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Too few scofflaws for federal study

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OTTAWA -- The federal government had to scrap a planned study into the criminal activities of young francophones in English-speaking Canada -- and anglophone youths in Quebec -- when they couldn't find enough kids from those groups who broke the law, new documents show.

"When we originally planned the methodology, we assumed there would be youth that met the study criteria," a Justice Department official wrote to her colleagues last July.

"Unfortunately... there are no (or very few) youth that meet the study criteria."

That forced the department to cancel its $91,000 contract with Winnipeg-based Prairie Research Associates. The company was paid a smaller portion of that amount for work it had already done, documents show.

The study was meant to help the department better understand whether belonging to a linguistic minority has anything to do with young offenders setting out on a path to a life of crime, according to a contract notice.

The department planned to interview 105 youth from official language minority communities who were in the care of rehabilitation centres in six provinces -- British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.

Ninety of the 105 participants were to be young men aged 12 to 18. The remaining 15 were to be young women of the same age group. All the girls were supposed to be from Ontario, while the boys could come from any of the six provinces. All participants -- boys and girls -- had to live in cities.

Researchers were under instruction not to interview anyone with a serious mental illness.

But researchers could only find two provinces with youngsters fitting that criteria, the documents show -- and those youths were all on probation, not in rehabilitation centres.

The Canadian Press obtained the documents under the Access to Information Act.

The Justice Department wanted to know when youths from linguistic minorities started to "exhibit deviant or delinquent behaviour."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 12, 2013 B2

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