An Act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code (amendments permitting the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty and other amendments)

Sponsor

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Export and Import Permits Act to

(a) define the term “broker” and to establish a framework to control brokering that takes place in Canada and that is undertaken by Canadians outside Canada;

(b) require that the Minister take into account certain considerations

before issuing an export permit or a brokering permit;

(c) authorize the making of regulations that set out additional mandatory considerations that the Minister is required to take into account before issuing an export permit or a brokering permit;

(d) set May 31 as the date by which the Minister must table in both Houses of Parliament a report of the operations under the Act in the preceding year and a report on military exports in the preceding year;

(e) increase the maximum fine for a summary conviction offence to $250,000;

(f) replace the requirement that only countries with which Canada has an intergovernmental arrangement may be added to the Automatic Firearms Country Control List by a requirement that a country may be added to the list only on the recommendation of the Minister made after consultation with the Minister of National Defence; and

(g) add a new purpose for which an article may be added to an Export Control List.

The enactment amends the Criminal Code to include, for interception of private communications purposes, the offence of brokering in the definition of “offence” in section 183.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

June 11, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-47, An Act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code (amendments permitting the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty and other amendments)
June 11, 2018 Failed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-47, An Act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code (amendments permitting the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty and other amendments) (reasoned amendment)
June 4, 2018 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-47, An Act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code (amendments permitting the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty and other amendments)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-47, An Act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code (amendments permitting the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty and other amendments) (report stage amendment)
June 4, 2018 Failed Bill C-47, An Act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code (amendments permitting the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty and other amendments) (report stage amendment)
May 30, 2018 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-47, An Act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code (amendments permitting the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty and other amendments)
Oct. 3, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-47, An Act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code (amendments permitting the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty and other amendments)

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

June 11th, 2018 / 3 p.m.
See context

Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity to get up in this House many times to talk about how proud our government is to see Bill C-47 move through Parliament so Canada can accede to the ATT. Here is what Bill C-47 would allow Canada to do. It would allow Canada to set an example for countries that do not have effective arms controls. It would enshrine international human rights law and gender-based violence, in law, as criteria for arms exports, and it would control arms brokering. It would allow Canada to do all of that, and the NDP voted against it all as well.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

June 8th, 2018 / 10:05 a.m.
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Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to be here today to speak to Bill C-47. Through this bill, our government will move forward on an important commitment we made to ensure that Canada finally accedes to the Arms Trade Treaty.

I am sure that everybody in the chamber will agree with me in saying that all countries have an obligation to take action against the violence that is fuelled by the illicit trade in conventional weapons.

The ATT is the first international treaty that seeks to tackle this illicit trade and, in doing so, take steps against the violence that this trade perpetuates. The ATT sets an essential standard for the international community. In doing so, it seeks to contribute to international and regional peace, security, and stability. It seeks to reduce human suffering and promote co-operation, transparency, and responsible action by countries.

It is due time that Canada join our partners and allies in our accession to the treaty.

I am also proud of the amendments that the foreign affairs committee has made to strengthen the bill. Our government heard from committee members and civil society that they would like to see the ATT criteria placed directly into the legislation, including the considerations of peace and security, human rights, and gender-based violence, and we supported the committee in making these changes. The criteria for applications to export arms from Canada will now be embedded directly into Canadian law.

I am proud to point out that we also made sure to include the consideration of gender-based violence or violence against women and children as a fifth key criterion in this legislation.

We have also made a significant change to the legislation by including a substantial risk test in what is now being proposed. This means that, for the first time, there would be a direct legal requirement for the government to refuse export permits for items where there is a substantial risk that they would be used to violate the criteria.

Bill C-47 would allow Canada to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty, allow Canada to meet its international obligations, and, significantly, ensure that Canada holds itself to a higher standard in the export of arms.

As the Minister of Foreign Affairs said before the foreign affairs committee in February, it is long overdue that Canada join many of its NATO and G7 partners by acceding to the ATT. We have heard support for the Arms Trade Treaty from civil society, from non-governmental organizations, and from Canadians. We also heard the clear desire to do better and to be ambitious in our strengthening of Bill C-47.

Originally, we had planned to place the criteria by which exports are judged, including human rights, into regulation, but we heard from committee members and civil society that they would like to see the Arms Trade Treaty criteria placed directly into legislation. Once again, let me reiterate that this would include the consideration of peace and security, human rights, and gender-based violence.

Going further than that, the bill now includes a substantial risk clause. Such a clause would mean that Canada would not allow the export of arms if there was a substantial risk that they would be used to commit human rights violations. This is a significant decision. It would mean changes in how Canada regulates selling weapons. This is the most significant change to how Canada evaluates the export of military goods in over 30 years. It is simply the right thing to do.

The Arms Trade Treaty is the result of growing international concern about the direct and indirect consequences of the global arms trade, which perpetuates conflicts that violate human rights and hinder development. We must provide constructive, rules-based leadership on the international stage and with our partners to promote peace, security, and prosperity around the world.

The Arms Trade Treaty recognizes the right of states to engage in the legitimate and responsible trade of arms. It requires that those weapons be exported responsibly. It is aimed at ensuring that individual states have an effective export control system in place to regulate the legitimate arms trade while, at the same time, using transparency measures to combat illicit trade. It requires all its state parties to adhere to a high standard when assessing the export of conventional weapons to ensure that they are not used to commit human rights abuses, violate international humanitarian law, or contribute to international terrorism or organized crime.

It is important to note that the ATT does not require its member states to automatically halt all exports to countries with challenging geopolitical or security situations. Rather, states must assess the risk of an individual export and consider options to mitigate potential risk. In other words, states must apply due diligence in considering exports and weigh both the risks and the benefits of specific exports of conventional arms.

It is also important to note that, despite some claims to the contrary, the ATT does not and will not affect domestic ownership of firearms. This principle is even enshrined in the preamble of the treaty, which recognizes “the legitimate trade and lawful ownership, and use of certain conventional arms for recreational, cultural, historical, and sporting activities, where such trade, ownership and use are permitted or protected by law”.

Bill C-47 does not affect domestic gun controls. Bill C-47 does not create a gun registry. Despite this reality, the Conservatives are trying to fearmonger and make things up, which I am not surprised they are doing. They have put forward a motion that ignores the reality of Bill C-47.

As I noted, our government is committed to returning Canada to its rightful place among global leaders in promoting responsible arms trade. It is shameful that Canada has not already become party to the ATT. We are alone among NATO allies, G7 partners, and even the OECD states in not having signed or ratified the treaty. Canadians want better of their government. They expect us to participate in multilateral efforts to ensure that any transfers of conventional arms are done responsibly.

Bill C-47 sets a high standard that lives up to the letter and the spirit of the ATT and reflects the leadership role that Canadians expect Canada to play in this most important area.

The ATT also specifically requires that states assess their exports against the risk to peace, security, and human rights, as well as against the risk of violence and gender-based violence. That is an important issue to consider in modern-day export assessments, but one that was not officially taken into account 10 or 20 years ago.

Our government intends to have Canada go even further than required by the ATT with regard to gender-based violence and violence against women and children. We are therefore proposing that exports not only be assessed against the risk that such horrible situations could occur, but also, unlike the ATT itself, against the same standards that are used for all of the other ATT considerations. That means that gender-based violence and violence against women and children will also be subject to the substantial risk clause.

A second major step for Canada's accession to the ATT will be to ensure that we meet the requirements of article 10, which requires each state to regulate brokering. Brokering involves arranging the transfer of arms between a second and a third country. Brokering itself is not a crime, and responsible arms brokers can play a legitimate role in arranging and facilitating sales. However, there have also been far too many cases of unscrupulous arms brokers putting profit ahead of human lives. Transactions facilitated by these brokers have seen weapons transferred to conflict zones, even zones under UN arms embargoes, or to terrorists and criminal gangs. Nevertheless, Canada is coming late to regulating brokering. Almost all of our close partners regulate this activity. We seek to bring Canada up to speed.

However, Canada cannot deal with the risks of the unregulated or irresponsible arms trade alone. If we want to guarantee that the ATT will be successful, we need to make sure that it is adopted and implemented effectively by as many states as possible. This is why our government contributed $1 million to the UN Trust Facility Supporting Cooperation on Arms Regulation. This fund provides direct assistance to help states accede to the ATT and fulfill their obligations by strengthening their export controls. Canada's accession to the ATT will help us collaborate more effectively with our international partners to counter the negative effects of conventional weapons in conflict zones.

We have also developed a partnership with international NGO Small Arms Survey to combat the flow of illegal arms in the Lybia-Chad-Sudan triangle. The results of the survey will help Canada implement concrete follow-up measures to reduce the flow of illicit weapons through the channels identified by the NGO and make a real contribution to the everyday lives of those in the region who live under the threat of conventional weapons.

I would like to make a final point about Bill C-47 and the Arms Trade Treaty. Some have criticized this bill for not going far enough or have taken issue with certain parts of it. I do not agree. We have gone back to the drawing board numerous times to accept amendments and challenge ourselves to make it stronger each and every time. That being the case, I try to understand where these perspectives come from. Just the same, I would encourage those persons, including some members of the House, not to lose sight of the forest for the trees. The objective of the Arms Trade Treaty is to “[p]revent and eradicate the illicit trade in conventional arms and prevent their diversion”. Canada should and must play a role in combatting this diversion and the violence it creates. Let us not lose sight of the real aim of the Arms Trade Treaty.

The aim of this legislation is not to end the defence industry, as we may infer from the comments of some of the members opposite throughout debate in the House and at committee. This industry is integral to our economy and key in supplying our own military. Whether or not some members of the House think the changes to Canada's arms export system go far enough, we should not ignore the fact that including the ATT criteria in legislation and creating a new and legally binding substantial risk clause are the most significant changes to how Canada evaluates the export of arms in over 30 years.

We need to work together to ensure that Canada can join the Arms Trade Treaty. Our allies all did it years ago. This is our collective duty. Let us not cut off our nose to spite our face. Let us be proud of the changes brought forth in Bill C-47.

Let me close by saying that I firmly believe that Canada can once again take a leadership role on this issue in joining the ATT. I encourage all my colleagues in the House to support this bill.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

June 8th, 2018 / 10:25 a.m.
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NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to start by reminding the House of certain facts, to counteract the falsehoods spread by some government representatives over the last few days. For example, they claim we are opposed to Canada's accession to the Arms Trade Treaty. It may be trendy to spread fake news, but these people know full well that what they say is not true. We have always supported Canada's accession to the Arms Trade Treaty. In fact, we have been pushing for it for years. However, we want to do it properly. We want to accede to the entire treaty, not just half or a third. The bill before us does not do that. I want to read out part of an email I just received from Project Ploughshares, which is probably the best-known arms control organization in Canada. The email says:

“Last day of debate on Bill C-47 for Canada to join the Arms Trade Treaty.”

I would really like my colleagues across the aisle to pay attention to this:

“Do not confuse merits of the ATT with merits of the Bill.”

The email goes on to say:

“Big shortcomings remain in export controls, eg loophole re exports to US.”

We support the Arms Trade Treaty, but because of these big shortcomings, we cannot support the bill to implement the treaty. That is why I cannot support it, the NDP cannot support it, and experts cannot support it. Experts have expressed satisfaction with the few changes that the government accepted, but as of today, they still oppose the bill. That is why 33,000 people wrote to the minister to ask that this bill be withdrawn and replaced with a better one that includes and covers our exports to the United States.

When people from the government spread falsehoods, I am usually patient, but this makes me really mad. These people should be ashamed of themselves. They say that the New Democrats are opposing the accession to the ATT. That is a bit rich. It is the NDP that has been pushing for years for Canada to accede to the ATT, but we want to do it well and completely, not as a half-baked measure. Bill C-47 would not do that well. It does not reflect the letter or the spirit of the treaty and it may weaken the treaty. That is why I cannot support it. That is why, as I said above, experts in arms control, as of today, still oppose Bill C-47 and why 33,000 Canadian citizens wrote to the minister and asked her to fix the bill.

The Liberals are twisting the facts. By doing so, they are disrespecting the experts. What are the main problems? Since I know my time is running out, I will sum them up very briefly. First, there is the issue of exports to the United States. More than half of our exports go to the United States.

When I say that more than half of our arms exports go to the United States, we do not even know if it is 52% or maybe 57%. Who knows, it could be 62%. Why? It is because we have absolutely no information on those arms exports to the U.S. With this bill, not only will our arms exports to the U.S. not be covered, but even when we asked for the small step of reporting to Parliament about those exports, the Liberals refused. There is no transparency at all, no willingness to give Parliament, this House, some sort of power to oversee the sometimes very troubling issue of our arms exports.

We will remember that twice we have tried to create a committee that could provide oversight of our arms exports, and twice the Liberals have turned it down. Why does it matter? It is a matter of principle, transparency, and democracy. It matters also because under the Trump administration, the Americans are lowering their standards for arms exports. We have seen, for example, that some Canadian equipment goes to the United States and then becomes part of shipments that go to countries like Nigeria. We have cut our arms sales to Nigeria, but now Canadian arms are finding their way to Nigeria through that loophole. I have a problem calling it a loophole, because it is so huge. It is like a doughnut with a large three-foot hole in the middle. It is amazing. They say, “Oh yes, we are acceding to the treaty.” No, I am sorry, we are not acceding to the treaty. We are just putting our big toe in the water, and not more than that. This is a huge hole.

A few weeks ago, there was a big story about a sale of helicopters to the Philippines. They were going to the Philippines without requiring an export permit. How interesting, selling helicopters to the army of a president who boasted that he had once thrown someone out of a helicopter and was ready to do it again. Why did it not need an export permit? It did not need one because the deal was organized through an agreement with the Department of National Defence and a Canadian commercial corporation, and it was deemed that helicopters are not military equipment, so it just went through. It created a hoopla. Of course, Canadians were upset by that. What we are learning now is that the company is planning to send the helicopters to the U.S., and then they will go on to the Philippines. There is no control over end-users.

The bill would not cover all of government, because the bill would make amendments to the Import and Export Permits Act, and the Canadian crown corporation is not covered by that act, as officials have told us.

Then we have the issue of reviewing permits in the event of new developments. That is in the treaty, so why does the government not want to include it in the legislation? I do not get it.

When new information comes to light and when new developments arise, the government should make it its duty to review the permits that have been granted. I could go on about this for hours. In fact, I probably have talked about this for hours over the past few weeks. I invite everyone to read my blog on the issue and my Twitter account, where I am very active.

I described all these shortcomings in this bill and talked about what a bad bill it is. More to the point, experts have described this as a bad bill that is full of holes.

My final concern is about countries that claim they are complying with a treaty, but in fact are only doing it halfheartedly and badly so. That weakens the treaty for the rest of the world. As a result, other countries may well decide to follow suit. What Canada is in the process of doing is complying with a small part of the treaty, but mostly it is undermining it. That is not going to happen on my watch, and that is why I will be moving a motion.

I move, seconded by the member for Victoria:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:

“this House decline to give third reading to Bill C-47, An Act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code (amendments permitting the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty and other amendments), because it:

a) doesn't require the Minister of Foreign Affairs to reassess existing export permits should new information about human rights abuses be revealed post-export;

b) does not allow for exports of military goods to the United States to be licensed, tracked, or reported back to Canadians in any way;

c) goes against the spirit and the letter of the Arms Trade Treaty.”

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

June 8th, 2018 / 10:40 a.m.
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Liberal

Anita Vandenbeld Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have tremendous respect for my hon. colleague, but I am tremendously disappointed to hear that she is trying to block this legislation from moving ahead to third reading.

Let us be clear. The Arms Trade Treaty, all of the Arms Trade Treaty, once Canada accedes to it, is legally binding on Canada, both under international law and under Canadian law. However, to do that, we need Bill C-47 to pass, because this is the enabling legislation that is a precondition to Canada acceding to the treaty.

There are child soldiers, and women who are being raped, and human rights defenders, and all of these people around the world who do not want to wait anymore. This delay by my hon. colleague is actually going to cost a lot of people around the world.

I would like to ask my hon. colleague a question. Is it not true that we need this bill to accede to the treaty, and once we accede to the treaty, it will be fully and completely legally binding on Canada?

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

June 8th, 2018 / 10:45 a.m.
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NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to join others in saluting my colleague from Laurier—Sainte-Marie for her tenacity and her long-standing support of the treaty as well as for pointing out the government's false narrative, if I can call it that, about the bill, the NDP's position on the bill, the position of those 33,000 people who provided their input on the bill, and the experts who agree that it is far from a good arrangement.

In her speech, the member talked about social media and Project Ploughshares, a well-known group, which suggested that one must distinguish between the treaty and Bill C-47. It has long supported the treaty, as has she, but it points out that “shortcomings” remain in the export controls, such as the loophole with respect to exports to the United States. That was the burden of the amendment by my colleague. I would ask her to elaborate on that so-called loophole.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

June 8th, 2018 / 10:50 a.m.
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Québec debout

Gabriel Ste-Marie Québec debout Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking my colleague from Laurier—Sainte-Marie for her remarks.

I would like to ask her if she thinks that what we are seeing in this bill is textbook Liberal government. Its tendency is to introduce a bill and telegraph appealing messaging about progressive values and improving society, but anyone who looks beneath the surface can see that business takes precedence over everything else. The same thing is happening with tax havens: the government is delivering all the right lines, but meanwhile, it keeps legalizing more and more tax havens. How about the fight against climate change? After parading around in Paris at COP21, the government is now making radical moves to extract even more dirty oil from the oil sands, which in no way helps address environmental issues.

Is that what we are seeing with Bill C-47 too?

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

June 8th, 2018 / 10:50 a.m.
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Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the people of Ontario for electing a new PC government yesterday. It was a great victory. I think they made the right choice by electing a government that can serve the people, first and foremost, and no one other than that.

I am pleased on this beautiful morning to talk about Bill C-47, a piece of legislation that does not achieve its stated purpose. I have spoken about the bill before. It is ineffective, unfair, and a step backward. I mean every word I say about the bill. The bill is a further example of the Liberals doing what they do best, chasing an optic while ignoring the tangible effects of their actions.

Canada has a robust and effective system of arms control that has served it well for decades and will continue to serve us for as long as we need. I called Bill C-47 a step backward, and I mean that quite literally. The system that we currently operate under meets or exceeds anything proposed by the UN treaty. It is a fact that our current protocol exceeds the requirements of the UN treaty contained in the bill before us.

I have the honour and pleasure of sitting on the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. When we were studying the legislation, Amnesty International appeared as a witness to discuss the legislation. Their testimony was quite interesting. Indeed, we were able to gather very important things from the witnesses who appeared before committee. Amnesty International is a very trusted and well respected organization on the world stage and in Canada. We wanted to get its opinion on the difference between the proposed legislation and the current regime we already have in Canada. Alex Neve, the secretary general of Amnesty International told us on October 31, 2017, “in the critical aspects where we need strengthening, it is not a step forward”. If we are not making substantive progress, then why are we doing what we are doing?

We know that the United States, Russia, and other major countries making up the majority of the sales of military equipment have either not signed or likely will not ratify the treaty. As is the case with many ineffective international treaties, the key participants in the trade are not part of the treaty. We have a right to ask these questions before we adopt anything that comes our way, no matter where it comes from. The bill cannot be part of an effective international regime because we know that the Arms Trade Treaty is being ignored or boycotted by major players in the international arms trade. That is something we also have to pay attention to, because we are not the only player on the world stage, and we have to consider looking at those major players before we consider any law, or piece of legislation, or any treaty we have to agree to, because it means so much to Canada. We have to be very careful when considering what we are doing.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

June 8th, 2018 / 12:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Mr. Speaker, when speaking about Bill C-47, we must remind ourselves to mention the current regime we have in Canada regarding arms trade control. Since 1947, when Canada adopted such a control regime, the minister has had the ability to prevent the supply of military equipment to countries for a variety of reasons. These reasons include that they are security threats, are involved in internal or external conflict, or are under sanction by the United Nations. We have the ultimate control over the arms trade in Canada, and it is something we have always been proud of and will continue to be.

Canada can utilize a blanket ban on trade with at-risk countries through the use of the area control list. A blanket ban means that we use all the methods we have and all the tools to put tight control on arms and military equipment that can harm innocent civilians. Under the area control list, we have the Export and Import Permits Act. Through the Governor in Council, a country can be placed on this list. At the current time, for example, North Korea is on that list.

Again, our current protocol is very strong, probably the strongest the world has ever seen. On top of that, we already heavily restrict many specific items that may be of concern, including military and missile items and chemical or biological goods, just to name a few. Furthermore, Canada already tracks and records more than what is required under the Arms Trade Treaty. Our arms control system, as I said earlier, is very tight and very strong to be able to deliver beyond any threat that may occur anywhere those arms go, including any country, regime, or army, around the world.

We also know that the Canada Border Services Agency and Statistics Canada collect information on exports from Canada of every single item that may be work-in-progress items or finished goods. We have those protocols in place, and as I said earlier, we are very proud of what we have been able to do.

Collectively, we are left with a process that amounts to little more than a virtue-signalling campaign by the government. It is unfortunate that politics gets into the issue. When we speak about our concerns and when we point out our views on this topic, the first thing that comes from the government is that this is fearmongering by the Conservatives, which, first of all, is not fair. It is not true that we are doing this. We are pointing out facts and logical positions we have taken for years. We have studied what we have and have made comparisons between what we are trying to adopt now and what we had before.

If this process is a total waste of time, then we must say so. We must protest and make sure that Canadians know about it so that at least they can understand what we are discussing here.

Speaking of Canadians, we know they want a strong arms control treaty, but guess what? They have one. It has been in existence since 1947. If we were to ask anyone out there, they would say that Canada has the best arms control regime or protocol in the world already, so why not adapt our existing one rather having to adopt another bill, another treaty, or other controls coming from another party, whether it is the United Nations or others? We represent the finest example of putting controls on such an important thing in the international community. Canadians need that clarification. Our job here in the House, as representatives of our constituents and every Canadian, is to clarify that and to make sure that Canadians know what the government is willing to sign onto in order supposedly to move us forward, and that it not take a backward step, as was said by some witnesses and in some of the consultations we had on our own.

This bill fails to address the potential adverse effects on law-abiding firearms owners. That area was discussed heavily at the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. It is definitely an area the government has shied away from, even diminished, when it presented Bill C-47 in its current form.

Going back to Bill C-71, which is supposed to deal with those concerns, we know that when the Liberals introduced that bill, they confirmed that they were not concerned about the rights of hunters, farmers, and sports shooters. I recall at committee that we were trying to improve that area so that law-abiding Canadians would not fall victim to this whole process, but we were not able to achieve a result that would satisfy and take a fair stand when it comes to law-abiding Canadians, whether hunters, farmers, or sports shooters, who want to own firearms.

I have to mention that the former Conservative government requested that civilian firearms specifically be removed from the treaty in order to protect the interests of Canada's lawful firearms community. I recall Conservatives doing that. We did it in the House and at committee, and it fell on the deaf ears of the opposition at the time. It is unfortunate that we had to face that at the time. It is unfortunate that we have had to go through such difficulties. We are asking that it at least be fair. We are not asking for anything more than to be fair to hunters and farmers and, unfortunately, we have not obtained that.

The Liberals have decided to move forward with signing the ATT, with little or no consultation with lawful gun owners. They do not respect the legitimate trade in or use of hunting and sports firearms. Again, it bothers everyone out there, including we politicians, that despite the government's talk and advertizing of consultation, saying that it is now the government that Canadians have been waiting forever for to consult with and ask questions of, we have been left with very little or no consultation.

The irony is that the government always says that it hears people and has consulted, as if it is the only entity doing politics, or working with, or representing, or listening to people. We do listen to people. We receive letters, complaints, and phone calls, and we know that the government is not listening enough. While this is not surprising, it is definitely a continuation of a disappointing pattern of disrespect and disregard by the government.

In short, this bill is unnecessary. The first time I spoke on this bill at second reading, I said it was ineffective, unnecessary, and for sure a step backward. It will never be a step forward. It will basically diminish what we have done for years. Our record shows that we are leaders with our current regime, that we are world leaders in legislating the Arms Trade Treaty. Here we are in 2018, and supposedly we are doing things to make improvements, but this is a step backwards and it is unnecessary and not fair. As I have said, it is unnecessary, unfair, and ineffective.

Upon its implementation, we would be worse off than we are today. For all of the reasons I and many of my Conservative colleagues have mentioned, this bill would not serve Canada, Canadians, and the world as the government is claiming. We will not support it.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

June 8th, 2018 / 12:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my friend and colleague for his comments on this bill, because he clearly knows a lot about it.

As I was listening to my colleague outline some of the things that our current regime includes, such as the trade controls bureau, the fact that heavily restricted items, such as military and security equipment, are already under good scrutiny by Stats Canada and the CBSA, as well as many other safeguards that my colleague pointed out, it was clear that Canada already has a very effective regime when it comes to the control of military goods and security equipment.

This is beginning to sound a little like what I remember years ago when the Liberal government, I believe under the environment minister Stéphane Dion, signed onto the Kyoto Accord. There was a big fanfare about our signing onto the Kyoto Accord. However, we know that under that agreement, nothing was accomplished in terms of greenhouse gas reductions.

Is this just another photo op to make Canadians feel good, but when they really look at it, they will find that we have a better system in place now than we would under Bill C-47?

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

June 8th, 2018 / 12:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Raj Saini Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform you that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Ottawa West—Nepean.

Our government entered office with a mandate to expand Canadian diplomacy and leadership on global issues. We are committed to promoting human rights and fostering peace. We are committed to ensuring that our foreign, defence, development, and trade policies can work hand in hand. It is with this in mind that I am so proud to be part of a government that is committed to an export control system that is transparent and that protects human rights at every stage of the assessment process.

Canada's export control regime is, by international standards, already one we should be very proud of. Canada promotes stringent transparency, and our export regime takes human rights into account during the assessment process. However, while I am proud of what has already been done to build Canada's export control system, I believe that to remain a global leader in human rights, we must continue to do better.

The changes we are proposing in Bill C-47 are about demonstrating Canada's commitment to human rights on the global stage so that we can hold our heads high, knowing that we continue to do our part as we align ourselves with our closest partners and allies in NATO and the G7. In other words, this is about returning Canada to the forefront of international peace and security efforts. As we make these changes, and as we build lasting policies that will advance Canada's engagement on the responsible trade of conventional arms, we need to take the care to ensure that we take an approach that works for Canada. We must build policies that work within the context of Canadian institutions and embark upon an approach to the implementation of the ATT that is practical, long-lasting, and bureaucratically feasible.

This is the first international treaty that explicitly acknowledges the social, economic, and humanitarian consequences of the illicit and unregulated trade in conventional arms. I think it is important to remember that what lies at the heart of this treaty is not bureaucracy or the motivation of partisanship but rather our collective obligation to advance the human security agenda and the international community's collective agreement that we must stand together if we are to protect the rights of those who live in insecure areas and conflict zones.

There has been fearmongering where this treaty is concerned. A debate that should have been centred on the protection of some of the world's most vulnerable people has instead been haunted by hollow, baseless speculation as to how this treaty might interfere with the rights and practices of Canadian gun owners.

As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said:

This treaty will not diminish anyone's freedom, in fact the treaty recognizes the freedom of both individuals and states to obtain, possess and use arms for legitimate purposes.

Make no mistake, we would never think about supporting a treaty that is inconsistent with the rights of Americans, the rights of American citizens to be able to exercise their guaranteed rights under our constitution.

This treaty reaffirms the sovereign right of each country to decide for itself, consistent with its own constitutional and legal requirements, how to deal with the conventional arms that are exclusively used within its borders.

If people are legitimate law-abiding gun-owners or users here in Canada, this treaty will not impact them. The United States signed the treaty, and given the centrality of gun ownership in the United States, I highly doubt that it would have done so had there been any domestic impact from this treaty.

For anyone who may have misread or misunderstood the Arms Trade Treaty upon first reading, let me take this opportunity to remind everyone that the preamble to the ATT both reaffirms the sovereign right of any state to regulate and control conventional arms exclusively within its territory, pursuant to its own legal or constitutional system, and recognizes the legitimate political, security, economic, and commercial interests of states in the international trade in conventional arms.

From day one, this government has believed in evidence-based policy. Not only does that govern our outward-facing policy, but it affects how we operate internally as well.

We do not have unlimited resources or personnel, and we have to use them very smartly and efficiently. NDP members think differently. They want to force officials to review permits any time new information comes to light that could affect the larger decision to grant a permit.

Our officials are experts in their jobs. They know better than any of us in this House what would constitute a meaningful enough change to trigger a review of either an export or brokering permit. We should allow them to focus their energies in areas where changes are significant and carry a real risk of impacting the eventual result. By pulling them off these important reviews to engage in less critical work, we are simply raising the possibility of not catching something in the high-risk cases that could have an extremely detrimental effect and impact on the ground. Legislation must be reasonable.

The minister has the power to review permits, and in fact, the minister has used that power. The Arms Trade Treaty encourages state parties to review permits when relevant information comes to light. When we have experts tell us that they have relevant information that mandates a review, rest assured that a review will be carried out.

At committee, we learned that export experts wanted us to place the Arms Trade Treaty criteria into legislation so that we could have clear guidelines on which the decision to issue export-import permits could be assessed. We did that.

These criteria are the following: a serious violation of international and humanitarian law; a serious violation of international human rights law; an act constituting an offence under international conventions or protocols relating to terrorism to which Canada is a party; an act constituting an offence under international conventions or protocols relating to transnational organized crime to which Canada is a party; serious acts of gender-based violence; or serious acts of violence against women and children. These are mandatory considerations. They must be taken into account before any decision is made.

This amendment is at the very heart of the Arms Trade Treaty as originally envisioned. It is a vital tool to help protect human rights all around the world. Of note is the language on gender-based violence, which goes beyond the requirements of the Arms Trade Treaty. I am particularly proud of this effort on our members' part in committee to ensure that our foreign policy and development agenda align.

What else came out of committee? We now have a “substantial risk” clause in the proposed legislation. What does that mean? It would bind all future governments to the higher standards we are setting out in this proposed legislation. This clause would prevent the government from allowing for export or brokering if there were a substantial risk that it would lead to any of the acts I have previously listed. Prior to this amendment, there was no prohibition on allowing for export or brokering under these circumstances. It simply had to be considered as a factor.

The Arms Trade Treaty is a powerful tool, and acceding to it is a meaningful statement of our values. It is a way we can keep weapons out of the hands of terrorists and those who seek to do harm to Canada and its allies. The Arms Trade Treaty is a way we can reduce the risk that the trade of arms at the international level will be used to commit genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

As Canadians, we are blessed to live in a country where our strength is not measured only by our excellent defence forces or our resilient and growing economy. Our strength is measured by the people who inhabit this land who want to do good, not only in Canada but around the world. Our citizens demand that we engage with the world and that we continue to strive for peace and justice. That is the Canadian way, and that is the reason this government is going to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

June 8th, 2018 / 1 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Anita Vandenbeld Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Arms Trade Treaty is an important treaty, which sets high common standards for export controls and seeks to prevent the illicit trade in, and diversion of, arms. Our government is committed to acceding to the treaty and doing so in a manner that meets the requirements of the treaty and the expectations of Canadians and our friends and allies in the international community. This legislation, Bill C-47, is required for Canada to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty. More people around the world are killed by conventional weapons, mainly small arms, than any other type of weapon.

Let us be clear about what this bill aims to accomplish. It is to stop guns from getting into the hands of foreign terrorists, war criminals, organized crime, and rapists. I am, frankly, stunned that the Conservatives and NDP both voted against this bill at report stage. I would have hoped that this bill would have passed unanimously. Every day that goes by, human rights defenders, women peace activists, and civilians are being killed.

As I mentioned in my previous intervention in the House, I have worked in conflict-affected areas around the world, and the women there implored Canada not to wait, to stop delaying the ratification of this treaty. They told me that their countries do not manufacture weapons. Every gun that is used to commit sexual violence, given to a child soldier, or used by armed militia groups was brought into their country. This bill would allow Canada to finally ratify this vital global treaty, which will stop the trade in illicit weapons and, in particular, finally regulate the brokering of weapons that is happening right here in Canada, simply because we are one of the last of our allies to ratify the treaty and to enact regulations on brokering. Even the Americans are ahead of us in this regard. In fact, the State Department has been working with Global Affairs Canada to help us revise and improve our brokering controls. The U.S. has already implemented controls that are consistent with the Arms Trade Treaty.

With that, I would like to address what the NDP is calling a loophole in the legislation, which is our separate defence and security agreement with the United States. This agreement is completely consistent with the Arms Trade Treaty. In fact, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg have almost the same kind of arrangement. Just because we have a specialized agreement with the Americans does not mean that there will be a free flow of guns from Canada to the U.S. to human rights-abusing countries, as the NDP would have us believe. In fact, we heard from the U.S. office of defence trade control policy and the Office of Regional Security and Arms Transfers that their controls regarding diversion of arms are often stricter than Canada's. For example, the U.S. end-user controls, the blue lantern program, controls on M and A and foreign sales of companies, and see-through rules on dual-use technology are actually more advanced than ours.

The Americans share our interest in making sure weapons do not end up in the hands of terrorists and criminals. For the NDP to use this as an excuse to actually vote against this legislation is, to me, more rooted in partisanship than in an actual desire to see innocent civilian lives being saved around the world, especially since our committee members worked so well together and passed some very substantive amendments to the bill at committee stage.

Let me address what the NDP said about going back to the drawing board. The fact is that we need Bill C-47, especially the brokering controls that are contained within it, in order to be able to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty. Those who vote against the bill are, in essence, voting against the Arms Trade Treaty, because we need the bill in order to accede to the treaty. I would also like to point out that, once Canada adheres to the treaty, it is binding on Canada. Every single clause within that treaty will be legally binding, both under international law and, thanks to the committee work, also under Canadian law.

The Conservatives' argument that this bill will in any way impact domestic gun ownership is equally fallacious, but to assuage these concerns, the committee also passed amendments to even further reinforce and clarify this fact. Not one of the witnesses said that Bill C-47 would create a new gun registry. Again, I am disappointed that the Conservatives do not share our urgency about keeping weapons out of the hands of terrorists and war criminals.

Accession to the Arms Trade Treaty received broad support from civil society, non-governmental organizations, industry, and Canadians, at second reading and while it was being studied in committee. However, we also heard the voices of those who are asking us to do better and to strengthen this bill. Our government took note of what was said at committee stage. We proposed additional amendments to Bill C-47 to strengthen it.

Under the ATT, the Minister of Foreign Affairs must take into account certain mandatory export assessment considerations, such as the risk that the export could be used to commit a serious violation under international, humanitarian, or human rights law. These are listed in article 7 of the Arms Trade Treaty, which includes undermining peace and security, committing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, terrorism, organized crime, and acts of gender-based violence.

The government had originally planned to put these criteria, including human rights, into regulation; but our committee heard from civil society that they would like to see the Arms Trade Treaty criteria placed directly into legislation.

We amended the bill by placing the ATT assessment criteria directly in legislation. Let me be clear: with this bill, the Arms Trade Treaty is binding on Canada both under international law and under Canadian law. To say that Bill C-47 is not fully consistent with the Arms Trade Treaty is absolutely untrue. In fact, with our committee amendments we actually exceed the requirements under the treaty.

For example, I am pleased that the committee accepted my amendment to add into legislation the ATT requirement that the article 7 criteria be subject to an overriding risk test that applies when there is a determination that there is a risk of certain negative consequences to the export.

In fact, the work of our committee shows what a significant difference we can make by adding or changing just a few words. We amended the bill to add the words “substantial risk”, meaning that, rather than the minister determining whether there is conclusive evidence that a certain arms export is being used for human rights abuses, now the minister must determine if there is a substantial risk of such abuses, which is much broader.

Even more important, we proposed that the wording be changed from “may” to “shall”, one single word change that is going to make a tremendous difference. It now says that the Minister of Foreign Affairs “shall” take into account all of the assessment criteria before issuing an export permit, as opposed to the more enabling “may” take into account. Again, this is an indication of the tremendous work of our committee.

This amendment imposes an obligation on the minister that does not exist in the current system. This means that the government will not allow the export of a controlled good if there is a substantial risk that it could be used for human rights abuses. In the enhanced version of Bill C-47, the Minister of Foreign Affairs is required to ensure that we are reasonably convinced that this controlled good will not be used to violate human rights.

To our knowledge, Canada will be the only country among our key allies to place the ATT risk test in domestic legislation.

In addition to placing the core ATT assessment considerations in legislation, we also wanted to add some measure of flexibility to these considerations in the future, without the requirement of having to return to Parliament.

The proposed changes to this bill not only meet the ATT criteria, but exceed them in some cases. Acceding to the Arms Trade Treaty will send a message to the international community that Canada is firmly committed to the responsible trade of conventional weapons.

The fact that we are going above and beyond the minimum requirements of the treaty in a number of areas demonstrates that we are fulfilling an additional challenge that we have set for ourselves to do even better.

I intend to continue working with my colleagues in the House on this important bill in order to finally take the necessary steps for Canada to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

June 8th, 2018 / 1:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Anita Vandenbeld Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased that our committee heard from multiple organizations and groups, and listened to those groups in the amendments I outlined in my speech. In fact, Oxfam International testified before the committee that this would be binding on Canada. They said we should proceed with the legislation and with making sure Canada is adhering to the treaty.

One of my first goals when I became elected was to make sure Canada did not delay in adhering to the treaty. I really regret that the NDP is looking at further delays and possibly even not being able to pass it in this mandate in this Parliament. I implore this House to vote for Bill C-47, so we do not have to wait any longer for Canada to be a member of this treaty and of this international norm and collective arrangement.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

June 4th, 2018 / 9:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Madam Speaker, I really appreciate the opportunity to stand in the House of Commons to represent the fine people of Red Deer—Lacombe, many of whom are law-abiding firearms owners who are entrusting me to try to make some semblance of sense out of yet another attack on the law-abiding firearms community across Canada. I will do my best.

For those watching at home, we on this side of the House have moved a motion asking the public safety committee that is studying Bill C-71 for an opportunity to travel across the country and actually hear from affected parties and those who otherwise would not have an opportunity to come to Ottawa.

Just to put things into context of how we got here, this bill, Bill C-71, much to the dismay of the parliamentary secretary who spoke earlier and said that they have had all kinds of time to do this, is number 71. This means that it is not a very high priority on the Liberal government's index. The government has had almost three years to get to this point and table this legislation, and now it wants to ram it through the House as fast as possible. After less than seven hours of debate on this piece of legislation in the House of Commons, it was kicked over to the committee on a whipped vote, where of course all the government members voted in favour of it, including all of the members from the north, and I will talk about the north a little bit.

Now we have gone over to the committee and had two weeks of meetings. We had four two-hour meetings to talk with all of the witnesses that we need to hear from. That is simply not enough. We have to consider that we heard from the minister and the bureaucrats in the first meeting. Now that we have had the chance to have all the Ottawa bubblespeak, that basically gave us three meetings, for a grand total of six hours. In those meetings we had about two people per hour, so that means we have heard from about 12 different organizations and groups from all sides on this particular issue.

However, the real issue is that there are so many people who want to have an opportunity to actually address and talk to their government—to petition them, to make their case, to make their point.

As I go through this, if the changes in Bill C-71 actually addressed serious, violent crime or gun crime in Canada, it would actually have the full support of this House. There are things that all parties in this House can agree on. One of those is enhanced background checks. We can vary in our opinions on how effective that might be, but I do not think anybody here would disagree that enhancing background checks, going further back into an individual's history to see if there is a problem, to try to protect public safety, to try to protect people from becoming victims, to even try to protect people from themselves in certain circumstances, is going to be a bad idea. We can debate on how we are going to do that or the merits of one approach versus another and that could be implemented, but there would be a consensus in this House.

I told the Minister of Public Safety during the first committee meeting that if the government would simply table or put aside all of the other clauses in Bill C-71 that have nothing to deal with public safety and focus on that element of the bill, he would have the support of the Conservative Party, or the Conservative members of Parliament. He rejected that offer. He rejected it outright at that committee meeting. As a matter of fact, he went on to erroneously try to make the case that the measures that they are going to take are going to increase public safety.

I asked the minister point-blank, because he was trying to make the case that a source of firearms that are being used in crimes in Canada are actually domestically sourced. We know that statistically that is not true, because most firearms that are used to commit crimes have come across the border and most firearms that are used to commit crimes are not long guns. They are certainly not long guns of lawful firearms owners. In fact, Gary Mauser, a professor emeritus, actually gave us some very important statistics right from Statistics Canada that said that gun crime is lower in houses where there is a PAL holder. That is a possession and acquisition licence. It is outside of those homes, such as a home in the rural part of Canada where we have maybe high crime rates. Those are thefts, so those are not firearms-related crimes, except for potentially, in some cases, theft of firearms.

However, the gun crime in those communities where there is actually a victim is far lower than in communities where there are fewer firearms owners. This tells us that criminals do not follow firearms legislation. They never have. They never will. That is why this legislation makes little to no sense.

I am a firearms owner. I am a hunter. I grew up on a farm. I have had a firearm in my hand ever since I was legally able to do so, whether it was for vermin control or pest control. When I was in army cadets, I would use an old Lee-Enfield that was converted to a .22 to shoot targets. I participated in biathlons. I have successfully been around firearms my whole life and I have not been shot to date. I am completely confident in all of my friends and family members who own firearms and use them responsibly. I have no issues or concerns whatsoever.

What does concern me is that manufactured hyperbole is used in a political sphere to generate dissension and to create the illusion of a problem. We heard from the Criminal Defence Advocacy Society, as my colleague from Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner just quoted, that there is no evidentiary proof. I asked the Minister of Public Safety at committee where the report is from his department that says how many people will be saved with this legislation. I asked for the numbers of crimes that will be reduced and how many gun deaths will be reduced by this legislation. He does not have an answer for these questions because this is a politically-driven bill based on emotional arguments.

I am a law-abiding firearms owner and I do not want anyone to get hurt with a firearm. As a person who understands firearms, I am not saying I am a technical expert, but I have been around them my whole life. I know what the law-abiding firearms community thinks and does because I am one of them. If good proposals or measures were brought forward, I would help the government of the day convince the law-abiding firearms community that they were good measures, but I cannot in good conscience stand here and say that this is what Bill C-71 is.

We did not hear from a single witness from the north. In the Northwest Territories, Yukon, or Nunavut, hunting and fishing is a way of life, and more people do it than do not. All three members of Parliament from the north were elected as Liberals, and two of them are still in the Liberal caucus. None of them came to the committee to voice their questions or concerns. The member for Central Nova came asking questions. He was talking like a Conservative when he was asking his questions at committee because he has heard from his voters that this is an area of absolute concern. There was not one witness from the north, even though the motions were moved.

Here is who did not have a chance to testify: Randy Kuntz, a retired Edmonton police officer, who was summoned to the committee but did not have the time. Wes Winkel, the president of Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association, was another. Not one witness appeared before the committee to represent the sellers or retailers in this country. As a matter of fact, in all of the questions that were posed by my colleagues across the floor at committee when it comes to the mandatory provisions of dealing with record keeping, which most store owners already do for warranty purposes and so on, the only people who were asked about it were the chiefs of police.

I am going to go back to that, because we need more clarification. When I asked the Minister of Public Safety about warrants and warrantless access to firearms records, the minister actually did not know, but he said that investigating officers would need a warrant. Then he said that the chief firearms officer, who is a police officer, would not need a warrant. Then the bureaucracy stepped in and tried to help him out with his claims. It seems that during an investigation, a police officer must get a warrant in order to access the records of a private store owner as part of their investigative process. However, a chief firearms officer can go in at any time, according to the legislation, and demand to see the records, and the store owner is then obligated to produce the records.

When I asked the chiefs of police before committee if it is that cut and dried, that black and white, their answer to my question was quite shocking. They said no, that is not the case. They said it is not cut and dried, not black and white. There are circumstances in which the chief firearms officer can pass on information to an investigating officer and vice versa.

It is not cut and dried. It is an argument that we have been asked to believe and asked to buy that is simply not true.

Why is the government so afraid of listening to store owners who sell these firearms? Maybe it is because it does not want people lined up at its door condemning the Prime Minister's tweet, which was false and misleading when he said in that tweet that when people buy a firearm or ammunition at a store, they do not need to provide identification. That was a patently false tweet, creating a misinformation campaign out there to justify this legislation.

I have never been to a store where I have been able to even touch the firearms. When I ask to see a firearm, which is in a locked cabinet, I am asked for my possession and acquisition licence. I have to lay it on the table before the firearm can be brought to me. If I want to buy ammunition, I have to provide that possession and acquisition licence or a possession-only licence in order to purchase it.

It is a patent misnomer that right now people do not have to provide identification in order to purchase a firearm or ammunition at a store. It is patently false. It is a misinformation campaign meant to justify the ends, which is this piece of legislation, which would do nothing for public safety.

Nicolas Johnson of TheGunBlog.ca spends all of his time talking about this issue. He has thousands of followers and is well connected. Why would we not want to hear the opinion of this individual, who represents so many firearms owners?

I moved a motion at committee on May 22 to hear from the Women Shooters of PEI. The Liberal government claims to be a feminist government that does everything, that puts women first and its feminist agenda first. It would not let the Women Shooters of PEI come to committee to testify. I guess when it suits the government's need to be feminist, it is feminist, and when it does not suit its need to be feminist, it is not.

Dr. Caillin Langmann, emergency medical resident in the fellowship program with the Royal College of Physicians in Canada, in the division of emergency medicine at McMaster University, is not going to be allowed to testify. He actually works in emergency.

Stacey Hassard, the leader of the official opposition of Yukon, is another person. Did I mention that not a single person from Yukon came to committee? Even the member of Parliament for that particular area did not come before committee. I remember his absence from this place for four and a half years, and I think it had a lot to do with this particular issue.

Another is Andy McGrogan, the president of the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police. Why did we only hear from select police chiefs that the committee chair wanted to hear from? Why could we not hear from one from the west?

Richard Munderich, of the Ajax Rod and Gun Club in Ontario did not appear, and that is really too bad. The parliamentary secretary from Ajax vetoed the ability for his own rod and gun club to appear. He just made an impassioned speech in here, which was not really based on anything scientific or evidentiary. One would think that the parliamentary secretary who represents the Ajax Rod and Gun Club would want his own rod and gun club to testify before committee, but that did not work out.

Gord Zealand, from the Yukon Fish and Game Association, another expert from Yukon, was another voice silenced from the North on this particular issue.

We wanted Harvey Andrusak of the BC Wildlife Federation to come here. We wanted to have Darrell Crabbe of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation come here. We wanted Bob Kierstead, who is a shooting expert and an international firearms instructor, to come here.

We wanted Kerry Coleman from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and David Clement from the Consumers Choice Centre to come here.

We wanted the Manitoba Wildlife Federation and la Fédération des chasseurs et pêcheurs du Québec to come. I think that is the first French I have spoken in the House in 13 years. As well, we wanted to hear from the Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters and the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities.

We did not hear from a rural crime watch group. We did not hear from anybody dealing with these issues in rural Canada at all. We did not hear from Citizens on Patrol. We did not hear from any of these groups that are affected. We heard from nobody from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities or from the Alberta Association of Rural Municipalities. The government completely ignored all of these groups.

There are other stakeholders who wanted to appear. The Firearms Outlet Canada is a gun store in Ajax that wanted to come. The Wanstalls gun store wanted to come. Al Simmons, who owns a gun store in Hamilton, wanted to come. Sports Action is a gun store in Ottawa that wanted to come. Dante Sports is a gun store in Montreal that wanted to come. Cabela's, Sail, and Bass Pro Shops wanted to come. Nobody from any of these companies or their parent organizations was even invited or allowed to testify before committee.

This legislation would directly impact them, and I think this actually violates a fundamental principle of our democracy. When legislation is being passed that directly affects Canadian citizens, they should have the right to make a pitch to the government of the day on an issue that impacts their life, but again, that is why we are here as Conservatives.

Conservatives are respectfully asking for this House to say that the public safety committee has not had an opportunity to do its due diligence and it ought to go across Canada. This is my 13th year in the House, and I have seen committees go across this country to talk about issues that affect a lot fewer Canadians than this one, having hearings and discussions. This particular piece of legislation affects over two million firearms owners in Canada alone, not to mention everyone else who wants to have a say on the matter.

People are upset about this. The vendors and retailers are upset because they have not had a chance to have their say. Why are they upset? It is because this bill would do several things. It would create a registry. Whether the government wants to admit it or not, it is a registry. I am a former database administrator, so I know a bit about this. Every time there is a transaction, and there are going to be transactions, whether it is a business-to-business sale, a business-to-person sale, or a person-to-person sale, every one of those sales has to be validated by the government now. People who go to gun shows on Sunday had better hope somebody is at the firearms centre ready to answer the phone. That is another group that the committee did not speak to. Nobody from any of the gun shows across Canada was invited to testify before the committee.

None of the transactions at gun shows, or person-to-person transactions, will be allowed to go through if somebody at the firearms centre is not answering the phone. As a matter of fact, the bureaucrats said they were going to have to be given notice. All of the gun show owners will have to notify the government that they are having gun shows, so the government can properly staff it on the weekends. Does this sound like a recipe for success and the government serving the Canadian people well? I do not think so. However, those who happen to be tech savvy can enter all of the information from their possession acquisition licences, and the buyer can get the possession acquisition licence from the seller.

Nobody has answered this question. If I have a possession acquisition licence and the person selling me a firearm has a restricted possession acquisition licence, nobody is checking to see if the person is selling me the right firearm. As a PAL holder, I am only allowed to purchase non-restricted firearms, but somebody with an RPAL could have in their possession a restricted or prohibited firearm that they could try to sell me. Is the system doing anything to validate that?

The government says it is not keeping track of information on the firearms, but there will be a reference number, so part of that reference number is going to have all of the information from my licence. It has a terrible picture, but it gives my name, date of birth, address, hair colour, eye colour, and my weight. I do not want to disclose that. There would also be the same information from the other party, and each transaction would have to be tracked. It is not each transaction, but each item on the transaction. If I were to buy three firearms at a gun show, I would have three registries with three different reference numbers, with my name and personal information on each one of those records. The name of the person I bought it from would be on each one of those records, or easily looked up, and of course the firearm information that is being transacted.

When I asked the Minister of Public Safety what the provision in the legislation was for when it comes to creating this transaction, he said we need to be able to trace the source of the crime back to the original firearm sale. Already there is an onus on law-abiding firearms owners. If someone's firearm is stolen, or a person sells it to someone and that firearm is stolen subsequent to that, the government wants to know all the way back to where that firearm was originally manufactured, purchased, and imported into Canada.

I do not have time today to talk about Bill C-47 and the Arms Trade Treaty, all of the other factors, the other registries, and all of the other information that the government has on Canadian law-abiding firearms owners. I did not have a chance to talk about the continuous eligibility. Every day, every firearms owner is flagged. Firearms owners are intelligent people. They know what laws make sense and what laws do not make sense.

I am hoping that I get a plethora of questions so that I can further elaborate on why Bill C-71 would do nothing for public safety. It is a registry, whether the government wants to admit it or not. Something cannot be traced against data that does not exist. When the data exists, it is in a registry. Trust me, this is what I used to do for a living. I built multi-million dollar software systems. I know what a database is, as a database administrator and a data architect. This is a registry, just with another name.

Bill C-74—Time Allocation MotionBudget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1Government Orders

May 31st, 2018 / 11:10 a.m.
See context

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I think that with five time allocation motions over the last few days, it is becoming pretty clear that despite the election promises of the Liberals, they are essentially picking up where the Conservatives left off in how they manage House business. It is clearly a disappointment to Canadians who thought they were voting for something different.

However, the thing about time allocation is that we will hear a lot of members get up and say they want a chance to speak, and members must have that chance to speak. That is true, but the really nefarious thing about time allocation, in my opinion, is that there are all sorts of groups in civil society that want to weigh in on these bills, whether it is on a carbon tax or on Canada's accession to the arms treaty.

I was just talking to a colleague who told me that a petition was started on Friday, criticizing the government for Bill C-47's exclusion of Canadian arms exports to the U.S. for purposes of the Arms Trade Treaty. Today, that petition has over 30,000 signatures. Those are Canadians who want the time to make the case to the government to make those changes, and it is those Canadians in civil society who are also being robbed of the time to make a difference with respect to legislation.

I am wondering why the minister thinks it is acceptable to prevent civil society from weighing in on these bills.

Report StageBudget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1Government Orders

May 31st, 2018 / 1:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's speech was admirable. I am appalled by the government's response to limit today's debate.

We have just five hours to analyze a bill with a massive scope. The bill is 550 pages long and amends 44 acts, including Bill C-47, which would impose a tax on people who use prescription medical marijuana. We are talking about children with cancer or children who suffer excruciating pain. This could have a negative impact on their quality of life.

The Prime Minister responded that this was for people who abuse marijuana and use it recreationally and who go see their doctors. He is indirectly accusing doctors of not doing due diligence and accusing people of abusing the system to avoid paying their fair share. Meanwhile, he is making patients suffer.

How could a government think this is responsible?

In terms of our democracy, if no members raise these issues, as my colleague from Vancouver Kingsway did, and if the government limits debate, we will lose this information since we do not have enough time to raise these issues in the House of Commons.

I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts on my comments and I would particularly like him to tell us whether Bill C-47 should be withdrawn from the list of 44 acts being amended by Bill C-74.

Does he think that the government should withdraw Bill C-47 from the 44 acts amended by this bill?

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2018 / 3:30 p.m.
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Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Marc Garneau LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I would encourage the opposition House leader to speak to the government House leader on the questions that she has just raised.

In the meantime, this afternoon we will continue with report stage of Bill C-74, the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1.

Following this debate, we will turn to Bill C-47, the arms trade treaty, also at report stage.

Tomorrow morning, we will begin third reading of Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. Monday and Wednesday shall be allotted days. Next week, priority will be given to the following bills: Bill-C-74, budget implementation act, 2018, No. 1; Bill C-69 on environmental assessments; Bill C-75 on modernizing the justice system; and Bill C-47 on the Arms Trade Treaty.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2018 / 7:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thoroughly enjoyed your reading of the amendments and I think you did a splendid job getting through them all. I hear a member opposite saying “on division”. These are two of my favourite words spoken in this Parliament. I will want to see those recorded votes when they happen.

I am rising today to speak to Bill C-47, which is a bill that would implement an international arms control treaty. In preparation for speaking on this bill, I went through past interventions given by other members in which they contributed their thoughts as to the impact that the bill will have on their constituents. I went through the intervention from the member for Portage—Lisgar on this particular bill, and that is where I would like to begin.

I am going to refer to the bill as the companion bill to Bill C-71, which is a piece of firearms legislation that the government has introduced as well. I do not think we can look at either of the bills separately. I look at the bills as logically following one from the other. They have the same idea behind them.

In the intervention, the member said:

At best, despite amendments, we are in a place where Canadians...cannot trust the government on firearms...Despite earlier attempts through Bill C-47, the government has failed to recognize the legitimacy of lawful firearms ownership and has moved to create all sorts of unnecessary problems and red tape for responsible firearms owners.

We see in the companion bill to Bill C-47, which is Bill C-71, that in fact the government is making lawful and legitimate firearms ownership more complicated, more complex, and more difficult for Canadians.

Firearms ownership allows Canadians to hunt and participate in sports like sharpshooting, and to prepare for biathlon. This is a part of our inheritance and heritage that Canadians enjoy. There are Canadians who have been doing these types of activities for generations in Canada. It is a great part of our Canadian history and it is part of our dual national history. Both French Canadians and English Canadians have been participating in these types of activities and have contributed to the growth of Canada's lands in a dominion that formed our great Confederation.

Another member said about Bill C-47:

Most critically, it effectively recreates the federal gun registry by requiring the tracking of all imported and exported firearms and requires that the information be available to the minister for six years. Given that those are calendar years, it could be up to seven years.

Firearms groups and individual owners have repeatedly expressed concerns about the implications of [those six years]. They want a strong system of arms control, but they point out that in fact we already have one.

We know that many of the provisions that are being proposed in this ATT are already being done. There is nothing really new here. We know there is already tracking and recording, and more of it is being done right now. The Canada Border Services Agency and Statistics Canada collect information on all items exported from Canada and classify these items using categories negotiated by the World Customs Organization. Therefore, we have to ask ourselves why we are implementing a treaty that will simply add onto red tape and the bureaucracy that we already have here in Ottawa.

The previous member I spoke of also went into some of the details. Both the ATT and its companion bill, Bill C-71, do not mention organized crime and will, in fact, do nothing to stop gangsters from obtaining firearms in Canada and using them in their illicit activities, because people who do not obey the law today and who participate in gangsterism and gang activities will not obey the law either way. They are earning their living through illicit activities like counterfeiting and human trafficking, so they will not be interested in caring about the contents of Bill C-47 and its companion bill, Bill C-71. This is simply more bureaucracy and more red tape being imposed on law-abiding Canadians, who of course are going to try their best to obey the law.

An argument that could be made too on Bill C-47 is that it is actually going to impose restrictions on the Department of National Defence, which is traditionally exempted from the export control system so as to be able to provide military aid or government-to-government gifts, such as the loaning or gifting of equipment to another government or a potential ally that we are supporting.

In spending this past weekend at the spring session of the NATO organizations meetings in Poland, I was able to hear from other member states that are looking forward to receiving more support from the Canadian government, Ukraine and Georgia. Our allies in the Baltic states are all hoping to see Canada step up and provide more support. They are satisfied with what we have done up to now, but they want to see more of it, so how does it make it simpler for us to add the Department of National Defence to the list of those who have to comply with this export control treaty?

In fact, it will make it more complicated and more bureaucratic. There will be more red tape involved in trying to support our allies in NATO, and it does not help in any way. That is in article 5 of the ATT.

There are other countries we could be supporting as well. We may want to provide them with additional support. I remember that in the past two and a half years the Canadian government said it would support the Kurdistan Regional Government's fight versus ISIS. I am privileged to chair in this House the pro-Kurdish group, the Parliamentary Friends of the Kurds. I have spoken to many Kurdish leaders, both in Canada and outside of Canada, including Syrian leaders and others, who at one point were promised they would be able to obtain Canadian weapons to support the fight versus Daesh. Those weapons eventually never came.

Would it have made it simpler to impose more red tape, more arms controls on people we are supporting publicly and encouraging to take the fight directly to terrorist organizations like Daesh, which were trying to set up a proto-state? No, it would not. That is my concern with treaties such as this one, which I will be opposing and happily voting against.

There is a Yiddish proverb that goes, “Uphill we always climb with caution, downhill we dash, carefree.” I am afraid we are dashing carefree down this hill. There is the perception that more government, more red tape, and more bureaucracy makes us safer, makes our communities better, and achieves some type of vague public policy goal whereby more government equals greater safety for Canadians. Tell that to rural Canadians. Tell that to people who live just south of my riding, who are afraid enough at night that they turn off their porch lights so people do not know their homes are there. That way, they do not have to deal with Calgary gangsters coming out to rural communities to commit crimes, to invade their homes and steal their property because it is easier than doing it in the city because there are fewer police officers in our rural communities. It is just a fact of life that there are fewer people and fewer police officers. It is simple logic. It just happens that way.

I hear the member for Foothills saying it is in his riding, and there are many members with ridings next to each other. My kids actually go to school in his riding. This is something rural Canadians have to deal with. How would Bill C-47 help them? It would not. It would not make life any easier for them, and neither would the companion bill, Bill C-71.

Law-abiding Canadians are going to keep abiding by the law. They are going to obey the law. We can count on firearms owners to do just that every single time. Therefore, why are we dashing carefree down that hill, expecting that more government, more bureaucracy, more red tape at the bottom of the hill will somehow keep us safer? They can introduce all the rules they want in the world, and it still will not help.

The Speaker is giving me the sign that I have one minute left, and here I was going to read to the chamber the list of states that have neither signed nor acceded to the ATT and the states that have signed but not yet ratified the ATT. It would have been riveting reading for the members of this House to understand exactly the number of states that are not participating in this treaty. Many of those who will not be participating in this treaty are arms dealers and many of them share weapons among themselves. They are not regimes that can be expected to obey any type of international law in the near future. For the most part, these are regimes we do not count among our friends, either. The governments that will obey this agreement are law-abiding, lawful western governments, and this measure would be restricting their ability to support their allies overseas.

I will be happily voting against this bill—it is a bad bill—as well as the companion bill, Bill C-71, and I look forward to the debate in this House.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2018 / 8:10 p.m.
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Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Mr. Speaker, first, I want to take this opportunity to thank my colleague, the member for Calgary Shepard, who articulated so very well the issues we are facing, certainly not only in rural Alberta but in rural communities across the country.

I would like to start by telling a story about an incident that happened in my constituency not long ago. Friends of mine told me about burglars coming into their house. Their children were in the basement. It was the middle of the day. They came down the stairs to the basement, armed. Their very large 17-year-old son was able to walk up the stairs and scare these burglars off, but they were very concerned about what could have happened to their three kids who were home alone that day. Of course, the burglars did not leave empty-handed; they took four vehicles from the farm on their way out the gate.

This is what residents throughout rural Canada are facing right now: a steep increase in rural crime. The Liberal government had an opportunity over this past year to address this issue.

I was very proud to be a member of the rural crime task force, which was made up of several Conservative Alberta members of Parliament. We held town halls throughout the province over the last six or seven months. We put together a list of more than a dozen very strong recommendations that we will be presenting to the government later this spring.

Many of the messages we heard from constituents were clear, no matter which open house we attended throughout Alberta. People were asking for stiffer penalties. People were asking for action against gang violence. People were asking for action to be taken against the illegal gun trade. People were asking for programs to address mental health. So many of these crimes are just a revolving door. A criminal robs a farmyard, goes to jail, gets a minimal fine, and is back out there, sometimes in hours, sometimes within days, repeating the crime.

Not one single time did I hear from the hundreds of Albertans that what they were really looking for was not one but maybe two gun registries. They were certainly not looking for a reduction in sentences for serious crimes.

When we look at the action the Liberal government is taking, it is going in the exact opposite direction that every rural Canadian is asking for. Rural Canadians are asking for stiffer fines and penalties and jail time. Canadians are asking for resources for our police services. Canadians are asking for a focus and a priority on safe communities. They are not asking for the Liberal government to ram through three bills that go against every single message we are getting from rural Canadians.

Let us take a look at Bill C-75, reforms to the Criminal Code and the Youth Criminal Justice Act, which would take dozens of crimes that were federal crimes and reduce them to summary conviction offences that may receive sentences of two years less a day. These include possession of goods from crime, theft, terrorist acts, and kidnapping children under 14 years old. I do not know where the common sense comes from with such a bill.

Canadians are asking us for exactly the opposite. I have not heard from one single Canadian that we need to address rural crime by reducing sentences to solve the problem. The government is not just reducing it from 10 years but is reducing it so that they may get a fine and be back on the streets. That is exactly what we are trying to prevent. It does not make sense. It is certainly frustrating for Canadians in our rural communities to see that this is the direction the government is going.

One of the first jobs of any government, no matter what the level, is to protect its citizens. This does anything but. It sends a very poor message to Canadians across the country who are looking for their government to stand up and protect them. The Liberal government is doing the exact opposite. It is going out of its way to ensure that criminals are the ones who are the priority.

Let us take a look at Bill C-71, which is on the Firearms Act. It would do nothing to address gang violence. It would do nothing to address gun crime. It certainly would not do anything to address rural crime issues.

This is another attack on law-abiding firearms owners and establishes another back-door gun registry. I would argue that Bill C-47 is another back-door gun registry. When the Liberal government has multiple opportunities to address the real crime issue, and I am being specific about that, because that is something that hits very close to home in my constituency, the Liberals put up window dressing on taking a hard stance on violent crime and gun crime, but all they are doing is attacking law-abiding firearms owners, who are certainly not the problem.

I am going to tell another story of a man in my riding, Eddie Maurice, in Okotoks, who many members may have heard of, who is now charged with a crime. He was protecting his property and young daughter from burglars who were going through his yard, his acreage. I can guarantee that the burglars on his property had not gone to Canadian Tire to purchase their firearms and make sure they were registered.

These bills are attacking the wrong people, and that is what Conservatives are finding to be incredibly frustrating with these two bills that are being rammed through by the Liberal government.

What Canadians are looking for is a Liberal government that is going to support them. Bill C-47 would not reduce illegal weapons coming into Canada. It would not reduce rural crime, and as I said before, it would not reduce gun violence or gang violence.

I would like my Liberal colleagues, during the question and answer period, to explain to me how, with the suite of legislation they are trying to ram through by the end of this session, I can go home to my constituents and tell them with all sincerity that I feel we have taken steps to protect their homes, properties, and families. I do not believe these bills would do any of those things.

When Conservatives were in government, a similar bill was before us, but we did not follow through on signing the arms treaty, because we were concerned about the limitations and the impact it would have on law-abiding firearms owners.

I would also point out that the Liberal government had some difficulty meeting some of its promises in its first mandate, but the promise I heard, in the words of the parliamentary secretary, is that it would in no way put any government restrictions on law-abiding Canadian citizens. I would argue that these pieces of legislation would do just that. If the Liberal government were concerned about putting forward legislation that would not impact law-abiding citizens, the language in this bill should have provided a certain level of certainty and legal assurances for Canadians that this would exempt them from some of these registrations. However, it asks our law-abiding firearms owners to go through even more hoops rather than addressing what I think is the most serious issue, and that is crime, especially in rural communities.

In conclusion, I strongly believe that for any government, the safety of Canadians and our communities is paramount and should be among its top priorities. I would ask my Liberal colleagues on the other side in government to take a hard second look at what their priorities are. Instead of attacking law-abiding firearms owners, put your focus on ensuring that rural communities are safe. I will be voting against this piece of legislation, because it does not do that.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2018 / 8:25 p.m.
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NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have to start by saying what a delight it is tonight to hear the Conservative members from Alberta giving accolades to Premier Notley for taking strong action to protect rural Albertans. It certainly is an important issue, but it is absolutely not what we are here to debate tonight. I am pleased to say that I will be the first speaker tonight who will actually speak to Bill C-47. My colleagues and I are opposed to this bill, but for completely different reasons.

Why is this bill important and why is it important that we get it right? Canada is now the second-largest arms dealer in the Middle East. In the past 25 years, Canada has sold $5.8 billion in weapons to countries with deeply questionable human rights records. In 2014-15, only 10 export permits were denied out of over 7,000 applications. Reports over the past year have indicated that Canadian sales of military-related equipment have increased to countries with poor human rights records.

It is time for the federal government to step up. I am pleased to say that the response to my colleague, the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, has been the same as the response to me on this issue, in terms of the Liberals' attitude to the arms trade deal.

Over 30,000 people have signed an Avaaz petition since last Friday asking the Liberals to fix this bill. The petition reads:

As a concerned Canadian, I strongly urge you to pass an arms bill that will stop exports to any party involved in human rights violations, and to close the crazy loophole with US arms exports. It's unacceptable for Canadians to have zero visibility into where our weapons end up and we urge you to ensure that bill C-47 addresses that.

As I mentioned, in my almost 10 years in this place, the most responses I have ever received from my constituents have been those opposing the sale of the LAVs to Saudi Arabia. There we are: Canadians are not happy with the approach the government is taking.

Therefore, while we welcome the decision by the government to move forward and to become a state party to the Arms Trade Treaty, we are deeply troubled at the approach it is taking because, frankly, it is not living up to the treaty.

When the Liberal government announced that Canada would finally accede to the Arms Trade Treaty, my colleagues and I, particularly my colleague from Laurier—Sainte-Marie, were thrilled. Of course, my former colleague, Paul Dewar, was outspoken on this for all of the years he was in the House of Commons.

Sadly, instead, Bill C-47 is one more broken Liberal promise. They are not, in fact, taking the action necessary to actually implement in Canada, into Canadian law, the full Arms Trade Treaty. As many people have said, they make a mockery of the Arms Trade Treaty.

The first derogation from this treaty is a massive one, in that the bill does not cover any of our exports to the United States. We do not know the exact percentage, and I will tell my colleagues why in a minute, but well over 50% of our arms exports are to the United States. We do not know the actual percentage because those exports are not tracked, and not even reported. Thus, we have no idea how many of our arms are being sold to the United States. This is important because we exclude from this bill any arms that are manufactured by a Canadian manufacturer here in Canada, but sold by another nation. That is, in fact, what has been going on with Canadian manufacturers of arms for export. They simply sell them to an American entity or a similar entity they have incorporated in the United States, and those in turn sell them to foreign entities who are major human rights violators. This is all the more important now as President Trump is lowering the bar for export to countries that are serious human rights violators.

Members here will recall the proposed sale of helicopters to the Government of the Philippines. They will remember that the president of the Philippines had boasted about throwing a man from a helicopter and that he would do it again. However, there are reports the company in question now plans to send helicopter parts to the United States, assemble them there, and then send them to the Philippines. Clearly, that is a cannon hole we are shooting through this arms treaty. It violates the letter and spirit of the Arms Trade Treaty. The treaty calls for universal adherence. That means that Canada should have laws in place that prohibit any sale by Canadian corporations to nations that are major human rights violators.

The second derogation is that in some cases in Canada an export permit is not even needed. Agreements between the defence department or with the Canadian Commercial Corporation do not require a permit, and they are free to sell to whoever they want. Those are also exempted from this bill.

What does Bill C-47 do to solve the problem? It does next to nothing, because Canadian corporations that are major arms manufacturers and traders have already figured out how to get around this, and the Liberal government is enabling that with this bill before us right now.

There was the infamous case of the light armoured vehicles, LAVs, sold by a Canadian manufacturer to Saudi Arabia. Despite clear reports of human rights violations, the current government refused to even investigate the sale. First, it suggested that the deal had already been completed by the Conservatives. Then it denied that there was any real evidence of the nefarious use of the LAVs by Saudi Arabia. Then, when the reports became so clear that there were in fact human rights violations going on with those very LAVS, it investigated, but again denied there was proof of human rights violations enabled by the use of Canadian LAVs.

There is also the embarrassing case of a UN report of a Canadian company selling 170 armed vehicles to support the brutal civil war in South Sudan. I just sat through a briefing by Global Affairs officials advising us of all the aid that Canada is giving to a number of African nations, including South Sudan, because of this brutal war. Human rights observers, including UN experts, have documented how South Sudan's army has engaged in massacres, rapes, looting, arbitrary arrests, and a scorched-earth strategy against civilians since the war erupted. Tens of thousands have died in the violence since then, making it one of the world's bloodiest conflicts. A UN expert panel said in a report submitted to the Security Council that the armoured vehicles sold to South Sudan were manufactured by the Canadian-owned Streit Group at a factory in the United Arab Emirates. The company simply takes the parts, has them put together in another nation, and then sells them to these human rights violators. It is absolutely absurd for Canada to be saying that we should be imposing sanctions on South Sudan and pouring in dollars to deal with the human rights abuses when in fact we are putting in place a law that would enable Canadian manufacturers to sell the very arms that are causing the atrocities in South Sudan.

In closing, we have heard from tens of thousands of Canadians who are absolutely opposed to the direction the government is taking. It is an international embarrassment. If the government wants to be on the Security Council, it should take back its bill, revise it, and make it consistent with the Arms Trade Treaty.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2018 / 8:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be here tonight to speak to Bill C-47. I want to note right up front that I am a bit disappointed that the government seems to have disengaged from the debate.

This is my first opportunity to consider this issue, and I am happy to stay here until midnight tonight. I was looking forward to the opportunity to ask questions and to hear the answers. It is important for Canadians as we debate this important issue.

The Liberals have a majority government and they will get the bill through, but to disengage, to not even participate in the debate is a bit disappointing.

Before I get into the specifics of Bill C-47, I want to draw attention to the connection among Bill C-71, Bill C-75, and Bill C-47. It speaks to the Liberals ideological perspective on things that are not driven in practicality.

Bill C-71 is the Liberal government's back door firearms registry. In spite of what the Liberals say, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, it is a duck. They claim the bill will protect cities from guns and gangs. People who have only lived in big cities like Toronto, Montreal, or Ottawa, might not understand that a law-abiding hunter or farmer who lives in a rural area considers a firearm a tool. It is a tool for ranchers and hunters. It is a tool for indigenous people.

Bill C-47 would impact law-abiding hunters and farmers, as would Bill C-71, but not in a practical way, not in a way that would make a difference. It would not make a difference in guns and gangs in cities, especially Bill C-71. However, it would create an added level of bureaucracy for many of our rural communities and our hunters and farmers.

Bill C-75 is about Liberal ideology, not practicality. Some people commit pretty serious and significant crimes. Bill C-75 proposes to reduce sentences. Do the Liberals want to reduce sentences for terrorist activities, or for crimes such as administering a noxious substance or date rape? If something ever happened to my daughter, I would be absolutely appalled if the sentence was reduced.

There was a very disturbing court case in Kamloops involving the death of a young girl. The Twitter world was filled with people, saying justice was not done with respect to the the sentence given to the person who murdered this child. Everyone had a sense that justice had not been done, yet Bill C-75 would further reduce criminal sentences for what would truly be horrific crimes.

I will get into the specifics of Bill C-47. This legislation was introduced in April, 2017. Let us talk about time management. It was introduced in April, 2017 and we are now going into June, 2018, with late night sittings so the Liberals can get what they believe to be important legislation through the House? That significantly indicates bad management of House time.

Bill C-47 would control the transfer of eight different categories of military equipment. The one we find to be the most troubling is category 8, small arms and light weapons. I understand an amendment was introduced at committee that would add “The Brokering Control List may not include small arms that are rifles, carbines, revolvers or pistols intended for hunting or sport, for recreational use, or for a cultural or historical purpose.”

It was quite a reasonable amendment, but it was voted down. I wanted to ask the government tonight why it voted it down because it would have given many of us greater comfort in how we looked at the bill.

The government tends to look at anything the UN does without criticism. If the UN says we should do this, the Liberals tend to say, absolutely, how fast, and how quickly. They do not spend as much time as they might reflecting on what we do in Canada.

I would beg to differ from my colleague from the NDP. We do have a responsive system. We have a Trades Control Bureau. To a greater degree, this system has worked pretty well. Would it be better to have something that everyone uses? Absolutely, if everyone used it. We only need to look at the list of the countries that have not or will not signed onto this agreement. We have to recognize that this agreement will not accomplish what it is intended to accomplish.

I encourage anyone who might have an interest in this issue to go online and look at the list of countries that have signed on to the treaty and implemented it. However, look to the larger category of countries that have said no. People will quickly recognize that we are not creating a solution in Canada. We are going to be creating increased challenges.

Another area that the Liberals should be reflecting on is this. The Department of National Defence has always been excluded from our internal systems. Under this treaty, it will be included. Is that going to affect the nimbleness of our military, its ability to respond in a rapid response? Perhaps the the Liberals have not done as much due diligence in that area. We need to ensure our military can react rapidly to trouble spots around the world and send assistance. We often thought that sending assistance was the correct response. This does nothing for law-abiding citizens.

Yesterday in the House, the Liberals voted for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Over a year ago, at the UN, they committed to its implementation. With respect to Bill C-71, today at committee one of the first nations leadership said “We had no consultations”. This is another example where the Liberals are telling them what they are going to do. I would suggest that the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne would say that with the borders between the U.S. and Canada, the bill would impact the people, that the council did not even know about it. The fact is that over a year and a half ago, the Liberals committed to consultations under article 19, but they have not followed through in any meaningful way to that commitment.

I am disappointed that we have not had engagement, but, quite frankly, the treaty goals in the bill will not be met. Meanwhile we will create some new regulatory burdens for our Department of National Defence and people in the fishing and hunting community who will keep having to do more and more under a Liberal government. I am sure they must be terribly frustrated. This is one more example of its lack of understanding on that issue.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2018 / 8:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan, SK

Madam Speaker, once again, it is a pleasure to rise in this place to give my comments in tonight's debate on Bill C-47, but before I do so, perhaps I can expand upon a couple of the comments made by my colleague from Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, who talked a little about the procedural aspects of what is happening tonight.

If anyone is actually watching these proceedings tonight, they would notice that there is no debate happening. We are scheduled for debate, we are supposed to be having debate, but “debate” means that there are two sides debating, and the Liberals have chosen not to participate in this debate. That is their prerogative, and they can certainly do as they wish, but from a procedural standpoint, I would like to point out a couple of items.

Number one, if the discussion on Bill C-47 collapses, and by that I mean if no further speaker stands to offer comments, it means that the bill would get passed. Why is that important? It is because, as the government knows, there was an offer made earlier tonight to members on the government side that if Bill C-47 collapsed—in other words, if no one got up to speak—and if the government would not introduce another bill, we would all go home. Not to make it appear that we do not want to do our jobs, the reality is that every extended hour we spend in this place is costing the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. The lights have to remain on, staff have to be here, security has to be here, the cafeterias have to remain open, and, ultimately, Bill C-47 will be passed. The government knows that, it has a majority, yet we sit here wasting taxpayers' dollars and not even participating in the debate.

I find it shameful that members on the government side who say they want to actively debate will not even comment on their own legislation. I will put on the record that the government is playing games here. We could all be cutting back on the expenses that taxpayers are being forced to pay, but Liberals do not see it that way, and I find that almost unconscionable. That is on the procedural side of things.

I will turn my remarks now to Bill C-47. I will make a couple of brief comments on the bill itself, which of course is about the Arms Trade Treaty. The reason I am bringing it up is the fact that any arms treaty should recognize the legitimacy of responsible gun owners who wish to own guns for their personal use, for their recreational and sporting activities, but the treaty does not recognize the legitimacy of that. For that reason, and that reason alone, I cannot support Bill C-47.

However, we should not be surprised, because this is just the latest in a long litany of Liberal attempts at gun control that have ended badly. The member for Sarnia—Lambton referenced it just a few moments ago when she talked about the failed Liberal long gun registry back in the 1990s and early 2000s. For those who have perhaps forgotten the history, let me remind them that in 1995, then justice minister Allan Rock introduced the long-gun registry as a piece of legislation in this place, ostensibly and purportedly, according to him, that it would save lives.

History has taught us many things, and one of the things it has taught us about this failed attempt at a good piece of legislation was that the long-gun registry did nothing to save lives. What it did do, as was found out in later years, was cost Canadian taxpayers billions upon billions of dollars. In fact, in 1995, the then justice minister, the hon. Allan Rock, stated in this place that, by his estimations, the long-gun registry, once fully implemented, would only cost $2 million a year. At that point in time, many people took him at his word, because there were no real records or precedents for what a registry of that sort would cost taxpayers, but, luckily, for the taxpayers of Canada, a former colleague of mine, Mr. Garry Breitkreuz, from Yorkton, Saskatchewan, knew that this figure of $2 million was obscenely low, that it certainly could not be anywhere close to that and that it would cost much more. Hence, for years thereafter, Garry Breitkreuz filed ATIPs, access to information requests, time after time, month after month, year after year, getting limited, if any, response from the government.

Finally, after years of diligent and persistent requesting of the government for pertinent information on the cost of the gun registry, it was revealed that the gun registry did not cost $2 million, but $2 billion.

What did it accomplish? Did it accomplish anything? Did it save lives? Well, I am here to argue that it most certainly did not. Why not? It is because the one fundamental flaw in the rationale and reasoning of Allan Rock, back in those days, supported by every Liberal in Canada is seemed, was that criminals do not register guns.

We have seen over the years an influx of illegal handguns and other guns coming across the border from the United States to Canada, but the people who brought these illegal guns across the border had no plans to register their weapons. Therefore, the gun registry legislation was absolutely worthless. To say it cost $2 billion for a worthless piece of legislation and call it obscene is being kind to the word obscene. It absolutely was one of the largest fiscal mistakes the former Liberal government has made in that party's long history.

I do not think the current government has learned anything from these past mistakes, because we see them time and time again trying to introduce legislation that would in fact be a back door gun registry. Whether it be Bill C-47, Bill C-71, or Bill C-75, we know that what the Liberals would love to see is another gun registry being enacted here in Canada. However, I can assure members that if they try to do that, if they try to force their position on Canadians, on rural Canadians in particular, legitimate gun owners would again be absolutely beside themselves. The first time the Liberals tried to force the gun registry on legitimate gun owners and on rural Canada, the reaction was visceral, and it will be again.

I will conclude with a true story that happened when I was on the campaign trail in 2004. During the campaign, when I was door-knocking, I did not know the gentleman living at the residence I visited, but I saw in my identification that he was a former RCMP officer. I naturally thought that he was probably going to be in favour of this. Well, how wrong I was. When I got to the door, I was met with hostility on every issue I brought forward to the point where I actually started losing my temper, which I normally do not do, particularly when I am door-knocking. It finally got to a point, after many arguments on different issues, that the gentleman asked me “What do you think you're going to do about the gun registry?” I said, “We're going to scrap it”. He said “I worked for the gun registry”. I said “Well, in that case, don't vote for me”. He said, “I won't, and get off my doorstep”.

I was laughing by the time I got to the sidewalk because it was so bizarre, but it just illustrates the visceral reaction that so many people have about this very contentious issue.

The gun registry that the Liberal government of the day tried to force down the throats of rural Canadians was something that should never have happened in the first place, but it did, unfortunately. However, for $2 billion in taxpayers' dollars, it is something that Canadians, particularly rural Canadians, will never forget, and because of that, when they see the current government introducing legislation like Bill C-47, Bill C-71, or Bill C-75, they harken back to the dark days of the 1990s when the Liberal government tried to force this obscene long-gun registry down their throats.

Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on the Liberal government.

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May 31st, 2018 / 9:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan, SK

Madam Speaker, I appreciate my friend's comments to try to spin this, but the reality is that he knows as well as I do, although he probably will never admit it, that there was an agreement that was proposed to the members opposite that if Bill C-47 were left to collapse, there would be no new legislation introduced tonight. Members would simply go home and save the taxpayers, I would say, probably at least $30,000 or $40,000 from our not staying here until midnight.

That is the right of the members opposite to say no. We will gladly stay here until midnight and debate the merits of Bill C-47, but what I find absolutely unconscionable is that there is no participation by the Liberals. They were the ones who introduced this bill. They were the ones who put it on the schedule for debate tonight. It was them not us, yet they are not putting up even one speaker to support or defend this legislation. That is the worst of all scenarios, game playing and a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2018 / 9:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan, SK

Madam Speaker, I will be brief because I know that our time is tight. Quite frankly, resources could be best spent in perhaps increasing the police forces across Canada and perhaps in educating well-meaning and recreational hunters and shooters about the proper use of guns. However, to suggest that this piece of legislation or Bill C-71 would do anything to combat crime is a farce, because the legislation does not say anything about that. We do have a problem with crime, particularly rural crime, in this country, but Bill C-71 does not address that and Bill C-47 certainly does not. If the Liberals are serious about trying to prevent and eliminate crime across rural Canada, there are better ways to do it than this.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2018 / 9:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, I am here tonight to talk about the arms control treaty. I would like to say that I am delighted to be here, but I find that when the government decides to force us into these midnight sittings and then chooses not to participate in the debate, it is a bit of a one-sided conversation. Normally, when I show up to bring my viewpoints on why I am going to oppose a piece of legislation, I am looking to hear from the government about why it thinks this legislation is such a good idea, but I guess I am not going to hear that tonight.

First, I will talk about arms internationally, and then I will talk a bit about arms at home and some of the concerns I have with the bill.

First, there is this arms treaty that the UN is trying to get people to sign on to. My first concern is that there are a lot of countries that have not signed on to it. One of them, of course, is the U.S. This is concerning to me. If this was such a great treaty, a lot of countries ought to be signing on.

Here in Canada, we have the Trade Controls Bureau, which supposedly keeps us from shipping weapons to places where they would be used in internal and external conflicts, and used by people who commit human rights violations. I had the opportunity to sit at committee this afternoon, and the member for Edmonton Strathcona has already testified that she asked a question about arms that are being shipped through the U.S. into South Sudan.

This is not an isolated incident. There are parts of guns that are being assembled in other countries and sent to places where there are conflicts and human rights violations. She gave a statistic showing that the applications for these permits are pretty much all approved. Only 10 out of 7,000 in 2014 were turned down. Therefore, it appears that there is not enough traceability from where parts begin or arms are created to where they ultimately end up. That is something that ought to be fixed if we are really trying to meet the intent of the bill, which I think is to try to make sure we control where arms are going.

I was fortunate enough to go to Geneva, Switzerland with the World Health Organization as part of the Canadian delegation with the health minister. I was astounded when I was there to hear some of the members from countries across the world talk about how 684 hospitals were bombed last year. This is unbelievable and totally against the Geneva convention. In many cases, the weapons that are being used are weapons originating in countries that did not intend for them to be used in such a way. Therefore, we definitely need to tighten this up.

The Congo, for example, is at the point where its minister of health is talking about rebuilding its structure and having only 44% of the country with any kind of medical service access. It is definitely a serious issue.

If we focus on arms internationally, I talked about having better traceability. Definitely for those places that we know are committing human rights violations, we should have some eyes on the ground there to detect and eliminate those passages.

In terms of arms at home, it is important to state that we currently do not have a problem with law-abiding gun owners in Canada. We have to state this again and again. We are not having difficulty with law-abiding gun owners in Canada. We will kill more people with drug-impaired driving than we will with lawful guns in Canada. The Liberal government is rushing to legalize marijuana, which will double the number of people killed in that way. The Liberals are pretending there is a problem where there really is not.

The problem in Canada is guns and gangs in big cities, which is a problem with people who do not obey the law. If they do not obey the current gun laws, they are not going to obey future gun laws. It would be naive to think otherwise. That point cannot be made often enough. There is no problem with lawful gun ownership in Canada.

I have heard the testimony of some witnesses who talked about rural ridings. I happened to have a contingent of rural ridings in Sarnia—Lambton, perhaps not as rural as some of the people who have spoken, but there are a large number of folks there who are gun owners, many of whom are farmers. When there are no police close by or the police response time is measured in hours, not minutes, people need protection. Not only that, there are many times when one may have to take action. In the place where I live, we have cougars. It has not just happened in one year, but in multiple years, that when the weather is mild the cougars come down and attack the pigs and horses on the various farms around and the farmers have to shoot them. That is protection. I have friends who have a lot of horses. If a horse has to be put down, they do it humanely and they use a gun. In the rural environment, guns are a tool that is used wisely.

I have said before and I will say again that we do not have a problem with law-abiding gun owners. The other thing I would say is there are a lot of people who hunt for enjoyment or who have guns to practise shooting at a shooting gallery. I do not personally own a gun. However, I do not begrudge those who want the right to do so. I know that a lot of the people in the rural environment where I live have multiple guns. They have a different one for pheasant, for turkey, for moose, and for the deer. Apparently, there is quite a skill to this whole thing. What all Canadians want is to make sure that we take more control of things that could kill multiple people. We have all seen the news when people take a weapon that can shoot 50 rounds and really do huge damage. Therefore, I think there is a way of balancing that and making sure that the people who are getting guns are of sound mind. Everyone would agree that is also important.

This legislation does nothing to address any of that. This legislation, along with Bill C-71, is really a backdoor gun registry. It is bringing that back. I appreciate the history that the member for Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan gave me, because I do recall that the long-gun registry did not turn out well for the Liberals. Bill C-47 and Bill C-71 will bring them to the same fate.

The other thing is that the bill is introducing a lot of red tape, bureaucracy, record keeping, and costs to businesses. I am not a fan of that.

If we talk about Bill C-71, the sort of partner legislation to this bill, there are a lot of unanswered questions about who does the background checks, who assesses that they are okay, and how people access the records. There is language that suggests it is a judicial process. What does that mean? Does it mean one needs to get a warrant to get that information? Is that information generally available to security organizations? Who can really access that information? Those questions need to be answered.

Also, in Bill C-71, I do not know why the government would take out the authorization to transport guns to and from gunsmiths, gun stores, border points, and gun shows. If people who own guns have to get their gun fixed, they have to take it to a gunsmith. Eliminating people's ability to transport guns to a gunsmith seems ridiculous. Similarly, if people are a fan of guns, they would go to gun shows. How would they get the guns there if they are not allowed to transport them? It just seems like a lot of roadblocks are being put up for people who are law-abiding citizens with whom we do not have an issue.

Overall, when I look at this legislation, it appears to me that it does not address the goal, which is to make sure that arms do not fall into the hands of people who would use them for human rights violations, in conflicts, or against Canada. It also does not do anything to address the issues with crime in Canada due to guns and gangs. For that reason, I will strongly oppose this legislation.

I would repeat that it is really too bad that the government has chosen not to put up any speakers in this debate tonight.

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May 31st, 2018 / 9:25 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, the Liberal government has fallen behind on its legislative agenda. It is forcing parliamentarians to stay late into the night to study its bills because it is incapable of moving its legislative agenda forward. Now it is asking us to debate an important bill that speaks to significant Canadian and, dare I say it, Liberal values, like freedom and respect. However, the Liberals refuse to talk about it. It is utterly baffling. It would be all the more baffling if we were talking about another bill to legalize a certain substance, but that is not the topic of tonight's debate.

It is somewhat surreal that only the official opposition, the second opposition party, and the others are interested in debating this major bill governing Canada's arms exports to other countries. I will come back to this, because it speaks to fundamental values we hold. There is a general tendency to puff up with pride when this subject comes up, but when the time comes to choose between profits and respecting certain rights, the Liberal government shows its true colours. Again, this bill is not reflective of the standards, values, and principles that we have embraced as a society and that the government claims to care about here and around the world.

Before I continue, I would like to acknowledge the tireless work and absolutely amazing job being done by my colleague from Laurier—Sainte-Marie on this file, specifically at the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. I also want to applaud her assistant, Jennifer Pedersen, who has been doing fantastic work on this file for years now.

This evening we are debating Bill C-47, introduced by the federal government, which should be capable of applying the principles of such an important treaty as the Arms Trade Treaty, or ATT. The Arms Trade Treaty is pretty simple. The general principle states that we should not sell arms to a country if we have any reason to suspect, based on overwhelming evidence, that it might use those weapons against civilian populations, either its own or in neighbouring countries.

Unfortunately, we seriously doubt that the Liberal government's Bill C-47 will manage to address this very basic concern. We must prohibit the sale of weapons to countries that violate human rights. This leads us to reflect on some philosophical and political questions. Who are we as a society? What role do we want to play in the world? What is our own identity? If we are proud to be a country that respects human rights here and abroad, we cannot have a double standard. Human rights are not optional. We cannot be satisfied with respecting them only when it suits us, only to make an exception when other interests prevail.

Respecting human rights means always. As progressives, New Democrats, and humanists, we want to make sure those rights are respected. That is part of our values as Quebeckers and Canadians. We cannot say one thing and then do the opposite. Unfortunately, Bill C-47 provides absolutely no guarantee that our identity and the image we want to project to the world will be respected.

Let us remember that, once the Liberals took office, they signed an export permit for the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia. We now know that those weapons were used against civilian populations in Saudi Arabia and likely against civilian populations in Yemen, a neighbouring country torn by a very intense civil war. However, the Liberals tried to mislead us. The Prime Minister told us that there was no problem and that Canada had only sold Saudi Arabia Jeeps, or vehicles that were practically buses.

It turns out that the Jeeps in question were armoured vehicles, some light and some heavy. Normally, a government that respected the principles of the Arms Trade Treaty would not have signed the export permit.

I understand that a contract had been signed previously, but the government still could have exercised due diligence, respected our international commitments, and refused to issue the permit because there was too great a risk that those weapons would be used against the civilian population. Instead, the Liberal government decided to thumb its nose at all of those values and sign the export contract for the weapons.

After that, I do not understand how the Liberals can show their faces on the international stage and say that they are champions of human rights and that they want to win back Canada's seat on the United Nations Security Council, when they are not even capable of abiding by that treaty. The government introduced a bill to say that it will abide by the treaty, but there is no guarantee that it will do so.

In fact, there is a giant gaping loophole the size of the Grand Canyon in this bill.

Before moving on to that topic, I want to mention that the Liberal government's current bill includes absolutely nothing for re-evaluating existing export permits. Even if we were determined to act in good faith and there was no information or event to suggest that these arms could be used against civilians, there still should be an export permit re-evaluation mechanism.

However, Bill C-47 includes no measure for re-evaluating permits, even if there are credible allegations of human rights violations. That means that we are rushing to sell arms before getting all the information, and once the other country violates human rights and attacks civilians, we wash our hands of the whole thing, because there is no export permit re-evaluation process. It is quite incredible.

The huge loophole I was talking about a minute ago is that all exports of military goods to the United States are exempt. Under Bill C-47, exports of military materiel, arms, equipment, or partial equipment to the United States do not fall under the ax of the Liberal government's Bill C-47.

That means that we could sell arms to the United States, which could then sell them to a dictatorship that might attack civilians. There is nothing we could do about that under this bill.

We could sell a piece of equipment, a rifle part or a cannon part, to the United States, which could then sell them to people or governments that violate human rights and that would not fall on the chopping block of Bill C-47. Such sales represent half of our exports.

The Liberals have managed to circumvent the Arms Trade Treaty. If this bill had teeth, half of our exports could not be evaluated by this bill. It is unfathomable.

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May 31st, 2018 / 9:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Madam Speaker, it is my privilege to stand today to speak to Bill C-47. In some ways, I think the bill is connected to Bill C-71. I was very much looking forward to speaking to this bill, because the good people of Peace River—Westlock sent me here, and one of the mandates I ran on was to protect the rights of firearms owners in Canada. I am incredibly pleased to speak to this.

We, on the Conservative side, have always stood up for the rights of firearms owners. I was particularly interested in being here tonight to see what the Liberals had to say and to hold the Liberal government to account on what they had to say about this particular bill. We have been here this evening for a very long time, and we have not heard from a single Liberal, not in the time I have been sitting here.

It is disappointing that we have not been able to hold them to account and ask the tough questions that need to be asked. I see that the member for Kildonan—St. Paul is here this evening. I know that the member for Kildonan—St. Paul is a big fan of mine, and she always likes to participate in debates. We sit on committee together. I know that she definitely enjoys my speeches.

This evening she has not been engaged whatsoever with the topic at hand. She has not participated. She has not given a speech. She has not even asked a question. I have been very disappointed with the member for Kildonan—St. Paul that she has not outlined her opinion on Bill C-47. I have not heard a single word from her. She has been sitting here all night. We have been laying out our opinions on the bill. We have been telling Canadians what the good people of Peace River—Westlock think and have to say about firearms rights and this backdoor long-gun registry the Liberals are bringing in, particularly with Bill C-47 but also with Bill C-71.

I was looking forward to hearing what the member for Kildonan—St. Paul had to say. I know we have a great relationship. We work together on committee. We rarely agree on things, but we definitely like to spar back and forth. I was looking forward to hearing what she had to say this evening. Unfortunately, to this point, anyway, she has not gotten up to ask any questions or to lay out her opinions about this particular bill. I am not sure what the people from Kildonan—St. Paul think about that. I hope to hear from her.

Bill C-47 is an important piece of legislation. It brings Canada in line with the UN treaty that was previously signed. I am not quite sure if I am totally excited about that. I know that the Liberal government has undermined Canadians' trust in it whenever it comes to firearms. When this particular bill was introduced, I remember sitting here with the member for Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies. We went through the bill together.

I remember being triggered by some of the words in there: “list”, “permit”, “record”. These are words firearms owners in Canada are not excited to read whenever there is any kind of firearms legislation. If we see words like “list”, “permit”, “record”, “registry”, or “registrar”, it sends alarm bells to firearms owners across Canada. I know that when the bill came in, we had a look at it. Those words appeared in Bill C-47 69 times.

We put out a call to firearms owners across Canada, and believe me, we heard back, loud and clear, that Canadian firearms owners, licensed firearms owners, do not trust the Liberals whatsoever when it comes to handling their rights in Canada.

We heard back strongly that this was not the direction we needed to go. The Conservatives, being the adults in the room this evening, have brought forward an amendment that would help alleviate the fears. We do not often like to help the Liberals when they stick their foot in it, but this time we thought, for the sake of the country, we would help them. We proposed amendments to help out Canadian legal firearms owners to make sure that their rights were protected, because that is, in fact what I was sent here, on behalf of the good people of Peace River—Westlock, to do, to stand up for the rights of firearms owners.

This is just part of the ongoing trend of lack of accountability from those folks. We see it again tonight, when they are not willing to stand and defend their own legislation. We see it time and again. In the Liberals' last platform, I heard over and over again how they would have a new level of openness, that there would be transparency on every level. However, tonight we are debating important legislation and nobody is laying out his or her view of the bill.

One of the other things that is very concerning about the government is that it does not see past city limits. When I say that, I am thinking specifically of the rural crime issue in Canada, particularly in Saskatchewan and Alberta. It is tied to some degree to the downturn in the economy. We have seen a correlation in the downturn in the economy with a rise in rural crime. I lay the blame for that squarely at the feet of the Liberal government. It has done nothing to protect the Canadian economy. In fact, it has thrown gasoline on the fire when it should have brought out the water hose. We have definitely seen the wrong output from the government. Then, to top it all off, when it should be focusing on the economy, it brings forward anti-firearm legislation. That just shows how out of touch the Liberal government is with the Canadian population.

After Liberals introduce this legislation, they turn tail and run. They cannot even stand in this place and defend their actions when it comes to Bill C-47, tonight in particular. I was looking forward to sparring on this legislation, but here we are with the NDP and the Conservatives are having a robust debate in the House of Commons. It has been significantly frustrating to pin down the Liberals when it comes to holding up the rights of Canadians.

I go back to the language in the bill. I mentioned earlier that words like “list”, “permit”, “record”, and “registry” show up 69 times in Bill C-47 and over 30 times in Bill C-71. However, there is no mention of gangs or gun violence whatsoever. This shows that Liberals do not understand the issue. The issue is not a particular firearm. The issue is that they have undermined the economy and Canadians' respect for firearms.

We are calling on the government to do something about rural crime and they bring forward firearm legislation that only goes after law-abiding citizens. If the law is changed, these citizens will comply with it. It is why they are called “law-abiding citizens”. It is why they have firearms licences. It is why they lawfully own firearms.

Criminals are not too concerned about where or how firearms are purchased. They are going to be out there regardless. We need to ensure we hold the government to account. We need to ensure that when we try to target issues like gang violence in the country, we put forward legislation that will do that. If we want to target gangs, we should be resourcing our police departments properly.

I will definitely be voting against Bill C-47.

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May 31st, 2018 / 9:45 p.m.
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Whitby Ontario

Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development

Madam Speaker, it is fascinating to hear the opposition complaining about having to be here, and this is only day three of extended hours.

The Conservatives say they are willing to stop debate on Bill C-47, but only if the government agrees not to call any other legislation. That makes no sense. They have been complaining about not having enough time to debate legislation, and extending the hours allows them to debate important legislation, so why do they suddenly not want to debate?

The government has been asking for information. The NDP has provided it, but the Conservatives have refused to provide it. Why do they ask for more debate time and then complain about getting it?

The government has spoken on this legislation, and we are now ready to advance it to the next stage. I would encourage opposition members to share information, as there is a better way to work in this place if they are willing to do so. We have not seen their desire to do so yet, but perhaps there is a way forward to be better.

They say they are eager to debate legislation, and yet they forced a vote on Bill C-57 when the House supported the bill. They did the same thing for private member's bill, Bill C-391.

If Conservative members can confirm that no members want to speak to Bill C-47 and they are prepared to let the debate collapse, then we would most certainly be happy to see the clock at midnight.

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May 31st, 2018 / 9:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Madam Speaker, I would be happy to stay here all night to debate this piece of legislation.

I was hoping for a question from my hon. colleague from Kildonan—St. Paul. I did ask for her to interact with me earlier.

It is great to be here tonight, and I was hoping to hear what the Liberals had to say about this particular piece of legislation. We have been here for several hours now, but I have not heard a peep from the Liberals on Bill C-47, the Liberal government's backdoor long-gun registry. I am happy to be here tonight to debate Bill C-47.

Motions in AmendmentExport and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2018 / 12:10 p.m.
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NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, when the Liberal government announced that Canada would finally accede to the Arms Trade Treaty, I was very happy, and I congratulated the government at that time. For years now, the NDP has been asking Canada to join this important, life-saving treaty that addresses important issues such as gender-based violence and the illegal arms trade, which is a major destabilizing force internationally.

This boils down to one more broken Liberal promise. They say they want to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty, but Bill C-47, which is before us today, respects neither the spirit nor the letter of that treaty.

The current bill was described by an expert to whom I spoke as making a mockery of the Arms Trade Treaty. Even though we in the NDP wanted, and have pushed for years, Canada to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty, we cannot support the bill because it does not respect the treaty. It does not respect either the letter or the spirit of the treaty.

In fact, this bill is full of holes. It might as well be a sieve that lets everything through, even the important bits. The first hole, a massive one, is that this bill does not cover any of our exports to the United States.

We have to take into account that over 50% of our arms exports are to the U.S. When I say over 50%, I do not mean 51% or 52%; I mean it could be 55%, 60% or 65%. In fact, we do not even know. Officials tell us that it is over 50%, but we do not know what the actual percentage is because those exports are not tracked and are not reported. In committee, when I said we should at least report on our arms exports to the U.S., one of my Liberal colleagues answered that it was difficult to report on something the government did not track. That is a problem.

It should be tracked, especially right now when President Trump is lowering the bar for export to countries like Nigeria. This risk that arms or components produced in Canada find their way to a range of countries where we would not want to see those arms is even greater.

Members will recall when the sale of helicopters to the government of the Philippines hit the news. When this news became public, everyone remembered that the President of the Philippines had boasted about throwing a man from a helicopter and said that he would do it again. Everyone was busy trying to stop the deal. The Philippine authorities were a bit insulted, and the plan was dropped. However, there are reports that the company in question now plans to send helicopter parts to the United States, assemble them there, and send them to the Philippines. They found a good way to get around the act. This poses a practical problem in that we have no control over more than half of our arms sales.

This violates the letter and the spirit of the Arms Trade Treaty. The treaty calls for universal adherence. We cannot pick and choose, saying that exports to one place will be covered by the treaty, but exports to another place will not. This is not how treaties normally work, and this is not how this particular treaty works.

I would like to get back to the sale of helicopters to the Philippines. People are asking how this could have happened and how the minister approved an export permit for these helicopters to the Philippine government.

The problem is that an export permit was not needed. The agreement between the two defence departments was brokered by the Canadian Commercial Corporation. That is another gaping hole. These are nevertheless exports of a sensitive nature made without the requirement to obtain the minister's approval or an evaluation of the risk of these arms being used to commit human rights violations. This a gaping hole in how we manage Canadian exports.

What does Bill C-47 do to solve this problem? Guess what, absolutely nothing.

Bill C-47 does not even cover the activities of the Department of National Defence or the Canadian Commercial Corporation, so there is a huge loophole, and we do not know whether that loophole will still be wide open. Export to the U.S. is not reported on, not covered by the treaty. DND and CCC are not covered by the treaty. What is left is shrinking all the time.

This legislation should be sent to the shredder, because it is basically flawed. I am not the only one to say this. All of the experts are saying it as well, but, of course, the Liberal government will not listen to them. The government will ram through this legislation even though it could weaken the actual treaty. I always wonder where Canada is in the world. To me, it is not back on the world stage.

That would be the ideal solution, but the Liberal government will not do it. However, at least we are trying to improve it a bit. This amendment would close another crucial element of the Arms Trade Treaty that is not covered in the current bill. It would make sure that if an export licence has been given and new information comes to light, the minister has to reassess the export permit. I hope that my colleagues will support that. It is part of the treaty and it should be in the bill. In the case of Saudi Arabia, the minister refused to do so.

Here I will rest my case.

Motions in AmendmentExport and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2018 / 12:15 p.m.
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Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her work in committee.

I find it unfortunate that she is now expressing her opposition to Canada's accession to the ATT. The NDP once took the principled stance that Canada should be a leader in regulating the sale of conventional arms around the world. I am not surprised that, once again, NDP members have abandoned their principled position in favour of partisan opposition in their stance.

I do want to correct the record, though. Bill C-47 will see the entirety of the Government of Canada accede to the ATT. All of the organizations and departments which the member referenced will be a party to ATT standards. It will allow Canada to play a leadership role in regulating the sale of conventional arms worldwide.

Why is the NDP once again proposing to abandon its principled position that will help Canada play a leadership role in the world?

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May 28th, 2018 / 12:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Madam Speaker, I rise today to debate Bill C-47, a bill that would implement an international arms control treaty. Bill C-47 lays bare a fundamental difference in the foreign policy approach of the Conservative official opposition and the Liberal government. I agree very much with my NDP colleague that the difference is that the Liberal government is primarily concerned with optics as opposed to real results for Canadians, lots of nice fancy window dressing with little or no results.

Previously, my colleague on this side of the House formally laid out the practical problems we have seen with this legislation, and the practical reality that we already have a strong system of arms control in this country that achieves the stated objective.

We oppose the bill on the grounds that it complicates existing arms control mechanisms that are working extremely well at present, and that, in the process, it introduces substantial problems for responsible, law-abiding Canadian firearms owners. I want to take this opportunity to discuss some issues we have in terms of this proposed legislation.

In real terms, Canada already has a strong and effective system of arms control that in practical effect exceeds the system proposed by the UN treaty. The current system includes the Trade Controls Bureau, which, through the responsible minister, has the ability to prevent us from supplying military equipment to countries where those exports might threaten Canadian security, or in cases where the weapons could be used in an internal or external conflict in general. The current system also includes provisions that allow a complete ban on trade with high-risk countries. Further, it is currently set that the Canada Border Services Agency, CBSA, and Statistics Canada collect all such information on goods exported from Canada.

Some might argue that signing on to this UN treaty is important to aligning Canada with other nations. In previous deliberations on this legislation, though, one of the members opposite referenced the nations that had initially signed on to this treaty. However, if we look at the ratification record of countries, we note that the countries accounting for a majority of the sales of military equipment have not signed on to it. Therefore, in actual fact, this treaty is not at all about establishing an effective international regime that we can all align with.

At best, despite amendments, we are in a place where Canadians know one thing for sure, that they cannot trust the government on firearms legislation. We are at that point yet again. Despite earlier attempts through Bill C-47, the government has failed to recognize the legitimacy of lawful firearms ownership and has moved to create all sorts of unnecessary problems and red tape for responsible firearms owners.

This legislation effectively recreates the federal gun registry by requiring the tracking of all imported and exported firearms, and requires that information be available to the minister for six years. Firearms groups and individual owners have repeatedly expressed concerns about the implications of this. They want a strong system of arms control, but they point out that we already have one.

Beyond that, firearms owners are generally frustrated by a constantly shifting classification system that does not provide any meaningful certainty to law-abiding gun owners in Canada. A firearm that is considered legal today could be considered illegal tomorrow, without even the due process of an order in council.

Let us address the trust issue that many law-abiding Canadians have with the government. With respect to the Liberals' new gun legislation, Bill C-71, it does nothing to address real crime and gun violence. It is essentially a regulatory bill, not a public safety bill. What is apparent is that it was drafted without any thought of what it would do to law-abiding firearms owners, like farmers, hunters, collectors, and sport shooters. There is nothing in that proposed legislation that addresses any of the real gang and gun problems facing Canadian families, police, rural communities, first nations, inner cities, border agents, or the issue of rural crime.

Legislation should be about the values and merits of what Canadians need to improve their quality of life, what they need to protect their communities. Legislation should be about empowering people to prosper, not the Liberal Party.

We have heard what Canadians need for safer communities. In ridings like mine with vast rural areas, police can sometimes be hours away. Rural Canadians often feel they are left to fend for themselves. With crime rates increasing by 41% in rural parts of Canada over the last few years, the bill would do nothing to address the needs of rural Canada. However, it has the potential to turn rural Canadians into criminals if they own a firearm.

The reality is that many Canadians have firearms because of where they live and because their livelihood depends on it. Many need a firearm to deal with aggressive predators and to protect their livestock. Others need it for their work, like farmers who might have to put down an animal or control rodents. Sadly, in some rural communities, due to excessive crime, some Canadians feel they need firearms to defend themselves. There are many reasons that rural Canadians need firearms, and they own them legitimately.

Recently at a summit on guns and gangs, police referenced the increasing number of gangs involved in gun violence. This violence often stems from drug related crimes, with shootings often related to gangs protecting their territory. Guns acquired by drug dealers and gang members are almost always acquired through the black market, via smuggling and theft. We know that those involved in gang related shootings do not register their guns; they do not get a licence to own a firearm. They will not show a licence to buy a firearm; they do not go through a background check. They do not submit to police scrutiny. The only people who do that are law-abiding Canadians.

Adding more processes and background checks for law-abiding citizens would do nothing to effectively combat gang related gun violence. Nothing the Liberals have proposed will deal effectively with gangs and their acquisition of illegal weapons, and there is no mention even of gangs, organized crime, or smuggling in the bill.

I talk about all of that because we have a piece of legislation before us that is supposed to work to ensure that international dealings and trade in arms is done responsibly, and that when Canada is exporting weapons or other types of military equipment, we ensure that it is done in a responsible way.

However, there are three problems. The UN treaty does not do that. In fact, what we currently have in place in Canada is extremely effective, and we have already discussed a number of times the already effective way that we export firearms. One wonders, therefore, why are the Liberals so intent on ratifying this agreement.

There are six main arms dealers in the world and three of them have not even signed onto this. We know that the government is quite fascinated with doing things the UN wants, not always thinking about what is in the best interests of Canadians or people who are affected by what the UN says and does. We know that the Liberals like to take their direction from the UN.

In this case it is going to have a negative effect on law-abiding Canadians. Indeed, because of what we have previously seen in Bill C-71 and from the Liberal government generally, members will know that the Liberals introduced the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry and that firearms owners in Canada have been battling with the Liberals for years and years. Liberals think that law-abiding gun owners are criminals.

The bottom line is that Canadian firearms owners just do not trust the Liberals when it comes to any kind of legislation around firearms. In this case, our regime has been adequate. Fulfilling a political promise is one of the reasons I think the Liberals want to do this, because the Prime Minister said he would ratify this particular agreement. However, we know that he made a whole lot of promises without actually thinking through the implications and that he has broken the majority of them.

The NDP have their reasons and we have ours, but I do not think anybody would be heartbroken or surprised if the Liberals just scrapped this. This bill is not a good bill. It is not going to do anything to effectively combat illegal parts of the international gun trade with our best interests in mind.

The big six arms trading countries are Russia, China, the United States, France, Germany, and the U.K. I will wind up by noting that the countries that are not part of the arms trade treaty include North Korea, Syria, Iran, Russia, and China. Here, I would say that there is sort of theme with the government in who it likes to challenge and who it just kind of lets go to do their own thing.

I thank the House for this opportunity. I believe very strongly that we just need to scrap this piece of legislation and get on with the business of actually doing things to control illegitimate, gang related gun crime.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2018 / 12:40 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, the member across the way said that Russia and China are not part of the agreement or pact. It is interesting that she would be pointing that out and suggesting that Canada should join Russia and China and not be a part of it. I take no offence to what it is she is trying to infer, but from where I was sitting, it sure sounded like that was what she was trying to imply. She might want to reflect on those particular comments.

The other thing I want to raise is this, and maybe the member could provide a response. If we look at the record-keeping requirements in Bill C-47, they are the same as those when Brian Mulroney was the prime minister and the requirements that were in place prior to him. Would she not agree that those records are actually positive things to keep?

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2018 / 12:40 p.m.
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Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to speak today to Bill C-47. Through this bill, our government is going to move forward on an important commitment that we made to Canadians to ensure that Canada fully accedes to the Arms Trade Treaty. The ATT sets an essential standard for the international community to contribute to international and regional peace, security, and stability, and to promote co-operation, transparency, and responsible actions by countries.

I am also proud of the amendments that the foreign affairs committee has made to the bill. We heard from committee members and civil society that they would like to see the ATT criteria placed directly into legislation, including the considerations of peace and security, human rights, and gender-based violence. Therefore, the government supported the committee in making these changes.

We have also made a significant change to the proposed legislation by including a substantial risk test. That would mean that for the first time there would be a direct legal requirement for the government to refuse export permits for items where there is a substantial risk that they would be used to violate the criteria. Bill C-47 would strengthen our arms export system and finally allow Canada to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty.

During its study of Bill C-47, the committee considered the issue of the NDP motion. It chose not to accept the amendment. The amendment we are discussing would require the minister to reconsider the risk of arms that have already been issued export permits, based on “any information that could effect the original determination”. The fact of the matter is, this power already exists. Under the current law, if new information emerges after a permit has been authorized, and before all of the goods and technology covered by that permit have been exported, the minister already possesses the power to amend, suspend, cancel, or reinstate any permit issued. Global Affairs Canada has even released a recent example of this power in action.

As the Minister of Foreign Affairs told the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development on February 9, Global Affairs Canada conducted a thorough investigation last summer into the state of security in Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia.

The committee found no conclusive evidence that Canadian-made vehicles were used to commit human rights violations. That was—

Sitting ResumedExport and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2018 / 1:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Matt DeCourcey Liberal Fredericton, NB

Madam Speaker, as I was saying before the interruption, as part of its investigation last summer, Global Affairs Canada found no conclusive evidence that Canadian-made vehicles were used to commit human rights violations. That was the independent and objective finding of our public service.

Export licences for these vehicles were immediately halted on receipt of information shared by the Canadian Embassy in Riyadh.

I can assure the member opposite that this power of suspension would be used again if and when necessary.

The proposed amendment by the member also does not reflect the text or spirit of the ATT. The text of the ATT states:

If, after an authorization has been granted, an exporting State Party becomes aware of new relevant information, it is encouraged to reassess the authorization

That is the authority that the Minister of Foreign Affairs currently has and exercises.

The motion before us is broader than anything contemplated by the treaty. It would also significantly create additional administrative risk and could impact the competitiveness of Canadian industry. This is in contrast to the current approach, which employs an evidence-based risk assessment, allowing resources and attention to focus on higher-risk export destinations, and sensitive goods and technologies.

Imposing a legislative requirement in order to call for a review every time without first considering the veracity or reliability of the information could burden export control operations, cause uncertainty, and impose an extra administrative burden on both the Canadian industry and government, which is responsible for the regulations.

This amendment could also have the detrimental effect of resulting in higher-risk cases not receiving the proper attention they require. In that sense, not only would it be redundant but it could also be harmful.

Let me turn now to the deletion motion put forward by the Conservatives.

I will state clearly that Bill C-47 would not impact domestic gun laws, it would not affect gun controls in Canada, and it would not create a new gun registry. In fact, the ATT preamble recognizes the “legitimate trade and lawful ownership, and use of certain conventional arms for recreational, cultural, historical, and sporting activities”.

The objective of the ATT is to ensure that international trade in conventional arms does not contribute to international conflict and instability or to violations of human rights. It does not target the lawful, responsible use of firearms, nor does it prevent the lawful, responsible sale, export, or import of weapons.

Of course, it should come as no surprise to anyone on this side of the floor that the Conservatives are choosing to ignore the reality of Bill C-47 and are instead seeking to scare Canadians by pretending that this bill would do something that it would not in fact do, and it will come as no surprise to Canadians that the Conservatives are once again placing partisan politics above human rights. This is exactly the sort of politics that Canadians voted to get rid of in 2015.

The reality is that parts of the Export and Import Permits Act dealing with record-keeping have been in effect in Canada for years. In fact, they were in effect under the former government and under governments preceding that. Why did the former government not try to change it during its 10 years? It is because the reality is that Canadians have no issues with these parts of the Export and Import Permits Act.

Greg Farrant of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters said that:

...the keeping of and retention of records by importers, exporters, firearms dealers, and end-users for defined periods of time that is referred to in the bill, without being required to turn these records over to the government on demand, is something that most in the industry already do for insurance and other purposes.

All clause 11 would do is add the term “organization” to the existing authorities to ensure that organizations would also be subject to existing record keeping requirements. This clause would simply remove the clarity that organizations would also require permits. In fact, the committee inserted a “for greater certainty” clause into the bill to make it crystal clear that the changes to the EIPA would not affect domestic gun use or control.

However, here we are, once again, with the Conservatives trying to delete this clause, which directly addresses the very concerns they are raising.

Our government is proud of the important commitment we have made with Bill C-47. The bill would amend the Export and Import Permits Act to allow Canada to accede, finally, to the Arms Trade Treaty.

This treaty is the first to address the illicit trade in conventional arms. It establishes an essential standard for the international community. It is high time that Canada joined the many NATO and G7 partners by acceding to the Arms Trade Treaty.

The bill before the House today would place Canada at the forefront of our allies and partners in implementing the spirit and letter of the Arms Trade Treaty, and it would allow Canada to hold itself to a higher standard on the export of arms.

Sitting ResumedExport and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2018 / 1:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, I enjoy it when my friend speaks extemporaneously because it is usually based more on hyperbole than on fact. The challenge we face with the government is that we have two bills, Bill C-47, which we are debating today, and, I would suggest, its companion, Bill C-71, the Liberals' way for reintroducing the long-gun registry via the backdoor. He claims he is not doing that, but Bill C-71 requires record taking, this time not at the home, but at the store, and record retention.

Now by bringing in brokers with respect to Bill C-47, the Liberals are essentially allowing for a UN-led long gun registry. Several Liberal members, such as for Kenora, Northumberland—Peterborough South, Peterborough—Kawartha, know that people did not like the divisive approach of the Allan Rock gun registry. Now the Liberals are bringing it back by stealth through two pieces of legislation.

If the member is sincere with respect to Bill C-47, will he use his immense influence in the caucus to pull back Bill C-71 so we can say that they are not tied together?

Sitting ResumedExport and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2018 / 1:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, my colleague across the way is fairly knowledgeable about House proceedings and today we are debating Bill C-47. That said, we have told the Conservative members that what they are saying is just not true. It is factually incorrect. One would think that our bluntness would make them stop telling those untruths, but they do not. A case in point is the question by the member opposite.

I do not know what more the government can do to try to say to the official opposition that if they listened to what Canadians are saying, that the type of legislation we are passing today is based on the fact that we made a commitment to bring in such legislation, they would recognize the value it provides. It provides Canada with an opportunity not only to protect a very important industry in different regions of our country, but also allows us to continue to be strong advocates of human rights and peace initiatives around the world. There is so much more that Canada can do in terms of world leadership, and this is one of those pieces of legislation that feeds into that.

Sitting ResumedExport and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2018 / 1:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, I enjoy debates because sometimes I have a few notes prepared for them. However, if Canadians are watching this debate, it is better for me to rebut some of the ridiculous positions just outlined by the deputy House leader for the Liberal Party and so ably and ridiculously outlined by the parliamentary secretary.

If Canadians are concerned about why Bill C-47 is before this House and perhaps why Canada did not sign onto the UN Arms Trade Treaty, I will explain why that did not happen under the former Conservative government. I will also explain our concerns about Bill C-47 and its companion bill, Bill C-71, which has sports shooters, lawful gun owners, and hunters concerned about a return to an Allan Rock style of gun registry of the past. These are valid concerns, and I am going to show why reasonable questions have been asked of the current government by Canadians, but have been ignored. Not only have they been ignored, but the Liberals are also trying to create a wedge between urban and rural Canada, the same old things we saw from Allan Rock and Jean Chrétien decades ago.

In their remarks, the Liberals have said that the Conservatives are saying things that are not true. My friend said it is crystal clear that the lawful use of firearms would not be caught up in Bill C-47 and Bill C-71. I am going to explain why the former Conservative government did not sign onto the UN ATT. I would note that several other countries have not done so either.

As we heard at committee from Steve Torino, who was involved at the time with the Canadian delegation and the advisers to the government on the UN Arms Trade Treaty, Canada was consistently asking for a carve-out for the lawful and cultural use of firearms by hunters, aboriginal Canadians, and sports shooters. Canada was consistently advocating for a specific carve-out in the body of the treaty. Canada under the Conservative government did not just roll over. We expressed our desire to see an outcome that was fair to our citizens. We could not get that, so we kept pushing. The current government rolled over, and there was no such provision in the UN treaty. In fact, the only reference to the lawful use went in the preamble to the treaty, which states:

Mindful of the legitimate trade and lawful ownership, and use of certain conventional arms for recreational, cultural, historical, and sporting activities, where such trade, ownership and use are permitted or protected by law.

Unfortunately, a reference in the preamble is not a specific treaty provision or section. It is insufficient. In fact, I quoted University of Toronto law professor, Kent Roach, at committee and I will quote him to this House to say that it is a mug's game to rely on a preamble. The parliamentary secretary seems to think it is sufficient. Professor Roach said this about preambles:

Preambles can oversell legislation either by expressing unrealistic hopes that are not always supported by the fine print or the text of the law or by suggesting that “we can have it all”.

Therefore, only fools rely on preambles, and we have heard a good dose of their perspective here this morning.

As a lawyer, I want to see something in the print of the treaty. That is what Canada was pushing for, and we should not sign treaties until we are satisfied that aboriginal use of firearms, hunting, and traditional and cultural uses are considered to be fair and that some of the most lawful Canadians who do so are respected. These same Canadians have asked the parliamentary secretary and the Liberals to provide that same specific exemption in Bill C-47. In fact, Greg Farrant from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, and Steve Torino, as I mentioned, were working on these. Our committee acknowledged that it would be reasonable to put this provision directly in Bill C-47, because we cannot rely on the preamble at law. That did not happen. Indeed, the Conservatives were prepared to work with the government on Bill C-47 if we could get that bare-bones, reasonable assurance. Therefore, when the Liberals stand in the House and suggest that we are misleading Canadians or that we are not telling the truth, I will go to any of their ridings and have this same conversation there, because I am not using talking points from the Prime Minister's Office.

I know this bill and the history of it, and what Canada was asking for is reasonable. It is reasonable to say that first nations can continue to use rifles and to do their traditional hunt. That is protected by Supreme Court decisions. With respect to lawful ownership in Canada, some of our most law-abiding citizens use their right responsibly.

Once again, Bill C-47, with its companion Bill C-71, sets up this dynamic in which the Liberals are trying to portray some Canadians as being unreasonable or as being risks, and that is divisive.

What is also divisive is the suggestion that without the bill, we would be able to sell arms to countries where there is gender-based violence or human rights crimes. In fact, Wendy Gilmour, who is the director general of the government department that manages the country control list and these controlled goods, said clearly at committee that the ability to control exports based on sanction, human rights abuse, and violence, and therefore to preclude arms sales, has existed since 1986. In fact, she referred to the memo from Joe Clark on the ability to stop arms sales in these circumstances. Last I checked, he was a Conservative member of Parliament at the time.

It is misleading Canadians to suggest that without Bill C-47, we are suddenly going to be selling arms in situations where there is ethnic cleansing or gender-based violence. Once again, that is misleading and unfair, and I would invite the parliamentary secretary to look at the committee transcripts wherein his senior official acknowledges that this has been true since 1986.

In fact, in my last speech on this issue, I noted that since the 1940s, Canada has had a superior arms control regulatory regime compared to the ATT. It is superior on many fronts. In fact, the area control list right now only contains one country, which is North Korea. However, for decades, through legislation and regulation, we have had the ability to stop all trade of all goods with any country. Wendy Gilmour, the deputy general, acknowledged this in committee, when she said:

Indeed. The purpose of the area control list is to give the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Government of Canada the ability to control, but not necessarily restrict, the movement of any items to a country listed on the [area control list].

For decades, we have been able to responsibly control the movement of military goods and nuclear materials. Canada has actually been a leader in this.

Since 1986, with the Conservative government of Brian Mulroney, we have also been able to restrict based on concerns with respect to human rights abuses, and a range of other things. Canada is a responsible player. Therefore, when the government puts up Bill C-47 and its companion Bill C-71 to once again sow division, it is doing so based on a premise that is not only false, but it is misleading. If it thinks that a preamble provides the appropriate protection for the lawful use of firearms by Canadians and indigenous Canadians, it is showing it does not understand that it should fight for Canadian interests when it is negotiating an international treaty. Furthermore, since Bill C-71 is being brought in shortly after Bill C-47, there are real concerns by some Canadians that the government is bringing back the gun registry of the Chrétien-Rock era and it will be providing for the provision of records, or this same approach to the United Nations.

That is terrible. Canada should be very proud of the fact that we have one of the most responsible regimes for the trade of military-type goods and controlled goods, and we have had it since the 1940s. In fact, this week in Ottawa, we are going to see the defence and security industry at the CANSEC show. It will include tens of thousands of Canadians who work in the defence and security industries. We have been a world leader on satellite technology and aerospace. We were the third or fourth country to have controlled nuclear fission. We are leaders in these technologies, and we are also leaders when it comes to regulation.

I would like to see the Liberal government stop this divisive, inaccurate, and biased approach to legislation. I would be happy to come to Liberal ridings to debate these things, and not just in the House of Commons. These are the facts, and this is why we have concerns about both of these bills.

Sitting ResumedExport and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2018 / 1:50 p.m.
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Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Madam Speaker, there is disinformation laden throughout the member's speech. Let me try to deal with a few pieces of it. First, it is clear in the ATT itself, and in Bill C-47, that in no way would this affect law-abiding gun owners domestically in Canada. Everything that the member opposite spoke about, the use of guns by law-abiding gun owners for recreation and social purposes in Canada, is not affected in any way by our accession to the ATT, and the Conservatives should stop spreading misinformation about that to Canadians.

Second, with respect to the aspects of the export and import permits act that allow the minister to consider certain criteria, they have been around since 1986, but they have not been codified in legislation, and there is no legal requirement. Does the member opposite intend to tell me that he does not think it should be a legal requirement for a minister to consider grave atrocities, peace and security situations, the upholding of human rights, and aspects of gender-based violence in the export of conventional arms? Should that not be a legal requirement for this government and any future government?

Sitting ResumedExport and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2018 / 1:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, I appreciate my friend's comments, because I think the Conservative government's concern with the UN ATT was related to the fact that cultural and lawful uses by indigenous Canadians and licensed Canadians was not being respected by legislation. For Canadians to think about this, would they like the protection on their home sale to rely just on an email that the lawyer sends the contract with, or on the contract itself? They would want that provision in law. That is why I cited Professor Roach from the U of T law school saying that preambles cannot be relied upon.

However, what is concerning is that all the federation of anglers and hunters and sports shooters wanted was a reasonable provision saying that the cultural and lawful use would be excluded from the bill. Not only was that ignored by the government, it then brought in Bill C-71, which is creating a new registry through the store system. Not only has the goodwill of all groups that wanted to pass Bill C-47 with these assurances in place been ignored by the Liberals, but they set up Bill C-71, which they premised upon guns and gangs; however, there is nothing in there for illegally smuggled weapons. At the same time, they are hurting our defence and security industries, as my friend from Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman pointed out, in stopping lawful sales by our suppliers, at a time when if we lose this ability, we will lose suppliers for our own military.

Citizenship and ImmigrationCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

May 28th, 2018 / 4:25 p.m.
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Whitby Ontario

Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague ended his speech by saying that this was not a delay tactic, that members in our communities had very real issues. He described one that was very heartfelt. I do appreciate the work he does on behalf of his constituents.

However, today we are supposed to be debating Bill C-47, about which I know the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie is very passionate, ensuring that Canada's cedes to the Arms Trade Treaty. I know that at some point along the way, we will hear the comments that members did not have enough time to debate this important legislation.

As I mentioned, the report was tabled in March 2017. The government provided a comprehensive report. We have heard from the parliamentary secretary, the minister, and others about the work we have done around this to ensure that each of the recommendations are fulfilled and that we try to make the experience for those immigrating to Canada as best as possible.

Does my colleague not think we should be debating Bill C-47, particular legislation that is very important to his colleague, the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie?

Foreign AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

May 28th, 2018 / 6:25 p.m.
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NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am here to talk about the sale of Canadian helicopters to the Philippines, whose president said that he once threw someone out of a helicopter and would not hesitate to do it again. He sees that as a good way to get rid of political opponents.

This sale was the subject of a deal between the Department of National Defence and the Philippines government brokered by the Canadian Commercial Corporation. When the sale in question became public knowledge, the government said the Canadian Commercial Corporation would have to review it. Finally people started asking questions.

The real problem was that the system did not catch the sale in time. We had the media, not the minister, tell us about it. Then the minister told us that she would closely scrutinize the export permit request. Maybe the minister did not know, but she would never see an export request because our system is full of holes. This is worrying.

As I said, this deal would have gone ahead and we would not had known about it if some investigative reporter had not been able to get the information. One has to wonder how many such deals have gone ahead without us knowing.

The helicopter story is not over, since there are reports that the company that wanted to sell the helicopters is now considering sending it in parts to the United States and then having the parts sent to the Philippines.

We can learn a lot from the Philippine helicopter story, since it exposes some major flaws in our current system, and these flaws will still exist after Bill C-47, to implement the Arms Trade Treaty, passes.

Some exports to the United States are not controlled. The company could use this to circumvent the Canadian government. Then, there is the fact that Bill C-47 does not cover the activities of the Department of National Defence or the Canadian Commercial Corporation. This is what originally led us to this agreement, and nothing will end up being changed.

The Liberals say that they listened to experts about acceding the Arms Trade Treaty, but this is not true. The Liberals addressed a few issues, but the experts were primarily concerned about sales to the United States, and this problem will continue.

Foreign AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

May 28th, 2018 / 6:30 p.m.
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Orléans Ontario

Liberal

Andrew Leslie LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Canada-U.S. Relations)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by noting that Canada strongly advocates for human rights in the Philippines. In fact, the Prime Minister and the foreign affairs minister raised our concerns directly with their counterparts in the Philippines at the most recent ASEAN meeting.

We also raised our ongoing concerns at the last universal periodic review of the Philippines in 2017. This included the need for the Philippines to end extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests and detention, torture and harassment; prevent, eliminate, and end impunity for all forms of sexual violence; strengthen the protection of children's rights; and refrain from reintroducing the death penalty.

Like tens of thousands of soldiers wearing the Canadian uniform, I and many others like me have fought for human rights on behalf of Canada to protect the weak and the innocent.

While I cannot speak to the activities of the Canadian Commercial Corporation, which falls under the responsibilities of my trade colleagues, to which my hon. colleague referred, I can say that the Minister of Foreign Affairs was abundantly clear about the particular contract raised by the member during question period.

As the Minister of Foreign Affairs has said, “I will conduct an extremely rigorous human rights analysis of any potential export permit application related to this contract”—specifically the Philippines—and “I have the power to deny a permit if I feel that it poses a risk to human rights and I am prepared to do so.”

I would also like to point to a key clarification, which is also related to my colleague's comments during the debate on Bill C-47 earlier today.

Under international law, when a state accedes to a treaty, it obviously agrees formally to be legally bound to the provisions of the treaty. For Canada, this includes all federal government departments, such as Global Affairs Canada, the Department of National Defence, and crown corporations such as the Canada Commercial Corporation. This is exactly what the hon. member was talking about in terms of closing loopholes. Bill C-47 would do just that.

Acceding to the Arms Trade Treaty would ensure that the CCC is bound to the national provisions. This is a concern my hon. colleague has previously raised, and her concerns are being addressed.

I am, however, disappointed that my hon. colleague seems to have indicated that the NDP will no longer support Bill C-47, which is ironic because doing so would allow Canada to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty and close the loopholes that quite rightly concern her. If this is so, then her party will be voting against ensuring the CCC applies the very criteria for which she has indicated such a passion.

Our government is committed to the protection and promotion of human rights around the world, and we remain committed to a strong arms exports system that Canadians can have confidence in.

Foreign AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

May 28th, 2018 / 6:35 p.m.
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NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary said that we are advocating for human rights in the Philippines. I am sure we are advocating for human rights in Saudi Arabia also, but on the other hand, we are selling them arms.

My colleague also said that the Minister of Foreign Affairs would have done a human rights analysis of any potential export permit. What the government does not seem to get is that it did not need an export permit because of those loopholes.

Despite the Liberals saying that all government departments will be covered with that, I would challenge the parliamentary secretary to tell me where in Bill C-47 the Canadian Commercial Corporation is mentioned, or the Department of National Defence. In fact, Canadian officials have told us that Bill C-47 would not change anything in what the Canadian Commercial Corporation can do now and that DND would continue to have a separate system.

When the Liberals say they are closing the loopholes, they are the only ones saying they are closing the loopholes. All the experts disagree with them. I would like them to listen to what the experts have to say on this subject.

Foreign AffairsAdjournment Proceedings

May 28th, 2018 / 6:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Andrew Leslie Liberal Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada remains a strong defender of the rule of law and of human rights internationally.

In the Philippines, Canada takes specific and concrete action by recognizing and supporting human rights defenders, encouraging a free and open press, providing training on international laws governing human rights, and supporting the peace process in Mindanao.

We also are committed to a strong and robust arms control system that rightly takes into consideration human rights concerns. A key part of this is acceding to the Arms Trade Treaty through Bill C-47, which closes the very loopholes that my distinguished colleague is concerned about.

We encourage the NDP to support Bill C-47 at the appropriate time.

Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

March 20th, 2018 / 10:05 a.m.
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Liberal

Bob Nault Liberal Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two reports from our standing committee.

I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 16th report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, in relation to Bill C-47, an act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code, with amendments permitting the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty and other amendments. The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.

I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 17th report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, entitled “Focused, Independent, and Patient: Building a World-Class Canadian Development Finance Institution”. Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 10:05 a.m.
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Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my esteemed colleague from Kitchener Centre.

During the course of the first day of debate on Bill C-47, certain members of this House chose to focus their sights on unfounded concerns with respect to the legitimate use of firearms by law-abiding, licensed firearm owners in Canada. Today, I intend to set the record straight.

It was clear during that debate that there was a deep-seated misunderstanding of the objectives of Canada's accession to the Arms Trade Treaty. It is therefore my intent to address and allay these concerns by factually outlining the intent of the ATT and of this legislation.

I will be absolutely crystal clear on this point. Canada's accession to the Arms Trade Treaty will have no effect on law-abiding Canadian firearm owners, whether they be shooting trap or skeet, hunting upland birds and big game, or keeping their farm animals safe from coyotes. The Arms Trade Treaty is about preventing the proliferation of conventional arms to people or places where lives could be put at risk, where our national security or that of our allies would be undermined, or where we might expect serious violations of human rights or international humanitarian law to occur.

Some of our colleagues suggested in the previous day's debate that the treaty and Bill C-47 do not have a carve-out or other protections for legitimate and law-abiding gun owners. On this subject, let me be equally clear.

The Arms Trade Treaty preamble recognizes very clearly the “legitimate trade and lawful ownership, and use of certain conventional arms for recreational, cultural, historical, and sporting activities, where such trade, ownership and use are permitted or protected by law”. This language sets the context for the ATT and makes it clear that the ATT is not intending to challenge or prevent legitimate trade and ownership of conventional arms when permitted by domestic law.

The ATT also reaffirms “the sovereign right of any State to regulate and control conventional arms exclusively within its territory, pursuant to its own legal or constitutional system”. This is why in this bill there is not a single proposed amendment to the Firearms Act, which is the act responsible for possession, manufacturing, and transfer of firearms in Canada.

I will again reiterate that the rights of law-abiding Canadian firearm owners are not and will not be affected by Canada's accession to the Arms Trade Treaty, full stop. The rights of law-abiding Canadian firearms owners are permitted and protected in Canadian law and regulation, and this will not change.

It is incorrect to say that the Arms Trade Treaty does not recognize the lawful use of firearms subject to relevant national laws. Moreover, we have concrete evidence that there has been no effect on firearm owners in Canada due to the ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty in other jurisdictions, such as Europe, for example. If a Canadian wishes to import a Benelli shotgun from Italy or a Walther target pistol from Germany, the process remains straightforward. First, the individual importing the firearm into Canada must be at least 18 and hold a valid possession and acquisition licence for a non-restricted or restricted firearm. Second, the firearm must be declared to Canadian customs and the appropriate duties and taxes paid. This is the current process, and it will not change after Canada's accession to the ATT.

I would also point out that there is no requirement to seek import authorization in advance for non-restricted or restricted firearms or firearm parts. This would not change with Bill C-47. The Arms Trade Treaty has been enforced in Germany and Italy since December 2014, and those countries still have no issues with exporting firearms to law-abiding Canadian firearm owners.

Canada's accession to the ATT would also not affect the ability of law-abiding Canadians to travel overseas with their firearms. Whether they are travelling to the U.K. for a shooting competition or France to hunt pheasants in Brittany, the temporary export process is very straightforward and would not change with the implementation of Bill C-47.

Those Canadians would be required to comply with local laws, but if the U.K. or French government wished to verify an individual's permit, we can already provide that assurance without compromising personal information. If people are planning a hunting trip in the United States, the process is even simpler, as long as they comply with the relevant local U.S. laws.

The last issue I wish to address is the concerns expressed by some of our hon. colleagues with respect to the record-keeping provisions in Bill C-47. My colleagues have suggested that article 12 of the Arms Trade Treaty introduces new obligations on Canada to collect information and to provide such information to the Arms Trade Treaty secretariat.

This is not accurate. Article 12 speaks solely to what a country should include in its national record-keeping. In this regard, Canada's existing system of export record-keeping meets the Arms Trade Treaty obligations. No change is needed and no change will be made.

The record-keeping requirements of the Export and Import Permits Act predates the Arms Trade Treaty by decades. Exporters have been required to keep all relevant records to demonstrate that they are in compliance with the act, since 1947. The time limitation of six years plus the current year has been on the books since 2006. Canadian exporters are already very familiar with these requirements, and it is incorrect to characterize these requirements as being new.

The existing record keeping-requirements of the Export and Import Permits Act are familiar to all Canadians involved in the legitimate trade of arms. The slight amendment to add “organization” is related specifically to obligations with respect to brokering only.

There will be no requirement to register or retain information with regard to the purchase of a foreign-made weapon, if purchased in Canada. Once legally imported into Canada, no information will be retained for the purpose of the bill. The Arms Trade Treaty does not apply to domestic trade in arms.

In addition, there is no requirement in article 12 of the Arms Trade Treaty to share national records with other member states or with the Arms Trade Treaty secretariat.

The Arms Trade Treaty reporting requirements are contained in article 13 of the ATT, and these annual reporting requirements are not new either. Article 13 of the treaty clearly states that the data that is reported to the Arms Trade Treaty secretariat can reflect the same data as what was listed in annual reports to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms for the specific items covered by the Arms Trade Treaty.

Canada has been filing these reports to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms for 15 years, since 2002. Again, this is nothing new and it is a long-standing national obligation to report that data in aggregate form. No confidential personal or business information is contained in those reports.

The Arms Trade Treaty is about seeking to ensure that weapons exported from Canada or sales brokered in Canada or by Canadians do not accidentally fuel conflict or contribute to violations of international law. The ATT itself is intended to contribute to international peace and prevent human suffering. Canadians expect their government to show global leadership in this regard.

The ATT and this legislation are not about a long-gun registry. Our accession to the ATT will not change the rights and responsibilities of recreational and sporting gun owners in Canada, and Bill C-47 will not create any new obligations on gun owners in Canada. Canadians who export or import firearms will continue to operate exactly as they do now.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 10:20 a.m.
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Liberal

Raj Saini Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to an export control system that is rigorous, transparent, and predictable. We believe that regulating the international arms trade is essential for the protection of people and human rights. I am proud to live in a Canada that already has, by international standards, an export control regime that stringently promotes transparency and protects human rights through an assessment process.

Our existing system of export controls already meets or exceeds all but two of the 28 articles in the Arms Trade Treaty. Through this legislation, both to enhance transparency and to fully comply with the treaty, legislative amendments are being proposed to the Export and Import Permits Act and to one section of the Criminal Code.

In my view, Bill C-47 is not merely about formalizing existing practices and making policy tweaks. Rather, acceding to the Arms Trade Treaty is of normative value to Canada. It makes a statement to the world.

During the election campaign, we promised Canadians we would re-engage with the world and contribute to development, mediation, conflict prevention, and post-conflict reconstruction efforts. In the words of our foreign minister, “Peace and prosperity are every person's birthright.” Unregulated arms transfers hinder social and economic development. They intensify regional instability and prolong conflict, and ultimately, they contribute to violations of international humanitarian law and to human rights abuses.

We are once again aligning ourselves with our closest partners and allies in NATO and the G7. We are advancing Canada's engagement in the responsible trade of conventional arms in a manner that reflects our broader international security and development policies. The global Arms Trade Treaty aligns perfectly with Canada's broader international development policies.

The ATT is feminist. It is a vital component of international efforts to reduce gender-based violence, and it supports Canada's international efforts with respect to global health. The Arms Trade Treaty will reduce the risk that the trade of arms at the international level will be used to commit genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

Nations that are party to the treaty will be required to establish import and export controls on a variety of weapons, including tanks, missiles, small arms, and light weapons, something Canada already has in place. This will keep weapons out of the hands of terrorists and those who seek to do harm to Canada and its allies.

This treaty specifically recognizes the right to use conventional arms for cultural or recreational use and the rights of states to trade in conventional arms for political, commercial, or security purposes. We are the only member of NATO, and the only one of the G7 countries, that has not signed or ratified the ATT. We cannot and will not fail to act.

Given my background as a pharmacist, I am going to examine this treaty through a slightly different lens than many of my colleagues. The International Committee of the Red Cross, the World Health Organization, and other public health institutions and NGOs have all prioritized the global Arms Trade Treaty as a public health imperative. While health-focused groups may not be what first come to mind when we think of stakeholders focused on global arms, a poorly regulated arms trade fuels conflict, which in turn has devastating effects on global health.

Reducing the poorly regulated control of arms contributes to the prevention of the misuse of arms, reducing deaths and injuries as a result. Moreover, improving arms control allows for states to redirect resources currently spent on arms management, security, and defence toward the development of social services and public infrastructure. Not only will the ATT reduce the direct consequences associated with the illicit arms trade, it will help with a wide variety of secondary challenges associated with the spread of illegal arms.

Conflict spawns a myriad of other problems: health challenges, not just from injuries sustained in combat but from diseases that spring up from the unsanitary conditions that arise in war zones, diseases like cholera, dysentery, and malaria; gender-based violence and rape, which so often become used as weapons of war; and the displacement and destruction of entire communities that are forced to flee for their lives. Children are pulled out of school, losing out on their best chance to get an education. In times of war, children miss their opportunity to break the cycle of poverty. They are robbed of the chance to create a better future for themselves and their communities. These are the issues we are trying to address with this treaty.

I am not naive enough to think that one treaty will magically solve all these problems, but we have an obligation to use every opportunity to take every chance we have to take concrete and meaningful action towards tackling these issues.

Let me remind everyone that this year is the 20th anniversary of the Ottawa Treaty, a landmark international agreement to reduce some of the most devastating weapons of war, weapons that continue to kill and injure people of all ages each and every year.

I would like to take a brief moment to salute the hard work of groups like MAG and the HALO Trust, which work diligently in the field each and every day to finally rid the world of this scourge.

The ATT represents another giant step in the right direction in combatting the use of weapons for illegal and often evil means. The ATT is transformational. The inclusion of civil society in the drafting of this treaty was directly responsible for the content of the treaty and the specific language contained within it. This is the first international treaty that explicitly acknowledges the "social, economic and humanitarian consequences of the illicit and unregulated trade in conventional arms”. It is also notable that this treaty lists “reducing human suffering” as its primary goal.

Let me provide a concrete example of what can happen when weapon are in the wrong hands. I am paraphrasing a story told to delegates at the United Nations. A boy in the DRC was shot in the face by diamond thieves. He needed to go to Nairobi to receive treatment, and his successful treatment and rehabilitation came to a total cost of about $6,000 U.S. Had he not been shot, that $6,000 could have paid for one year of primary school education for 100 children. It could have provided full immunization for 250 children. It could have provided a family of six with 10 years' worth of staple meals.

Make no mistake, this is what we are talking about when we are discussing the ATT. This is what we are trying hard to prevent. This is not the time for Canada to remain on the sidelines and let others lead. This is exactly the sort of treaty that speaks to the heart of who we are as Canadians as a people, and I am proud to support this bill.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Mr. Speaker, I actually have Bill C-47 in front of me. The Liberals keep talking about how they are not establishing a new firearms registry, but this is exactly what the bill does, and that is exactly the reason we did not ratify this particular agreement when we were in government. I had a private member's bill that challenged us not to sign on to the ATT because of that requirement to keep records.

Does the hon. member understand that the ATT requires organizations in Canada, such as firearms' dealers, to actually retain records for up to seven years? Does he understand that?

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 10:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to debate Bill C-47, a bill that implements an international arms control treaty. It is fascinating listening to the members from Glengarry—Prescott—Russell and Kitchener Centre on the government side. We heard so much about the government's intentions. They said that the bill intends to do this and that, and that the government does not intend to cause any problems for law-abiding firearms owners but to address arms control internationally. It lays bare a fundamental difference in the foreign policy approach of the official opposition and the government, which is that the government is always chasing an optic, in general, but especially when it comes to our foreign policy, without looking at the details.

My colleagues on this side of the House have very ably laid out the practical problems with this legislation and the practical reality that we already have a strong system of arms control in this country that achieves the stated objective. The government members barely engaged in a discussion on this point. Instead, we heard them laud their own intentions.

Let me tell the members opposite that on many of these issues, we have the same intentions, but we have read the bill and looked at the treaty and have heard specific concerns from our communities about its substance, especially insofar as we already have a strong system in place.

We oppose the bill on the grounds that it complicates existing arms control mechanisms that are working very well at present, and that in the process, it introduces substantial problems for responsible law-abiding Canadian firearms owners. I want to start by talking about some of those core substantive issues in terms of existing and proposed new arms control measures and then talk specifically about what I am hearing from firearms owners in my riding about the way the government is treating them.

On the substantive side, Canada already has a strong and effective system of arms control that, in practical effect, exceeds the system proposed by the UN treaty. It includes the Trade Controls Bureau, through which the responsible minister prevents us supplying military equipment to countries where those exports might threaten Canadian security or be used in an internal or external conflict in general. I should say that it is supposed to do that depending on the decision the minister makes. It includes provisions that allow a complete ban on trade with high-risk countries. Under the present system, the Canada Border Services Agency and Statistics Canada collect all such information on goods exported from Canada.

Therefore, we are already doing exactly what we need to do and are meeting the objectives laid out by the member for Kitchener Centre. We are already doing those things, keeping weapons from bad actors and out of dangerous situations and, in any event, certainly tracking our exports.

Some might argue that signing on to this UN treaty is important to align Canada with other nations. One of the members opposite mentioned the nations that had initially signed on to it, but if we look at the actual ratification record of countries, we note that the countries accounting for a majority of the sales of military equipment have not signed on to it, so this treaty is not at all establishing an effective international regime that we can align with.

We already do arms control and do it well, so at best, Bill C-47 is a solution in search of a problem. Paradoxically that was the defence of it by the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell. He told us that it is not really changing anything anyway, which is at odds with what the member for Kitchener Centre said. The member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell told us that it is not changing anything, but the member for Kitchener Centre told us it is going to save the world. It is one or the other. Maybe it is somewhere in-between. Probably, based on our evidence, it is making things worse.

At best, if we take the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell at his word, it is a solution in search of a problem. However, our contention is that it is worse than that, because the treaty fails to recognize the legitimacy of lawful firearms ownership and creates all sorts of unnecessary problems and red tape for responsible firearms owners. Most critically, it effectively recreates the federal gun registry by requiring the tracking of all imported and exported firearms and requires that that information be available to the minister for six years. Given that those are calendar years, it could be up to seven years.

Firearms groups and individual owners have repeatedly expressed concern about the implications of this. They want a strong system of arms control, but they point out that in fact we already have one.

Beyond that, firearms owners are generally frustrated by a constantly shifting classification system that does not provide any meaningful certainty to law-abiding gun owners. A gun could be legal today and illegal tomorrow, without even the due process of an order in council.

I also want to make some points in general about the government's approach to firearms owners.

I know that many people in the House have certain ideas about who gun owners are. These presumptions or stereotypes lead the government to dismiss the legitimate concerns and suggestions of people from the firearms owning community. When everything we know about a particular community comes from movies and media, we are perhaps liable to come to incorrect conclusions.

I ask the government to pause and look again and to listen to the many law-abiding firearms owners in this country. Most people who own guns are not like Al Capone or even James Bond. They are scrupulously careful with their firearms and use them for recreation and, perhaps, to hunt responsibly for food.

The responsible use of firearms can be something around which people build community. Just like some of us get together over drinks or to play sports, some Canadians enjoy spending time with their families and friends at the range or out hunting. For some people, guns are also an important part of their family history. In these cases, making it harder for people to possess their guns means we are trying to take away people's valuable family heirlooms.

I ask the government to think about these gun owners, people whom we might not have met but who do not deserve to be judged on the basis of uninformed stereotypes. Liberals, who supposedly champion diversity and openness to experience, should be open to learning about the legitimate aspirations of firearms owners, aspirations that can be effectively and responsibly integrated with a commitment to public safety.

With that in mind, in the remaining time I have, I will read at some length an essay written by one of my constituents who is a firearms owners. He asked that I share this anonymously. He writes the following:

I am the gun owner that is a loving husband and father, I raised great kids and still love my high school sweetheart 27 years later.

I am the gun owner that deplores violence, I respect the police and the law. I fly a Canadian flag in my yard.

I am the gun owner that is a sports coach, a community leader, an involved parent, and the father that booked off work for all those field trips with our kids when others were busy.

I am that gun owner that stopped on that icy highway and brought your wife and child to safety from their stuck car on a cold night....

I am that gun owner that has a successful business, employs people with good jobs and fair wages. I am the gun owner that ensures respect, fairness and proper treatment of people, I speak out against harassment and racism.

I am that gun owner that believes firearms safety and training are paramount to have a successful firearms policy in our country.

I am the gun owner that stores his firearms properly and safely, respects the privilege of owning firearms, and is a respected and committed member of the community, that cares deeply about the safety of your children and mine.

I am the gun owner that lives on your street, down the alley or at the end of the block, I am the one that waves, pushes your car when you are stuck, and my kids and I are the ones that shovelled those neighbors driveways when they needed help, someone passed away or a neighbour fell ill.

I am the gun owner that has firearms for sports shooting and hunting and recreation, my firearms have been passed from generation to generation, my firearms are of all types and many are well over a hundred years old, they have never been used in anger or against another. They are my family history, heirlooms and always used safely and with respect for my family, neighbors and friends. Many belonged to my great-grandfather, grandfather and father....

I am the gun owner who is proud, and enjoys the wonderful people I have met in the firearms community, my dear friends they have become, they are good people worthy of my friendship.

I am the gun owner, that should not be blamed for gang violence, smuggled and stolen firearms, failed public policy not holding criminals responsible for their actions, or drugs in our community. I am responsible for none of these things. But if I was the Public Safety Minister, I would take real action against these plagues on our communities.

I am the gun owner that believes the Government should focus on passing legislation like Wynn's Law, that would make criminal history mandatory at bail hearing's so that if suspects are released into our communities, the Justice releasing them is aware of the risks to our families, our communities and our police officers....

I am the gun owner that requests your support for our heritage sport, target shooting, responsible and ethical hunting practices and acceptance that the two million plus Canadian gun owners are your friends, neighbours and the people who help make caring communities up.

I am the gun owner that recently had his 10/22 magazines status changed to prohibited by this government, effectively making farmers, sports shooters and good Canadians into criminals without notice, without cause or justification. Many who are unaware now face incarceration and don't even know it. If the Liberals are going to turn law abiding citizens into criminals they should at least communicate this to the citizens. I will do my best to let everyone I can know about their actions.

I am the gun owner who will not be silent anymore. I will be politically active, I will speak up, I will endorse the right candidates to speak for my community, I will speak to factual evidence....

I am that Gun Owner.

I am thankful for the opportunity to share that on behalf of my constituents, and to oppose to bill.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 10:45 a.m.
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Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for sharing that piece of correspondence from his constituent. I am happy to share the proper reply to that constituent with him, and he is welcome to take it. It would go a lot like this:

The goal of the Arms Trade Treaty—and this is for my friend's constituent—is to ensure the international trade in conventional arms does not contribute to international conflict and instability. Canadians are in favour of that. The treaty is about the import, export, and international brokering of arms. It does not affect domestic gun controls. Nothing in Bill C-47 would affect domestic controls and the lawful and legitimate use of firearms. It would not create a registry of conventional arms.

In fact, record-keeping for the import and export of arms in Canada has existed since the 1940s. It existed under the Conservative government, and the member can explain that to his constituent. Bill C-47 would leave in place the same record-keeping of conventional arms that was used under the previous government. Again, the purpose of the Arms Trade Treaty is not about restricting the legitimate, lawful use of firearms, and that is recognized in the preamble of the treaty itself.

That is a message that my friend can share with his constituent. Does he want to take me up on the offer of sharing that response?

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 10:50 a.m.
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Liberal

Ali Ehsassi Liberal Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, we live in a world where global actors seek global solutions for global crises and where the international community and international law play an indispensable role in creating a safer, more secure, and more stable international order. It is in that spirit that I rise today to discuss Bill C-47, an act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code.

The implementation of the obligations contained in the bill before us today represents a firm Liberal campaign commitment and is of great concern to a great many Canadians. Bill C-47 marks a common sense and long-overdue commitment on the part of the Canadian government to fully accede to the Arms Trade Treaty and strengthen Canada's arms export regime.

Our accession, in other words, would, first, create a legal obligation for the Minister of Foreign Affairs to consider certain assessment criteria before issuing an export permit or a brokering permit; second, define brokering activities and establish a framework to control brokering that takes place in Canada or is undertaken by Canadians outside Canada; third, set May 31 as the date by which the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of International Trade must table in both Houses of Parliament a report of the operations under the EIPA and a report on military exports in the preceding year; fourth, increase the maximum fine for a summary conviction offence from $25,000 to $250,000 in order to support enhancement and encourage compliance; fifth, replace the requirement that only countries with which Canada has an intergovernmental arrangement may be added to the automatic firearms country control list with a new requirement that a country may be added to the AFCCL on the recommendation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs after consultation with the Minister of National Defence; and sixth, add a new purpose for which an article may be added to an export control list: to facilitate the collection of information on goods that have been, are, or are likely to be subject to trade investigations.

The need for a strengthened international arms regime is abundantly clear. Most estimates suggest that there are over 875 million small and light arms in circulation worldwide. This number is roughly equal to the number of cars or tablets on the planet. To appreciate the magnitude of this figure of 875 million, let us consider that this number is twice the number of people who lived under the British Empire in its heyday. To look at it differently, this number represents 252,306 guns for every Tim Hortons in Canada. In the absence of common sense regimes and international co-operation to prevent the spread and proliferation of small and light arms, this number represents an astounding threat to global stability. Armed violence kills approximately 508,000 people every year on a global scale. It is important to emphasize that most of these people are not living in conflict zones.

The Arms Trade Treaty ensures that countries effectively regulate the international trade of arms so that they are not used to support terrorism, international organized crime, gender-based violence, human rights abuses, or violations of international humanitarian law. Several measures within the ATT help address these pressing concerns. Perhaps most significantly, article 6 prohibits states from authorizing the transfer of arms if they possess knowledge that the arms would be used “...in the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, attacks directed against civilian objects or civilians protected as such, or other war crimes....”

In addition, article 7 requires states to examine whether their arms exports regimes “would contribute to or undermine peace and security”.

Quite simply, our government believes that regulating the international arms trade is essential for the protection of people and human rights. It is precisely the type of issue on which Canada was once regarded as a global leader. It is on these types of issues that our government once again seeks to return Canada to a principled and forceful foreign policy based on respect for human rights and international law.

Let us remember that formal negotiation of the ATT began in 2006, arising from a growing concern within the international community regarding the proliferation of small and light arms across the globe. The growing security threat posed by these weapons and the lack of international co-operation on this issue were of grave concern. Unfortunately, as this process unfolded, Canada largely remained on the sidelines. As of this spring, 91 states had both signed and ratified the treaty. It is important to highlight that Canada remains the only NATO ally and G7 nation that has not signed or ratified the Arms Trade Treaty.

The bill before us today will rectify this. Bill C-47 would bring Canada into full compliance with the ATT and set global standards into Canadian law.

Acceding to the treaty is not just about Canada's arms trade regime; it is also about Canada setting a principled standard and embracing the need for coordinated global action.

The regulations before us were developed in a transparent, deliberate, and comprehensive fashion. More importantly, our government is matching words with actions. Budget 2017 allocated $13 million over five years to allow Canada to implement the Arms Trade Treaty and to further strengthen Canada's export control regime. Moreover, we are also contributing $1 million to the UN Trust Facility Supporting Cooperation on Arms Regulation to ensure that we assist other countries in acceding to this treaty.

We are doing this because our government understands that as global security threats become increasingly diverse, dispersed, interconnected, and interdependent, Canada cannot afford to sit idle or to go it alone. We should never neglect our international responsibilities for reasons of domestic pandering or narrow-minded ideology. Canada has a moral obligation to accede to the ATT, and I am proud that our government has taken these concrete steps.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 11:15 a.m.
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Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to rise to speak to Bill C-47 and to express my displeasure at this legislation by the government. First, as the shadow minister for defence, I want to assure Canadians that the current system we have in place to manage the export of military equipment from Canada is robust and safe.

The programs here have so many layers of government oversight and the involvement of government agencies that we can be assured that military equipment is not going into the wrong hands, that it is not a part of the illegal trade in firearms, and that it is being used in a way that is consistent with Canadian values.

What we really have to look at here is that Bill C-47, and the ATT it would allow Canada to accede to, is all about bringing in place a backdoor gun registry into Canada. It would disadvantage Canadian manufacturers of firearms and military defence equipment, and we are incredibly concerned that this is just another attack on legitimate long-gun owners across Canada.

To go back to the assurances we have about the system in place today, I remind members that under Global Affairs Canada, we have the automatic firearms country control list and that only countries approved by the Government of Canada and that are on that list are allowed to buy military defensive weapons, including firearms and automatic weapons, from Canada. However, that does not guarantee that Canadian companies will be able to export firearms and military equipment to those nations. Once a country is on the list and approved by Global Affairs Canada, then we go through a process. When the business deal is signed and a purchase decision is made and a Canadian company wants to export the arms, it has to apply for an export permit under the Import and Export Permits Act through Global Affairs Canada. Global Affairs Canada again has the ability to say yes or no to the sale of that equipment. Conditions may change in the country that it is being sold to, or the military of that country may be under observation or have been removed from the list, as can happen.

Countries can be banned, as has happened in the past. We have taken Myanmar off the list. North Korea is definitely not on the list; it has been banned. Right now, for example, we on the Conservative side would like to see Ukraine placed on the list. The government is looking at that, but Ukraine is not yet on the country control list.

In Manitoba we have a number of companies that build various types of equipment that have to fall under the government oversight list that is in place. In Winnipeg we have PGW Defence Technologies on the list. It builds firearms, automatic weapons, and sniper rifles and exports them around the world. Before it can send them, it has to get an export permit.

Magellan Aerospace in Winnipeg builds all sorts of different components for the aerospace industry, but it is also building pieces of the F-35. We have to remember that even though the United States is somewhat exempt from Bill C-47, Magellan is part of a global supply chain for the entire F-35 program, which includes countries from other consortium members around the world. This Arms Trade Treaty could actually disrupt the flow of these parts that are so timely to the manufacture of the F-35 stealth fighter jet.

In my riding, there is also a company called MicroPilot, which builds autopilots for automated aerial vehicles and also builds micro aerial vehicles. Even though it builds them for nonmilitary use and its customers are not military clients, it still has go through the same process to ensure that its clients will not put the autopilots into drones for military purposes.

Therefore, the oversight by Global Affairs Canada of export permits, and the oversight by the Government of Canada of who will actually be allowed on the automatic firearms country control list is robust and strong, and guarantees that Canada is dealing with legitimate partners and allies.

All that the ATT will do is to disadvantage Canadian companies versus other nations that are not part of it, including the United States. The United States supports the treaty in principle but has not ratified it, and because it has not ratified the treaty it plays by a different set of rules in its export regime than Canada does. We have a healthy defence manufacturing industry, aerospace industry, and manufacturing sector right across this country and those companies will be at a disadvantage because of this so-called treaty.

As I said in an earlier question to the Liberals, they have a utopian view. They think that by signing this treaty we will magically change the way the world operates in the illegitimate firearms trade and the illegitimate, criminal use of weapons. Treaties are only paper thin and as long as major manufacturing is done by countries that are not a part of this and that have no problem selling to regimes and untrusted partners around the world, like Russia, Iran, North Korea, and China, there will never be a way to control their trade in weapons to terrorist organizations. There will never be a way to control their trade in weapons to regimes that are not trusted right now, like North Korea, that wants to bomb the United States with its new intercontinental ballistic missiles.

We have to take care of our own defensive needs. There is one thing that this treaty does that a lot of people do not realize. Under Bill C-47, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces are currently exempt from these types of programs. If the Government of Canada wants to donate military equipment to a partner or an ally it can, but under Bill C-47 it will now be tied up by article 5 of the UN ATT.

We already have all sorts of oversight. In addition to Global Affairs Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency and Statistics Canada already keep track of all movement of firearms and military equipment through the World Customs Organization. Canada has the ability to impose blanket bans on the export of our weapons to countries or regions where we believe firearms or weapons will be used in defensive means or against civilian populations. That is why in the past we put Belarus and Myanmar on the list.

This is a back door long-gun registry. I have spent 17 years of my life as a politician fighting against a long-gun registry. We have legitimate trade in hunting and sports shooting firearms. Manufacturers are concerned that they have not been consulted. Firearms owners across this country, who already have to be licensed under the possession and acquisition licensing program, have not been consulted. They are legitimate, lawful, law-abiding firearms owners and yet the Liberals are plowing ahead anyway to bring in this back door registry.

Manufacturers are saying that what is required under the UN treaty is a different marking than what they already have. This would be an added cost. If a U.S. manufacturer of a firearm wants to send a shotgun to Canada, it would have to laser imprint a new serial number. This would be an extra cost. Who is going to pay for that? It will be Canadian firearms owners, our Canadian customers. What happens if the United States or that company decides they are not going to export to Canada anymore? We will have less choice in what firearms we can purchase.

Article 5 in the treaty states, “Each State Party shall establish and maintain a national control system, including a national control list, in order to implement the provisions of this Treaty.” That sounds like a gun registry to me. It goes on to say, “Each State Party, pursuant to its national laws, shall provide its national control route list to the Secretariat, which shall make it available to other State Parties.” Now we will have to submit it to the UN. We are going to have to share with every country that signed the treaty exactly how many firearms we have in our country, as registered now through the Liberals' new long-gun registry. State parties are encouraged to make their control list publicly available as well. We just created a shopping list for all of the criminals out there.

I like what the Canadian Shooting Sports Association said:

Canada, under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, requested that civilian firearms specifically be removed from the treaty in order to protect the interests of Canada’s lawful firearms community. The UN ignored our nation’s request to respect the interests of Canadians and refused to remove civilian firearms from the language of the treaty. So the Harper government did what was right: it stood up for Canadian sovereignty and Canadian gun owners and refused to sign the treaty.

The Liberals have not implemented that. They talk about the preamble that says that civilian firearms ownership will be respected. As legislators, we all know preambles are not law; it is the regulations underneath them that are enforceable.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 11:35 a.m.
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NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to offer what I would perhaps call tepid support for Bill C-47, an act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and to permit the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty.

Unfortunately, while this is a very serious matter, the bill seems to be more of an empty shell than an effective piece of legislation at this stage. Yet again, the Liberals have been extolling the virtue of transparency while completely ignoring the principle in practice.

Members will recall from earlier this week another bill allegedly relating to transparency, the amendments to Bill C-58 that would reform the Access to Information Act. Members stood and pointed out the difference between the rhetoric of transparency and the reality. Today, I note with sadness that our Information Commissioner has done a thorough analysis of the bill, and the title says it all: “Failing to Strike the Right Balance”. That could be the title of this bill as well.

Quite recently, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs claimed:

The goal is to ensure that all states take responsibility and rigorously assess arms exports. States must also regulate the legal arms trade and use transparent measures to combat illicit trade.

The bill is filled with non-information, significant room for intentionally omitted information, and promises to outline regulations at some later date, following royal assent. That is why we call it an empty shell. Most of the key issues to be addressed will not be addressed in this Parliament and will not be open to parliamentary scrutiny during this debate on second reading. Rather, they will be put in somehow later when regulations are made by faceless bureaucrats behind the scenes. That is why we say the bill fails on the issue of transparency. For example, the key criteria of assessment of arms permits are nowhere to be found in Bill C-47. How can we know if export controls will be strengthened in order to protect future exports to states that abuse human rights? Who knows?

I said at the outset that I am prepared to offer unenthusiastic support so we can get this to committee and make it better. We are asked to consider an appropriate course for the regulation of arms exports in Canada and our country's long overdue accession to the Arms Trade Treaty. Shamefully, the Harper Conservatives refused to join the Arms Trade Treaty, which was open for accession as of December 2014. Canada emerged as the only NATO member and the only G7 member not to have signed the Arms Trade Treaty. I congratulate the government for finally taking these halting steps to join the rest of the civilized world.

We are also forced to examine in this debate who we want to be on the world stage and what kind of values we are really honouring, not just on paper but in our policies and practices. We have a prime minister who loves to talk the talk. During the course of the debates and amendments at committee, we will see whether he and the government are prepared to walk the walk.

It is unthinkable and frankly surprising to many of us that Canadian weapons exports have nearly doubled over the last 10 years. After 10 years of the Conservative government, Canada has shifted away from exporting arms predominantly to NATO countries, to exporting arms to countries with notoriously troubling human rights records. For example, according to the defence industry publication Jane's, Canada is now the second largest arms dealer in the Middle East. Arms sales to China, a country with a notoriously poor human rights record, soared to $48 million in 2015. As well, a recent article published in the magazine L'actualité found that in the past 25 years Canada has sold $5.8 billion in weapons to countries with deeply questionable human rights records. This is not a small problem. Human rights violations cannot be tolerated, let alone facilitated.

With all this in mind, I want to commend the current government for finally agreeing to accede to this international treaty. In endorsing this bill, I want to also salute my colleague, the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, who has done some wonderful work on this issue over the years.

As noted, the bill fails to strengthen export controls, and as written, we would have no idea whether future arms deals with countries that abuse human rights would be prohibited. We have a right to know who Canada is doing business with and under what conditions. When it comes to human rights, it is not enough for us to say one thing and implement policies that allow another.

The hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs, speaking to the accession of the Arms Trade Treaty, said, “this legislation will set our standards in law.... I am very pleased that we will in turn raise the bar with a stronger and more rigorous system for our country.”

Forgive me if I am not prepared to take the government's word for it. I agree that we need to set out standards in law, but the bill is proof that the Liberals are still demonstrating a lack of transparency about arms exports and a reluctance to address the disparity between talk and action.

As others have mentioned, there are ongoing allegations of Canadian weapons being used to commit human rights violations in countries like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Sudan. It was reported in The Globe and Mail earlier this year that the Saudi military appears to be using Canadian-made combat vehicles against Saudi citizens. What are we doing about that? We are not doing very much. Reports indicate that Canadian-made weaponry has been used in the Saudi Arabia-led war in Yemen, one of the world's worst humanitarian situations, which continues to deteriorate, and 6,000 people to date have been killed.

In 2015, the Prime Minister told the media that Canada must “stop arms sales to regimes that flout democracy, such as Saudi Arabia.” That is great rhetoric. Where is the action?

The NDP has called for the Liberals to suspend existing export permits for the light armoured vehicle deal with Saudi Arabia, pending an investigation into its domestic human rights situation, to no avail.

In the bill, the majority of Canada's military exports would remain unregulated. It would set up a legal obligation to report on military exports, which is a good step, but here is the punchline. This obligation would only apply to exports where an export permit was required, so most U.S.-bound exports would be exempt from the bill. Neither the act nor its amendment under Bill C-47 would address the Canada-U.S. Defence Production Sharing Agreement, which exempts Canadian military exports to the United States from the government authorization required for other arms exports. Therefore, we will be asking in committee that exports of military goods to the United States be licensed in some fashion.

It has been said that the United States is our closest friend and ally, but with a regime change occurring south of the border, it seems to me that this reflects an outdated way of thinking. It should be subject to the same rules as other countries. Indeed, the reason for that is that sometimes Canadian arms are sold to the United States and are used to commit human rights atrocities, an example of which was published, with respect to Nigeria, on September 13 of this year. We think that is important.

We believe there have been some positive moves on the issue of diversion, and we salute the government for that, but we believe that Canada must formalize diversion as a criterion in our export control systems.

It is a good start that Bill C-47 requires annual reports to Parliament, but the job is only half done as long as it does not include exports to the United States. How can Parliament hold the government to account if the bulk of our exports are excluded from the export permit system and from the resulting annual reporting?

We would suggest, as we have said for many years, that there be a new standing committee to oversee arms exports. The Liberals voted that down. We asked them to consider the U.K. experience and see if we could get on board for that so we could actually provide parliamentary oversight, notwithstanding the deficiencies in the bill.

For far too long Canadians have had too little information about our arms exports to countries with troubling human rights records. Any measures taken that fall short of ensuring the highest standards of accountability are doing a disservice to Canadians and to the vulnerable people who are affected by our policies.

Human rights are not optional. It is not enough for our Prime Minister to go on the international stage and talk the talk. It is now time to walk the talk and give parliamentarians and Canadians the tools they need to ensure that we are doing our part on arms trade exports around the world.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 11:50 a.m.
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Bloc

Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I am going to talk about Bill C-47, which should, in theory, have the unanimous support of the House.

Everyone in the House will support Canada ratifying the 2013 Arms Trade Treaty, which would be very useful.

Take article 6.3, for example:

A State Party shall not authorize any transfer of conventional arms...if it has knowledge at the time of authorization that the arms or items would be used in the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, attacks directed against civilian objects or civilians protected as such, or other war crimes as defined by international agreements to which it is a Party.

Under this treaty, no country is supposed to sell arms to countries that direct attacks against civilians. I am sure some people are wondering what an arm is, exactly.

The treaty that Canada is planning to ratify clarifies that in article 2.1:

This Treaty shall apply to all conventional arms within the following categories:

(a) Battle tanks;

(b) Armoured combat vehicles;

(c) Large-calibre artillery systems;

Cynicism is a perfectly natural response here. What is the point of ratifying a treaty if a country does not respect either the letter or the spirit of that treaty?

Canada sells weapons to Saudi Arabia, and yet the government has known for years that the Wahhabi Kingdom does not respect human rights. It has known for years that Saudi civilians are constantly under attacks by the army, but money talks.

We forget about human rights when billions of dollars are at stake in Canada's great liberal democracy. Two years ago, the then Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Dion believed that maintaining a strong trade relationship was the best way to influence a country that violates the rights of its citizens.

At least two years ago, when Minister Dion saw Saudi Arabia attacking its civilians, he acknowledged that selling light armoured vehicles to Riyadh was a calculated risk. However, he insisted that the armed vehicles appearing on screen at the time were not Canadian. He stated that there was no proof that any military equipment that Canada had been selling to Saudi Arabia since 1993 had been misused.

Yes, the Saudis are firing on their own people. Yes, we are selling them weapons, but for the Liberals, there is no connection between the two. However, the Arms Trade Treaty, that the Liberals want to ratify, clearly states that a country that is part of the treaty shall not sell any arms to another country if they know, at the time of authorization, that these arms or items would be used to carry out attacks on civilians. It doesn't say “are being used“, but “would be used”.

Two years ago, Canada was the second-largest exporter of arms to the Middle East, right behind the United States. Is that really the Liberals' vision for Canada? Everyone gets along, everything is fine and dandy, but we still sell weapons to a country that decapitates, whips and stones its own people.

On page 18 of the latest annual report to Parliament on the administration of the Export and Import Permits Act, we can read:

With respect to military goods and technology, Canadian export control policy has, for many years, been restrictive. Under present policy guidelines set out by Cabinet in 1986, Canada closely controls the export of military items to: countries which pose a threat to Canada and its allies; countries involved in or under imminent threat of hostilities; countries under United Nations Security Council sanctions; or countries whose governments have a persistent record of serious violations of the human rights of their citizens, unless it can be demonstrated that there is no reasonable risk that the goods might be used against the civilian population.

We know that Saudi Arabia uses Canadian arms against the civilian population. The July 22 Globe and Mail article proved it. We saw the videos of the Canadian Gurkhas, the Minister of Foreign Affairs saw them, and the Prime Minister saw them. Has Canada put a stop to the sale of armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia as required by the guidelines? No.

The government is not obeying its own laws and now wants to ratify a treaty that it is already contravening. Bill C-47 may enjoy unanimous support, but the Liberal Party and every other party that voted in favour of the deal between the arms manufacturer and Saudi Arabia in 2015 was being hypocritical.

We know that Canada is partly responsible every time a civilian is killed by the Saudi government. When civilians are threatened, terrorized or brutalized, Canada will find solace in the money pouring into its coffers. In July, the minister stated that she was very concerned about the use of Canadian-made arms by the Saudi army against civilians and asked her officials to look into it immediately. This is my interpretation of what she said: if it were proven that Canadian exports were used to commit serious human rights violations, I would take action. Two months later nothing has been done.

We support the principles of this bill, but we think its application is even more important. There is no point in passing legislation and then not enforcing it. There is no point in ratifying a treaty and then not complying with it. In 1976, Canada signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which authorizes each signatory country to be a watchdog over the other signatory countries. Article 1 of the covenant states:

All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

This is precisely what Madrid is denying the Catalan people. The Spanish government is denying the Catalan people not only their right to self-determination, but also their democratic right to vote on it.

Article 41 of the same covenant adds that if a state party to the covenant believes that another state party is not applying its provisions, it can draw that state party's attention to the matter in writing. The Minister of Foreign Affairs believes that the referendum in Catalonia falls under Spanish domestic affairs and that Canada should stay out of it, but what exactly is a domestic affair?

Canada ratified a covenant that invites signatory countries to keep an eye on one another to ensure that civil and political rights are respected. Now Ottawa is turning a blind eye, as though its signature meant nothing, as though the covenant were optional. My fear is that this Liberal government, despite having signed the Arms Trade Treaty, proves once again that its international commitments and its word are not worth much. The Liberals always put economic considerations ahead of human rights. That is the way it is.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / noon
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Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-47. This bill is part of the Liberals' election promise to implement the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, the ATT, which has been debated in the UN, brought forward, and signed by some countries.

It is significant to note that some major countries, Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, have not signed-on. The United States has not ratified and will not likely ratify this treaty. Like many ineffective international treaties, many key participants in the trade are not part of this treaty.

The Conservatives have always supported efforts to establish international standards that help to prevent illicit transfers that fuel conflict and encourage terrorism or organized crime. In actuality, Canada already has a responsible internal system to monitor, and control the export of military and security equipment that meets or exceeds the UN treaty. In other words, the ATT is actually inferior when compared with what Canada already has in place, and has been implementing effectively since the 1940s.

First, we have the Trade Controls Bureau, a department of our own sovereign government that is empowered to make sure the military equipment sales, issues related to security, cryptological equipment, and nuclear and biological risks are not only governed and tracked but controlled.

The Trade Controls Bureau, here in Ottawa not in New York, has been empowered and serving Canadian parliaments, regardless of which political party is in power, for decades. We already specifically name, from a Canadian point of view, items for export that need to be tracked and controlled under the Export and Import Permits Act, which the Trade Controls Bureau is charged to monitor.

Specifically, military or strategic dual-use goods; that is, some goods that can be used for a military or civilian purpose are specifically tracked. Also tracked are nuclear-energy materials and technology, missile-related technology, chemical and biological goods, cryptological equipment, and code breaking, the latter being so important to national security with the onset of the Internet.

Canada is a world leader in this technology, and our government was sensitive and responsible in controlling and, in many cases, restricting export of these technologies. An area of great concern to Canadians is that the current government has a willingness to see this type of asset sold to China without proper oversight. I have no confidence that Bill C-47 would in any way change the government's turning of a blind eye to the concerns from Canadians in this area.

It is also important to note that our existing system is superior to the UN treaty in the tracking of these goods, equipment and materials, and technologies by the Canada Border Services Agency and by Statistics Canada, using World Customs Organization tracking figures, and not just our own reference points.

We already track and limit the trade in these items far more than what the UN Arms Trade Treaty does. Why would we choose to sign-on to an agreement that is inferior to what we already have in place. Canada is already ahead of the curve and, doing so, leading as a sovereign nation on the world stage. Under the Export and Import Permits Act, through an order in council, Canada can limit sales of anything to another country. Canada can ban a country. As an example, North Korea is currently banned entirely through this area control list. The government already has within its power, without the UN treaty, the ability to limit entirely any sales to another country.

The current government is recording a huge deficit, well beyond its election promise of $10 billion. Yesterday, we learned it has already imposed higher taxes to the tune of $800-plus per year on middle-income earners. It has mandated a carbon tax with a compounded GST component already in some provinces that is adding to those people's taxes, hurting everyone and everything.

It is on a collision course to initiate higher, punitive taxes on small businesses, including agriculture, retail, tourism, manufacturing, small businesses, and young entrepreneurs just starting out as well. That is all to deal with the government's already out-of-control spending.

Canadians are tired, angry, and disillusioned with the current Liberal government's inability to manage its own house. Perhaps it is time to start taking care of things at home, and not try to fix something that not only is not broken but actually meets and exceeds the UN Arms Trade Treaty standards.

Another concern is that article 5 of the ATT seeks to include the Department of National Defence in the military equipment provisions of that treaty, preventing or, in some cases, limiting government-to-government transfers.

DND is government. It is a crown ministry. DND is responsible for its own equipment. Military-to-military aid and training materials are an important component of the mandate of our Armed Forces regarding training and assisting others. This would complicate and encumber that process. It is another bureaucratic challenge they do not need added on to complicate fulfilling their missions.

I want to echo one more concern of a significant cohort of Canadians the current government is ignoring. The UN Arms Trade Treaty must recognize and acknowledge the legitimacy of lawful ownership of firearms by responsible citizens for their personal and recreational use, including sport shooting, hunting, and collecting.

The Canadian Shooting Sports Association made the following statement to the Liberal government in September 2016:

Canada, under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, requested that civilian firearms specifically be removed from the treaty in order to protect the interests of Canada’s lawful firearms community. The UN ignored our nation’s request to respect the interests of Canadians and refused to remove civilian firearms from the language of the treaty. So the Harper government did what was right: it stood up for Canadian sovereignty and Canadian gun owners and refused to sign the treaty...The CSSA calls upon the Hon. Stéphane Dion [then Minister of Foreign Foreign Affairs] and the Trudeau government to re-examine, re-evaluate and to re-think the decision to sign this oppressive treaty.

The government has a responsibility to ensure there is absolute clarity on the legitimacy of lawful trade and ownership of firearms by responsible citizens for their own use within the Arms Trade Treaty before moving forward to ratify it. The government would be wise to heed this challenge.

Liberal members of Parliament who are currently representing law-abiding gun owners must respectfully and genuinely consult with their constituents, and do their best to be heard by their cabinet and their Prime Minister. They must know they have significant numbers of Canadians in their ridings who have expressed legitimate concerns that their lawful and regulated use of firearms for hunting or sport shooting could be impacted. They must be having some degree of apprehensive déjà vu here.

They would be wise to determine which is more important: aspirations for a UN seat, or standing up for the legitimate concerns of Canadians.

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September 28th, 2017 / 12:05 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, Canadians should be concerned that no matter how often it is clearly indicated there is no impact in terms of gun owners, Conservatives stand up and try to spread misinformation, which is what it is. Misinformation is being spread collectively by the Conservative Party for who knows what reason, and I will let other people deal with that.

Does the member not agree and recognize that this proposed legislation would in fact make our world a safer place?

The member makes reference to the current export control system, but she seems to be questioning it. I am sure the member is aware that Bill C-47, the actual bill we are debating today, would strengthen the existing system by ensuring criteria are in regulation, and by introducing controls on brokering.

Could the member speak to how Bill C-47 would strengthen, not replace or weaken, export controls, and let us stop the misinformation about local gun ownership?

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 12:10 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my friend from Yorkton—Melville for clarifying that when putting forward comments about the legislation, she is reporting on what her constituents have said.

I believe that as a member of Parliament it is my obligation to help explain to constituents and reduce the fear factor when people have been misinformed by others about the intent of legislation or changes that are coming their way.

I have carefully reviewed the Arms Trade Treaty and I have carefully reviewed Bill C-47, and for Canadians watching at home and for the hon. member for Yorkton—Melville, the key thing is when reading language, they should look at words like “under this act” or “under this treaty”. That creates a bracketing of this fear around the keeping of lists or records.

The treaty specifically says it is entirely about international transfer and export of military equipment for military ends. It specifically says it is not to apply to recreational users domestically. It specifically says in article 3 that it is about international export and not about when a state party imports weapons into its own country, not for export.

The act itself repeatedly says that a list will be kept for purposes under this act. Nothing here could possibly apply to legal gun ownership in Canada, and I urge my friend from Yorkton—Melville to help provide balance and real information on this topic and not encourage in any way legal gun owners in Canada to think this has any application to them.

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September 28th, 2017 / 12:10 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very moved to stand in the House today to speak to this issue. As parliamentarians, we occasionally have the opportunity to address issues that are of fundamental importance not only to Canadians but to people around the world. I cannot think of any issues that are more important to people in our globe than those that concern safety, security, and peace. These are foundational issues upon which all other activities depend.

We are witnessing conflicts and violence in this world, both civil and across borders, that represent a failure of the international order. The treaty before us gives us an opportunity to improve our world.

As parliamentarians, we spend a lot of time saying “human rights”, “rule of law”, “democracy”, and “freedom”. These are words that have intense meaning and importance to Canadians and people around the globe. The complete antithesis occurs when people resort to arms, to force, to violence as a means of altering political or social reality in this world. There is nothing more antithetical to the rule of law than the rule of violence. There is nothing more opposite to democratic and peaceful resolutions of disputes between people than people picking up guns and firing at one another as a means of trying to settle disputes.

As one member of this House, I am very pleased to see the Liberal government accede to the Arms Trade Treaty. In fact, I had the opportunity to be in New York at the United Nations for one of the sessions where this issue was being debated. Illicit and irresponsible transfers of conventional weapons are a significant factor in human suffering worldwide, fuelling armed violence in all of its forms, including domestic violence, international armed conflicts, and civil disputes.

With the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty in December 2014, the majority of the world states agreed to establish global standards for responsible national decision-making on the transfer of conventional weapons. For the life of me, I cannot understand how any responsible legislator, not only in this country but in the world, could oppose the establishment of such a regime.

At the time, Stephen Harper's Conservative government refused to join the Arms Trade Treaty. Canada was the only member of NATO and the G7 not to have signed the ATT. I was embarrassed by that failure, and I think I speak for the vast majority of Canadians who were embarrassed by that move as well. The majority of Canadians want our country to be a responsible member of the international stage, doing our part to try to reduce violence in the world, to try to be an honest broker and help make and keep peace wherever there is conflict in the world.

In June of 2016, the current government announced that Canada would join the Arms Trade Treaty, and former foreign affairs minister Stéphane Dion tabled the text of the treaty and an explanatory memorandum in the House of Commons. The goal of acceding to the Arms Trade Treaty was included in the mandate letter given to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and I support that measure.

Bill C-47, the bill before this House today, represents the legislative implementation of that commitment, and it includes legislative amendments to fulfill some of the treaty's provisions and bring Canada's laws and policies mostly into compliance with the ATT. Members will have noticed that I emphasized the word “some”. I will be focusing on some of the weaknesses and omissions in this bill, and I hope parliamentarians on all side of the House can roll up their sleeves and in good faith work to repair and improve them.

At present, we support the general thrust of this legislation, but we have serious concerns about its contents, particularly over what is missing.

Generally, polls show that most Canadians disapprove of arms deals with human rights abusers. I think many Canadians would be shocked to learn that Canadian weapons exports have nearly doubled over the last 10 years under the Conservative government's stewardship. While Canada used to export arms mostly to NATO countries, under the Conservative government our arms exports shifted to include many countries with troubling—in fact, abysmal—human rights records. Canada is now the second-largest arms dealer in the Middle East after the United States, according to defence industry publication Jane's. Saudi Arabia is now the world's second-largest buyer of Canadian-made military equipment after the United States.

I want to pause for a moment and talk about Saudi Arabia.

This is a place that practises beheadings. This is a place where women cannot vote. This is a place where, up until recently, women could not even drive a vehicle, although I understand that Saudi Arabia has recently announced that it may start allowing women to drive vehicles. This is a country that has no record of democracy or respect for human rights whatsoever, and most troubling of all, Saudi Arabia is not restricting this heinous and abysmal human rights record to its own borders but has been involved in invading a neighbouring country, Yemen, where it is using Canadian-made military equipment against civilians in another country.

I would dare say that most Canadians do not support that. Most Canadians would like to see the present government take every possible step to cease exporting any military equipment to a country with that kind of human rights record, a country that is using aggressive weapons against innocent civilians.

Canada's existing arms export rules are supposed to prohibit sales of military hardware to countries whose governments have a persistent record of serious violations of the human rights of their citizens unless it can be demonstrated that there is no reasonable risk that the goods might be used against the civilian population. However, the example I just pointed out, and there are others, makes it clear that Canada's arms export controls are not working. While the Liberal government argues, as the Conservatives did before it, that Canada has strong arms export regulations, in recent months Canadians have grown increasingly concerned about those Canadian arms exports falling into the wrong hands. Worse, it was revealed last August that the Government of Canada has actually weakened its arms export policy to make it easier to export military hardware to states that abuse human rights.

The magazine L'actualité recently published an analysis that found that in the past 25 years Canada sold $5.8 billion in weapons to countries with deeply questionable human rights records. Canadian foreign ministers are often reluctant to refuse export permits after contracts are signed, but that is exactly what Canadian law calls for. Companies enter into commercial agreements, and then it is up to the government to issue export control permits and to cease from doing so if Canada has reason to believe that those arms are going to fall into the hands of human rights abusers or be used against civilian populations. That policy has not been implemented well by either the current government or the one before it.

I am going to quickly point out some of the flaws in the bill.

It has been pointed out by many speakers that ironically, most of Canada's arms are integrated with the U.S. military system, yet the bill does not apply to Canadian arms shipments to the United States. There is no principled reason that the United States should receive an exemption from the very laws that we seek to apply to every other country.

The bill also fails to ensure that parliamentarians can scrutinize the regulatory regime that will create the substance of the bill. We are debating the legislative structure before us, but we as parliamentarians will not be able to see or influence how the regulations will be drafted. Those will be done behind closed doors.

I will conclude by saying I think that most Canadians want to see Canada as a peaceful player on the world stage. They want to restore our reputation, which was severely damaged by the previous government over the last decade, and they want Canada to be a respected international player, doing our part to build bridges between countries to help them resolve their disputes peacefully and building capacity for democracy and respect for the rule of law. The way to do that is by taking every measure we can to reduce the flow of arms to people who would use them for poor purposes.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
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Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I would like to state clearly that our government takes very seriously the export of arms to countries around the world. We have a robust process in place to ensure that we consider the end-user and end use in issuing any export permits for arms headed to countries around the world.

Acceding to the Arms Trade Treaty would strengthen Canada's current export control system; establish a decision-making process, codify it, and ensure that it is more transparent, more robust, and more comprehensive; and ensure that Canada could contribute to greater peace and arms trade compliance in some conflict zones around the world. The ATT recognizes that there is no one size fits all for countries that are acceding to the treaty, and the decision to not require export permits for a majority of goods headed to the United States was determined to be fully compliant with the ATT.

Does the member opposite agree that acceding to this treaty via Bill C-47 would strengthen Canada's role in the trade of conventional arms around the world?

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September 28th, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to discuss a treaty as important as the Arms Trade Treaty, or ATT.

I do commend the Liberal government and Prime Minister for committing to sign and ratify this treaty. I agree with the hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway that Canadians were ashamed when we were the only NATO country not to have signed the Arms Trade Treaty. Signing it is important; ratifying it is important. The legislation that comes before us today to allow us to implement the treaty is important.

I am going to take a few moments before I go into the details of what needs to be remedied within Bill C-47 to make it the legislation that Canada needs so that we really implement the Arms Trade Treaty. I am going to a few moments to put to rest, I hope, some of the distressingly flawed scare tactics by friends of mine on the Conservative benches. I am deeply distressed that people in the House would not be sure they understand the legislation before allowing people across Canada, particularly legal gun owners, to become alarmed by a bill they should not be alarmed about.

Moments ago in debate one of the Conservative members read out part of Bill C-47, in fact from clause 10. This is how people are misled. I am going to take some time to go through this, so that members in this place and people watching on CPAC, or however they are watching this, can see how selective reading can spread alarm.

This was read out from Bill C-47:

Inspection

10.2 (1) An inspector may, at all reasonable times, for any purpose related to the administration or enforcement of this Act, inspect, audit or examine the records of any person or organization

That was was read out as if this bill to deal with the arms trade, the transfer of military equipment, tanks, weapons, and all manner of conventional arms, would have an impact on any person or organization, such that they could suddenly have their door beaten down by an inspector.

Where the hon. member who read that statement stopped reading was right before the following words:

that has applied for a permit, an import allocation, or export allocation, a certificate or another authorization under this Act

There is no way in the world that the proposed subsection that was read out has the meaning that the hon. member for Yorkton—Melville just implied. The words “any person or organization” are followed immediately by the words “that has applied for a permit”. There is no legal gun owner across this country nor local gun store nor local supplier of recreational equipment of any kind that is dealing in arms and applying for a permit under this bill.

That is why I am so deeply distressed that Canadians who have fought against the long-gun registry, say, “Okay we no longer have a long-gun registry”, but are concerned about this. Canadians who fought against the long-gun registry do not need to worry. There is no way in this world that any portion of the global treaty or domestic legislation would apply to domestic activities.

Let me read these words from the treaty itself:

Mindful of the legitimate trade and lawful ownership, and use of certain conventional arms for recreational, cultural, historical, and sporting activities, where such trade, ownership and use are permitted or protected by law.

The treaty specifically says in article 2(3) the following:

This Treaty shall not apply to the international movement of conventional arms by, or on behalf of, a State Party for its use provided that the conventional arms remain under that State Party's ownership.

To be very clear again, this treaty and the domestic act to bring it into force apply only to those who choose to ask the government for a permit to export the arms described in the treaty as including battle tanks; armoured combat vehicles; large-calibre artillery systems; combat aircraft; attack helicopters; warships; missiles and missile launchers; and small arms and light weapons. Unless the purpose is to export those to another country for military purposes, this legislation would not apply.

Let us see how well it would do in curtailing the arms trade from Canada to countries that we would not want to see using those weapons against their own people, countries with dubious human rights records.

When I was growing up, Canada was not an arms trading country. We did not think of ourselves as big in the arms trade business. The military industrial complex on the U.S. side of the border had not yet started taking over enough of our companies that we became enmeshed in their business.

Some of our defence decisions are influenced by commercial interests. The F-35 fighter plane boondoggle was embraced by previous governments because subcontracts might flow to the aerospace industry within Canada. This enmeshing of our economies has brought with it an enmeshing in parts that go into weapon systems that we would not want to see going to other countries. For instance, the United States recently sold warplanes and armoured vehicles to Nigeria. Those warplanes will have in them Pratt & Whitney engines manufactured in Quebec. Is that a concern? It is to Canadians. We need to track that. If we are serious about the Arms Trade Treaty, we do not want Canadian components and Canadian arms flowing through the U.S. to other countries.

Let us look at our history as an arms trading country. There has been a 48% increase in the arms trade. When it spiked one year there was a lot of national concern, which I remember. It was 1994, and there had been a 48% increase in our arms sales, which took us to $497 million that year. In 2016, Canada had a trade in arms of $718 million. That is far more than the peak year of 1994. Of that $718 million in weapons and arms we exported from Canada, nearly 20% went to Saudi Arabia, or a total of $142 million in sales.

It is critical that we make the Arms Trade Treaty work for the world. Canada has shown leadership on a treaty like this in the past. I wish we would show leadership as well on the nuclear disarmament treaty, as well as the fissile material cutoff treaty in which we are participating but not leading.

On this issue, we should look to our history with the Ottawa Treaty banning land mines. The movement that led to that treaty won the Nobel Peace Prize, and rightly so. December 3, 2017, will be the 20th anniversary of Canadian leadership in helping to rid the world of land mines. We have not yet rid the world of land mines, but their use has declined dramatically. We have proven statistics, proven evidence, that the land mine treaty has saved thousands of lives around the world, even though major world powers like the U.S., China, and Russia never signed on to the Ottawa Treaty. Still, the treaty works and has massively reduced land mine traffic.

Canada has an opportunity here to step up again. The minimum we can do is to sign and ratify the Arms Trade Treaty at the UN, but our domestic legislation must meet the purposes of our global commitment, and that means fixing the loophole that would allow military equipment under the definition of the treaty to pass through the United States. At this point, the U.S. has signed the treaty, but it will remain a non-state party to this treaty. This means that it will not have to track where the weapons go or meet the tests and the analysis and the screening that Canada and other parties must meet.

I say to my friends on the government benches, can we please get this legislation to committee and fill that loophole that is big enough to drive a tank through, the loophole that does not limit or record the sales and the transfer of weapons through the United States?

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September 28th, 2017 / 12:40 p.m.
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NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from the Green Party for hopefully bringing a sense of comfort to the many gun owners in my riding, where hunting is very much a part of the way of life for many people and many of my constituents.

The NDP will support Bill C-47 at second reading, and we hope to see amendments at committee. Since the member does not get a chance to participate actively in those committees, I would ask her if there are amendments she would like to see brought forward in addition to the one concerning tracking arms through the United States.

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September 28th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and speak on Bill C-47, an act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code. In 2016, the Liberals announced that they would agree to sign the UN Arms Trade Treaty. This bill, if adopted, would implement the ATT.

Conservatives have always supported efforts to establish international standards for the trade of arms, which would help prevent illicit transfers to tyrannical regimes, terrorists, or criminal organizations bent on harming innocent people throughout the world and fuelling conflicts with their neighbours. I am stating for the record, which I am sure will not surprise many of my hon. colleagues in the House, that I oppose this bill. There are several reasons I oppose it, and for the benefit of Canadians watching on CPAC or in the House, I will explain why.

First, Canada already has an accountable and robust internal system to monitor and control the export of military and security equipment, controls that meet or exceed those laid out in the ATT. The Trade Controls Bureau, which regulates the Export and Import Permits Act, has provided ministers, since the beginning of the cold war, with the ability to prevent the export of heavily restricted items of a military nature to countries that, for a variety of reasons, are perceived to be a threat internally or externally or are under sanctions by the United Nations. We take this seriously. We restrict dangerous items, which include military, strategic dual-use goods, nuclear energy materials and technology, missile, chemical, or biological goods, and cryptological equipment.

Second, we have a comprehensive and rigorous system in place to track and record more items, not fewer, than will be required under the ATT. What is more, Canadians are doing the tracking, not foreign governments. Canadian agencies, fully accountable to Parliament, like the Canada Border Services Agency, which tracks items, and Statistics Canada, which collects information on all items exported from Canada, classify these items using categories negotiated by the World Customs Organization.

Third, Canada has at its disposal the area control list under the Export and Import Permits Act. Through an act of the Governor in Council, a country can be placed on this list and receive a blanket trade ban. North Korea is there right now. In the past, the list has included other countries like Belarus and Myanmar.

Fourth, countries that represent most of the sales of military equipment, like Russia and the United States, have either not signed or likely will not ratify the ATT. How effective is this? How does the government currently think that the ATT would be very effective when key participants in the trade of these items are not part of the treaty?

Fifth, any military trade treaty should explicitly recognize the legitimacy of lawful ownership of firearms by responsible citizens for uses such as sports shooting, hunting, and collecting. The Conservatives have taken a strong and principled stance on this issue. We believe that any military trade treaty must recognize the legitimacy of lawful ownership of firearms by responsible citizens for their recreational use. This is why we did not sign the treaty when we were in government. We could not guarantee the protection of such traditional Canadian activities like hunting, for example.

We must remember that our primary duty as parliamentarians is to protect the rights and freedoms of Canadians. The member for Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies stood in the House and did a great job of outlining that issue for law-abiding gun owners, hunters, and recreational firearm enthusiasts. He was asked about this matter in particular and faced a few questions, and there were calls for the member and others to point to where in the legislation there would be a gun registry. I am not going to waste everybody's time here rereading that bill into the record as it has already been done by the member for Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies.

Before members ask me to point to sections that talk about keeping records, I should specify that it is “any records” that the minister stipulates, or the section that references that the minister can require “any person or organization that is required to keep records” to retain them for any period. I challenge members to take the bill back to their ridings and have a farmer, a hunter, a sports shooting enthusiast, or even a gun collector interpret it for them. I guarantee there will be a lot of questions on it.

I am sure they will give their thoughts on another gun registry, a registry—I might remind members—that targeted law-abiding firearms owners, cost the taxpayers of Canada some $2 billion, and did absolutely nothing to prevent firearms from getting into the hands of criminals.

Now we have a government that promised not to introduce a gun registry, yet here it is, the very strong potential for a backdoor gun registry. This seems to be the modus operandi for the government: to introduce proposals that it knows will not pass muster, under some guise. As the old saying goes, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.

Summer is the traditional time for vacations or in the case of farmers and entrepreneurs a very busy time, especially in my riding where the summer tourist season is short in some cases. In Ontario we had weather that was not exceptional for some tourist operators, marinas, hotels, and that sort of thing, so that is a crucial period and they are very busy. In the midst of summer, the Minister of Finance tried to slip past massive tax hikes on small business owners, professionals, and farmers, many of whom were in the fields when this was announced. They were busy.

What is it about law-abiding Canadians who are minding their own business that the government has such an issue with? Whether it is responsible gun owners enjoying a recreational pastime or hard-working small business entrepreneurs creating the jobs that grow the economy of this country, the government seems to feel obligated to meddle with legislation that is working fine.

Conservatives agree that Canada's tax system should be fair and equitable for all, and we agree that any military trade treaty we sign needs to protect the rights of Canadian firearms enthusiasts, so why has the government tried to stifle debate and “consult” in the middle of summer? Why is the consultation period set to end next Monday, just 10 days after the resumption of Parliament? Why will the government not prove to Canadians that there was not ill intent, and extend the tax hike consultation deadline?

I can tell everyone why, and it is the same reason that we are debating this problematic bill right now. The Liberal government feels it knows better. It knows better than Canadians and it knows better than the citizens of this country. The government wants to make the world less safe by adopting the ATT, which will do less to protect Canadians, our allies, and innocent lives around the globe. The government wants to remove oversight by trusted Canadian agencies, which are accountable to Parliament and by extension the people of Canada. It wants to do this to reintroduce a piece of legislation it promised not to introduce, a piece of costly legislation nobody wants. Why? It is because it seems to know better. I am here to say it does not, and I suspect it will not be long before Canadians tell it the same thing as well. I look forward to questions from my colleagues.

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September 28th, 2017 / 1:05 p.m.
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Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to address the comments made by my colleague across the way. I wonder if he would explain to his constituents that what Bill C-47 would do, in addition to providing a more codified way in which Canada can ensure that conventional arms are not getting into the hands of people who would do undue harm to women and children in conflict zones, is that it would leave in place the exact same record-keeping regime that was in place under the previous Conservative government. Would he explain that to his constituents, and would he also explain to them that Canada has a leadership role to play in helping address situations where women and young children are unduly and negatively affected in conflict zones? Canada can help regulate and resolve some of the terrible things that happen around the world.

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September 28th, 2017 / 1:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to rise in the House today to discuss Bill C-47, an act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code.

What I am about to say has probably been said by a number of my colleagues, but I will reiterate some of the key points.

I believe, as many government members have already stated, that under article 10 of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, Canada is required to establish brokering controls. It is important to note that within the proposed legislation, brokering is defined as arranging or negotiating a transaction that relates to the movement of goods or technology on a new brokering control list from a foreign country to another foreign country.

Under the government's proposed legislation, the act would implement controls around the brokering of military goods between two countries outside of Canada. In addition, a legal obligation would be established whereby the Minister of Foreign Affairs considers specific assessment criteria prior to authorizing permits. For summary conviction offences, the maximum fine under the Export and Import Permits Act, or EIPA, would be increased from $25,000 to $250,000. Under the Arms Trade Treaty, all states are assigned the primary responsibility in establishing and implementing their respective national control systems. Within the framework of the Arms Trade Treaty, the Department of National Defence is required to be brought into the export control system.

There have been many arguments put forward that the legislation before us is flawed. My colleagues have named a number of them. I would like to summarize some of the concerns I have with Bill C-47.

First, it is important to know that Canada already has a responsible internal system to monitor and control the export of military and security equipment that meets or exceeds the UN treaty.

There are three of four areas I will touch on.

The first is the Trade Controls Bureau in Ottawa, which regulates the Export and Import Permits Act. Since 1947, it has allowed the minister to prevent the supply of military equipment to countries for a variety of reasons, including those that are a security threat, involved in internal or external conflict, or are under sanctions by the United Nations.

The second is that specific items are already heavily restricted by Canada include military or strategic dual-use goods; nuclear energy materials and technology; missile, chemical or biological goods; and cryptological equipment. Companies throughout Canada are leaders in many of these areas.

The third is that we are already tracking and recording more than what is required under the Arms Trade Treaty. Canada Border Services Agency and Statistics Canada collect information on all items exported from Canada and classify these items using categories negotiated by the World Customs Organization.

Canada can also utilize a blanket ban on trade with risk countries through the use of the area control list, which, under the Export and Import Permits Act, through an act of the Governor in Council, a country can be placed on that list. North Korea is there at present. In the past, the list has included Belarus and Myanmar.

Furthermore, countries that represent the majority of the sales of military equipment, Russia and the United States, have either not signed or have not, and likely will not, ratified the treaty, which has been mentioned by my colleagues here today. Like many ineffective international treaties, the key participants in the trade are not part of the treaty, which raises alarm bells in itself.

The Department of National Defence, as a crown department, is traditionally exempted from the export control system. Exports of military aid or government-to-government gifts do not require authorization, and occur without oversight by Canadian export control officials.

Article 5 of the Arms Trade Treaty would require bringing our Department of National Defence into the export control system. I know that many MPs have stated that any Arms Trade Treaty should explicitly recognize the legitimacy of lawful ownership of firearms by responsible citizens for uses such as sports shooting, hunting, and collecting.

The Liberals have moved forward with an Arms Trade Treaty that does not respect the legitimate trade or use of hunting and sporting firearms. We are concerned that little or no consultation with lawful gun owners was undertaken by the Liberals before they unilaterally decided to accede to this treaty. That brings to mind a meeting I held in my own constituency early in September, when I met with gun owners throughout my constituency and had a workshop with them. This bill was raised by those individuals in discussions.

They are the ones that were concerned about whether the government would be bringing in a backdoor gun registry again, as my colleague from Kawartha Lakes just mentioned. This is a concern that is on people's minds, not only in my constituency. My colleague from Yorkton—Melville has mentioned as well that there was a concern in her area, my neighbouring constituency in Saskatchewan.

There are a number of reasons Canadians are feeling they cannot possibly trust the Liberal government when it comes to some of these areas, or they have concerns about some of the things that might be in this bill. That is because the government has already not fulfilled some of the other promises they made, and have driven extensive legislation out of the way to overtax citizens in Canada. The carbon tax, the implementation of the corporate tax laws it is looking at, are some examples, and of course, the idea there may be a gun registry coming back.

From the discussions and calls I have received since that meeting in Brandon three weeks ago on gun registries, Bill C-47, and the thoughts on them, we have also seen a much more driven focus by the Liberal government to tax. It is trying to bring in corporate tax changes on small businesses, medium-sized farming operations, and family farming operations. There is much concern in our rural areas about driving away professionals such as doctors, which are already in short supply.

With those concerns, I will not be supporting Bill C-47.

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September 28th, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.
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Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, before my hon. colleague's speech took a bit of a detour at the end, he was effectively affirming what we have been saying in this House over the past two days of debate on this bill. What this bill would do is keep in place a record-keeping regime that has existed since the 1940s, existed under the previous Conservative government, and in no way affects lawful gun ownership in Canada.

He referenced the brokering controls that come into place under the accession to the ATT in Bill C-47, a system that would mimic the regime that has been in place since the 1940s. All we are saying is that Canada has a role to play in ensuring the brokering of conventional arms that often enter into conflict zones, where they are used for terrible purposes, is something we as a country should be stepping up to the plate to help better oversee and monitor.

Bill C-47 is a commitment to strengthen Canada's role in the arms export regime. It does nothing to law-abiding gun owners in Canada. Does the member realize that early on his speech he effectively affirmed just that?

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September 28th, 2017 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak against Bill C-47, An Act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code (amendments permitting the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty and other amendments).

As Conservatives, our party has always supported efforts to establish international standards for arms transfer that help prevent illicit transfers that fuel conflict, encourage terrorism, or organized crime.

There is nothing new here. The argument is around what the bill could do and whether it is really needed, and whether it is fair and effective. I will be addressing the bill from these standpoints.

However, we also believe that any treaty should recognize and acknowledge the legitimacy of lawful ownership of firearms by responsible Canadian citizens for their personal and recreational use, including sport shooting, hunting, and collecting. This is a focal point in this whole argument, so how can we agree to any act that would not at least address some internal issues that really matter to our own citizens in Canada? That is a very important element that we should address and pay attention to.

As such, this bill is ineffective and unfair. I will address those points. This bill would establish controls over brokering in military goods between two countries outside Canada, create a legal obligation on the Minister of Foreign Affairs to consider certain assessment criteria before authorizing permits, and increase the maximum fine under the EIPA from $25,000 to $250,000 for summary conviction offences. The ATT assigns the primary responsibility of all states in establishing and implementing their respective national control systems. Article 5 of the ATT requires bringing DND into the export control system.

At the outset we know that Canada has a very responsible internal system to monitor and control the export of military and security equipment, a system that meets or exceeds the UN treaty.

Based on that, we are ahead of the game and ahead of the world in how we address certain issues. The question that comes to mind is, why are we entertaining something that is less important, less effective, and also far behind? Are we taking a step forward here, or are we taking a step backwards?

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September 28th, 2017 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

I do not think so. I think this bill is ineffective because the Trade Controls Bureau already regulates the trade under the Export and Import Permits Act, which since 1947 has allowed the minister to prevent the supply of military equipment to countries for a variety of reasons, including if they are a security threat, are involved in internal or external conflict, or are under sanction by the United Nations.

Our regime already addresses the issue of countries under sanction by the United Nations. We are already ahead of the game, addressing and working with the United Nations. I cannot understand why this bill is necessary. It repeats existing work. It is definitely not a progressive move, but a regressive one.

Somebody has to stand up and raise the flag and ask, “Why are we doing this?”

Second, specific items are already heavily restricted by Canada. They include military or strategic dual use goods, including nuclear energy materials and technology, missiles, chemical or biological goods, and cryptological equipment. What is new? What would Bill C-47 do for us that we have not already been doing for a long time? In the 70 years since 1947, we have been ahead of the world. Therefore, if I do not call this a total waste of time, I would call it an unnecessary and time-consuming shift in focus.

Third, we are already tracking and recording more than is required under the ATT. The Canada Border Services Agency and Statistics Canada collect information on all items exported from Canada and classifies these items using categories negotiated by the World Customs Organization. Again, we have data. The ATT does not share data, which is something we also have to pay attention to. When we have our own data, we control our borders. We have all these high standards, so why should we, under any circumstance, take a step backward?

In addition, Canada can also utilize a blanket ban on trade with risky countries through the use of the area control list under the Export and Import Permits Act. Through an act of the Governor in Council, a country can be placed on the list. North Korea, at present, is an example. In the past, we have included Belarus and Myanmar on that list. Again, Canada's role has always been ahead of the international community's and on those measures. We have always been there, and our role has been a fine example to the rest of the international community, with all due respect to the United Nations itself.

Also, a very interesting point I should be bringing up is that major countries that represent the majority of sales of military equipment have declined to sign the agreement. This is evidence of why the bill is ineffective. If three of the top six countries that export military equipment are not in the treaty, logically speaking the treaty would be very ineffective. Therefore, we had better stick to our system, which we can control. It is a system that we created and under which we have been ahead of the whole world for 70 years.

The Department of National Defence, as a department of the crown, is traditionally exempt from the export control system. Exports of military aid or government-to-government gifts do not require authorization and occur without oversight by Canadian export control officials. Article 5 of the ATT would require bringing DND into the export control system.

On a final note, the bill is unfair. It is unfair to our citizens. It seems like the government is only working on improving its image, without paying attention to the interests of law-abiding Canadians, like hunters and sport shooters.

Another important argument I would bring to the House is that the government has not consulted Canadians. Where is the consultation? Where is the government that consults on everything? Why did it not consult on this with law-abiding Canadians?

Moreover, what are the benefits? There are no benefits. It is a total waste of time to even go that route. We could pay attention to more important stuff instead of just repeating something again and again. It is not a step forward. It is a step backward.

In summary, I have spoken on two important elements in regard to the bill: its ineffectiveness and its unfairness.

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September 28th, 2017 / 1:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Mr. Speaker, I just want to bring this to the attention of the House. We all remember former minister Baird as a great guy who represented a Toronto riding. This is just something that his office said. He wanted to have fairness for law-abiding hunters and sportsmen. One of the reasons we signed on to the original agreement was the desire to exempt sports hunters and sports shooters, etc. However, that did not happen and that is why we could not sign it. Former minister Baird referred to how afraid the Liberal Party was of being branded as re-establishing that registry because it has a lot of rural ridings. He said that it does not make sense to abolish that registry only to support one internationally. That is exactly why we are opposed to Bill C-47.

Does my hon. colleague think it is okay on the one hand as a government to get rid of a registry that nobody seemed to like in Canada, and that was brought in by a former Liberal government, and then establish another one internationally? Does he think that is okay?

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September 28th, 2017 / 1:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak today to second reading of Bill C-47, an act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code with amendments permitting the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty and other amendments.

This legislation is of concern to law-abiding firearms owners in my constituency of Battle River—Crowfoot. Many of us own firearms, and we use them on our farms and ranches as tools for rodent control and so on. We also enjoy sport shooting.

The Liberals' firearms laws have cost us dearly over the past decades. They have cost us considerable worry and paperwork. They have cost money that many of my constituents just do not have to spend on renewing licenses and filling out application forms and more.

Once again we see the Liberals pandering to the United Nations in their attempt to win a seat on the UN Security Council. The Liberal government is desperate for that seat and is willing to do anything to ingratiate itself with anyone who might cast a vote in favour of Canada's becoming a member.

The Liberals have snooped around and have found a military equipment treaty that Canada has yet to ratify, and that is what Bill C-47 is about. The Liberal government is forcing Canada to meet certain obligations contained in this treaty. Canada will be required to implement brokering controls. Under the proposed bill, brokering is defined as arranging or negotiating a transaction that relates to the movement of goods or technology on a brokering control list from one foreign country to another foreign country.

Our previous Conservative government did not ratify this treaty because it was really a treaty that was written for other nations. Canada is recognized as having a very responsible internal system to monitor and control the export of military and security equipment that meets or exceeds the United Nations treaty.

Canada's Trade Controls Bureau regulates the Export and Import Permits Act, which since 1947 has allowed the minister to prevent the supply of military equipment to countries for a variety of reasons, countries that are a security threat or are involved in internal or external conflict or are under sanctions of the United Nations. Canada can decide whether or not it will export to those countries.

Specific items that are already heavily restricted by Canada include military or strategic dual-use goods; nuclear energy materials and technology; missile technology; chemical and biological goods; and many other kinds of equipment. Treaties are already there for these goods.

Canada is already tracking and recording more than required under the treaty. The Canada Border Services Agency and Statistics Canada collect information on all items exported from Canada and classify the items using categories negotiated by the World Customs Organization.

Canada can also utilize a blanket ban on trade with high-risk countries through the use of the area control list under the Export and Import Permits Act. Although it takes an act of the Governor in Council, a country can be placed on that list. North Korea is currently on that list. In the past the list has included Belarus and Myanmar, as my colleague from Brandon—Souris mentioned.

Major countries that represent the majority of the sales of military equipment, Russia and the United States, have either not signed on to the treaty or have not and likely will not ratify it.

Why did I go through those four items that already show that Canada has the opportunity to regulate and to watch a country? I did it because this legislation is simply overkill. That is why the United States is not going with it. That is why Russia and other countries are not likely to ratify the agreement, although they may have signed on to it.

As with many ineffective international treaties, the key participants in the arms trade are not part of the treaty, but the Liberals want Canada to sign this treaty anyway. Why on earth do the Liberals want Canada to sign on to a treaty that was not designed with Canada in mind and is focused on other countries? Who knows why the Liberals would bring this legislation forward?

I can tell the House why I believe they did and I will tell the House in a few moments exactly what my constituents believe the Liberals are up to.

I believe this treaty will affect Canada in a negative way. Let me give the House a couple of examples.

The Department of National Defence, as a department of the crown, is traditionally exempted from the export control system. Bill C-47 would force the Department of National Defence to adhere to erroneous sections of export control systems like never before, but the Liberals do not really care about that. They just want to be able to say that Canada has ratified this United Nations agreement, this UN treaty. The United Nations will indeed be surprised, because former Prime Minister Stephen Harper declined to put Canada through this, and the international community understood why he said “no thanks” and accepted it.

We were not pushed into this. The folks at the UN will be surprised that of all things, the current Prime Minister is willingly and feverishly and actively trying to ratify this treaty. Many at the UN will consider this dusting off of an old treaty rather odd, but they will recognize that it is simply the Prime Minister desperately trying to do something, and in this case it may be that he might be able to get a few extra votes for the United Nations Security Council. They will understand and see right through this disingenuous offer to ratify.

Right now exports of military aid or government-to-government gifts do not require authorization and occur without oversight by Canadian export control officials, but with the passage of Bill C-47, Canada will be required to bring our Department of National Defence into the export control system. In other words, our national defence will now be under this agreement. This arrangement would actually work against helping other nations. It will burden Canada whenever we want to help other nations. The Department of National Defence will have more red tape—a lot more, perhaps—to cut through before we can provide the goods or services we used to be able to provide without hesitation.

How does this fit with “Canada is back”? The Prime Minister is actually putting Canada in a much more difficult position. Canada is one step back with the Prime Minister making the statement, but he has set Canada two steps back when it comes to being able to help other countries. The Prime Minister said Canada is here to help, but again, the bill would add more red tape and require the Department of National Defence to do much more.

The Liberals are denying that they are launching any new form of gun registry with the bill. However, there is a requirement for exporters or importers to retain records in a specific electronic file for a period of up to six years. This file must be made available to the ministry upon its request at any point of time. Again, my constituents question whether this requirement does not create some kind of a registry. Does this not create a registry that would be available to the minister in electronic form, naming firearms and the people who have them?

The information has to contain all the particulars pertaining to the sale, import, or export of a firearm. As well, the information does not just deal with firearms alone—

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 21st, 2017 / 10:05 a.m.
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Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, our government believes that regulating the international arms trade is essential for the protection of people and human rights. This is especially true for control and regulation that aim to prevent the illicit trade of arms.

The Arms Trade Treaty is about protecting people. It ensures countries effectively regulate the international trade of arms so that they are not used to support terrorism, international organized crime, gender-based violence, human rights abuses, or violations of international humanitarian law. Our government is committed to advancing export controls as a means of reducing the risks that come from the illicit trade in conventional arms. Joining the ATT, which calls on all of its state parties to set up effective export controls, is the next important step in advancing these export controls and reducing these risks.

Joining the Arms Trade Treaty will put Canada back on the same page as its closest partners and allies. Canada is the only NATO ally and the only G7 partner that has not signed or ratified the ATT.

The Arms Trade Treaty was negotiated in response to growing international concern about the direct and indirect consequences of the global arms trade on conflict, human rights, and development.

The goal is to ensure that all states take responsibility and rigorously assess arms exports. States must also regulate the legal arms trade and use transparent measures to combat illicit trade.

We recognize that unregulated or illicit arms transfers intensify and prolong conflict, lead to regional instability, contribute to violations of international humanitarian law and humans rights abuses, and hinder social and economic development.

Indeed, the proliferation of weapons, and particularly of small arms and light weapons, is one of the greatest security challenges faced by the international community. Armed conflicts affect civilians. Women and children are too frequently targeted or are innocent victims.

The consequences of illicit or irresponsible flows of conventional arms also go beyond the immediate threat of death, injury, or violence. Proliferation and illicit weapons trade contribute to a climate of persistent fear and insecurity, which undermines socio-economic growth and stability.

The Arms Trade Treaty has an important role to play in addressing these issues. Canada must be a leader in this effort, and we must lead by example.

The ATT represents the first time that the international community has agreed to a legally binding and global commitment to control exports of conventional arms. It sets a high common standard for export of arms, and seeks to eliminate illicit trade and diversion of conventional arms.

States acceding to the ATT must assess the risk that an export might be used negatively, including for human rights abuses or to contribute to organized crime. This is not always black and white. It requires looking not only at the state as a whole but also at who will take possession of the weapon, their track record, the risk that the weapon could be diverted from the purpose intended when it was exported, and other similar factors.

The ATT also requires states to consider mitigation measures to address identified risks. This treaty is very clear. If there is no way to ensure that a given export will not pose a serious threat to human rights or be used to violate international humanitarian laws or perpetrate international terrorism or crime, it must be forbidden.

Therefore, Bill C-47 would further strengthen Canada's existing processes in relation to the global movement of arms. Our changes, including those to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty, will make Canada's export control system even more robust, and will ensure a continued high standard for addressing the pressing issue of arms proliferation around the globe.

Canada’s existing export control system complies with 26 of the 28 provisions of the Arms Trade Treaty. In that sense, some changes are needed to bring Canada into full compliance with the two articles of the treaty where we fall short, namely, article 7, export and export assessment, and article 10, brokering.

One of the things the bill before us does is introduce the necessary legislative changes to ensure that we meet our ATT obligations.

Article 7 of the Arms Trade Treaty establishes common, clear, and rigorous standards regarding the factors that states must take into account before authorizing the export of any items subject to the ATT. These factors include an assessment of the potential that Canadian exports could be used to commit serious violations of human rights law or international humanitarian law, as well as the potential that the exports could fall into the hands of criminals or terrorists.

The ATT is the first arms control treaty that focuses specifically on the issue of gender-based violence and violence against women and children, issues that are very important to our government. These criteria are designed to ensure that Canada assesses the risks associated with the export of a given product or piece of technology regarding the intended end use and end user.

Bill C-47 will also ensure that Canada can fulfill the stipulations of article 10 of the ATT, which requires that every state regulate brokering. Brokering captures the transfer of arms without an export permit. The provisions of the bill ensure that Canadians who arrange the transfer of arms between a second and a third country follow the same rules as those who export arms outside Canada.

Regulating brokering activities will give our government the ability to monitor the activities of individuals and organizations that serve as intermediaries between arms dealers and the end users of military goods.

Moreover, these brokering permit requirements would also apply extraterritorially, meaning they would apply to Canadians engaged in brokering activities abroad. This additional capability will allow us to have a better idea of the types of brokering control list transfers involving Canadians that occur globally and to bring a greater level of visibility on potentially high-risk transactions brokered by Canadians.

Our government intends to go beyond the standards set by the Arms Trade Treaty and ensure that brokering regulations cover not only the conventional weapons covered by the ATT but also military articles and dual-use items that are likely destined to a weapon of mass destruction end use.

Requiring permits for brokering would ensure that comparable levels of scrutiny would also be applied to brokering activities. As a result, Canadian export permit authorities can better assess the risks of potential arms transfers before they occur to determine their suitability, and to deny a permit for such transfers where there is an overriding risk of the negative consequences of one of the export permit criteria, including the risk of serious violation of international human rights law or international humanitarian law.

I would like to point out that there is a legitimate role for brokers who arrange or facilitate sales for reputable arms manufacturers. Unfortunately, there are also those who do not act responsibly and who choose instead to profit from the sales of arms, even though they know that they will fall into the wrong hands.

Internationally, there are far too many cases where unscrupulous arms dealers put profits ahead of human life. Transactions facilitated by those dealers have given rise to the transfer of firearms to conflict zones, in direct violation of United Nations firearms embargoes, and to terrorist or criminal groups. This legislation will make it possible for responsible Canadian dealers to hold permits and conduct legal activities. It will ensure that those who choose to act unethically will also end up acting illegally.

Beyond the changes required by the ATT, the bill will enhance Canada's export and import controls by addressing the issue of penalties imposed on individuals who try to circumvent Canadian law and regulations. The bill will increase the maximum fine for a summary conviction offence from $25,000 to $250,000 for any offence under the Export and Import Permits Act. Increasing the maximum penalty underscores the seriousness of these offences that contribute directly to destabilizing accumulations of weapons and technologies in conflict zones around the world.

Let me reiterate that these new measures would ensure that our government will be better able to pursue bad-faith actors and hold them to account. At the same time, Canada would be in a better position to review bona fide arms transfers to legitimate end-users. Canada would also be able to effectively penalize those who would try to circumvent these processes.

I would like to make it clear that Canada's accession to the Arms Trade Treaty does not and would not affect domestic ownership of firearms or Canada's domestic firearms laws and policies. The ATT would govern the import and export of conventional arms, not the trade in sporting and hunting firearms owned and used by law-abiding Canadian citizens.

However, the ATT does not limit the number or type of arms a country can sell. The ATT simply requires states to establish rigorous export controls of the kind that Canada already has in place to ensure that exports are not put to unforeseen harmful use.

The ATT is not a one-size-fits-all system. It recognizes that states' export control systems must meet their national needs. It does not prevent states from including expedited processes in their export control systems, as Canada does for close allies, such as the United States.

The government will ensure that exports are assessed in accordance with the criteria set out in the ATT and that they do not violate the prohibitions in the treaty.

Turning now to the Export and Import Permits Act and to the Criminal Code, we have indicated to Canadians that our government is committed to strengthening Canada's export controls with respect to military and strategic goods and technology. This bill and our commitment to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty are part of our promise to increase the rigour of Canada's export-control system. As members are aware, Canada already has a robust export control system. We are a key member of a number of export control and non-proliferation regimes that allow us to exchange information on trends in arms movement and on best practices with our allies.

In addition, Canada has a strong sanctions regime that includes sanctions related to the export or sale of arms. Canadian sanctions are part of a multilateral action. They reflect the work we do in concert with our allies. Sanctions are implemented in Canada through the United Nations Act or the Special Economic Measures Act.

Canada has its own financial intelligence unit with respect to illicit financing of arms. The mandate of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada is to facilitate the detection, prevention, and deterrence of money laundering and the financing of terrorist activities. Our government is taking steps to ensure that these new obligations do not unduly hinder or restrict legitimate transfers of military, dual-use, and other strategic items that are aligned with our national interests and do not pose undue risk.

It is the government's intention to apply the ATT assessment criteria not only to those goods specifically outlined in the ATT, but also to all dual-use, military, and strategic goods. Our government will also apply the ATT assessment criteria to both export and brokering permit applications. We will thus exceed the standards set by the ATT, and strengthen our export control system at the same time. Indeed, our government intends to see Canada establish a particularly high standard when it comes to gender-based violence and violence against women and children. The fact that this issue was included in the treaty is a clear sign of the power of advocacy by states like Canada who are determined to address gender-based violence.

While this is given less attention and consideration in the ATT than other criteria, Canada intends to propose including gender-based violence in the regulations, applying a higher standard, and assessing the risks related to gender-based violence to a broader set of exports than those defined within the ATT. These new measures would ensure that our government is better able to pursue bad-faith actors and hold them to account. Canada would also be better able to effectively penalize those who would try to circumvent these processes.

Canadian businesses would still be able to conduct legitimate transactions in pursuit of Canadian strategic and defence interests and the strategic interests of our allies.

Finally, these changes would allow Canada to meet its international obligations and accede to the ATT. I encourage all my colleagues here today to seek to advance this bill rapidly so that Canada can once again take its rightful place with its international partners as a state party to the Arms Trade Treaty.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 21st, 2017 / 10:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, it is my honour to rise today to debate Bill C-47, particularly after the speech from the parliamentary secretary, which ended with incorrect information to this place in response to the question from the member for the NDP. Actually, Canada would be worse off than it was before. He said that this would send Canada ahead with respect to the aims of the treaty. That is not only incorrect on the factual review of the treaty itself, but it shows the parliamentary secretary's lack of understanding of our current arms control regime in Canada.

Therefore, for his benefit, and for the benefit of the few of my Liberal friends listening, I will take him through that.

The bill is part of the Liberal's election promise to implement the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, the ATT, which has been debated in the UN, has been brought forward, and signed by some countries but not by others.

My remarks will focus on four key points. Three of those go to the inferior nature of the ATT when compared, side by side, with what Canada does now, and did do under the previous Conservative government, the Liberal government previous to that, and so on, back to the 1940s. I will give three points on how it is inferior and a final point on its inherent unfairness, lack of clarity, and over breadth.

First, this is inferior to what Canada does now under the Export and Import Permits Act and the regulations and orders in council that can be brought forward by government under that legislation. I hope the parliamentary secretary will take notes, because he will need to research this after I go through some of it.

The first point I make is on the Trade Controls Bureau.

We empower a department of the government, and have since the 1940s, to ensure that military equipment sales, issues related to security, crypto logical equipment, and nuclear biological risks are not only governed and tracked but are controlled. We have a bureau already, not in New York, in Ottawa, that has been doing this very effectively for many years. The Trade Controls Bureau has been empowered and does this for each Parliament. I would invite the member to look at the Trade Controls Bureau and see how we specifically address, track, and control trade in military equipment, other items of security, or other interests. All Parliaments have done it. Both Liberal and Conservative governments have done it.

My second point is that we specifically name, from a Canadian point of view, items for export that need to be tracked and controlled. I will review what those are for the member because they are called out specifically.

Military or strategic dual use goods, so some goods that can be used for a military or civilian purpose, are specifically tracked. Other items are nuclear energy materials and technology; missile related technology; chemical or biological goods; and crypto logical equipment and code breaking, particularly in the age of the Internet. Many companies in Canada are world leaders in this technology, like SecureKey and others. We already monitor, control, and, in many cases, restrict export of these technologies.

One problem in the past that we know of was that a previous government, the government of Pierre Trudeau, had some issues when nuclear technology was traded for peaceful use and was tracked, but unfortunately may have been used to develop capabilities with respect to weaponized use of that technology.

I use that as a point of reference to show how, over many Parliaments, Canada has done this. We did not wait for the United Nations. Had we done that, it would have been a bit of a lawless west. As a responsible parliamentary democracy, Canada has been doing this.

I invite the member to review the specific items controlled under the Export and Import Permits Act that we charge the Trade Controls Bureau to monitor.

My third point on how our existing system is superior to an inferior UN treaty is the tracking.

The items I just outlined, including military equipment, cryptological, nuclear, and biological, are tracked by both the Canada Border Services Agency and by Statistics Canada, and not just under our own reference points. We use the World Customs Organization tracking figures for these items. We track and limit the trade in these items far more than what the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty does.

An article in Ceasefire magazine calls the UN's ATT a failure. The third item it tracked was its lack of transparency. There is no tracking internationally under this treaty. Canada already does it.

I hope the parliamentary secretary rewrites the notes the government has been passing around on the bill, because they do not accord with our legislative record or Canada's responsible treatment of controlled technologies, including not only military but nuclear technology as well.

Canada was the fourth country to have controlled nuclear fission. We have 70,000 people in Canada that work in this area. Our CANDU technology is the best in the world in capability and its safety record. We have taken this very seriously since the 1940s and we track according to the World Customs Organization tracking codes for each of those items.

I have a fourth point at which I would invite the Liberals to look.

Right now, we have what is called an area of control list under the Export and Import Permits Act. That empowerment in the bill, through an order in council, can specifically limit sales of anything to a country. Right now the only country on the area control list is North Korea, and it is probably very good it is on there. I would agree with the government if it wants to keep that country on the list. In the past, the area control list has included Belarus and Myanmar.

Not only do we already have a system of controls, tracking, and itemization that is far superior to what is proposed in the bill, our legislation as it stands in Canada can ban a country entirely. That is a tool the government can use if it is about control of anything, not just our controlled items that I have said are tracked.

The cabinet is charged with making decisions on why countries should be removed from that list. As Myanmar opened up, it was removed from that list. It was the same with Belarus. However, we still have to track. We see problems in Myanmar right now with respect to Rohingya. Perhaps the civilian oversight of the miliary is not quite as it would seem.

The Liberal government has within its power now, not by the United Nations treaty, to limit entirely sales to a country. I would invite the parliamentary secretary to review that.

Finally, like many UN treaties, the main players are not part of the treaty. In global arms trade, there are six countries and they are called the “big six”. Three of those countries are not part of this treaty. I am not worried, because Canada's regime, as I have been describing to the House, is superior to this treaty.

The treaty came as an election promise by the Liberals, but I want them to see that what Canada is doing now, and has been doing responsibly, is superior. If we want the UN to have the tracking, to have the transparency, we should be pushing to have these discussions before a treaty is brought forward. Many MPs on both sides of the House want to ensure that Canada adheres to its Export and Import Permits Act, so they need to know what a good job it is already doing.

Finally, another inferior part, and quite frankly short-sighted part of the UN ATT is article 5, which would suddenly include the Department of National Defence into the military equipment provisions of that treaty, preventing, or in some cases limiting, government to government transfers. We have never had to catch DND within our own export and import permits regime, because DND is the government. It is a crown ministry. It is part of the crown.

Therefore, if we want to do military-to-military aid, perhaps sending training materials to the peshmerga that our special forces are working with and training, this measure would encumber that process. I am quite sure that most Canadians believe that DND is responsible for its own equipment. Why then would we catch them in a treaty that most groups are calling a failure anyway, which does not involve three of the big six players in terms of the global arms trade?

Finally, I have listed five or six items demonstrating that what Bill C-47 proposes is actually inferior to what Canada is already doing.

The last item is about unfairness, and this where the politics of it come in. Just as we are seeing with small business, there is no consultation on concerns about overbreadth or the fact that hunters, sport shooters, or recreational users under a regulated regime of lawful firearm use could be caught within the confines of the measures in this bill. I have placed this last because, while the parliamentary secretary insists it is not the case, all industry groups insist it is, but without consultation, how does the parliamentary secretary know?

It is clear that he does not understand the export and import permit regime. Maybe he knows a little more about it now, which I think is part of why we have debate now in the House of Commons. It is to show that regulation in Canada is in many ways superior to what is done anywhere else in the world, including the United Nations. Before we even talk about what the UNATT does, we should talk about what Canada is doing already, and whether it is insufficient to limit and track items that we consider potentially dangerous: military equipment, nuclear technology, chemicals, biologicals, cryptology, or anything that could adversely impact our national interest.

On the last point, the cryptological sales, we have seen the current government green-light sales to China of pretty much any technology out there. I would suggest that some of these technology trades occurred without the proper oversight, without the full review that is normally done. For some reason those reviews were waived in the case of one of the most recent sales to China. Those reviews are important, because technology is actually the threat of the future to the public safety and security of Canada and our allies, and Bill C-47 does not address that.

As I have said, particularly on my third point on transparency, this treaty is inferior. Civil society groups out there have called this treaty a failure, particularly because of its lack of transparency, and as I said, our Trade Controls Bureau has been empowered for two generations to track the sale and control of goods that Canadians deem important.

On that final note, this hearkens back for me, as a member of Parliament for a suburban riding that has a rural element, to the lack of consultation on the last element, on which Canadians have genuine concerns about whether their lawful and regulated use of a firearm for hunting or sport shooting could be impacted. The parliamentary secretary uses the words “phony argument” when we suggest that. I would invite him to go hunting with someone outside of Fredericton and see if they are being phony about their concerns. What we need is consultation to see if my concerns are overinflated or if the parliamentary secretary is being dismissive. I am not suggesting that I know, but as a lawyer, I will tell members that overbreadth or lack of clarity in law is a failure in itself.

The last government made interventions with respect to the negotiation of this treaty on many fronts, and one was a simple and reasonable carve-out of regulated civilian firearms use. I do not know why that was not pursued by the UN when there is zero transparency. However, as I said, fortunately our existing regime has transparency, while this treaty has zero.

While things were watered down as this was negotiated by the United Nations, while three of the big countries that are actual players in global trade are not part of this regime, while those issues were going through the negotiations, a simple and effective carve-out of the legitimate, historical, and cultural use of firearms was not carved out, for whatever reason.

Some of the cases before the Supreme Court of Canada on inherent rights of our indigenous peoples relate to hunting and fishing. This is as cultural as the earliest peoples of this land. Certainly, most people in this House think of the hunter in the duck blind and that sort of consideration, but the inherent right for our first nations to hunt, in both modern and traditional ways, is a constitutional protection.

Would it not be reasonable to carve that out in a treaty that on many fronts is inferior to what Canada is already doing? I really hope the parliamentary secretary and other members of his caucus refrain from that divisive language suggesting that even having a reasonable concern is somehow phony. The last time I saw that degree of arrogance in the Liberal Party, it was from a member from Toronto named Allan Rock, who polarized Canadians by suggesting that people who were law-abiding hunters or sport shooters were somehow a public safety hazard for Canada.

I know some of my Liberal friends, including from rural parts like Yukon and Labrador, know how much it hurt Canadians for the government to suggest that bringing in a licensing and registry system for people who were already trained and responsible was going to have an impact on crime. It became a divisive, rural-urban issue. This Parliament, as much as it can, should try to have debates that do not quickly revert to that approach.

I have been hard on my friend, the parliamentary secretary. I know in Fredericton, especially with the base there—and I know he supports our men and women in uniform—he knows that culturally a lot of people find hunting and fishing to be a way of life, so if they have a concern, I think it is valid to consider that concern.

It is also a valid question to ask the United Nations why, when transparency provisions were wiped out in the negotiations over the ATT, a simple reference providing explicit exclusion for law-abiding and regulated use by hunters and sport shooters, as we do in Canada very effectively, was not provided for. That is a failure of this treaty. Certainly groups out there that still have this concern want to know that the government is at least hearing them and is not suggesting that it is a phony argument. I am hoping, as we debate this bill over the coming days, that we can talk about it in those terms, and that we can talk about it from a starting point of what Canada is doing now.

As a parliamentary purist, I have great respect for our parliamentary democracy, in both Houses and on both sides. This is where we debate the laws and regulations that govern Canadians. When we can work with our allies at NATO or the United Nations to help limit arms sales to North Korea or to places where there is conflict or so that we do not exacerbate someone's pursuit of technology that could be harmful, of course we would do that. We always have. However, we should also make sure, as parliamentarians, to remind Canadians that the starting point for Canada with respect to regulating, tracking, and limiting the export of military equipment and biological-chemical dangerous items is already superior to most of the world. If we do not start from that basis, I do not think we are being fair in this debate.

The final point I will make before I close is that it is not elevating debate in this House to suggest that if the Canadian Shooting Sports Association has a concern about overbreadth, their concern is somehow phony. I hope we have a debate that is better than that, and that we have the context of the Export and Import Permits Act regime to underline a debate on Bill C-47.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 21st, 2017 / 10:55 a.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, I too enjoy when the Minister of Transport weighs in on things. I enjoyed his interventions much more when he was sitting on this side as opposed to that side, but that is the way Parliament works. I have the utmost respect for him.

In that list of items, one thing I found absent was our world-leading position as a country in space and some of our technology related to space. I know the minister knows the issue far better than anyone in the House.

In the last government, the sale of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates was prevented because of national security concerns. The member liked some of the arguments I made and did not like others.

Why did I sound defensive? It was because the parliamentary secretary ended his question and comment period in French by saying that this was going to be taking what Canada is doing to the next regime. I was listening without translation and from a distance, but he was leaving the effect that the regime Canada had in place was somehow inferior to Bill C-47.

My speech was intended to show that it is not. In fact, our tracking is far superior, and because of uncertainty—and with respect, I do think it is genuine, although he may suggest it is not genuine—all groups that have hunters and sports shooters, including indigenous hunters and sports shooters, who have a constitutional right for that, think it is unreasonable that one definition could not go in this treaty to carve out responsible and legal firearm use. To coin a term, I think that is a modest proposal, but because we do not have that carve-out and because I hear the language of the nineties creeping back in, I oppose the bill. However, I rest easy at night because our regime in place now is already doing more than this treaty would.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 21st, 2017 / 11:55 a.m.
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NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, on behalf of the other Liberals who are not allowed to speak, I wonder if at some point the member could share a little of the space here. He has been here a while. So many new Liberal MPs have told me how keen they are to speak in the House of Commons. Some of our time is taken up by my friend, over and over again, regardless of the bill.

Very specifically, on this piece of legislation, the government has said we should not sell arms to countries that flout human rights abuses, yet, under Bill C-47, there is a provision, a loophole, that allows Canadian arms to be manufactured here in Canada then sent through the United States and on to those very same countries, particularly because Donald Trump feels they are okay, and he is looking to make a deal and wants to sell more weapons.

We could, at committee, allow a provision that would say that if we cannot sell directly to a country like Nigeria, which we cannot, then we cannot sell indirectly to a country like Nigeria through the United States. That seems like a reasonable and consistent position to take. Otherwise, the Liberals would be open to the accusation of hypocrisy to say they will not look, but will continue to practice abusing human rights using Canadian armaments to do it.

I think my friend, who says he is very knowledgeable about the ATT and the bill, would see that as a glaring error in its construction right now. This loophole through the U.S., with the current administration, which I hope my friend does not agree with when it comes to human rights or respect for international law in the vision of Donald Trump, should be closed. We should not allow Canadian weapons to be diverted through the United States, and then on to regimes that Canada does not support, nor respect.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 21st, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak to Bill C-47, an issue that is important bill to members on all sides of the House.

The Arms Trade Treaty holds the record for the quickest entry into force of any arms control treaty. It is a sign of the great importance that the international community attaches to this treaty that it reached the required number of ratifications required to enter into force so quickly.

The ATT now has 91 state parties and a further 42 states have signed on but have not yet ratified the treaty. It is now time to add Canada to the number of state parties. Canada has long sought to advance export controls as a means of reducing the risks that can come from illicit trade in conventional arms. Joining the ATT, which calls on all state parties to set up effective export controls, is a natural step. Canada's accession to the ATT would further demonstrate to all Canadians, from coast to coast to coast, and to the international community our commitment to tackle the risks associated with irresponsible and illicit trade in conventional weapons.

Canada, however, cannot fulfill the global aims of the ATT alone. Universalization of the ATT is essential to its success. The ATT, if broadly adopted internationally, can contribute substantially to global peace and security.

Terrorists rely on access to arms largely from illicit or poorly controlled sources. Transnational crime both uses and profits from illicit arms trade. Conflict and instability is fuelled by easy access to conventional weapons. All of these scenarios can and will be reduced, if not stopped, by preventing these weapons from being illegally traded or diverted. This is what the ATT aims to achieve. Ensuring that the treaty fulfills its promise requires the widest possible adherence and effective implementation around the world.

It is important to note that properly regulated arms trade does not prevent states from meeting their legitimate defence and security needs. The treaty recognizes there is a legitimate place for international arms trade when it is undertaken responsibly and with carefully crafted controls. In accepting international norms for the transfer of arms, ATT state parties have struck a balance between national security interests, including legitimate uses of weapons, and the need to address the consequences of unregulated trade in conventional weapons.

Canada has a role to play in advancing the universalization of the Arms Trade Treaty. We have already begun to do so by participating as an observer in meetings of ATT state parties and by supporting multilateral efforts to encourage states to ratify or accede to the ATT.

Our work here today helps set an example for other states considering accession to the ATT.

First and foremost, we are demonstrating our commitment to full implementation of the treaty. Accession to the ATT is a relatively straightforward process for Canada. We already conform to the spirit of the treaty and have strong export controls in place. However, our government realizes we need to do more. There are elements of the ATT that Canada does not yet fully meet, notably, in regulating brokering, and we have taken a firm position that we will not accede to the ATT until we are fully compliant with it.

Second, we are committed to implementing the ATT in a manner that not only meets but exceeds the requirements of the treaty. Bill C-47 would further strengthen the rigour of our export controls to meet and, indeed, seek to exceed the obligations of the ATT. We intend to share this experience with other states in forthcoming meetings of the ATT.

However, leading by example is not enough. All ATT state parties must establish a national system for the control of arms. They must strengthen their laws, regulations, and enforcement mechanisms. Our government recognizes that implementing new legislative systems and export controls can be difficult, particularly for states that may not have significant previous experience in this field.

We are therefore committed to assisting other states that wish to join the ATT, or that have become state parties or are unable to fully implement the treaty. The government has therefore contributed $1 million to the UN Trust Facility Supporting Cooperation on Arms Regulation. The UNSCAR is a multi-donor flexible-funding mechanism to provide focused and effective support for the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty and the UN program of action on small arms and light weapons. Through this trust facility, Canada is working with other international partners and with the UN to help states accede to and effectively implement the ATT.

It is unfortunate that, to date, in several regions of the world where flows of conventional weapons contribute to high levels of conflict, there is still a low number of ATT state parties. The UN trust facility can also help these states improve their legislation, end-user controls, and management of weapon stockpiles. Its focus on gender and children further supports the goals of the ATT and can make a real contribution to those who are too often the victims of illicit trade in conventional weapons.

Of course, accession to the ATT alone cannot stop illicit weapons flows, which is why our government has also partnered with the international NGO small arms survey, contributing $224,000 to survey a list of weapons flow in the key region of the Libya-Chad-Sudan triangle. This survey is a starting point to implement concrete follow-on actions to reduce illicit arms flows along the pathways identified by the small arms survey. In doing so, we will contribute concretely to reducing access to weapons in a region where these conventional arms undermine security and socio-economic development. We will also promote international security by cutting out flows of arms to terrorists and criminal groups in the region.

Canada can play an important role in promoting the universalization of the ATT. However, we can only do so if we take a leadership role, which our government is doing on a number of fronts, in countering the proliferation of conventional weapons and promoting strong export controls as a means of ensuring that legitimate trade in conventional arms is conducted responsibly, something I am sure all members of the House desire. It is therefore essential that we rejoin our international partners and allies in their collective effort through the Arms Trade Treaty. Canada needs to be at the table.

It is time for Canada to promote internationally agreed standards for the arms trade that will reduce human suffering, help prevent arms from being used in serious violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law, and combat terrorism and organized crime.

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September 21st, 2017 / 12:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, the first thing I would like to say is that the Arms Trade Treaty does not and will not affect domestic ownership of firearms in Canada.

I grew up in northern British Columbia in the riding of Skeena—Bulkley Valley, which is represented by another individual in the House. A number of friends and family members are farmers and hunters who hunt for moose for two weeks with friends. It is something they do annually. It is a big fishing community, so the farmers and fishermen have my full support. Nothing in Bill C-47 would impede their privacy or right to purchase a hunting rifle or shotgun, or whichever weapon they choose to legally buy.

I would like to clarify and make sure everyone is on the same page with regard to individuals wishing to bring in a weapon from Italy, for example, such as a Beretta. Under Bill C-47, nothing would change in the process. The process remains absolutely unchanged for someone wishing to purchase a weapon in Italy, for example, and bring the weapon here to Canada. That needs to be pointed out to the members on the opposite side, because I keep hearing that and I want to make sure we put on the record that nothing changes.

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September 21st, 2017 / 12:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-47 and Canada's leadership on this issue and coming to the table with international partners not only on this issue but on a number of issues, including climate change, gender parity, and a number of fronts where we are leading the way, is very important. We can be at the table and help end suffering in certain areas of the world where conflict does exist, and a number of mechanisms in the bill will allow us to achieve this goal, which we should pursue on a day-by-day basis.

It is something that our government remains focused on. It ensures that Canada strengthens existing practices and becomes a party to the ATT, something that the previous government unfortunately failed to live up to its duty to do.

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September 21st, 2017 / 12:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, let me walk the member through the process. That is probably the best way I can do it.

The process that existed under the Conservatives would remain absolutely unchanged under Bill C-47. First, if someone wishes to purchase a weapon in Italy and then bring it to Canada, the individual must be at least 18 years old and have a possession and acquisition licence, a PAL, with a licence privilege for the classified arm that is being imported. Second, all firearms must be declared at Canadian customs and the applicable duties and taxes must be paid. Third, no import authorization for firearms that are not prohibited under Canadian law would be required. If the individual wanted to travel to Italy with a sporting or recreational firearm, he would need to apply for an export permit. This is the system that existed under the former government, and there is absolutely no change to that. It will be the system that exists under the current government, which I have the pleasure of serving with.

If the Italian government wanted to verify his permit, it would be done without providing personal information. Again, this is the same system that existed under the prior government, and Bill C-47 would not change that system under the current government.

I hope I have clarified that for the hon. member.

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September 21st, 2017 / 12:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Peace River, who will be speaking after me.

It is an honour to rise in this place to speak on Bill C-47, an act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code. As the government has signed the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, this bill takes steps to meet its obligations.

The Arms Trade Treaty is very broad in scope. It governs the trade in everything from small arms to main battle tanks, as well as combat aircraft. In fact, article 5 of the treaty explicitly requests that the treaty be applied to “the broadest range of conventional arms.” Why illegal hunting rifles should be regulated by the same treaty as an attack helicopter is still a little unclear to me, but perhaps the hon. members opposite have figured it out.

Given the treaty's unfortunately broad scope, the process of meeting Canada's obligations under this treaty deserves close scrutiny. We need to ensure that law-abiding firearms owners are not negatively impacted.

To its credit, the Arms Trade Treaty is a treaty with laudable objectives. Preventing and eradicating the illicit trade in conventional arms is undoubtedly an admirable goal. Canada must not stand idly by as weapons flow to conflict zones, where they may be used to inflict horrific abuses on civilian populations and fuel terrorist organizations.

Conservatives have always been supportive of measures to establish international arms control standards. However, the government's own former minister, the hon. member for Saint-Laurent at the time, stated in June 2016 that “Canada already meets the vast majority of Arms Trade Treaty obligations." He also said, “In fact, the Arms Trade Treaty was designed to bring other countries up to the type of high standard that Canada already applies through its robust export control regime”.

These remarks do make me wonder at the wisdom of subjecting the arms industry to regulatory upheaval by signing the Arms Trade Treaty and introducing this bill. Apparently Canada was already more than compliant. It is important to remember that major arms exporters such as Pakistan, Russia, and China are not party to the treaty, which will limit its effectiveness in actually controlling the global arms trade.

It is also notable that contrary to the Liberals' talking points, Canada was not the only holdout on the bill in G7. Our closest trading partner and ally, the United States, has not ratified it, so we are far from alone in abstaining.

It is also troubling that the treaty's scope is extremely broad. It does not acknowledge the legitimate, lawful ownership of firearms for personal and recreational use. What is in the preamble is not in the treaty.

Nevertheless, I respect that the government at least has good intentions in contributing to the treaty's stated purposes of international peace, stability, and reducing human suffering.

With that said, I am the representative of a riding with a large rural population. I must question how lawful firearms could be affected by amendments this bill makes to the Export and Import Permits Act. Legal firearms in Canada are subject to an extensive, strict regulatory regime. The Firearms Act regulates the transportation, storage, and display of legal firearms by individuals. It also mandates the possession and acquisition licence. Further, firearms are currently listed in the Export and Import Permits Act as a controlled import.

Despite the government's assurance that the proposed changes will not impact the legitimate and lawful use of sporting firearms, the implementation of brokering controls and permits is yet another addition to the substantial regulatory system already in place. The new brokering permits seem to cover everything related to firearms, including accessories such as optics.

The first question that this bill raises is this: what additional bureaucratic burden might the brokering permit application place on the Canadian firearms industry?

It remains unclear what specific documentation will be required to apply for the permit. As a first step, the government should provide assurances to firms that are compliant with the existing regulations. They need to know that the new brokering permit requirement will not render them unable to continue their businesses.

Also notable is the government's commitment to establishing a brokering control list that exceeds the Arms Trade Treaty requirements by covering more goods and technology.

I assume this promise is an indication of the government's earnest desire to contribute to the Arms Trade Treaty objectives. However, the government should be aware that this promise raises yet more questions for lawful Canadian firearms owners and organizations who are unclear on what the ultimate result of a more expansive list might be.

Bill C-47 would also require that all documentation pertaining to the application for a brokering permit be retained for six years. Yet again, the bill leaves the question unanswered as to what documentation will be required.

We only recently removed the wasteful debacle that was the long gun registry. I am sure the government can understand that the lawful firearms community is wary of any provision that mandates data collection without giving any indication of what data will actually be collected.

For example, will any consumer data form part of the documentation required to obtain a permit? Here, too, there is an opportunity for the government to provide some assurance to the lawful firearms community. The government should give us some sense of how the bill meets the Arms Trade Treaty obligations while still respecting legitimate trade and use of legal hunting and sporting firearms.

As the bill stands, we do not know what documentation will be required to obtain a brokering permit under the new system. We do not know what goods or technology might be added to the brokering control list at the minister's discretion. We do not know what documentation will need to be retained for the mandated six year period. This makes it difficult to appraise its potential impact on the lawful firearms community.

The government's former minister of foreign affairs stated that brokering controls would be a new regulatory area for Canada, and a good example of where we are adding rigour to the existing system. The rigorous new regulatory area being added to the existing program needs far more explanation.

With all of these questions up in the air, it is incredible the Liberals conducted little or no consultation with the lawful Canadian firearms community before introducing this legislation.

Beyond the unanswered questions I have already asked, does the government know the cost to the firearms industry of adapting to the new brokering control permits? There is a serious potential for the loss of jobs as manufacturers and importers transition to the new regulations.

If the government had consulted with lawful firearms community stakeholders, it would know that the questions I pose in my remarks are important to that community. It is a large Canadian demographic already subject to a strict regulatory environment.

Our former Conservative government declined to sign the Arms Trade Treaty specifically because there were concerns about how it might affect lawful and responsible firearms owners. The United Nations refused to exempt civilian firearms from the treaty. The government's own assessment found that Canada was already meeting the vast majority of Arms Trade Treaty obligations, but still the Liberals have opted to sign on.

The government likes to say the treaty will have no impact on law-abiding civilian firearms usage. Why then are civilian firearms even included in the treaty? Why was the United Nations against exempting them? It makes one wonder.

As a result of the Arms Trade Treaty not explicitly protecting the rights of law-abiding firearms owners, it is the responsibility of the government to provide assurance it will meet its obligations without overly impinging on the lawful Canadian firearms community. I look forward to the government doing the right thing, and demonstrating some openness to working with lawful firearms community stakeholders.

This legislation is designed to meet the obligations of a treaty that has lumped in hunting rifles with large calibre artillery systems. The government needs to listen to lawful firearm owners to mitigate the potential damage the bill might do.

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September 21st, 2017 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Mr. Speaker, I had a private member's motion in the last Parliament. It specifically addressed the ATT and our not signing on to the particular agreement, and not being a part of it in the form that it was currently in. It was Motion No. 589 which stated:

That, in the opinion of the House: (a) Canada already exceeds all the standards listed in United Nations resolution 55/255 concerning firearms (the resolution); (b) the regulations envisioned in the resolution would do nothing to enhance public safety, and would serve only to burden the law-abiding firearms community; and therefore, the government has already surpassed its obligations with respect to the resolution and is not required to take any further steps.

I mention that today because the same problems that existed when I presented my private member's motion in the last Parliament still exist to this very day. What needs to be understood by a couple of our friends who maybe are not part of the firearms community out in Canada today, and they are watching, is that Canada already has an extremely good system in terms of monitoring the sales and permitting sales of military equipment around the world.

The trade controls bureau regulates the Export and Import Permits Act, which, since 1947, has allowed the minister to prevent the supply of military equipment to countries for a variety of reasons, including security threats, internal and external conflicts, or sanctions by the United Nations. That is already in place, and Canada already abides by that and uses it effectively.

I will bring the question back to the firearms community. Why not exclude the firearms community from this particular Arms Trade Treaty? We would maybe have broad agreement throughout the firearms community that it would not be such a bad thing, but since it is not exempted, it would become a big problem for firearms owners.

I will bring this all back to pre-election 2015. The Liberal Party promised it would not reinstitute a firearms registry in Canada. It was a very hot topic for the Liberals. There were many rural Canadians who were upset by a firearms registry, and it was a big problem for the government because the prior Liberal government was the one that brought it in.

It was not a very popular piece of legislation. Pre-election, the Liberals said they were not going to do this again. The minister, by all his actions, is showing the exact opposite. He is just trying to do it through the back door, and we have mentioned it many times. My colleague from Red Deer—Lacombe and I mentioned this before when this was brought forward in the House. With Bill C-47, there is a real desire to bring in a back door registry without saying so.

I will read out some of the parts of what this bill would actually require. This is Bill C-47 for all those in Canada watching. They can see the actual act. I am going to read what it would require of business owners who sell long guns and firearms. It would require them to keep records.

It states:

Every person or organization that applies for a permit, import allocation, export allocation, certificate or other authorization under this Act shall keep all records that are necessary to determine whether they have complied with this Act.

If company X is a company that sells firearms, it might export and sell them to somebody from the U.S. who buys them. This would then apply to that company's database. I might go in and buy a firearm from this particular company, and this is a question that some have asked. What limitations are there to access the records of that particular company? Are all records accessible? For every firearm that was bought and sold, is the record accessible? Because the bill does not exclude firearms owners or long gun owners, it really says that all databases would be made available to the minister.

I will talk about some more things in the actual act, and why we have problems with it. Under electronic records, the bill states:

Every person or organization that is required to keep a record and that does so electronically shall ensure that all equipment and software necessary to make the record intelligible are available during the retention period required for the record.

Those are computers, so they need to be accessible. Under inadequate records, the bill states:

If a person or organization fails to keep adequate records for the purposes of this Act, the Minister may, in writing, require them to keep any records that the Minister may specify, and they shall keep the records specified by the Minister.

Those are not some records; those are any records.

The period for retention is another issue with firearms communities. Is it just for a week? Is it just for a certain period of time? It is actually much longer than a week. The bill states:

Every person or organization that is required to keep records shall retain them until the expiry of six years after the end of the year to which they relate or for any other period that may be prescribed by regulation.

It could be up to seven years. Firearms companies such as a little local firearms store in my community's backcountry, like Corlanes in Dawson Creek, because they are exporters and importers, would be required by the minister of public safety and this Parliament to have accessible records of those sales. It sure sounds like a firearms registry to me.

Let us get to the bottom of it, where this is all coming from is demand by the minister. The bill states:

If the Minister is of the opinion that it is necessary for the administration or enforcement of this Act, the Minister may, by a demand served personally or sent by mail, require any person or organization that is required to keep records to retain those records for any period that is specified in the demand, and the person or organization shall comply with the demand.

There it is. There is the back door registry. The minister has already talked about, in another piece of legislation that is coming before us very soon, handing over the previous firearms registry data to a province in this country. It seems that on one hand he reassured his electorate, especially those in Saskatchewan who sent him back to Ottawa, that there would never be a firearms registry brought forward again by a Liberal government, but here we have two examples—today, in Bill C-47 and next in Bill C-58—of doing the exact opposite. That is why our firearms community is so concerned.

We saw it was ineffective the last time it was brought in. It was very expensive and it was putting the focus on the wrong individuals. I am a firearms owner myself. I do it lawfully. I have been trained in how to safely fire and handle restricted firearms, non-restricted firearms, etc. For people who obey the law and do it properly, this is unneeded attention on a community of people who safely and lawfully buy and sell firearms and do it as part of our history.

I have a pin on my lapel. I am co-chair of the parliamentary outdoor caucus. I do that with my colleague across the way. We support hunters, anglers, outfitters, trappers, etc. We support the historic events that really started this country. It started with the fur trade. A lot of my constituents still hunt, trap, and fish. I like to do that when I have time to get out there. These kinds of laws have a negative effect on those communities, because we put the focus on them as if they are criminals already, when they have done nothing wrong. All they have done is chosen to buy a firearm to go hunt and provide food for their family.

The crux of my argument today is that the Liberal government said it was not going to bring in a firearms registry. The Liberals said it over and over again, because it was a big deal to a lot of their constituents. A lot of rural folks elected Liberal members of Parliament with the reassurance that it would not happen, and here we have a minister and a government that is trying to do that. From one back door or another, it is determined to get a firearms registry re-established in the country.

We need to come into this with our eyes wide open. Voters who are watching this today need to understand this is a big deal. This is why we did not accede to the Arms Trade Treaty when we were in government. It was because it did not have exclusions for firearm owners written within our particular act. My private member's bill spoke to that. It was one more reason why we did not accede to it.

I challenge the government to have a sober second thought and look at this again. We implore the government not to accede to the ATT. We already have enough regulations and laws that get to the same end the ATT is trying to get to in terms of selling military equipment across the world. The Liberals should especially think about the firearm owners to whom they promised they would not start a registry. Hopefully, the government will not support this legislation today.

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September 21st, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Mr. Speaker, “bogus” is certainly language I would not use to refer to the concerns of this community. We are talking about doctors, lawyers, professionals, carpenters, and mechanics who are all part of the hunting community and are advocates against what this particular piece of legislation is trying to collect. I suggest that the government really needs to listen a lot more closely to that particular community. The government made promises to this particular community that it was not going to bring in a registry, and by bringing Bill C-47 in through the back door, that is exactly what it is doing.

This seems to be the government's attitude when it chooses language like the word “bogus” with this particular community. This community has said loudly that it does not want a registry, and I think it is prepared to speak loudly again. I just hope the member is prepared for that.

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September 21st, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a delight for me to stand in the House again after a wonderful summer break to address the House on a very important issue. This is an issue that the Liberals sprinkled out at a time when they were introducing bills with much more severe and longer impacting consequences, with the hope that probably this bill would just be swept under the carpet and maybe not given the attention it deserved. In fact, I believe it does deserve a lot of attention.

By way of background, in 2016, the Liberals announced that Canada would accede to the Arms Trade Treaty. Subsequently, Bill C-47 was introduced to that end. The bill would effect changes in several different ways. First, it would establish controls over brokering in military goods between two countries outside of Canada. Second, it would create a legal obligation for the Minister of Foreign Affairs to consider certain assessment criteria before authorizing permits. Finally, it would increase the maximum fine under the Export and Import Permits Act from $25,000 to $250,000 for summary conviction offences. However, since the 1940s, under the Trade Controls Bureau, we already have provisions for Canada to do exactly what the bill is addressing.

Before I go any further, I would like to indicate that I will be sharing my time with the member for St. Albert—Edmonton.

As hon. members will recall, our previous Conservative government refused to sign the Arms Trade Treaty, because we were concerned about how the treaty would effectively be responsible to law-abiding gun owners. These concerns are just as real today as they were at that time. Conservatives have always supported efforts to establish international standards for the trade of arms, which help prevent illicit transfers that fuel conflict and encourage terrorism or organized crime. Unfortunately, without providing protection for law-abiding gun owners included in the text of the ATT, I cannot support the bill.

In fact, we already have in place the things that the bill attempts to do. Our government is already abiding by that through the Trade Controls Bureau, as I mentioned earlier. We take very seriously the trade of arms between other countries, to make sure they are not going into regimes that support terrorism or that fuel conflict by way of countries that should not be receiving these types of arms.

As parliamentarians, our first responsibility is to protect the rights of Canadians. The Government of Canada has a duty to ensure that the rights of Canadians are not outsourced to foreign countries. Unfortunately, the Liberals are refusing to acknowledge the potential infringements on law-abiding gun owners that could come as a result of participation in the ATT. Bill C-47 would require records to be kept on Canadian firearm owners who have imported or exported their guns or else face stiff fines of up to $250,000 or even imprisonment. This provision would have a direct impact on those who participate in lawful recreational and hunting activities that involve firearms.

What is most disconcerting about Bill C-47 is that it represents an attempt by the Liberal government to revive the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry, which was eliminated by our previous Conservative government. Bill C-47 would allow for the government to create regulations that demand firearm importers and exporters to report and keep all of their import registry data for at least—

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September 21st, 2017 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I, too, thought what I had to say was very interesting. I appreciate the fact that you have brought attention to that.

Bill C-47 would also allow governments to create regulations that would demand firearm importers to report and keep all their import registry data for at least six years and have it available to government. In its simplest form, this is the start of a backdoor firearms registry. It would force the information of individuals to be registered with importers and sellers and be available to government. It sounds pretty much like a registry to me.

Moreover, these proposals will add costs onto the manufacturers and distributors of legal firearms, which will ultimately be passed down to the consumers, the purchasers of firearms. Somebody has to pay for this extra cost that will be incurred with Bill C-47.

When our previous Conservative government was in office, we listened to Canadians and eliminated the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry. Instead of treating law-abiding firearms owners like criminals, we repealed the requirement to register non-restricted fire arms, long guns, rifles, shotguns, and provided for the destruction of all records pertaining to that registry held by the Canadian Firearms Registry under the control of the chief firearms officer.

While we removed the need to hold a registration certificate for non-restricted firearms, this did not change the requirement for individuals to hold a valid firearms licence in order to acquire or possess a firearm. They also had to pass the required Canadian firearms safety course, undergo a screening process, and obtain a registration certificate for restricted and prohibited firearms such as handguns. Through these changes, we recognized that recreational firearms users were not criminals. At the same time, we ensured that appropriate measures were taken to maintain public safety through licensing and gun safety education.

Acceding to the ATT could impose another burdensome bureaucracy on Canada that would mirror the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry our previous Conservative government eliminated. The same problems that we had with the gun registry, the lack of accountability, the immense costs, and the overall uselessness of it, are highly likely again under the ATT regime, unless amendments are made to it.

Interestingly, through Bill C-47, the Liberals are trying to bring back the registry through the backdoor with as little attention as possible.

The Liberals have a tendency to do this, introduce proposals they know will not be accepted by Canadians at a time when they hope it will go unnoticed. Take their recent massive tax hikes on local small businesses, farmers, and professionals as an example. The Liberals waited until the middle of the summer to sprinkle out these proposals when they figured Canadians were enjoying time with family and friends or perhaps were out of town on vacation. Of course, they made the consultation period run right through the fall harvest season, which would severely impact the ability of farmers to interact and contribute to the discussion on this very important proposal before us.

In a similar fashion, when this backdoor gun registry bill was introduced, the Liberals hoped that no one would hear about it. They introduced it at the same time as their marijuana legislation, both Bill C-45 and Bill C-46, the day before the Easter long weekend. The expectation here was clearly that this bill would fall under the radar while the marijuana bills dominated the discussion and the news cycle.

Whenever the Liberals insist on pushing forward with an agenda they know Canadians will not stand behind, this is their standard way of going about it. However, if they know Canadians do not support this legislation, as evidenced by the fact they are trying to keep it as low profile as possible, why are they trying to pass it at all?

Canada's export regime as it stands today is already among the strongest in the world. I think the Liberals would agree on that point. Canadian governments of all political stripes have always ensured Canadian values are reflected in export decisions and have taken steps to prevent illicit transfers that fuel conflict, encourage terrorism, or organized crime. It seems to me this is another Liberal solution in search of a problem. If it were benign, it would be one thing, but because it has the potential to negatively impact law-abiding Canadian farmers and hunters, we as Conservatives must speak out against this.

The Conservatives have taken a clear and principled stand. We believe that any arms trade treaty should recognize and acknowledge the legitimacy of lawful ownership of firearms by responsible citizens for their personal and recreational use. This includes Canadian heritage activities, such as hunting, sport shooting, and collecting. More than that, the legitimacy of these activities are recognized around the world, including those state parties to the ATT. Our previous Conservative government insisted that this be a part of any serious treaty on this subject.

For the Liberals to move ahead with this legislation without having received such a basic concession is disappointing. The Prime Minister may believe it will help him secure the United Nations Security Council seat that he wants so badly, but to do so would be at the expense of the rights of Canadian gun owners.

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September 21st, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity to have side conversations with other members in the Conservative caucus.

To me, it is quite clear that Bill C-47 is entirely about arms trade. It is entirely about export of armaments. It has no application to domestic sale of long guns or guns of any kind.

It is unfortunate we are having this conversation in the House, because I think it could unnecessarily alarm people, including people in my own riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands who are long gun owners and gun owners and who do not want these imaginary burdens that the Conservatives imagine are created by the bill.

I will try to explain it, if I can, for my friends in the Conservative caucus. When we go through the bill, the structure is clear. Everything in the bill is related to amendments to permit accession to the Arms Trade Treaty. My question for the Liberals, if I had a chance to put it, would be about the huge loopholes that have been left on the sale of arms.

However, going back to the concern about legitimate hunters, “broker” is defined only in terms of export and import of armaments. The list that is concerning people, which is found in paragraph 10.3 of the bill, “keeping records”, only applies to those, under the purpose of the bill, keeping records necessary to determine if they have complied with an act which is about the export of armaments that could be used by terrorist organizations around the world.

If my hon. colleague were satisfied, as I am satisfied, that there was no way this bill could have any impact on domestic owners, would the member please agree that it would be better for the world to limit the sale of armaments?

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September 21st, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-47, an act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code. In essence, what Bill C-47 would do is implement the Arms Trade Treaty, which was signed by the government.

Without more, I oppose Bill C-47 for two broad reasons.

First, I am not satisfied that the Arms Trade Treaty and Bill C-47, the implementation of that treaty, would actually strengthen Canada's arms control regime.

Second, I oppose the bill because of serious concerns and questions that have been asked by law-abiding firearms owners and users in our country, concerns and questions that the Liberal government has refused to answer with respect to whether the legislation would result in a backdoor gun registry.

I will first address the issue about whether the bill would actually strengthens Canada's arms control regime. The fact is that Canada has long had a very strong arms control regime. It is a regime that has been in place for about 70 years. It is a regime that is robust. Canada is a leader when it comes to arms control with respect to our export regime.

As the hon. member for Durham highlighted in some detail, the scope of the that regime includes the Trade Controls Bureau, which has operated since 1947. What does the Trade Controls Bureau do? It governs, tracks, and controls the export of military weapons and arms out of Canada. It has worked very well. Under the import and export regime that Canada has with respect to arms control, the items subject to control are listed. They include military weapons, nuclear, chemical, biological materials, among other things. Canada does not just list those items subject to control; it tracks the export of controlled items. We track it by way of the CBSA, through Statistics Canada, and we track it in a very robust way, one that is consistent with international standards, including the World Customs Organization. That is the standard by which Canada tracks. While Canada tracks, one of the things lacking in the Arms Trade Treaty, as the member for Durham correctly pointed out, is transparency and tracking.

We then not only have the Trade Controls Bureau, we also have what is called an “Area Control List” that, by way of order in council, can block the export of not only weapons but anything from Canada to another country. Right now, North Korea is on that list.

What we have is again a very strong and very robust regime. It is one that has worked and is working. There are questions about whether this bill would in fact improve upon what Canada has. However, in some respects it would water it down. I cannot support a piece of legislation that arguably would weaken the very good regime that Canada already has.

As has been raised by a number of hon. members in the House, there are serious questions about whether this bill would, through the back door, re-establish a gun registry. We know of course what a disaster the long gun registry was, as introduced by the previous Liberal government. It was a registry that targeted law-abiding firearms owners, cost the taxpayers of Canada some $2 billion, and did absolutely nothing to prevent firearms from getting into the hands of criminals. On the contrary, it in fact made the situation worse by creating a black market for various firearms. When the firearms community, every firearms organization in Canada, unanimously raises questions about whether this bill would impede law-abiding firearms owners by way of a back-door firearms registry, those concerns have to be taken seriously. However, instead of listening to the firearms community, instead of consulting with law-abiding firearms owners, the current government would prefer just to dismiss them out of hand.

I heard my friend, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the member for Fredericton, when he stood up in the House. I respect that hon. member, but he asserted that the claim that acceding to the treaty would create a back-door gun registry was phony and bogus. I say let us look at the language of the Arms Trade Treaty and Bill C-47. Let us start with article 2.

Article 2 states:

This Treaty shall apply to all conventional arms within the following categories

It then lists a whole series of categories. At the end, article 2.1(h) refers to small arms. Small arms include any firearm that could be operated and used by an individual, so it would include a rifle or any number of firearms that are lawfully used by Canadians for civilian recreational purposes every single day.

We then go to article 12, which says:

Each State Party shall maintain national records, pursuant to its national laws and regulations...[in terms of] conventional arms covered under Article 2.

As I mentioned, article 2 includes small arms.

We then go to Bill C-47 and look at the substance of it, and we see, among other sections of this bill, proposed subsection 10.3(6), which says that every person or organization under the act, which would include a broker, is required to retain records for a period of some six years.

Bill C-47 goes a lot further than that because it provides for the specific manner in which those electronic records must be kept by way of an electronic database.

I see I am out of time, but it raises very serious questions about this issue. I would be happy to pick up from where I left off in questions and answers.

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September 21st, 2017 / 1:45 p.m.
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NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time today with the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith.

I am happy to rise here today to speak in this debate on Bill C-47, the legislation that is meant to meet Canada's obligation to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty.

This treaty came into force in 2014. The previous Conservative government refused to join the majority of countries around the world and sign this treaty. Indeed, it was the only government within NATO and the G7 to refuse to do so. I and my colleagues within the NDP are happy to see the government now move ahead to join most of the civilized world in acceding to the Arms Trade Treaty. Therefore, we will support sending Bill C-47 on to committee. We have several concerns about the bill that I hope will be fixed with amendments in committee, and I will expand on a couple of those concerns.

I represent the riding of South Okanagan—West Kootenay, which has a long history of pacifism. Part of that history involves the strong Doukhobor communities in parts of the West Kootenay and Kootenay Boundary regions. The Doukhobors came to Canada in the early 1900s, seeking a refuge to practise their belief in pacifism and living their motto of “peace and toil”. In the 1960s, another wave of pacifists came to southern B.C. in the form of American draft dodgers, who left their homes and families to avoid conscription into the Vietnam War.

This history has created several very active, key groups promoting peace in my riding. There is the Boundary Peace Initiative, and the Kootenay region branch of the United Nations Association. Another peace initiative in my riding is the Mir Centre for Peace at Selkirk College in Castlegar, which provides a diploma program in peace and justice studies, as well as an international program in unarmed civilian peacekeeping. These groups and others like them are celebrating the International Day of Peace today across Canada. While I wish I could be with them in person in the riding, I am happy to celebrate the day with this debate. I am proud to represent a riding with such strong interest in peaceful solutions to world conflicts and to speak here today about efforts to regulate the trade in military material.

However, residents of my riding are not alone in their concern about arms trade. Polls show that the majority of Canadians do not want our country to export military equipment to countries with a history of human rights abuses. Many Canadians would be surprised to learn that our country has almost doubled its military exports in the last 10 years and that we are the world's second-largest arms dealer to the Middle East. This kind of involvement in such an explosive region makes it difficult to increase our role as a trusted peacemaker anywhere in the world.

Where does Bill C-47 fall short?

First of all, exports from Canada to the United States would be exempt from the Export and Import Permits Act as amended by the bill. This is contrary to the letter and spirit of the Arms Trade Treaty, which calls for a complete and transparent coverage of all military exports. Fully half of our military exports go to the United States. The government has argued that the U.S. is a trusted ally and we should not need to regulate arms trade to our neighbour, but I see two problems with that stance. First, the U.S. has not ratified this Arms Trade Treaty and so has no obligation to track trade in military products. Second, the present administration in the U.S., I think it is fair to say, has a very different stance on trade with a number of countries that Canada has expressed concerns about. Therefore, material and parts for military systems sold by Canadian companies to the U.S. could be incorporated into equipment there and sold anywhere in the world without it being tracked through the Arms Trade Treaty.

Another concern we have is that important parts of our legal obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty will only be enacted through regulation. These include the legal obligation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs to assess permits using certain criteria.

Unfortunately, these criteria will only be revealed through regulation after the bill receives royal assent. In other words, we here in this place will not have any role in debating those criteria, and they could arguably be an important part of the law.

As I said at the beginning, the NDP supports the bill at this stage. Any efforts to control, regulate, and monitor the export of military equipment can only be a step forward to a more peaceful world.

The NDP has a strong history of supporting and promoting initiatives for peace around the world, and we were very disappointed when the Liberal government refused to take part in the recent UN negotiations toward a nuclear weapons ban treaty.

The Prime Minister said in question period earlier this week that the NDP is always ready with “well-meaning platitudes”, or at least that is how it was translated in Hansard. In the verbal translation we heard here, that came out as “we were ready with lovely words”. What the NDP is concerned about with respect to Bill C-47 is that it is in fact just lovely words. It does not fully meet the Arms Trade Treaty obligations.

We hope that the government will seriously consider amendments at committee stage to fix these problems so that Canada can fully live up to its agreements on the world stage and truly make the world a more peaceful place.

September 21st, 2017 / 3:10 p.m.
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Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, we will continue this morning's debate on Bill C-47 regarding the Arms Trade Treaty. Tomorrow we will begin debate at second reading of Bill C-58, an act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

We will continue with consideration of Bill C-58 on Monday and Tuesday next week.

On Wednesday, we will commence second reading debate of Bill C-55, the bill to enhance the protection of Canada's marine and coastal areas.

Next Thursday, we will resume debate of the bill before us today, Bill C-47.

In response to the opposition House leader's question, my hon. colleague knows very well there are seven opposition days in the fall, and we will have more information for her in regard to scheduling. We figured, with all of us coming back to the House, it would be kind of us to let the opposition settle in, and get the government's business ahead, but I look forward to continuing to work together.

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September 21st, 2017 / 3:10 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have been baffled by the responses from the other parties. From the Liberals, we hear that Bill C-47 is fine in meeting the challenges of the arms control treaty and its ratification. From the Conservatives, we hear that it goes too far, and will apply to domestic gun sales. It is certainly the case that on reading the bill, it does not have any domestic application to selling guns within Canada.

I know the member mentioned this in his speech. We have a huge loophole here, one pointed out by Project Ploughshares, Oxfam, and other groups that have been working hard to get the arms control treaty brought in. The treaty allows weapons to be sold in the United States, which is not planning to become a party to this treaty, and there will be no record keeping for that.

Would my hon. colleague agree that we need amendments at committee, so the bill can meet the challenge of the arms control treaty?

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September 21st, 2017 / 3:15 p.m.
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NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, today is the International Day of Peace, on which we are asked to commit to peace above all differences and to contribute to building a culture of peace here in our community, our country, and around the world.

Human rights are not optional. If the government wants to show Canada that it is a leader in human rights, then it needs to ensure that it, and we, are walking the talk.

I was very moved at a ceremony in my community in Nanaimo on August 6, which is the anniversary of the tragic and terrible bombing of Hiroshima, where members of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom were talking about the United Nations treaty to ban nuclear weapons. At this ceremony last year they shared my hope that the Prime Minister was going to walk his talk and sign the treaty, given his campaign commitments about peace, security, and restoring Canada's good reputation on the world stage.

However, this year peace activists—and I think particularly of my mentor, Dyane Brown—were condemning the Prime Minister because he had directed Canada to vote against negotiations to end the nuclear weapons trade. Therefore, Canada voted against those negotiations and is not a signatory to that treaty. It was shameful. The United Nations Secretary-General called for nuclear negotiations, and 68 countries voted in favour. This was a bit more than a year ago, and Canada was on the outside of that international consensus.

The vote was called “the most significant contribution to nuclear disarmament in two decades” by one of the United Nations member countries. It is a shameful position for our country to be in. With the Liberal government's vote, Canada has effectively removed itself from nuclear disarmament democracy and diplomacy. We do not understand how Canada can be back, in the government's words, “on the international stage” when the Prime Minister is turning his back on the most important international negotiations in years. The threat of nuclear war is so present on the international stage right now that it is even more important that the international community work together at this time.

New Democratic members of Parliament and the representative for the Green Party stood on the steps of Parliament yesterday with activists in the area. We ourselves signed that treaty in a sign of solidarity, even though our Prime Minister and the Government of Canada will not.

There is much more United Nations consensus in which our country can join. A 2009 resolution of the Security Council stressed the particular impact of armed conflict on women, children, refugees, internally displaced persons, persons with disabilities, and older persons. As the New Democrat spokesperson on the status of women, I am going to bring a gender lens in particular to this debate.

The UN and international aid agencies say women are among the most heavily impacted victims of war. Tens of thousands suffer sexual violence, rape, and lack of access to life-saving health care. Amnesty International says women and girls are uniquely and disproportionately affected by armed conflict. Women bear the brunt of war and are the vast majority of casualties resulting from war. Rape and sexual violence target women and girls and are routinely used not only to terrorize women but as a strategic tool of war and an instrument of genocide. Systematic rape is often used as a weapon of war in ethnic cleansing and, in addition to rape, girls and women are often subject to forced prostitution and trafficking during times of war, sometimes with the complicity of governments and military authorities.

Is it not time that we look more closely at the regimes to which Canada exports weapons? In all countries everywhere in the world, sexual violation of women erodes the very fabric of a community in the way that few weapons can. This is the moral challenge to our country and government. About 603,000,000 women live in countries where domestic violence is not considered a crime. Are we exporting weapons there?

In many countries there is repression, silencing of abuse, and mistreatment and imprisonment of women, human rights defenders, and activists. Are we exporting weapons there? In some countries, women are considered perpetual legal minors, permanently under the guardianship of a male relative. Are we exporting there?

In some countries, it is actually legal for a man to rape his wife. Are we exporting arms to those countries?

We hear again and again that Canadians want to have more scrutiny over the destination of Canadian weapons, and they want to know that we are not exacerbating those human rights abuses in countries abroad.

At last year's New Democrat convention, Stephen Lewis powerfully said:

We're not supposed to be sending armaments to countries that have a 'persistent record of serious violations of the human rights of their citizens.' Saudi Arabia is the embodiment of the meaning of the word 'violations.' And the government of Canada refuses to release its so-called assessment of the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia. So much for the newly minted policy of transparency.

He then called out the Prime Minister, who “unselfconsciously calls himself a feminist” but is selling weapons to a regime "steeped in misogyny.”

Is it not time that we looked more closely at the regimes to which we export weapons? Many Canadians would be shocked to know that Canadian weapons exports have nearly doubled over the last 10 years.

While Canada used to export primarily to NATO countries, under the Conservative government these shifted to regimes with particularly troubling human rights records. Canada is now the second-largest arms dealer in the Middle East after the U.S. Saudi Arabia is now the world's second-largest buyer of Canadian-made military equipment.

There are increasing allegations that Canadian weapons are being used to commit human rights violations in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Sudan.

Last year, the NDP wanted to create a committee in this House that would have provided parliamentary oversight of arms exports. We would have had multi-party co-operation investigating current and future arms exports. However, the Liberal government voted against it.

All last year we called for Canada to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty. Finally, with this legislation, Canada is, but Bill C-47 does not strengthen export controls, and we have no idea whether future arms deals with human rights-abusing countries would be prohibited. The Arms Trade Treaty was meant to prevent these kinds of deals, but the government's legislation seems to go against the spirit and the letter of the Arms Trade Treaty.

Nor does it consider violence against women and children. The Arms Trade Treaty requires the exporting country to take into account the risk of arms or munitions “being used to commit or facilitate serious acts of gender-based violence or serious acts of violence against women and children.” The Arms Trade Treaty is the first international convention to recognize and address the link between conventional arms transfers and gender-based violence. That is a good thing. Such criteria should be incorporated into Canada's export controls, but this bill fails to address that need.

We have a government that says it is deeply committed to equal rights for women, and committed to transparency, do let us move forward. Let us do the right thing collectively. Let us amend this bill to make it fair, transparent, full of human rights for women, and consistent with the Arms Trade Treaty. Let us make Canada proud again on the world stage.

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September 21st, 2017 / 3:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Anita Vandenbeld Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Madam Speaker, I am very proud today to stand in the House to speak to Bill C-47, which would make the legislative changes necessary so Canada could finally accede to the international Arms Trade Treaty. This issue has concerned me for many years.

Six years ago, I led a training program for women running for parliament in the Democratic Republic of Congo. So many of the women, when speaking of their motivation to run for office, spoke of having been sexually violated at gunpoint and wanting to build a country where their sons and daughters did not have to live in fear of violence. When I asked the women in that room how many of them had been raped, over 80% of them put up their hand. I will never forget what one of the women said to me. She said, “Congo doesn't manufacture weapons. Every gun that was used against us was brought here by somebody. If you can stop the guns, you can stop the rape.”

Two years later, the international community came together in 2013 to sign the Arms Trade Treaty, which regulates the illicit trade in small arms and conventional weapons, and it was agreed upon. It came into force in 2014.

The Arms Trade Treaty includes specific provisions on the use of conventional weapons to commit serious acts of violence against women and girls, including rape. I assumed that Canada would be one of the first countries to lead the world in signing this incredibly important treaty, but I was wrong. Now, 130 countries have signed the Arms Trade Treaty and I am very proud that once this legislation passes, Canada will finally be among them.

According to Oxfam, 2,000 people a day are killed by small arms around the world. In fact, the amount of money the continent of Africa lost as a result of armed conflict between 1990 and 2006 was almost the exact same as the amount of official development assistance it received. Not only does regulating the illicit trade in weapons stop arms from getting into the hands of dictators, of criminals, of terrorists, of mercenaries, and of non-state militia groups that commit horrific human rights abuses, but it will also ensure that the poorest and most fragile states will be able to commit that money to the sustainable development goals.

Signing the Arms Trade Treaty is not just good for people in other countries, it also will benefit Canada significantly.

The first benefit that I would like to highlight are the international relations benefits to Canada of acceding to the Arms Trade Treaty. It will put us back in line with our allies. At this point, Canada is the only NATO or G7 country not to have signed or ratified the treaty. Canada has long been at the forefront of promoting export controls as a way of reducing the types of risks that are addressed in the Arms Trade Treaty. Indeed, we are founding members of the four export control regimes, multilateral initiatives created in response to concern about the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons; missiles and related dual use goods and technologies; or, in the case of the Wassenaar arrangement, in order to regulate the export of conventional weapons. Remaining outside the ATT is not in Canada's international interest.

We have long recognized that Canada benefits from a strong, rules-based international system. In that regard, the Arms Trade Treaty sets clear rules for international trade in conventional arms, rules that take into account important issues for Canada, such as preventing violations and abuses of human rights or international humanitarian law. It is in Canada's interest that as many states as possible join and implement the ATT, to ensure that all states adopt the type of strong export controls that we already have in place.

Accession to the ATT will allow Canada to be more effective and to work multilaterally in its quest for a more transparent and accountable arms trade.

Accession to the Arms Trade Treaty also offers Canada important national and international security benefits. Canada's security and that of its allies is put at risk when terrorists have easy access to weapons. The ATT requires that all state parties assess the risk that exports could contribute to terrorism and not export these goods if that risk is overriding.

The ATT requires the same considerations for transnational crime, which benefits from selling weapons to the highest bidder regardless of how they intend to use such weapons. The ATT also requires that its state parties prevent diversion of their exports and of their own stockpiles of weapons.

More broadly, the illicit proliferation of conventional weapons promotes and sustains conflict, conflict that leads to regional and even global instability; conflict that forces people from their homes; conflict that generates poverty and inequality and prevents sustainable development.

Canada benefits from a stable, prosperous world. The conflict created when weapons flow easily into fragile states creates instability for us and for all our international partners. Accession to the ATT will allow Canada to work with the international community to stem such weapon flows.

We recently contributed one million dollars to the UN Trust Facility Supporting Cooperation on Arms Regulation with the goal of assisting states that want to accede to the ATT or improve their implementation of the treaty. Many states have not implemented the strong set of checks and balances that are necessary.

Canadian and international security can only benefit from more states that carefully consider the potential impacts and diversion risks of conventional arms exports before authorizing such sales.

There is considerable domestic benefit to Canadian accession and implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty. Canadian accession to the ATT will promote responsible and transparent arms trade globally. As I have already noted, Canada has a strong and rigorous export control system, but that does not mean it cannot be further improved.

The bill before the House will allow Canada to fully implement the ATT. By doing so, we will be strengthening our current system of export control. Although the government wishes to see Canada accede to the treaty as soon as possible, we will accede as a responsible member, by being able to comply with all the obligations of the treaty.

The bill before the House is intended to ensure that Canada explicitly complies with the obligation to assess exports of conventional arms according to the criteria set out in the Arms Trade Treaty. These include the need to assess the effect on international peace and security, the risk of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, the risk of facilitating terrorism or transnational organized crime, and the risk of gender-based violence or violence against women and children. Our government intends to ensure that these considerations will be enshrined as required obligations for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, and that the criteria set out in the ATT will be explicitly listed as factors that must be considered in each export licence assessment.

The bill before us would also ensure that Canada can comply with ATT obligations on brokering. It proposes to impose the same standards we expect from Canadian individuals and companies that export conventional weapons to those who seek, legitimately, to broker such weapons. Brokering controls will strengthen Canada's export control system by tracking the movement of controlled items outside of Canada and supporting global co-operation in the international trade of conventional arms.

Our government proposes to apply these provisions not only to conventional arms, as the ATT requires, but also to items of strategic importance. We propose to ensure that brokering operations are assessed according to the same factors used to obtain export licences.

This will ensure that arms transfers organized by Canada comply with Canadian legislation and policies.

I began by talking about the courageous women I met in the Congo and around the world. They are fighting for a world where their daughters and sons can live free from fear and violence. Through Bill C-47, I can stand in this place and let the women I met in the Congo, Liberia, Kosovo, Bosnia, and in so many other places know that our country will do its part.

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September 21st, 2017 / 3:40 p.m.
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NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, I honour the member's work with the United Nations and around the world. She has a particular voice that is brought to this issue. I thank her for the storytelling she included in her speech.

The question I have is about the commitment of Bill C-47 to examining the human rights violations of women and children in particular. I am very interested in her perspective on this, because I know this is an important part of her background.

It is my understanding that the Arms Trade Treaty requires the exporting country to take into account the risk of arms or munitions being used to commit or facilitate serious acts of gender-based violence or serious acts of violence against women and children. Although this is in the Arms Trade Treaty, it is not translated into Bill C-47.

Could the member speak to that? If she agrees that it is a missing piece, will she argue for amendments in committee to close that loophole?

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September 21st, 2017 / 3:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, I am sure the hon. member for Ottawa West—Nepean proudly represents a number of people who work with the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces.

She might find it strange that article 5 of this treaty actually prevents DND from potentially doing government-to-government transfers of assistance of a military nature, like we are doing with the peshmerga and our fight against ISIS. Canada's safe and effective regulatory regime for export of military equipment and such has never required such a drastic step as is in article 5 of this treaty.

Since the member also proudly represents a number of civil servants, I wonder if she would comment on why our current system is broken, the one we have had since the 1940s that leads the world, the one that has the Trade Controls Bureau, and the fact that the Export and Import Permits Act permits the government to have an area of control list banning countries entirely from getting anything from Canada?

A number of measures have effectively been regulated on a Canadian basis since the Second World War. We did not need the United Nations to tell us how to do this. In fact, our regime is superior to a number of the elements in here.

As an Ottawa and area member, could the member tell us what parts of the current regime, which Canada has been using successfully, have been failing are in need of Bill C-47?

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September 21st, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to point out that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Yellowhead.

I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-47, a bill that would create the legislative provisions to permit Canada to sign on to the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. I want to begin by expressing that I have always been supportive of legislative measures and other efforts to establish international standards for arms transfers that seek to prevent illicit transfers of weapons around the world. I have no opposition to that aspect of the treaty; it is important that we halt the flow of arms to dangerous regimes and terrorist cells.

However, I will focus my comments today on an area of concern that I feel, under the government, is not being duly considered as a side effect of signing on to that Arms Trade Treaty. That is how this legislation, in signing the Arms Trade Treaty, would impact law-abiding gun owners such as hunters, firearms, and sports shooters like me.

I believe that any treaty such as this must contain explicit exemptions for civilian firearms or, at the very least, eliminate vague language and language that could suggest that firearms owned by civilians for recreational use could become subject to measures in the treaty. The treaty should recognize and acknowledge the legitimacy of lawful ownership of firearms by responsible citizens for their personal and recreational use.

As it is currently written, the treaty does not meet these conditions, and concerns from Canadian firearms owners have fallen on deaf ears from the government. A good example of that is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs saying the concerns of hunters and sports shooters are “bogus”. He is telling me that my concerns are bogus and obviously that points out how out of touch he is. I have to shake my head about a comment like that. Obviously he is not representing all the people in his riding, because every riding in this country has people who like to sport shoot.

I support some of the things that the UN does, but I also have some grave concerns. The international news in the last couple of days reports comments from British Prime Minister May, who basically is telling the UN to reform, clean up its act, or funds will be cut to it. There are other things that raise concerns for me and a lot of other Canadians.

While in government, the Conservative Party took time to analyze this treaty and its impacts on the firearms community in Canada. The government is seemingly looking at this issue as a one and done type of deal. Sign on, pass the legislation the UN deems must be passed, and call it a day. It is not quite that simple, and concerns have been raised about the implications of this treaty, as I alluded.

I was honoured to serve alongside the Hon. John Baird, former minister of foreign affairs, and it was during his tenure that this treaty was at the forefront of public debate. Minister Baird took his time in making a decision, as he knew how complicated this matter was. He noted that the vagueness of the language in the treaty had the potential to create situations wherein backdoor firearms registries could be created. He asked that civilian firearms be removed from the scope of the treaty and that it be made explicit. When this request was not met, the decision was made to not move forward with signing on to the treaty. That is what should be happening today.

I understand that, when the Liberals made this promise, they were in opposition and it made for a nice 2015 campaign promise. I know they did not understand the complexities that come with the implementation of these treaties, and they still do not. However, I am asking the government now to consider all the impacts and all the concerns that have been presented. They are not bogus. The government is typically hellbent on consulting. For example, at this very moment, there are currently 87 open consultations, and this is great, if it were really true. It is great that the government will hear concerns on a number of issues.

My question is this. Why will the government not hear from firearms owners? Why will it not at least give firearms owners an opportunity to voice their concerns with this treaty?

It is ironic that one of the Liberals' open consultations right now is on their proposed tax reforms for small businesses, farmers, and physicians. They opened this consultation process in the middle of summer when many Canadians were on vacation and when all farmers were busy working the fields. It is actions like this that make me wonder if the government really wants to hear input or whether it is simply consulting for the sake of saying it consulted.

If the Liberals did open a consultation process on the Arms Trade Treaty, they would hear that firearms owners have a number of very specific concerns. Of particular concern is article 5 of the treaty, which contains several sections, but particularly sections 2 and 4 are quite concerning. Section 2 states:

2. Each State Party shall establish and maintain a national control system, including a national control list, in order to implement the provisions of this Treaty.

Section 4 follows up on section 2 by stating that:

4. Each State Party, pursuant to its national laws, shall provide its national control list to the Secretariat, which shall make it available to other States Parties. States Parties are encouraged to make their control lists publicly available.

Those in the firearms community, including me, are concerned that the vague phrasing of these sections has the potential to create a national and/or international registry, which could include civilian firearms and would then be made public. It is a real fear that this could come out of the bill. When expressed, these concerns have fallen on deaf ears with no response from the government. Again, it really does not want to consult or hear.

I can speak first-hand to the level of concern that Canadians have with Bill C-47. I recently sponsored an e-petition. In fact, I have it beside me on my desk, and I will table it in the House tomorrow. The petition was initiated in Prince George, British Columbia. This petition calls on the government to not sign onto the UN Arms Trade Treaty and to not pass Bill C-47 into law as is. If this did not happen, the petitioners call on the government to amend Bill C-47 to not include any of the sections and subsections that would require importers, stores, and individuals to keep any records of any imported or exported firearms, or any article that falls into the brokering control list. Furthermore, the petitioners call on the government to amend the bill to eliminate the penalty for not keeping adequate records, which the legislation states carries a fine not exceeding $250,000, or imprisonment not exceeding 12 months, or both.

This petition has 4,584 signatures on it from ridings right across the country, from ridings of some of my colleagues sitting beside me, and more than likely from ridings of colleagues across the way. They include signatories from every province and territory across the country. That is how widespread this is. The support is also very evenly distributed across the country and does not seem to have any sort of regional bias.

It is a shame that the government must learn about this from me. It would know this information itself if it had done the right thing in the first place and given firearms owners an actual opportunity, a real consultation, to voice their concerns. Unfortunately, this is standard practice. The Liberals give lip service and do not really carry out the consultation in a real, truthful manner. This seems to be the standard practice for the government when it comes to relating to firearms owners in Canada, no matter what the issue.

Given that the government refuses to listen to firearms owners and concerned stakeholders in the firearms community, I would like to take a few moments to read some of the comments from these groups. However, as I must conclude, I will not get a chance to read some of these comments from the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, the president of the National Firearms Association, and others.

With that, I look forward to taking questions from my colleagues across the way. Lastly, I would urge the government again to do the right thing and do the consultations.

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September 21st, 2017 / 4 p.m.
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Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Madam Speaker, my colleague indicated toward the beginning of his speech, and I do not want to directly quote him and misquote him as he misquoted me, that he seemed to agree with the intent of the bill, which would allow Canada to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty and ensure that international trade in conventional arms would not contribute to international conflict and instability that we know negatively impact women and children more than a lot of other vulnerable groups. The treaty is about import, export, and international brokering environments. My colleague seemed to agree with the notion that it was a good idea and that he could support it.

Let me disabuse him of his misunderstanding of what this bill is not about. It is not about domestic gun controls. Nothing in Bill C-47 affects domestic controls on the lawful and legitimate use of firearms. Second, it would not create a registry of conventional arms. Record keeping for the import and export of arms in Canada has existed since the 1940s. It existed under the Conservative government. Bill C-47 would leave in place the same record keeping of conventional arms that was used under the former Conservative government.

If he agrees with what the bill would do and now has an understanding of what the bill would not do, will he now agree to support it?

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September 21st, 2017 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-47, an act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code. The bill would officially bring Canada into line with the UN Arms Trade Treaty, also known as the ATT.

In a news release issued on April 13, after the bill was tabled, the government stated, “The ATT is about protecting people from arms”.

We have been hearing all day today from our friends across the way about people being harmed. It makes me wonder who the government wants to protect.

Law-abiding firearms owners and merchants are not a threat. In my experience as an RCMP officer, most weapons-related crimes in Canada are committed with firearms that are obtained illegally or usually stolen.

The history of firearms in Canada goes back as far as the country itself. Let us be fair. The Dominion of Canada Rifle Association was founded in 1868, and I do not think there is a province in Canada today that does not have a branch of that association. We have hunters who rely on firearms to provide food for their families as their forefathers did, as the earliest settlers in Canada did. We have farmers who rely on firearms to protect their livestock, as the early settlers did. We have sport shooters who rely on firearms to compete in competitions in the same way as a competitive tennis player relies on his or her tennis racket. We have firearms collectors who seek guns in the same way stamp collectors search for stamps.

The firearms community is a large and diverse group in Canada. These are law-abiding and responsible Canadians, yet the current government seems to think it needs to protect people from firearms. There is a lot of fearmongering today about all the deaths. Somebody before me just quoted that 80 women were raped because it was done at gunpoint and that two thousand people were dying each day because of guns. Let us truly look at where we are on this. Those members fail to realize that firearms have been part of many Canadians' livelihoods for decades.

As the previous speaker stated, we need to look at international gun control and we need to prevent the flow of illegal firearms. However, most important, we must listen to and hear from Canadians. One thing the Liberal government has failed to do is listen to Canadians.

When law-abiding firearms owners or Canadian companies purchase a weapon outside of Canada and wish to import it across the border, they must declare it to Canada Border Services Agency. A great deal of documentation is required and all this bill would do is add unnecessary layers of bureaucracy, red tape, and more cost.

It has been mentioned in the House many times today that Canada is probably one of the leading countries in the world with gun control. In fact, we have met 26 of the 28 standards in the ATT. We are probably much more regulated and have better gun control, quality control, export control, and import control than ATT will ever have.

Our previous Conservative government dealt with the UN Arms Trade Treaty when it came into force in December 2014. Its purpose, as we all have heard, is to regulate the international trade of arms so they are not used to support terrorism or international organized crime. I do not think there is anybody in this room who does not support that. I do not know about them, but I do not think farmer Joe in northern Saskatchewan is supporting international organized crime when he imports a rifle, whether he intends to use it for hunting, protecting his livestock, or sport shooting. We are going a bit overboard with the bill. That is why so many of us have stood on this side of the House and have spoken about our concerns. We are speaking for the average Canadian. They want to be heard, and that side does not want to hear them. We have to speak for them.

Our former Prime Minister Harper requested that civilian firearms be removed from this treaty in 2014, yet the UN ignored the request to respect the interests of Canadians and refused to remove civilians from the language of the treaty

What did our previous government do? We did not sign it. We stood up for Canadians. That is what the Liberal government is failing to do. We refused to sign the treaty at that time. The Liberal government is ready to sign a document that is not good for firearm owners. It does nothing to improve the safety of Canadians. This is my opinion. My colleagues across from me may disagree, but let me remind them of something.

The former foreign affairs minister, Stéphane Dion, even admitted this in his own press release issued in June 2016. To paraphrase, it stated that Canada already met the vast majority of its obligations. The treaty was designed to bring other countries up to the high standards that Canada already applied to its export control regime. Therefore, why are we going this way?

During the summer, I attended the Edson rod and gun club range. It is located in a remote part of my riding. The reason it is way out at the end of my riding is because it is one of the longest ranges in Canada. I went there because there was going to be a group called Got Your Six at the range that weekend. Its members were there last year, as was I. This is a group of current and retired military police, firemen, first responders, and civilians. It is a great organization. Members may not have heard of it. It is a charity shooting competition group that raises funds and creates awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Last year, it gathered for its first competitive shooting tournament. It was a popular event. It was amazing to watch the military and civilian marksmen hit a target a mile away time after time. More astounding to see was the camaraderie between the men and women, which is like a brotherhood, by shooting weapons in a competition. They were also gathered there to talk about and help others with post-traumatic stress disorder. That is only a small group of the thousands of Canadians who either sport shoot, hunt, or collect firearms.

This year the same shooting competition quadrupled in attendance. Men and women came from across Canada, some for the competitiveness, many for the camaraderie and fellowship they share as the current and former guardians of our country and the world. These people are not a threat, even though there were all types of weapons there. These people are just a small representation of the thousands who enjoy shooting at local ranges, hunting, or collecting firearms. This bill would not help them in any way. Rather, it would only complicates things for them.

Before we spend a fortune in tax dollars limiting more rights and freedoms, is there a pressing and urgent need for Canada to join the UN Arms Trade Treaty? No.

From my experience, this treaty places undue hardship on law-abiding gun owners and merchants. Canada already implements and complies with the vast majority of the treaty's obligations. We are a safe and law-abiding country, so why this unnecessary change? Why are we punishing responsible firearms owners with this legislation if Canada already meets the vast majority of its obligations?

I can agree with the overall goal of the treaty that aims to prevent illegal transfers of arms that fuel conflict, encourage terrorism, and support organized crime. However, I am concerned that the Liberals have not consulted lawful gun owners. It is not a big surprise, or maybe it is a big surprise considering the number of consultations they have held on almost every other issue, or so they claim. Because of this lack of consultation, they are moving forward with an arms treaty that does not respect the legitimate trade or use of hunting and sporting firearms in this country.

I was alarmed at a statement of the parliamentary secretary in his opening remarks regarding the bill. He talked about how we must lead by example, which our country has done. His other remarks with respect to even more robust legislation to come scare me.

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September 21st, 2017 / 4:15 p.m.
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Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Marc Garneau LiberalMinister of Transport

Madam Speaker, I am trying to understand, from my colleague's speech, where he stands in terms of voting on this bill. He spent about 15 seconds saying that he supports the goal of Bill C-47. He then spent 9.5 minutes talking about something that is not an issue, but something we care deeply about and fully support, which is the lawful use of firearms by hunters, fishermen, and sports shooters.

That is not at issue in this bill. I am interested in and respect his strong feelings on the subject, but what I am interested in knowing is, will he vote for or against this bill, knowing that we would be the last G7 country to join our NATO partners and allies in ratifying this treaty?

If he does not vote for it, how will he explain that to Canadians? I am interested in hearing his answer.

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September 21st, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, it has been a matter of shock and dismay to hear my colleagues from Conservative benches claim that anyone who reads this bill with an open mind, as I have, and cannot see a single thing that could possibly lead to an impact on domestic gun sales is somehow blinded by talking points. As an opposition member, I have a lot that I want fixed in Bill C-47, such as the loopholes that would allow weapons to be sold through the United States.

This is the Arms Trade Treaty. Its terms as a treaty speak directly to the illicit trade in arms, and the global export of arms. The Conservative talking points to create fear among legal gun owners make as much sense as complaining that in the acid rain negotiations the government of the day never consulted with people who make umbrellas.

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September 21st, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill C-47. Before I speak to the bill itself, I want to thank my colleague from Calgary Forest Lawn for his learned comments. As he mentioned, he is the dean of our caucus and was first elected to this place on October 2, 1997, when I was in grade 7. I believe he holds the record as the longest serving parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs. It is always a pleasure to speak in his shadow.

I will be splitting my time with my friend and colleague from Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles. I look forward to his comments as well on this important issue.

I find it interesting that we are debating Bill C-47 today because, after all, this legislation was first tabled in the House of Commons on April 13, 2017, more than five months ago. Granted there was a summer recess in-between.

Over the summer, like many colleagues I had the opportunity to travel around my riding, host round tables, speak to constituents, hold stakeholder meetings, go to people's homes and speak about the important issues that are affecting them. I did hear about the ATT on a handful of occasions. I heard from a couple of people who were in favour of it and a couple of dozen who were opposed. That is the joy of democracy; there are people on both sides of the issues.

I find it interesting that we are debating this today when the opposition has yet to be given a single supply day in this period. We have also been told that there will be no supply day next week as well. Here we are debating the government's agenda but have been given zero opportunities to raise a motion in the allotted days we are entitled to as the official opposition. Is the government simply trying to avoid accountability on key issues that it knows it is hiding from? An example is the changes to the tax rules.

As I travelled in my riding this summer, I talked to people about these tax changes. I talked to farmers who want to pass on their farm to their daughters or sons, but these tax changes would potentially prevent them from doing so. I talked to the small business owner who may want to hire one or two more people but may not do so because of uncertainly. Family doctors are concerned because the changes may potentially impact their patients. These are people I am hearing from in my riding but here we are debating Bill C-47.

We are debating this treaty and its implementation today, which is interesting because the mechanisms that we have in place today, the rules that have been in place in Canada for many decades, already achieve what the government purports to want to achieve through Bill C-47.

A perfect case in point is that since the 1940s, through the Export and Import Permits Act, the government has had the ability to exclude and prevent the sale and export of any number of items, including what it is trying to achieve through this legislation. One need only look at the export control list under the auspices of the Export and Import Permits Act to find that much of what the government is trying to achieve is already in place: group 1, dual use; group 2, munitions; group 3, nuclear proliferation; and group 4, nuclear-related dual use.

The government is once again using a symbolic gesture in an area where issues are already addressed through existing mechanisms that previous governments of all stripes have put in place over the years. For it to try to change to a system with no noticeable improvement is unfortunate and, frankly, not a good use of the House's time when there is so much more that we parliamentarians, that we Canadians, can be debating in this place on behalf of our constituents.

The collection of data, the collection of information, is also interesting when the fact of the matter is that under the regimes that are currently in place here in Canada through the Canada Border Services Agency and Statistics Canada, a lot of the information on items that are exported from Canada is already being collected and provided to the appropriate agencies within Canada, and yet the government here today is bringing in yet another bill to collect information that is already being collected.

What is interesting as well is that this is not the only tool at the disposal of the government. The government has many opportunities to restrict the sale of goods to foreign entities. One example is the area control list. Currently the only country that Canada has placed on that list is North Korea, but it is certainly open to the government to place any number of countries on that list if it has sufficient grounds to cut off all exports to that country. I do not think there is anyone in this chamber who would disagree with placing North Korea on that list. I think that would be right and correct, and all Canadians would agree with that.

If the government has concerns about another entity, as it has in the past, for example, with Myanmar and Belarus, which have both been on this list, the government could register those concerns through the area control list and add a certain country to the list to block exports altogether to that country. That is especially the case when we are looking at regimes that may use any number of products against their own citizens or against those in the region, something that we would strongly oppose.

I find it interesting to talk about the measures that are already in place and their strength, but do not always just take our word for it. I would like to quote a government official, from a June 2016 Globe and Mail article. In the article he is quote as saying that he believes we already have sufficient restrictions on arms exports:

“Canada already has some of the strongest export controls in the world which means that we already meet the vast majority of the obligations under the arms trade treaty,” said the senior official in a briefing.

In a real sense, this treaty was designed to bring other countries—many of whom have no export control regimes in place—up to the high standards that Canada and our like-minded allies already apply through our robust export control regimes," the official said.

That brings me to my next point, the other countries that are missing from the ATT, namely Russia, China, India, and the United States, which has signed it but not yet ratified it. Whether or not it will is not a decision for this House to make, but certainly one that is questionable given where it now is.

That is not say that we as Canadians should not act on the world stage. Certainly, we Canadians have always played a leadership role on the world stage. I think of our former government playing that leading role internationally on a number of fronts over the past 10 years.

However, to sign on to this treaty and to bring forward the legislation to ratify it at this point, without the key players having signed on or ratified it, I think is a challenge. Mr. Speaker, I think you would agree that it raises more concerns than it answers.

In preparing a few remarks for today, I came across the press release from Global Affairs Canada when this bill was tabled on April 13, 2017. It states:

To implement necessary changes, in March 2017 Canada announced an investment of $13 million to further strengthen the country’s export control regime.

Granted, I was relatively young in 1995, but I remember another Liberal government promising that a certain long-gun registry would cost $2 million, and yet, over the years, the Auditor General found it cost upwards of a $1 billion.

I find it interesting that the government is proposing a $13 million price tag, but has not yet tabled a coherent plan for how that $13 million will be spent and where the cost overrides may or may not arise if that $13 million is used up relatively quickly.

I have heard members on the other side go as far as saying that claims or concerns of law-abiding gun owners are “bogus”. It is really bringing down the tone and the level of debate in the House to dismiss the concerns of legitimate, law-abiding gun owners as bogus.

I am very proud of my family. My late grandfather came to Canada in 1952. In 1974, he helped co-found the Swiss Rifle Club near my home town of Mitchell. I was proud, as a kid, to have been able to join him and my father at the rifle range to learn about the safety of guns and rifles, and I am proud of the legitimate gun owners in my riding and across Canada.

I know that my time has come to an end, but I look forward to continued debate on this matter and the questions that may come my way.

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September 21st, 2017 / 5 p.m.
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Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to join the debate on Bill C-47, the act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code.

When it comes to imports and exports, the Canada Border Services Agency officers are on the front lines. They are responsible for enforcing the Canadian laws governing the people and goods that come into our country.

I would like to take a few minutes to acknowledge the CBSA's officers, because the work they do and the huge responsibility they have in keeping Canadians safe and keeping goods moving into our country rarely make the headlines. I think every member in this House is aware of how important CBSA officers are. They keep our country safe, and I know I speak for many when I thank them for their dedication and their vigilance.

I would also like to take this opportunity to recognize the Customs and Immigration Union for their leadership. I want to thank the national president, Jean-Pierre Fortin, and his team for the fantastic work they are doing. My team and I will be meeting with Mr. Fortin very shortly for what we expect to be some very fruitful and informative discussions.

Let me be clear about this. The Conservative Party has always supported efforts to establish international standards for arms transfers that help prevent illicit transfers that fuel conflicts and encourage terrorism or organized crime. We also believe that the treaty in question should recognize and acknowledge the legitimacy of lawful firearm ownership by responsible citizens for their personal and recreational use, including sports shooting, hunting, and collecting.

The spirit of such a treaty would obviously focus on military and security equipment. If the treaty language cannot make the difference between military equipment and hunters and sportsmen, that language must be reviewed.

In September 2016, the CSSA, the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, called on Minister of Foreign Affairs to re-examine, re-evaluate, and re-think the decision on the treaty. In other words, the Liberals are sloppy in their approach to representing Canadians. As a matter of fact, it leaves Canadians unsure of who the Prime Minister is working for. Is he looking to impress the U.N. or is his heart with Canadians?

The Liberals are unfair to Canadians. As is the case for small business, there have been no consultations addressing concerns about how this bill could affect hunters, sports shooters, and recreational users. The Liberals have never been very concerned about these people and have never taken them seriously in the past. Today, the same thing is happening. The Liberals do not care about them and in light of the bill they introduced, Bill C-47, I am convinced that they have no intention of considering their concerns in the future, either.

Canada already has an internal system for monitoring and controlling the exports of military and security equipment, which meets and even exceeds the conditions of the UN treaty. The government will therefore have to demonstrate why we need to enhance the process already in place.

The Government of Canada's Trade Controls Bureau is responsible for enforcing the the Export and Import Permits Act. This bureau has made it possible for the minister to prevent the sale of military equipment to various countries for many reasons, including security risks.

The Liberals must explain what precisely it is missing. We have yet to be shown that the Trade Controls Bureau is not effective. We already have what we need in Canada.

Canada already limits the movement of military material that is strategically used in two ways, including nuclear energy and materials, missiles, chemical or biological products, and cryptologic equipment.

I spoke earlier of the CBSA role. CBSA and Statistics Canada collect information on all items exported from Canada and classify the information using categories negotiated by the World Customs Organization. Do members think we are doing enough? I think so. Now, if that is not enough, I will also tell members that Canada has a blanket ban on risk countries under the Export and Import Permit Act.

Through an act of Governor in Council, a country can be placed on that list. Therefore, we are well covered here. However, the Liberals have tabled Bill C-47, and the burden is on them to show why we must sign this treaty.

Canada is already doing better than the treaty in question. Canada is a world leader in the diplomatic process. Canada is a model for other countries to follow, not the other way around. I am proud of my country. I am proud of our parliamentary system. I am proud that Canada is easily the best country in the world to live, to work, and to raise a family.

Since we will be debating this bill over the next few days, I hope that we can talk about it from the standpoint of what is currently happening in Canada. Canadians' needs have to be considered as we debate this bill. Then we can consider the needs of the UN.

Let us not forget that we could work with our NATO and UN allies, and that we will continue to do so, for example to restrict arms sales to North Korea.

We will also work in conflict zones and we will prevent anyone who might threaten world peace from pursuing technological activities. Of course, Canada will always be a partner for peace.

When we talk about responsible countries leading the way by example, no country other than Canada comes to mind. Countries that do better than Canada simply do not exist. It is time that we recognized that.

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September 21st, 2017 / 5:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question. Even if he did ask it in English, he did so very politely.

My colleague raises an issue with Bill C-47 that merits discussion. He wants to know if I have seen the provision about brokering. It just goes to show that instead of clearly stating whether hunting firearms are excluded or not, this government is using jargon to try to throw people off. This issue will certainly need to be discussed and clarified to determine whether the UN treaty protects hunters, who are law-abiding citizens. That needs to be spelled out clearly and if it is not, we should not join this treaty.

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September 21st, 2017 / 5:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my remarks, since the 1940s Canada has had a regime in place to control, track, and regulate the export of military equipment, nuclear, biological, a whole range of items. That has been done very well and effectively.

As the former minister of the government for foreign affairs has acknowledged, and who we have quoted, many aspects of what we have already been doing for decades meet and exceed what is in the ATT.

I would like the member's thoughts on whether it is reasonable for hunters and sports shooters across the country to have a question about things? We keep hearing Liberal after Liberal saying that it is not in here and that it does not deal with this, even though there are genuine questions on it.

I remind the Liberals that sometimes a legislature's failure to mention something is grounds to infer that it was deliberately excluded. People were asking for a carve out or an exception for hunters and sports shooters, lawful users of firearms. The very fact that it was not included in either the treaty or in Bill C-47 leads some to infer it was deliberately excluded. This is a legal principle, and it is reasonable.

Does the member think it is reasonable for these people to ask these questions while this bill is being pushed through the House?