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House of Commons Hansard #13 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was crime.

Topics

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my hon. colleague. We talk about addressing the needs of young people, more of whom seem to be getting involved in crime, particularly violent crime. Instead of addressing it through legislation, does he not think that one of the ways in which we could perhaps solve this problem, or at least partially solve the problem, is by addressing the educational, social and recreational needs of many of these people? I believe governments generally have abandoned our young people when it comes to leisure and recreational needs. I would like his comments on that.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. friend and colleague from St. John's West. He raises a terrific point. This is part of the broader debate about what can be done on the preventive side of things.

He would be very quick to agree that youth programs, whether they be music programs or sport and recreation programs that he has referenced, are absolutely the direction we should be headed in when it comes to the administration of youth justice. This is where the emphasis should be. This is where the money should be spent.

The programs, if administered properly, will pay huge dividends in the future. The difficulty is that it is hard to gauge. It is hard to display in a statistical fashion the preventive approach. It is hard to say that if we spend the money now it will save x number of dollars in the future.

It is very clear that when young people have something to do and something to occupy their time they are not hanging out on street corners. They are not engaging in drug use. They are not breaking into the homes of the elderly. Those programs teach important values to young people. They teach them self-respect and respect for their community.

I could not agree more with my hon. friend that this is where we should focus much of the debate and much of our time, energy and resources, in the pursuit of a system for youth justice that works for the country.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

Carole-Marie Allard Liberal Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Vancouver Quadra.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-7, the youth criminal justice act. Before I begin, I would like to congratulate my colleagues in the Quebec caucus for the great work they did in suggesting amendments to Bill C-3. It must be pointed out that thanks to their efforts and the valuable input from stakeholders we are able to introduce a bill which offers a balance between the need to protect society and the needs of adolescents, who will be responsible for the society of tomorrow.

I have looked at Bill C-7 using the eye's of a lawyer, one who has had experience in Young Offenders Act cases, and I find that it respects the rights of young people more and leaves more leeway for the frontline workers, including the police and community organizations involved in crime prevention in the regions.

The preamble of the bill sets out society's responsibility to address the developmental challenges and the needs of young persons and to guide them to adulthood. It also provides the need to prevent youth crime by addressing its underlying causes.

I was staggered to hear the Bloc Quebecois critic say that it was preferable to have an adolescent's record handled by the crown prosecutor. He said “Mr. Speaker, currently, when an adolescent commits a minor offence, the matter is referred to the crown prosecutor, who determines whether the young person needs help. If so, the Quebec system rehabilitates him immediately”.

Why would a crown prosecutor be in a better position to decide the future of a young person than a neighbourhood police officer or a community agency long involved in the field? Why the outcry when clause 6 proposes letting the police decide whether “to take no further action, warn the young person, administer a caution,—or, with the consent of the young person, refer the young person to a program or agency in the community that may assist the young person not to commit offences”.

What is the problem with wanting the young person to be treated in his community instead of sending him to detention when he commits a minor offence?

For the sceptics, I add that clause 7 of the bill gives the attorney general or any other minister the authority to establish a program authorizing the police to administer cautions to young persons instead of starting judicial proceedings.

In my riding of Laval East, the Centre Défi-jeunesse in Saint-François is set in a middle income community where the social structure is 91% focused on the family. Young people aged 13 to 18 represent 10% of the population and are especially hard hit since they have to deal with issues like welfare and single parent families or are trying to make it on their own on a low income.

The Centre Défi-jeunesse Saint-François was established in 1992, eight years ago already, to extend a helping hand to young people with emotional, social and relationship problems linked to their family, social or criminal situation or to their substance abuse.

The organization can rely on well-known supporters like the Saint-François police department, the CLSC des Milles-Îles, the Fleur Soleil school and the merchants of the Promenades de Saint-François shopping centre located nearby.

The organization recently launched a project called Défi sans violence, spearheaded by community police officers and nurses from the CLSC. They were able to reach 400 young people. It is because our government believes in prevention that it has provided almost $32 million to crime prevention programs, including more than $4 million in Quebec.

The Centre Défi-jeunesse just received $50,000 for its project called Rassembler les deux mondes. It would be able to send a facilitator to Iqualuit, the capital of Nunavut, to give workshops on violence and crime prevention in collaboration with organizations working in the field.

Others projects will be coming soon. I spoke to the director, Mrs. Talbot, who told me that thanks to that experience, young people have learned to work with police officers and now the rapport between the two groups is nothing short of extraordinary.

Under Bill C-7, it would no longer be possible to place in custody a first time young offender who commits a minor offence. Why should we absolutely incarcerate a young person who commits a minor offence? Do people realize what it means to have an open file in a youth court? Do they realize what it means for parents who have to parade before the court when there are other solutions? If this is what is currently going on in Quebec, let us debate the issue.

I know crown attorneys who work at the youth court. I would rather trust the police officer walking the beat in a neighbourhood because, in my opinion, he certainly has a better idea of what is going on than the crown attorney in his ivory tower at the courthouse, if only because the latter is often overburdened following all kinds of budget cuts.

I also think that we can better rehabilitate young offenders by putting them, as provided under clause 6, in the hands of stakeholders or experts in the community who know criminal gangs and street gangs in that area.

In this morning's edition of Le Devoir , the following title is eloquent:

Baril passes harsh judgment on youth services.

The article mentions that:

...the youth protection system is overjudicialized and suffers from continuous breaks in the delivery of services.

The picture is not rosy in the youth assistance network. Rehabilitation centres are constantly clogged up. The administrative component takes precedence over the clinical component and the legal component, takes precedence over social law.

In October, Quebec's Commission des droits de la personne et de la jeunesse condemned the repressive nature of the living conditions imposed on young people in youth centres. Such is the situation of Quebec's network.

I would like our friends opposite to reflect on Quebec minister Gilles Baril's view on an approach that judicializes young people too quickly.

I would like the members opposite to think before they argue in favour of the status quo, giving as their reason that Quebec has a low crime rate. It is too simplistic to claim that because Quebec's crime rate is very low, the system is working well in Quebec. Some caution is in order.

Who is telling us that this reduction in violent crimes by young people in Quebec is not due to the work of our neighbourhood police, our community crime prevention organizations and our stakeholders, such as the Centre de défi-jeunesse de Saint-François, which has been working for eight years in the area of youth crime prevention?

What we must realize, and this is fundamental, is that the most prevalent crime among young people is theft. In the case of violent crimes, simple assault, the less serious kind, tops the list.

Who is telling us that we cannot attribute this drop in violence to the zero tolerance policy enforced by our police officers in Quebec, to the schools and to other stakeholders?

This is what the Bar said in its brief on Bill C-3. It never said that crime was down because of the intervention of crown attorneys and the incarceration of young first time offenders.

What minister Baril revealed to Quebec was not just the reality of the situation, but I would add that the reality is worse still. If members were to take a stroll through the youth courts, they would see that the system is not working at all.

Members should ask young people how many times they have had to appear in court, how many times their case has been rescheduled because of the backlog, how many times they have had to miss school and their parents have had to miss work to appear before the youth court only to be told to come back another day.

In conclusion, I think—

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but I attempted, through the means at my disposal, to indicate that her time was almost up, and the fact is it has run now out. The hon. member for Berthier—Montcalm.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I find it most distressing that a Quebec MP should try to cast aspersions on the great success of Quebec's justice system for young people.

I find what she has had to say very dangerous. She has deliberately mixed up the jurisdiction over the administration of justice and the federal jurisdiction. I have never said that the Quebec system worked like a charm but I have said that it worked well.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

An hon. member

Better.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

If there are administrative problems today in the youth centres, why is that? It is because at the present time the government over there owes $850 million for the application of the Young Offenders Act, as the former minister of justice even admitted.

Let the hon. member not try to preach to the government of Quebec. Let her look at what is going on within the Liberal government.

When she says she has practiced youth law, I would have some doubts about how effective she was judging by what she said here. She has just said that the Commission des services juridiques du Québec lied when it said it was opposed to the minister's bill.

What do the Conseil permanent de la jeunesse, the teaching federations, the school of criminology of the University of Montreal, legal community centres, defence lawyers, prosecutors, the Institut Pinel, the Association of Chiefs of Police, the Association des chefs de pompiers du Québec and many others I could name have to say? They say that the minister and the hon. member are mistaken in saying that the Young Offenders Act is a good law. They say Bill C-7 should never see the light of day. That is what Quebec says.

Quebec wants something very simple, and if the member really wants to defend Quebec, if she really wants to defend groups like Défi sans violence, if she really wants the bill passed quickly, she should put pressure on the minister to include the right for Quebec to opt out, no ifs, ands or buts, and the bill will be passed and in her hands in five minutes.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

Carole-Marie Allard Liberal Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, does the hon. member for Berthier—Montcalm realize that the bill would generate significant additional moneys for Quebec since the amounts given to that province for the administration of justice would finally be adjusted, rising from 17% to 23%?

Quebec would get $200 million out of the $951 million allocated to the youth justice system.

It is not me but Quebec minister Baril who said that changes are necessary to put the youth justice network back on track.

I do not understand why the opposition boasts about judicializing youth cases on the first offence and claims to be proud to do so. It is time someone stood up for young people.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether she is doing it on purpose but the member is getting her facts mixed up.

Quebec has the highest rate of decriminalization for young offenders in all of Canada. Quebec has the lowest rate of incarceration in all of Canada. Quebec has the lowest crime rate in all of Canada. Quebec has the lowest recidivism rate in all of Canada.

My question is quite simple. Next time, before the member gives a speech, will she at least take the time not only to read the minister's bill and the ministerial briefing notes, but also briefs presented to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights? She would realize that what she is saying is pure nonsense.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

Carole-Marie Allard Liberal Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, I can see my colleague is somewhat disturbed by my position. I think it is about time that it be known that when a crown prosecutor makes a decision regarding a young offender, he necessarily opens a file in youth court. What follows after that? It follows that the young offender must appear before the court, plead one way or another and so on.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

No, this is not true.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

No, this is not true.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. I am sorry, but the time allotted for questions and comments has expired.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to first address the constituents of Vancouver—Quadra who have entrusted with me the duty of coming to work with government on the important public policy issues to Canadians, as well as to work across party lines. That will be the spirit of my remarks today.

Vancouver—Quadra has unparalleled physical beauty, cultural diversity, prosperity, the greatest research university linking us to the new economy in Canada, as well as three major hospitals dealing with women's health, children's health and a teaching hospital. Of course it never rains in Vancouver either.

The issues of youth justice, protection of the public and the best interests of children and youth are immensely important to Canadians. Today, I would like to briefly address the principles behind Bill C-7, as well as the common cause that I see developing over the last 20 years toward dealing with this issue in a holistic and realistic way. These issues did not start with this debate or this bill. These issues have been going on for at least 25 years, since I have been practising law.

The Berger royal commission on children in the 1970s in British Columbia identified unified family courts, the important configuration of the youth justice system with the child welfare system and the use of community accountability panels. We have been working across the country at different levels of success to try to apply these principles over time, but not with requisite success. In my respectful submission, we are reaching toward that situation with this bill, the capacity actually to move forward on the key principles that I think people throughout the House agree on.

The principle of prevention is absolutely critical. I would like to mention one aspect of prevention which is the root cause of youth crime. If we look at the root cause of poverty, the despair that it causes, the levels of despair in impoverished and many native communities, we understand that that despair underlies the overrepresentation of native people in the criminal justice system. The throne speech has directed its intention toward resolving that. The most serious indicator of despair in an impoverished community is the youth suicide rate. The bill together with youth social services must come together to deal with youth suicide.

Accountability is absolutely critical. However, it is critical that we target accountability so that we know where victim reconciliation or mediation, community accountability or community service can be most effective. As the member said earlier, it can be a much rougher time for people to face their own community, or the victim, or their own family or do community service immediately and directly related to what they were involved with.

Responsibility and accountability are also critically important. We have to distinguish punishment from the need to rehabilitate and reintegrate youth into our society. No matter how serious the crime, and there are very serious youth criminals as all members know, people will get out. We must not allow monsters back into our society. We must stress serious rehabilitation and reintegration. This bill addresses some of those issues.

Let me briefly address the issue of where there is a common cause. I heard it addressed across the spectrum today. We must address youth crime in terms of continuums along a number of dimensions. There is a dimension of age. There is a dimension of severity of crime. There is a dimension of social and mental health needs of that offender. There is a degree of common cause that I believe is developing.

For youths under 12 years old, there are differences being expressed in the House but the objectives are the same. It is to protect society as well as to ensure that the interests of the youth, their families and communities are looked after.

I read the debates of last year on the former bill. A member of the Canadian Alliance was debating the issue of youth under 12. I found some real reasoning in it and it was a good reason. I have not heard that today. It was bring young offenders perhaps into the purview of the courts so they can be protected from being victimized by elder criminals. By doing that, it would keep them away from the criminal element. That is a valid point of view. I do not think it is widely felt that children under 12 years old should be in the criminal justice system, but they must be dealt with through social services and child protection law. I note that the province of Manitoba is developing comprehensive criteria to deal with the issue.

Diversion of non-violent young offenders is absolutely critical. We have had over 20 years of experience in Canada with discretion being properly exercised in many areas, in pilot projects, by police officers involved in community policing and by prosecutors. The hon. member for Provencher mentioned that he was prosecuting under the Juvenile Delinquents Act in the seventies.

I was public defending at that time and I remember thinking that being a public defender was where a person could get in and do some justice. I quickly found out that the police and the prosecution in properly exercising their discretion had the greatest opportunity at an early stage, for non-violent and particularly young offenders, to do justice and make sure that there was accountability, that recidivism was stopped and that young offenders would get away from a history of crime.

If we are going to go to court, this new bill provides judges with a range of tools which are important, including making sure there is an interdisciplinary approach, ensuring that parents are brought to proceedings and take financial responsibility, if necessary.

If someone is to be sentenced, the provisions for adult sentencing for the most serious crimes or repeat offenders is entirely appropriate. It is well targeted at that specific need. If incarceration is necessary, let us have intensive rehabilitation services made available. If someone is to be released then intensive supervision provisions are absolutely essential.

Although over the last 20 years we have heard rhetoric at levels that would suggest a great division among the parties on critical issues that are important to Canadians, I think there is a great deal of common cause. These issues are absolutely critical to move forward with the bill, but the differences are more at the margins at this stage rather than in the fundamentals.

We have heard a particular issue of fundamental difference being expressed by the hon. member speaking for the Bloc and members of the Canadian Alliance with regard to lowering the age for presumptive adult sentencing. That option and flexibility are open to the province of Quebec.

I would submit and respectfully say that we should get on with the bill. There is enough common cause. It is a critical issue and we should not waste more time. The bill builds on the experience of the last 20 years. It brings together a lot of very important and vital issues that have been raised on both sides of the House. Let us get on with it. The differences at the margins can properly be dealt with in implementation and not in delaying the passage of this important bill.

Points Of OrderGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River Ontario

Liberal

Derek Lee LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Yesterday, shortly after 10 o'clock, I tabled a notice of motion for concurrence in a committee report. I see from the notice paper today that the notice of motion is not shown on the order paper. The reason may relate to the fact that minutes before I tabled the notice I had also sought unanimous consent to have concurrence in the report and the Table may have confused the two.

I believe the Table does have the written notice of motion and I would ask that the order paper be corrected to show that the notice of motion was indeed introduced yesterday morning. That would allow the 48 hour notice period to run as of yesterday in the event that 48 hour period becomes relevant.

Points Of OrderGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

What we have here is a matter of business going back to yesterday, Tuesday, February 13. I believe I was in the chair at the time the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House sought concurrence to this motion. Concurrence was denied.

Upon verification with our staff, we recognized that there had been an administrative error. In fact, notice of motion was given yesterday and should have been on the notice paper today. I would conclude that the government will be eligible to call on that motion tomorrow should it so choose. It is eligible for tomorrow.

If there are any questions, I will try to take them very quickly, but I hope I have made the matter as clear as we possibly can. I would not want anyone to be surprised if the government should choose tomorrow to exercise that option. It is eligible to it by way of an administrative error that we all regret. Those things do happen but not very often.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-7, an act in respect of criminal justice for young persons and to amend and repeal other acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

February 14th, 2001 / 6:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Myron Thompson Canadian Alliance Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have some relatives who are lawyers and a lot of friends who are lawyers. I have a lot of respect for lawyers.

The speaker from the Conservative Party talks about the complexity of the bill, the onerous wording, twice the wording of the present Young Offenders Act. He talks about how that is totally unacceptable and says that it is an extremely difficult bill to grasp. I think he is saying that even judges would have problems with it.

I find this amazing. When we start drafting bills and laws, we have lawyers writing the bills, lawyers prosecuting the law, lawyers defending the law, lawyers sitting on the bench deciding what to do with the law, and lawyers interpreting the law. In this particular bill we are going to have lawyers who are going to have to intervene for young offenders under 14 to prove reverse onus. We are going to have lawyer involvement to an unbelievable degree.

I have a feeling that there is something wrong with this picture. We have built a real legal industry under this kind of legislation, which does not make a lot of sense to normal people. Any normal person could not do this. I suggest to the House that it probably took 17 lawyers from Ottawa to write this bill and it is going to take 15 Philadelphia lawyers to interpret the darn thing.

Does the member not see something wrong with that picture? Lawyers, lawyers and lawyers, and we are trying to deal with youth crime and with what to do with our young people. What the government has done with the bill is to build an excellent avenue by which lawyers will fill their pockets once again. I do not see how it is going to make any difference to what is happening with youth crime.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, the complexity of the bill is necessary in order to provide the flexibility to target individual young offenders with the types of crimes they commit and the types of problems they have and give the best recourse to the community.

Police officers I have dealt with in community policing and people on youth justice committees will not have any difficulty seeing the value of having the referrals and having the ability to act under this bill.

I was somewhat amused to hear that the legal aid lawyers in New Brunswick were smiling at the prospect of providing defences under this act. The legal aid tariff in New Brunswick must be a lot higher than it is in British Columbia if this is causing anyone to smile.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Vancouver Quadra for an interesting speech. If that was his maiden speech then I welcome him to the House and congratulate him. His reputation certainly precedes him. I am sure he will make a valuable contribution, especially in justice matters.

I was very pleased to hear him raise the issue of the overrepresentation of aboriginal people and aboriginal youth in the criminal justice system. In the riding of Winnipeg Centre this is a big issue. We have a great deal of what is called the youth gang problem. For any number of socioeconomic reasons we have a lot more people involved in that than other areas do.

The hon. member also mentioned aboriginal overrepresentation in the prisons. I was just reading in a book last night that at certain points in the last 15 or 20 years, in two of the women's prisons other than Kingston the aboriginal population was at 100%. Those places were full of aboriginal people.

The hon. member mentioned the Berger report. I am sure he has read the aboriginal justice inquiry from Manitoba. Could he tell us if he is satisfied that this bill incorporates the recommendations or the better qualities of those two reports in tone or in content?

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, very briefly, dealing with the aboriginal justice report from Manitoba, I do not believe this does incorporate the recommendations in that report.

However, in terms of the difference between having a separate justice system for aboriginal people or rather a general justice system that is flexible enough to incorporate both appropriate traditional methods, whether for healing or sentencing, I believe the bill is going in the direction of the spirit of drawing on traditional practices that will strengthen our criminal justice and youth justice systems in order to incorporate what is useful, appropriate and effective in dealing with aboriginal offenders.

I hope that as we gain experience, better appreciate and help revive those traditional practices, we will appreciate across the country that they will enrich our general justice system.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Canadian Alliance Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, this being my first opportunity to rise on debate in this parliament, I would like to congratulate the Speaker and his colleagues on their ascension to their positions. For the first couple of weeks of this session, Mr. Speaker, I think you are probably going to have an interesting time.

I extend my gratitude to the constituents of Surrey North for sending me back here for a second term and also to my wife, Dona, and my daughter, Jodi, for their support. Especially on Valentine's Day, I would be remiss if I did not do that. I also have to extend my gratitude to our 55-pound puppy, and I use that term advisedly, who I am sure will waste no time in reclaiming my half of the bed for the next three years.

In all seriousness, it is unfortunate that I am once again speaking against the government's questionable youth justice proposals. As members know, I have spoken in this place a few times on this issue. I have sat through hours and hours of committee hearings and have been to many communities across this land. I have encouraged the government to have an open mind on the need for significant changes to the Young Offenders Act. The minister is even on record as stating that the Young Offenders Act is “easily the most unpopular piece of federal legislation”.

It is unfortunate that Canadians do not have the opportunity to actually look at what the government is proposing with its youth criminal justice reforms. If they did, they would see that Bill C-7 is merely repackaging the Young Offenders Act, putting some political spin on it and selling it as a balanced and proper approach to misguided youth who manage to find themselves on the opposite side of our complicated laws.

If the truth be told, the new youth criminal justice act, Bill C-7, has all the traits of becoming an even more unpopular piece of federal legislation. Bill C-7 is virtually identical to the legislation the minister presented in the second session of the last parliament. All she has done is insert approximately 150 technical amendments to correct the mistakes, the typos and the errors in law of her previous version. In spite of approximately 150 substantive amendments from the opposition, there is absolutely no indication that the government even considered those proposals.

However, that does not surprise me. For almost five years now, the government has been going through the motions of appearing to be interested in hearing suggestions for improvement to the youth justice process. Other than a few relatively simple changes, the government has not indicated that it was even listening to all of those hundreds of requests for substantial change.

For almost five years now, we have heard that the federal government has not been meeting its financial obligations toward funding of youth justice. The government has announced that it is providing $206 million over the next three years, but that is merely to cover the initial costs of this new legislation. There has been nothing to cover the shortfall that has been going on for years.

One of the major problems with youth justice is the insufficiency of funding to cover training and rehabilitative costs. If the young people who get into trouble are not given any direction and assistance to change, is it any wonder many revert to their criminal tendencies? All we seem to do is investigate, prosecute, convict and punish these youths until they turn 18 and move on to similar activities as adults. Only in that way do many of these youths disappear from the youth crime problem.

The situation is even more abysmal with those young persons aged 10 and 11. For years now, we have been seeing 10 year olds and 11 year olds involved in criminal activity. That was seldom, if ever, seen before. We have also seen that child welfare agencies are frequently incapable of dealing with many of these cases. I will not get into all of that because it is primarily a provincial and municipal matter, but child welfare was never ever set up to deal with criminal behaviour. It was set up for the protection of children, not the protection of our communities from the children.

As well, we have seen how the resources within child welfare have been stretched to the breaking point. There is no luxury of expending additional resources to ensure that the occasional child who has found himself or herself on the wrong side of the law gets proper advice and guidance to get back onto the straight and narrow. That is why the Canadian Alliance has been trying to influence the government into expanding the youth justice process to include 10 year olds and 11 year olds.

Judges have been dealing with young offenders for years. They have seen their workloads increase because individual cases are not properly addressed in the initial instance.

We are not saying that judges have to lock up 10 and 11 year olds, but we are saying that judges need to become involved in the interests of the young offender and of the community to ensure the proper scheme is set up to bring the young person back on track. We are saying we need to involve the judges to oversee the problem. Child welfare authorities do good work in many instances but they were never set up to deal with criminal behaviour. They do not have the experience or the resources.

I would be remiss if I did not mention my private member's initiative that has once again been incorporated into the legislation. One objective I had when I first came to this place was to bring forth legislation to have those who willfully fail to honour their court undertaking to properly supervise the release of a young person into their custody treated more seriously. The minister has continued to realize the importance of the proposal.

Our justice system comes under supreme scrutiny when parents or others undertake to the court to supervise a young person who is considered to be a danger or a risk to the community, only to then permit that young person to go unsupervised. Those who voluntarily agree to supervise and then wilfully fail to do so must be held accountable.

I will present a scenario to give listeners a chance to understand some of the concerns presented by the legislation. Let us take the case of a 14 year old youth who commits a sexual assault at knifepoint and whose victim is wounded or disfigured. The youth may face a presumptive offence under the legislation. As such, he may face an adult sentencing process as he has committed what appears to be one of the few offences listed as a presumptive, and he was 14 at the time of the crime.

However in the legislation there are few, if any, clear determinations. We would first have to determine whether the province in which the crime occurred had used its power under section 61 of the legislation to change the age of application of the presumptive offence. If it had been raised to 15 or 16, the young person would not necessarily receive adult sentencing. In effect, he would have been lucky because he committed the crime in the right province.

As well, the attorney general can under section 65 advise the court that it is not seeking an adult sentence, even in a case such as this. Furthermore the attorney general must provide notice to the court and to the young person before the commencement of trial that the adult sentence is being sought. Otherwise none would be considered.

If the young person is found guilty of the offence, section 62 states that an adult sentence shall be imposed if, and this is a mighty big if, the young person essentially agrees to accept the adult sentence or if the youth court justice is of the opinion that a youth sentence would not be adequate to hold the young person accountable.

When the court reviews that situation, either on its own or when the young person challenges the use of an adult sentence, the court must balance the proposed sentence with the contribution to the protection of society by having meaningful consequences with the interest of promotion of the young person's rehabilitation and reintegration into society, whatever that means.

As I read it, the court uses adult sentencing only as a last resort. It must first of all be satisfied that a youth sentence is insufficient. Then the youth court judge must balance the interests of the protection of society with the interests of the young person to be rehabilitated and reintegrated into the community.

As we can see with my example, the young attacker would receive an adult sentence only as a last resort. The court must seriously consider whether incarceration will affect the young person's rehabilitation and reintegration. Perhaps the court could decide that some form of intensive support and supervision program would suffice, with no incarceration. This is just one of the youth sentences available.

Similarly, we can use the example of the young person sexually assaulting with a knife. Even though I have explained how difficult and improbable it may be for him to receive an adult sentence with incarceration, let us suppose that an adult sentence was imposed. We must remember that in our example there was wounding and disfigurement of the victim.

Will he be identified when he returns to the community, or will the community be completely unaware of the danger of a repeat or of a more serious offence?

If the young person received the adult sentence he may be identified pursuant to subsection 110(2)(a). I ask the House to notice that I still say may. Under subsection 75(3), the court may order a ban on publication of even this type of serious crime if the young person makes application for the ban and if the judge considers it important, taking into account the importance of rehabilitating the young person in the public interest.

Let us suppose we change the scenario to a less serious offence. Let us suppose the young offender does not actually use the knife; it has used it only as a threat. The offender will not likely face an aggravated sexual assault charge. There would be no presumptive offence. We then enter a whole new ball game, a ball game in which the law is written even more favourably in the interests of the offender and not of the victim or of protection of communities.

Unfortunately I do not have time to go through all the legal arguments, considerations and decisions by the attorney general. As has been said, the lawyers must be rubbing their hands with glee.

I hope I have provided listeners with just some of the concerns over the problems and complexity of the legislation. As I have stated, lawyers will be busy tying up the courts and the youth justice process as they debate the provisions.

A more serious question is: How can we expect our youth and other citizens to know what the law entails when it is written with so many exceptions and so much legal mumbo-jumbo?

As I stated at the start, when the legislation plays itself out Canadians will soon again become disenchanted and disappointed with the youth justice system. Surely we have a duty and a responsibility to do much better.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

When the House resumes debate on the matter the Canadian Alliance Party will have a 10 minute slot left, at which point the hon. member for Wild Rose will have the floor.

It being 6.30 p.m. this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24.

(The House adjourned at 6.30 p.m.)