House of Commons Hansard #217 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was guns.

Topics

Firearms Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Russell MacLellan Cape Breton—The Sydneys, NS

The only difference will be that there will be registration, the possession licence for the owner and a registration certificate for the firearm. Nothing else will change.

With respect to the owner of the firearm coming to the door to show and give pertinent information to an inspector, that is exactly what can happen with an agreement between the two parties. That is not a difficult situation.

With respect to the right to bear firearms, the hon. member is talking about the bill of rights in the U.K. which was passed in the 17th century and gave the right to bear arms. He will also note there has been very meaningful gun control in the United Kingdom. If it applied to the right of every individual to have any kind of firearm he or she wanted, then certainly that gun control would not have taken place.

Firearms Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Swift Current—Maple Creek—Assiniboia, SK

Mr. Speaker, the rest of the Reform speakers will be dividing their time.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to present my arguments regarding Bill C-68. I would like to begin by reading excerpts from a letter which was read in the House in 1976 during the debate on Bill C-83.

I quote: "The proposal to give bureaucrats the authority to determine who may or may not possess a firearm is an alarming example of the philosophy that "all that is not compulsory must be prohibited". If this measure is to become law, it is not difficult to predict that within a few years firearms in Canada will be restricted to a privileged few and that these arms will all be registered with their serial number. Subsequently it would be easy for a megalomaniac government to seize all rifles under the pretence of emergency measures and therefore secure the submissiveness of the people. If you think that the present government's policy is indeed very moderate and my fears exaggerated and unjustified, or even paranoiac, let me remind you that fascism is like cancer: if they are not restrained from the very beginning, they can completely destroy our system.

"There is no proof that firearm control can effectively reduce the rate of crime except in a totalitarian state. Of course, with a total lack of freedom and with the support of relentless police forces there is not much violent crime".

"But having lived and worked in some of those peaceful paradises I do not hesitate to take the moderate risks and responsibilities involved in living in a free society even if it is armed."

"If my government is not afraid of me, in return I will have no reason to fear that same government. If this moderately repressive measure becomes law, I will start to become alarmed".

I wrote this letter and Réal Caouette, the hon. member for Abitibi, read it. Things have not changed: the Liberals are still proposing repressive laws and I am still defending the rights of individual citizens.

I am, I always have been and I always will be opposed to the registration of firearms used for hunting, searches without warrants, the confiscation of private property without compensation and a minister being invested with the power to issue regulations without the approval of Parliament. A reform government would put an end to all of this; we promise.

Currently, Quebecers in rural areas and in the north-farmers, lumberjacks, trappers, etc.-are not being represented by their MPs.

Liberal, Conservative and Bloc members all refused to support the hundreds of thousands of members of a seven-group coalition from Quebec who are opposed to Bill C-68. Ultimately, the Reform Party decided to represent their interests in Parliament.

Réal Caouette knew that I was not one of his supporters, but he presented my letter here for the same reason that we Reformers are representing the people of rural Quebec. He was a genuine populist and he despised the unnecessary heavy hand of government.

We here are all aware of the threats to civil liberty in clauses 99 to 112 of Bill C-68, even with the feeble conciliatory amendments made in committee. These clauses have been discussed in detail, both in the House and at scores of information meetings and mass rallies throughout the country. And they were at least partly reflected in the recent landslide won by Ontario politicians who came out and strongly opposed Bill C-68.

Instead of further addressing those clauses, I would like to draw the attention of the House to some little-known historical information. I have been studying the weapons laws of pre-war Germany, and they are very closely parallel to existing and proposed laws in Canada. I will read a couple of examples. "Firearms acquisition permits must only be issued to persons of undoubted reliability, and only upon proof of need". Here is another: "Firearms can only be professionally sold or otherwise transferred domestically if they bear the manufacturer's or

dealer's company name or registered trademark and a consecutive manufacturer's serial number".

The legislation also provided for confiscations without legal action and without compensation, for the prohibition of certain types of weapons, and for arbitrary changes in regulations and fees.

In fact, the justice minister could have saved a lot of money by dismissing his high-priced legal help, getting a copy of the Reichtag legislation and running it through a photocopier, except that this document contains no search and seizure provision. Of course, outside of the English-speaking world search warrants are of as little consequence as they are to our Minister of Justice. And the penalties for non-compliance were much lighter than those proposed in Bill C-68. O Canada.

Some friends have suggested to me that I should not talk about these matters because by drawing attention to the recent past I am going to somehow destroy my credibility as an opponent of gun control by being too strident, too extreme. I disagree. After all, I am only the messenger drawing attention to irrefutable historical fact. Anti-gun people, above all others, should not shoot the messenger.

The laws are essentially the same. What I want people here to understand is that governments often chip away at civil liberty little by little by little. A common destination can be reached by many different roads. I am certainly not suggesting that the self-righteous authoritarianism of this government places it on the same level as the Third Reich. In fact I am satisfied that everything the Liberals and Conservatives have done and propose to do regarding guns reflects a sincere belief that gun control will somehow reduce violent crime.

The fact that this is not logical and has not worked anywhere else where it has been tried does not deter them, because they are driven not by logic but by their elitist prejudices. And prejudice is a very weak foundation on which to build the laws of a nation.

Firearms Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to the debate now for the last couple of hours and I find it very, very interesting to listen to the doublespeak and the doubletalk and all the rhetoric that has been going on.

I listened to the first speech given by the justice minister, and he made a statement that I think all of Canada ought to know. It is one of the most ridiculous statements I have ever heard. He said that criminals will identify themselves because they will not register their guns. Criminals will identify themselves. I am not taking that statement out of context. If that is not doublespeak, if that is not one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard! By targeting law-abiding citizens, he said we will somehow flush out the criminal element.

The people of Canada ought to know what debate is taking place here today. He says the cost will be minimal. He says that we have too many guns in society and this will simply be a minor inconvenience. The contradictions are there. We have too many guns in society. We have to get rid of them, but this will only be a minor inconvenience. It will not really restrict law-abiding gun owners. Right there are the contradictions. They are talking out of both sides of their mouths. I have a difficult time sitting here calmly listening to this debate.

One of the things they say is that it will make society safer, and then they go on to explain how they are going to tie up the police and all of our resources. How does that make society safer when you are dealing with 99.99 per cent of the people who are not a problem and you are going to tie up your police behind their desks dealing with these law-abiding citizens rather than being out on the street dealing with the criminal element? That defies logic. That is speaking out of both sides of your mouth. That will never work.

They are going to increase our taxes. They are saying it will not cost very much, $10 for 10 guns, et cetera. Who is going to pay for it? The finance minister has admitted that the increase in taxes is destroying jobs. If they destroy jobs in this country, the first people who are going to suffer are the young men of this country. Do not tell me that is not a risk or will not increase crime in this country. They cannot have it both ways. They are actually doing the opposite of what they are leading us to believe in their speeches. This is really a problem.

We have repeatedly stated that the registration system will provide information to the wrong people. It will fall into the wrong hands. A senior RCMP officer admitted that. He said there is no way we can prevent criminals from obtaining the information. We have a problem.

They talk about Great Britain and how much safer it is there. In Great Britain 59 per cent of the attempted burglaries are committed while someone is at home and the lights are on. In the U.S.A., less than 9 per cent of burglaries are committed when people are at home and the lights are on. Why? Because a criminal will not put himself at risk. I do not have time to go through the whole argument, but research shows that victims of attempted robbery and assault are less likely to be injured if they can defend themselves.

There are so many statements that contradict themselves. For example, the government proposes to ban .25 and .32 calibre handguns and handguns with barrel lengths of less than 4.14 inches, implying that will make society safer. What does that do? Does that restrict the criminal element? No. They will simply go to the guns that are larger and more effective.

Firearms Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Reform

Darrel Stinson Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

More killing power.

Firearms Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Yes, they will have more killing power, as my colleague has suggested.

This is convoluted logic. He says that over 500,000 handguns are dangerous and they need to be banned, but they are not dangerous if they leave them in the hands of their owners right now. There is a contradiction in what they are doing.

I wonder if my colleague would like to comment on some of the doublespeak, some of the contradictory statements we have been hearing today that somehow this will improve public safety. I rather doubt it will.

Firearms Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I do not doubt that the hon. colleague would like to respond, but the member has used up the entire five minutes for questions or comments.

Firearms Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, what is the alleged purpose of Bill C-68? To listen to the Liberals, Bill C-68 is somehow magically supposed to keep our homes and streets safer. However, simply put, Bill C-68 will not prevent the criminal misuse of firearms.

There are two principal parts to the bill to which many people object. The first is the registration of rifles and shotguns. Criminals will not register their guns. Even the Liberals admit that. Therefore, the legislation will do nothing to prevent premeditated crime. Criminals do not rob banks with hunting rifles. If shotguns are used they invariably use a barrel that has been sawed off, which makes it illegal and not registrable. Consequently, Bill C-68 will not effect any positive change.

The second part involves the banning of hundreds of thousands of currently legal sports firearms. I speak of .25 calibre, .32 calibre, and handguns with barrel lengths of 105 millimetres or less. According to the minister, the reason for the ban is the fact that these firearms are inaccurate and ineffective and therefore there is no justification for owning them. What is really inaccurate and ineffective is the minister's research that came up with this whole rationale.

The .32 calibre is the World Cup and Olympic calibre. Canada has won many cups and medals with this so-called inaccurate and ineffective firearm. Linda Thom, who used a firearm proposed to be banned under Bill C-68 to win a gold medal for Canada in an Olympic competition, said that she represents the minister and stated that the firearm she used was so inaccurate and ineffective that her winning that medal for Canada must have been a fluke.

Many people who have never used a gun assume that recreational shooting involves only buying a gun and a box of ammunition, going to the range, pointing at the target and pulling the trigger. If that were true it certainly would suggest that there is little sport involved in the activity. The truth is that real recreational and competitive shooting involves much more. The firearm itself requires much consideration and work, both in the selection and refinement of its use. Purchasers must consider barrel length, sighting radius, the type of sight, type of action, type and fit of grips, trigger pull, as well as many other considerations. Many of these items require changes and modifications to suit the type of shooting gun as well as the style and ability of the individual.

Ammunition is rarely bought at the store but instead is custom loaded by the individual. Custom loaded ammunition is much more accurate than store bought. The actual loading is a specialized activity in itself. Each firearm shoots differently and the development of the best ammunition is an activity that requires time and dedication to the sport.

When one gets down to shooting, it involves much more than pointing at the target and pulling the trigger. Each club competition is rigidly controlled for both safety and enjoyment. The objectives of each shoot are designed to be both challenging and enjoyable. Participants compete against both their own abilities and those of other competitors.

Shooting involves the development of a series of skills, a great deal of practice and friendly competition, just like any other sport. Stereotyping of the sport of competitive shooters is not justifiable. Enthusiasts range from labourers to office workers, mechanics to doctors, men and women.

The minister claims, in rather vague terms, that registering rifles and shotguns will prevent crime and thus save lives. A total of 1,354 people died from firearm related incidents in 1992. This includes suicide, homicide, accidental death and legal intervention. The minister has not given any figures on his projections of lives to be saved as a result of the legislation or even demonstrated that any lives will in fact be saved. At the same time, he implies this is the principal reason for his action.

Many of the current supporters of the legislation do so with the rationalization that if it saves any lives at all then it is worth whatever it costs. Let us have a look at these costs. In doing this, I am going to use the minister's own figures despite the fact that I believe them to be inaccurate and misleading.

According to figures tabled by the minister at the justice committee it will now cost $118.9 million to set up the registration system. This is up from the original estimate of $85 million. What the minister avoids talking about is the actual cost of registration.

All handguns are registered now so we know the cost to the system to register a firearm. That cost is $82 per firearm. The minister and his advisor, Wendy Cukier, have estimated the number of rifles and shotguns in the country to be about six million, which is curious given the auditor general puts the figure around 18 million. Using the six million figure and the known cost of registration, puts the actual cost of registration at $492 million. If the true amount is halfway between the two

estimates on the number of firearms then there goes another billion dollars in bureaucratic spending.

Somehow I think that if we really worked at it we could find something better to spend that money on.

One in nine women will develop breast cancer during their lives. This year alone 17,000 women will be newly diagnosed with the disease and over 5,400 of those will die of breast cancer. If cancer of the testicles had statistics like this the men on the other side of the House would cross their legs and pass $500 million worth of funding for research and prevention before the end of a single day. They would tell the women on their side of the House how to vote as is the Liberal procedure.

However, as it stands now, they would rather spend $118.9 million setting up a registration program for rifles and shotguns without any evidence that it will save a single life.

I have done some research into the use of $118.9 million for the detection and treatment of breast cancer. The results were very interesting. This $118.9 million could double detection screening of women in the appropriate age group. Experts tell me that this would prevent about one-third of the current deaths from this dreaded disease. That amounts to 1,710 women a year. That is more people than the total number of firearm's related deaths and we have not heard one single word of evidence that even a single life would be saved through following the minister's ill-conceived legislation.

There would be those who would point out that this expenditure for breast cancer treatment would be an annual cost whereas the setting up of the registration system is a one time cost. Ignoring the fact that setting up the registration system does not include the cost of registration itself, which is many times the initial cost, I looked at what a one time funding of $118.9 million would do for the problem of breast cancer in the long term.

As we all know, each disease has an associated health care cost. The cost of a terminal breast cancer patient for hospital time, chemotherapy and other expenses averages about $100,000. This does not include the human cost of the victim or her family. If we could prevent the death of 1,710 women a year with an associated health care savings of $100,000 each we would reduce health care expenses by $171 million.

Although the initial $118.9 million spent on the real saving of lives versus the minister's wild fantasy of forcing his values on others would be a one-time expenditure, 70 per cent of the health care system's savings would provide this amount each year while continuing to save the health care system an additional $52 million a year. In light of this, the minister's fantasy does not seem very supportable.

We are at a very troubled time in our country's finances. The government is talking about many cuts in federal spending. The cuts are necessary but it means the government has to learn how to set priorities in order to preserve the quality of life while addressing the financial problems we face.

It seems the government, particularly the Minister of Justice, has some very mixed priorities. It is time to tell the minister that restricting the activities of law-abiding citizens is not a priority. Its legislation is a waste of the taxpayers' money at a time when we have none to waste.

Firearms Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to enter the debate on this matter.

I was here this morning when the Minister of Justice gave his presentation. He talked about the members of the third party trafficking in fiction. If the member who just spoke had been here he would have been the beneficiary of some of the information, in particular the cost of registration.

The minister was very clear in pointing out we cannot compare the registration cost of handguns to long guns because with handgun registration there are police investigations, et cetera involved which makes it much more expensive.

We also had the member for Wild Rose telling the House there is no difference in crime rates between the United States of America and Canada. Let me tell the Reform Party that is trafficking in fiction and Canadians will not buy that line.

Members of the Reform Party say we have had registration of handguns which has not lowered the crime rate. Let me suggest to them that when a police officer arrests an individual who is carrying an unregistered handgun and he does not have a permit to carry that gun, the police officer can now arrest that individual for the possession of a restricted firearm. He can take him to the police station and no doubt the investigation will reveal that many crimes have been committed.

Let me also use another example that was cited by the Minister of Justice this morning. It relates to an incident where police officers can raid a motorcycle club where they will find 20, 30 or 40 long guns. Under the present legislation there is no way for the police to determine whether those are illegal guns.

It is important to get all the facts. This legislation is trying to move toward maintaining the kind of society Canadians have come to accept. We do not believe in mirroring the Americans and their crime rate.

On Tuesday, June 6, an article Second Opinion appeared in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record . The author of this article was John Dadds of Kitchener who was an OPP police officer for 20 years

and previously was with the metro Toronto and London, England forces.

This former police officer took aim at the Ontario Handgun Association which produced an 84 page booklet called "Politics of Panic". In his article he says that what he wanted to do was to make sure that the police have the ability to control the spread of guns, the police have the ability to control the use of guns and to make sure that the United States does not become a model for this country.

In closing, I have a question for the member. We have heard often enough from members of the Reform Party about commissioned 1-900 calls to hear what their constituents have to say. With the exception of three members who are a bit more enlightened than the rest, when are they going to come clean and actually start listening to their constituents and not say to us, as was said earlier on by the member for Crowfoot, that they do not believe in polls. You guys promised to represent-

Firearms Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Order. Thus far we have had a good vigorous debate, meeting all the criteria of good parliamentary debate. I hope that will continue after question period. I would caution also all members that all interventions must be made through the Chair, otherwise we know what can happen.

With one minute remaining, the hon. member for Kootenay West-Revelstoke because the Speaker will want to get on with members' statements.

Firearms Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, in response to the direct question that the hon. member finally asked, I sent out a questionnaire in my riding. The question was: "Do you support the mandatory registration of rifles and shotguns, as expressed in the government's Bill C-68?" It is a fair and honest question. The result was 84 per cent no; 16 per cent yes.

As far as the hon. member suggesting that the Reform Party, the national opposition party, is trafficking in myths, I would suggest to him that he might look to his own party when he talks about cardboard registration. The government is going to keep the cost of registering rifles and shotguns down by giving everybody a simple card to fill out and mail in and the firearms will be registered.

I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that if the government is actually stupid enough to do that, we are going to have neighbours registering other neighbours, enemies registering enemies, pro-gun people registering people opposed to firearms. Everybody in the world will have an Uzi because that is the way those cards will be filled out.

Firearms Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

It being 2 p.m., we will now proceed to Statements by Members.

Battle Of Stoney Creek
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Tony Valeri Lincoln, ON

Mr. Speaker, recently I attended the annual Stoney Creek battle re-enactment in my riding of Lincoln. For all of us the war of 1812 was a war we learned about in history books. There are no pictures, videos or films of the battle.

Therefore the annual re-enactment of the battle of Stoney Creek takes on an even greater significance, not only as an educational experience but more important it portrays the realities of war and the struggles suffered by our countrymen.

Many who attended the re-enactment voiced their concern over provisions of Bill C-68 which might jeopardize future re-enactments. The British North America Living History Association presented a brief to the Standing Committee on Justice. I am sure committee members have taken into consideration the points made to ensure re-enactments can continue unobstructed.

The Stoney Creek battle re-enactment is a community event and a source of pride for the city. The quality and performance of the re-enactment has earned Stoney Creek praise throughout North America. Let us not lose the opportunity to continue to provide-

2002 Winter Olympics
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Philippe Paré Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the name of the city chosen to host the Winter Olympics in 2002 will be announced officially this Friday in Budapest.

Many factors point to Quebec City as the ideal location, including the city's outstanding record for organizing major events, the many sports facilities that are already in place, the region's cultural and tourist attractions, the solid and enthusiastic support of the entire community and the civic pride of all Quebecers.

If we add to the flame burning inside every Quebecer, the torch carrying the Olympic flame for the 2002 Winter Olympics, the whole world will witness a joyous outburst of enthusiasm and pride.

The caucus of the Bloc Quebecois joins me in wishing Quebec City the best of luck in its bid for these games, which will be truly exceptional.

Good luck, Quebec.

Telecommunications
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Reform

Herb Grubel Capilano—Howe Sound, BC

Mr. Speaker, increased competition in broadcasting by telephone companies will increase consumer choice and result in lower prices.

The people of British Columbia are in danger of losing these benefits because B.C. Telecom is partly foreign owned and therefore prohibited from holding a broadcast licence.

I urge the government to remove the relevant foreign ownership restrictions altogether to maximize benefits for consumers.

As a second best policy, I urge the government to permit B. C. Telecom to own a broadcasting licence by a special waiver of the foreign ownership restriction just like it has for the company's other activities.

The people of British Columbia would be sure to benefit greatly.

International Financial Institutions
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Len Taylor The Battlefords—Meadow Lake, SK

Mr. Speaker, today the Sierra Club announced that a coalition of 12 Canadian environmental organizations will be in Halifax during the G-7 summit later this week to urge G-7 leaders to keep their promise to review international financial institutions.

The coalition's five point plan includes a review of the policies and practices of the Bretton Woods institutions, a Tobin tax on speculators, ending world bank lending to environmentally and socially destructive megaprojects, measures to reduce multinational debt and the end to structural adjustment programs.

The draft G-7 final communique leaked last week shows the G-7 countries are interested only in protecting the interests of international speculators and investors.

It is the people's summit that will be discussing fundamental reform of the Bretton Woods institutions to move us toward a more stable, equitable and sustainable international financial system.

I congratulate the Sierra Club for taking the lead in this important initiative.