Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to what our friends in the Reform Party have been saying in the House, and I get the impression they are asking us to live in a world where the rich get richer and the poor go to jail.
What exactly does the Reform Party want? They say we need less government and fewer taxes. So what will that mean? It will
mean less government, fewer social programs to benefit the poor, the sick, the elderly and aboriginal people.
That is the kind of world they would have us live in. They say: cut spending, cut taxes. Sure, Canada may be spending too much and sure, we have to pay taxes, but today I read in the paper that Canada ranked fourteenth among industrialized countries in terms of the tax burden on its citizens. So there is a fallacy somewhere. They say we can no longer afford to spend, so let us look into this. They say we are overtaxed. Well, I am not crazy about taxes, but I wish they would stop and think before saying we should let the neediest in our society go hungry so we can reduce the tax burden on people who just want more money than they already have.
Today, we are talking about young offenders, and sadly, in most cases, people who go to jail are anything but wealthy. These are usually people from disadvantaged families who for all kinds of reasons became involved in crime, but the point is that we want to do something for these people and if we want to do something for our country in the process, we should try and prevent youth crime. We should try and give them some hope, and putting security people in our schools and having armed police officers controlling places where young people get together is not the answer.
In any case, I hope our friends in the Reform Party, especially as far as this legislation is concerned, will stop and think what it would be like if their children were in prison at the age of 15, 16 or 17, without much hope for the future and without much hope of being rehabilitated. I think they would change their tune. It is all very well to talk about these things and make certain suggestions and even go along with them here in the House, but out in the real world, in the schools and the prisons, when we see what young people are up against, I think the issues are far more fundamental than what we have heard today.