Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the hon. parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Justice and I must say that I agree to a great extent with his diagnosis and the values on which his position is based. Having worked with him for several months on the issue of gun control
when he was in opposition, I recognize today both his open-mindedness and his concern.
There is one aspect of his approach however that leaves me wondering about what will happen in the communities in the future. While I agree on the whole with his position on youth in general, we know young repeat offenders present specific problems. I think special attention should be paid to that aspect, particularly to adults using young people to commit crimes.
We have seen it happen in the context of cigarette smuggling. It was obvious in that case, but it also exists elsewhere and there are no provisions on this at present. We should look not only at young offenders but also at the adults who exploit them. Perhaps that aspect of the legislation is the one that needs the most to be changed, to ensure that adults who use young people to commit crimes be given punishments commensurate with their actions. So, the problem is not only with the Young Offenders Act, but also with the law as it applies to the adults who exploit them.
We are well aware, in the present belt-tightening climate, and that is my main concern, that public services for the young people in general will not be expanded. Let us face it, public services are undergoing cuts. But at a time when public services do not expand, a special effort must be made to strengthen the mechanisms and tools of community spirit.
Take the current situation in a riding like mine where we have youth centers and, in neighbourhoods where there is more violence or prostitution, we also have streetworkers from community organizations. Do you know what these organizations live on? They live on temporary job creation programs, commonly called DEPs or section 25s.
Right now in Montreal, do you know what the situation is since April 1? We are told there will be no more regular DEPs, and operating funds for section 25 programs will be cut. We are talking about insignificant amounts in the scheme of things, a few million in a $20 billion budget. Can the parliamentary secretary at least undertake to send a clear message to the Minister of Human Resources Development so that, in an urban area like ours, such inexpensive programs be maintained to support community spirit because these are being chipped away as it is? The very means on which we are supposed to build a better society are being taken away.