(This column was published in the North Shore News on Nov. 8, 2000)


Liberals repeat same YOA promises

By Leo Knight

ANOTHER Liberal Red Book, another collection of rhetoric and delusionary claptrap is foisted on a comatose nation.  


For the third consecutive time the Chrétien-led Liberals have promised to deal with the incredibly ineffectual Young Offenders Act. In 1993, in Red Book I, the changes to the YOA was the centrepiece of the justice plank in their electoral platform.  


Their first term in office produced nothing.  


In 1997, they took another shot at it, placing amending the YOA, again, as the centrepiece of their platform in Red Book II. At least that time, soon to be former Justice Minister, Anne McLellan actually introduced the new legislation. Unfortunately, due to Chrétien's premature ejaculation, the legislation died on the order paper. Quite possibly, it is because the Bloc Quebecois introduced over 3,000 amendments to the proposed act and Chrétien was afraid to take on Gilles Duceppe on the issue, risking further alienation of Quebec on the eve of a planned election.  


So, yet again, in Jean Chrétien's Canada, his political aspirations win out over the public good.  


The YOA is a hot-button issue largely because of the perception that juvenile crime is being allowed to run rampant because the YOA does little to provide any sort of meaningful consequences to youthful offenders. Stats Can tries to refute that perception, but fails to explain that numbers are down for several reasons. Not the least of which being that many property crimes are simply no longer being reported to police.  


A confidential B.C. Attorney General's memo written two years ago suggested over 50 per cent of all such crimes go unreported. Great isn't it? Stats Can trumpets the crime rate is down a few percentage points and the reality is the number should be twice as high as we are told.  


National media reported the latest drivel on the crime rate last week. Yet, in amongst the allegedly great news about the crime rate dropping, evidently, one in four Canadians were victims of crime last year. One in four. Yet that number alone would indicate there were over 7 million crimes committed in Canada last year assuming no one was a victim more that once. And that, I can assure you, is not the case.  


To analyze all of this we need to try and understand what happens when the rubber meets the road, so to speak.  


Last week in Toronto, an older lady with polio, confined to a wheelchair was selling poppies on behalf of the Royal Canadian Legion at a mall in the eastern part of the city. She was swarmed by a gang of youths who dragged her out of her wheelchair and over fifty yards, punching, kicking and beating her in an effort to get her little tin of coins. She fought bravely and received a couple of defensive stab wounds for her efforts and the punks got her tin and its estimated $80 in change.  


In Edmonton, again last week, a 14-year-old boy was beaten senseless in a schoolyard by a gang of youths. So bad did they beat the boy, his face was caved in. Forensic investigators documented blood splatters on a wall from the ground to a height of over four feet. Police had to identify the teen through dental records even though he was still alive. Albeit barely. The boys arrested for the offence all had a history of violent behaviour. The YOA did nothing to alter that behaviour.  


In North Vancouver last month, the first shots of a teenage street gang war were fired, a war in which the embers are still glowing.  


A group of Lynn Valley wannabe toughs goaded a group of Iranian teens into a rendezvous for a rumble at the 7-11. Both groups came tooled up with knives and machetes. One boy, an instigator in the ensuing violence, had his hand severed, hanging on by the skin. He kept fighting, getting his left arm broken in the melee and suffering a stab wound in the back collapsing a lung.  


A few days later, the white teens from the Valley, incensed by the damage done to one of their own, went looking for Iranian teens. Any Iranian teens. They found such a group coming from the recCentre on Lonsdale. A group that had absolutely nothing to do with the incident at the 7-11.  


They attacked with pellet pistols shooting at random. One of the Iranian boys was shot in the face. His friends rushed him to LGH. At the hospital, a member of an infamous Lynn Valley family was standing his own security watch for his buddy with the severed hand. When he saw the Iranian boys coming to the hospital, he called the troops, not realizing why they were in fact there. The same boys who had attacked the Iranian kids at the recCentre responded to the SOS.  


The RCMP were on the scene and several arrests were made and weapons recovered.


About a week later, two Iranian teens were seen walking down the street and checked by the police. One of the boys had a machete sheathed in a specially sewn-in pocket in his trousers. These boys were later determined to have been involved in the 7-11 incident.  


The police are concerned there will be more retaliatory attacks.  


Youth violence and crime is nothing new. But, the level of violence is reaching frightening and heretofore unforeseen levels. The Chrétien government has been promising to do something about it since Red Book I. We have now seen Red Book III and they are still promising to do something about it.  


And the prime minister says he is running on his record. What would happen if you told your boss you would do something seven years ago and still hadn't done it?  



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