Mr. John Williams (Edmonton—St. Albert, CPC)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to talk on the bill by the member for Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont because it demonstrates the compassion that he has for young people in this country. It also demonstrates the position of the Conservative Party, that we believe it is important to help our young people rather than just throw the book at them any time they commit a crime.
This bill deals with the fact that when a young offender is apprehended because it is alleged that he may have committed some crime, the first thing the officer has to do is determine the mental state and attitude of the person. On that basis the officer makes a decision whether or not to start the full process of court proceedings, or whether the drug treatment programs that are currently offered would be much better.
This is a great recommendation by the member for Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont. We have had some high profile cases in the past. I think we all remember Davis Inlet on the north shore of Labrador where young kids were into gas sniffing, glue sniffing, and everything else. They ended up at Poundmaker's Lodge in St. Albert, my constituency, for treatment.
A lot of illegal things were going on in Davis Inlet at that time, but the country's compassion was to help the young people. They were taken to Poundmaker's Lodge and we did everything we could to try to rehabilitate them rather than throw them into criminal proceedings.
That concept is replicated many times in this country, although it may not get national headlines. A young person is arrested for having fallen into criminal behaviour because of his participation in drugs. If that young person says that he would like to start treatment and demonstrates that he is willing to follow through on the treatment and completes the recommended course by the professionals and experts and he cleans himself up, why would we want to give him a criminal record that would dog him for years and years?
Young people are a great asset. Some of them fall by the wayside and some of them can pick themselves up and get back on track. We should not be throwing the book at them. We should be helping them because our justice system is all about rehabilitation and protection of society. If we can rehabilitate that person and make him a contributing member of society rather than a criminal for the rest of his life, surely that is one of the greatest investments we can make.
I am pleased to say that I am going to recommend that we all support the bill proposed by my good colleague from Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont.
Topic: Private Members' Business
Subtopic: Youth Criminal Justice Act