House of Commons Hansard #67 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was offenders.


Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2001 / 1:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

I am sorry to interrupt the member, but she must indicate with which member she is sharing her time. With whom will the hon. member be sharing her time?

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


Carole-Marie Allard Liberal Laval East, QC

Madam Speaker, I wish I could tell you, but I do not know who it would be. So, I guess I will not be sharing my time, if that is possible.

There is something that is puzzling me today. How is it that the Bloc Quebecois on the other side is not telling Quebecers what this bill is really about? This bill serves two purposes. Where minor offences are concerned, the emphasis is put on community services instead of custody. That is easy to understand. Why send to prison first time offenders? In the case of more serious offences, three changes are being made. First, there is a change of courts. Young persons will remain in the youth court system. They will no longer be transferred to adult courts.

It is important to mention that Quebec, where supposedly all is well for youth, presently has the highest rate of transfers to adult courts. This is a sad record. We and Manitoba have the same number of cases referred to adult courts. Why so many transfers? We must make sure that young people are protected and stay within a system adapted to their needs.

This is the reason why I welcome with great enthusiasm the amendment contained in the bill on the youth criminal justice system, which will allow to keep young people before youth courts.

The other proposed change is to lower from 16 to 14 the age at which a young offender could be sentenced as an adult.

At present, we know that if a youth commits a serious offence, the onus is on him to show that he should be allowed to remain before the youth court. With the new bill, this situation changes. The age limit will be lowered to 14 years, although under clause 61, a province which wishes to maintain the age limit at 16 will be allowed to do so. Again, the Quebec system remains unchanged, since the age limit remains at 16 in Quebec. It will be up to the government of Quebec to keep the age limit at 16.

Another major change in the bill has to do with the location where young people would serve their sentence. It will necessarily be a correctional facility for youth. This rule applies in all cases, the only exception being when the judge passes the sentence on the basis of the evidence submitted. He or she could decide, depending on the seriousness of the offence, that putting this young offender in a youth facility could indeed be detrimental to the other offenders held in that facility. It is the only instance, and it will be up to the judge to decide.

This is what this bill is all about, which is why I fail to understand why there is such strong opposition to this bill. A rather surprising misinformation campaign is going on right now in Quebec. Unfortunately, certain statements made by members of the Bloc Quebecois are a great disservice to the people of Quebec. I think the position of our opponents on the other side of the House, of our friends should I say, is simply unacceptable. They believe that putting a young teenager who has committed a first minor offence in a youth detention centre is better than any kind of action by the parents, the community or a crime prevention organization, and it is simply unacceptable.

I do not understand that position and it worries me. For example, does the member for Berthier—Montcalm, the Bloc Quebecois' critic with regard to the youth criminal justice system, want to increase the youth incarceration rate, which is already at an unacceptable level? Right now, Canada's youth incarceration rate is the highest in the western world. It is higher than that of the United States.

For example, in 1997 the United States put 775 young offenders between the ages of 12 and 17 behind bars, compared to 1,046 for Canada. These numbers are based on proportional calculations, of course.

It is disturbing, and all the more so because recently in Quebec four reliable people mandated to investigate issues of access to residential services and administrative and financial problems of youth centres in Montreal found that these centres were poorly managed. When there is bad management, mistakes and negligence are a risk.

What if some young people are forgotten in these rehabilitation centres where they should get rehabilitation programs? This could happen if the management is deficient. It is not right to give the priority to structure.

As a government, our responsibility is to make sure young people in trouble grow to be responsible citizens in our society. I do not think sending them to youth court is the best way, when alternative measures are available.

I am a lawyer. A few years ago, I worked in a youth court. I saw parents who were desperate and had to appear as witnesses in the case of their child. Too many young people have paid dearly for small offences and will have a criminal record for the rest of their life.

I have to admit I am a bit ashamed of being a Quebecer when I hear another Quebecer opposite try to confuse the issues on a bill as important as this one for the future of young people.

I believe that this bill on the criminal justice system, and let us say this once and for all, offers a flexibility that will enable Quebec to continue its good work if it so wishes. It contains precise principles which will guide the youth court judges. Access to extraordinary measures was mentioned in the Young Offenders Act when it was passed in 1986, but now these are specified, and the judge has the opportunity to use new measures. This is important.

There is the possibility of reprimands, orders for support and intensive supervision. There is the possibility of orders to submit to approved programs and of custody and supervision orders. There is the provision of programs, when the youth is in detention, to monitor him once he has returned to the community.

These new sentences will be to the young offender's advantage, since they will provide the courts with alternative measures proportional with each adolescent's offence and situation. The new bill sets out clear restrictions on custody.

It must also be pointed out that the bill limits the use of custody to crimes involving violence, repeat offenders who have not complied with previous sentences, who have already reoffended and who have been sentenced for a serious offence. It also limits custody to exceptional circumstances. It troubles me greatly to learn that this bill has been so misunderstood in Quebec.

In closing, I also find it regrettable that a young actor has been used to promote a misinformation campaign. I believe that confusion is still being spread throughout the public. Unfortunately, I cannot accept such a situation.

I take this opportunity to invite all hon. members who require information on this bill to contact us on this side of the House, and we will be pleased to explain that this bill is not what they are trying to make them believe it is. It proposes some innovative solutions to help our young people become the responsible citizens and adults of tomorrow.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, at the outset, I want to point out that I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel.

I want to focus on some aspects of the bill that I find particularly worrisome. First, we see once again that if members of the Bloc Quebecois were not here to stand up for Quebec, we certainly could not rely on federal Liberal members to do so.

Everyone in Quebec agrees on one thing. We do not want Bill C-7. We do not think it reflects the reality in Quebec. Despite what members on the other side might say today, Bill C-7 deals with Canada, with the problems faced by Canada, and we believe that the situation in Quebec is quite different. Unlike the other provinces, we have been successful.

Earlier, when the member for Laval East gave us what she called alarming statistics, she said that over 1,000 young persons were sent to prison in Canada. I would have liked to know how many Quebecers were among these offenders.

I was here, during last parliament, when Bill C-3 was introduced but could not unfortunately be passed. It was both fortunate and unfortunate that this bill could not be passed. When the House of Commons reconvened, we thought we would see some changes to the bill. We detected a certain amount of electoral opportunism with the tabling of Bill C-3. We noted that the efforts of the Minister of Justice were directed at charming the electors. We all know the results.

We would have thought, when she again submitted her bill to the House that she would have provided for a little more realism and openness in the case of Quebec and the rest of Canada. That was not the case.

I was a journalist for 16 years, and worked at the Quebec City court house for two and a half years. In Bill C-7, what I really object to is the talk of releasing the names of young offenders. It permits publication of the name of an adolescent serving an adult sentence. Reference is made as well to an adolescent serving an adolescent sentence for violent crimes.

There is no point saying that the worst punishment a young person could be given is to have his or her name, picture and background published in the papers. Even today, we see in the case of repeat young offenders who have reached adulthood, 18 or 19 years of age, that the effect is incredible. The harshest punishment a criminal can be given is to have his or her background exposed in the media.

Let us imagine a young adolescent, male or female, aged between 14 and 18, who for all sorts of reasons has committed an offence, and we know our society is undergoing profound change, these are turbulent times, and that we publish his or her photo and background in the papers while this young person is in high school or college. The effect is extremely negative and may harm the individual. He or she will carry this image and have a really hard time, despite the best of efforts, in rehabilitation. The media trial will be with him or her a long time.

As politicians, we are always on parade, facing the media and we often make a statement and then retract it the next day. The retraction may appear in a corner somewhere, while the day before we made the headlines.

The same goes for young offenders who find themselves in a similar situation. Indeed, even after a fair trial, a trial that has taken into account all the circumstances, the young offender will be haunted by the media coverage of his trial.

People often only remember the original story. When there is a retraction, or when a sentence or a verdict is handed down later on, people have completely forgotten.

What they remember is the front page news with the original story, a story that is often taken directly out of the police investigation, but whose impact is not fully known.

I cannot believe that Bill C-7 will now allow the media to get hold of this information. If we let the media get hold of such stories, the young offender will be judged by the media and will not be able to make it, regardless of the rehabilitation efforts.

I also want to point out the fact that, once again, we see that the situation in Quebec and the one in Canada are very different. Some are trying to claim that the hon. member for Berthier—Montcalm and the members of the Bloc Quebecois have been conducting a misinformation campaign, but it is the other side of the House that is leading such a campaign.

When Liberal federal members talk, we hear the word Canada constantly, and from time to time the word Quebec, but they seem to forget about the consensus that exists and the coalitions that were formed against Bill C-7. They always follow the party line. They always hide behind the objectives of Bill C-7 and forget what really matters, the Quebec reality.

Today, just a few hours away from an important vote that will certainly have an impact on our young people, I am asking, on behalf of my colleagues, on behalf of young offenders and on behalf of Quebec youth, that the present government show some openness and allow the government of Quebec to continue the good work it has been doing with the current infrastructures.

This situation could allow us, Quebecers, to continue to function with a system that has already been proven effective, while respecting the other vision people from western Canada and maybe also people from Ontario have with regard to young offenders.

What we are saying today is that we would like to opt out of Bill C-7 so that Quebec may continue the good work it has been doing for many years.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Carole-Marie Allard Liberal Laval East, QC

Madam Speaker, I heard my hon. colleague say that he had been a journalist, like me. Therefore I salute a former fellow journalist.

Would my hon. colleague agree to say that the current situation is unacceptable in the sense that, as the hon. member is surely aware, the names of young people are currently published even before they are found guilty?

Is he aware that the new legislation proposes to prohibit the publication of names before the end of a trial, which means that a young person will have to be found guilty and sentenced as an adult before his name gets published?

Does he not find that is a benefit provided by the new Bill C-7?

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, unless my memory does not serve me well, as far as I know, under the Youth Protection Act, when a youth appears before a court, his name remains confidential. When a 17 year old youth gets arrested, we notice that photographers always hide his face. I have never seen the names of youths under 18 identified.

However, the name of a youth can be identified if the case is transferred to an adult court. However as far as I know, currently the Youth Court Act fully protects young offenders and their names are not published. On the contrary, if their names are published, that can be considered a contempt of court. The legislation is rather severe on that account.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Carole-Marie Allard Liberal Laval East, QC

Madam Speaker, does my colleague know that Quebec and Manitoba have the highest rate of transfers to adult court?

This means, for those young offenders transferred to adult court, and curiously there is a high proportion of them in Quebec, and I was very surprised to learn that we hold the record on this score, as soon as their file is transferred, their names can be published. We should recognize this is one improvement brought about by this new bill since there will no longer be any transfers to adult court and all cases will be heard by the youth court.

Will the member admit that the ban on the disclosure of young offenders' names is an improvement?

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, the point here is not to find out what we will admit or not. The point is that the situation is different in Quebec and that we do not want Bill C-7. We find nothing positive in this bill.

We want Quebec to continue to stand alone and to keep a system that is working well, has proven effective and, most importantly, is adapted to the social reality of Quebec.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Carole-Marie Allard Liberal Laval East, QC

Madam Speaker, does the hon. member realize that if Quebec opts out from the application of a federal act, there are risks involved? Quebecers will be free to invoke the charter of rights and freedoms if they feel prejudiced.

Young Quebecers not allowed to be tried in youth court, but in adult court, will be able to claim they were prejudiced. Consequently, the hon. member's excuse for exempting Quebec from the new legislation simply does not make sense.

I would like him to explain how he will justify this to Quebecers.

Youth Criminal Justice ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I can see that once again Quebec federal Liberals look at Bill C-7 from a Canadian, as opposed to a Quebec point of view.

Fortunately, we in the Bloc Quebecois are here to call them to order, to remind them that in Quebec we have a system that works, a system that matches Quebec's reality, and that we do not want Bill C-7.

Five Pin Bowling ChampionshipStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Mark Assad Liberal Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to congratulate the Quebec women's five pin bowling team, which came away from the Canadian championships in Hamilton this past May 26 with the gold medal.

The team members are Isabelle Plante, Sylvie Carrière, Lucie St-Gelais, Christine Danis, Natalie Trudel and Joanne Trudel. All are from the Outaouais region and we are very proud of them.

This is the first year that Quebec has sent a team to this championship and the organizers commented on the sportsmanship and team spirit of these bowlers, which they said had not been seen on the national level for a very long time.

Once again, congratulations.

ImmigrationStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Canadian Alliance Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, this past Saturday a family was torn apart and said its tearful goodbyes as the department of immigration deported Pawel Sklarzyk's family back to Poland.

It has caused me to wonder why, if the family was so undesirable in the first place, the immigration department extended a visitor visa three times before deciding the family had been here long enough. That took 11 years.

I do not understand the Minister of Immigration's reasoning for deporting Pawel and Beata Sklarzyk and their two Polish born sons. Their two Canadian born children stayed behind with their grandparents.

I hope now that the minister has split up this family she feels better knowing that her department works so well that it sent away a good, hardworking family, yet keeps hardened criminals, such as Gaetano Amodeo, wanted for murder in Europe; Lai Chanxing, wanted for a multibillion dollar smuggling scam in China; and accused Philippine assassin, Rodolfo Pacificador, within our borders.

Camera D'OrStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, congratulations again to Zacharias Kunuk, whom I congratulated two months ago for receiving the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation 2001 award.

Today I congratulate Zacharias Kunuk, director of Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner , for winning the prestigious Camera d'Or prize for the best first time feature film at this year's Cannes International Film Festival. Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner has achieved groundbreaking firsts for Canada. It is Canada's first Inuktitut language feature film and the first Canadian feature film to win the Camera d'Or.

The film is an exciting action thriller set in ancient Igloolik and produced in Nunavut by an Inuit owner company using local cast and crew. The film's producers are Mr. Kunuk, Norman Cohn and the late Paul Apak Angilirq. The film is a co-production with the National Film Board of Canada.

We should be proud of this latest achievement which truly testifies to the vitality and diversity of Canada's feature film industry.

Great Canadian Geography ChallengeStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Jeannot Castonguay Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate Pierre-Olivier D'Amours, a young man of 13 who won the national finals of the Great Canadian Geography Challenge, held at the Museum of Nature on May 20.

Pierre-Olivier, a student at École Cormier, in Edmundston, N.B., was one of 167,000 participants in the competition. His determination and passion earned him first place, a $3,000 scholarship and a chance to take part in the International Geographic Olympiad in Vancouver this August.

We are all proud of Pierre-Olivier and wish him the best of luck at the Olympiad. Bravo.

SpainStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Carole-Marie Allard Liberal Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada has the honour and pleasure to welcome the Prime Minister of Spain, Jose María Aznar, and his wife, Madam Ana Aznar. Bienvenido Señor y Señora .

Today and tomorrow, Prime Minister Aznar will be making his first official visit to Ottawa in order to study the possibilities of increasing trade and investment relations between Spain and Canada.

Our Prime Minister has already expressed his pleasure at the ever expanding links between our two countries. Spain has in fact been an excellent partner for Canada for 25 years now, not only bilaterally, but internationally as well. The 1999 figures for trade between our two countries were impressive.

On behalf of all Canadians, I welcome Prime Minister Aznar and his wife.

Human RightsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Canadian Alliance Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Taliban edict to force the labelling of religious minorities in Afghanistan is unacceptable in this day and age.

While the statement issued by our foreign affairs minister condemning the Taliban is a necessary first step, Canada can and must do more in conjunction with like-minded states to put maximum international pressure on Afghanistan.

I have asked the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade to examine the situation in Afghanistan and recommend that the government sponsor a resolution in the United Nations condemning the Taliban for this latest violation of the human rights of its people.

With the committee's help we can begin to take the necessary steps to hold the Taliban accountable for its oppression of the citizens of Afghanistan.

Community Safety And Crime PreventionStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to congratulate two community organizations that have been awarded funding by the National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention for their efforts to deal with local crime prevention issues in York West.

The two groups, Conflict Mediation Services of Downsview and Doorsteps Neighbourhood Services have each been recognized for developing innovative, community based programs to respond to crime with an emphasis on children and youth.

The national strategy invests in local projects that address crime at the root causes through a social development approach because crime prevention and the safety of our communities are priorities of this government.

On behalf of the constituents of York West, I commend both of these community organizations for their hard work in fighting crime and keeping Canada's communities safe.

Andrée RuestStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Ghislain Fournier Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Women of Distinction Benefit Gala was held in Quebec City on May 9. I am proud indeed to have as one of my constituents Andrée Ruest, who was awarded first prize in the field of sports and well-being.

A former accomplished judo athlete, Ms. Ruest became highly involved in this sport and has an impressive list of accomplishments to her credit on the board of Judo Québec, where she has sat for the past 19 years, including six as its chair. She was Judo Canada's first female vice president, and is a pioneer.

Trainer of the Sept-Îles judo team from 1977 to 1984, Ms. Ruest, through her enthusiasm, increased judo's popularity among women in my region, in Quebec and in Canada as well.

Everyone in Manicouagan joins me in congratulating her.

W.W. Boyce Farmers MarketStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate Fredericton's W.W. Boyce Farmers Market on its 50th anniversary being celebrated this year.

The market occupies a unique place in Fredericton. From Richard Hatfield to Frank McKenna, Alden Nowlan to Norm Foster, university presidents to socialists international, many have viewed the market as a centre of their universe each Saturday morning.

It is more than a place of commerce. It is where we gather to become a community. I spend most Saturday mornings at the market with thousands who love the bustle, the colour, the commotion and the very good products.

The 50th anniversary celebration is to pay tribute to all the farmers, the craft persons and other vendors who have made the market the special place that it is.

I thank Heritage Canada for its contribution to the celebration. I congratulate the W.W. Boyce Farmers Market and wish us many more years to come.

Parks CanadaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, the crisis in our national parks is deepening.

The decision by park wardens at Forillon and La Mauricie National Parks and at the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park in Quebec to refuse to work in unsafe working conditions is further indication that the Parks Canada agency is out of control.

Park wardens were ordered out of uniform while the agency spent tens of thousands of dollars buying shotguns it has now been told it cannot use. It continues to pay for firearms training in Regina today. Parks Canada continues to waste millions of dollars that would be better spent on wildlife protection. The decision to order park wardens back in uniform is wrong.

As a result of the May 15th interim health and safety ruling by HRDC, nothing is resolved over who is protecting wildlife in our national parks. Once again it puts wardens at risk and is forcing wardens to refuse to work. Morale is at an all time low as park wardens are being ordered to teach the RCMP—

Parks CanadaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle.

The EconomyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Robert Bertrand Liberal Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government's last economic statement was one of prudence.

The Liberal government can generate surpluses, pay down the debt, lower taxes and deliver on its promises with respect to health, children and innovation despite the economic downturn.

This was the message delivered by the Minister of Finance on May 17. Our government is on target and implementing its plan. Thanks to our foresight, Canada's economy is better equipped to weather global economic ups and downs.

Yes, we are on target. We are introducing the $100 billion in tax cuts announced in October and, thanks to unprecedented tax relief, taxpayers will have more money in their wallets.

Motor Vehicle SafetyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, an editorial published today in the Canadian Medical Association's journal calls for the regulation of cellphones as driver distracting devices that studies repeatedly show as a cause of traffic accidents. Something needs to be done.

I call on the Minister of Justice or the Minister of Transport to convene a meeting of their provincial counterparts to consider all the possible ways of dealing with the issue.

I have a private member's motion calling on the federal government to make driving while talking on a cellphone a criminal offence, but the same effect may well be achievable by means of provincial highway traffic acts. What matters is that action be taken. It is time for the federal government to show some leadership in making sure that one way or another this growing menace to public safety is dealt with.

Bloc Quebecois Youth ForumStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Saturday, the Bloc Quebecois youth forum held its general council at the Cégep du Vieux-Montréal. Some 100 young Bloc Quebecois supporters got together to talk, exchange views and think about the blueprint for a sovereign Quebec.

Globalization, monetary integration, the fight against poverty and a host of other topics, all equally interesting, were among the items on the agenda. There were some very interesting debates, a new departure for the Forum Jeunesse, which is an essential component of our party.

Under the chairmanship of François Limoges, a rejuvenated, dynamic, intelligent and determined team will carry the voice of young sovereignists to the four corners of Quebec.

The parliamentary wing of the Bloc Quebecois salutes the new executive council of the Forum Jeunesse, wishes it good luck and assures it of its support.

Michener-Deacon FellowshipStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval West, QC

Mr. Speaker, allow me to congratulate Martine Turenne, who won the Michener-Deacon Fellowship. The fellowship was presented to her by Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada.

The Michener-Deacon Fellowship was established in 1987 to promote journalism and the public interest through the promotion of useful values to the community.

The $20,000 award will allow Ms. Turenne, a Quebec journalist, to report on the significance of NAFTA on an underdeveloped region of Mexico.

I am also taking this opportunity to congratulate the producers of the public affairs program The Fifth Estate , on CBC's English language network. This program won the prestigious Michener award for meritorious public service journalism in a report or a series of reports.

Public Service WhistleblowingStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, today I introduced a bill entitled the public service whistleblowing act, Bill C-351.

The bill serves three purposes: To educate public service employees on ethical practices in the workplace; to provide a means for public service employees to come forward to disclose wrongful acts or omissions in the workplace; and to protect public service employees from retaliation for acting in good faith by working to create a new level of transparency in government.

I urge all members to support the bill and force the government to honour a promise made in 1993 to pass whistleblowing legislation.