which the government is opposed. Crime rates are lower when there are proper supports for the police and in the provincial jurisdictions programs for crime prevention before the first crime happens.

The member seems to have repeated the platitudes of the government that the Conservatives are just tough on crime, a slogan without a foundation. Throwing more people into jail for longer periods of time will make them even less able to be rehabilitated or reintegrated into society and will not end the cycle of crime and recidivism. The Conservatives simply want to win votes. Why is it that the member has not given one example of where the bill improves the situation to reduce crime or prevent it before it happens?

Sébastien's Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders)Government Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 4:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his intervention, although I profoundly disagree with it. His view and his ideology comes from the far left. It is totally discredited.

If we followed the hon. member's line of argument, we should get rid of all jails; nobody should be going to jail because deterrence does not work.

He obviously did not listen to my speech, because I emphasized protection of society, which is something the Liberal Party forgot some 40 years ago when its solicitor general said that the Liberals were essentially abandoning protection of society and focusing all their efforts on rehabilitation. That is the wrong way to go.

Our government is finally providing a balanced approach to crime, making sure rehabilitation is there, making sure prevention is there, making sure enforcement is there. Above all, we should listen to the victims and focus on protection of society. Canadians are asking for that, and they deserve nothing less.

Sébastien's Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders)Government Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 4:45 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, does the member not think that a system with a lower delinquency rate protects victims better than a system with a higher rate?

In 2008, the delinquency rate in Quebec was 50% lower than the rate in Canada. Before he came to the House, was the member familiar with the system that was developed in Quebec?

If he learned more about this system by sitting in on meetings of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, he would see that he should not reject a system that sees fewer victims.

Sébastien's Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders)Government Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 4:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from the Bloc for his work at the justice committee. We have worked together for well over a year on that committee and, although we sometimes profoundly disagree on the issues, he is a very valuable member of that committee. He does remind us regularly of what is happening in Quebec but I also regularly remind him of what is happening in other parts of the country where citizens are demanding that we take some concrete steps to ensure we protect society.

Members will have noticed that our Conservative crime agenda is not a shotgun approach. We are not following a U.S. system that has failed in many respects. Our approach is a very focused, targeted approach where we are looking at the most prolific, violent, repeat offenders, not only adults but some very dangerous young offenders who need to be incarcerated for longer periods of time. The longer they are in custody, the greater their opportunity is to find the help they need. Some of them have serious addiction problems, some come from a background of having learning disabilities and some have mental health issues. They need to get that help.

It is no secret that our federal system of corrections is actually much more effective in dealing with rehabilitation. The reason for that is that in our provincial systems the maximum sentence is two years, which is usually not enough time to actually move an offender toward rehabilitation.

However, there is always a grain of truth in what Bloc members say. They are saying that we need to focus on rehabilitation. Yes, it is good to have fewer offenders going into prison if we can protect society at the same time, but there is that small number of offenders who pose a very serious risk to their communities. So far I have not seen the Bloc members propose anything that will move us in that direction.

I will go back to what I said and what the focus of my speech was. The protection of society must be the prevailing value when we deal with criminal justice. If we fail in that, we fail in everything else. It is a public trust that has been placed on our shoulders as elected representatives to ensure that our communities, streets, neighbourhoods, families and friends are safe.

Sébastien's Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders)Government Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have heard a new tranche in the Conservatives' approach to tough on crime. The fact that they want these massive extensions in sentencing is because they need time with the prisoners for rehabilitation programs, those programs which they cut, the literacy programs, the farm programs and the other ones.

As someone has said, we should be as concerned about who comes out of prison as we are about those who go in. It is fact that in almost all cases they eventually come out.

The member talked about reforming the system and bringing justice to Canadians. As New Democrats, we put forward a proposal that would allow for full public oversight of the RCMP, a federal government jurisdiction. I am wondering if he would be in agreement with this.

The chiefs of police, the head of the RCMP and the complaints commissioner have all come forward and said that they need a public oversight model for Canada. Certainly the families that have had interactions in which loved ones have been hurt or killed in custody and there has been controversy, I am thinking of Linda Bush and Mr. Dziekanski, have also made the call and the plea to the government to take a courageous leadership role and do what members of the RCMP are asking for, which is to stop the rules that say they must investigate themselves. That is what all members I speak to request.

The member is obviously someone who has spent a great deal of time on the issue of crime, punishment and whatnot in Canada. I wonder if he has given this topic any thought and if he can definitely say, one way or the other, whether he is in favour of true public oversight, as they have in Ontario.

Sébastien's Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders)Government Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am sure our government is considering that.

What really surprises me is that the member has not actually read the bill that is before us. It has nothing to do with RCMP oversight. This is about how we amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act to ensure our communities are safer?

Since the member has allowed me an opportunity to speak, I want to say that not only have we focused on the protection of society, but I have reviewed the main estimates that arise out of budgets every year. If we check what money the government has been put into crime prevention, which is very important as we try to address these challenges in our communities, we have increased that funding by some $25 million just in the last two years.

If we go back many years, we will see how the former Liberal governments completely abandoned crime prevention. This is one of the key areas that our government is focusing in on. We are also focusing in on rehabilitation but we are not forgetting the protection of society because ultimately I am concerned about my family and children. I am concerned about the kind of society in which they are growing up. I am concerned that they may some day need bars on their windows and walls around their houses.

My sister lives in South Africa where crime is rampant and very little, if anything, has been done to focus in on the protection of society. My sister actually lives in a compound with bars on her windows and barbed wire and glass shards on the walls to ensure thieves and robbers do not enter her premises. That is not the society Canadians want. It is not the society we have now but we have serious challenges, especially with violent youth crime.

Sébastien's Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders)Government Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to engage in this debate, especially since I have heard a couple of my colleagues from the government side expound with what they would call a particular eloquence on the method as well as the principle of what makes this society work. I have noticed that they focused on the words “protection“ and “prevention”.

If it is true that what we must have is protection of society, and without pandering to everybody's greatest fears and paranoia, I think we would need to look at what other professionals and stakeholders in the field say about these proposed legislative items and, in fact, about this one in particular.

Mr. Speaker, before I go on to their references, I know that you are an esteemed scholar of the law as well. I hope you will not feel offended if I make reference to people other than yourself as experts for reference here.

It pains me to hear some of my colleagues from the government side who normally speak in a fashion that might be reasonable, and I refer in particular to my colleague from Abbotsford who is a valued colleague on a committee where he is sorely missed, but when he engages in the kind of partisan tripe to colour the weaknesses of this bill so that it can be more acceptable, I think only about what some of the stakeholders in the private sector would say with respect to his observations.

I think for a moment about Rick Linden, a criminology professor at the University of Manitoba, whose observation is that this bill is designed more for political effect than actually to have much of an effect on crime. I guess he probably drew that conclusion after having studied the bill and after anticipating what my hon. colleague would have said earlier on.

In fact, that is replicated and repeated by Professor Nicholas Bala, a family law and youth justice expert at Queen's University, who says that this bill is a classic example of pandering to public misperceptions about youth crime.

Can members imagine that the hon. member opposite would say that what Canadian society is in greatest need of is protection against the actions of youth criminals?

We may be in need of protection but the way in which that member and his government have decided to focus on one particular element of our society and to vilify it and to put it in a position where it is now the greatest danger to the safety of Canadian society is nothing short of shameless.

Frank Addario, of the Criminal Lawyers' Association, reminds everyone that there is no evidence that more severe punishment does anything to reduce recidivism among youth.

That does not mean that we should not have punishment. However, if the government is going to propose amendments to an act that was introduced by prior governments, then it has an obligation to demonstrate that things are not working. Instead, the government has given us perceptions and anecdotes of what the public, from its perspective, thinks is required under this legislation.

However, I do think there are some issues that need improvement and I am sure the committee will address many of these issues. Not all things are bad in the legislation. As I read through it, I thought we might be able to support a few items, especially with respect to the fact that we will improve the way the system is administered.

However, here are the weaknesses that I thought the government would have addressed. I was absolutely shocked that the member who just spoke, my colleague from Abbotsford, said that the way to protect Canadians was to put an addition $25 million into the protection of Canadians.

Do members know what that translates into? Just so that everybody is not confused about what it means, it means, at the very most, we would be able to hire another 250 front line officers in order to do what must be done, which is to enforce the legislation, no matter which it is, whether it is weak or strong.

This legislation would have no value unless an enforcement officer, through his or her vigilance and his or her work, could ensure that the outcome desired by legislators is actually effected on the street. In the last election, the government promised 1,000 front-line officers but instead we have 250. The government is so boldfaced as to suggest today that the $25 million is somehow going to protect Canadians better than under any other administration.

For four years the Conservatives have been standing in this place, holding public announcements and photo ops, saying they are the party of justice, they are tough on crime. But they say not to hold them to that. The Conservatives are not going to provide the officers we need to ensure the legislation that is in place is observed. They are not going to provide us with the resources we need in this society to make sure there is a harmonious interaction among people in different age groups and different socio-economic environments and those who fall prey to individuals and groups that have no interest in public welfare.

The government has not put any resources into that, but it claims it is going to protect, perhaps with legislation, which is actually a piece of paper that everybody is going to throw away. If we do not have the officers to support it, the enforcement capacity, and if we do not invest in the justice system so that we can have prosecutors and judges deal with these issues when they come before them, then justice is delayed, justice is denied, there is no justice at all.

If we are really truly going to accept the government's view that the main ethic that drives the Government of Canada, that government is supposed to define us all to ourselves and to the rest of the world, then I ask it to please live up to its commitment to provide us with the protection that is required, the observance that is demanded of the legislation that defines us. That is not happening. That is not going to happen at all.

The Conservatives stand in this place and say this is all the fault of the Liberals who preceded them. How many years ago? It was four years ago. For four years the Conservatives have done absolutely nothing except fall down on the promises they make.

If we are going to have as a society a group of individuals, a collective, who are functioning in a productive fashion, who are respectful and accepting of each other's differences and each other's ambitions and future aspirations, then we need to establish a public ethic to which everybody has buy-in.

The other item is that, when we talk about protection and prevention, we have to talk not only about investing in enforcement officers, not only about investing in the justice system and its apparatus. We need to make an investment in society where it counts.

How much has the government put forward to ensure we have the kinds of programs in place that young people, primarily young boys, need? It appears that what we are doing with this legislation is taking, as a first order of business, the vilification of every male child in this country. I say “child” because when we refer to “young men” we are talking about those who are over the age of 18 and therefore subject to the same observations, penalties and programs that are available to all adults. But we are thinking about children, primarily those under 14 if I read the legislation correctly.

My hon. colleague from Abbotsford thinks there is a menace out there. It is called a child. He thinks those who are entering their teens pose a great threat. They are called young men.

One of the ways we prevent difficulties in society is by making an investment before the problem takes place. We give those young men primarily, but young women as well, an opportunity to have a productive intervention in society, to find their place. That does not necessarily mean we have to tell them that if they do not follow a straight line then all hell will rain upon them.

They do not have to worry about that because we have no active volcanoes here and we have no policemen out there to get them. If by chance we do catch them, they will never get to court because we are not going to have any funding for judges. If we have funding for judges, we are not going to have enough money for prosecutors and others, so they will not have to worry about it.

Think about legislation that delivers that kind of message. The government wants to go out there and trumpet the fact that it is tough on crime, not tough on the individuals, not prepared to take a look at those men and women who are going to be part and parcel of the creation of a society that we are going to call our own. Where in the legislation will we find material evidence that the Conservative Government of Canada is actually concerned about the environment in which a young boy or a young girl is being raised, that it is concerned about the values that define the community in which those young people grow?

Where will we find the evidence in this legislation that purports to focus on prevention? Will we find the evidence that the Government of Canada is actually interested in building the infrastructure that allows those young people to grow as productive and involved citizens of our country?

We had the good fortune today, Mr. Speaker, thanks to your good graces, to host a group of young men and women who, through their own self-sacrifice and the investment of their parents, their community and some cases government, dedicated themselves to an achievement of participation, first of all, and then successful performance in the last Olympics. We had them here. We should have gloried not just in the medals they won but in the fact that they succeeded. They allowed each and every one of us, legislators from all around the country as my colleagues from the Bloc say, to be able to point to all of the infrastructure for social building, for community building, for nation building that worked and is seen as an example through the achievements they shared with us.

Where do we see that in this legislation? It is ironic that, after we see some successful young men and women whom we honoured today and who showed us the privilege of honouring our successes through their efforts, instead we say young people are a menace in the making and we are going to put in place so much structure, so much rhetoric, that they will be frightened into doing what is acceptable. But nowhere do we define “acceptable”. Nowhere do we give an indication of what those public ethics, those public values, those familial-linked community achievements, are that are desirable from a national perspective.

Taking a look through the bill, we ask: What will be required of this government to make some of this stick? If the objective of the government is incarceration and extended incarceration for each and every one of these individuals it is going to incarcerate, notwithstanding the fact that the trend line is in the reverse direction in terms of what young people are doing in our society, we are going to hear from the Conservatives that we are going to make it easier to incarcerate and extend and we are going to put the money forward for that. We are going to build more jails.

Just think about this. In a society where people are looking for houses, we are going to build more jails. In a time when people are looking for affordable housing, we are going to spend at least $100,000 per cell in order to incarcerate and to extend the incarceration of people we want to vilify because we have not put enough money in prevention, in education or in building an infrastructure where we can take our young men and women, our children, and turn them into functioning adults who will make this country proud.

No. We would rather, through this legislation and the government opposite, think in terms of ourselves as holding a great big baseball bat in our hand and saying to people that if they step out of line, this thing is going to come crashing down.

We should think about this. The government is going to spend $100,000 per cell. It wants to increase the incarceration rate by at least 30%. That means we are going to be looking at members of Parliament coming before the House to approve or disapprove of the government building more cells over the next few years, which will be in excess of $3 billion.

Members opposite are chuckling. They are surprised that people have actually done their homework. It is not something they are accustomed to. They are reading talking points from the PMO all the time. They really have not taken a look at what is going to happen as a consequence of the bill.

I welcome the fact that they are paying attention. We were talking about education, so listen closely.

As well, we build a cell and we have to have someone invigilate that cell. In other words, we have to have jail guards. That is an additional $100,000 per year for every one of those.

When we take a look at the numbers we are going to need in terms of building these cells and building a structure for maintaining them, think how much cheaper it is for the Government of Canada to build an infrastructure of prevention. That is not something anyone is talking about.

The Conservatives are much more comfortable with the idea that says if one wants to feel angry about the way things are happening today, vote Conservative. If one wants to focus on retribution, vote for the Conservatives.

However if people want to think in terms of having a positive vision of the world, trying to rehabilitate, trying to ensure we bring productive individuals before us, they can vote for someone else; Liberal, I think, if they are smart.

Think about the message the government is sending out there to everyone. It prefers to send an extremely negative message and, to make it worse, it is so perverse that there are no funds to realize the very lowly ambitions of the bill. There is no money.

If one wants to protect society, how much money? Recently the Conservatives talked about having to protect society in the aviation industry. They have to protect them at airports. They have to do this; they have to do that. Bang, there is another $1.5 billion tax for them to do that. They spent $11 million buying 44 body scanners about which an expert in the committee this morning said, “What a waste of money. Cancel the contract”. That $11 million for those 44 body scanners to protect air travellers was not enough. They had to slap on another $1.5 billion.

Mr. Speaker, I know that on occasion you enjoy a good meal and the French have a saying that says, l'appétit vient en mangeant, the appetite comes with the eating.

It seems that the Conservative government, whenever it has an opportunity to waste some money on something that is of little value, can turn around and develop an appetite for raising more taxes to do something that is of equally less value.

That is what the bill represents. It represents an opportunity that is wasted. Instead of talking about how we can reach out to those young people who will replace us, and we will all be replaced by those young people, instead of vilifying them, it should reach out and provide the kinds of programs they need.

The Conservative government talked about prevention programs. It cancelled almost all of them.

In my own province of Ontario, where we had some $8 million, in the GTA $11 million, to provide programs for assistance to students and young people at risk, the government cancelled that. On an annual basis, it said, “We do not need that; if they are bad they will suffer”. Immediately the government has focused on punishment, identifying bad guys but not going out there to catch them. If it does catch them, it says, “Throw them in jail”. “But we don't have jails”. “That's the fault of another government; we're going to build them”. “Where are we going to get the money?” “We don't know”.

That is the problem with the government. It does not know what it is doing. The youth are suffering as a result and this bill will put responsibility for failure on the shoulders of others. We deserve better.

Sébastien's Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders)Government Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 5:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, it just goes to show that when the member for Eglinton—Lawrence wings it, things do not go well. In fact, he should check his earpiece because when I referred to $64 million, it was just for prevention. Our main estimates show that we actually put $64 million just into prevention, not protection. Protection was another $140 million on top of that, so he may want to do his research.

I want to go back almost 40 years, since the member for Eglinton—Lawrence went back that far. He talked about his own Liberal government going back some 40 years. Here is a quotation from the Liberal solicitor general back in 1971 who said:

The present situation results from the fact that the protection of society has received more emphasis than the rehabilitation of inmates. Consequently, we have decided from now on to stress the rehabilitation of offenders, rather than the protection of society.

That was the Liberal government back in 1971. Successive Liberal governments have followed that approach to justice and that is why we are in the mess we are in today.

After the speech from the member for Eglinton—Lawrence, Canadians now know why they elected a Conservative government to protect them.

My question to the member is this. The solicitor general, Jean-Pierre Goyer, back in 1971 said, “--we have decided from now on to stress the rehabilitation of offenders, rather than the protection of society”. Does the member for Eglinton—Lawrence still support that statement, and if so, why would he be so negligent?

Sébastien's Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders)Government Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 5:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is a wonderful place. We now have people, a research department in the Prime Minister's office, actually going about finding out what happened in history 40 years ago and who it was that initiated some of the legislation that has defined our country over the course of the last 40 years.

I want to compliment those young men and women who are actually doing something worthwhile; that is, going back in time and asking what it was that society wanted to be over the course of 40 years. I am sure that the member opposite was just a young boy when that legislation came forward, when members were talking about rehabilitation as a different concept for how we deal with problems and dysfunctionality in society.

Rather than focus on rehabilitation, the member now wants us to go back to the pre-1971 situation. Do members believe that the Government of Canada would come forward with an amendment to a justice system when things seem to be going in the right direction, and says, “No, no, we have to go back 40 years when times were better”. The Liberal government in 1971, in that day and age with the circumstances of the day, said that a progressive society is noted by its willingness to shape and rehabilitate those who contravene the conventions of the day.

Today, the Conservatives want us to go back to a point where punishment, retribution, would be the order of the day. Shame on them.

Sébastien's Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders)Government Orders

April 22nd, 2010 / 5:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I certainly always enjoy the member's presentations on these bills. He certainly puts a lot of energy and life into his speeches.

It is interesting to note that Mr. Sullivan was a government appointee three years ago, a victims' rights position appointed by the government. His position ran out just in the last week and he is not being re-appointed by the government.

He said some interesting things about the government. He said that the government is not dealing correctly with victims' rights issues. He said that the Conservatives are paying too much attention to the punishment side of the equation and ignoring the victims.

This is coming from a person, Mr. Sullivan, who was appointed by this government three years ago to deal with victims and promote their causes with and within this government. While he admits the Conservatives have done some good things, he has criticized them for basically not putting enough focus, enough emphasis, on the rights of victims, something they talk about constantly but they are not doing, and putting too much emphasis on punishment.

I would like to ask the member whether he agrees with that assessment by Mr. Sullivan and why he thinks that is developing at this point? Why are the Conservatives giving up on victims' rights?