House of Commons Hansard #160 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was crime.


Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping ActPrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.


Jack Frazer Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

moved that Bill C-258, an act respecting the establishment and award of a Canadian volunteer service medal and clasp for United Nations peacekeeping to Canadians serving with a United Nations peacekeeping force, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, Canadians take great pride in the Canadian forces record of peacekeeping throughout the world, a record which has brought praise from many quarters and has established Canada at the forefront of nations doing their part to foster a peaceful world; a world in which human values and needs are not only respected but also supported.

Bill C-258 is an act respecting the establishment and award of a Canadian volunteer service medal for peacekeeping to Canadian peacekeepers having served with a United Nations peacekeeping force. It also incorporates a clasp to be attached to the medal ribbon if the individual qualifies for the Nobel peace prize won by Canadian peacekeepers in 1988.

Recognition would not be limited to Canadian forces personnel but would also include Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other Canadian citizens who qualify.

At the moment there is no means to provide distinctive Canadian recognition for the risks they have taken and the contribution they have made. Thus, there is a deficiency in our honours and award system.

Peacekeepers do receive United Nations medals for such service. The United Nations medal awarded to Canadian peacekeepers is proclaimed by His Excellency the Governor General in Council on the recommendation of the Prime Minister as a Canadian medal and therefore in the order of precedence in the Canadian honours system.

Canada does not have its own peacekeeping medal. According to our honours and awards committee, the United Nations medal adequately fulfils Canada's obligation to recognize our peacekeepers' contribution to our country.

However, the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association does not agree, and after substantial consultation with many other interested individuals and organizations, nor do I.

Indicative of this feeling, a request for distinctive Canadian recognition submitted to the Canadian honours and awards committee by the president of the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association was endorsed by many members of this house, a goodly number of whom now sit on government benches. However, the committee denied the submission, deeming the United Nations medals to be sufficient recognition.

The honours and awards directive reads: "In Canada today granting honours is a gracious, tangible, and lasting way to pay tribute to people whose achievements are exceptional, who have performed outstanding acts of bravery or who have benefited Canada or humanity in general". To be completely up front, it also states: "Not more than one honour should be given for any specific achievement, act or service".

I assure you that I have no wish to dilute the justification, meaning or stature of a Canadian medal, but there is a Canadian precedent. In addition to the 1939-45 war medal, and the 1939-45 star, if they served in any area of conflict, those who served outside Canada during the second world war were awarded the Canadian volunteer service medal as well as any campaign medals for which they qualified.

Also, in June 1991, some 40 years after the fact, a Canadian volunteer service medal for Korea was approved by the Queen's Privy Council for presentation to Canadian military personnel who participated in the Korean war in addition to the United Nations medal won by veterans of that conflict.

It is this same recognition I now seek for our peacekeepers. Other countries like Belgium, Ghana, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United States already have distinctive national medal awards for their UN peacekeepers.

In introducing Bill C-258, I acknowledge that similar private members' bills have been submitted in previous Parliaments but unfortunately were not drawn for debate.

During the last Parliament the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs recommended that a Canadian volunteer service medal for UN peacekeeping be established to recognize the service of Canadian military and non-military personnel who have served on peacekeeping missions. Parliament was dissolved before the government was able to respond to that recommendation.

There are Canadian awards for bravery and valour at home in peacetime, awards for bravery, valour and service in time of war, but despite the discomfort, dislocation, family disruption, danger and sacrifices made by our peacekeepers, we have no Canadian medal for peacekeeping. Regarding sacrifice, according to records maintained by the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association 147 Canadian peacekeepers have made the supreme sacrifice for our country.

On June 11, 1984 a special service medal was authorized to recognize service under abnormally difficult conditions for an extended period. The medal is always awarded with one of four bars on which is engraved the nature of the special service. One of these bars is designated peace

paix and humanitas. The other bars approved and awarded with the special service medal are for service in Pakistan, 1989 to 1990; service with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization since 1951; and Canadian forces station Alert in the Northwest Territories.

What the special service medal does in the case of the peace bar is recognize those who participated in peacekeeping or humanitarian activities which for a number of reasons, but normally for length of service, did not qualify for a United Nations medal. According to award criteria this medal may not be awarded along with another medal recognizing the same service such as the United Nations medal.

While the special service medal properly fills one gap in our recognition of service, it does not provide that distinctive Canadian recognition for our peacekeepers who have been awarded United Nations service medals. Thus, their contributions around the world with the attendant honour and stature they have brought to our country remain unacknowledged by Canada.

Yet as I said at the beginning, Canada and Canadians take great pride in the contributions that we as a country have made to peacekeeping operations throughout the world. Unquestionably most Canadians know and are proud that these efforts have added to our stature in the world community.

In September 1988 Canadians took pride in their peacekeepers' having been awarded the Nobel peace prize. The clasp proposed in addition to the peacekeeping Canadian volunteer service medal would recognize those people who won that honour for Canada.

A peacekeeping memorial monument has been erected here in Ottawa to honour our peacekeepers and that is important, but a monument does not provide individual recognition.

We Canadians should take more pride in ourselves, in our institutions, our history and our heroes. In this vein there is widespread support for unique Canadian recognition of our peacekeeping forces. We ask them to leave their friends and families to face harsh conditions, difficult situations and are consistently rewarded by their excellent responses to these challenges.

We tend to be slow to recognize our deserving citizens. It seems to be a Canadian trait: 40 years to recognize Korean veterans, 50 years to recognize Dieppe veterans, 55 years and still counting for Hong Kong veterans. A peacekeeping Canadian volunteer service medal and the clasp for the Nobel peace prize can be one of our unifying symbols. Its recipients would come from all walks of life, from every province, from Canadian citizens who represent most if not all our broad variety of ethnic backgrounds, the common denominator being their shared loyalty to and willingness to serve our country.

I want to quote from a 1943 directive issued by General Guy Simonds to his commanders in the First Canadian Division. In it he said:

The final criterion of a good or bad award is the reaction of the troops. If the troops feel it is a good award, it is a good award. If awards are criticized by the troops, they are bad awards. Before forwarding any recommendation, at each level the commander should ask himself the question: "Would the front line soldier, if he knew the facts, consider this well deserved?".

Bill C-258 is supported by the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association, by the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping, by serving and retired members of the Canadian forces, by many members of this House and by many Canadian citizens who have written or called my office.

We need only think back to the comments made by His Excellency the Right Hon. Romeo LeBlanc, Governor General of Canada, at his installation on the eighth of this month.

Addressing the media in his remarks he said: "There is wonderful news out there and some of it you have covered magnificently. I recall the story you told us of Canadian peacekeepers in the former Yugoslavia who put down their weapons to pick up and comfort orphan children, abandoned by their terrorized caregivers. This is Canadian compassion in uniform and we have seen it many times and in many places, from Gaza to Cyprus to Rwanda".

Going on, he said: "It is for this reason that I requested that former Canadian peacekeepers be among today's guard of honour, the first guard of honour I shall inspect as Governor General and as Commander in Chief."

Thus it would seem that despite the reluctance of our honours and awards committee to agree, if we use General Simonds' criteria as a measure, a Canadian volunteer service medal for peacekeeping would qualify as a good award. It would seem obvious from what our Governor General has said, that he too supports the need for Canadians to recognize our peacekeepers.

As a Reform member of Parliament it would be inappropriate for me to recommend an award without considering the cost it will entail. It is estimated that the medal will cost between $5 and $7 a copy and added to that will be the cost of administration and postal charges. As of January 31, 40,594 Canadian forces personnel have served or are serving as peacekeepers. They have fulfilled a total of 52,577 tours of duty.

Additionally, since this recognition would also be extended to members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian civilians who qualify, their numbers must also be considered. I am unable at this time to determine how many they might be, but I believe it would be reasonable to project that the total qualified recipients, including the Canadian forces, are unlikely to exceed 50,000 in number.

If we double the maximum estimated price for the medal, to account for administrative and postal charges, we come to a maximum probable expenditure of $700,000; a lot of money, but it seems a small price for Canadians to pay to properly recognize those of our citizens who have brought lifesaving intervention, compassion and assistance to so many, and such great honour and credit to Canada.

I understand that when the private members' bill committee was considering the status of this bill, it might have received some erroneous information which, in turn, may have influenced its decision not to make this bill votable.

We have an obligation to conserve that which is most noble in our past, to respect the wishes of those veterans who have sacrificed so much, to maintain an honour system that both reflects our Commonwealth traditions and establishes uniquely Canadian symbols.

I want to repeat the honours award directive I quoted earlier: "In Canada today granting honours is a gracious, tangible and lasting way to pay tribute to people whose achievements are exceptional, who have performed outstanding acts of bravery or who have benefited Canada or humanity in general."

Too often in today's society we are slow or fail to give recognition which is due. If we, as parliamentarians, are to take action to afford appropriate Canadian recognition to our peacekeepers, it is important that we give this bill a status which will enable us to exert the maximum influence to achieve that aim. Therefore, I ask for the unanimous consent of the House to designate Bill C-258 as a votable item.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I wonder if I might seek some clarification from the hon. member for Saanich-Gulf Islands who brought this motion to the House.

In his closing remarks he asked for the unanimous consent of the House. I want to be certain that, in fact, that request was being made by the hon. member.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Jack Frazer Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, if I may, I would like to enter that motion.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

The House has heard the terms of the motion. The hon. member for Saanich-Gulf Islands is asking for unanimous consent to make this motion votable. Is there unanimous consent?

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

Some hon. members


Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

Some hon. members


Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping ActPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

Halifax Nova Scotia


Mary Clancy LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I rise to offer my comments on Bill C-258, an act which would establish a Canadian volunteer service medal for peacekeeping.

We on this side must sincerely congratulate the hon. member for Saanich-Gulf Islands for his diligence in bringing this important matter before the House. We share with him a strong desire to give fitting recognition to Canadians who serve in these vital and often dangerous operations.

However, I regretfully cannot support this initiative and I want to use the time allocated to me today to explain my position to my hon. colleagues.

The first and most fundamental reason is that to create a decoration in this manner would run counter to the customs, traditions and procedures by which honours are granted in Canada.

As hon. members know, the powers of the crown in this country fall into two classes. The first are the powers that the crown exercises under statute law subject to the approval of Parliament. The second class of powers are those that are encompassed in what is called the royal prerogative.

These powers, which have their ancient roots in history, are not exercised with reference to Parliament. This is not to say that they are applied arbitrarily. Normally they are exercised by

the crown acting on the recommendation of the governor general in council. That is the way it is done in this country.

There are problems of substance and application with respect to this bill, not with respect to the spirit. The bill proposes a volunteer service medal. This terminology echoes the second world war. A special medal was created then to recognize those who had volunteered as opposed to those who were conscripted for service. Today all Canadian military personnel are volunteers.

The bill is also retroactive to the first UN mission in 1947. This means that more than 150,000 persons would be eligible. But there is a more basic difficulty. This approach to the creation of honours would confine us to a narrow, tunnel vision view of needs and options. This is a serious practical drawback.

In order for medals, decorations and other honours to be meaningful, decisions about their creation and criteria must be made in context. For that reason many nations have established carefully crafted systems for the creation and award of honours. Canada has done that.

We have a Canadian honours system. That system was put in place in 1967. It includes a committee which advises the government on how the system should work. The honours policy committee has a broad mandate. It looks at the whole roster of occasions for honours and decoration, peacekeeping operations included.

It surveys the total population of potential recipients of honours. The committee makes its recommendations on the basis of certain clear principles. One is the requirement that people be honoured equally in relation to their contribution and that no one be overlooked. Another function of the honours system is to avoid debasing the coinage of honours by duplication or by the indiscriminate authorization of awards.

The honours policy committee can live up to these principles because it is able to see the whole picture. It is a proactive body. It seeks to search out and eliminate any inequities in the system. Periodically it surveys the honours scene in Canada to make sure that all Canadians who contribute to peacekeeping are treated equally and recognized publicly.

The committee makes it its business to consult with veterans and other groups. It looks at these matters in an international context. It is important, as we consider these matters, to remember that peacekeepers, ours and everyone else's, are honoured not only by their nations but by the international community.

The obvious example, but not the only one, is the United Nations which has created 28 medals to recognize the service of women and men from many lands who take part in various UN actions. Medals have also been struck by organizations other than the UN and many Canadians wear them proudly as their own.

I think that, in a way, these decorations are the most eloquent. Sooner or later, after serving side by side in peacekeeping operations, these men and women return to their units in their respective countries.

By wearing these decorations on their uniforms, they celebrate a comradeship in arms that transcends the differences among nations. These decorations proclaim that we are all serving the common cause of peace.

No award system, whether national or international, is perfect.

It is therefore quite possible that, for technical reasons, some Canadian peacekeepers would not meet established criteria, thus missing out on awards recognizing their contribution.

One common example is air crew who quite often fly missions related to UN peacekeeping operations without becoming officially attached to those operations. The Canadian honours system recognizes these anomalies exist and precisely for that reason we have the Canadian special service medal with peacekeeping bar.

To sum up, this bill, worthy though it is in objective, would not in my opinion succeed in the goal of honouring equitably the contribution of Canadians. Indeed it would work counter to that goal. For that reason, with great regret and with very great respect for the spirit in which it has been brought forward by the hon. member, I am unable to support it.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.


Jean H. Leroux Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-258 put forth by the hon. member for Saanich-Gulf Islands respecting the establishment of a Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp for United Nations Peacekeeping is a way to recognize our military volunteers for their contribution to peacekeeping missions around the world.

I would like to take this opportunity to salute the courage and dignity with which our servicemen and women carry out their difficult task on peacekeeping missions abroad. They deserve our admiration and full support. I also have a thought for their families who also go through difficult times worrying about them.

Our forces are not new to this kind of operations. A leader in peacekeeping, Canada has gained in this area experience and expertise that has earned it respect worldwide. It should be noted that since the end of the cold war, regional conflicts and thus the need for restoring and maintaining peace have been increasing.

While a general war is highly unlikely in the present circumstances, we must recognize however that a high level conflict could erupt from any given regional confrontation, should it escalate.

The end of the cold war brought about a new world order characterized by a degree of uncertainty, instability as well as some new tensions. The democratization process under way in Eastern Europe is a good example of the ongoing changes. The instability caused by this transition is rekindling national vitality because of newly rediscovered collective identities.

So, in the context of a security policy, we must help countries such as those of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union that choose to become democratic. It must be pointed out that the emergence of new States did not result in chaos everywhere. National emancipation movements carried out though legitimate institutions materialized peacefully.

For example, the Czech and Slovak republics peacefully severed their federative ties. Similarly, Slovenia and the Baltic States achieved independence in an orderly and democratic fashion. That is how they were able to have their sovereignty readily recognized by the international community.

Another case in point is the Ukraine, the independence of which Ottawa was the first capital to recognize after the referendum won by the sovereignists.

We have no intention of burying our heads in the sand and ignore the constraints and challenges that come with the new world order.

Thus, Canada, as well as an eventual sovereign Quebec, must continue to actively promote democracy. It should be pointed out that, before being perceived as a thorn in our diplomatic efforts and commitments abroad-I am referring of course to the unfortunate events which occurred in Somalia-the contribution of our military personnel to peacekeeping missions made Canadians and Quebecers very proud of their forces.

The situation in the former Yugoslavia, in Bosnia, in Rwanda and in Somalia was unprecedented and here is why. The apparent futility of our efforts, the risks involved for our soldiers, the astronomical figures which circulated regarding the costs of these operations, as well as the complexity of the political and military situations in these countries undermined the public support which, until then, was enjoyed by such operations. While in line with previous similar commitments, our peacekeeping mission in the former Yugoslavia quickly took on a very different nature.

The operation in Slovenia and in Croatia was truly a peacekeeping mission. In that sense, our troops had the responsibility to ensure compliance with already concluded peace agreements. However, their role in Bosnia, Rwanda and Somalia had very little to do with traditional types of intervention. Canadian troops found themselves in a theatre of war, caught between belligerent factions. How can you maintain peace in a country where peace does not exist in the first place, where a political settlement has yet to be reached, and where every ceasefire is violated? That is when things started to deteriorate, particularly after the whole world was able to see on television unbearable atrocities which we thought no longer existed, but which are indeed very real.

There are lessons to be drawn from these operations. Canada's future interventions will have to meet more specific criteria. For example, the costs and complexities of modern-day interventions require the emergence of a new culture on the part of the strategists and the troops which will participate in future peacekeeping missions. Moreover, the recent events in Haiti reminded us of the need to base our interventions on democratic legitimacy and careful planning.

It is important to clearly define, with the United Nations, specific objectives and tasking orders. The Bloc Quebecois feels that one of the primary duties of Canadian forces on the international scene must be to support, through participation, peacekeeping operations. In the future, our troops will have to be disciplined, trained to face the rigours of armed conflicts, adequately equipped, professional in their approach, and under good command.

I will support Bill C-258, but I want to point out that the candidates who served with a UN peacekeeping force and are eligible to receive the medal and clasp must meet criteria which are still not known and which will have to be clearly defined.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, in speaking in support of Bill C-258 I have to ask the basic question of why a medal, or for that matter, why a Canadian medal. I would like to cover the ground here by trying to describe what is happening to our country in relation to this medal as an example.

Medals generally are a reflection and a record of our history as a country, of our independence and of our associations. The key word is independence. Looking at our history as a country over the last 100 years we find we have ties to the United Kingdom. In times of war these ties have been rather firm and very loyal. That does not necessarily change over the years but it does in another sense. The loyalties are still there but other loyalties are built up.

We can look at the issue of wartime service in World War II, the creation of a Canadian army, the creation of the third largest navy in the world, and the expansion of the Royal Canadian Air Force. This gives us a good measure of the emergence of Canada

as a nation on its own without defaulting what has happened and what the ties are to the United Kingdom.

In looking at our history we have to look at our loyalties. We certainly have had a loyalty to Great Britain. We have had a loyalty to our other allies, be it the United States or France. We have developed over the years new and greater loyalties to the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. However, among all of these loyalties, associations and services we have a greater basic loyalty which is to Canada. We must allow our basic loyalty to ourselves to emerge.

The proposer has mentioned, and I would like to bring it out again, that this bill in no way attempts to usurp the royal prerogative of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada or the Prime Minister or the honours policy committee to establish honours and awards. Rather, it gives the government the opportunity to respond to the report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs which recommended that such a medal be established to recognize the service of the Canadian military in peacekeeping. That is the nub of it all.

A committee of this House is saying that we are Canadians and that we must do something to recognize what Canadians are doing. I did hear the words from the hon. member for Halifax explaining that there are entanglements and we should not remove this royal prerogative. I agree with this to a degree, but our greatest loyalty once again must be to ourselves.

We are moving in the direction of being our own authority in this country. From the Statute of Westminster back in 1933 and over the years we are continuing to move in that same direction.

When it comes to the issue of medals we have already heard that we are coming up with belated recognition for things such as Korea. When I came back from Korea in 1952 I was awarded a United Nations medal and a British Commonwealth medal for service in that country.

Forty years after the fact Canada belatedly decided it should issue its own medal for this service. Several years ago it came up with the Canadian volunteer service medal for Korea. It has now also come up with other awards in recognition of Canadian service which include: the 1983 special service medal; the Dieppe clasp, Dieppe occurred over 55 years ago and we have only come to provide belated recognition of it; and for the merchant marines. Service by the merchant navy took us 50 years to recognize.

We have received belated and sometimes no recognition at all. Hong Kong has been mentioned. This country has not yet recognized the service of our people in Hong Kong 55 years ago. There is no recognition of what I believe was called the ferry command. Civilians and military alike were ferrying aircraft from Canada and the United States over to the war zone in the U.K.

We are moving in that direction but we are dragging our feet. To give another illustration of moving somewhat in the same direction, I participated in a non-United Nations peacekeeping effort in 1973. We went to Vietnam to replace the old, almost useless international commission for supervision and control. I should not say useless; it was hamstrung. Its hands were tied as to what it could do.

In any event in 1973, Canada along with Indonesia as another representative of the western world and Poland and Hungary sent a non-UN commission, a quadripartite commission to Vietnam to oversee whatever peace we could muster out of that sad country. As a result of that I was asked to head up a committee to strike a medal. It was a very interesting experience.

A committee of four got together, one representing each of the four countries. We designed a medal. We designed a ribbon incorporating the colours of the four countries involved: red-white, red-white, red-white, and red-white-green. We came up with a unique medal. It was certainly unique in its execution because it was hand forged in a back alley of Saigon. Nevertheless we came up with a medal of our own for issue to the 1,000-plus members of that specific commission.

The illustration of this is that you can do things on your own or in concert with others. We did it quickly. We did it inexpensively. We came up with a unique medal in observation of that specific enterprise.

I see that other countries have issued their own medals. Ghana, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United States, and Ireland are issuing their own UN medals. Canada is first among equals in United Nations service. Surely if there is any country in the world that must have its own UN service medal, it is Canada.

In conclusion, since my colleague was unable to get unanimous approval to designate Bill C-258 as a votable item, I would ask that we unanimously vote to refer the bill to the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs. Let us get together and at least refer the bill to that committee so that it can assess the merits of the bill in proper time. Therefore I move:

That Bill C-258, an act respecting the establishment and award of a Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp for United Nations Peacekeeping to Canadians serving with a United Nations peacekeeping force, be not now read a second time but that the order be discharged, the bill withdrawn and the subject matter thereof referred to the Standing Committee on National Defence.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping ActPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is there unanimous consent?

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping ActPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members


Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping ActPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members


Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping ActPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.


George Proud Liberal Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak today in favour of the bill put forward by my colleague from Saanich-Gulf Islands.

We hear everyone praising our peacekeepers. We talk about our peacekeepers everywhere we go. It is a Canadian tradition. Every high school student in Canada is taught that the Right Hon. Lester B. Pearson invented peacekeeping in the 1950s to defuse the Suez Canal crisis. Yet it seems to me at times that we certainly as governments over the last number of years have been ashamed of that fact. We have never seen fit to give a medal to our own Canadian peacekeepers, as was mentioned so eloquently a moment ago by the hon. member for Nanaimo-Cowichan.

I have listened to the debate over the last five years in the House and when we brought the matter before the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs. There has to be a better way of recognizing our military people. Canadians have served in practically every peacekeeping effort since the Suez crisis from Cyprus to Cambodia and from Pakistan to the Israeli withdrawal from Egypt.

Our peacekeepers have served Canada and the United Nations well. They have brought honour to our country and they should be appropriately recognized. For a country with our tradition it is only fitting that a government strike a volunteer service medal for those Canadians who served in peacekeeping operations.

We are not talking about special treatment of privileges. We are talking about honour. Right now, as has been mentioned many times here, our peacekeepers receive a medal from the United Nations for their service. However they do not receive a medal from their own country. That is a shame.

Some people have suggested that such a move is unprecedented. That is not so. As has been said today, the volunteers in Korea have received a Canadian medal to commemorate their service to peace. Granted, they waited 40 years and probably would never have received it except that we committed troops at the time of the gulf war in 1991. At that time it was deemed to be a special area and a medal would be struck for that. It was pretty hard for the government not to come through with a medal for the Canadian people who served in Korea.

We tend to play down this business of giving medals to our troops who serve in various areas. Maybe that has some merit at times. There are countries that some people think give too many medals. I have come to know a lot of the people who participated in peacekeeping efforts around the world in the last number of years. We have come into our own as a country. We have served in every conflict in this century. I believe the time has come to change the rules if that is what we have to do.

No one has said anything about the royal prerogative, but maybe it is time that we took a look at the way things are done. We are great people in the House of all political parties for saying it is time for change. I found last summer as we travelled the country looking at our defence policy that sometimes it was hard to change things. Sometimes it is hard to change minds, even though we all go in with grandiose plans for making things work differently.

It would be a shame if we fail to provide recognition of our peacekeeping veterans, the same recognition we gave to people who served in the Korean war and the first and second world wars. I do not think these people should have to wait 40 and 50 years for the government to give them credit where credit is due.

Canada is a country that is called on. We have more missions going now than we have had for many years. We are always ready to do our part even with dwindling resources and not the best equipment that our people should have out there. We do not hear them complain about it. We see letters from organizations across the country urging us to support the bill that we bring forward a peacekeeping medal and clasp for our peacekeepers.

We have not gone far enough in this age. We talked about it, as I said, in 1990 in the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs. Perhaps, as has been suggested, it should lie with this committee to bring forth a way of doing it without having the wrath of the government against us or the wrath of those in Parliament who do not believe these things are noble or necessary.

We should be ashamed of ourselves as governments and as parliaments for not having done something sooner. The gulf war had to come along before the Korean veterans were recognized with their own distinctive Canadian medal. I see nothing wrong with the soldiers getting the United Nations medal and one from our own country.

At the end of the day I hope there is some resolve that we can send the matter to committee and have some recommendations come forward. I do not believe for a moment we are doing anything wrong by recommending that we give this medal to our peacekeepers. It would be a great day in our country if we could do that. We can sit here and talk about all the rules to stop this legislation. They are there, but I do not see why we cannot come up with some way to change them and make this medal a reality.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House today to speak to the bill presented by the hon. member for Saanich-Gulf Islands.

The bill which I strongly support has as its main purpose the establishment of a volunteer service medal for members of the Canadian Armed Forces who have served in peacekeeping missions under United Nations command. In my view and that of many others this is a long overdue idea that deserves to be considered very seriously by the House and by the Canadian government.

As we all know Canada has been involved in UN sponsored operations since the 1940s. Canada has also been the most constant and faithful contributor of troops to peacekeeping missions. In return our involvement in areas like Lebanon, Cyprus, El Salvador and Cambodia has truly been a source of pride for all Canadians.

While we have taken pride in this heritage of service abroad, we have failed to adequately recognize the efforts and the courage of thousands of servicemen and women who have answered without question the call of the Canadian government whenever it has sounded.

Under present guidelines Canadian peacekeepers do not receive a distinctively Canadian medal. Ever since 1949, the year of the first UN sponsored military observation mission in India-Pakistan, Canadian service men and women have not been formally honoured by the Government of Canada by the awarding of a Canadian medal. The medals awarded to date have been issued by the United Nations thereby making them foreign awards. This oversight, which hopefully cannot be interpreted as a lack of gratitude, must be remedied.

In the words of a former peacekeeper, now a member of the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association, the adoption of Bill C-258 is "an opportunity to help right the wrong". Canada's reputation as a country concerned with peace around the world is in large part attributed to the professional ability and courage of past and present peacekeepers. The role that Canadians have taken in UN peacekeeping is recognized throughout the world. It is now time for the Canadian government to do the same.

Today I will try to explain why in my personal view this is such a timely initiative. The idea of establishing a Canadian volunteer service medal for United Nations peacekeeping has a great deal of merit, not the least of which is to bring Canada up to par with other peacekeeping contributing nations such as Belgium, the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland which already award their own peacekeeping medals in addition to those awarded by the United Nations.

The new medal would also give visual recognition of the great honour that was bestowed upon Canada by our peacekeepers when the United Nations peacekeeping operations won the Nobel prize in September 1988. Indeed the idea has a great deal of merit. However it appears all the more relevant in light of a certain number of developments both on international and national levels that in recent years have demonstrated the need to seriously question ourselves on what peacekeeping represents to us and, in that light, what level of commitment we are prepared to live up to.

In the course of the debate that has been going on in Canada over the past few years on these issues it has appeared quite clear that Canada's involvement in peacekeeping operations is a reflection of its internationalist approach to world affairs.

The recent defence white paper concluded:

Multilateral security co-operation is not merely a Canadian tradition; it is an expression of Canadian values in the international sphere. We care about the course of events abroad and we are willing to work together with other countries to improve the lot of all manner of peoples.

The Reform Party has repeatedly echoed this international commitment. We believe that Canada's ability to play a role on the international scene rests to a large extent on our continued dedication to the principles of international co-operation and collective security.

Furthermore Canada is not blind to the lessons of history. Our historical experience has underscored the need to develop and maintain effective multilateral institutions that can confront as effectively as possible any challenge to international security and stability and, if all other means fail, respond to aggression with determination and leadership.

In so reflecting Canada's global values the Canadian forces have contributed incessantly to international security. Over the past few years the sheer number of UN sponsored interventions requiring Canadian participation has dramatically increased. The result has been to stretch Canada's peacekeeping resources to their extreme limit.

The nature of multilateral operations has also changed enormously. The range of activities these operations involve has expanded to encompass the complete set of military activities from preventive deployment and observation to enforcement and reconstruction.

This has spurred a debate at the international level about the need to more clearly determine the nature of any multilateral operation, whether peacekeeping, peacemaking or humanitarian, before deployment actually takes place.

In Canada we have become more sensitive to the need to define the conditions under which our forces will be deployed in areas of conflict.

From the perspective of those Canadian men and women who serve or who have served under UN command, and on whose behalf I speak today, these developments have meant more intensive training, increased stress and wider responsibilities. Although most of us do not have an immediate knowledge of what a soldier's job entails, it must be clear to all of us that the

political and military trends in the nineties have made the soldier's job considerably more difficult than in any other era.

Not since the Korean war have Canadian servicemen and women been burdened with such a wide array of responsibilities at home and abroad. Increasingly these people are asked to move beyond their traditional role of seeing to the nation's defence into non-traditional areas such as the delivery of humanitarian aid and the reconstruction of war-ravaged societies.

The physical and psychological strains associated with immersing oneself in an alien culture and with meeting stringent performance criteria are necessary so that both the individual and the group can withstand the ultimate test of combat. While they must be ready to endure the most difficult and unfriendly working conditions, the soldiers of the nineties must also be flexible. They are asked to be diplomats, aid workers, law enforcement officers as well as warriors. They are expected to exercise an unprecedented level of self-discipline by constantly adapting to fit the prevailing situation.

In wartime, roles and objectives are clearly defined. In operations other than war, the soldier is often forced to change roles from day to day, even moment to moment. The peacekeeper must draw on his combat infantry skills if a fire fight breaks out, and then revert to his diplomatic or humanitarian self. The soldier of the nineties must be more educated than ever before. He must be acquainted with political, military and sociocultural dynamics of the crisis area in which he has been deployed. That is not an easy feat, if we consider the intractable nature of some of the conflicts which Canada has helped to monitor.

The complex security problems which confront the international community today defy easy solutions. Often those solutions, for which a multilateral response has been deemed the most appropriate, are also the most complicated. Some conflicts, such as the ones in the former Yugoslavia and Somalia, are ones for which it is very difficult to define objectives that reflect a clear sense of perspective.

Moreover, soldiers are asked to perform to the best of their ability, even in the most ambiguous and uncertain situations. They are expected to be sensitive to political, social and cultural realities on which even their superiors are unable to provide information and leadership.

It is also important for the Canadian government to recognize this state of affairs. Peacekeepers have served Canada's interests well since the end of the second world war. This contribution from our servicemen and women has become more and more costly in terms of personal commitment and loss of life.

A Canadian volunteer service medal would not compensate for the sacrifice and deprivation, whether physical or emotional, nor can it constitute a form of restitution for the families of those who have given their lives in the search for peace. The Canadian volunteer service medal must be seen as a token of our collective appreciation, as a formal recognition by the people and the Government of Canada of the increasingly perilous and arduous role demanded of peacekeepers and, as my colleague said, of "their continued display of courage and dedication to their assignments, which have been the hallmark of Canadian peacekeepers".

I certainly support this bill.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping ActPrivate Members' Business


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired. Pursuant to Standing Order 96, the order is dropped from the Order Paper.

The House resumed from February 24 consideration of the motion that Bill C-37, an act to amend the Young Offenders Act and the Criminal Code, be read the third time and passed.

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Broadview—Greenwood Ontario


Dennis Mills LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak on third reading of this bill. I begin by reviewing the highlights of the bill and after that I would like to put special emphasis and focus on that part of the bill which has to do with rehabilitation.

For those who have come to the debate recently, the minister announced, when tabling the bill on June 2, the highlights would include sentences for teenagers convicted of first and second degree murder in youth court to 10 and 7 years respectively. Sixteen and 17-year olds charged with serious personal injury offences would be dealt with in adult court unless they can show a judge that public protection and rehabilitation can both be achieved through the youth court. It includes extending the time that 16 and 17-year old young offenders who have been convicted of murder in an adult court must serve before they can be considered for parole.

It also includes improved measures for information sharing between professionals like school officials and police, and with selected members of the public when public safety is at risk, as well as retaining the records of serious young offenders longer. Finally, it includes provisions to encourage rehabilitation and treatment of young offenders in the community when this is appropriate.

I want to focus on the last point. I am happy to see that the very first clause of the bill deals with the whole point of underlying causes and rehabilitation. I would like to read directly into the record clause 1(1):

(a) Crime prevention is essential to the long-term protection of society and requires addressing the underlying causes of crime by young persons and developing multi-disciplinary approaches to identifying and effectively responding to children and young persons at risk of committing offending behaviour in the future;

(a.1) while young persons should not in all instances be held accountable in the same manner or suffer the same consequences for their behaviour as adults, young persons who commit offences should nonetheless bear responsibility for their contraventions;

Clause 1(2) says:

The protection of society, which is a primary objective of the criminal law applicable to youth, is best served by rehabilitation, wherever possible, of young persons who commit offences, and rehabilitation is best achieved by addressing the needs and circumstances of a young person that are relevant to the young person's offending behaviour;

I would like to talk about this part of the bill because I believe it is an area where we in the community are not putting enough emphasis today.

I go back to a book that I had a chance to review this morning before I came to the House. It is Father Flanagan at Boys Town . Boys Town is situated about 10 miles outside of Omaha, Nebraska.

I can remember one night flying in from Toronto with a colleague from Saskatchewan. We were talking about Notre Dame in Saskatchewan, but the subject of Boys Town came up. What has been going on for many years now at Father Flanagan's Boys Town in the United States of America is something that we as legislators should take time to revisit.

For those who do not know, Father Flanagan started this environment many years ago when he took in homeless boys, young boys without parents. However he also took about 20 per cent of the number, young offenders.

The rehabilitation record of Boys Town has been described by some of the best psychiatrists and doctors as to being almost a totally mysterious phenomena. Father Flanagan worked with these young men in developing their character. He exposed them to apprenticeship and athletics. It did not matter what their religious background was. The boys could be Jewish, Protestant or Catholic, but he made sure that a portion of their life each week had some sort of religious training.

I tell this story because the track record of the Boys Town situation applies just as much today. It is just as relevant as it was many years ago when this institution started. There are just as many young people today who are involved in situations where their family life is under great stress and strain. I believe that many of these homes that we have in our communities do not have the same sophistication as that institution has.

As we go through the process of putting more emphasis on rehabilitation, we should also be reviewing the types of institutions we have to make sure they are relevant and that we are getting the maximum impact.

So often today a young offender is put into an institution where some of the values that a Boys Town has are just not present; the values of caring and sharing with one another and being a little bit more sensitive to character building. The institutions are just not sensitive. I am not saying that our institutions should be totally ignored but that they should be re-examined.

The Minister of Justice made the following statement in his press release, which I want to emphasize: "That legislation is only one part of the answer to violence among young people. Poverty, alcoholism, family violence, racism, illiteracy and many other factors may lead to criminal acts by young people and adults alike and must be tackled as a whole". The minister said this when he issued his press release. Those words are very important.

When we go through this bill I am hoping that the whole area of rehabilitation can be given very special review and emphasis. We should look at some of the rehabilitation systems and centres that exist all over North America. I would like to refer very specifically, as I said, to the Boys Town example in the United States where the track record of rehabilitation is apparently second to none anywhere in the world. If a Boys Town environment can happen in the United States why can we not have similar institutions in Canada?

Young Offenders ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.


Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member who just spoke could also have looked at the system we have in Quebec, a system that was put in place a number of years ago and that, as far as we are concerned, has proved its worth. Unlike the bill to which the hon. member was referring, our system is not based on the premise that young people can be rehabilitated through repression.

Unfortunately, this bill leans towards repression. It gives the public the impression it will be better protected because young offenders who are 16 or 17 years of age and are tried in adult court will get longer sentences.

The public is being deluded. It has yet to be established in the literature that increasing sentences acts as a deterrent in such cases. I do agree wholeheartedly with a number of points the hon. member made. We must look at what causes crime, and even more important, we must ensure that when young people have committed a crime, they are given, considering their age,

every opportunity,-this is important for society as well-to get out of the kind of life that they have chosen or into which they have been led, not perhaps altogether voluntarily, considering the problems many of them have had.

This bill is even more offensive in the case of Quebec, where we have set up a system I would urge the hon. member to come and see, and not just in the large urban centres. We really had to put a lot of work into this system; we had to call on multidisciplinary resources and take a more community-oriented approach based more on compensation for damages or on the actual rehabilitation of the young person.

The federal legislation, which will have to be administered by Quebec, will have a very disruptive impact on this system. This is true in other provinces and it is also true in Quebec. The government ignores existing systems that work well and imposes or adds a system based on repression, a system that does not connect with systems that already exist and have proved to be effective.

This is outrageous, and does not bode well for the future. I think this is just one more reason to say that as far as guidance, social justice and equity are concerned, we are perfectly capable of doing the job ourselves.

The Quebec Bar Association submitted an extensive brief to the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, in which it accurately summed up the situation in Quebec. It said that young offenders in Quebec are eligible for alternative treatment of their case, which involves a referral to the Youth Protection Branch, proposals for an arrangement and the use of alternative sentencing such as reimbursing the victim or doing community work. In fact, almost 47 per cent of the cases are handled this way. Where alternative sentencing is not a possibility, all such cases in Quebec will be tried by a special youth court. Once the court has handed down a sentence, it will be up to the health care and social services network to see that it is carried out.

The choice that Quebec has made to entrust young offenders to institutions that come under the department of health and social services illustrates its philosophy in this matter. The ultimate aim is rehabilitation in the medium and long terms rather than a panacea of repression, which at best offers society only short term protection.

The crime rate among adolescents in Quebec is one of the lowest in the country, in fact, the second lowest. The adoption of Bill C-37 will upset all of our institutions whose role so far has been to promote rehabilitation.

I might add that imprisonment, by itself, while appearing to protect society, and which, even in the bill, is of limited duration, often ends up making criminals out of those who were initially only unfortunate or unlucky young individuals. If you want to be sure to turn 16 and 17 year olds into criminals, send them to prison. The longer the sentence, the better your chances of achieving that effect.

We are strongly opposed to this bill. We believe that the minister, who, in any case, had said he wanted to review all the legislation to do with young people, should have examined the overall situation before tabling this bill. Having done so, he could have offered Canadians and Quebecers, not a comforting short term system, but a medium and long term one, which would prove less costly and permit the building of a society where people would really feel safe, because young people would have the opportunity to reintegrate into society rather than risk being handed another prison term.

We will oppose this bill vigorously. We hope Canadians will appreciate our arguments. During our tour on social program reform, I heard it said everywhere in Canada, except in Quebec, that people were looking to Ottawa for an answer and for social justice through strong national standards.

It seems to me that the adoption of a bill like this one casts doubt on Ottawa's ability to show the way to social justice, fairness and hope for all Canadians and Quebecers, and particularly for young people.

Young Offenders ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.


Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, there is one statement that is factual about the justice minister's attempt at dealing with young offenders: He is blindly following a political policy that became extinct the last time his party was in power.

The justice minister is trying to convince Canadians that his proposed legislation, Bill C-37, is dealing with justice. This legislation is another attempt by this government at social manipulation and social engineering. It is not legislation to deal with justice.

The justice minister should be concerned in dealing with those who have ignored and broken the established laws. The minister should be concerned in dealing with legislation that forces youth law breakers to understand that law-abiding members of society will not tolerate, condone nor accept the fact that criminal behaviour will go unpunished.

I know punishment is a foul word to the opposite side, but it is a concept that is expected by the citizens of Canada. What we have here is legislation that outlines more reasons why offending youths should not expect punishment for crimes committed on law-abiding members of society. This legislation offers youth even more reasons to believe that the justice system will find reasons to excuse their criminal behaviour.

This justice minister's first idea of justice is crime prevention. As good as that sounds, this legislation was supposed to deal with crimes already committed by young offenders. Instead, this minister wants to bypass his ministry and put the blame for violent antisocial youth on provincial social service

agencies that are not fulfilling their mandate to provide youth with an alternative to criminal action.

Canadians desired and demanded that this minister address the problem of increasing violence by youth. There is an epidemic of youth who commit crimes and laugh at the justice system's inability to show them that crime does not pay. Instead of putting teeth into the criminal justice system, this minister is continuing on a path designed by his government to present high sounding words that do not change anything.

Canadians want change. Canadians want their concerns addressed. And once again, this government offers excuses as to why change is impossible.

The existing Young Offenders Act has the proper first priority. The first declaration of principle in the existing act states: "While young persons should not in all instances be held accountable in the same manner or suffer the same consequences for their behaviour as adults, young persons who commit offences should nonetheless bear responsibility for their contraventions".

What does this minister offer? An excuse that because offending youth have committed crimes, that it is a failure of crime prevention policies administered by provincial agencies. The minister just does not get it. He does not understand that until his ministry becomes interested in justice and not downloading the responsibility for his failure to do his job to the provincial agencies, violent youth will not bear the responsibility for their antisocial actions.

Canadians are not asking for excuses from the justice minister; they are asking for justice that condemns violent behaviour by antisocial youth. Canadians demand that the justice minister remove the loopholes in the Young Offenders Act which allow violent youth to kill or maim Canadians with no consequence of justice affecting the violent criminal. Instead, what do we get? Legislation that says crime prevention methods failed so we must blame crime prevention.

May I remind this minister that the consequences of death or maiming cannot be changed. Canadians expect that justice must make the accountability for violent crimes swift and sure. Instead, Canadians are offered excuses why this justice minister would rather find causes for violent crimes than offer justice for victims of violent crime.

Before this minister gets on his high horse and states that we on this side of the House are only interested in locking up all who break the law, let me remind him that I am talking about violent youth. This side of the House fully supports alternative measures for non-violent first offenders.

Another question is, where does the funding for these facilities come from? It is very noble of the minister to talk about crime prevention. His party has been doing so since the last time they were the majority in the House. Rather than putting tax dollars into preventing crime, the Liberals preferred then just as they do now, to waste tax dollars on dubious expenditures benefiting friendly special interests such as, blueberry jelly, a study of Christmas lights, or the effects of lullabies on babies.

The recommendations for social service expenditures by the provinces that this minister disguises as justice will cost his government nothing. However the citizens of the provinces that this minister will coerce into buying this bill of false goods may not be so lucky.

The justice minister has seen the studies that state provincial social services now in place to assist youth at risk of crime are under-resourced and understaffed. This justice minister knows that provincial social workers trying to prevent crime by youth are and have depended on the Young Offenders Act to provide the services they cannot afford. This justice minister knows that provincial crime prevention will not receive federal funding because his government foolishly squanders tax dollars on programs of limited benefit to all Canadians rather than crime prevention for youth.

Unfortunately, this minister and government are again using window dressing to try and convince Canadians that what is in the store is worth buying. As we all know, not only is the store empty, but the management of the store is empty of new ideas as well. Canadians will not buy this government's line that it knows best and Canadians know nothing.

The chair of the justice committee asked in the House why we on this side of the House oppose spending money on social programs that will reduce crime. May I remind those opposite that this legislation was intended to address justice. This side of the House believes that crime prevention is cost effective and beneficial to both the future criminal and victim. However, this bill is supposed to address how the justice system must deal with those who have already committed violent crimes against society, not outline the failings of provincial social services.

It is obvious we have reached the crux of this government's ability to govern. Seeing through all the flowery words and smoke and mirrors, Canadians will realize this government does not even understand the role the justice department must play in making justice mean something to violent youth.

Instead of justice this government offers a social service review. As we know, this government has already stated that reforming social services, just like changes that bring justice for victims of youth crime, is impossible.

In his last report the Auditor General took a bold step. The Auditor General said that it is time this government took a look at the legislation that was passed to see if the tax dollars are achieving the purpose of the legislation.

We have social programs that hurt society, family programs that destroy families, aboriginal programs that keep Canada's aboriginals from ever gaining self-sufficiency and expenditure control legislation that allows government spending to spiral out of control as it has. Every time one of these programs fails we spend more money. These changes to the Young Offenders Act will not deter one violent youth from crime but will cost more money.

This justice minister has neglected to answer several questions important to this legislation: What is the Young Offenders Act supposed to do? Will this legislation do it? How can we tell the difference? No one in this House will disagree that the Young Offenders Act is intended to separate hardened adult violent criminals from youth. It is further intended to separate hardened violent youth from the non-violent kid who got in with the wrong crowd and made a foolish mistake.

No one will disagree that the youth making a non-violent mistake deserves a second chance. The problem with this legislation is the same as what is rampant in the adult justice system. No one is held accountable for their violent crimes. A day hardly goes by without discovering that a violent adult or youth who should have been separated from society is back on the street and has taken another victim.

This government did not take justice seriously in the past. This legislation clearly shows the Liberals still do not take justice seriously today. Canadian society wants violent youths separated from potential victims, not reasons from this government why crime prevention fails.

Let me serve notice here and now. If the Prime Minister and his justice minister ignore public demand that violent crime by youth be addressed, the good old days for the Liberal Party will end anytime before the next election. This Liberal government must apply the auditor general's recommendation to the Young Offenders Act. It must give value for tax dollar by protecting society from violent youth, not spending more tax dollars on a failed policy of social engineering. This government must hold violent youth accountable for their violent crimes.

In conclusion, I would like to say how disappointing it is to see that after much input from Canadian citizens and many other organizations throughout the country what we have come up with is Bill C-37. In the long run it will change nothing. It is change that Canadians are looking for. It will not come through a legislation that does not get serious about violent crime.

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12:30 p.m.


Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise again in the House to share my views on Bill C-37, an act to amend the Young Offenders Act.

We in the Bloc Quebecois agree that youth crime is a very serious problem. The media regularly inform us of specific crimes that are so violent that no one can remain indifferent.

Examples abound and remind us constantly that violence pervades all levels and all aspects of our society. Our task is to ensure that our laws put a stop to such heinous crimes while clearly demonstrating that we have no tolerance for crime.

Unfortunately, the amendments to the Young Offenders Act tabled by the justice minister will in my opinion worsen the present situation by virtue of the repressive approach taken.

Bill C-37 proposes three fundamental amendments to the Young Offenders Act. Firstly, the bill proposes longer sentences. Secondly, it would send to adult court young 16 and 17 year olds accused of offences involving serious bodily harm.

Thirdly, the bill would improve the methods of sharing information between the police, the judiciary and certain members of the public. These three amendments to the act are fundamental and alter certain basic principles of the present legislation. To begin, then, longer sentences clearly demonstrate that the principles of prevention and rehabilitation, although mentioned in the first paragraph of the new bill, are no longer government objectives.

The proposal regarding greater accessibility of information is somewhat similar. What the minister is proposing is to make the offender realize that he is a criminal. As a constant reminder, authorities will inform the offender's community, classmates and teachers, as well as his neighbours. Instead of encouraging rehabilitation to any degree, this approach will, on the contrary, etch in the young person's mind that, from that point on, he is considered a criminal, a public enemy. This approach is like branding young offenders and dangerously compromises their chances of rehabilition.

Also, transferring 16 and 17 year olds who have committed "violent" crimes to adult court raises many concerns. Firstly, this amendment is futile since most violent cases are already being transferred to adult court at the request of crown prosecutors. In addition, these amendments go against the grain of Quebec's system.

Over the years, Quebec has developed a structure that strikes a real balance between protecting the public and rehabilitating delinquents. This structure also ensures that young people are taken in hand from the moment that they begin to exhibit behavioral problems or to compromise their health or safety. Also, under the Quebec system, young people are referred to

establishments run by the Department of Health and Social Services, not by the Department of Justice. This shows that Quebec focuses its efforts on rehabilitation. In this sense, Bill C-37 undermines the very spirit of Quebec's current system.

This bill is repressive. As I pointed out at the bill's first reading, there are two competing schools of thought regarding juvenile delinquency: one that centres on the young criminal, emphasizing arrest, referral to a court, sentencing and punishment, and one that centres on reintegration, focusing on the causes behind delinquency and attempting to put juvenile delinquents back on track, without increasing the likelihood of their becoming repeat offenders.

It seems obvious to me that the second, which fosters prevention and rehabilitation, is the better school of thought. Criminologists recognize that criminal behaviour stems from more than one cause. It is most likely that crime results from a combination of related factors such as education, family situation, poverty, drug abuse, promotion of violence, unemployment or injustices. When this bill was tabled, the Minister of Justice told us that reintegration, prevention and rehabilitation would be integrated into his reforms.

Yet, after reading this bill several times, I do not see a single measure reflecting this concern. Of course, there is the policy statement in section 1 of the bill, but not a word about it in the substantive sections. Section 1 is a smokescreen that tones down the repressive aspect of this bill. It becomes obvious that the federal government must review its approach to youth crime. We need a more realistic review, which would first address the social and economic realities behind crime and implement social development programs and initiatives focused on rehabilitation and prevention.

This bill raised serious concerns in Quebec, not only among social and correctional authorities but also among politicians and academics. After Bill C-37 was tabled, Quebec's National Assembly gave almost unanimous support to a motion sending a very clear message to the federal Minister of Justice: "Let us continue to address our problems in our own way". There was also a general outcry from experts such as psychoeducators, criminologists, specialized lawyers and social workers.

Quebec has often been a leader in the treatment of young offenders. As early as 1942, Quebec brought to 18 years the minimum age for assuming responsibility, a move that some other provinces followed only in 1982. Over the years, Quebec developed a whole structure, a system to maintain the right balance between protecting the public and rehabilitating young offenders, which is just as commendable a goal.

It must be recognized that Quebec gave itself an innovative penal and social system to treat juvenile delinquency. For almost 15 years, Quebec has emphasized rehabilitation over mere repression. Our system strives to go beyond the surface to identify the underlying causes of delinquency and rejects the idea that life imprisonment is the only solution for delinquents with serious family and social problems.

The young offender is quickly placed under the care of the Ministry of Health and Social Services and the youth protection directorate, with surprising results. According to several serious studies, society recoups its financial investment in the rehabilitation of a young murderer in less than five years through the young adult's productivity, through his work, his taxes and his purchasing power.

In conclusion, we in the Bloc Quebecois strongly believe that rehabilitation and prevention are the only acceptable way to address youth crime. That is why we do not support Bill C-37.

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12:40 p.m.


Michel Daviault Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak again on this bill to amend the Young Offenders Act, enacted in 1984 to replace the Juvenile Delinquents Act, and the existing federal legislation governing matters related to juvenile crime and justice in Canada.

This bill sets a new legal framework to guide society's response to young people who contravene criminal law, basically. Many of its provisions are based on a legalistic approach with an emphasis on fair application of the law and the necessity for young persons to assume responsibility for their actions. However, because of their age and degree of maturity, young offenders obviously have special needs that require a level of assistance that just does not exist in the adult system. But the bill does not reinforce this aspect of assistance to young offenders.

In this bill, a young person is no longer a person between the ages of 12 and 18 but one between the ages of 10 and 15, which means that anyone over sixteen will now be tried in adult court, while it will still be possible to transfer a young offender under sixteen to adult court.

Essentially, this bill is driven by an arbitrary and unjustified wave of repression, promoting more heavy-handed judicial measures against young offenders, rather than effective preventive and rehabilitation measures.

On this subject, like my colleagues, I will quote from the conclusions set out in the brief presented to the standing committee on justice by the Quebec Bar Association. In essence, it said: "It is very clear that Bill C-37 was introduced in response to pressures by citizens demanding to be better protected through a more effective fight against serious crimes but repression did not appear to be the solution, and for good

reasons we might add. Quebec found its own way of dealing with the problem and wants to continue using the successful approach of rehabilitation, or reorientation. All we are asking for is to be able to maintain the good results we have achieved so far with respect to juvenile crime".

Since 1984, the Young Offenders Act was amended twice, that is in 1986 and in 1992.

In 1986, amendments were made to allow public disclosure of the identity of a young person accused or found guilty of a crime, when that person is a threat to the public, and when such disclosure is necessary to facilitate the arrest of that person.

In 1992, the act was amended to increase the maximum sentence for murder from three to five years, that is three years in detention and two under mandatory supervision. However, if the young offender is considered to be a threat to public safety, he can be kept in custody for a period longer than three years.

Also in 1992, the provisions regarding referrals to an adult court, in the case of serious crimes, were clarified. A young offender aged 14 or more must be referred to an adult court when the penalty that can be imposed by the youth court no longer ensures public safety, nor the rehabilitation of the offender.

Consequently, since 1984, the provisions of the act have become stiffer.

However, since the increase in crime rate for the year 1992 only went up two per cent, compared to an average of five per cent in previous years, does this not confirm that the current act is sufficiently harsh and that there is no need to make it more repressive?

Why not wait to see the results of the amendments made in 1992? Since these amendments are relatively recent and also because of the statistical lag, it is difficult to evaluate their impact.

In its brief, the Quebec Bar Association deplored this decision to proceed, first with the amendments and only then with a thorough review of the legislation and a study of the youth crime rate. Reversing the procedure would have made it possible, in addition to what Quebec has been able to bring to this area, to identify the mechanisms needed to make the system efficient and effective. Furthermore, a preliminary study of the youth crime rate would have made it possible to establish the impact of the amendments adopted in 1992 and find out whether their objective had been achieved, as would seem to be the case according to the latest judgments of the Appeal Court.

The bar association concluded that Bill C-37 should be withdrawn. It goes on to say that if this is not politically feasible, the minister should at least postpone his review until he has examined the youth crime rate.

Bill C-37 does nothing to deal with the problem of youth crime, and I think that is the crux of this debate. Until effective measures are put in place to prevent crime, we will go on amending our laws to make them more severe and repressive. We must look at the whole picture. Of course, penal laws are necessary, but they cannot deal with the factors that lie at the root of crimes against persons and property.

Dealing with crime is not just a matter of sanctions but above all a matter of prevention and effective social reintegration.

In a study for the Research Branch of the Library of Parliament, Patricia Bégin writes that it is becoming increasingly obvious that the methods traditionally used to keep crime in check do not suffice to eliminate crime and the fear it inspires. There is growing support for the concept that considers the social and economic environment that leads to criminal behaviour and for implementing programs and social development measures aimed at eliminating situations that are conducive to crime.

In fact, the problem lies with the administration of justice and the application of the provisions of the Act. It seems that most violent crimes covered by the Young Offenders Act can be dealt with effectively under the existing legislation.

Everything is in place: the provisions and the means to apply them. But the persons in charge either refuse to use them or get bogged down in unacceptable backlogs.

In a story run by La Presse on June 8, 1994, Normand Bastien of the youth section at the Montreal community legal centre said that the long wait until sentencing is what really causes the problems. In Valleyfield, the average is 266 days, in Montreal, 180, in Joliette, 163. Another major contributor to the problem is that only 29 per cent of the cases are resolved.

Mr. Doob from the University of Toronto published a report called "Beyond the Red Book" following a workshop to identify amendments which should be made to the Young Offenders Act. In it he stated that there is no crisis among youth that would warrant fundamental or immediate changes to the Young Offenders Act. Amending the Young Offenders Act would probably have no significant effect on crime, he said.

Furthermore, he implied that if the federal and provincial governments really were serious about protecting the public, they would invest more in crime prevention and in public awareness of juvenile delinquency. According to him it is cheaper and more effective to prevent crime than to keep young offenders in custody.

Lastly, I would like to comment on the part of the bill on divulging information on young offenders. One of the underly-

ing principles of the Young Offenders Act is that any information connecting a young offender to a crime is not to be divulged.

This reflects a desire to prevent an individual from being labelled as a habitual offender at an age when he does not possess adult judgement. Repeated breaches in confidentiality in respect of a young offender's record will make it more difficult for him to be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society.

In closing, I would like to point out that the former Quebec justice minister would have preferred the status quo and expressed concern and disappointment over Bill C-37. This reaction clearly shows that overlaps in the area of justice carry a high price, both administratively and in respect of the system's efficiency.

In fact, Ottawa is venturing into a dead end for Quebec, but Quebec will be responsible for administering the system. Once again, the recommendations made by Quebec and by the bar association have been wholly forgotten.

Recent statistics concerning average daily incarceration records for young offenders in 1992 appearing in the Statistics Canada publication Juristat indicate a rate of incarceration of 10.4 per 10,000 young persons in Quebec. This is much lower than the average Canadian rate of 21.3. At 32 per 10,000 young persons, Saskatchewan has the highest rate of incarceration. What do these disparities mean?

Similarly, in regard to cases heard before youth court ending in convictions, broken down by type of custody for 1992-93, the March 1994 issue of Juristat reports a total of 10,259 cases in Quebec with its population of nearly seven million, and 19,882 in Alberta with a population one sixth the size. What can account for such a great difference, almost twice as many as in Quebec?

As for cases before youth courts with guilty verdicts, broken down by province and territory, the January 1994 issue of Juristat reports a rate of 83.1 per cent in Quebec. In Yukon, the rate is 53 per cent, in Manitoba, 54 per cent and in Ontario, 61.2 per cent. Are these provinces too eager to go to trial? I think this issue merits further reflection before new amendments to the act are passed into law. We will vote against this bill.

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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Is the House ready for the question?

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Some hon. members


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12:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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12:50 p.m.

Some hon. members