Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate on Bill C-10.
As hon. members know, Bill C-10 contains provisions from various bills that were introduced in the previous Parliament, but unfortunately were blocked by the opposition.
The focus of my remarks today will be on the amendments to the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
The proposed changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act reflect what we as parliamentarians have been hearing from our constituents. They are concerned about the threat posed by violent young offenders as well as by youth who may commit non-violent offences but who appear to be spiralling out of control towards more and more dangerous and harmful behaviour. In talking to fellow Canadians, we have found that they can lose faith in the youth criminal justice system when sentences given to violent and repeat young offenders do not make these youth accountable for their actions.
The package of Youth Criminal Justice Act amendments also responds to issues raised during cross-country consultations, to key decisions of the courts, to concerns raised by the provinces and territories, and to the positions put forward by the many witnesses who appeared before the justice committee during its study of former Bill C-4.
The reforms reflect the widely held view that while the Youth Criminal Justice Act is working fairly well in dealing with the majority of youth who commit crimes, there are concerns about the small number of youth who commit serious repeat or violent offences.
The proposed amendments to the Youth Criminal Justice Act are found in part 4, clauses 167 through 204, of the comprehensive Safe Streets and Communities Act. With a few exceptions, the proposed changes are the same as the changes that were proposed in former Bill C-4, also known as Sébastien's law.
Bill C-4 was introduced in the House of Commons on March 16, 2010 and was before the House of Commons justice and human rights committee, of which I am a member, when Parliament was dissolved prior to the May 2011 election.
As I have indicated, most of the Youth Criminal Justice Act provisions in the bill now before us were included in former Bill C-4. However, after Bill C-4 was introduced in Parliament, a number of provincial attorneys general expressed concerns about the proposed amendments to the Youth Criminal Justice Act provisions dealing specifically with pretrial detention, deferred custody and supervision orders, and adult sentencing.
These concerns were raised directly with the Minister of Justice and were brought before the justice committee. The government has listened carefully to these and other concerns, and has responded by making the appropriate changes to the previous legislation.
As my colleague, the hon. member for Kitchener Centre, has already given the House a thoughtful and thorough description of the provisions that were found in former Bill C-4, I will specifically discuss the minor changes that are included in this version of the bill.
With respect to pretrial detention, the government recognizes that the current Youth Criminal Justice Act provisions are complex, leading to a varied application of the provisions by the courts.
Bill C-4 proposes a much more straightforward approach to pretrial detention that would have allowed courts to detain a youth awaiting trial if the youth was charged with a serious offence and the court found a substantial likelihood that, if released, the youth would either not appear in court when required to do so or would commit a serious offence while awaiting trial.
The provinces' primary concern with the approach of Bill C-4 was that pretrial detention would be available for youth charged with an offence that was not deemed to be a serious offence. They felt that this could prevent detention of a youth who, although currently charged with a non-serious offence, had a prior history of charges or offending and appeared to be spiralling out of control and thus was posing a risk to public safety.
I will be happy to—