Source: (1999) United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders 26-1.

In 1984, the Canadian Youth Offenders Act (YOA) was passed and considered a revolutionary piece of legislation. Yet, with increases in youth crime much criticism was generated from the public towards the Federal Government’s YOA. In response to the criticisms, successive Federal Governments introduced three sets of amendments (Bill C-37) to the YOA since its initial passage. However, these amendments did little to reduce confusion and discord concerning youth justice policy in Canada. In this article, three facets of mediated discourse were notable in the Bill C-37 hearings, the language of rationalization, the language of polarization, and the language of over-simplification. The Canadian parliamentary hearings on Bill C-37 exemplified the Federal Government’s mediation of diverse discourses on youth justice issues. The hearings were structured to foster dialogue and shared understanding among those having a stake in the YOA. The hearings served to facilitate the passage of the proposed YOA amendments into law in 1995. Noted in the article was the articulation of words and concepts in the discursive process that did little to reduce the ambiguity and contradictions of the YOA. The language of rationalization, polarization, and over-simplification were seen as possibly contributing to the passage of Bill C-37, but it did not resolve the confusion, dissension, and widespread frustration that continued to surround youth justice policy in Canada. In conclusion, it was questionable whether mediated discourse, an integral piece to policy formulation, had any significance on the implementation of Canadian youth justice policy.