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

Sponsor

Ralph Goodale  Liberal

Status

Third reading (House), as of June 20, 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

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

June 19th, 2018 / 8:25 p.m.
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Fundy Royal New Brunswick

Liberal

Alaina Lockhart LiberalParliamentary Secretary for Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, as members know, I represent Fundy Royal in New Brunswick, a largely rural area. Through the course of this discussion on Bill C-71, I have taken the opportunity to consult with many firearms owners in my riding, to understand their concerns and to feed their concerns back into this legislative process, which I found to be a very productive exercise.

Has the member across the way consulted with any domestic violence victims advocates, or with any women's groups or youth? Youth, in particular, are now in the habit of having to regularly practise lockdowns in their schools. The reality is that, even though they live in rural areas, gun regulation is very important for them. Can the hon. member share with us the consultation that she has done with other groups in her riding?

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 8:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, let us summarize some of the key issues I have heard from Canadians all across the country, including the nearly 79,000 who have signed the e-petition, stating that they are opposed to Bill C-71.

First, the proposed bill does nothing to tackle gun, gang or rural crime. Criminals do not register their firearms as we know.

Second, the claims made by the public safety minister, his parliamentary secretary, the Prime Minister, and the rest of the Liberals that the bill goes after criminals while respecting firearms owners are inaccurate and insulting to millions of Canadians.

Third, the Liberals will not call this a gun registry. The rest of the country thinks that it is a gun registry. I guess we will have to leave it to Canadians to decide when they vote in the next election.

We saw what the Liberal MPs really thought of Bill C-71 when we finished our work at committee. Mere moments after ratifying the legislation at committee, with the Liberal majority against the Conservative objectives, the Liberals moved to call a study on issues raised precisely by witnesses, just minutes after stifling Conservative amendments that would have improved Bill C-71.

The Liberals called on the minister to address the real issues facing illegal firearms getting into the hands of criminals; administrative and process issues resulting in criminals getting firearms licences; and improving regulations on firearms storage for retailers and firearms owners. All of these issues are more productive than anything the minister has put forward, and none of the MPs on that committee had the courage to tackle these issues in the legislation when that bill was before us at committee and when they had the chance.

It is time the Liberal government start to take public safety and its duty to protect Canadians seriously. However, it is not taking these issues as seriously as it needs to. Rather, it is targeting law-abiding gun owners and delaying funding for police.

In the fall of 2017, the public safety minister made an announcement in Surrey, B.C., where there is a real gang problem. Gang violence and shootings are a regular occurrence there, and police and communities need more help to tackle these criminals. At that time, he promised $327 million to combat gangs and guns. It was a great announcement, and no doubt one that helped the Liberal MP from South Surrey—White Rock secure his seat since it was made during the by-election.

To date, not one dollar has moved on that funding. Reports suggest it will take a full two more years for the Liberals to make that funding available to police. Since that announcement, the Liberals have tabled Bill C-71, pushing the House by limiting debate and testimony, and ramming it through with almost no amendments, despite nearly every witness saying it was not a good bill.

Looking at the Liberal motions that followed the four days of study on Bill C-71, we saw that the Liberal MPs had little to no understanding of the subject matter, were confused by the current laws, and made little or no attempt to fix the problems that were clearly presented to the committee. The Liberals suggested, again, after the study had been completed, that the minister review the reference process for possession and acquisition licences.

We heard from a Liberal insider who testified, very passionately, about the tragic loss of her daughter. Her killer was described as a non-violent boyfriend but “manipulative and controlling”. He had a firearms licence and legally purchased at least one of the guns that he shot her daughter with. The witness stated that he had an arrest for drug trafficking, forcible confinement, assault, uttering threats, and received only two years probation. To be clear, this individual should never have been granted a firearms licence and was in no way eligible for one with the charges and convictions against him. It was human error that caused this to occur, not a gap in legislation.

Section 5 of the Firearms Act, as it was back then and is now, states, “A person is not eligible to hold a licence if it is desirable, in the interests of the safety of that or any other person, that the person not possess a firearm”. Further, it says that if individuals have been “convicted or discharged under section 730 of the Criminal Code”, which is anyone convicted of an offence, they are ineligible for a firearm.

It also states that anyone convicted of “an offence in the commission of which violence against another person was used, threatened or attempted”, and, “an offence relating to the contravention...of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act” is ineligible.

Moreover anyone who “has a history of behaviour that includes violence or threatened or attempted violence” is also ineligible to legally acquire a licence to obtain a firearm. That is what the legislation is currently and was before Bill C-71 was introduced. The bill specifically dealt with this section.

Clause 2 proposed amendments to section 5, so it was certainly in the scope of the bill. In fact, clause 2 was one of the few areas where any amendments were made. The committee agreed that we amend clause 2 to include language that anyone who “...has a history of behaviour that includes violence or threatened or attempted violence or threatening conduct on the part of the person against any person” or who “for any reason, poses a risk of harm to any person” is ineligible for a firearm licence. To be blunt, not much changed.

The Liberals on committee felt so strongly about this issue of reference checks that they decided to call no new witnesses and hold no added meetings. They made no call for the minister to increase resources to ensure a thorough review of reference checks.

The Liberals also called for the government to examine firearms storage and commercial storage regulations. This is ironic, since the Liberals blocked industry representatives from coming to committee. As with numerous cases during the testimony, this recommendation makes it crystal clear that the Liberal MPs who voted for Bill C-71 still have no idea what the current laws and rules are around firearms in this country.

Here are the rules as per government regulations for storage for non-restricted firearms. They must be unloaded, must be locked in a room that is hard to break into, or have a trigger lock so that they cannot be fired. Ammunition must be stored separately and locked.

For a restricted firearm, like the sidearm I used for policing, it must be unloaded, must have a trigger lock, and be locked in a room or safe that cannot be easily opened.

Ironically, the motion calls for the government to work with all relevant stakeholders, something it did not apparently think was important enough to do during the legislation. Seven of the individuals the minister says were consulted in preparation for Bill C-71 stated that they were not consulted at all, contrary to the minister's suggestion.

The Liberals finally called for the minister to look into straw purchases and that, “the Government study mechanisms to identify large and unusual firearms transactions, especially those involving restricted and prohibited guns, to better identify illicit straw purchasing schemes, gang activity, or trafficking operations”.

I find it funny, that the minister stated that Bill C-71 would deal with this issue. He said it would help police trace guns used in crimes, detect straw purchasing schemes, and identify trafficking networks. However it does not. The Liberals are now calling for it. It is clear that even though Liberal MPs voted for this in committee, they did not even believe their own minister.

The fact is that while some of the suggestions from the Liberals might have merit, they ring hollow. We had an opportunity and an obligation to go after illegal firearms, gangs, and violent crime when the bill came to committee. Sadly, the Liberals lacked the courage of their convictions and passed a pointless bill, a bill they ironically gave so little credence to that they immediately moved to do other things after voting in favour of it.

Bill C-71 would not increase the safety of our communities. It would not combat gangs and illegal firearms, because criminals do not register their guns. It would not provide new tools for police or more resources to deal with the issues. And for my colleagues in the Liberal party, it would not provide any added political cover in the next election.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 8:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the hon. member's accuracy at committee as we were going through amendments.

The reality is that currently, before Bill C-71 came along, criminal record checks and background checks for people applying for a licence did not go back five years. We heard from those who actually do these checks that they go back over the lifetime of the individual when they apply for a PAL. The suggestion that they only go back five years is mistaken.

Is there a need to improve the inability of people to access firearms who have a record or mental health issues? Absolutely. It was the Conservative Party that was the first to bring in prohibitions, the removal of licences, and the removal of firearms from those who are convicted or accused of domestic violence.

I appreciate the hon. member's question. The current legislation is void. There are some steps to be made. I think, however, that this bill does not do it, as required by Canadians, for public safety.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 8:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” is a popular reference to William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet, in which Juliet seems to argue that it does matter that Romeo is from her family's rival house of Montague and that he is a Montague himself. The reference is often used to imply that the names of things do not affect what they really are. Juliet compares Romeo to a rose, saying that if he was not named Romeo, he would be just as handsome and would still be Juliet's love.

In the case of Bill C-71, a gun registry by any other name is, well, a gun registry.

At committee stage, the Liberals passed one of the CPC amendments, which has been often quoted. It stated, “For greater certainty, nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to permit or require the registration of non-restricted firearms.”

When the Liberals adopted this amendment, we expected that they would also support changes that would remove the elements that essentially created a gun registry. Unfortunately, they did not. They kept the registrar tracking of the transfer of firearms, keeping a centralized government record, and that is a registry by another name.

It is very cynical and disingenuous of the Minister of Public Safety and other Liberals in the House to try to skew this as support for the language of the bill. It was much like watching the President of the Treasury Board the other day defending the Liberals' slush fund in vote 40 in the estimates by quoting the current and the past PBO, pretending these gentlemen were in support of the Liberal slush fund. However, Kevin Page, the former PBO, said that there is no way it is an improvement, and the current PBO said that their incomplete information will lead to weaker spending controls.

The bill before us would remove the reference to the five-year period that applies to background checks on licence applications, thereby eliminating any temporal restrictions on such checks. It would require that whenever a non-restricted firearm is transferred, the buyer must produce a licence, and the vendor must verify that it is valid, which would require a registrar to issue a reference number for such transactions. The bill would require commercial retailers to maintain records of their inventories and sales, and such records would be accessible to the police. It would put the power to classify weapons in the hands of the RCMP bureaucrats and take it out of the hands of parliamentarians, and it would amend the Long-gun Registry Act to allow a province to keep its gun registry records. It sounds like a registry.

What is missing from Bill C-71 is any reference to keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and gangs.

What bill does mention gangs and organized crime? Bill C-75 does, but only in relation to lighter sentences. What does Bill C-75 do? It lessens sentences to as little as fines for those participating in the activity of a terrorist group, much like the returning ISIS terrorist wandering around the streets of Toronto. If the government ever gets around to having him arrested, maybe we will hit him with a fine.

The penalty for administering a noxious drug, such as a date rape drug, can now be reduced to a fine. The penalty for advocating genocide is now reduced. It is somewhat ironic that the Liberals would use the word “genocide” in Bill C-75 for reducing the penalty, when they could not bear to say the word in the House to describe what was happening to the Yazidis overseas. The penalty for participating in organized crime would also be reduced in Bill C-75.

To sum up, Bill C-71 would go after law-abiding gun owners, and Bill C-75 would go soft on crime. Maybe we will set out some tea cozies and ask returning ISIS fighters to sit around the campfire and sing Kumbaya together.

To make the streets safer, I have to ask why the Minister of Public Safety does not just get up from his seat, walk about seven benches down, and tell the Minister of Justice to do her job and appoint some judges to the judiciary. In the Jordan ruling, people have a right to a timely trial, but the Liberals have not appointed enough judges, so we are letting accused murderers go. I want to talk about some of them.

Nick Chan, from Calgary, walked free this week. Who is Nick Chan? He was charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and instructing a criminal organization. If the Liberals want to get guns off the street, why do they not appoint judges so that we can keep people like Nick Chan in jail? He has also been accused in the past of murdering three other people and has been charged with firearm offences. Here we have Bill C-71 going after law-abiding gun owners, and we let someone like Nick Chan, who is charged with illegally possessing guns, go because we have not appointed judges.

James Coady, in Newfoundland, facing drug trafficking and weapons charges, was let go because there was no judge and he could not get a timely trial.

Van Son Nguyen was released in Quebec, the third accused murderer released in Quebec because he could not get a timely trial.

Lance Regan was released in Edmonton because, again, no judges.

However, let us focus on Bill C-71. Here is the worst one. A father was accused of breaking his two-week-old baby's ankles. He had his criminal charges stayed because he could not get a timely trial. The grandmother of the poor kid said, “We were angry, we were crying, we were outraged that he was able to get off with this (ruling).”

However, the Liberal government is tying us up with Bill C-71, going after law-abiding gun owners and ignoring its duty to appoint judges, letting murders go free, letting someone who breaks the ankles of a two-week-old baby go free. This is the priority.

In a television interview, the parliamentary secretary for justice said, “We border the largest handgun arsenal in the world.” I assume he means America. However, this bill would do nothing to address that issue.

The Minister of Public Safety says, “it's the drug trade, in particular, that is an intrinsic part of gang culture and gang-related violence and arguably causes the most harm in our communities” and that it is made worse by the “opioid crisis”. What do we have? Vote 40, the slush fund, which is supposed to get money out the door faster, has $1 million to address the opioid issue.

I want to talk about the departmental plans. Departmental plans are plans that every department has to put out. The departmental reports describe departmental priorities and expected results.

I will go to the Minister of Public Safety and see what his plan says, “If we can find a way to intervene early before tragedy strikes, we should.” Here is a hint for the Minister of Public Safety. He should walk down the row and tell the justice minister to appoint some judges and then maybe we can intervene before tragedy strikes.

He talks about safer communities being central to Public Safety Canada's mandate. He invites all Canadians to read the Public Safety Canada 2018-19 departmental plan to find out how it is keeping Canada and Canadians safe.

I have read the plans. I do not think anyone from the other side of the House has, and I am pretty sure the Minister of Public Safety has not read his own plans that he signed off on.

Under the section on national security and terrorism, it sets out four different targets. Departmental results indicate that the first one is Canada's ranking on global terrorism. I am surprised the government has not even set a target to compare things to. The next is Canada's ranking on cyber security, but there are no past areas to compare it to. Then the percentage of the population thinks the right mechanisms are in place for them to respond to terrorism. Once again, there is no target set. It goes on and on.

Under community public safety, and this is great, there are seven targets, three of them have no past targets to refer to. Therefore, the government is pulling a number out of the air as the target to achieve. For the percentage of stakeholders reported consulting public safety, the target is set at 60%. However, there is nothing in the past to compare it to. For stakeholders reporting good or very good results on projects funded through Public Safety, it is 80%. Compared to what? Nothing, everything is not applicable. Here is a great one. The crime severity index is going to go up. This measures, as it says, the severity of crime in Canada. This actually goes up over last year and up over the Harper era.

For the percentage of Canadians who think that crime in their neighbourhood has decreased, the goal for next year is to have it worse than it was in previous years. For crimes prevented in populations most at risk, it shows a drop in results. For the percentage of at-risk populations, there is no target. For the difference between police reporting in first nations communities, again, it shows a drop in results. The three-year plan actually shows 23% in funding cuts to community safety.

This shows the Liberal priorities. Instead of going after terrorists, instead of going after criminals, instead of going after gangs with guns, their priority is to prey on law-abiding gun owners and re-establishing a registry. It is a shame.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 8:55 p.m.
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Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for his very passionate and fact-filled speech on Bill C-71. One of the interesting aspects of this that has been touched on many times today as we have debated the bill is how little mention there is, in fact zero mention, of guns and gangs in the bill, but the words “registry” and “registrar” are mentioned many times. In fact, I think it was 38 times in this legislation.

Why does my hon. colleague think that is? Why are there so many mentions of registrar and register, yet zero mention of guns and gangs? Is this in fact a registry?

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 8:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his third question and his hard work on the file. He is right in his comments. Nothing in Bill C-71 is going to address the guns and gangs issue.

I am a former gun owner. I had a couple of handguns. I belonged to a gun club in Edmonton. It is very ironic. The name of the gun club was Phoenix. It has, like the Liberal Phoenix fiasco, actually gone under. I spent a lot of time at the Wild West Shooting Centre in West Edmonton Mall. Gun owners are the most conscientious, law-abiding group and again Bill C-71 focuses on those who are following the law and it does nothing against those who are breaking the law.

Public Safety and National SecurityCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 18th, 2018 / 3:25 p.m.
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Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 22nd report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, entitled “Indigenous People in the Federal Correctional System”. This was a unanimous report.

There was a lot of hard work, but it reflects the upset of members with respect to indigenous incarceration. The members wish me to convey that they will be calling the ministers and the officials to the committee in the fall to respond to their recommendations.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to the report.

I also have the honour to present two reports of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security in relation to the recently tabled, as amended, Bill C-71, an act to amend certain acts and regulations in relation to firearms.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank our colleague from Calgary Midnapore for a very heartfelt intervention. I think I have just scrapped my entire speech because of what our colleague has mentioned.

It brought me back to growing up in the Cariboo and what our thoughts and dreams were as kids. I was one of the those kids who wanted to be a hockey player and to move on. However, the reality was, we were probably going to become a logger or a farmer, because that is what we did, and that is what we do very well in the Cariboo.

Bill C-69 bring us back to yet another failed election promise of the Liberals and to some of what we have mentioned throughout this House over recent days, weeks, and months. When the member for Papineau was campaigning in 2015, he talked about letting debate reign, yet here we sit.

This is the 44th time allocation that has been imposed on this House, meaning that the members of Parliament on the opposition side, and the Canadians who elected them, have not had the full opportunity to present their feelings about what the government is doing, whether it is on Bill C-69, Bill C-59, Bill C-71, or Bill C-68.

Thank goodness that the Standing Orders dictate that private members' bills cannot be time allocated, and our late colleague, Senator Enverga's private member's bill, Bill S-218, has had the full breadth of comments and support.

Bill C-69 seeks to reverse the 2012 changes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. I will bring us back again to the promise from the member for Papineau, or one of the Liberals, who said that the government would undertake a full review of laws, policies, and operational practices when it comes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

There are a number of people, groups, and organizations that have serious concerns over what Bill C-69 proposes. Our hon. colleague has mentioned, and it has been mentioned before, that most notably the legislation says it intends to decrease the timelines for both major and minor projects. Unfortunately, there are a myriad of ministerial and Governor in Council exemptions that can be exercised to slow down approvals.

What Bill C-69 represents is not a further clarification of the rules and regulations so that project proponents and those who are trying to enforce the act know where they stand, but rather it muddies the waters. What we have heard time and again, what the committee heard time and again, was that it was a wait and see. There was a lot of concern, and indeed those very groups, the environmental groups, that the Liberals campaigned to and got their vote are now saying that it does not meet the standards.

We have seen this over and over again with the government. It likes to say it has consulted with Canadians, and its Liberal members stand with their hand on their heart and talk about how important consultation is. Yet we know, time and again, as it is with the cannabis legislation, the Liberals are rushing legislation through without fully looking at some of the concerns that have been brought forward by the groups, the organizations, and the stakeholders who are going to be most impacted.

Let us talk about the Arctic surf clam in my file. I cannot stand up and do a speech nowadays without bringing up this injustice. The minister was given the authority and the discretion to go in and implement policy, without anybody checking how this would impact the stakeholders, and without the minister consulting about how that policy would impact those on the ground, the stakeholders, whose livelihoods truly depend on the Arctic surf clam fishery. These are some of the concerns that we have.

When the member for Papineau was campaigning, he said that omnibus bills were done for, and yet here we are again debating another 400-page piece of legislation.

He also talked about maybe having a small deficit of $10 billion. We now know that it will not be our children but our grandchildren who will see a balanced budget, because of the Liberal government's spending.

Bill C-69 represents more broken promises, and it does nothing to give confidence to industry. We know at this time that foreign investment is fleeing our nation at record levels. The CEO from Suncor recently spoke to Bill C-69 and said that it had absolutely put a nail in the coffin of Canadian investment in industry.

The government would like everyone to believe that it knows best and that the Ottawa-developed policies have the best intentions for Canadians, yet the Liberals are not listening when Canadians are speaking. They are not allowing members of Parliament to stand and bring the voices of Canadians to Parliament.

It would not be one of my speeches if I did not remind the House and Canadians that the House does not belong to me, and it sure as heck does not belong to those on the government side. It belongs to Canadians. All 338 members of Parliament and the Canadians who elected them deserve to have a say and to have their voices heard. When the government is forcing time allocation on pieces of legislation that fundamentally are going to have an impact on Canadians' lives, Canadians deserve to have a say.

Industry is shaken at the government's lack of consultation and lack of understanding on how we are moving forward. A good friend of mine, the hon. member for North Okanagan—Shuswap, asked our colleague from Calgary Midnapore about the industry's lack of confidence. Is it the carbon tax and the fact that the government refuses to tell Canadians how much it is going to be? Is it Bill C-69, the regulatory environment, that is shaking the confidence of the industry? Is it other legislation that is shaking the confidence of industry, or is it all of the above?

I would offer one more. The Prime Minister, in one of his earliest speeches to the world, spoke about how Canada was going to be known more for its resourcefulness than for its natural resources. The Liberals have waged war against our energy sector from day one. He said he wished the government could phase out the energy sector sooner and apologized for it.

Canadians and the energy sector, our natural resource industry, deserve a champion. The Minister of Natural Resources has said that it is about time our forestry producers and our energy producers got in line with what the world is doing in terms of technology and sustainable harvesting.

Whether it is our softwood lumber producers, our oil and gas producers, our fishermen on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, or our farmers, Canada has some of the best, if not the best, in terms of technology and harvesting. They are leading the way. They just need a champion. Guess what? They will have that in 2019, when the Conservatives regain the right side of the House.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 5:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his speech.

On June 20, 2017, almost a year ago to the day, the minister introduced Bill C-59 in the House. Shortly after that, he said that, instead of bringing it back for second reading, it would be sent straight to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security so the committee could strengthen and improve it. Opposition members thought that was fantastic. We thought there would be no need for political games for once. Since this bill is about national security, we thought we could work together to ensure that Bill C-59 works for Canadians. When it comes to security, there is no room for partisanship.

Unfortunately, the opposition soon realized that it was indeed a political game. The work we were asked to do was essentially pointless. I will have more to say about that later.

The government introduced Bill C-71, the firearms bill, in much the same way. It said it would sever the gun-crime connection, but this bill does not even go there. The government is targeting hunters and sport shooters, but that is another story.

Getting back to Bill C-59, we were invited to propose amendments. We worked very hard. We got a lot of work done in just under nine months. We really took the time to go through this 250-page omnibus bill. We Conservatives proposed 45 specific amendments that we thought were important to improve Bill C-59, as the minister had asked us to do. In the end, none of our amendments were accepted by the committee or the government. Once again, we were asked to do a certain job, but then our work was dismissed, even though everything we proposed made a lot of sense.

The problem with Bill C-59, as far as we are concerned, is that it limits the Canadian Security Intelligence Service's ability to reduce terrorist threats. It also limits the ability of government departments to share data among themselves to protect national security. It removes the offence of advocating and promoting terrorist offences in general. Finally, it raises the threshold for obtaining a terrorism peace bond and recognizance with conditions. One thing has been clear to us from the beginning. Changing just two words in a 250-page document can sometimes make all the difference. What we found is that it will be harder for everyone to step in and address a threat.

The minister does indeed have a lot of experience. I think he has good intentions and truly wants this to work, but there is a prime minister above him who has a completely different vision and approach. Here we are, caught in a bind, with changes to our National Security Act that ultimately do nothing to enhance our security.

Our allies around the world, especially those in Europe, have suffered attacks. Bill C-51 was introduced in 2014, in response to the attacks carried out here, in Canada. Right now, we do not see any measures that would prevent someone from returning to the Islamic State. This is a problem. Our act is still in force, and we are having a hard time dealing with Abu Huzaifa, in Toronto. The government is looking for ways to arrest him—if that is what it truly wants to do—and now it is going to pass a law that will make things even harder for our security services. We are having a hard time with this.

Then there is the whole issue of radicalization. Instead of cracking down on it, the government is trying to put up barriers to preventing it. The funny thing is that at the time, when they were in the opposition, the current Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Prime Minister both voted with the government in favour of Bill C-51. There was a lot of political manoeuvring, and during the campaign, the Liberals said that they would address Bill C-51, a bill they had supported. At the time, it was good, effective counter-terrorism legislation. However, the Liberals listened to lobby groups and said during the campaign that they would amend it.

I understand the world of politics, being a part of it. However, there are certain issues on which we should set politics aside in the interest of national security. Our allies, the Five Eyes countries are working to enhance their security and to be more effective.

The message we want to get across is that adding more red tape to our structures makes them less operationally effective. I have a really hard time with that.

Let me share some examples of amendments we proposed to Bill C-59. We proposed an amendment requiring the minister to table in Parliament a clear description of the way the various organizations would work together, namely, the NSIC, CSE, CSIS, the new committee of parliamentarians, as well as the powers and duties of the minister.

In our meetings with experts, we noticed that people had a hard time understanding who does what and who speaks to whom. We therefore drafted an amendment that called on the minister to provide a breakdown of the duties that would be clear to everyone. The answer was no. The 45 amendments we are talking about were not all ideological in nature, but rather down to earth. The amendments were rejected.

It was the Conservative government that introduced Bill C-51 when it was in office. Before the bill was passed, the mandate of CSIS prevented it from engaging in any disruption activities. For example, CSIS could not approach the parents of a radicalized youth and encourage them to dissuade their child from travelling to a war zone or conducting attacks here in Canada. After Bill C-51 was passed, CSIS was able to engage in some threat disruption activities without a warrant and in others with a warrant. Threat disruption refers to efforts to stop terrorist attacks while they are still in the planning stages.

Threat disruption activities not requiring a warrant are understood to be any activities that are not contrary to Canadian laws. Threat disruption activities requiring a warrant currently include any activity that would infringe on an individual's privacy or other rights and any activity that contravenes Canada's laws. Any threat disruption activities that would cause bodily harm, violate sexual integrity, or obstruct justice are specifically prohibited.

Under Bill C-51, warrants were not required for activities that were not against Canadian law. Bill C-51 was balanced. No one could ask to intervene if it was against the law to do so. When there was justification, that worked, but if a warrant was required, one was applied for.

At present, Bill C-59 limits the threat reduction activities of CSIS to the specific measures listed in the bill. CSIS cannot employ these measures without a warrant. At present CSIS requires a warrant for these actions, which I will describe. First, a warrant is required to amend, remove, replace, destroy, disrupt, or degrade a communication or means of communication. Second, a warrant is also required to modify, remove, replace, destroy, degrade, or provide or interfere with the use or delivery of all or part of something, including files, documents, goods, components, and equipment.

The work was therefore complicated by the privacy objectives of Canadians. Bill C-51 created a privacy problem. Through careful analysis and comparison, it eventually became clear that the work CSIS was requesting was not in fact a privacy intrusion, as was believed. Even the privacy commissioners and witnesses did not analyze the situation the same way we are seeing now.

Bill C-51 made it easier to secure peace bonds in terrorism cases. Before Bill C-51, the legal threshold for police to secure a peace bond was that a person had to fear that another person will commit a terrorism offence.

Under Bill C-51, a peace bond could be issued if there were reasonable grounds to fear that a person might commit a terrorism offence. It is important to note that Bill C-59 maintains the lower of the two thresholds by using “may”. However, Bill C-59 raises the threshold from “is likely” to “is necessary”.

Earlier when I mentioned the two words that changed out of the 250 pages, I was referring to changing “is likely” to “is necessary”. These two words make all the difference for preventing a terrorist activity, in order to secure a peace bond.

It would be very difficult to prove that a peace bond, with certain conditions, is what is needed to prevent an act of terrorism. This would be almost as complex as laying charges under the Criminal Code. What we want, however, is to get information to be able to act quickly to prevent terrorist acts.

We therefore proposed an amendment to the bill calling for a recognizance order to be issued if a peace officer believes that such an order is likely to prevent terrorist activities. The Liberals are proposing replacing the word “likely” with the words “is necessary”. We proposed an amendment to eliminate that part of the bill, but it was refused. That is the main component of Bill C-59 with respect to managing national security.

Bill C-59 has nine parts. My NDP colleague wanted to split the bill, and I thought that was a very good idea, since things often get mixed up in the end. We are debating Bill C-59 here, but some parts are more administrative in nature, while others have to do with young people. Certain aspects need not be considered together. We believe that the administrative parts could have been included in other bills, while the more sensitive parts that really concern national security could have been dealt with publicly and separately.

Finally, the public and the media are listening to us, and Bill C-59 is an omnibus bill with so many elements that we cannot oppose it without also opposing some aspects that we support. For example, we are not against reorganizing the Communications Security Establishment. Some things could be changed, but we are not opposed to that.

We supported many of the bill's elements. On balance, however, it contains some legislation that is too sensitive and that we cannot support because it touches on fundamental issues. In our view, by tinkering with this, security operations will become very bureaucratic and communications will become difficult, despite the fact the the main goal was to simplify things and streamline operations.

The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security heard from 36 witnesses, and several of them raised this concern. The people who work in the field every day said that it complicated their lives and that this bill would not simplify things. A huge structure that looks good on paper was put in place, but from an operational point of view, things have not been simplified.

Ultimately, national security is what matters to the government and to the opposition. I would have liked the amendments that we considered important to be accepted. Even some administrative amendments were rejected. We believe that there is a lack of good faith on the part of the government on this file. One year ago, we were asked to work hard and that is what we did. The government did not listen to us and that is very disappointing.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 6:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-59. As we know, it is the government's national security legislation. After months of debate, hearing from many witnesses, and reading expert briefs with respect to the bill, it is light on actions that will actually improve public safety and national security. I believe that Canada would be weaker because of this legislation, which hampers our agencies, cuts funding to intelligence and national security, and is more concerned about looking over the shoulder of those protecting us than watching those who seek to harm us. Let us be clear on this point. National security and intelligence officers and public servants are not a threat to public safety or privacy. They show dedication to protecting us and our country in a professional manner. However, Bill C-59 is more concerned with what someone might do in an effort to protect others than what criminals, extremists, and others might do to harm us.

In a world with growing international threats, instability, trade aggression, state-sponsored corporate cyber-espionage, and rising crime rates, Canada is weaker with the current Prime Minister and the Liberals in power. As I have said in the House before, public safety and national security should be the top priority of government and should be above politics so that the safety and security of Canadians are put ahead of political fortunes. This bill on national security fails to live up to its title.

Looking at the body of the Liberals' work, we see a continuous erosion of Canada's safety and security. Bill C-71, the recent gun legislation, ignores criminals who commit gun crimes. Bill C-75 softens sentences and rehabilitation for terrorists and violent crimes. The legalization of drugs is being done in a way that all but assures that organized crime will benefit and Canadians are put at risk.

As world hostility and hatred grows, we need stronger support for our way of life, not the erosion of it. That means empowering front-line national security and intelligence workers, stronger border protections, a better transfer of information between policing and security bodies, plus assured prosecution of criminals and threats to Canada. We need to be looking proactively at emerging technologies rather than reactively trying to put the genie back in the bottle, as we have done with cybersecurity.

What was the intent with this bill? Canadians and parliamentarians alike can tell a lot from the language used by the minister and the people who the Liberal majority called to testify. The bill was positioned by the Liberals as protecting Canadians from the public servants who work to protect Canada and our interests, and the majority of witnesses heard at committee were law professors, civil liberties groups, and privacy organizations. While they have important and valid views, they shared essentially one point: be scared of public servants. It is funny that after the many times the Prime Minister has used public servants as a political shield, stating that he “always trusts and respects them”, they are apparently more scary than threats of cyber-attacks from Chinese state-controlled hackers, ISIS extremists, white supremacists, and organized crime.

There is not much in this bill for security forces to do their work. With the Liberals' plan, there will now be four oversight bodies looking over the shoulder of our intelligence and security forces: first, a new parliamentary committee on security and intelligence oversight; second, the new national security and intelligence review agency; third, the expanded intelligence commissioner; and, finally, the existing oversights of Parliament and executive branches like the minister, the Prime Minister, and the national security advisor.

The Conservatives offered positive amendments. We asked the minister to tell us how these groups would work together to make it clear to Parliament, senior government officials, and those affected. This was turned down by the Liberals without any reason. It would seem reasonable that the minister would be happy to provide clarity to Canadians, and to those who need to work with the various boards, agencies, committees, and advisers, on how it will all work together. We also recommended that, as this new central intelligence and security agency would see information from a variety of departments and agencies, they play a role in identifying threats and providing a clear picture on the state of national security. The Liberals on the committee for some reason would prefer that the agency focus on only complaints and micromanaging our security professionals. If their goal had been to improve public safety, this suggestion would have been taken more seriously.

When we heard from security experts, they raised valid concerns. Dick Fadden, the former CSIS director, noted that the bill would send a message to security teams to be more restrictive with the information that they share. He said:

I haven't counted, but the number of times that the words “protection of privacy” are mentioned in this bill is really quite astounding. I'm as much in favour of privacy as everybody else, but I sometimes wonder whether we're placing so much emphasis on it that it's going to scare some people out of dealing with information relating to national security.

Information sharing between national security teams is essential to protecting Canadians and Canada. In fact, several inquiries, including one of the worst terrorism attacks in Canadian history, the Air India bombing, determined that information sharing was critical to stopping attacks.

Mr. Fadden stated that his worst nightmare scenario was an attack on Canada that was preventable; that being that information was withheld by one agency from other agencies. With Bill C-59, we would move toward more silos, less intelligence sharing, and more threats to Canadians. In his words, security professionals would have a clear message from the many repeated insertions of privacy and charter references, and, as he put it, to share less information lest they run afoul of their political masters.

The Conservatives offered a mild amendment that public servants be required to share information they thought was a threat to Canada with national security agencies. This was so all federal employees would have no fear of reprisal for sharing valid concerns with relevant authorities, like the new security review agency. This was turned down, again reaffirming that the Liberals on the committee were not focused on improving public safety and protecting Canadians.

Retired General Michael Day pointed out that there was nothing in the bill or in the government's policies to deal with emerging threats, real dangers today and tomorrow to our economic prosperity and our societal values. When he was asked by the Liberal MP from Mississauga—Lakeshore, “on the questions of artificial intelligence and potentially also quantum computing, how confident are you that Bill C-59,...is a flexible enough framework to address unknown unknowns that may come at us through the cyber domain in those two areas”, General Day replied, “Zero confidence”.

There continues to be clear threats, but dealing with current and emerging threats were not the focus of the government with this bill. We have already missed the emergence of cybersecurity threats and are playing catch-up at a cost of billions of dollars in government spending, lost economic opportunities through stolen commercial secrets, and personal losses through cybercrime. We have not looked forward at the next problem, so we are heading down the same path all over again.

We heard from Professor Leuprecht, a national security expert who teaches at the Royal Military College. He raised a number of concerns. The first was that the increased regulation and administrative work needed to report to new oversight groups would effectively be a cut to those agencies, shifting money away from protecting Canadians. We did find out eventually how much that cost would be. Nearly $100 million would be cut from national security in favour of red tape. Sadly, we only received this information a few weeks after the committee finished with the bill. The minister had knowingly withheld that information from my request for over six months. Once again, a lot of lip service to open and transparent government but very little actual transparency.

Dick Fadden, Professor Leuprecht, and Ray Boisvert, a former assistant director of CSIS and security expert with the Government of Ontario, also raised concerns of the overt hostility of China against Canada. When I asked him about our readiness for dealing with China's aggressions, he said:

I think that the answer is no. I don't think that we're oblivious to the threat...

I would argue that we do not really understand, in all of its complexity, how much China is different from Canada and how it aggressively uses all of the resources of the state against not just Canada but against any number of other countries in pursuit of its objectives.

At one meeting they noted that Chinese agents freely intimidated and threatened Canadians of Chinese descent, pushing them to support communist party initiatives. They or their families back in China could face the backlash of a highly oppressive regime and there was nothing that Canada did to protect them from such threats. China continues this trend, recently ordering Air Canada to call Taiwan part of China.

Mr. Boisvert said:

There's also the issue that China is now in the age of self-admitted “sharp power”, and they exercise that power with very little reservation anymore. There's no longer even a question of hiding their intentions. They are taking a very aggressive approach around resources and intellectual property, and they also are very clear in dealing with dissidents and academics. They've arrested some of them, and they punish others, including academic institutions in North America, at their will, so I think there's a value challenge that Canadians have to consider along with the economic opportunities discussion. The Cold War is over, but a new version is rapidly emerging, and I think our focus on counterterrorism is not always our best play.

We did not have the right people, the right information, and the right issues at committee to have a comprehensive law that would enhance national security. It appears that yet again the Liberals are bringing out legislation to deal with perceived threats at the expense of not dealing with actual threats.

If Canadians were being well served by the government, we would have dealt with serious questions ignored by the Liberals in this legislative process.

Canada has at least 60 returned ISIS terrorists in Canada. That number is likely low, as we have heard that as many as 180 or more Canadians have left our country to fight for ISIS. After the Liberals revoked Canada's ability to strip citizenship from such a heinous and despicable group as ISIS, Canada is now stuck simply welcoming them back with no repercussions and acting like nothing has gone wrong. We will likely never be able to prosecute them or extradite them because we cannot easily transfer intelligence; that is information gathered in other countries of these murders and rapists into evidence suitable for prosecutions in this country.

Canada needs to join the ranks of other modern countries in bringing known crimes conducted by Canadians abroad into our courts without compromising security agents and intelligence sharing agreements. We need to deal with the obvious intelligence to evidence gap that continues to exist in this legislation. This legislation has failed to do this, with Liberal MPs voting against Conservative amendments that tried to address this exact issue.

If we were serious about dealing with national security, we would have treated privacy and security as a single policy, not the competing interests that many civil groups suggested. Protecting Canadians includes protecting their privacy in addition to their economic opportunities, public safety, national security, and social values. These are a single policy, and for the most part those professionals who protect us know this.

Professor Leuprecht said:

We are not here because there's in any way some large-scale violation of the professionalism or the capabilities in which the community does its job....In the Five Eyes community, we have, by far, the most restrictive privacy regime. This is a choice that we have made as Canadians...other countries that have more rigorous parliamentary and other review mechanisms than Canada have also given their community more latitude in terms of how it can act, what it can do, and how it can do it.

Retired Lieutenant-General Michael Day stated:

...the trade-off between privacy and security, between the charter and the reasonable measures to protect Canadians. This is not, from my perspective obviously, a binary issue, or one that should be looked at as absolutes, but rather a dynamic relationship that should remain constantly under review. We should embrace that tension as opposed to pretending it doesn't exist, with a conversation being seen to have value in and of itself.

This is crystal clear when we look at the growing issue of cybercrime, such as identity theft, fraud, corporate espionage, and hacking. Privacy and other interests, social and financial, are one, and yet throughout this legislative process the Liberals presented this bill as a choice between one and the other.

The bill ignores the massive shift in issues with Canada's border security. Canada lacks the assets, people, and facilities to deal with the current threat to our borders. We know that an open border, which is internationally known as unprotected, is currently being exploited. It is being exploited not only by those who are shopping for a new home, but by human traffickers, smugglers, drug cartels, and other organized crime rings. While this issue is new, it is real and needs to be managed better than just hoping everything will sort itself out.

If we were serious about national security, we would be dealing more seriously with Canada's most important law enforcement agency, the RCMP. Beyond a glaring gap in personnel, failing equipment, and an increased lack of faith in its leadership, the RCMP is headed toward a crisis level of challenges: a growing opioid crisis; legalized marijuana; influx of ISIS terrorists; open borders without a plan to manage illegal border crossers; and increasing cybercrime, just to name a few. The RCMP is overwhelmed, while the Liberals present false information and sidestep questions on what to do.

The Liberals may have called this a national security law, but it is more like a regulatory bill. It would erode rather than help public safety. It deals with security from the federal government's perspective rather than from protecting Canadians first and foremost.

Motions in amendmentFirearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 8:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

moved:

Motion No. 1

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 1.

Motion No. 2

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 3.

Motion No. 3

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 4.

Motion No. 4

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 5.

Motion No. 5

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 6.

Motion No. 6

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 7.

Motion No. 7

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 8.

Motion No. 8

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 9.

Motion No. 9

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 10.

Motion No. 10

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 11.

Motion No. 11

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 12.

Motion No. 12

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 13.

Motion No. 13

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 14.

Motion No. 14

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 15.

Motion No. 15

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 16.

Motion No. 16

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 17.

Motion No. 17

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 18.

Motion No. 18

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 19.

Motion No. 19

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 20.

Motion No. 20

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 21.

Motion No. 21

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 23.

Motion No. 22

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 24.

Motion No. 23

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 25.

Motion No. 24

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 26.

Motion No. 25

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 27.

Motion No. 26

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 28.

Motion No. 27

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 29.

Motion No. 28

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 30.

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-71 at report stage.

In my opinion, Bill C-71 is like a bad play. Let me explain. First, with regard to parliamentary work, the government shut down debate at second reading. What is more, the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security asked that it be allowed a sufficient number of meetings and witnesses, but the number of meetings was cut short. From the start, the government did not want to debate Bill C-71; it just wanted to impose the bill on us.

This bill was introduced for marketing purposes. We saw the government doing just that. The Liberals told themselves that they would introduce a bill on firearms to win votes and to get the Conservatives all worked up and drive them crazy. Well, we decided not to get all worked up. We have been smart about this. We looked at what was happening and we saw that it was not working.

Ultimately, Liberals in rural ridings are only hurting themselves. Those people are not fools. Canadians are not fools. Law-abiding Canadians can see that this bill plays politics by targeting the wrong people. It targets hunters and sport shooters while giving street gangs and real criminals a free pass. The Liberals tried to impress, but they ended up shooting themselves in the foot, no pun intended.

This also marks the return of a version of the gun registry, which was abolished a few years back. The Liberals resurrected a very insidious approach, in the form of reference numbers and records that gun retailers have to keep. When a retailer closes, the government takes possession of that information. Reference numbers are kept forever. The Liberals say there is no registry, they swear they are telling the truth, but all the elements are there. In a moment, I am going to talk about the amendments we proposed to fix these problems. All our amendments were rejected.

In order for us, the members of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, to do our job properly, we asked for at least seven meetings. We conducted an analysis and examined what had been done by the minister's much-vaunted committee. Incidentally, the Liberals provided a long list of witnesses they said they had consulted, yet those people said they had never been consulted, despite appearing on the list. That is another problem the minister needs to consider.

We, the members of the committee, determined we needed seven meetings to do our job properly. The Conservatives had a list of 21 witnesses representing a variety of perspectives, from firearms advocates to civil rights defenders. There was a little bit of everything. We wanted to do a good job, but the Liberals cut the number of meetings down to four and limited us to seven witnesses. We had to make some tough choices. The Liberals raced through the study of the bill. We were hoping to get things done so everyone would be happy, but it did not work. The government was in a mad rush to get it over with, because constituents in rural Liberal ridings were getting on their case, and rightly so.

The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness created a committee to discuss guns and street gangs. As I said at the beginning of my speech, all the focus is on hunting weapons instead of street gangs. I do not know what happened between the minister's consultations and the tabling of Bill C-71, but the bill contains absolutely no mention of street gangs. This has yet to be cleared up. It is a mystery worthy of Sherlock Holmes. Maybe one day we will find a solution.

When the minister introduced the bill, he wanted to scare people. He spoke about the serious problem of the rise in crimes committed with firearms in Canada. What he did not say was that the Liberals were using 2013 as their reference year. In the past 10 years, 2013 was the year with the fewest crimes in Canada. He spoke about a surge in crime, but the crime rate was returning to its usual levels. They used the 2013 statistics to indicate that there was an surge in gun crimes and that something had to be done about it. However, crimes are not committed by hunters and sport shooters, but by street gangs. Nevertheless, there is nothing about that.

The other serious problem, as I pointed out at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, concerns first nations. As much as the Liberal government cares about all issues that affect first nations, it did not consult them and is now to some extent ignoring the problem. In committee, a representative from Saskatchewan told us that first nations would not abide by Bill C-71, first, because it is unconstitutional, and second, because guns are traditionally handed down from generation to generation. Canada's first nations are saying that Bill C-71 does not apply to them and that they will go to court to have it declared unconstitutional if the government tries to impose it.

What are we to do, then? The Liberals introduced a bill that does not address the issue of street gangs and that indigenous people are going to disregard. The only ones left are the hunters and sport shooters, who will once more be subject to stricter gun controls, which are already the strictest in the world.

The first nations issue is not a partisan matter, but it is very troubling. When we return in the fall, we need to clarify that, because the fact that indigenous peoples are not concerned about Bill C-71 and are not following the rules is problematic. We cannot have one type of security for one group of individuals and another type for other groups. We must all be on equal footing.

Our committee meetings to ask witnesses questions were limited, but we still did our work. We brought forward 45 amendments to Bill C-71. We took our work seriously. I will list a few of them, so that Canadians can see that they were reasonable.

First of all, we addressed the issue of firearms classification. It is currently the government that determines which firearms are restricted or prohibited, but Bill C-71 puts that entirely in the hands of the RCMP. We proposed an amendment that would give the minister the authority to change the classification of firearms based on recommendations from the manufacturer and the RCMP. Thus, we are proposing that the RCMP and the manufacturers still do their jobs, but that the government retain the power to make certain decisions to prevent the RCMP from making all the decisions, without the government being able to intervene.

Then, there are the chief firearms officers, who will be able to visit the premises of firearms retailers and check their records without a warrant. The government can therefore enter into the place of business of law-abiding retailers with no particular reason other than they sell arms. I believe this needs justification and a warrant.

Now, I want to talk about the date. Today is June 18, and on June 30, a list of 20 prohibited firearms will come into force, even though the bill is still being debated in the House. The firearms that will be prohibited are currently restricted. We are not even at third reading, and the Senate has not yet studied it. We asked the government not to set a fixed date and to implement the act once the bill passes, but the government rejected this legitimate amendment.

As for the list of firearms, the RCMP will now decide which firearms are prohibited, but the bill lists the firearms that will be prohibited. The government lists the firearms in the bill, even though it says that the RCMP will draw that list sometime in the future. This makes no sense. We proposed another amendment to fix this.

Lastly, I want to talk about the reference number that will be required for a transaction. This number will be retained and recorded. This government is therefore creating a registry, no matter what it claims.

No matter what the government said, it is bringing back some form of registry through the backdoor.

Motions in amendmentFirearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 9:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise tonight to speak to this important legislation.

During the last election, we made a promise to take pragmatic action to strengthen the laws governing firearms use in Canada. Bill C-71 upholds this commitment to introduce sensible new measures on firearms, and 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 the public and communities, supporting law enforcement, and ensuring that law-abiding firearms owners are treated fairly and reasonably. I am pleased to note that, through the bill's progress, those priorities were reaffirmed by a broad range of stakeholders, partners, and individual Canadians.

Before the bill was introduced, the government heard from many groups and individuals with diverse experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives. That includes members of the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee and consultations with many groups, both in person and by phone. In March, the government took the additional step of hosting in Ottawa a national summit on gun and gang violence, with stakeholders and partners from across Canada.

All of this engagement helped to shape not only the bill itself but also the package of new measures complementing it. That package included committing up to $327.6 million over five years, and $100 million a year thereafter, to support a variety of initiatives specifically aimed at gang activity and gun crime. Bill C-71 is only one part of the package, but it is a critical part of it. I am pleased to see that it has now been strengthened through the House debates and committee review.

I was personally very pleased to introduce an amendment to the bill in collaboration with my colleague, the MP for Saanich—Gulf Islands, which addresses the need to protect survivors of intimate partner violence and reduce the lethality of suicide attempts. In my research on firearms in Canada, I realized that there were two very important aspects of the firearms debate that were not being talked about enough: intimate partner violence, commonly known as domestic violence, and suicide.

In its 2016 annual report on domestic violence, the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario reported that 26% of deaths related to intimate partner violence involved a firearm. I also heard from stakeholders that 80% of all firearms-related deaths in Canada are suicides. Clearly, both of these factors need to be a central part of any conversation around Bill C-71.

I had numerous conversations with many national stakeholders, as well as local stakeholders in my riding, Oakville North—Burlington, which helped shape this amendment, and I would like to thank those who provided thoughtful and important insights.

Specifically, my amendment would add to the criteria that must be considered when determining eligibility to hold a firearms licence. The amendment would add the criteria of threatening conduct and non-contact orders, and add more explicit language around risk of harm to self and to others. Officials confirmed that the amendment would strengthen the criteria around licensing and add greater clarity to existing laws, so that people who are considered to be at risk of harming themselves or others would be prohibited from owning guns.

For example, if a woman has a restraining order against her abusive ex-partner, and the ex-partner legally owns firearms that he uses to threaten her safety, the chief firearms officer would now be explicitly required to take this into consideration when reviewing his eligibility for a licence. The amendment also specifies that violent or threatening conduct can include threats made on social media and other online forums.

To be clear, the amendments specify that, when considering eligibility for a firearms licence, what must also be considered are expired orders prohibiting the possession of firearms where there was an offence in which violence was used, threatened, or attempted against an intimate partner or former intimate partners.

This should reassure Canadians that, in the interest of public safety, the process through which a person could obtain a firearms licence 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 firearms 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 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 was very proud to introduce the concept of harm through my amendment, so that it is clearly identified in the bill before us.

I will also point out that the additional new criteria introduced in the amendment reflects the types of violence that predominantly target women, for example, harassment and cyberviolence. In the online space, women are often targets of intimidation and propaganda. Young women and girls are impacted disproportionately by cyberviolence, bullying, and harassment. Adding these new factors updates our laws to reflect and address today's realities. 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. This was an important amendment put forward by the Conservative public safety critic and accepted by the committee. We now have that clarification right in the text of the bill. Indeed, the member for Red Deer—Lacombe stated during committee proceedings, “Everybody at this table agrees that this is not a registry”.

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.

Finally, another amendment to clause 5 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, it is proposed that the bill does not limit the number of non-restricted firearms that can be transferred providing the conditions to do so are met, but once again, the bill is now clearer on this issue. It now spells out specifically that a valid licence and valid reference number attesting to the licence's validity can support the transfer of ownership of one or more non-restricted firearms.

I am grateful that all parties have played an important role in the close scrutiny of this bill. The bill started off on a solid footing. It already strengthened current laws around eligibility to hold a firearms licence. There is a new requirement for licensing authorities to consider specific information from the applicant's history throughout their whole life rather than the previous five years, as was the case prior to Bill C-71.

Bill C-71 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 firearms businesses, requiring them to keep records of sale for non-restricted firearms. Responsible vendors already do this. However, making it mandatory will not only set in law what they already do, it will also provide police with an additional tool to track non-restricted firearms used by criminals.

The bill strengthens the regime around the transportation of restricted and prohibited firearms. It creates a more consistent approach to classification, responsibly leaving technical determinations on the classification of firearms to experts.

Today we have new measures with added benefits: enhanced background checks, greater certainty that no federal registry will be created, and welcomed clarification on the transfer of non-restricted firearms.

Canadians from all walks of life have told us this legislation will make a difference. It is one part of a larger package that will help make our communities safer and give law enforcement officers the tools they need to do their job.

I want to thank the members on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, all those who provided testimony and comment, and my colleagues in the House for helping shape this important legislation along the way.

I want to give special thanks to the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for working with me to ensure that the amendment we put forward was reflective and would ensure that intimate partner violence would be fully recognized in Bill C-71.

I encourage all members to join me in supporting this bill.

Motions in amendmentFirearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 9:25 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for the work she has been doing at committee. Throughout the study of this bill, we heard about the challenging issues of suicide and violence against women, and domestic violence in particular. We hope these issues will be addressed with the amendment which I supported.

The member raised an interesting point and I want to hear more about it. It is the notion that sometimes when legislation is being developed one is looking at what could be said for greater certainty. One of the things that Bill C-71 attempts to do, and I think some of these amendments attempt to do, is to essentially take practices that already exist, whether it is background checks or in record-keeping at point of sale, and create certainty in the law so that when law enforcement officers go into a shop, they now can assume it is likely there will be records. The idea now is that with the law they will have more certainty of that.

I would ask the member to comment on the importance of distinguishing between radical new measures and creating certainty in law, which is also an important part of how we work on legislation.

Motions in amendmentFirearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 9:30 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise again to speak to Bill C-71. There is no denying that this issue has been stirring up a lot of emotion in Canada for many years, and for good reason.

Organizations such as PolySeSouvient and victims of horrific gun crimes are advocating for gun control and courageously lending their voices to the political process to talk about that. I must say that in communities represented by members in the House from all parties, there are law-abiding gun owners. They have legal permits and use them to hunt or sport shoot. They do not want to be targeted by the legislation being passed, and we are trying not to target them. Ultimately, as parliamentarians, we have a duty to pass legislation that ensures public safety. Doing that work and finding the right balance is not always easy.

I would like to explore certain elements of Bill C-71, as well as the debate overall, which will be challenging. First of all, I want to thank everyone who appeared before the committee, especially those who represent victims' groups. Every time we study an issue, whether it be impaired driving legislation or crime and punishment legislation, victims' advocacy groups always appear. After enduring these horrific crimes, these individuals have the courage to speak publicly about their point of view and participate in the legislative process, which is already intimidating enough. I have to give them credit. I think they deserve a tremendous amount of admiration and respect.

One way to show our respect is to actually listen to them. I feel like we did listen to them in our study of this bill. As my Liberal colleague just said, that is why we adopted an amendment to try to establish enhanced criteria for background checks. I think all parties in the House agree that if we have the best background check process we possibly can, every law-abiding citizen should easily pass it. This would allow them to get a licence, and Canadians could rest assured that we are making every effort to ensure public safety.

In the same vein, that is why we support the measures to make the background check cover the applicant's entire lifetime. This is already being done on a de facto basis anyway, I might add. The courts have ruled in several cases that, despite the existing five-year time frame, there is a discretionary authority to examine the applicant's entire life. We think it is only appropriate that this be included in the legislation. That said, we also need to look at recording keeping by firearms dealers and sellers.

It is important to note that when it comes to the point of sale records, this is something that existed before from the 1970s to the 1990s, and it is something that even opponents of the long-gun registry referred to. I am thinking in particular of testimony in 2012 before the public safety committee of the then Calgary police chief, Rick Hanson. He was brought to committee to express his opposition to the long-gun registry. He specifically said that with the elimination of the long-gun registry, it would be important to bring back the point of sale records which would allow police, with a warrant, to obtain that information which, as we heard at committee, all respectable sales folks and businesses already keep at any rate.

It is the law in the U.S. as well. In fact, it is important to note that in the United States, contrary to what is proposed in Bill C-71, records would be kept for a lifetime, indefinitely essentially, whereas Bill C-71 prescribes a 20-year period. I see some distinctions there as well. It is seen as a relatively reasonable measure that allows police to have the tools they need to ensure public safety.

When it comes to an individual selling a firearm to another individual, some concerns were brought forward at committee, most notably, the reference number that would be given when an individual with a non-restricted firearm had to go through the process of ensuring the person to whom he or she was selling had a valid PAL. In that process, it is important to note that one of the concerns was the use of “singular” in the legislation, which essentially led some folks to believe there would be a reference number for each firearm being sold in a single transaction. Therefore, if one individual were selling three firearms to another individual, there would be one reference number generated for each firearm.

Officials reassured us that based on the Interpretation Act in Canadian law, when “singular” was used, it could mean plural unless otherwise specified. That being said, I brought forward an amendment, which was unanimously adopted by the committee, to add for greater certainty “one or more firearms” to ensure that only one reference number would be generated per transaction and to make it clear that the reference number would be generated for the purposes of PAL verification and not to track individual firearms and be perceived or portrayed as any sort of backdoor registry.

The other element that we must closely examine is the issuance of permits for transporting guns, the automatic permits, which Bill C-71 would change significantly. We are still opposed to automatic renewal, as we were in the previous Parliament with Bill C-42. The change being made by the Liberals is appropriate.

That said, we heard some powerful testimony concerning the ability to renew a permit automatically to transport a gun to a gun repair shop. It is extremely important because witnesses explained that having a firearm that is damaged or not operational can be a threat to public safety. Consequently, allowing gun owners to travel to an authorized repair shop would be just as appropriate as allowing them to transport a firearm from the point of purchase to the place where the gun will be stored or to a shooting range. Unfortunately, the amendment was rejected. We will continue to support this proposal in the hope that the amendment may be made in future.

The question of gang violence, as raised by the Conservatives, is a legitimate one. I do not think anyone will go that far in this direction, but it is important to understand, especially if the government says that this would be the tonic solution. I do not believe, in good faith, that is what has been presented to us. The issue of gang violence is a complex one. One piece of legislation will not resolve it and the New Democrats believe more needs to be done to tackle this. We need to tackle trafficking at the border. I know the member for Windsor West has done extraordinary work in this direction, as a member of Parliament representing a border community.

We need to do more to fight radicalization. When we think of radicalization, we think of terrorism, but we also need to look at street gangs. Street gangs prey on vulnerable youth and recruit them. That is a form of radicalization as well, and more needs to be done to tackle that.

The member for Lakeland brought forward a fantastic motion on rural crime, which the New Democrats were pleased to support, and we were pleased she supported our amendment as well. It will be before the public safety committee as part of that study. We need to look at ensuring the RCMP has the resources to tackle rural crime. Firearm theft, unfortunately, is part of that reality from some of what we have heard.

There are obviously a lot of complex issues going on and certainly, on that front, the Conservatives are absolutely correct in raising that issue and ensuring that more needs to be done to take on that issue. We will be pleased to look at that as well, because it is an important public safety issue. No one is denying that and we will continue to work in that direction.

Although the criticism that we must do more to address gang violence is legitimate, we support certain measures. A bill concerning firearms must respect the victims who are always asking us to do more. They have experienced horrific crimes and want to ensure that they live in safe communities. We must respect the law-abiding gun owners and communities affected by this kind of legislation. I believe that we achieved this at our committee meetings.

I hope that we will be able to continue to move in that direction. The current dynamic on issues like this, where all parties are contributing to a toxic debate, is unlikely to ensure public safety or to earn the respect of the communities that demand it on a file as emotional as this one.

I am proud, as a New Democrat, to be able to continue to work with all of the stakeholders involved in this file and to support the bill in the meantime. There is still a lot of work to be done by everyone.

Motions in amendmentFirearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 9:45 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. Indeed, the way I understood the comments in committee, all parties agreed that we should have a solid background check process. In the same vein, we heard some disturbing comments in committee, so I think that it is important to differentiate between someone with severe mental health problems and someone who has a criminal record for stealing candy from a corner store. Discretion still exists in the system, even with Bill C-71. It is an important distinction to make in order to truly understand that serious mental health problems, or other problems that can make it difficult to obtain a permit, are very different from a youthful misstep. The public service has very much understood that distinction.