UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Juvenile delinquents, young offenders and young persons in conflict with the law: a study of Juvenile delinquency law reform in Canada Wolfson, Lorne H


On July 31, 1975, the Solicitor-General of Canada received from a Committee appointed by him a report containing proposals for new legislation to deal with young persons in conflict with the law and to replace the present Juvenile Delinquents Act. Since that date, consultations' with professionals involved in the field of juvenile justice, provincial officials and interested members of the public has yielded a wide range of reactions and suggestions. At the present time, it is expected that a Bill based on that report will be placed before Parliament in the fall of 1976. The purpose of this paper is to explore, from a number of perspectives, both the recent proposals and the legislation which they are meant to replace. To that end, this paper is divided into two major Parts. Part I consists primarily of a retrospective analysis of the first 100 years of the juvenile court movement in Canada. Chapter 1 traces its orgins from the inherent equitable jurisdiction of the Courts of Chancery and from the earliest legislative initiatives in the United States to the creation of this nation's first Juvenile Delinquents Act in 1908, and concludes with a discussion of the effect that attacks based on constitutional and Bill of Rights grounds have had upon its development and continued viability. Chapter 2 examines the demands for reform that had arisen by mid-century and compares and contrasts in detail the federal government's three major reform efforts to date: the Department of Justice Report (1965), Bill C-192: The Young Offenders Act (1970), and the Young Persons in Conflict with the Law Act (1975). In evaluating any reform efforts in this field a number of distinct areas of concern can be identified. The scope of the legislation, diversion and other pre-trial procedures, practice and procedure in the juvenile court, the dispositional alternatives, appeal and other methods of dispositional review, and the consequences of juvenile convictions are all equally important facets of delinquency law reform today. In Part II of this paper we focus on two of those areas-namely, the scope of the legislation and practice and procedure in the juvenile court-considering in detail the development of the law to date, the issues that are currently facing reformers, and the way in which those issues have been dealt with in each, of the three primary reform documents. Chapter 3 discusses the various jurisdictional issues that will determine the future role of the juvenile court: geographical scope, minimum and maximum age limits, offence jurisdiction, and finally, the complex problem of waiver. Chapter 4 examines another area of prime concern to lawyers, the rules governing practice and procedure in the juvenile court. Such topics as the right to counsel, publicity and private hearings, notice and duty to attend, and the conduct of the proceeding itself are considered and both judicial developments and the statutory reform proposals are described and evaluated. In Chapter 5 a number of other issues not discussed here but still requiring attention are identified. Finally, in the two Appendices, the problems of legislative reform in this field are considered from a different perspective, that of the individual provinces of British Columbia. After briefly summarizing the various sections of provincial legislation that affect the operation of the. federal Act, the major trends suggested by the recent federal report are compared to and contrasted with those found in the recent reports of the B.C. Royal Commission on Family and Children's Law.

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