An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms

Sponsor

Ralph Goodale  Liberal

Status

Second reading (Senate), as of Oct. 16, 2018

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-71.

Summary

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

Part 1 of this Act amends the Firearms Act to, among other things,

(a) remove the reference to the five-year period, set out in subsection 5(2) of that Act, that applies to the mandatory consideration of certain eligibility criteria for holding a licence;

(b) require, when a non-restricted firearm is transferred, that the transferee’s firearms licence be verified by the Registrar of Firearms and that businesses keep certain information related to the transfer; and

(c) remove certain automatic authorizations to transport prohibited and restricted firearms.

Part 1 also amends the Criminal Code to repeal the authority of the Governor in Council to prescribe by regulation that a prohibited or restricted firearm be a non-restricted firearm or that a prohibited firearm be a restricted firearm and, in consequence, the Part

(a) repeals certain provisions of regulations made under the Criminal Code; and

(b) amends the Firearms Act to grandfather certain individuals and firearms, including firearms previously prescribed as restricted or non-restricted firearms in those provisions.

Furthermore, Part 1 amends section 115 of the Criminal Code to clarify that firearms and other things seized and detained by, or surrendered to, a peace officer at the time a prohibition order referred to in that section is made are forfeited to the Crown.

Part 2, among other things,

(a) amends the Ending the Long-gun Registry Act, by repealing the amendments made by the Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1, to retroactively restore the application of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act to the records related to the registration of non-restricted firearms until the day on which this enactment receives royal assent;

(b) provides that the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act continue to apply to proceedings that were initiated under those Acts before that day until the proceedings are finally disposed of, settled or abandoned; and

(c) directs the Commissioner of Firearms to provide the minister of the Government of Quebec responsible for public security with a copy of such records, at that minister’s request.

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

Sept. 24, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms
June 20, 2018 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms
June 20, 2018 Failed Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms (report stage amendment)
June 19, 2018 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms
March 28, 2018 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms
March 27, 2018 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 12:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to outline the many and significant failures that exist in Bill C-71.

First, I would again like to bring up that the whole debate is about a bill that has questionable evidence attached to it, and we have yet to hear from the minister who is responsible for the RCMP after they were found in contempt of Parliament. While he may ignore members of Parliament, thousands of law-abiding Canadians, the Assembly of First Nations, and the police, I would like to think that a censure from this House and the Speaker would result in some action. However, that has yet to occur.

On June 19, in his ruling on the RCMP's implementation of Bill C-71, the Speaker stated:

the vast majority of the information was presented as though the provisions will definitively be coming into effect or are already the law of the land. Nowhere did I find any indication [that] the bill was...in committee and was not yet enacted law.

The Speaker further added:

The work of members as legislators is fundamental and any hint or suggestion of this parliamentary role and authority being bypassed or usurped is not acceptable.

The RCMP presumed the will of Parliament, assumed that the bill would pass, and attempted to enforce the new rules before decisions came from committee, the House or the Senate.

While addressing his attempt to undermine Canada's democracy, the Minister of Public Safety continued to pass the bill based on false information, despite the concerns of millions of Canadians and many members of Parliament. These concerns were raised by Conservative members on this side of the House, expert testimony, written submissions, the media, my own consultations across the country, and ultimately confirmed by Liberal MPs on the committee. This is bad legislation, which was flawed from its start, and was based on misleading information that attempted to pull the wool over the eyes of Canadians.

The Minister of Public Safety has made questionable comments regarding this bill. Recently in the House of Commons, the minister tabled a list of the organizations that were formerly consulted on Bill C-71. To date, seven of those individuals or organizations have come forward to say that they were not consulted. The Assembly of First Nations, for example, stated that it was not consulted and that this legislation is an infringement on treaty rights.

The Liberal MP for Ajax, who was the parliamentary secretary at the time, made the outright claim that national consultations were held. He stated in this House that there were “discussions in every corner of this country, including with first nations chiefs, chiefs of police, the firearms community, and others..”. The minister has never set foot in any of my communities to hold consultations.

From my own consultations with Canadians across the country, I can say that they are very concerned. There is nothing in his bill that deals with criminals, gang violence or illegal firearms. There are only more rules for law-abiding Canadians, and they are very angry about that.

The consultations, if they did happen, were done poorly. As one stakeholder told me, “If I was consulted, I think I would know about it.”

In the height of the irony, the minister held a summit on gangs and guns. It was clear that the issue brought forward by those experts was not around law-abiding gun owners; rather, it was about organized crime, gangs and violent criminals. Not only did the Liberals not listen to those who were impacted by the bill, they almost entirely ignored what experts said was the problem in Canada, which is gangs, organized crime and gun violence.

Experts from across the country told us about a whole host of crime issues at that summit. They discussed illegal firearms, primarily handguns, straw purchases, stealth shipping and gangs. Still, the minister came to the committee of public safety and national security with false and inaccurate information.

He appeared before the committee and stated:

While crime rates in Canada overall have been on the decline, thankfully, for decades, the rate of gun violence has been going up in recent years. Between 2013 and 2016 the number of...incidents involving firearms rose by 30%. Gun homicides in that period went up by two-thirds. Intimate partner and gender-based violence involving firearms was up by one-third. Gang-related homicides, most of which involve guns, were up by two-thirds. Break-ins for the purpose of the stealing of firearms were up by 56% between 2013 and 2016, and by a whopping 865% since the year 2008.

It sounds like we had a real crisis. However, we should look at what experts said about his misrepresentation of the information.

Solomon Friedman, of the Criminal Lawyers' Association, stated:

The Criminal Lawyers' Association supports criminal law reform that is modest, fundamentally rational, and supported by objective evidence. On each of these measures, Bill C-71, in our view, fails to meet the mark.

First, the proposed reforms in Bill C-71 are unsupported by the evidence. In fact, in presenting its rationale for this bill, the government has misrepresented the objective statistical data to create the appearance of a problem that simply does not exist. As a society, we are the poorer for it when government promotes criminal legislation on a misunderstanding or, worse yet, a willful manipulation of what it claims is empirical evidence.

On May 8, 2018, the honourable Minister of Public Safety...told this committee that between 2013 and 2016, the number of criminal incidents involving firearms rose by 30%. Gun homicides in that period went up by two-thirds. Those numbers are alarming. They give the clear impression that gun crime and homicide by firearm specifically are a rampant and increasing problem in our society.

Mr. Solomon went on to suggest that:

With the greatest of respect to the minister, that is simply not the case. The year 2013, the starting point for the purported trend, was not chosen at random. As we now know, 2013 [was] a statistical aberration in terms of violent crime and homicide in Canada. [2013] saw the lowest rate of [violent crime] in Canada in 50 years. To put that in perspective, every single year since 1966 has been worse than 2013, and it's not surprising that the three years following 2013 would be worse, as well.

The truth of the matter is homicide by firearm has, in fact, been steadily declining in Canada since the mid-1970s, and when an appropriate sample size is taken, the alarming trend that the minister purported to identify is seen for what it is: a selective manipulation of statistical data. The rate of homicide by firearm, when viewed over a [more] reasonable sample size, has remained relatively stable. In fact, it was slightly lower in 2016 than it was 10 years earlier, in 2006.

Here we have a criminal defence lawyer destroying the highly questionable evidence provided by the minister. That is shocking, disappointing, and it should be very alarming to Canadians.

The minister also said that there has been an 865% increase in break and enters dealing with firearms since 2008. It is an interesting statistic. It is true, but what the minister failed to identify is that in 2008, the Conservatives brought in a law that if someone breaks in and steals a firearm, it is a specific offence. It had never occurred before. It was a break, enter and theft before. That is how it was covered off. Therefore, we never had a new offence occurring. The minister had misleading information again.

Additionally, we heard from Dr. Gary Mauser at committee, but the information, the minister presented as facts. He said that 121 of the 141 increased firearm-related homicides were directly related to gangs in cities. The rate of violence in Canada is because there are more gangs and gang-related shootings. Surprisingly, the word “gangs" appears nowhere in the bill. It appears that the minister's increasing statistics on gun violence are selective use of figures and wrongfully attributed to licensed law-abiding gun owners.

What happens when a professor from a trustworthy Canadian university provides evidence that is contrary to the government's flawed legislation and position? The Liberals do what they always do; they call into question their credibility. The reality is that the Canadians right across the country are rightfully beginning to question the credibility of the Liberal government.

The minister went on to say at committee:

Right now, when a person applies for a licence, there's a mandatory look back over the immediately preceding five years to see whether they have in that period of time been engaged in any violent behaviour or been treated for a mental illness associated with violence. Bill C-71 will remove that five-year limitation so that a person's entire record will be taken into account. That will help ensure, quite simply, that people with a history of violence do not get guns.

Again, this is an inaccurate statement. The minister's own officials from the Canadian firearms program, and the RCMP, confirmed that criminal background checks were never limited and are never limited to five years; any criminal history is taken into account, no matter how old it is. Either the minister is ignoring his own experts, or he is presenting misleading information to justify a pointless piece of legislation.

The minister went on to say at committee:

The legislation will also help ensure that people who acquire firearms are actually licensed to own them. Since 2012, all that has been required in this regard at the time of a sale is that the vendor have “no reason to believe” that the purchaser is not licensed. [...] Vendors often check anyway, but they are not, in fact, required to do so.

Again, that statement is blatantly false. Legal experts at committee told us the following:

any violation, no matter how minor or technical, engages the criminal law process. [...] Indeed, this legislation creates new criminal offences where none were needed. For example Bill C-71 will make it an offence for a firearm owner to transfer a firearm—meaning to give, sell, or barter—to another person without first obtaining a reference number from the registrar of firearms. Let me be clear: It is already a criminal offence to transfer a firearm to an individual who is not authorized to possess it.

Section 101 of the Criminal Code prohibits that precise conduct. It is punishable by a maximum of five years' imprisonment....

The government says that the new provisions under Bill C-71 are required to ensure that firearms are not transferred without lawful authority. Not surprisingly, the existing offence under section 101 is entitled “Transfer without authority”. However, under Bill C-71, one law-abiding licensed firearm owner can transfer a firearm to another law-abiding licensed firearm owner and still commit a criminal offence if the government is not duly notified. This does nothing more than create another trap for the unwary, a trap that carries with it criminal consequences. For what? It is not for actual public safety, but for the appearance of public safety.

It is clear to me the minister knew that what he was saying was inaccurate and he likely knew his bill would do nothing for public safety. He is not alone in misleading and false statements. The Prime Minister himself tweeted out early on in the introduction of Bill C-71, “We’re also introducing stronger and more rigorous background checks on gun sales. And if you want to buy a gun, by law you’ll have to show a license at the point of purchase. Right now that’s not a requirement.” Really? That is exactly what the law is now, so I do not know where the Prime Minister and the minister are getting their information. Obviously, it is not factual.

In the fall of 2017, the Minister of Public Safety made an announcement in Surrey, B.C., where there is a real gun problem. Gun violence and shootings there are a regular occurrence. Police in communities across the country need more help to tackle these criminals. He announced $327 million in funding to combat guns and gangs, a great announcement, and no doubt one that would help the Liberal MP for South Surrey—White Rock secure his seat, as it was made during a by-election. Canadians should understand though that to date, not one dime has moved on that funding and it will take a full two years for the Liberals to make that funding available to police.

Since that announcement, the Liberals have tabled Bill C-71, have pushed the House by limiting debate and testimony, and are ramming it though with almost no amendments, despite nearly every witness saying it is not a good bill.

It is no surprise that the Liberal MPs on the committee were expected to limit debate as much as possible. In fact, we had more testimony from department officials, 21 to be exact, than from Canadians and stakeholder groups. There were over 100 briefs submitted to committee from organizations and people who could not appear, who were trying to show that law-abiding firearm owners were not the problem. In fact, my office received 30 submissions after committee members were required to submit its amendments. That means dozens of organizations and individuals who put time and effort into their briefs received no consideration in this debate.

Let us summarize some of the key issues I have heard from Canadians all across the country, including the over 86,000 who signed the petition that was presented yesterday opposed to Bill C-71. First, the bill does nothing to tackle gun and gang crime. Criminals do not follow the law and do not register their guns. Second, the claims by the minister, his parliamentary secretary, the Prime Minister and the rest of the Liberals that the bill would go after criminals while respecting firearm owners are inaccurate and, in fact, insulting to millions of Canadians. Third, the Liberals will not call this a gun registry. The rest of the country thinks it is a gun registry. I guess we will leave it to Canadians to decide in the 2019 election.

Finally, we saw what Liberal MPs thought of Bill C-71 when they finished the bill's discussion at committee. Moments after ratifying the legislation at committee, Liberal MPs were calling for a study on issues raised by witnesses. They called on the minister to address real issues facing illegal firearms getting into the hands of criminals and administrative and process issues resulting in criminals getting firearm licences. They called for more statistics and research into gun violence and the criminal acquisition of firearms. Those are great issues, and they certainly are a lot more productive than what was in Bill C-71 that the minister put forward. However, none of them had the courage during the debate on Bill C-71 to bring those issues forward at the time we had a chance to change the legislation.

This summer, after more gang shootings, will the government now take a hard look at the real issues, the evidence and the problem? Is the new minister empowered to go after criminals and illegal weapons and repair the relationship with millions of law-abiding Canadians? Sadly, the answer is no. Rather, the Liberals are now repeating their previous mistakes with an investigation into a handgun ban. While I understand that the government prefers to look like it is doing something as opposed to actually addressing the issues, Canadians deserve better.

A Canadian Press article highlighted the government's justification for going after law-abiding gun owners, claiming a surge in crime guns, suggesting about one-half of crime guns in Toronto originated from lawful licensed gun owners. However, the comments and the article were lacking in detail and statistical evidence and had many experts and advocates questioning those results.

Albertan Dennis Young, a former RCMP officer and a public servant, submitted a freedom of information request to obtain actual Toronto Police Service stats. Well, guess what: Those stats show a very different reality. The number of crime guns seized was on a downward trend over the last 10 years. The number of domestically sourced firearms was down over the last 10 years. There was no surge, as the minister and others have said. As noted by the media outlets, the overall trend for gun crimes in Toronto is down. Therefore, the crisis is more manufactured than based on fact.

The number of firearms being traced back to their origins is very small, too small for us to have good information, and shows that the government is failing Canadians on public safety if police do not have the resources necessary to trace back the firearms that they seize to their origins.

To quote a Global News commentary about the handgun ban:

Politicians, including the Prime Minister and Toronto Mayor John Tory, who once strongly opposed a ban on handguns, are now either considering or actively calling for one. This would be a major change to the Criminal Code involving potentially billions of dollars in private property. It is not an exaggeration to say the CP report is a key part of this debate.

Do our political leaders know they’re reacting to a story with bad information? Perhaps the more depressing question is whether they’d care if they did.

Perhaps the Liberals are interested in listening to what senior and experienced law enforcement officials are saying.

Mike McCormack from the Toronto Police Association said this in referring to a handgun ban:

There's no way in my world or any world I know that this would have an impact on somebody who's going to go out and buy an illegal gun and use it to kill another person....

The newly minted commissioner, Brenda Lucki, appointed by the very minister in charge of this bill and who we would like to assume he counts on for advice, has no proof that a handgun ban does anything to protect people. She said, “I’m not sure if a complete ban is the answer or tweaking the legislation.”

The Ontario Provincial Police's former chief said:

It would be unmanageable and unfair to the majority of handgun owners who obey the law and always use their guns safely. Let’s effectively deal with the criminals that do not obey the current criminal law.

In Surrey, B.C., a former police officer running for city council indicated that from his experience “a ban would have little effect to decrease gang violence in our community.”

Pointing out that the Liberal plan completely lacks any credibility does not mean we on this side do not see the issues that we face in this country. However, the government's practice of blaming hunters and farmers for the criminal actions of gangs and criminals is wrong. It is morally wrong and it is factually wrong.

It is time that the Liberal government started taking public safety and the government's duty to protect Canadians seriously. Canada has real problems. Criminals are the centre of our gun violence problems, not hunters, not sports shooters, not farmers.

Canadians deserve a government that supports all law-abiding Canadians. The countdown is on to the 2019 election. Canadians are eager for a change to a Conservative government. In fact, many are suggesting that the Liberal government lacks the moral authority to govern. It is time for Canadians to come before partisan talking points. It is time to get back to dealing with the real issues in this country.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 12:25 p.m.
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Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I get the overall impression that my hon. colleague is not overly enthusiastic about Bill C-71. Nevertheless, he does make a valid contribution at committee and I always appreciate his interventions there.

The member had a multitude of points but I am only going to pick up on two.

The first one has to do with the five-year limitation, which he argues is unnecessary because it already happens and it is a lifetime inquiry. I therefore would ask the hon. member why a former Conservative colleague of his, a former minister in fact, felt compelled to introduce Bill C-42, which Bill C-71 picks up on and which directly addresses the issue of lifting the five-year limitation?

The second point has to do with licence verification, which the member repeatedly said always happens, yet Bill C-42 refers to where the transferor has no reason to believe that the transferee is not authorized to acquire and possess that kind of firearm. In other words, all that has to be established is the threshold of no reason to believe. A valid licence does not have to be produced.

I would be interested in my hon. colleague's comments on his former colleague's Bill C-42, which was Conservative legislation.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 12:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner on his distinguished 35-year career in the Medicine Hat police department. He has seen a lot on the streets not only in Medicine Hat but certainly in Alberta and the whole country. I saw that first hand when the member came to my riding a couple of weeks ago. He is very respected in the police community nationwide. We had a meeting in Saskatoon with a number of police officers and they spoke glowingly about the member, who now represents Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner.

I want to thank him for his work on this file and I want to thank him for a number of reasons. First, I would like to thank him for having consultations not only in Alberta and Saskatchewan but also for when he visited Saskatoon—Grasswood. He has been going coast to coast talking to citizens in this country about Bill C-71.

While he was in Saskatoon, we held a very successful town hall. I would like to know what message he heard from my constituents and what feedback he would like to share in the House of Commons today.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 12:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, I cannot speak to those cases directly because I am not aware of them. Were they individuals who had lawful authority to have a firearm? That is the question I would have in that case.

Second, of course the issue of intimate partner violence is an issue in this country that needs to be taken seriously. Having a small line or identifier in bad legislation does not change the fact that we are not going to be able to prevent that. We need a different, better, more comprehensive understanding of what the issues are.

I applaud the member opposite for the motion she put forward after the fact in order to deal with some of the issues we are having in this country not addressed in Bill C-71. I am just disappointed those issues were not addressed during the opportunity we had to address them. Changes that would have impacted positively on public safety could have been made to Bill C-71 when we had the chance.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 12:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, mental health concerns are huge in this country and are certainly impacted when access to firearms is in play. We need tighter scrutiny around that. We agree that we need changes. The comments that were made before, about our leader suggesting yesterday that we are going to be repealing Bill C-71 when we form government in 2019, are accurate. However, what was not mentioned was that as recently as this morning, we are talking about some of the ways that needs to be changed. We are talking about individuals who pose a risk. We need to ensure they no longer have access to firearms, or that we would deal with them in a way that currently does not exist in legislation and certainly is void in Bill C-71. It is an issue of public safety that we have to take seriously.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 12:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Salma Zahid Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood.

I rise today to speak on C-71, an act to amend certain acts and regulations in relation to firearms.

It is appropriate that this is the topic of my first speech following my return from medical leave. While I was away, a series of unfortunate and sad acts of violence involving firearms across Toronto have driven home to our community the cost of firearms violence, how they ripple across the community beyond just the victims and their loved ones, and the need for new ideas and a new approach to combatting firearms violence.

We can talk about statistics. I can tell members how, in 2016, there were 223 firearms-related homicides in Canada, which is a 23% increase from 2015 and the highest rate since 2005. Between 2013 and 2016, the number of female intimate-partner violence victims when a firearm was present during the incident increased from 447 to 586. However, statistics, while important for context, cannot illustrate the emotional, physical and psychological toll these acts of violence leave in their wake.

I would like to highlight three recent acts of firearms violence that have shaken my own community of Scarborough Centre in recent months. In fact, two incidents have taken place in the last two weeks, within days of one another.

Last Friday night, a 16-year-old boy was shot and died on Bellamy Road North. This was not a case of being in a dangerous area late at night. He was in front of an apartment building in the early evening. Police responded to reports of gunshots around 6:45 p.m. Neighbours say that he was a good kid and not involved in any bad activities. Perhaps it was a case of mistaken identity. This young man who lost his life at the age of 16 will never finish high school, never have the chance to go to college or university, and never have the chance to pursue his dreams. He was Toronto's 77th homicide victim of the year, but behind that statistic is a life that will never be.

Just a little more than a week earlier, on September 4, the day our kids went back to school after Labour Day, a woman's life was forever changed on a Tuesday evening in her own home on Birchmount Road near Ellesmere Road. Emergency crews were called to a basement apartment in a private residence just after 10 p.m. to find a woman believed to be in her fifties with a gunshot-related injury. There was no one around, and because of her injuries, she was unable to communicate to the responding officers what had happened. She had been shot in the neck. Thanks to the efforts of the first responders and medical professionals at a nearby trauma centre, she will survive, but she has suffered life-altering injuries and could be left paralyzed. Another life has been dramatically changed by an act of firearms violence.

In May, there was another incident of senseless gun violence that hit close to home. It happened next door in Scarborough—Guildwood but the victim and his family are from Scarborough Centre. On May 21, around 3 a.m., an 18-year-old was shot dead and a 17-year-old suffered life-altering injuries when they were shot in their car in the Scarborough Golf Club Road area near Ellesmere Road. Neighbours were shocked, as they call it a quiet neighbourhood. Police say they believe it was a targeted shooting. The 18-year-old victim was Mohammed Gharda. He was Toronto's 30th homicide of the year. The survivor's family has asked that his name not be released. I visited him and his family at Sunnybrook's trauma centre in the days following the incident. He faces a long and difficult road to recovery and has lost his vision in one eye.

These are just three incidents out of many that have touched my community and have touched Toronto. There have been too many others. Between the incident in May and the one last week, 47 more people were murdered in Toronto.

As a mother of two young men now attending university, I think of how I would react if I got that phone call, if the promise their lives hold and the dreams my husband and I have for them were suddenly extinguished, just another statistic. Behind every number is a story: a grieving family, a life snuffed out. Too many of the victims are youth, with their whole lives ahead of them: future teachers, future doctors, future scientists. Who knows what they could have accomplished, what they could have achieved and what they could have contributed to our communities and the world?

I would consider Bill C-71, which we are debating today, to be a common-sense bill. It is a first step that contains a number of provisions related to firearms safety that certainly make sense to me and are worthy of our consideration and support. It is not our intention in any way to penalize law-abiding firearms owners, but merely to put in place regulation and policy that help ensure only law-abiding citizens have access to firearms and that they use them in a responsible manner. As with many other things in our society, it is about balancing rights and responsibilities and the interests of public safety.

With enhanced background checks, for example, we are making sure only responsible people can become firearms owners. Currently, only the last five years can be considered while making a decision to grant a firearms licence. We will remove that five-year limitation so that if a person has committed one of several listed criminal offences, is being treated for mental illness associated with violence or has a history of violent behaviour, that information can be considered. I find that hard to argue with. We should be diligent when considering who can and will be a responsible firearms owner.

With Bill C-71, we are also seeking to close a loophole around licence verifications. Before 2015, if individuals or retailers were selling firearms, they had to verify the purchaser had a valid possession and acquisition licence, or PAL. Basically, they had to make sure they were legally licensed to own firearms. The last government changed that to, “the transferor has no reason to believe that the transferee is not authorized to acquire and possess that kind of firearm.” Basically, they were asked to take the person's word for it. That is fine if the buyer is indeed a responsible and licensed firearms owner, but, as we know, irresponsible people try to get their hands on firearms, too. By returning to the pre-2015 system, sellers will need to make a call to the firearms registrar to verify the seller's PAL. It will take less than five minutes, cost nothing to the seller or the buyer and will close one loophole that could allow firearms to enter the wrong hands.

We are also strengthening requirements for vendor record-keeping. Most vendors already track sales information, but there is no requirement that they do so. Provincial governments used to require record-keeping as a condition of obtaining a licence to sell firearms, but the last government prohibited them from making that a requirement of licence in 2011. We will again make record-keeping a federal requirement. It is important to note that this information will not be available to police except through a court-ordered search warrant obtained in support of an active investigation. I think we can trust our courts to make the right decisions. I would note that this is also federal policy in the United States.

Finally, another provision I would like to highlight is weapons classification. The Conservative government took the decision-making ability for firearms classification decisions away from the experts at the RCMP and, instead, turned it over to the federal cabinet. Let me be clear that I have great faith in my capable colleagues who serve Her Majesty in cabinet. However, they are not firearms experts and I do not think such decisions should be made by a group subject to political whims and pressure. By returning this classification authority to the RCMP to operate based on law passed by the people's elected representatives in this Parliament, we are removing political interference from the equation and ensuring that evidence-based decisions are made by independent experts.

As I said earlier, I believe Bill C-71 is an important first step in common-sense firearms safety and I will be supporting it, but I believe we need to do more. My constituents in Scarborough Centre want us to do more. We need to look at why so many young people turn to violence. Too many people have lost their lives to firearms violence. I think we can and must do better, we can and must do more.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 12:55 p.m.
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Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, before I start, may I say it is a delight to see my colleague for Scarborough Centre back in the House after her recent illness. We share a border, and I know her to be a very hard-working MP. When she supports Bill C-71, I know it is on the basis that she has a very good ear to the ground and has worked hard with her constituents to establish her support.

It is an honour to rise and speak to Bill C-71. I have the good fortune to chair the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. As the chair, I remained relatively neutral as the debate occurred. However, it is not as if I do not have an opinion on Bill C-71.

After hearing 39 witnesses, reading 101 briefs, and meeting for over 18 hours, we now have an amended bill back in the House. This does not include either the minister's or his parliamentary secretary's extensive consultations, both within and outside of caucus.

At its heart, Bill C-71 is a relatively modest bill. It tries to do three or four things.

First of all, it tries to remove the decision on the classification of guns from the Governor in Council, namely the government, i.e. politicians, and place it with the RCMP.

Second, it grandfathers individual licence-holders in two sets of prohibited weapons, one being Czech and one being Swiss. Then, on a specific day that has already passed, June 30, it reinstates those weapons as prohibited weapons and makes new acquisitions prohibited. Under the previous legislation, or the order under the Governor in Council, those guns were not prohibited.

Third, it expands the realm of inquiry into background checks.

Fourth, it requires vendors to keep a record of sale and have a potential purchaser show a valid licence. There has been some considerable discussion about that over the course of the morning.

In addition, two very significant amendments were made. The first was unanimously agreed to by the committee, and I quote from the amendment: “nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to permit or require the registration of non-restricted firearms.” In other words, it was unanimously agreed that this bill is not a gun registry. That amendment was moved by a Conservative member, the critic for public safety.

As my colleagues know, the term “gun registry” sends both sides of the debate into paroxysms of fear and loathing, which is not particularly helpful in actually reconciling this dialogue of the deaf. It seems to happen every time guns are debated on this floor. Apparently, anything that might make it easier for police to trace a weapon in an efficient way is something to be resisted at all costs, even at the cost of solving a crime.

The second amendment expands the realm of inquiry for someone looking to acquire a firearm licence. For instance, looking into somebody's digital life is good, and looking into someone's history of violent and threatening behaviour is also good. That amendment also passed unanimously after some vigorous back and forth among committee members.

In my view, the arbiter of the weapons classification system should be the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, not the Governor in Council. The first of the two main arguments against the removal of the GIC states that there is no right of appeal. This argument presumes that there should be a constitutional right to challenge the RCMP's classification or that of the Governor in Council.

ln my view, when those who are in the pro-gun lobby think that a weapon has been classified as too restricted, i.e., prohibited or restricted, there is no one they can lobby to downgrade that classification: not an MP or a minister, and not during an election or after an election. The reason is as imaginative as one can be. I cannot understand why people would think that I, a politician, not particularly familiar with the classification of guns, should have any say in whether a gun is restricted or prohibited or not, on the basis of its millimetres, calibre, frequency of fire, length of barrel, etc. This is a responsibility that is appropriate for the RCMP only.

The second argument is that the RCMP makes mistakes. I do not know anybody who does not make mistakes. I do not know of any organization that does not make mistakes or is entirely consistent, including the courts, and indeed including this chamber.

However, there are a number of administrative and quasi-judicial entities from which there is no right of appeal and whose decisions are final. The classification of firearms seems to me to be one of those areas of administrative law in which it is appropriate that the police classify and make the final decision. I would note that any administrative decision can be appealed regardless.

Personally, I would rather take my chances with an organization that has a daily life experience with firearms, rather than some people in cabinet or on the floor of the House.

The firearms that are listed in Bill C-71, the Swiss and Czech firearms, which were grandfathered until June 30, were given a lower classification. This just illustrates the problem: Some people would have classified them as restricted, some would have classified them as prohibited, and some would have classified them as not restricted. I believe the RCMP should make that decision.

Finally, Bill C-71 requires a business to keep a record of sale. This might be thought to be obvious, and apparently it has been obvious for a number of years in a number of jurisdictions. Bill C-71 makes this a requirement. Many are convinced that this makes for a backdoor registry. Apparently, business records held by multiple private businesses across the country constitute a backdoor registry in the minds of some. I would hope that the amendment, as moved by the Conservative member, and as agreed to unanimously by the committee, puts an end to that argument.

In conclusion, this bill is exceedingly modest. Expanding background checks is good. Removing political input into the classification of firearms is good. Requiring the retention of sales records is good. The reclassification of certain weapons is good. I believe colleagues should support this bill as amended.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, in my riding I have a number of farmers, hunters and sport shooters. This summer I took the opportunity to visit a few of the sport shooting ranges and was impressed with the increased attention they were giving to safety and training. They are totally committed to the safety of firearms, proper licensing, background checks, and all of these things. They are convinced that Bill C-71 has good intentions but does nothing more than make it difficult for lawful gun owners. They believe it does nothing toward increasing the public safety of our country.

My colleague who just spoke has been quoted as saying, “I don’t think I speak out of turn when I say that there is no tolerance for people having guns in Toronto, period—long guns, short guns, in-between guns, fast guns, slow guns.” Coming from the chair of the committee that studied this bill, this shows a lack of understanding of the number of gun owners there are in Toronto who are sport shooters and hunters, and who abide by the rules as they are.

I am also wondering if the member could comment on his thoughts about the Liberals' eventual plan to ban all firearms.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 1:05 p.m.
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Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the great honour to represent a riding in the east end of Toronto, a riding I have represented for 20-odd years. I believe I have some authority and right to speak to this on behalf of my constituents.

It is virtually unanimous that there is no need to have handguns, or any kind of guns, in one's possession in the city of Toronto. That was reflected in the unanimous motion by the City of Toronto. It was reflected in the unanimous motion by the City of Montreal.

If there is a requirement to sports shoot, that can be accommodated. However, to have firearms in one's possession creates difficulties. We heard at committee that the possession and ready availability of weapons made for higher incidents of crime, with very tragic consequences.

I am sure my colleague would actually support the elimination, reduction and control of weapons, as much as possible. I look forward to him supporting Bill C-71.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 1:05 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I support Bill C-71. I am particularly grateful to have this chance on this debate. I attempted to gain the floor a few times before today.

I did want to draw attention to one amendment I am particularly pleased to note was achieved through collaboration, which is always nice to see, and non-partisan co-operation in the clause-by-clause. One of my amendments was adopted, changed, and re-emerged as an amendment by the hon. member for Oakville North—Burlington. I am grateful to her. I want to mention this amendment again, and ask my friend from Scarborough—Guildwood for his thoughts on it.

What we have done is expand those things for which prospective gun owners will be screened to include any history of threats of violence against an intimate partner. I am feeling optimistic that the legislation may help protect usually women, but not always, from being killed at the end of a bad relationship. I cannot begin to describe how bad that is.

The history of violence against women in the country has to come to a stop, and threats of violence against intimate partners are now in the fabric of the legislation as a reason that someone would not be able to buy a gun.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 1:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is an absolute honour to rise in the House today to stand up for law-abiding gun owners as I declare my opposition to Bill C-71.

I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek.

Today is my last opportunity to address the flaws in this failed legislation brought forward by the Liberal government. We all know the Liberals intend to ram it through the House of Commons without due process. They have already shown us that.

The Liberals shut down debate at second reading and at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, members of the committee asked that Bill C-71 be allowed a sufficient number of meetings and witnesses, but the Liberals decided to cut it short. They do not care about what law enforcement agents have to say. They do not want to give time to legislative experts. They certainly do not want to give voice to the Canadian public.

When those empowered turn a deaf ear to the people they represent, arrogance incapacitates any ability to exercise logic or common sense.

From the start, the government did not want to debate Bill C-71. It did not want to consult or listen; it wanted to just ram it through. The Liberals would rather push through this failed legislation that aims to deceive Canadians into believing that it actually would do something to protect them, when, in fact, it does nothing. In actuality, the Liberals are going after those who already follow the law. At the same time, the Liberals are putting legislation in place that would reward criminals.

Bill C-71 would create a backdoor long-gun registry. It calls for the confiscation of firearms that were legally purchased by Canadians and would allow the federal government to share firearms records with the province of Quebec. Furthermore, it would remove the ability of licensed firearms owners to transport their restricted firearms to a gunsmith or trade show.

Bill C-71 is flawed legislation that would crack down on responsible, law-abiding firearms owners and would do absolutely nothing to go after those who would engage in violent crime.

The Liberals are rushing through flawed legislation that would potentially criminalize tens of thousands of responsible citizens, while allowing a whole host of criminals to go free.

When I was in Nunavut this spring, I had many opportunities to speak with hunters. These Inuit hunters talked to me about the potential implications of the legislation and how upset they were by it. At the public safety committee, indigenous leaders said that the legislation actually threatened them and, therefore, they could take legal action against it, that it infringed upon their constitutional rights.

I am proud to live in the southern Alberta riding of Lethbridge. Many families there enjoy the heritage of hunting and sports shooting. These are peaceful individuals. They are peaceful gun owners, men, women and youth. They have the opportunity to use their firearms in a responsible manner and have gone through a rigorous vetting process in order to do so.

When I talk to my constituents, they are deeply concerned about Bill C-71. In fact, I recently sat down with my youth advisory board. It is a non-partisan group of individuals between the ages of 16 and 24. I had the opportunity to listen to their thoughts. This is what they wanted me to share with the Prime Minister on their behalf.

They asked me to remind the Prime Minister that he was the leader of a country and not a teacher in a high school drama classroom. They asked me to remind him that he needed to lead with honesty, that he needed to function with integrity and that he needed to stop attacking those who owned their firearms legally and used their guns responsibly. Instead, they asked him to put legislation in place that would go after the real criminals.

They called this legislation “absolute nonsense”. They said that this legislation was an emotionally charge response to a problem in the United States and unfairly punishes law-abiding Canadians. Furthermore, they begged the question, “Why is the Prime Minister skewing facts and telling mistruths in order to pass this legislation that punishes those who lawfully own a firearm?”

The fact that indigenous people across the country and the youth of my riding strongly oppose this bill should be some indication to the House that there are huge flaws. However, there is more.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of standing in the House and presenting e-petition 1608. As the sponsor of this petition, which calls for the repeal of Bill C-71, I felt it was absolutely essential to provide Canadians with the opportunity to oppose the Liberals' reckless and nonsensical legislation.

This petition was started by a 15-year-old in my riding by the name of Ryan Slingerland. As an informed and engaged young Canadian, he was upset when he learned about the Liberals' failed legislation. To quote Ryan directly, he said, “law-abiding citizens are not the issue with gun violence”.

With more than 86,000 signatures, e-petition 1608 is the second most signed e-petition in Canadian history. It sends a strong message to the Liberal government, and that is to back off.

The e-petition has signatories from every single province and territory, which means this is an issue that impacts our country as a whole. There are voices standing up in unity from coast to coast, asking the government to do something about the real criminals and to stop going after those who are law-abiding citizens.

The government is clearly more interested in painting a picture of caring rather than actually caring about the safety of Canadians. That is wrong. That is not good governance. Canadians from coast to coast can tell this, and they are calling on the government to be honest and to put proper legislation in place.

Good governments rest on the principle of listening, followed by action. Therefore, on behalf of law-abiding gun owners, I am pleading with the government today to exercise wisdom, to do what is right and take a step back.

The irony in all of this is that while the Liberals are demonizing hunters and sports shooters, the Prime Minister is actually reducing penalties for a massive list of extremely serious crimes. I am talking about participating in a terrorist group, trafficking women and girls, committing violence against a clergy member, murdering a child within one year of his or her birth, abducting a child, forcing marriage, advocating for genocide or participating in organized crime. The list goes on and on. That is just a sample.

Under Bill C-75, the government is reducing the penalties for these crimes. Does that sound like a government that cares about taking criminals off the street? Does that sound like a government that cares about protecting the well-being of Canadians, about making sure that moms are safe at home with their kids, or that they are safe at the park, or that Canadians are safe to go and enjoy an ice-cream cone out on a patio on a public sidewalk? Does that speak of a government that actually cares about our general border safety and control and security of the country? No, absolutely not.

A government that cared about the well-being of Canadians would put laws in place that would combat gang violence and organized crime. That government would not go and reward those people.

The current government is saying that it wants to keep Canadians safe and prevent gun violence, but Bill C-71 does absolutely nothing to accomplish this end. It fails to address gang violence. It fails to address the issue of illegal firearms and it fails to address rural violence and crime. In fact, the Liberal government's failure is so severe that of the $327 million it earmarked to tackle gun and gang violence, not a single penny has gone out the door.

Again, I ask this. If the government were really concerned about the well-being of Canadians and wanting to tackle crime and go after perpetrators, should it not be rolling out the money it put in the budget to do so? However, it is not concerned about that at all. Instead, it is concerned about going after the women and men who properly own their firearms, who have been extensively researched, who have a licence and are able to possess their firearm legally and use it responsibly. Why is the government doing that?

Bill C-71 targets those people unfairly and it creates the failed long gun registry that cost Canadians $1 billion to set up the very first time. I am proud to be part of a party that scrapped that wasteful legislation. We have vowed to do the same thing when we become government again.

Furthermore, it should be noted that the legislation before the House also unfairly turns thousands of Canadians into criminals overnight. It does this by reclassifying a number of firearms as prohibited. I am talking about firearms that are legally brought into Canada and that are legally possessed. This has been done for years. These individuals would, overnight, be in possession of something that would be illegal, thanks to the government.

Not a single one of the measures being put in place would take guns out of the hands of criminals. Criminals do not purchase their guns legally and they certainly do not register them.

In summary, Bill C-71 is yet again another failed piece of legislation from the government. It does absolutely nothing to protect our communities, to make them safer or to target those who are responsible for crime.

I am proud to say that a Conservative government will repeal and replace this legislation. We will replace it with a law that targets criminals, protects Canadians and respects those who lawfully own their firearms. That is a good government. That is the government that the House will see in 2019.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 1:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-71,, an act to amend certain acts and regulations in relation to firearms.

I have many concerns with this piece of legislation, but as there is limited time, I would like to focus my remarks today on what I consider to be a shocking oversight. I believe that all of us in this place would agree that it must be the highest priority of a government to protect the lives and safety of its constituents, of the people they are serving. Of all our duties, this is the most profound.

In order to protect our citizens, to put effective solutions in place, it is vitally important that we understand the problem. In this case, it is to recognize who is committing the violent crimes within Canada. I believe there is a simple answer to that question, and it is gangs.

In 2016, one of every two firearms-related homicides was committed by organized crime, yet nowhere in this bill are the words “gang” or “organized crime” mentioned. At best, this is an unintentional oversight. At its worst, it is intentional. After all, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness himself spoke about this issue earlier this year, saying on March 18:

Criminal gun and gang violence is a grave threat to the safety of our communities. While overall crime rates in Canada are much lower than decades ago, homicides, gun crime and gang activity have all been steadily increasing. Gun homicides have almost doubled over the past four years—and more than half are linked to gangs.

Before continuing, I want to address one point about this statement. Statistics can provide a good basis for solid policy, but only if they are seen within their proper context. I believe the minister did not provide that proper context. The minister chose to use a particular timeline in the quote above, namely “four years”. As was made clear by his office, the year he is referencing is actually 2013.

Why is that significant? The minister claimed that gun homicides have almost doubled over the past four years. That statement is very misleading when placed in context. The year 2013 happened to have had the lowest number of firearms homicide ever recorded by Statistics Canada. The next closest year on record, 1998, had 13% more homicides.

The Liberals chose 2013 as the base year to make it appear as if gun homicides were growing at a shocking rate. Now the Liberals are using these statistics to justify punishing highly vetted, law-abiding gun owners by painting a picture of Canada as the wild west. However, an unbiased look at the numbers reveals a different story. If there is to be any comparison to the wild west, it would have to refer to our ongoing struggle with gang violence.

In 2016, gang members committed 114 firearms homicides compared with 134 total homicides in 2013, the year referenced by the minister. That is a shocking statistic, no matter how it is viewed. The minister noted that gang-related firearm homicides made up half of all firearms homicides in 2016. This is significantly above average and is a cause for concern.

How is it that after recognizing the central role of organized crime in firearms murders on March 8, the minister introduced a bill just days later that ignores organized crime?

Further, not only have the Liberals failed to meaningfully address gang violence in this bill, but in this bill's companion piece, Bill C-75, they are weakening the laws currently in place to combat gang violence. Bill C-75 amends the Criminal Code to lessen the sentences for serious and even violent crimes to as little as a fine. Among those crimes is participation in organized criminal activity, in other words, joining a gang.

What is the justification for lowering the legal penalties for gang members while punishing legal firearms owners? I cannot think of one. However, time and time again the Liberals have gone after legal firearms owners rather than the criminals who use firearms.

Gang members or other criminals are not going to be deterred by a law that further restricts legal firearms owners. They will only respond to laws that hold serious consequences for their illegal activities. The government had two opportunities to address the significant problem of gang violence, a problem the minister is very aware of, yet has failed to do so. The government has failed by weakening the punishment for gang activities, and again by not making changes to our firearms laws that would target gangs.

Not only does Bill C-71 do nothing to address gang violence, but it misses the mark on rural crime as well. My riding of Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek is a large and mostly rural riding. I have heard numerous concerns from constituents about the growing issue of rural crime. This place recognized the severity of that issue and passed unanimously the motion brought by my colleague from Lakeland, Motion No. 167. That motion will result in a committee study of rural crime. Every Liberal member who was present voted for the motion, including the Prime Minister. Surely that must mean the government understands there are unique problems faced by rural Canadians, yet nothing in this bill addresses rural crime.

Instead, Bill C-71 targets law-abiding firearms owners by, among other things, breaking the Liberals' election promise and reintroducing the wasteful and divisive long-gun registry through the backdoor. In this bill, the Liberals have introduced a backdoor registry by requiring firearms retailers to keep a registry of every firearm they sell for 20 years and by requiring private transfers to be verified by the registrar of firearms. This should come as no shock, but registrars keep registries. Firearms retailers would now be required to act as registrars themselves. They would be responsible for the cost of maintaining this information and for the security of that information. The private and personal information of millions of Canadians must by law be kept by a business for 20 years. These registries would be accessible by law enforcement and must be turned over to the government if the retailer goes out of business.

It is a registry by any other name, but the Liberals will now continue to refuse to use the term “registry” because they know how upset Canadians were about the last Liberal long-gun registry. They think that by not naming it and obscuring its location, Canadians will not notice. They are wrong. I have heard from hundreds of constituents who are frustrated that the Liberals have broken their campaign promise and reintroduced the firearms registry. They feel betrayed by the current government. They are disgusted that the Liberals would try to hide their broken promise behind technicalities and muddied language. They deserve better than to be treated like criminals.

In closing, I believe that we as parliamentarians have the responsibility to create laws that protect our citizens; that reflect real-world, objective data; that treat law-abiding Canadians fairly; and that address the concerns of Canadians regarding crime and gang violence. This bill does not meet any of those requirements. For this reason, I cannot and will not support Bill C-71.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 1:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would invite my colleague to comment on the juxtaposition that takes place between Bill C-71 and Bill C-75.

Bill C-71 of course is a piece of legislation the Liberal government has brought forward that has to do with guns. Meanwhile, Bill C-75 has to do with decreasing sentences for a number of heinous crimes, including genocide. The Liberals are claiming that Bill C-71 would actually go after gangs and gun violence and that it would help make our communities safer. Meanwhile, Bill C-75 would appear to do the exact opposite by actually making life a whole lot easier for criminals.

I wonder if my colleague would comment on that.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 1:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, I note that my colleague made a wise intervention earlier today.

I think I mentioned this contradiction in my remarks on Bill C-71. It is somewhat rich to introduce a bill that would appear to be getting tough on crime when it would actually do nothing to address violent crime or gangs, while at the same time reducing the sentences for individuals who perpetuate violent crimes.

The member did a great job of articulating that in her remarks, I mentioned it in mine, and I think it should come as no surprise that this contradiction exists with this particular government.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 1:35 p.m.
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Karen McCrimmon Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Surrey Centre.

It is a pleasure to rise at the third reading stage of this important legislation. Bill C-71 will uphold the commitments made by the government during the last election to introduce modest measures on firearms that address weaknesses in the current legal firearms regime. That includes the commitment not to reinstate a federal long-gun registry.

From the start, the bill has been guided by the priorities of protecting people and communities, supporting law enforcement and ensuring law-abiding firearms owners are treated fairly and reasonably. I am pleased to note that throughout the bill's progress, those priorities were reaffirmed by a broad range of stakeholders, partners and individual Canadians. Consultation does not mean that everyone agrees. It means that we have made the effort to hear all of the arguments, pro and con.

At committee there were some important motions for amendment. In fact, the amendments that were adopted came from every party. The first added to the specific criteria that must be considered when determining eligibility to hold a firearms licence, specifically to add threatening conduct, non-contact orders and more explicit language around risk of harm to self or to others. The amendments also make it clearer that when threatening violence and conduct occur, it includes those communicated in the digital realm. The amendments also specify that when considering eligibility for a firearms licence, expired orders prohibiting the possession of firearms where an offence in which violence was used, threatened or attempted against an intimate partner or former intimate partners must also be considered.

This should reassure Canadians that in the interest of public safety, the process through which a person can obtain a firearm includes a more comprehensive consideration of eligibility factors. Explicitly including the concept of harm on that list, which includes self harm, may also have important impacts. It is an absolute tragedy that 80% of firearm deaths in Canada are suicides and while suicide prevention is a whole-of-society issue, there are meaningful actions we can take through legislation. This is one of those contributing actions. Prevention experts agree that limiting access to guns for those at risk of suicide is part of the solution, along with access to mental health support.

I am glad to see that the concept of harm is clearly identified in the bill before us. I will also point out that the additional new criteria reflects the types of violence that predominantly target women, and I thank the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for all her work on this issue. This includes harassment and cyber-violence. In the online space, women are often targets of intimidation and propaganda and young women and girls are impacted disproportionately by cyber-violence, bullying and harassment. Adding these new factors updates our laws to reflect and address today's reality of increasing online abuse and harassment. It is consistent with the government's gender-based violence strategy.

Other amendments add some clarification to the bill. For example, the committee amended clause 1 to make it clear that the government will not recreate the federal long-gun registry. We now have that clarification right in the text of the bill. I will point out that the bill never included any components that would have permitted or required the registration of non-restricted firearms. While this amendment does not change the effect of the bill, I am confident it can provide reassurance that the long-gun registry will not be reinstated.

In addition, another amendment to clause 5, which was adopted at committee, will help clarify that a person meeting the conditions to transfer a non-restricted firearm can transfer more than one. In practice, the amendment changes the word “a” in the bill to “one or more”.

In fact, as proposed, the bill would not limit the number of non-restricted firearms that can be transferred, providing the conditions to do so are met. Once again, the bill is now clearer on that issue by virtue of the amendments. It now spells out specifically that a valid licence and a valid reference number attesting to the licence validity can support the transfer of ownership of more than one non-restricted firearm.

I am grateful that all parties have played an important role in the close scrutiny of this bill. It started off on solid footing. It already strengthens current laws around eligibility to hold a firearms licence. For example, it requires licensing authorities to consider specific information from the applicant's life history rather than just the previous five years. It improves licence verification, requiring anyone selling or giving a non-restricted firearm to verify the validity of the recipient's firearms licence. It improves record-keeping requirements among firearm businesses by requiring them to keep records of sale for non-restricted firearms. Responsible vendors already do this, but making it mandatory would not only set in law what they already do, it would also provide police with an additional tool to track non-restricted firearms which may have been trafficked from the legal to the illegal market.

The bill strengthens the regime around the transportation of restricted and prohibited firearms, but does not include non-restricted firearms, the ones used by hunters and farmers. It creates a more consistent approach to classification, responsibly leaving the technical determination on the classification of firearms to experts.

Today we have new measures with added benefits, such as enhanced background checks, greater certainty that no federal registry will be created and welcome clarification on non-restricted firearms transfers. Many Canadians from all walks of life have told us that the measures in this legislation are important. It is just one part of a larger package that will help make our communities safer and give law enforcement the tools they need to do their jobs.

In closing, I want to thank the members on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, all those who provided testimony and my colleagues in the House for helping shape this important legislation along the way. I encourage all members to join me in supporting Bill C-71.