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

Sponsor

Ralph Goodale  Liberal

Status

Second reading (Senate), as of Nov. 8, 2018

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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 / 4:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, it is really not that controversial a bill if one reads the content, but if we take into consideration the Harper Conservative rhetoric in opposition on it, then I can understand why many people who are listening to the debate would think that it is controversial. It really is not controversial. What is it doing?

If we ask Canadians if there is anything wrong with having background checks, there is nothing is wrong with that. All we are doing is allowing the chief financial officer to extend it beyond five years. What is wrong with that? One of the members across the way said it already does that. The bill would obligate it as opposed to making it optional. That is the point.

The Conservatives will say off the record or in the hallways that if it gets down to the core of what the legislation actually does, maybe there is nothing wrong with that, but they do not want to be thrown off the Harper Conservative spin, which means they have to oppose Bill C-71 and make it out to be something it is not. The content is good. It is solid. It is part of an election platform that means we will have better, safer communities that we all represent. There is nothing wrong with extending background checks.

It would require sellers to verify that purchasers are allowed to possess a firearm. What is wrong with that? Even in the U.S. they do that, but not the Harper Conservatives. They feel compelled to oppose that.

It is amazing when Conservatives talk about the registry. Back in the days of Brian Mulroney, retailers were compelled to register the firearms they sold. Brian Mulroney recognized that as a positive thing and so does this legislation. It happens in the U.S. Organizations like the NRA, an organization that many of the Conservatives across the way would salute, provide registries for retailers to ensure it is being done in a proper way. Again, that is what the legislation is doing. Every measure within this legislation makes sense and would be supported by a vast majority of Canadians. Only the Conservative Party seems to be at complete odds with this legislation.

I would welcome and invite a member from the Conservative Party to come to Winnipeg North and have a breakfast or lunch discussion on the issue. I look at the legislation and I am convinced that if members put the Harper Conservative spin aside and were concerned about public safety and wanted to add value to that issue, one of the things they could do is reverse their position, stop the rhetoric and support this legislation. If they did that, I believe that at the end of the day even their own constituents would appreciate the fact that this is good legislation and that they made a positive decision.

The Conservative Party stands alone inside this chamber. The Green Party, the Bloc, the New Democrats, Liberals and Canadians are all onside. The only ones who seem to be offside are the Conservative opposition members. I would suggest they skip the rhetoric, look at the substance, get on board and vote yes for this legislation.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 4:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, my colleague said that the bill could be summarized in three words: enhancing public safety. I spent quite a bit of my summer talking to different people in my riding, many of them hunters, sport shooters and farmers, and to a person, they are concerned that the bill does absolutely zero in terms of enhancing public safety. It adds an administrative burden to their lives and it potentially criminalizes law-abiding citizens.

Here we have Bill C-71, which my colleague says could be summarized in three words, enhancing public safety. At the same time, we have Bill C-75, which proposes to reduce sentences for some very violent acts in this country.

How can my colleague stand and look anyone in the eye and say honestly that Bill C-71 is summarized by enhancing public safety?

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 4:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, very easily, because it does just that. We are talking about Bill C-71. If one were to attend a Conservative convention in Alberta and go over this legislation, which I would be more than happy to attend with an invitation from my colleague, I suspect even Conservatives would support this legislation. I really believe that.

In Winnipeg North, we have Conservatives. Unfortunately, a few too many, but we have Conservatives, and I meet with them too. I do not believe the member, who is trying to give an impression, I would suggest a false impression, that Canadians would not support this kind of legislation. I know it because I have been working and dealing with issues of this nature for many years, both in opposition and in government. This is the type of legislation that can make a positive difference, and Canadians do support it.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

September 20th, 2018 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, it is a real pleasure to stand in this place and speak, not necessarily just on this bill, but on this issue. I have been speaking on this issue in the House it seems for 25 years, but in reality it is 18 years, because that is when I came to the House. Today it is Bill C-71, which has been dubbed the firearm owners harassment act, and most of my constituents believe that is what Bill C-71 is.

Last spring, I wrote a biweekly column for the papers in my constituency. In that newspaper column, the reference was Groundhog Day, because when Bill C-71 was introduced, it was much like Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day reliving a very memorable and disturbing day. For me, that day happened back on February 14, 1995. Over and over, we have had reference to that day here in the House of Commons. It was the day that ultimately led to my seeking election for this place in 2000. It was the day that Bill C-68 was introduced by former Liberal justice minister Allan Rock. I will say that there is still a distrust among law-abiding gun owners in this country of the Liberal Party of Canada.

I will paint this picture a little clearer. We are debating Bill C-71, but today in the Globe and Mail, the story is that one of our ministers is going to begin consultations on banning firearms, banning handguns, across Canada. Therefore, although we debate Bill C-71, which has bad proposed legislation in it, the background is that there is more going on with the Liberal government. One of my colleagues from Lethbridge earlier this week delivered a petition to Parliament with 86,000 signatures from law-abiding gun owners in this country. There are over 10,000 from Quebec and tens of thousands from other provinces across this country. There is very little trust in the Liberal government when it comes to this issue, because we have seen it in the past.

While the grip that the Liberal government is trying to put on law-abiding firearm owners this time is not as tight as the one that Mr. Rock tried in the mid-1990s, we believe that any movement on this bill that takes away the rights of law-abiding gun owners is not right, fair, or in the best interest of Canadians.

On the day that the public safety minister introduced Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms, many were immediately ready to jump to compare it to the infamous predecessor. I thought at that time that I would reserve judgment. That reservation lasted about 20 minutes, as it did not take long, after reading through the legislation, to see what the Liberal government was trying to do. It does not bring it back to the extent of the ineffective long-gun registry, but it is a very good step toward that.

In the mid-1990s, Bill C-68 created the billion-dollar gun registry and made criminals out of law-abiding firearm owners such as farmers and duck hunters. However, it did not solve the problem. Many Canadians, particularly anglers, hunters and farmers, which is the majority of my riding, who had been in possession of their firearms for a long time, were made to retroactively, and at a great cost both financially and emotionally, ensure that the make, model, serial number, calibre and barrel length of their firearm was properly recorded and placed on the firearm registry. Failure to do so could turn them into an immediate criminal. That is the kind of intent that the Liberal government has in regard to legal firearm owners, law-abiding citizens.

Soon after forming government in 2006, Stephen Harper and our Conservative caucus immediately moved to eliminate the long-gun registry and to restore the respect that law-abiding firearm owners had been denied since former Liberal justice minister Allan Rock tabled Bill C-68. Unfortunately, once again, that respect is being stripped away, and firearm owners will be made to feel like criminals under the reference number provision outlined in Bill C-71.

Section 5 of the Firearms Act is being amended to include the requirement for anyone transferring a long gun to obtain a reference number from the firearm registry. Before any firearm can be sold or given away, the buyer has to show a licence, and the seller, whether a retailer or private citizen, has to confirm it is valid with the registrar. The problem with this, and I mentioned it in the House before, is that all throughout constituencies in western Canada and indeed Canada—Ontario is similar and possibly Quebec, but I am not certain—there are gun shows going on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, where thousands of collectors, farmers, and law-abiding firearm owners are buying that next rifle for hunting or protecting their livestock. That is going to cause massive problems with the industry gun shows, like gun shows in Concort, Hanna, Castor and Torrington, and the list goes on throughout my constituency.

Currently, vendors are trusted to do a requisite licence check without confirmation. The registrar will issue the reference number only if satisfied that the person buying or receiving the firearm holds or is able to hold an eligible licence.

I see that my time is up. I just want to underscore that this is bad legislation. I encourage the Liberals to back off on Bill C-71.

Bill C-71—Time Allocation MotionFirearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 10:30 a.m.
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Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That in relation to Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms, not more than five further hours shall be allotted to the consideration of the report stage and five hours shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said bill; and

That at the expiry of the five hours provided for the consideration at report stage and at the expiry of the five hours provided for the consideration of the third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

Bill C-71—Time Allocation MotionFirearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, this time allocation motion will once again undermine our ability to debate Bill C-71, which is a farce. This is nothing more than political games and a public relations exercise, and once again it targets hunters and law-abiding Canadians.

I would now like to hear the minister's thoughts on a serious problem concerning indigenous peoples. Heather Bear, the vice-chief of the Ochapowace Nation in Saskatchewan, the minister's province, appeared before the committee and said that Bill C-71 is probably unconstitutional, that indigenous peoples had traditions, and that they did not have to comply in any way with the contents of Bill C-71.

How can we have two categories of citizens, law-abiding hunters and gun owners on the one hand, and indigenous peoples on the other, who claim that this bill does not apply to them? How can we ensure public safety when people ignore what we are trying to do?

Bill C-71—Time Allocation MotionFirearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 10:35 a.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Madam Speaker, when I had a beard, people used to get me mixed up with my colleague from Longueuil—Saint-Hubert.

Let us move on to more serious things, like this time allocation motion. During second reading of Bill C-71, the Liberals introduced a bill that the minister bragged about. I do not entirely disagree with him. We support some aspects of it, but we still have some concerns and questions about other aspects. The minister said he wanted to bring a balanced approach to firearms legislation in Canada. However, we know that this debate is very emotional, and understandably so.

However, at second reading, before I even had a chance to speak to the bill as the critic from the second opposition party, the Liberals moved a time allocation motion. Now, after only a few hours of debate, they come back with yet another time allocation motion.

The Liberals say that they take very seriously the concerns of victims who are calling for more control over firearms and those of firearms owners, who have questions about some of the provisions in the bill.

If we want to have a healthy debate on this difficult and complex issue in Canada, why move a time allocation motion? Why not truly take the time to listen to parliamentarians as they share the concerns of their constituents?

Bill C-71—Time Allocation MotionFirearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 10:35 a.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Madam Speaker, indeed a very substantial amount of time has been taken. I would remind hon. members that the content of Bill C-71 was included in the election campaign of 2015 in great detail. The proposals were laid out in the election platform. That was the subject of a complete campaign, and in fact endorsed by Canadians in general as a result of the election.

In terms of the legislation now specifically before the House, which reflects very faithfully what was in the campaign platform, we tried to call this bill twice at second reading and ran into parliamentary shenanigans which delayed or diverted the discussion onto something else so we could not get to this subject matter. When we were finally able to get to the subject matter, there were six hours of debate at second reading. Then the bill went to committee. There were five meetings in the committee. There were 26 witnesses. There were three more meetings to deal with clause-by-clause consideration. Three amendments were adopted.

Now there will be five more hours of debate at report stage and five more hours of debate at third reading. That will provide ample opportunity for members of Parliament to reflect their views and the views of their constituents.

Bill C-71—Time Allocation MotionFirearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 10:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Madam Speaker, it is quite clear this is the backdoor gun registry coming back. Under Bill C-71, if a firearms owner sells a firearm to another individual, he or she would have to call a registrar and that purchase would now be registered. Even though both individuals have a valid possession and acquisition licence and show that they are valid, they would still have to call the registrar to have that purchase registered.

It is quite clear from the research done on the old Liberal firearms registry that law-abiding citizens complied with it. I certainly did. However, at the same time, there was zero evidence it reduced crime. On the other hand, we have Bill C-75, where the Liberals would be making punishment for violent crimes and criminals more lenient, while at the same time, under Bill C-71, they would be punishing law-abiding citizens. In the Liberal world, it is far easier to punish law-abiding citizens because they obey the law and the criminals do not. Why this dichotomy? Why are criminals treated better than law-abiding citizens under the Liberal government?

Bill C-71—Time Allocation MotionFirearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 10:45 a.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Madam Speaker, this takes me back to the work of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security which did a very conscientious job in looking at this legislation. Obviously, as members have reflected in the House today, this is a subject that provokes strong emotions on one side of the case or the other side of the case and it is perfectly legitimate and proper that those varying perspectives be brought to the floor of the House of Commons and brought to the standing committee for proper debate and discussion.

The discussion at committee was very thorough. There were five meetings to hear evidence and receive briefs. Twenty-six witnesses were called. The committee then went into clause-by-clause consideration and spent three more days dealing with Bill C-71 clause by clause. In the course of that, the committee adopted three very useful amendments. One enhances the process of background checks. One deals with the authorizations that are required with respect to the verification of licences on purchases. That one, incidentally, came from the NDP and it was a very useful amendment to expedite that process.

The committee did its work. It studied the bill and reflected on what needed to be improved. It made those improvements and we are now at report stage and soon at third reading.

Bill C-71—Time Allocation MotionFirearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 10:50 a.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Madam Speaker, again, let me repeat the record of what the House has gone through with respect to Bill C-71. The bill got six hours of debate at second reading. It was then referred to the standing committee. The standing committee held five full meetings to receive evidence and hear witnesses; the members in fact heard 26 witnesses. Then they went into clause-by-clause for three further meetings, and they adopted three amendments to the legislation.

Now the bill comes back to the House for report stage and third reading. It was debated for several hours last night. That debate will now go on for five more hours at report stage. It will then go on for five more hours at third reading. That will result in a very ample opportunity for members to participate in the discussion and put their views on the record. The issues before Parliament require that we debate and discuss things, but they also require that at some point we take a decision and vote.

Bill C-71—Time Allocation MotionFirearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 10:50 a.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Madam Speaker, I cannot possibly admit that because it is false.

First, on the question of the consultation, that was gone through prior to the legislation, before our platform was put together, during the course of the election, after the election, in the preparation of the legislation, and so forth. That information was requested some weeks ago in an Order Paper question. That question has been answered, and all the details of the consultation are now on the public record in response to the Order Paper question.

Second, I would underscore the fact that the content of Bill C-71 was embodied in specific promises in our election campaign. Those promises were thoroughly debated over the course of the longest election campaign in Canadian history. In fact, Canadians had an opportunity to vote on the content, and the result of that vote was clear.

Third, there were two further key channels for consultation. One was the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee, which examined the content of what would become Bill C-71. I would also note that a few months ago we convened here in Ottawa a national guns and gangs summit, which dealt with a number of issues, including firearms. It was well attended, including by members of the opposition and almost all of the major organizations that deal with firearms, and we had a very good discussion in the course of that summit meeting.

Therefore, there were, indeed, extensive consultations.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 1:45 p.m.
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Ajax Ontario

Liberal

Mark Holland LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in this place to talk once again about the important public safety measures being brought forward in Bill C-71. At the top, I want to talk about the tone of this debate and some of the messages and rhetoric.

It is important we have that push, that thrust and parry that occurs in debate and on issues. However, unfortunately my inbox has been filled with enormous hate, including death threats over this issue, which is deeply disturbing and entirely inappropriate. Therefore, we really have to watch the tenor of our debate. This is about public safety and about working together to make our communities safer. We may have differences in approach, but those kinds of messages and death threats certainly have no place in our public discourse, and have been enormously disappointing.

Unfortunately, we have a serious problem in Canada with gun violence. Only a brief couple of weeks ago, at the Pickering ribfest, a shooting terrorized our community. This is a very peaceful event that has gone on for a long time. Only months earlier, there was a horrific multiple homicide then suicide, a domestic violence situation. That is emblematic of what we have seen over the last number of years where Canada has had a decrease in the crime rate overall, but the gun violence in all of its forms has been on the incline.

Some have said that it was low when we look back at 2012, so the fact it has gone up one-third is no big deal because it was so low before. A one-third spike in gun violence, when we had made such progress to drive those numbers lower, is a big deal. It is a big deal because a one-third increase represents a massive number of new victims, people who should not have been victimized, people for whom we could have avoided that situation. Unfortunately that increase in violence has manifested itself in a number of different ways. It has happened with guns and gangs, but tragically it has happened in domestic violence situations. Not often enough do we talk about the increases that have also occurred with respect to suicides.

Therefore, we need to look at this issue from every angle. We have never held out that Bill C-71 is a panacea that will solve all the problems of gun violence, but it is an important part of a broader strategy.

I also want to talk about the fact that when we introduced everything during the election campaign more than two and a half years ago, we said from the outset that we wanted to work with law-abiding gun owners to ensure the measures were as little an imposition on them as possible, while at the same time achieve our public safety objectives.

Let us talk about what we ran on in the platform and what is here today. One of the things we said in the platform, and this has been done in the United States since the 1970s, was that when a gun shop sold a gun, it would have to keep a record of that weapon. It has to keep a record of who of sold it to. Some concerns were raised by gun owners and members of the House that this information might be misused. Therefore, we made a concession in the platform, which is in the bill, that someone had to have lawful access to get that information. In other words, the only way that information could be obtained from a gun store was if it would help an investigation and help catch a criminal. It would allow a police office to go to a gun store, say a gun was involved in a crime, and ask who the gun was sold to. The only way the officer could get that information would be if it could be demonstrated, through judicial access, that in fact that information would help solve a crime. It is behind a firewall.

Unimaginably, the Conservatives have called this a “gun registry”. That is a piece of fantastical imagination and is on the level of believing in unicorns. The reality is that this information can only accessed by police to solve crimes. To describe it in any other way is frankly dishonest and it does this debate no service.

Another thing we ran on as part of our platform in the campaign was that when people were transporting a prohibited or restricted weapon, they would require a free permit to ensure they had authorization to take weapon wherever they would be going. a free permit. In this instance we are not talking about hunting rifles or shotguns; we are talking about high-powered semi-automatic rifles and handguns. We are talking about a class of weapon that is very strictly controlled.

We listened to the gun community. We listened particularly to sports shooters and others. They said that if they were taking it to their gun club directly and they were pulled over by the police for something else, then it would be self-evident they were going to their club and they should not require that authorization to transport. We thought that was a fair point, so we changed what we put in the platform and made that concession so it would only be required when they took their guns somewhere other than a gun club.

Some people have suggested that it should only be a person's own gun club, but we heard from sports shooters. They said that would be a great imposition. When they are competing in tournaments, they are not going to given the opportunity to visit multiple locations. They will have to get a permit all the time, which would be an enormous imposition for people who were doing this as a sport, as an example, or for Olympians. This is why we allow people within the province to drive to any gun club and not require an authorization to transport.

However, in the fewer than 10% of instances when people are taking their guns somewhere other than a gun club, then they are required to get a free permit to demonstrate they are taking them where they should be taking them. By the way, the permits can be emailed to them and they can show it as a PDF. Some people asked why they should do that. There are a couple of very important reasons for this.

If we look at the rules today and do a hot map of any city in Canada, not having that provision means a person can have a prohibited or restricted weapon in the car at all times and be able to explain to police that he or she is taking it somewhere. The individual is allowed to take it to so many places that effectively there is no restriction on driving around with a handgun, a high-powered semi-automatic rifle, or even a fully automatic prohibited weapon in their car.

We have heard from the OPP and the RCMP, and certainly we have heard very clearly from the chiefs of police, that there have been many instances where police officers have pulled people over for one offence and have noticed a prohibited or restricted weapon in their car. The individuals in question are not going to a gun range, the officers cannot figure out where they are going and there is nothing the officers can do. Therefore, police say it is important to have that authorization to transport, which is free and can be provided as a PDF. It provides an important public safety instrument. By the way, again, that represents only less than 10% of the cases. It certainly does not make sense to me that people are sending me death threats over this kind of measure.

As well, the bill would do a couple of other important things. It was actually Jason Kenney, a former member of the House, who talked about the need to have expanded background checks. The reason for this is that unfortunately in a five-year window, somebody's violent history may not be captured. I have spoken in the House before about instances where unfortunately, and all too often, women trapped in violent relationships do not report that violence and do not come forward. It can drag on for years. When the woman finally escapes that relationship, the individual in question can go in and buy guns legally because his violent history with women has not been reported on for more than five years. That person is then able to purchase weapons and unfortunately shoot his former partner dead. It has happened far too many times in the country.

Sadly, gun violence occurs with both registered and unregistered weapons. The measures contained in the bill, and there are a lot more than I have time to address today, do important public safety good to ensure we are a bit safer.

This is one part of the puzzle. We are putting $100 million a year into the guns and gangs strategy to build up our strength at a local community level, to make our communities stronger and more resilient against gun violence. The work we are doing to improve the situation at the border, of the illegal transportation of weapons into this country, is so vital. We saw so many cuts to CBSA and to the RCMP. We are restoring those cuts, ensuring that strength is present.

It is part of an overall strategy to make our communities safer, while ensuring we have as little imposition as possible on those who use firearms responsibly.

Firearms Act—Speaker's RulingPrivilegeGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 4:10 p.m.
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Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised on May 29, 2018 by the hon. member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner concerning documents published on the website of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in relation to Bill C-71, an act to amend certain acts and regulations in relation to firearms.

I would like to thank the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner for having raised the matter, as well as the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader for his comments.

In presenting his case, the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner contended that information on the RCMP website led readers to believe that Bill C-71 had already been enacted by acknowledging neither the parliamentary process nor the fact that the bill remains subject to parliamentary approval. He added that the presumptuous language used, including such phrases as “will be impacted”, “will become prohibited”, and “is affected”, is proof of contempt of Parliament.

The member returned to the House the next day to explain that the website in question had been updated that day to include a disclaimer about Bill C-71 in fact being a proposed law. He viewed this as an admission of fault.

For his part, the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader explained that the matter raised was simply one of debate as there was clearly no presumption of anything in the information respecting Bill C-71 on the RCMP website.

As the charge being made by the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner is one of contempt, the Chair must determine if the information provided on the RCMP website does in fact anticipate a decision of Parliament. If it does, this would offend the authority of the House.

Having reviewed in detail the relevant information on the website, before the disclaimer was added, I found instances where some provisions of the bill were in fact framed as legislative proposals, using such phrases as “proposed legislation” and “is expected to be”. Despite these statements, the vast majority of the information was presented as though the provisions will definitively be coming into effect or are already the law of the land. Nowhere did I find any indication the bill was still in committee and was not yet enacted law.

Further to this, I reviewed the material to try to determine if the assertions being made could be related to existing regulations or statutory provisions. I can confirm that, although some elements of the information are rooted in existing statutory or regulatory provisions, many more would be new measures that would come into force only with the enactment of Bill C-71.

The member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner did acknowledge that some of the language is conditional but, even then, the Chair shares the member's concern that the website information suggests that the only approval required is that of the government.

Parliament's authority in scrutinizing and adopting legislative proposals remains unquestionable and should not be taken for granted. The Chair is troubled by the careless manner in which the RCMP chose to ignore this vital fact and, for more than three weeks, allowed citizens and retailers to draw improper conclusions as to their obligations under the law. Changing the website after the fact does little to alleviate these concerns. Parliamentarians and citizens should be able to trust that officials responsible for disseminating information related to legislation are paying attention to what is happening in Parliament and are providing a clear and accurate history of the bills in question.

The work of members as legislators is fundamental and any hint or suggestion of this parliamentary role and authority being bypassed or usurped is not acceptable. The government and the public service also have important roles when it comes to legislation, but these are entirely distinct from those of members as legislators. In fact, part of their responsibility is to state loud and clear that legislation comes from Parliament and nowhere else.

As the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner reminded us, some 30 years ago, Speaker Fraser had cause to state on October 10, 1989, at page 4461 of the Debates in ruling on a similar matter:

This is a case which, in my opinion, should never recur. I expect the Department of Finance and other departments to study this ruling carefully and remind everyone within the Public Service that we are a parliamentary democracy, not a so-called executive democracy, nor a so-called administrative democracy.

Again, on November 6, 1997, at page 1618 of the Debates, Speaker Parent was equally clear about the respect owed to the authority of the House, stating:

This dismissive view of the legislative process, repeated often enough, makes a mockery of our parliamentary conventions and practices.

As Speaker, I cannot turn a blind eye to an approach by a government agency that overlooks the role of Parliament. To do otherwise would make us compliant in denigrating the authority and dignity of Parliament.

Accordingly, the Chair finds this to be a prima facie matter of contempt of the House. I invite the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner to move the appropriate motion.

I thank all hon. members for their attention.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 4:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate your ruling. I move:

That the matter of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police publications respecting Bill C-71, an Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms, be referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

I appreciate that the Speaker reviewed the evidence that was before the House and made a ruling based on the evidence that I feel was very strong. For those who are involved and may be hearing this for the first time, let me briefly reiterate exactly what happened.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, in its online publication, started in early April explaining to the Canadian public some aspects of Bill C-71. It was language that made the public believe that Bill C-71 was, in fact, passed by Parliament and already enacted in law and to be abided by.

It was listed in “RCMP Special Business Bulletin No. 93” and used presumptuous language, with phrases such as, “CZ firearms will be impacted by changes in their classification”, and, “businesses will need to determine if their firearm(s) will be affected by these changes.” It went on to explain that Swiss Arms firearms will also become prohibited. If one owns SA firearms, it identified the steps one would need to take, because they would be affected by Bill C-71. It went on to explain the grandfathering clauses and how to avoid being in illegal possession of a firearm, as if Bill C-71 had, in fact, been enacted.

The language used was “will be impacted”, will become “prohibited”, and “will be affected”. The language it could have used was “it could be” or “may be” or “might be” affected.

Later on in that same bulletin, the RCMP website went on to say, “Business owners will continue to be authorized to transfer any and all CZ and SA firearms in their inventory to properly licenced individuals, until the relevant provisions of Bill C-71 come into force.” Before one thinks that the language presumes that it is going to come into force, it did not concede that it needed parliamentary approval first, as we know today.

The second document the RCMP had on its website was “How does Bill C-71 affect individuals?” In that particular document, it also used very presumptuous language. A lot of it mirrors what I already indicated was in Special Business Bulletin No. 93. Passages included, “If your SA firearm was listed in Bill C-71, it will be classified as a prohibited firearm.” Again, it said, “was listed”, as if Bill C-71 was a document from the past and not a bill that is currently before the House.

It went on and said that “for grandfathering of your currently non-restricted or restricted CZ/SA firearm, the following criteria must be met”. Again, it went through a whole list of details for firearms to meet, which, coincidentally, happen to be laid out exactly, almost word for word, in clause 3 of Bill C71. Again, there is no indication that these proposals were just that. They were proposals before a committee to be studied by parliamentarians, let alone sanctioned or in effect.

I received a number of calls on this prior to it coming to our attention. There was great concern across Canadian law-abiding firearm ownership groups across the country.

One of the passages I referred to earlier explained the grandfathering requirements and how to avoid being in illegal possession of a firearm. It said, “If your SA firearm was listed in Bill C-71, it will be classified as a prohibited firearm.”

Conservatives have been clear all along. There have been concerns raised about Bill C-71. There have been great concerns voiced by the Canadian firearms public that the proposed changes to the rules in Bill C-71 would require the RCMP to be the be-all and end-all on firearms classification and reclassification. The Conservatives gave the Governor in Council an oversight role, and Bill C-71 took that oversight role away from the Governor in Council and gave it to the RCMP.

I am not going to take the time of the House to explain all of them, but the RCMP has made a number of very grave mistakes when it comes to the classification and reclassification of firearms. It needs to be involved, but it cannot and should not be the final arbiter in the classification of firearms. The reality is that the RCMP is there to enforce the law, not create it. That is our role. Do we need RCMP experts and firearm-owner experts across the country to be part of the classification process? Absolutely. Should they make recommendations to the House? Absolutely. However, it is the House that makes that decision, not the RCMP by itself. That is one of the many flaws in Bill C-71.

Under the regime the Liberals are proposing in Bill C-71, all law-abiding Canadian gun owners who follow all the rules and regulations on firearms could suddenly find themselves, because of one meeting with some bureaucrats, declared criminals because they possess illegal firearms, when they have owned and used those firearms for sports shooting or hunting for many years. Suddenly, with one blanket move and without oversight, dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people who already possess guns could be deemed illegal. That flies in the face of common sense for all Canadians, and certainly for law-abiding Canadian gun owners. We have seen disrespect before for law-abiding Canadian gun owners, and we do not want to keep seeing it happen.

What is even more distressing about this whole process is that the Minister of Public Safety, who oversees the RCMP, should have made it very clear to that organization that this bill has not passed in Parliament and is still before committee. He is one of the most experienced members we have and should be urging the agencies that work under his purview as Minister of Public Safety to have respect for Parliament. The RCMP is not above the law or above the requirements of Parliament and the House of Commons.

As the Speaker indicated in his ruling, the fact that the RCMP changed the website the day after the question of privilege was presented was proof positive, and many Canadians believe the same thing, that it put that provision in there. I do not want anyone to misunderstand me. I do not believe for a moment that the RCMP acted on its own. I am sure that someone would have called someone in the public safety office of the government to ask whether it should go ahead with this. I do not believe for a moment that the RCMP acted on its own. The failure of the government, and not only on Bill C-71, which would do nothing to address the issue Canadians want addressed, which is guns and gang violence, goes to show the contempt that exists in a majority government when it has lost touch with Canadians.

I appreciate the ruling of the Chair and respect the fact that the critical role of Parliament to ensure that Canadians continue to have support and believe in democracy in this place was upheld today. For that, I give credit to the Speaker for his ruling.