This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

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

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

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

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

I'm talking about sentences, not pre-trial detention.

11:55 a.m.

Section Member, National Criminal Justice Section, Canadian Bar Association

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Why do you think that longer sentences are bad?

11:55 a.m.

Section Member, National Criminal Justice Section, Canadian Bar Association

Scott Bergman

Why? I don't think that there is a rehabilitative aspect, necessarily. When you have a young person getting one, what are they doing? They are going to go into a jail or a facility. They're going to associate potentially with people who are hardened criminals and have committed criminal acts. They're going to associate with a criminal element; you're not addressing the underlying social root of the problem. What you're doing is teaching a person a certain way of life. The longer you expose them to that way of life, the worse it's going to be for us as a society when they get out.

Longer periods of incarceration are going to be problematic for exactly that reason. What you're doing is teaching criminality, potentially.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Or, as in the case of our fine witness, that period of time allows them access to programs. You have to acknowledge that in some cases, because we have an example here.

11:55 a.m.

Section Member, National Criminal Justice Section, Canadian Bar Association

Scott Bergman

Absolutely. I'm not saying that there are no exceptions to the rule.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Both you and Mr. Trudell have indicated or believe that the current system is working quite well. In fact, Mr. Bergman, you've noted that youth crime is down under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. I think generally that's correct. But I need you to acknowledge that violent crime perpetrated by youth is in fact up. If we go to the period from 1998 to 2008, for example, it has gone from 1,590 incidents per 100,000 young persons to 1,887 incidents per 100,000 persons. So violent crime among youth is actually up. Will you acknowledge that?

11:55 a.m.

Section Member, National Criminal Justice Section, Canadian Bar Association

Scott Bergman

I don't know that. What were you referring to there?

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

It was Statistics Canada's Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics' uniform crime reporting survey for 2008.

11:55 a.m.

Section Member, National Criminal Justice Section, Canadian Bar Association

Scott Bergman

I don't happen to have that in front of me, so it's very difficult for me to comment on exactly that.

What I have is “Youth custody and community services in Canada, 2008/2009”. Is that what you're referring to, or is it something different?

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

This is the uniform crime reporting survey of 2008.

11:55 a.m.

Section Member, National Criminal Justice Section, Canadian Bar Association

Scott Bergman

I don't have that. I don't know what everything else around it is and I don't know the scope of the study, so it's very hard for me to comment on it.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Is it your impression, based on whatever studies you're familiar with, that violent crime among Canadian youth is up or down in the last ten years, or since 2003, when the new legislation came into force?

11:55 a.m.

Section Member, National Criminal Justice Section, Canadian Bar Association

Scott Bergman

I hadn't walked away with that impression from the studies I reviewed. But in fairness, that's not why we're here today. We're not here quoting study after study. There are other people who can do that, I'm sure, for the committee.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

In your presentation you said that youth crime was down.

11:55 a.m.

Section Member, National Criminal Justice Section, Canadian Bar Association

Scott Bergman

That's based on the study that I mentioned, which indicates so.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

In the study that you're referring to, is violent youth crime up or down, or is it not broken down?

Noon

Section Member, National Criminal Justice Section, Canadian Bar Association

Scott Bergman

I believe it says it's down.

Noon

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Trudell, you look as if you might have something to add. No?

Noon

Chair, Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers

William Trudell

I think if you do careful studies and call experts, you're going to find that violent crime is down right across the country. You will find, however, that there are pockets where violent crime seems to be on the increase, and you've addressed this issue in relation to your organized crime study. You have gang problems in some centres.

I don't think that figure can be taken as you present it. I think the trend in crime is down, including violent crime.

There are of course the serious offences that happen—they're almost anecdotal—that cause a lot of attention among the public. Those are the ones concerning which we have to be careful about changing the Criminal Code in response to certain cases. But quite frankly, I disagree with that statistic.

Noon

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

But may I ask, should we as legislators be happy and satisfied that 50,000 incidents of violent crime per year are committed among youth? Or should we look to fine-tune the system to try to lower those numbers?

Noon

Chair, Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers

William Trudell

Well, there's no question. Nobody in this room--whether we're defence counsel, crown, police, legislator, or whatever—none of us likes violent crime. But you don't sledgehammer it. What you do is gather experts and ask whether there really is a problem. And fine-tuning is quite different from changing the philosophy of legislation that's working. That's my response.

Noon

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Ed Fast

Thank you very much.

Given the fact that we started about ten minutes late, we're just going to do one quick round of two minutes each. We'll go to the Liberals and then to the Bloc and then to one from the government.

Ms. Mendes.

June 3rd, 2010 / noon

Liberal

Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Fournel-Laberge, my questions are for you. I think that we might have got the wrong impression of your position on incarceration.

First of all, I would like to congratulate you for your testimony and the courage you have shown. It also shows that the system does work, that we can rehabilitate a young person to build up his confidence to come and speak before parliamentarians.

I would like to ask you first where were you rehabilitated?

Noon

As an Individual

Simon Fournel-Laberge

It was at the Maison de l'Apprenti and at the Résidence Taché.