moved for leave to introduce Bill C-413, an act to amend the Young Offenders Act (definition of child).
Madam Speaker, this bill amends the definition of a child in the Young Offenders Act to reflect the definition proposed in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, an agreement which was ratified by Canada.
To date there is no uniform legal definition of child in Canada. The word child is both broadly defined and used commonly in everyday language. As a result this contributes significantly to the legal ambiguity which often occurs when the court attempts to distinguish between childhood and adulthood.
Most statutes assign their own definition of a child and frequently use terms such as minor, dependant or young person to refer to those individuals under the age of 18.
For example, the Young Offenders Act defines a child as a person who is, or who in the absence of evidence to the contrary appears to be, under the age of 12, while those between the ages of 12 and 18 are considered young persons.
Notwithstanding the different aspects of the Young Offenders Act when we deal with offences, this bill makes the unequivocal statement that a child is anybody under the age of 18 and then we can move on and deal with the other aspects of the legislation.
It really ensures that we have uniformity in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)