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Opposition questions need to change youth act

Article by: CTV.ca News Staff
– Updated Fri. Feb. 2 2007

Liberal MPs have questioned why the government is considering changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act that would increase the number of young offenders tried as adults.
A memo obtained by CTV News sketches an option that would “give the Crown discretion to use adult criminal justice procedures for youths aged 16 and 17 who are charged with murder, attempted murder, manslaughter or aggravated sexual assault.”
The confidential document also assumes that 80 per cent of those youth would be referred to the adult criminal justice system.
Judges currently decide whether young offenders should be charged as adults; the option outlined in the memo would strip them of that power.
Former justice minister Vic Toews had suggested possible legislation dealing with the option be placed before the House before March recess.
“Why does this minister think he’s more qualified to determine what penalties should be given to young offenders rather than our judges?” Liberal MP Marlene Jennings asked during question period.
Conservative MP Rob Moore responded that the Liberals were weak on crime in the previous government, and Canadians are looking for a change.
“What Canadians said loud and clear … is that they have no faith whatsoever in the Liberal revolving door of the justice system,” he said.
“They want us to add deterrence and denunciation to the system.”
Joe Wamback, whose son John was savagely beaten into a coma by young offenders, said the memo’s suggestion for potential legislation is long overdue.
“Canadians want greater safety in their communities,” he told CTV News.
With a report by CTV’s Graham Richardson in Ottawa