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

In committee (House), as of Oct. 3, 2017

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

(c) 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;

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

(e) 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

(f) 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

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)

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.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

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?