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e-2324 (Justice)

Initiated by Keven Ellis from Hamilton, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • On October 7, 2019, a student in Hamilton, 14-year-old Devan Selvey was stabbed to death. His death was the result of continued and unaddressed bullying at school, with recurrent reporting to both school officials and police. Devan was chased by violent perpetrators while trying to find a place of safety. His death occurred… in front of students, family, school officials and bystanders;
  • Canadian research indicates that violent crimes committed by youth have increased 30% since 1991;
  • Violent crime rates amongst youth, including homicides, continue to increase since 2006;
  • Following the enactment of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, both number and rate of youth aged 12 to 17 years accused of homicide has risen 41% since 1997. In 2006, 84% of young persons were implicated in more than 54 homicides; and
  • 2008/2009 statistics indicated that 15% of youth criminal cases resulted in a custodial sentence with a median sentence length of 36 days.
We, the undersigned, Citizens of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to immediately and thoroughly review the Youth Criminal Justice Act and make the appropriate changes that would prevent the violence we are witnessing against our youth, often causing life altering injury or death, specifically increased stringent legislative reform specific to youth legal rights, sentencing, extrajudicial measures options, youth records protection, and publication bans, to ultimately reinstate fair and just protection to all Canadian citizens, safeguarding protective rights of youth victims above those of the offenders.

Response by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable David Lametti

The Government takes seriously the concerns of Canadians about youth crime and violent offences committed by youth. Our government believes that youth should be held accountable for their criminal behaviour with sentences that are proportionate to the severity of the offence and the young person’s degree of responsibility. 

The Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) aims to protect the public by holding young persons accountable, promoting their rehabilitation, and, when appropriate, supporting the prevention of crime by referring young persons to community programs or agencies to address the circumstances underlying their offending behavior. The youth justice system includes mechanisms to respond to the exceptional cases of serious, violent crimes, while encouraging informal, yet meaningful responses to offences that are less serious in nature.

While the youth criminal justice system recognizes that, because of their age, heightened vulnerability, immaturity and reduced capacity for moral judgment, young persons are entitled to be treated differently than adults in relation to their offending behaviour, the YCJA does grant courts the authority to impose adult sentences in exceptional circumstances. Adult sentences are generally available where a young person 14 years of age or older is charged with a serious offence, the prosecution rebuts the presumption that the young person has diminished moral blameworthiness or culpability, and a youth sentence would not be of sufficient length to hold the young person accountable for the offence.

The Department of Justice monitors the impacts of the YCJA on an ongoing basis, working with other federal departments and provincial-territorial counterparts to analyse trends in youth crime, and conducting routine evaluations of its programs to ensure that identified policy objectives are being met. 

The Government will continue to work to ensure that Canada’s youth criminal justice system serves as a model for youth justice systems around the world, one which provides flexibility for responding to incidents of less serious youth crime using informal measures, while providing the tools necessary to ensure that the most serious offences can also be dealt with in an appropriate manner. 

Open for signature
November 29, 2019, at 1:37 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
January 28, 2020, at 1:37 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
David Sweet (Flamborough—Glanbrook)
February 19, 2020 (Petition No. 431-00089)
Government response tabled
April 11, 2020
Photo - David Sweet
Conservative Caucus
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