House of Commons Hansard #41 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was registry.

Topics

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is perhaps one of the unforeseen side effects of this law that maybe the Conservatives had not thought about in their rush to pass it through without much debate. It seems that there are some weapons which will escape any kind of registration, including the kinds of weapons that were used by Marc Lépine in the incident at École Polytechnique and, as I said in my speech, in Norway. While I grant the Conservatives that it is probably not a deliberate attempt to deregister weapons, in fact it will allow these weapons to escape registration.

I am also concerned about the requirement to report sales of these kinds of weapons, which existed before the registry. Now that the registry is being abolished, we need to have the sales reports brought back.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my colleague's position and I find it quite difficult to understand a couple of things he said. I heard him say that people are going to be at risk because of these guns. Does that mean we are at risk if there is a military person in a tank or an airman in an aircraft? These types of people who possess guns do not create risk necessarily. Many target shooters and hunters enjoy those sports and we do not consider that they are dangerous people. The sweeping statement that everyone is at risk over this is not quite true.

He also referenced long gun homicides and suggested that there was a drop. Let me read from The Chronicle Herald, which states, “While it's true long-gun homicides have dropped since the registry was introduced, it's also true that murder rates have been—”

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order. I apologize for cutting off the hon. member, but I have to stop him there to give the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca a chance to respond.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member asked about military members. Of course, they all have IDs, they are all registered and everyone knows what weapons they are carrying. I have no doubts about them doing their job safely, but if they were to take those weapons from their job into another context which would be inappropriate, we would know that they have the weapons and we would know who they are.

My point about the registration of weapons is that it allows us to know who can safely possess handguns and they are no threat. It is similar to those who like to drive. Those who like to target shoot should register their guns and get a licence. This is no heavy burden on them in comparison to the gain we get in public safety. It is by knowing who possesses weapons that weapons can be removed from the hands of those who may have mental instability problems, addiction problems, or family violence problems.

I am not trying to remove guns from the hands of legitimate hunters, target shooters or--

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order. The hon. member is out of time.

I understand the hon. member for South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale is rising on a point of order.

Bill C-317--Income Tax Act
Points of Order
Government Orders

November 1st, 2011 / 3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to respond to the member for Windsor—Tecumseh, who again has raised certain objections to my private member's bill, Bill C-317. I must note that the member did not raise a single objection or make a substantive argument in response to my rebuttal, nor can he.

To reiterate, it is simply the case that Bill C-317 does not give any additional taxation power to the Canada Revenue Agency that it does not already have. It merely enumerates two of the most relevant of those already existing powers. To be specific, the CRA already has the power to revoke a labour organization's tax exempt status and revoke dues deductibility. The CRA has the power to do this for several different types of violations of the Income Tax Act, including the one that is specifically identified in this bill, the failure of a labour organization to file a return.

As the bill does not grant the CRA any new powers to revoke tax exempt status or dues deductibility, there is no new ability created to collect extra revenue.

Only the requirements surrounding what must be included in a public information return are new. Let me emphasize that labour organizations must already file returns. They already face consequences for failure to file returns. The tax consequences for failure to file returns already exist. Those tax consequences are not increased or changed by the bill. The only thing that would change is what information is required in the public information return.

While the public information return I propose is not onerous, it is probably more detailed in some areas than what is currently required of labour organizations. However, requiring more detail than may be presently expected does not mean requiring more tax or a new tax. It is already the case that a labour organization could refuse to file its currently required tax return, and it could face losing its tax exempt status and dues deductibility as a result.

Under my bill, a labour organization could also refuse to file its tax return, including the new public information return that I propose, and it would face the identical consequences.

Let us use the member's own example of a dues-paying worker whose income was slightly below the second income tax bracket and was forced to pay taxes because of lost dues deductibility.

The member used an example to fit the definition of creating a new taxpayer, as it states in Beauchesne's, “an extension of the incidence of a tax so as to include persons not already payers”.

The example could be a realistic scenario; I do not debate that. However, it makes no difference. Using the same example, the same dues-paying worker could be forced into paying taxes right now if his or her union refused to file its tax return today.

Nothing would change for that dues-paying worker with the passage of my bill. The power to create a taxpayer out of the dues-paying worker in the member's example was granted to the Canada Revenue Agency a long time ago. My bill does nothing to change that.

Frankly, that is the long and the short of it. My bill's sole purpose is to ask for more detailed information and to make it public. It does not impose any additional or new tax consequences on a labour organization or its members.

A different point the member raised in his response concerned the requirement of unionized employees to pay dues. Of course, in my response I did not dispute the requirement to pay dues, nor did I suggest that it was discretionary under certain labour contracts. Instead, I pointed out that employees always have the option to choose which union they want to represent them.

Again, Mr. Speaker, if you read the transcript carefully, you will see that the member did not address the substance of the point that I raised. Instead, he was merely dismissive of the well-established fact that union members can decertify their existing union and certify another one. In Canada this happens all the time for a variety of reasons with which the member is undoubtedly familiar.

I greatly suspect at this very moment if a union local deliberately violated the Income Tax Act by refusing to file a return and put its tax exempt status and its member dues deductibility at risk, its members would take action. One of those possible actions would be, as I stated, to decertify the union and bring in another. As the member himself pointed out, unions are democratic institutions, so another action might be to democratically remove the board of the local and install one that would comply with the law and thus preserve the dues deductibility of members.

The bottom line is that while it may be mandatory to pay dues, dues-paying employees do have options, including whether or not to pay their dues to a labour organization that qualifies for dues deductibility under the Income Tax Act.

However, regardless of the choices that union members may make, Mr. Speaker, I would urge you to focus on my major point, that there is no difference in the potential tax consequences in the scenario of a labour organization failing to file a tax return under the present Income Tax Act versus a labour organization failing to file under the amendments proposed by my bill.

Finally, let me note that both in his point of order and in his later response, the member disappointingly used a considerable portion of his remarks to engage in actual debate over the substance of my bill. He raised issues clearly unrelated to his point of order over ways and means, such as what he falsely assumes my bill would cost unions and his favourite theory about the strategy behind my bill.

The proper place for the member to raise these issues would be the time allotted for private members' business, and I would be happy to correct the member on his faulty arguments during that time.

Bill C-317--Income Tax Act
Points of Order
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I thank the hon. member for his further intervention on this point.

Resuming debate. The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Kenora
Ontario

Conservative

Greg Rickford Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak in favour of Bill C-19, the ending the long gun registry bill.

I beg to differ with previous speakers from the other side that this particular subject has not been exhausted. We debated this subject in previous sessions of Parliament. I want to revisit a few of the discussion points from that time, but I will start by saying that our government believes strongly that to keep our streets and communities safe, we need to give the police the tools they need to do their jobs. I think we can all agree on that.

We need to continue to invest in smart crime prevention measures and ensure that dangerous criminals are taken out of circulation so that they can no longer victimize innocent Canadians. I might add as a substantive point, there is a need to deal with gun-related crimes. This is action this government has taken in the past.

As all members of the House know, our party's position and commitment dates back to 1995 when the previous Liberal government inflicted this lack-lustre attempt to deal with gun related crimes. What we wound up with was legislation that put gun control on law-abiding hunters, first nations, Inuit, farmers and sport shooters across the country. For these reasons the Conservative Party, now the government, has long opposed the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry.

By eliminating the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry, we instead can focus our efforts on more effective measures to tackle crime and protect families and communities.

I want to re-emphasize for the purposes of this debate what this bill would do. It would repeal the requirement to register non-restricted firearms, long guns; provide for the destruction of all records pertaining to the registration of long guns in the Canadian firearms registry and under the control of the chief firearms officer; and maintain control over restricted and prohibited firearms.

I also want to re-emphasize the fact that the ending the long gun registry bill would not in any way derogate from important legislation and policy that will continue to meet the important public policy safeguards around legal long gun possession and acquisitions. Specifically, firearm owners, or those who wish to acquire a firearm or ammunition, would continue to be required to undergo a police background check, pass a rigorous firearms safety course, and comply with all firearms safe storage and transportation requirements. Furthermore, firearms owners would also still require a valid a firearms licence to purchase and possess long guns and to register restricted and prohibited firearms, such as hand guns.

Obviously, these are important measures that we have actually fortified, not to mention of course making sure that the screening process has even more rigour to it to ensure that responsible long gun owners have their affairs in order to possess these types of long guns.

We are investing in a number of effective measures in this regard and in the broader public safety initiative. We are fighting organized crime, which is where many gun-related crimes occur, almost always with illegal weapons and prohibited firearms. We are introducing mandatory minimum penalties for serious gun crimes. We are combatting gun smuggling. Those are measures that we have taken and ones which we will continue to take.

I want to take a moment to summarize some of what has been presented to the House by my colleagues. There are two particular points.

First and most important, in the recent election Canadians from coast to coast to coast gave our government a strong mandate to end the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry once and for all, and that is exactly what the bill would do.

I would say by way of extension, the great Kenora riding has a rich tradition in hunting. Our first nations communities, many of which are isolated, depend on the safe possession and acquisition of long guns and ammunition for their traditions and way of life. They gave me a strong mandate to carry this message forward to our government.

Second, in contrary to what some special interest groups tell us, the bill does not weaken gun controls. I have alluded already to the fact that real gun control in this country is done through an effective licensing program, good legislation and public policy around prohibited and illegal weapons and the crimes that are committed with them. Licensing is what affects people, and it is how people who should not own firearms are identified. Bill C-19 simply does not change or address licensing at all. To say otherwise would be a misstatement of fact.

Third, the destruction of records is a necessary part of fulfilling our commitment to Canadians. I find this new hedging argument quite interesting. If the registration list still occurs, then it is in fact, by simple logic, still a registry. More importantly, in my respectful view, this is private information that was given by law-abiding citizens under federal legislation at the time. I do not believe that it is available for the opposition parties to raise what has become a new dimension to their debate. Perhaps it is out of exasperation that some of their members and others of the third party have lost seats in the House over this issue. Perhaps that is why they would create something out of what I believe is not just insignificant, but a misstatement of facts.

I want to remind members of the fundamentals of the long gun registry. It is a process by which law-abiding long gun owners are compelled by force of law to disclose personal information to the state. Those data are then stored and used as part of a gun control system. If we accept that this is neither an effective gun control system nor an appropriate use of billions of dollars of taxpayers' money, then by default we logically must agree that these data must be destroyed. It is also widely accepted that the data are incomplete and out of date and will become increasingly so over time.

As well, in an effort to grasp at any argument they can get their hands on, the NDP suggests that the destruction of these records would cost “untold millions”, in the words of the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley. This concerns me. The destruction of records contained in the long gun registry will not result in additional costs to Canadian taxpayers.

I will use my last couple of minutes to reflect fondly on the rich traditions of many northwestern Ontarians including, perhaps critically, our first nations communities.

I appreciate the countless number of chiefs, particularly those in isolated and remote first nations, who have laid out the problems that the gun registry has posed for them in their communities, not just in terms of possession and acquisition but also in the challenges with respect to ammunition. They have spoken loud and clear.

I am here as part of a bigger northwestern Ontario picture on this particular piece of legislation. With great honour and respect, as a long gun owner myself, I would impress upon the House that we must consider the rich traditions of many rural and northern Canadians, particularly those in isolated and remote communities. For example, I have had an opportunity to spend some time in the western Arctic, where I have engaged in hunting and the like.

Coming from northwestern Ontario, I realize that the opposition, particularly the NDP, are firmly divided on this issue. We have seen colleagues across the floor who are from my region vote in support of abolishing the registry, and I encourage those members to maintain their position. We know how northwestern Ontarians feel.

I agree with the intellectual point that there may be a desire for us to move on from this debate. Northwestern Ontarians want to participate in other regional issues and issues of national interest. However, I do not accept what is being proffered by members of the opposite party, particularly the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, who says that the passion has been lost.

To the contrary, we have never felt stronger about this. We want to move on, and I am asking members to support this important piece of legislation.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Dany Morin Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Over the past few months, I have met with representatives of women's organizations in my riding. I am referring here to the Centre féminin du Saguenay, which has been taking care of abused women and their children since 1976, and Maison Isa, which is an organization that helps victims of sexual abuse. I met with these representatives at their request and I was happy to do so. These people told me just how important the firearms registry is and how useful it has been to them in their work with abused women. They spoke about the many instances in which a woman was afraid of her husband, who owned a firearm, and just how useful the registry could be in such situations.

What does the government have to say to these women who fear for their lives and the lives of their children?

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I can appreciate that this member may have consulted with his constituents if he can appreciate that I spent a great deal of my life living in isolated and remote first nations communities. I have a rich professional background in dealing with a variety of domestic and sexual assaults, most unfortunately. Not one of them revolved around a gun-related incident. However, I can tell the member that this is exactly what the licensing process is intended to deal with.

The licensing process, which would not be affected by this legislation, deals specifically with stringent guidelines to prevent those kinds of people with those kinds of tendencies in those kinds of circumstances from lawfully possessing or acquiring long guns. That is an important intellectual point, and in the context of domestic abuse and sexual assaults, it is a more than important practical point in this debate.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member can provide a comment in relation to individual provinces. In particular, the Province of Quebec has indicated that it wants to reinstate a long gun registry in the province of Quebec. I understand other provinces might give it consideration. Some provinces have said “no” to it; I believe Manitoba has said “absolutely not” to the long gun registry. However, we notice that there are differences of opinion.

Could the member provide a comment on whether this legislature should support the Province of Quebec in its desire to have the long gun registry and on whether we can show that support by allowing them access to the data? The privacy issue that the member refers to, in the opinion of many, is just more of an excuse. Can we put that excuse to the side and provide—

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Order, please.

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am never clear whether this is about a word count for the member or whether he is shifting his representation to the Province of Quebec.

I will answer in unequivocal terms. The answer is “no”.

That is private information that was given to legislation. It was given in the context of that piece of legislation. That is all it is for. It is the position of this government, and one that I strongly support and have encouraged my colleagues to support, that this information not be disseminated.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to compliment the member on an excellent speech. I know there are many people in northern Ontario who are deeply concerned about this issue.

I know, for example, that when the gun registry was first established, the leader of the NDP voted against doing so. Audrey McLaughlin, the MP for Yukon, like many other northerners, was very concerned about it. In my riding of Ottawa West—Nepean there are a substantial number of people who are concerned about this issue.

When we promised to scrap the gun registry, we did not promise to just forward it so that someone else could re-establish it. As a word, “scrap” has a very clear sense. I wonder if the member opposite could comment on that.