Mr. Jack Ramsay (Crowfoot, Ref.)
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for presenting his feelings and thoughts on the bill. He is a member of the standing committee on justice. I have always accepted his interventions with a great degree of interest and respect.
The Young Offenders Act has created such strong responses over the years from the people of Canada. They signalled the changes they wanted so strongly to the government and to the justice committee of which I was a member when we travelled about the country and listened to them. However, this bill is couched almost entirely in terms of what the legislation will allow the courts to do. It does not grant authority to the courts to move 16 and 17 year olds who commit serious offences into adult court. It says that the trial will occur in juvenile court and then the crown prosecutor will have the opportunity to argue that an adult sentence should apply.
The courts in this land are under the gun right now from certain circles, including members of the House, for being judicially active. Even the business of releasing the names of those who have been convicted of violent offences is not something that is directed by the legislation or by the elected representatives of this country. It is going to be left in the hands of the courts to decide based upon the circumstances, regardless of what the people want, whether or not the names of those convicted of violent offences will be published.
I wonder if the member, being a former crown prosecutor and I understand a good one, would be prepared to comment on this aspect of the bill. Is it not leaning to greater complaints, whether right or wrong, of judicial activism? The courts are going to be left with having to make a decision that the legislators, in this case the Liberal government, have refused to make and implant within the legislation. Rather than the legislators telling the courts what we want done on behalf of Canadians, again we are going to leave it in the hands of the judges of this land.
Would my hon. friend be willing to comment on this aspect of the bill in light of the criticism some of the courts are receiving concerning judicial activism? This is simply because legislation is being passed by the government, legislation that is so open ended that the judges can go in a number of different ways. In this case it is contrary to what we have heard Canadians say they want done about the Young Offenders Act.
Topic: Government Orders
Subtopic: Youth Criminal Justice Act