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

Sponsor

Ralph Goodale  Liberal

Status

Second reading (Senate), as of Nov. 29, 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 / 1:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to gun crimes, the member mentioned that 80% of people killed by guns in Canada are from suicide. A great proportion of the rest of it is homicide, and a very small amount is accidental. I do not understand how this legislation is going to impact on any of that.

If we think of some of the recent things that have happened, such as the Danforth shooting, which was done with an illegal gun, or the fellow who brought a gun to the mosque, it is illegal to transport a weapon without a licence to transport, or to take it anywhere but a target shooting place. I do not understand how Bill C-71 will eliminate any of the huge number of illegal crimes that are happening. If the member could comment, I would appreciate it.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 1:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Randeep Sarai Liberal Surrey Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand behind the amended Bill C-71 at third reading. In my riding of Surrey Centre, guns and gangs have plagued the streets. Gun violence has increased, and it has continued to increase in the last few years. This is an issue that all three levels of government are working hard to tackle.

At the federal level, the Minister of Public Safety has also announced that the federal government will spend $327 million over five years on anti-gang initiatives and gun crime crackdown, and $100 million ever year thereafter. The government also held a summit in March to identify the best ways to control and curb gun violence. I am incredibly proud to represent Surrey Centre at the federal level, and to help end gun violence in my riding.

I have worked hard fighting against youth violence since my teens, and I have seen how prevention, intervention and community engagement combined can end and control these horrific levels of violence. I was honoured to be part of the mayor's task force on gang violence prevention, which was formed nine months ago, and has recently released its final report which contains six recommendations.

I believe that the first step in tackling this issue is to improve the firearms regime in Canada. Over the last decade, it is fair to say that controls over the transfer and movement of firearms in Canada were weakened. At the same time, converted automatic firearms have fallen into the wrong hands far too often. The Governor in Council used its authority to deem certain models as non-restricted or restricted, despite the fact that they met the Criminal Code definition for prohibited firearms.

In keeping with the mandate from the Prime Minister, the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Justice have taken action to ensure that our regime is more appropriate. Strengthened background checks, licence verification, required record-keeping by vendors, more sensible rules around transportation of restricted and prohibited firearms, and a consistent approach to classification are before us today in the form of Bill C-71.

I am pleased to see that the legislation, as amended by the committee, has further strengthened the original proposals. The original Bill C-71 aimed to enhance background checks, for example. The amended Bill C-71 has taken that miles further, by adding specific new criteria that must be considered over the life history of an applicant, namely, whether the applicant has a history of threatening conduct; the applicant is or was previously prohibited by a non-contact order and presently poses a risk to the safety and security of any person; the person was previously subject to a firearms prohibition under order and in relation to an offence where violence was used, threatened or attempted against a person's intimate partner or former intimate partner; and the applicant, for any reason, poses a risk of harm to any person.

The amendment has taken this further by clarifying that threatened violence and threatening conduct can include what is communicated online, through the Internet or other digital networks. That is a welcome addition to the current regime.

Presently, when licensing authorities determine whether a person is eligible for a firearms licence, they are only required to consider certain factors, like a history of violence or mental illness that is linked to violent behaviour over the preceding five years of the applicant's life. Under Bill C-71, these authorities would be required to consider certain factors spanning a person's entire life rather than just the past five years. This will be a positive change in Canada. It would increase the confidence of Canadians in the overall effectiveness of our firearms licensing regime, and would assure them that all firearms licence applicants will, in the interest of public safety, have their backgrounds comprehensively vetted.

I would like to point out that at this stage, this does not in any way unfairly single out those with mental health issues; it is only mandatory for chief firearms officers or judges to consider mental health treatment related to violence, or threatened or attempted violence. All of this is in the interests of public safety and all Canadians.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 3:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Randeep Sarai Liberal Surrey Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, with Bill C-71 the government is proposing measures to require firearms businesses to retain inventory and transfer records related to non-restricted firearms. Many ask why we are targeting legal gun owners, that they are not the bad guys. They are not, but I can tell members that 60% to 70% of the guns used in gang violence are domestically sourced, either by theft or by purchasing them through vendors who are wilfully blind when selling their firearms.

Bill C-71 would strengthen the due diligence practices, support the tracing of firearms for criminal investigations and help to ensure that only those properly licenced to own a firearm can acquire one.

The ability to trace firearms can help police save time and resources when conducting criminal investigations. It can generate investigative leads, for example, that link suspects to firearms discovered at crime scenes. Identifying the last legal owner of a firearm could also help to expedite those investigations. It could help to build evidence to secure a conviction and potentially identify firearms trafficking networks. These records would be kept by the businesses selling the firearm.

On that point, I am pleased to say that a further amendment at committee stage clarifies, in no uncertain terms, that this would not create any kind of firearms registry. Keeping records is already a common practice among many Canadian firearms businesses. Bill C-71 would make the practice mandatory.

Access to those records by law enforcement would follow standard procedures, including seeking judicial authorizations, where appropriate. It is another tool in the toolbox for the proud men and women on the front lines who work every day to combat the gun violence in our communities. It is on top of strengthened rules around classification and transportation of firearms, which has been discussed at length already.

All of these new measures represent sensible and practical new steps that we can take to enhance public safety while remaining respectful and fair to legal firearms owners. However, now that we have reached third reading, I think it is an opportune time to address some of the questions we have heard around timing should this bill become law.

Several members have asked why only a few elements of Bill C-71 would come into force immediately. Many provisions can only come into force at a later date due to operational and informatics system changes that must be made prior to implementation. This includes the repeal of the deeming provisions and grandfathering of affected owners, and the building of an online portal to facilitate licence verification, as a few examples. As we prepare to get this bill ready for scrutiny by the other place, we would do well to keep issues of timing in mind.

These changes are long overdue. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police said that it “is encouraged by the positive direction taken by (the government) towards sensible firearms legislation, enhancing the tools available to police to ensure public safety.”

The government promised change, and through this proposed legislation it has delivered. Thanks in no small part to the committee and House scrutiny, Bill C-71 is deserving of our full support.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 3:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, near the end of the member's speech, he said that we would do well to keep the issue of crime in mind. On this side of the House, we could not agree more; we need to keep that in mind. However, there is a big flaw in Bill C-71, in that it does not deal with gangs and violent crime; it does not deal with the fact that many of these guns are sourced illegally by theft. What we need is something that will cause the Canadian public to be more safe.

I met with a number of people at shooting ranges this summer, and talked about safety and training regulations and the background checks. They are eager to comply with all of the existing laws. However, to a person, they said that this particular bill, while it gives the impression of increasing the safety of the Canadian public, would do absolutely nothing on that. If we add to that Bill C-75, with the weakening of many of the sentences for some very violent crimes, such as joining a terrorist group and gangs, these are giving the wrong message.

I ask my colleague if this exercise we are going through today is simply an exercise in public relations to try to assure us that the Canadian public is safer with this law, when in fact it would do nothing to increase safety but in the process target many law-abiding citizens.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 3:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Calgary Nose Hill.

As the member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, I rise today to defend my fellow Canadians' rights to own and enjoy private property, in this case firearms. I oppose any efforts by the Liberal Party that would lead to another useless, wasteful long-gun registry, and I do so on behalf of my constituents and the tens of thousands of Canadians who are without representation from their local MPs on this issue.

I spent the summer listening and hearing what citizens from across Canada had to say.

One of the myths perpetrated by the urban media is that there is uniform support for a gun registry in Quebec. That may be true in urban Montreal, but that is not true in rural Quebec. Rural Canadians, regardless of whether they are English or French speaking, are united in their opposition to a wasteful, useless gun registry.

The Upper Ottawa Valley enjoys a long and historic relationship with people on both sides of the river, Ontario and Quebec.

Hunters from Quebec tell me one of the reasons François Legault and the CAQ are polling so well in Quebec in that provincial election, particularly in rural ridings and among Francophones, is because of the decision by the Quebec Liberal Party to bring in a provincial long-gun firearms registry.

In the Upper Ottawa Valley, opposition in the Pontiac to the return of a Liberal long-gun registry has brought attention to a very historic wrong that must now be addressed.

The Canada-Ontario Boundary Act, 1889, legislation that was subsequently enshrined in the Constitution of Canada when the Constitution was repatriated in 1982, clearly situates the Ottawa River Islands of Allumette and Calumet in the province of Ontario.

This fact was confirmed by the Minister of Natural Resources Surveyor General of Canada in the House on January 21, 2016, when he stated in response to a question I placed on the Order Paper:

As stated in the Canada (Ontario Boundary) Act, 1889, the middle of the main channel still delineates the boundary between Ontario and Quebec. The main channel of the Ottawa River today may be different than that shown on the map of the Ottawa Ship Canal Survey by Walter Shanly, C.E.; nevertheless, it does not change the interprovincial boundary.

The people who live on Calumet and Allumette Islands in the Ottawa River, according to the Constitution of Canada, are legally residents of Ontario. However, Quebec is claiming ownership and enforcing its laws on island residents. Firearm owners on those islands have a legal right to refuse to register their firearms with the Quebec provincial government.

The Government of Canada has a constitutional obligation to protect the rights of the citizens who live on those islands. They do not want to be subject to the Quebec gun registry just because no one has bothered to correct the mapping error.

This error has been magnified by Bill C-71, which is why it has now become an urgent and pressing issue. Lawful firearms owners know that the Quebec gun registry could be used by other provinces as a template. These efforts by the federal government to introduce a backdoor long-gun registry through a province must be stopped in its tracks.

This is a test.

If the Prime Minister is sincere about his respect for the Constitution, he will protect the rights of the Canadian citizens who live on Allumette and Calumet Islands. No more virtue signalling about the notwithstanding clause. Bill C-71 is his problem that he created with this border crisis. Now we have to deal with it.

How appropriate, after the Prime Minister's summer of failure, he would focus on a piece of divisive legislation to divert attention from his summer of failures, with the Gerald Butts culture wars policy of dividing Canadians rather than dealing with real issues.

Let us keep this simple.

Bill C-71 is a knee-jerk response to a problem that does not exist. Law-abiding farmers and hunters are not the problem; criminal behaviour is. Let us quit rewarding criminal behaviour with soft penalties and watch the crime rates drop in Toronto. Let us withdraw Bill C-75 along with Bill C-71. It is as simple as that.

A summer of failure is one spent listening, but not actually hearing constituents and what they were trying to tell members. They were trying to tell the Liberals that this was bad legislation. For one-term members of the House, like the members for Northumberland—Peterborough South and the Bay of Quinte, third reading of legislation, coming after report stage, is when parliamentarians, after listening to their constituents, make amendments to respond to their concerns.

Clearly, government members of the House, who will have to answer directly to voters on behalf of their party, have been too busy not listening to actually hear what the constituents in their ridings have to say about banning firearms. Banning firearms because they might look scary or misleading the public about banning assault weapons when the public has been prohibited from owning assault weapons for over 20 years will not solve Toronto's gun violence.

The members for Northumberland—Peterborough South, Hastings—Lennox and Addington, Thunder Bay, Kenora, Nipissing—Timiskaming, and Yukon should ask to speak to the Liberal MP I defeated. Maybe he will them what happens to MPs when they support a useless, wasteful gun registry or talk about banning firearms because they look scary.

I can confirm for the benefit of the one-term member for Hastings—Lennox and Addington that his constituents were given the now false impression that he would be proposing a whole series of amendments to Bill C-71, the act to harass law-abiding Canadians who happen to enjoy Canadian heritage activities like hunting.

The member for Thunder Bay—Superior North should know that her constituents, who contacted me, thought Bill C-71 would be withdrawn. After alienating a large segment of voters in her riding, penalizing people of faith by demanding a humiliating loyalty attestation oath and taking away funding for student summer jobs, I can assure her that people who enjoy outdoor activities in her riding are an even larger segment of the population to alienate as we enter this final year before a federal election is called.

I understand the Prime Minister is too preoccupied, in his summer of failure, giving 4.5 billion Canadian tax dollars to Texas billionaires to build pipelines in the U.S. and losing manufacturing jobs in the auto sector to listen to the concerns of average middle-class Canadians.

While Liberal MPs might have spent the summer hearing complaints about their government and Bill C-71, the fact this legislation is being rammed through the House demonstrates how ineffectual they are. We know individual Liberal MPs are being ignored by their own party, thanks to the insight provided by the newest member of the Conservative caucus. I take this opportunity to welcome the newest member of the Conservative caucus, the member for Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill. The member's frustration that led her to cross the floor was not being listened to.

The arrogant, elitist party hierarchy led by technocrat Gerald Butts, whose extreme leftist experiments crashed the Toronto Liberal Party so hard, is no longer recognized as an official party in the Ontario legislature. I can assure the government members who I mentioned that their constituents shared their frustration with me over Bill C-71.

Unlike the members opposite, as I always do, I spent my summer listening to my constituents. I hear what they have to say, and I represent their interests in Parliament, as I am doing today.

I thank all the members of the Madawaska Valley Fish & Game Club; the Ottawa River Sportsman Club; the Eganville & District Sportsman's Club, which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary; and the Pembroke Outdoors Sports Club, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary. They shared their concerns, signed petitions, attended information sessions and educated their fellow citizens. They recognize that banning handguns is just one step away from banning hunting rifles.

A gun ban will be another costly failure to add to all the other costly failures of the government, like paying $4.5 billion for a pipeline that ends up giving wealthy Texas oilman Kinder Morgan chairman Richard Kinder a profit of 637% on that fire sale.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 3:30 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, Bill C-71, simply put, is another commitment from the last federal election being fulfilled by the Prime Minister.

The Conservatives are out of touch with what Canadians really feel are important issues. The member across the way started by accusing the government of bringing in a registry. That is just not true. Even a Conservative amendment to the bill that was accepted, adopted and passed said that the bill had nothing to do with a registry. That was actually passed, yet she continues to spread misinformation about the content of this bill.

Does the member believe that members of Parliament should be straightforward with their constituents and not try to apply something that is just not true?

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 3:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Madam Speaker, the hon. member began her speech by saying that the people of Pontiac, which is just across the Ottawa River, along with everyone else in Quebec and all francophones, are against gun control. That is utterly ridiculous.

I represent the riding just south of Pontiac on the other side of the Ottawa River, and I can say in no uncertain terms that people in Quebec are strongly in favour of the reasonable measures in this bill. My colleague's speech completely misrepresented the intention underlying Bill C-71. I do not understand why she keeps saying things that are just not true. I suppose she cannot help her conditioning.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 3:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for pointing out the complete lack of integrity in this whole argument of trying to make it look like Canadians will be safer with this Bill C-71, while at the same time the government is putting forward Bill C-75, which would reduce sentences. However, she mentioned toward the end of her speech the idea of a ban on assault rifles, which, as she already pointed out, have been banned for many years.

I would just like to quote the member for Scarborough—Guildwood who said, “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”. This statement by the chair of the committee that studied this legislation shows a complete lack of understanding of the issues.

Therefore, does my colleague think that the Liberals are actually on track to try to ban all guns in Canada?

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 3:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Madam Speaker, I would like to think that preventing violence against any Canadian is a goal that everyone in the House would share. It is laudable when we have debates about how to ensure that is the case. The unfortunate thing about Bill C-71 and its subsequent journey through committee and now at the stage of debate we are at is that the government would be very hard pressed to point out statistically any one part of the bill that would actually make Canadians safer.

There were a couple of articles published by Global News in the last month. One was entitled, “A fair gun control debate requires accurate firearms facts”. Another published on September 6 was entitled, “Data shows that Toronto's gun 'surge' never happened”. These two articles are really important because they underscore the fact that any member on the government side in this place would be hard pressed to stand in the House and take any part of the bill and show how it would materially reduce violence in Canada. That, to me, is a waste of parliamentary time.

I could stand here and talk about numerous ways that would demonstrably reduce violence in Canada. If we want to talk about firearms violence, it is very important that we set the parameters of what firearms violence looks like in Canada. According to Statistics Canada, only three per cent, and I want to preface this by saying this number should be zero, but only three per cent of violent crime in Canada is related to a firearm.

Considering that statistic, we need to look at some of the claims my colleagues have made about violence against women. As Statistics Canada indicated today, patterns in weapons used in injury largely reflect the fact that common assault was the predominant offence against intimate partners. In the majority of incidents, some 70% of them, the perpetrator used their own physical force rather than a weapon to threaten or cause injury to a victim. In another 13% of incidents, the perpetrator used a weapon, while in 17% of the incidents no weapon was used.

The following is going to be a very unpopular statistic, but I am going to read it verbatim from Statistics Canada:

Given the greater use of weapons against men and the higher tendency for injury among incidents involving weapons...male victims were slightly more likely than female victims to suffer physical injury (55% versus 52%). Minor injuries accounted for this gender difference, with 53% of male victims sustaining minor physical injuries and 50% of female victims. There was no gender difference in major injury or death, as male and female victims of intimate partner violence were equally as likely to either die or experience a physical injury requiring professional medical attention....

If we drill down into the statistics, we can start talking about the causes and how we address them. Our former Conservative government invested millions of dollars directly toward programs to work with men and other groups to prevent and identify the causes of violence. My former colleague, Rona Ambrose, was Status of Women minister at the time and this was one of her big passions. She spoke all the time and worked day after day to create programs to ensure that we were preventing violence. My colleagues who were with the Minister of Justice also put forward legislation to penalize those who perpetrated this type of violence so that it would become a deterrent to people engaging in these types of behaviour, so we are looking at both ends of the coin.

The bill does none of that. It does not do anything to reduce incidents of violence. Why? It is because we know that, first of all, Canada is not the United States. The government is desperately trying to import the American debate into Canada, and that is just not the case. I am a law-abiding firearms owner. I have both my standard possession and acquisition licence, as well as my restricted possession and acquisition licences. It took me over a year to do that, from the day I decided to become a firearms owner to the day I actually became one. I had to go through an exceptional amount of training, testing, and vetting as well. It was very detailed screening. Once I did become a firearms owner, it took a long time to transfer the firearm into my possession even after this licensing process. Today, I am subject to daily vetting by the RCMP. I am also subject to very strict laws on how I transport my firearms and for the purposes they are used.

Therefore, under that system in Canada, the statistics show that a law-abiding firearm owner, someone who owns a firearm under our legal system in Canada, is three times less likely than a member of the general population to commit a firearm-related offence. Those are the statistics, so if we look at the statistics we have to start looking at when firearms-related violence happens and how prevent it.

Going back to the articles I mentioned, especially the one entitled “Data shows that Toronto's gun 'surge' never happened”, there were statistics going around that 50% of the guns were from legal sources. That is not even close to the real statistic. It was debunked by the article.

I am going to back up. The RCMP does not even consistently track where guns come from, so we should have been looking first to get better data. However, the data we do have shows an overwhelming majority of firearms used in violence are illegally sourced, and most of those are smuggled from the United States. Therefore, I do not understand why the government would not have first sought to table legislation that would have shown how it planned to better detect firearms coming in from the United States, and then have stronger penalties for those who would seek to do so.

There is so much misinformation out here. It is already a significant offence to illegally obtain a handgun or a firearm of any sort and sell it to someone who does not have a licence. That is actually an offence at this point in time.

We could be talking about all sorts of things, like better enforcement and stronger penalties, but the government is just so concerned about making symbolic gestures. The parliamentary secretary to the House leader in his last question said something to the effect of why would we take something to our constituents if it were just not true?

With regard to the component in Bill C-71 dealing with the authorization to transport, I was reading some testimony from a Dr. Caillin Langmann. I asked if there been any firearm-related violence associated with how the current ATT system, the authorization to transport system, worked. This was his testimony in response:

There is currently no empirical evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of the ATT. The fact is that the vast majority of legitimate gun owners do not use their firearms for illegal purposes let alone to cause harm.

That is true. I understand the great responsibility I bear in handling my firearms responsibly and the penalties I would incur if I were not doing that correctly. There is no way I am going to break those rules. That is why the statistics show that people who own firearms legally, those who use them legally as tools on their farms and in rural communities for hunting, people who are sports shooters—and that is the only legal reason, for all intents and purposes, that people can own a handgun in Canada—are not the ones we need to worry about.

Someone in my city, an alleged gang leader, who had used an illegally obtained firearm to shoot people walked away from criminal penalties after doing so, scot-free, because the government had not appointed judges and Jordan's principle was applied to his case. Why is the government not appointing judges? Why did it put forward Bill C-75, a bill that waters down penalties for serious violent crime, and gang related crime? Why are we not increasing those penalties?

Furthermore, if we want to take a more liberal view, which I rarely do, the government put a lot of money into a consultation process in which it announced it was going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on preventing gang violence, and it has allocated virtually none of that, even though it has spent billions of dollars on other things that are completely useless.

I wish we could focus on facts, because all of this is cheap political tactics to import a debate from the United States into Canada. It is not going to keep anyone safe. It is highly unfortunate, because the government had an opportunity to do something, to effect change, and it failed. All the government wants to do is impose an ideological agenda on a country that already has some of the tightest firearms laws in the world. Our statistics show that our legal firearms owners are not the source of this violence. Why would we then not focus on those who are perpetrating these crimes?

Someone who has obtained a handgun illegally is not, by definition or by virtue, going subscribe to the penalties in Bill C-71. It just affects law-abiding firearms owners, and those are not the people we need to focus on, based on the statistics we have.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 3:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I think we all believe in effective public safety and the fair treatment of law-abiding firearms owners. However, we have seen an increase in the number of homicides. Since 2016, there were 223 firearms-related homicides in Canada, 44 more than the year before. That represents a 23% increase.

Bill C-71 is just enhancing background checks for those looking to get or renew a firearm licence. It will require sellers of firearms to verify if the purchaser is allowed to possess a firearm. It will require firearms vendors to keep records of sales. It places greater controls on the transportation of restricted and prohibited firearms. I do not see anything wrong with that, especially for ridings like Winnipeg Centre, which has seen an increase in violence and deals with this day in and day out.

Although we can try to put more people in prison for longer, maybe we should try to keep the guns out of the hands of people who should not have them in the first place by ensuring there are adequate background checks.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 3:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Winnipeg North. I am pleased to join the debate on Bill C-71 at third reading.

As we know, the recent increases in crimes committed with a firearm, gang activity, and homicides in our communities and cities require our urgent attention. A review of our firearms laws in Canada is long overdue, and Bill C-71 contains practical and balanced reforms that will help us achieve that.

We began by proposing mandatory criminal background checks as well as stricter controls for transporting restricted or prohibited firearms.

We began by proposing to remove the Governor in Council's authority to downgrade the classification of a firearm contrary to what is provided in the definition under the Criminal Code, thereby reclassifying some firearms in the prohibited weapons category, and then by limiting their authorized transfer through grandfathering.

We began by restoring a consistent approach to classification and by creating a bill that will help combat the problem of unauthorized access to firearms.

All of these reforms are about putting public safety first, and about making this bill enforceable and reasonable for responsible gun owners. These reforms are not about restoring the federal long gun registry. The committee agreed to add a provision that clarifies this exact point. The reforms also do not add any unreasonable measures for gun owners and retailers.

Hon. members in the House are calling on the federal government to look at how banned weapons get into the hands of organized crime, and this is exactly what the Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction is responsible for. That is his job.

These reforms will stop guns from getting into the wrong hands and will help keep our communities safe. The bill we are debating today has been strengthened and improved by the comments and recommendations of my colleagues in the House, as well as the testimony of the many experts we heard in committee.

I would like to talk about how each party contributed to designing a bill that is able to do more.

As an aside, I want to mention that my brother is a gun enthusiast. He has his licence, and we talk about this topic every time we go for dinner at our mother's house.

First, the parties proposed enhancing background checks of firearms licence applicants, and the Liberal Party and Green Party amendments to that effect were adopted in committee with the agreement of the Conservative Party and NDP members. These amendments mean that from now on, specific additional checks will be done over the lifetime of a firearms licence applicant.

All parties agreed that if an applicant has a history of threatening behaviour or poses a risk of causing harm to himself or others, these factors must absolutely be taken into consideration in evaluating the application.

We now have a bill that expressly states, in no uncertain terms, that an individual's threatening behaviour must be taken into account in determining that individual's eligibility for a licence. What is more, the amendments that all parties agreed to contributed to expressly take into account whether the individual was or was not subject to a previous order prohibiting the possession of firearms in connection with violence against an intimate partner or former intimate partner. The bill now clearly indicates that threats of violence and threatening behaviour can include those communicated on the Internet or any other digital network.

This amendment responds to a serious and growing problem. Online harassment and hate, including threats of violence, have unfortunately become all too common in 2018. This is a disturbing trend that disproportionately affects women, racialized persons and LGBTQ people, and it gives way to racism, sexism, and intolerance in our daily lives.

According to Statistics Canada, one in six Internet users reported seeing content that promotes hate or violence, and 7% of these people have experienced it. Enforcement has focused on how to address this problem. Canadians from all walks of life are concerned about violent threats at a time when our lives depend on the use of the Internet.

With this amendment we can assure Canadians that the assessment of eligibility for a firearms licence will take into consideration threatening behaviour. This represents a reasonable and modern approach that will prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands.

I will cite some other amendments, moved by the different parties, that were adopted.

The Conservative amendment to section 1 would specify that the government will not reintroduce the federal long-gun registry. There is nothing in the bill to that effect and therefore that is quite fair.

The NDP's amendment makes a practical precision to the rules on transferring non-restricted firearms. The law will state that a reference number confirming the validity of the licence may apply to one transaction including the transfer of one or more unrestricted firearms. Clause 5 already sets out the conditions for transferring a non-restricted firearm, and it already includes the conditions for transferring more than one non-restricted firearm. However, the amended bill clarifies that if the licence and reference number are valid, people are free to transfer ownership of more than one non-restricted firearm.

I thank all parties for their work on this bill. It will be an improvement.

Once the bill is passed, if people plan to sell or give a non-restricted firearm, they will have to make sure that the person receiving it has a valid licence. They will also have to confirm with the RCMP's Canadian firearms program that the licence is valid, which will take just a few minutes.

Under the new law, the authorities who decide whether to issue a permit will also have to take into account an individual's entire record of certain types of criminal activities and violent behaviours, not just those of the previous five years.

It is already a best practice to include certain pieces of information in non-restricted firearm records, and we will support that practice by making it a legal obligation. Records will have to include the licence verification reference number issued by the registrar of firearms. They must also include the transferee's licence number and the date. Records will include information about the firearm being transferred, such as the serial number, date of manufacture, model and type. Firearms vendors must keep these records for at least 20 years. To be clear, businesses, not the government, will keep these records. It is already common practice for businesses to have these records and keep this kind of inventory. This bill will simply make that practice mandatory.

This new measure will guarantee that firearms are sold only to people with a valid licence, which will help save time and resources when it comes to enforcing the law. What is more, it will better support criminal investigations by providing the police with a tool that will make it easier to track non-restricted firearms that were used to commit a crime and to identify suspects of firearms offences. That will facilitate investigations and provide evidence that could help secure a conviction.

We are making these proposals with due consideration for privacy. Law enforcement agencies will not have any special powers in this regard. They will have to continue to operate under existing laws. All of this is supported by a consistent approach to firearms classification and safe and legal transportation requirements.

These proposals are effective measures that will enhance public safety and yet will still be fair and manageable for firearms owners and merchants.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 4 p.m.
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Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Madam Speaker, that is an excellent question. Indeed, this is part of a whole-of-government approach in protecting Canadians and reinforcing security for our communities.

It is important to note that we respect and admire the process that law-abiding gun owners go through to receive their permits. Bill C-71 is attempting to strengthen background checks and licence verification. People in Alberta have to get their licences renewed every five years to drive a car. It is important to know that people have valid permits in order to use their legally registered firearms. We have to have more sensible rules around the transportation of restricted and prohibited firearms and a consistent approach to classification.

Cabinet should not be able to decide the technical matters of whether a weapon is prohibited, restricted or permitted. That is up to technical gun experts, and that is exactly what Bill C-71 is allowing this government to do to keep Canadians safer.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 4 p.m.
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NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, the correspondence that I am getting in Nanaimo—Ladysmith about Bill C-71 and the amendments to the gun safety process that the Liberal government is proposing are running kind of fifty-fifty. I am very aware that many responsible gun owners, hunters and gun clubs in my riding are very concerned about the design of this. They see the steps as mostly being unnecessary. They are already comporting themselves well and already subject to a lot of rules. In the spirit of co-operation, I will provide one example and hope that the government representative can give me some detail. I am hoping you can reassure this constituent of mine.

Andrew from Nanaimo said, “The background checks for the possession and acquisition licence are already currently legislated to go back five years. However, at the discretion of the chief firearms officer, they can go back as far as they feel necessary already. On top of this, all PAL holders are run through the Canadian police information centre daily to check to for any infractions which may be of concern. If C-71 passes and these mandatory lifetime background checks are required every time a licence is renewed rather than just on a new application, this will simply be a waste of RCMP resources. Instead of lifetime, why not just set the time frame for new applicant background checks to be at the CFO's discretion? They will probably go as far back as when the applicant turned 18 anyway”.

Through you, can you let me know if that is a consideration as a way to minimize the impact on—

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 4:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Madam Speaker, the committee talked about and looked at this question. I believe it was a motion accepted by all parties, of not allowing background checks that would span more than five years to be optional. We are seeing a rise not just in violent crime but in Internet hate and violence in online communities. The idea was that if there are going to be licences and we have to make sure they are valid, the ability to check a person's history throughout the course of his or her life needs to be required. It should no longer be optional and needs to be required. The committee debated it and found it was in the interest of the safety of Canadians. That is why it is in Bill C-71.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 4:05 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, if I were to try to summarize this piece of legislation in three words, the three words that would come to my mind would be “enhancing public safety”. That is the essence of what this bill is all about. Having said that, I would like to make a statement that I would think is very obvious and that the Conservative Party members might want to listen in on.

In the last federal election the Liberal Party made a commitment to do just that, those three simple but very important words. Bill C-71 is a fulfillment of a commitment that this Prime Minister and this caucus made to the electorate back in 2015. No one should be surprised by the legislation. In fact, I would have thought people would have been disappointed if we did not bring in the legislation. I know many of my constituents and Canadians in all regions of this country would be disappointed in the government had we not brought forward legislation of this nature because we had made a commitment to do so.

This piece of legislation reflects where the Conservative Party is coming from. Number one, it demonstrates that the Conservative Party really and truly is out of touch with what Canadians think and believe. I would encourage people to read what the minister responsible, the member for Regina—Wascana, read into the record. Very clearly, he indicated the details of what this bill would do. I suspect that if the Conservatives were to canvass Canadians in a public forum and possibly have a public meeting, they would find overwhelming support for what the member for Regina—Wascana explained to this House earlier today.

The changes that are being made, a few of which I will highlight very shortly, are fairly straightforward, but the Conservatives have this Stephen Harper mentality. They really have not forgotten Stephen Harper. One of my colleagues calls it Harperite disease, or something of that nature. The member across the way puts two thumbs up for Harper. I mention his name and they applaud. They do not quite understand that going the Harper way is not what Canadians want to see of the official opposition. We often kid around that the Conservatives' current leader is just Harper but with a smile. We say that kind of tongue in cheek, but in reality, in many issues it is true. There really is not very much difference between the current leader and Stephen Harper, and this is a good example of it. We listen to the propaganda and the spin that are coming from the opposition today, and we get a good appreciation as to why Canadians would believe there is no difference between the Harper years previously and the Conservative Party today under this new leader. I want to be parliamentary here. That spin is incredibly misleading.

Listening to the speakers, some of them are more candid than others. Some will say this is all about a long-gun registry. It is amazing. It is just not true. The Prime Minister has said that. The ministers have said that. Members on this side have said that. In fact, while this bill was in committee, a Conservative member moved an amendment to make sure it was very clear, in the legislation where it says in no way is it associated with a long-gun registry. That motion actually passed. We would think that would stop them from wanting to give misinformation, but the misinformation continues. Like Stephen Harper, the Conservatives went to every region of the country talking about how bad the long-gun registry was. I do not believe it was good. That is why the Liberals voted that way—