Mr. Speaker, before question period I was replying to members of the Reform Party who continue to propose simplistic and unworkable solutions to the problem of crime, especially youth crime. When they say they want something meaningful and effective what they really mean and what they really want are longer, harder sentences to prison without additional resources for correction and rehabilitation.
That model does not work. It is now being tried in several of the United States and violent crime in those states is among the highest in the western world. Those states with "three strikes and you are out" laws, those states with capital punishment have among the highest murder and violent crime rates in the western world. Look at Louisiana, Texas, Florida and Mississippi. Those states are executing people in the morning while in the afternoon murders take place during the theft of an automobile.
The approach being proposed by the Reform Party does not work. To begin with there has not been a general increase in youth violent crime in recent years. To give an example let us look at homicide rates among young offenders. The highest number of homicides for youths between the ages of 12 and 17 was 68 homicides in 1975 before the Young Offenders Act, whereas the low rate was 35 homicides for youth in 1987 after the Young Offenders Act.
Second, the Young Offenders Act is not, as alleged by the Reform Party, the cause of youth crime. While the Young Offenders Act might be a federal law it is fully and totally administered by the provinces. Some provinces do much better than others.
For example, my province of Quebec dedicates a lot of resources to the Young Offenders Act and has a much better record and much greater satisfaction with the act than other provinces. In some provinces youth crime and youth recidivism is much lower than in others, with the same act right across the country.
If there is violent youth crime in Canada the cause is not the Young Offenders Act. If we want to do something meaningful about youth crime, then we must make a greater effort in prevention and rehabilitation. Yes, certain amendments are required to the Young Offenders Act and we are doing that in Bill C-37, but they alone will not solve the problem of youth crime.
Certain Reform members just said that they met with youth during the Christmas recess and that those youths want significant amendments to the Young Offenders Act. Well, during the recess I also had a meeting with youth in my constituency at Concordia University in Montreal.
Those youth understood that the real problem is principally one of prevention and correction. They also knew that this year
the Parliament of Canada was going to make a thorough review of the Young Offenders Act, a thorough review of youth correction programs, and a thorough review of the situation of youth crime in Canada.
Let us have some honesty and seriousness with respect to this debate. To suggest to Canadians that changing a few lines in the Young Offenders Act is going to solve the problem of youth crime in this country is not correct. I would like my friends in the Reform Party to acknowledge that and be honest with the situation as it really is.
I also would like answers from the parliamentary secretary on the question I asked at the beginning of my remarks.