Madam Speaker, I really appreciate the opportunity to stand in the House of Commons to represent the fine people of Red Deer—Lacombe, many of whom are law-abiding firearms owners who are entrusting me to try to make some semblance of sense out of yet another attack on the law-abiding firearms community across Canada. I will do my best.
For those watching at home, we on this side of the House have moved a motion asking the public safety committee that is studying Bill C-71 for an opportunity to travel across the country and actually hear from affected parties and those who otherwise would not have an opportunity to come to Ottawa.
Just to put things into context of how we got here, this bill, Bill C-71, much to the dismay of the parliamentary secretary who spoke earlier and said that they have had all kinds of time to do this, is number 71. This means that it is not a very high priority on the Liberal government's index. The government has had almost three years to get to this point and table this legislation, and now it wants to ram it through the House as fast as possible. After less than seven hours of debate on this piece of legislation in the House of Commons, it was kicked over to the committee on a whipped vote, where of course all the government members voted in favour of it, including all of the members from the north, and I will talk about the north a little bit.
Now we have gone over to the committee and had two weeks of meetings. We had four two-hour meetings to talk with all of the witnesses that we need to hear from. That is simply not enough. We have to consider that we heard from the minister and the bureaucrats in the first meeting. Now that we have had the chance to have all the Ottawa bubblespeak, that basically gave us three meetings, for a grand total of six hours. In those meetings we had about two people per hour, so that means we have heard from about 12 different organizations and groups from all sides on this particular issue.
However, the real issue is that there are so many people who want to have an opportunity to actually address and talk to their government—to petition them, to make their case, to make their point.
As I go through this, if the changes in Bill C-71 actually addressed serious, violent crime or gun crime in Canada, it would actually have the full support of this House. There are things that all parties in this House can agree on. One of those is enhanced background checks. We can vary in our opinions on how effective that might be, but I do not think anybody here would disagree that enhancing background checks, going further back into an individual's history to see if there is a problem, to try to protect public safety, to try to protect people from becoming victims, to even try to protect people from themselves in certain circumstances, is going to be a bad idea. We can debate on how we are going to do that or the merits of one approach versus another and that could be implemented, but there would be a consensus in this House.
I told the Minister of Public Safety during the first committee meeting that if the government would simply table or put aside all of the other clauses in Bill C-71 that have nothing to deal with public safety and focus on that element of the bill, he would have the support of the Conservative Party, or the Conservative members of Parliament. He rejected that offer. He rejected it outright at that committee meeting. As a matter of fact, he went on to erroneously try to make the case that the measures that they are going to take are going to increase public safety.
I asked the minister point-blank, because he was trying to make the case that a source of firearms that are being used in crimes in Canada are actually domestically sourced. We know that statistically that is not true, because most firearms that are used to commit crimes have come across the border and most firearms that are used to commit crimes are not long guns. They are certainly not long guns of lawful firearms owners. In fact, Gary Mauser, a professor emeritus, actually gave us some very important statistics right from Statistics Canada that said that gun crime is lower in houses where there is a PAL holder. That is a possession and acquisition licence. It is outside of those homes, such as a home in the rural part of Canada where we have maybe high crime rates. Those are thefts, so those are not firearms-related crimes, except for potentially, in some cases, theft of firearms.
However, the gun crime in those communities where there is actually a victim is far lower than in communities where there are fewer firearms owners. This tells us that criminals do not follow firearms legislation. They never have. They never will. That is why this legislation makes little to no sense.
I am a firearms owner. I am a hunter. I grew up on a farm. I have had a firearm in my hand ever since I was legally able to do so, whether it was for vermin control or pest control. When I was in army cadets, I would use an old Lee-Enfield that was converted to a .22 to shoot targets. I participated in biathlons. I have successfully been around firearms my whole life and I have not been shot to date. I am completely confident in all of my friends and family members who own firearms and use them responsibly. I have no issues or concerns whatsoever.
What does concern me is that manufactured hyperbole is used in a political sphere to generate dissension and to create the illusion of a problem. We heard from the Criminal Defence Advocacy Society, as my colleague from Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner just quoted, that there is no evidentiary proof. I asked the Minister of Public Safety at committee where the report is from his department that says how many people will be saved with this legislation. I asked for the numbers of crimes that will be reduced and how many gun deaths will be reduced by this legislation. He does not have an answer for these questions because this is a politically-driven bill based on emotional arguments.
I am a law-abiding firearms owner and I do not want anyone to get hurt with a firearm. As a person who understands firearms, I am not saying I am a technical expert, but I have been around them my whole life. I know what the law-abiding firearms community thinks and does because I am one of them. If good proposals or measures were brought forward, I would help the government of the day convince the law-abiding firearms community that they were good measures, but I cannot in good conscience stand here and say that this is what Bill C-71 is.
We did not hear from a single witness from the north. In the Northwest Territories, Yukon, or Nunavut, hunting and fishing is a way of life, and more people do it than do not. All three members of Parliament from the north were elected as Liberals, and two of them are still in the Liberal caucus. None of them came to the committee to voice their questions or concerns. The member for Central Nova came asking questions. He was talking like a Conservative when he was asking his questions at committee because he has heard from his voters that this is an area of absolute concern. There was not one witness from the north, even though the motions were moved.
Here is who did not have a chance to testify: Randy Kuntz, a retired Edmonton police officer, who was summoned to the committee but did not have the time. Wes Winkel, the president of Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association, was another. Not one witness appeared before the committee to represent the sellers or retailers in this country. As a matter of fact, in all of the questions that were posed by my colleagues across the floor at committee when it comes to the mandatory provisions of dealing with record keeping, which most store owners already do for warranty purposes and so on, the only people who were asked about it were the chiefs of police.
I am going to go back to that, because we need more clarification. When I asked the Minister of Public Safety about warrants and warrantless access to firearms records, the minister actually did not know, but he said that investigating officers would need a warrant. Then he said that the chief firearms officer, who is a police officer, would not need a warrant. Then the bureaucracy stepped in and tried to help him out with his claims. It seems that during an investigation, a police officer must get a warrant in order to access the records of a private store owner as part of their investigative process. However, a chief firearms officer can go in at any time, according to the legislation, and demand to see the records, and the store owner is then obligated to produce the records.
When I asked the chiefs of police before committee if it is that cut and dried, that black and white, their answer to my question was quite shocking. They said no, that is not the case. They said it is not cut and dried, not black and white. There are circumstances in which the chief firearms officer can pass on information to an investigating officer and vice versa.
It is not cut and dried. It is an argument that we have been asked to believe and asked to buy that is simply not true.
Why is the government so afraid of listening to store owners who sell these firearms? Maybe it is because it does not want people lined up at its door condemning the Prime Minister's tweet, which was false and misleading when he said in that tweet that when people buy a firearm or ammunition at a store, they do not need to provide identification. That was a patently false tweet, creating a misinformation campaign out there to justify this legislation.
I have never been to a store where I have been able to even touch the firearms. When I ask to see a firearm, which is in a locked cabinet, I am asked for my possession and acquisition licence. I have to lay it on the table before the firearm can be brought to me. If I want to buy ammunition, I have to provide that possession and acquisition licence or a possession-only licence in order to purchase it.
It is a patent misnomer that right now people do not have to provide identification in order to purchase a firearm or ammunition at a store. It is patently false. It is a misinformation campaign meant to justify the ends, which is this piece of legislation, which would do nothing for public safety.
Nicolas Johnson of TheGunBlog.ca spends all of his time talking about this issue. He has thousands of followers and is well connected. Why would we not want to hear the opinion of this individual, who represents so many firearms owners?
I moved a motion at committee on May 22 to hear from the Women Shooters of PEI. The Liberal government claims to be a feminist government that does everything, that puts women first and its feminist agenda first. It would not let the Women Shooters of PEI come to committee to testify. I guess when it suits the government's need to be feminist, it is feminist, and when it does not suit its need to be feminist, it is not.
Dr. Caillin Langmann, emergency medical resident in the fellowship program with the Royal College of Physicians in Canada, in the division of emergency medicine at McMaster University, is not going to be allowed to testify. He actually works in emergency.
Stacey Hassard, the leader of the official opposition of Yukon, is another person. Did I mention that not a single person from Yukon came to committee? Even the member of Parliament for that particular area did not come before committee. I remember his absence from this place for four and a half years, and I think it had a lot to do with this particular issue.
Another is Andy McGrogan, the president of the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police. Why did we only hear from select police chiefs that the committee chair wanted to hear from? Why could we not hear from one from the west?
Richard Munderich, of the Ajax Rod and Gun Club in Ontario did not appear, and that is really too bad. The parliamentary secretary from Ajax vetoed the ability for his own rod and gun club to appear. He just made an impassioned speech in here, which was not really based on anything scientific or evidentiary. One would think that the parliamentary secretary who represents the Ajax Rod and Gun Club would want his own rod and gun club to testify before committee, but that did not work out.
Gord Zealand, from the Yukon Fish and Game Association, another expert from Yukon, was another voice silenced from the North on this particular issue.
We wanted Harvey Andrusak of the BC Wildlife Federation to come here. We wanted to have Darrell Crabbe of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation come here. We wanted Bob Kierstead, who is a shooting expert and an international firearms instructor, to come here.
We wanted Kerry Coleman from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and David Clement from the Consumers Choice Centre to come here.
We wanted the Manitoba Wildlife Federation and la Fédération des chasseurs et pêcheurs du Québec to come. I think that is the first French I have spoken in the House in 13 years. As well, we wanted to hear from the Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters and the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities.
We did not hear from a rural crime watch group. We did not hear from anybody dealing with these issues in rural Canada at all. We did not hear from Citizens on Patrol. We did not hear from any of these groups that are affected. We heard from nobody from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities or from the Alberta Association of Rural Municipalities. The government completely ignored all of these groups.
There are other stakeholders who wanted to appear. The Firearms Outlet Canada is a gun store in Ajax that wanted to come. The Wanstalls gun store wanted to come. Al Simmons, who owns a gun store in Hamilton, wanted to come. Sports Action is a gun store in Ottawa that wanted to come. Dante Sports is a gun store in Montreal that wanted to come. Cabela's, Sail, and Bass Pro Shops wanted to come. Nobody from any of these companies or their parent organizations was even invited or allowed to testify before committee.
This legislation would directly impact them, and I think this actually violates a fundamental principle of our democracy. When legislation is being passed that directly affects Canadian citizens, they should have the right to make a pitch to the government of the day on an issue that impacts their life, but again, that is why we are here as Conservatives.
Conservatives are respectfully asking for this House to say that the public safety committee has not had an opportunity to do its due diligence and it ought to go across Canada. This is my 13th year in the House, and I have seen committees go across this country to talk about issues that affect a lot fewer Canadians than this one, having hearings and discussions. This particular piece of legislation affects over two million firearms owners in Canada alone, not to mention everyone else who wants to have a say on the matter.
People are upset about this. The vendors and retailers are upset because they have not had a chance to have their say. Why are they upset? It is because this bill would do several things. It would create a registry. Whether the government wants to admit it or not, it is a registry. I am a former database administrator, so I know a bit about this. Every time there is a transaction, and there are going to be transactions, whether it is a business-to-business sale, a business-to-person sale, or a person-to-person sale, every one of those sales has to be validated by the government now. People who go to gun shows on Sunday had better hope somebody is at the firearms centre ready to answer the phone. That is another group that the committee did not speak to. Nobody from any of the gun shows across Canada was invited to testify before the committee.
None of the transactions at gun shows, or person-to-person transactions, will be allowed to go through if somebody at the firearms centre is not answering the phone. As a matter of fact, the bureaucrats said they were going to have to be given notice. All of the gun show owners will have to notify the government that they are having gun shows, so the government can properly staff it on the weekends. Does this sound like a recipe for success and the government serving the Canadian people well? I do not think so. However, those who happen to be tech savvy can enter all of the information from their possession acquisition licences, and the buyer can get the possession acquisition licence from the seller.
Nobody has answered this question. If I have a possession acquisition licence and the person selling me a firearm has a restricted possession acquisition licence, nobody is checking to see if the person is selling me the right firearm. As a PAL holder, I am only allowed to purchase non-restricted firearms, but somebody with an RPAL could have in their possession a restricted or prohibited firearm that they could try to sell me. Is the system doing anything to validate that?
The government says it is not keeping track of information on the firearms, but there will be a reference number, so part of that reference number is going to have all of the information from my licence. It has a terrible picture, but it gives my name, date of birth, address, hair colour, eye colour, and my weight. I do not want to disclose that. There would also be the same information from the other party, and each transaction would have to be tracked. It is not each transaction, but each item on the transaction. If I were to buy three firearms at a gun show, I would have three registries with three different reference numbers, with my name and personal information on each one of those records. The name of the person I bought it from would be on each one of those records, or easily looked up, and of course the firearm information that is being transacted.
When I asked the Minister of Public Safety what the provision in the legislation was for when it comes to creating this transaction, he said we need to be able to trace the source of the crime back to the original firearm sale. Already there is an onus on law-abiding firearms owners. If someone's firearm is stolen, or a person sells it to someone and that firearm is stolen subsequent to that, the government wants to know all the way back to where that firearm was originally manufactured, purchased, and imported into Canada.
I do not have time today to talk about Bill C-47 and the Arms Trade Treaty, all of the other factors, the other registries, and all of the other information that the government has on Canadian law-abiding firearms owners. I did not have a chance to talk about the continuous eligibility. Every day, every firearms owner is flagged. Firearms owners are intelligent people. They know what laws make sense and what laws do not make sense.
I am hoping that I get a plethora of questions so that I can further elaborate on why Bill C-71 would do nothing for public safety. It is a registry, whether the government wants to admit it or not. Something cannot be traced against data that does not exist. When the data exists, it is in a registry. Trust me, this is what I used to do for a living. I built multi-million dollar software systems. I know what a database is, as a database administrator and a data architect. This is a registry, just with another name.