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

Sponsor

Ralph Goodale  Liberal

Status

Third reading (House), as of June 20, 2018

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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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Liberal

Bob Nault Liberal Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, as a rural member of Parliament, it is extremely important for members like me to get an opportunity to speak on legislation that always has an impact, or is perceived to have an impact, in regions like ours. I represent what I think is the sixth-largest riding in Canada and the largest riding in Ontario, with one-third of Ontario's land mass. Hunting and the tradition of owning firearms is a well-known fact in the region that I represent.

In order to get a better sense of the sensitivity and difficulties in these kinds of debates between rural members and urban members of Parliament, I want to take us back a bit in history to get a better understanding of why these things can be complicated.

Since I came to Parliament in 1988, I have had the opportunity to be a part of the debate of two major pieces of legislation. These were major pieces of legislation dealing with firearms. There were three in fact, but one was pulled under the Mulroney government in 1990. There were difficulties going on in the caucus of the day in that particular Conservative government for members of Parliament. Bill C-80 was the bill, and it came in under Justice Minister Kim Campbell. She introduced it in June 1990. Interestingly, that particular piece of legislation created a gun registry for all guns in Canada. It was such a difficult debate within the rural caucus and the urban caucus of the government of Brian Mulroney that they waited for months and months before they started to debate it. They then waited for the prorogation of the House, so they could start over. Therefore, Bill C-80 disappeared. In its place, Bill C-17 came into being. Bill C-17 was also under Justice Minister Kim Campbell, and it was enacted into legislation in November of 1991.

In case people were not aware, in case they want to see how gun legislation has been created over the last 40 or 50 years, this is the piece of legislation where practically everything we are debating today was brought into play, from the possession certificates, the waiting periods, and the background checks. All these things happened under Bill C-17 in the Mulroney government.

I want to give a list of a few things that happened during this process. Applicants for a firearms acquisition certificate were required to provide more background information, including personal history, criminal history, a picture, and two references. Some of the impacts of Bill C-17 were that approximately 200 gun models moved to restricted and prohibited lists. There were limits on magazine size. If we can imagine, years ago we could have very large magazines. Now they are restricted, so that has made a significant difference in how we perceive firearms today. Firearms and ammo must be stored separately. Ammunition, before Bill C-17, was basically in the same box as one's firearm was stored. One had to keep weapons in an operable condition. One had to hide and lock guns during transportation. A 28-day waiting period was imposed for issuing of permits, which is a discussion that is still going on in the United States. It is one where it is hard to imagine how people are having difficulty understanding the importance of it. Then there was the grandfathering of automatic weapons. Of course, the big discussion of that day was whether we should or should not ban semi-automatics.

There is a history as it relates to these kinds of firearms, and the whole issue of firearms and safety of people around the world. Here in Canada, as a society that believes and will continue to believe that firearms have a legitimate use, the debate has always been a difficult one.

I used the example of what happened in the Mulroney regime to make it clear that in those days, rural members of Parliament were arguing with urban members of Parliament in the same government as to what to do and what not to do. Here is something that members should know. Bill C-17 passed by a margin of 189 to 14. In fact, the vote was whipped very strongly in the Mulroney government. There were a lot of people who were absent that day, because the Liberal Party of the day, and that caucus, voted with the government. However, many of the Conservative members of Parliament decided to be absent that day, because it was that kind of debate. Therefore, I agree with the member in the NDP who spoke before me. It would be much more helpful if we could have a debate where it was not so partisan and was not used as a wedge issue, but in fact we would spend some time talking about what is good for Canada.

I want to go back to another piece of legislation, because I want to remind members of Parliament that Bill C-51 was passed in 1978. In 1978, gun legislation was passed that brought in record-keeping by vendors. The record-keeping by vendors, the one we were talking about, which the Tories across the way are saying is a backdoor registry, has existed since 1978. The reason it came out was that when we brought in Bill C-68, the long-gun registry and the other changes, there was no need for the vendor registry, as we put it, a recording, because the registry was going to be individual persons. That was the way each gun would be recorded. However, that came out of the bill for the reason of it being a different way of looking at firearms and the firearms process.

I have been doing this for a number of years now, sitting here as a rural member of Parliament having a discussion about firearms, and trying to bring some sensibility. It is not to score political points, but to make it clear that we need to have laws, and we need to have a gun registry that makes sense. We need to have firearms laws that work or do not work, but the reality is that we need to have some sort of regulation as it relates to firearms.

The reason I am supporting this proposed legislation is because Bill C-71 would bring in a change on the five-year limitation. That would allow the CFO to consider an applicant's entire history. I think one of our major concerns in today's gun scenario, and we see it in the U.S. and in Canada, is that there are a lot of mental issues with people who have firearms. When we think about individuals who have firearms and mental issues, and I am talking about the U.S. now, we can think about what happened to those kids who died in that school. They say that those individuals died because the perpetrator was unstable. It was not because he had a firearm, but because he was unstable. Therefore, I think that this proposed legislation would go a long way to improving the ability for us to keep that particular scenario under control.

As we discuss this proposed legislation and the issues that surround it, we have to make sure we put in legislation that benefits society and is not overly difficult for firearms owners. I think this proposed legislation would do that very clearly, and that is why I will be supporting it.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, I was astounded that my colleague from Kenora would actually accuse someone like me of having mental health issues, because I am one of the law-abiding firearms owners he is talking about. On the fact that he is suggesting that changes to the law made in Bill C-71 would address the issues in the United States, I might suggest that he would be better off pursuing a Congress seat than representing the fine folks in Kenora. To imply that making the changes we need to make here in Canada is the result of U.S. legislative policies is simply misguided.

I wish I actually did not have to rise in the House today to talk about this. I wish that the public safety committee, when the current government first took office, had been tasked with actually going across Canada and talking to people. If we were going to have a serious conversation about creating a safer Canada and increasing public safety, we could have had a thoughtful discussion. We could have had a less partisan discussion on this issue. Instead, the bill just came out of the blue. Bill C-71 came late in the mandate of the government after several years of trying to get electoral reform through. The Liberals cannot pass their marijuana legislation without the Senate pushing it back. They are trying to rig the election system again through Bill C-76.

This is where we are at. We are three years into a four-year mandate, ramming legislation through with a handful of hours at second reading, one meeting with the minister and bureaucrats at committee, and three more meetings with a handful of witnesses, a mere fraction of the number of people and organizations that wanted to be represented and have their voices heard. Now we just had notice from the government House leader that the Liberals are going to move time allocation, not only at the report stage of this bill but also at third reading, making sure that the voices that are reasonable and need to be heard will not be so that they can push through what can only be described as an emotionally based agenda when it comes to firearms.

There is not a single member of Parliament in this place who would not do the right thing if given the right options and good advice and empirical evidence to suggest that the legislation was going to improve safety for Canadians. If that actually happened, if that was the approach the government had actually taken, we might have come up with some legislation that had unanimous support. In fact, my colleague from Kenora who just spoke suggested the mental health side of things. There is nothing in Bill C-71 that would actually address mental health issues. There is nothing in Bill C-71 that would address any co-operation between federal investigators, law enforcement agencies, or firearms officers and anything to with any of the provincial mental health acts.

Here is why this bill is so offensive to the law-abiding firearms community. The Liberals say that nothing about this is a firearms registry. Nothing could be further from the truth. In a previous life, before I came here, I was a tenured faculty member at Red Deer College teaching systems analysis and design. I was a database architect and a database administrator before I came here. I understand information technology. I understand how to cross-reference information. Whether it is a distributed computing system or the technology we have today, with clouds of information out there, it is very easy.

The bureaucrats, the minister, and the police officers who came before the committee made it painstakingly obvious to anyone who was paying attention that with Bill C-71, every time there was a transaction and a firearm changed hands, whether through a sale, an estate inheritance, a gift, or lending or borrowing, Canadians would have to get permission from the government. If they were at a gun show on the weekend, if they were going to Cabela's, if they were selling a firearm to their neighbour, or if they were lending their rifle to their hunting buddy to go on a trip and were not on that trip too, they would have to get permission from the government to do this first.

Here is how this would work. The Liberal government today says that it is going to have someone on staff, 24/7, 365 days a year, to pick up the phone when the buyer and seller want to have a transaction. The Liberals' original legislation actually said that for every firearm that was going to be transacted, they would need a separate reference number. This is a registry, because there would be the seller's licence and the buyer's licence.

Here is my buyer's licence. It is a document. It has my licence number, my name, my address, and the type of licence I have. Every one of those reference numbers is going to transact the serial number, make, and model of that firearm, to be cross-referenced with distributed store records. I specifically asked the bureaucrats how this would work, and they said it would be no trouble for the central transaction database, with all the reference numbers, to easily go back to a store and find out where a firearm was originally purchased.

If I buy a firearm from Cabela's or another store, and I choose to sell that firearm to a hunting buddy, who then sells that firearm to someone else, and that firearm is stolen and used in a crime, the police would have the ability to implicate me and everyone in that entire chain of sales in the act that was eventually done by a criminal, rather than focusing on that criminal.

If I sold 40, 50, or 100 firearms in one transaction as a single individual and not as a business, maybe that would trigger some kind of threshold and someone would ask what was going on. Was it an estate dispersal? Was I getting rid of all my firearms? That might have done something to increase public safety, but unfortunately, this bill would not do anything.

As a matter of fact, all it would do is create more red tape, more bureaucracy, and more expense. It would make gun shows on weekends that Canadians participate in more difficult. When I asked the bureaucrats what would happen for a large gun show in Canada, they said they would need a few weeks' notice. Now it would be up to every gun show organizer in this country to let the firearms centre know that on a weekend, it would have to staff up. Do members know how many gun shows there are in Canada? Virtually every weekend of the year there is one somewhere in Canada.

We did not talk to anyone. We did not talk to any gun show organizers. We did not hear from anyone from the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association, which is in the retail business. None of those organizations were brought in to testify before the committee so that the government would have an opportunity to understand what it was it was going to do.

Bill C-71 would create a registry of firearms transactions, to be maintained by the firearms centre, which would be cross-referenced with all the records that would now be mandatory for store owners to keep for a period of 20 years or more. The period would be 20 years or more, because the legislation does not say for just 20 years. It says that if Canada acceded to an international treaty that required Canadians to store the records for even longer, it would be automatic in law that those records would need to be kept longer. It would not even come back before Parliament.

We have discovered that Canada is already involved in negotiating one of those treaties, so it is very convenient that the legislation would be there so that we could keep the records even longer.

It is a $3-billion boondoggle. We have not had a single government official say how much more the government is going to spend on the firearms centre to ramp up the staff to keep track of the new gun registry.

Classification is another thing that frustrates firearms owners. Bill C-42, the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act, actually put the decisions back in the hands of elected representatives so that at least there was some recourse for law-abiding firearms owners who, by the stroke of a pen, went from one day being law-abiding firearms owners to the next day being in possession of prohibited property.

The Liberals could have adopted a very simple fix. We simply suggested taking it out of the hands of one individual and creating a panel. I put a recommendation before the committee to have five technical experts, including police, military, and civilian experts, advise us, thereby depoliticizing the issue altogether. In this way, it would not be in the hands of one entity or in the hands of politicians. We could get a panel of actual experts to make those recommendations and fix the rules.

We know that there are three basic criteria for handguns: rimfire, centrefire, barrel length, and so on. These criteria tell us if a firearm is restricted or prohibited. There is nothing that prescriptive in the long-gun classification system. It is very subjective, and that is the problem with the rules. The minister says that it can hide behind the RCMP, because the RCMP simply has to follow the rules, but the rules are not clear. They are very subjective. It is very frustrating.

Last but not least is the notion of licensing. As my colleague from Kenora rightly pointed out, if we go back to the passage of legislation in 1977, there are firearms owners in Canada who have had licences for almost 40 years. They would now, when they went to renew their licences, have to answer for everything they did back when they 18 years old, some 20 years before 1977, for example, as if the mental health issues from 60 years ago were going to be the basis for denying them a licence. Mark my words, someone is going to go back and dredge this up, and a current law-abiding firearms owner who has had a licence for 30 or 40 years is going to be denied a licence. Do members know how to appeal that? A person has to make an application before a court. A person has to hire a lawyer, go before a court, and get a judge to overrule the decision of the chief firearms officer.

We provided an amendment at committee, which the Liberals shot down. As a matter of fact, it was an amendment proposed by a rural Liberal member from Ontario, who suggested that we create a system of appeal so that law-abiding firearms owners were not caught up in being denied their licences if they had had them for a number of years.

I could go on for another couple of hours about the failures of Bill C-71, but my time is up, so I will happily answer any of the misguided questions the Liberals have for me.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 10:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, it shows just how much my hon. colleague, who sits on the committee, does not understand about the continuous eligibility criteria that every firearms owner in Canada already has. Every day, every firearms-licenced owner in Canada is checked. If the police go to a domestic dispute or if any court issues an order against a person for committing any type of crime, it is automatically flagged in the firearms system. The next day, that individual will get a knock on the door, the police will show up, and if the person has firearms in the house, they will confiscate them until the issue is resolved. The fact that the member does not know that means that there are very serious problems with Bill C-71.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 10:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

[Member spoke in Cree]

[English]

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak today.

The people of Winnipeg Centre believe in effective gun control measures that prioritize public safety and also ensure that law-abiding gun owners are treated fairly. During its last term, the Conservative government loosened gun laws through a series of legislative and regulatory amendments. Astonishingly, Canada has seen an increase in gun violence in the past three years.

The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security proposed a number of significant amendments and accepted amendments from all recognized parties. A Conservative amendment even help reassure people that this was not a long-gun registry.

In 2016, there were 223 gun-related homicides in Canada, 44 more than in the previous year. This is an increase of 23%, the highest increase since 2005. In 2016, guns were the most common murder weapon used in this country. Between 2013 and 2016, the number of domestic violence cases involving a firearm increased from 447 to 586.

We proposed a suite of measures, each one directly related to strengthening public safety and security. These measures will keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and help police locate firearms that have been used to commit crimes. That means Bill C-71 is very important, because it will help save lives and solve crimes.

Bill C-71 will improve background checks for people applying to obtain or renew a firearms licence. It will also require firearms sellers to check whether the buyer is authorized to own a firearm, and it will tighten up the rules governing the transportation of restricted and prohibited firearms.

It is always fun to have the chance to speak some French in the House.

The 2015 Liberal Party platform made nine specific commitments related to firearms. Bill C-71 includes the platform commitments that require legislative changes. These include repealing changes made by Bill C-42 that allow restricted and prohibited weapons to be freely transported without a permit, and putting decision-making about weapons restrictions back in the hands of police and not politicians. It is time to have the experts actually doing the work, not politicians as it was under the Harper Conservatives. We are also looking to require enhanced background checks for anyone seeking to purchase a handgun or other restricted firearms. We are going to require purchasers of firearms to show a licence when they buy a gun, and require all sellers of firearms to confirm that the licence is valid before completing the sale. We are going to require firearms vendors to keep records of all firearms inventory and sales to assist police in investigating firearms trafficking and other gun crimes. We will not create a new national long-gun registry to replace the one that had been dismantled.

In my riding of Winnipeg Centre, gang crime is an important issue. It is something that goes hand in hand with this legislation. In fact, as part of our commitment to make it harder for criminals to get and use handguns and assault weapons, and to reduce gang and gun violence in Canada, our government has announced up to $327 million over five years and $100 million annually thereafter in new funding to help support a variety of initiatives to reduce gun crime and criminal gang activities.

The Government of Canada also brought together experts, practitioners, front-line personnel, and decision-makers for a summit on criminal guns and gangs in March 2018. The criminal guns and gangs summit is an unprecedented national summit on the challenges, solutions, and best practices in the fight against gun crime, and in combatting the deadly effects of gangs and illegal guns in communities across Canada, especially in communities like Winnipeg Centre. The government heard from key stakeholders, including law enforcement agencies, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, community and mental health organizations, indigenous groups, and government and non-governmental organizations.

I would like to quote my good friend, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness:

Too many young people have been killed and too many communities have been marred by gun crime and gun violence. It doesn't have to be this way. By working together, we can make our communities safer through greater enforcement, collaboration and prevention. The federal government is making major new investments to tackle this scourge and will bring all levels of government and our partners together to confront this problem at the Summit on Criminal Guns and Gangs.

I have already talked about some of the crime that has been going on with guns in this country, and the increase in the number of gun crimes that have been happening. However, we have also seen an increase in the number of incidents of organized crime. For instance, between 2012 and 2016, there was an increase in murders of 17%, in manslaughter of 12%, in extortion of 74%, and in human trafficking of 300%.

The meth crisis especially is expanding, facilitated by organized crime groups. The production, trafficking, and sale of illicit drugs, such as fentanyl, are often the main cause of gun and gang violence. We are taking action on that not only with this program of $327 million, but we are also ensuring that we have a bill, Bill C-71, which is trying to bring a balanced and equitable approach to what we can do and how we can work together.

I had the opportunity to read about some of the issues that are going on. We have enhanced background checks. We will ensure there is licence verification. We will ensure that record-keeping is done by vendors to be able to trace firearms used in crimes. I was looking online and I noticed that, for instance, pharmacies have to keep records for 10 years related to drug use and patients' records and who gets prescription drugs in our country. I think it is okay if we ensure that vendors actually keep some records so that if the police need them when a crime is committed we can ensure that they have the full story about what is going on.

I would also like to talk about weapons classifications. Firearms are classified as prohibited, restricted, or for anything that does not fall within those two categories, non-restricted. The Criminal Code apparently lays out the criteria for what technical aspects of a firearm make it either prohibited or non-restricted, and the associated regulations directly list several dozen models. The RCMP is tasked with analyzing new firearms and firearm variants to determine which classification they will have under the criteria passed by Parliament.

In the spring of 2015, Bill C-42 of the Stephen Harper Conservatives granted the Governor in Council, or cabinet, the ability to overrule the variant classifications made by the experts, the RCMP, and to downgrade the classifications of firearms. This was done for two groups of firearms, the CZ 858 and the Swiss Arms rifles. As a former member of the 22nd Regiment, that is very concerning to me, because when we look at a CZ 858, it is a submachine gun. It resembles an AK-47. This is a weapon that has been used in the Vietnam War, in the war in Afghanistan by the Czechoslovakian army, and in the Libyan civil war. I do not think this type of weapon should be involved in hunting, as we should have respect for animals. I know most hunters have a great respect for hunting because it is a good thing to go out onto the land to provide for one's family. However, I do not believe that a weapon that resembles an AK-47, and has been used in armed conflicts around the world, is perhaps an appropriate weapon to have in our country. Individuals who own these weapons as of June 30, 2018 will be grandfathered. The government will offer a three-year amnesty to provide owners of affected firearms with time to come into compliance with the grandfathering requirements. During the amnesty period, owners will be authorized to possess but not use their firearms until licensing and registration requirements are met.

There is an awful lot to cover, but I would like to talk about one final thing before the opposition can try to tear me apart. There were 1,200 Grant Park students who walked out of class on March 14, just around the time of the summit. They walked out of class because they wanted to raise the issue of gun violence in their community. They were upset with the propositions put forward by many politicians who refused to acknowledge that there is gun violence in our country, and who have not proposed adequate solutions. This is why I am very proud of what we are trying to do, which is to strike that balance not only with respect to legislative changes, which are simply reasonable changes, which is not a long-gun registry, and ensuring that we have good records in case a criminal investigation needs to be undertaken, and also having programs to ensure that we provide our youth and those who are most vulnerable an ability not to become involved in gangs and criminal activity.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 10:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, the member for Calgary Nose Hill gave a great presentation. It was really inspiring and hopefully our colleagues across the aisle were paying attention. I know they were awestruck because they did not ask any questions. She must have really had their attention. She must have done such a good job answering our questions that the Liberals did not ask her one question during the question and answer period.

We are talking about Bill C-71. What a loss of opportunity. The day is winding down and Liberal members want to get out of here as soon as possible. Let us just think of the things that should be going on in this chamber right now. Let us think of all the priorities of Canadians that are not a priority of the Liberal government. Bill C-71 deals with gun violence, but what would it do for gang violence? It would do nothing for gang violence, nothing for illegal ownership. Those guys just go through the revolving door and there is zero impact. Bill C-71 will not do that. We have established that quite clearly.

What about rural crime? Rural crime is a huge issue in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and rural Ontario. The farmers who have guns for shooting ducks or maybe the odd bear that may run into their yards, or for skeet shooting, are the ones now targeted. They are being told they are doing something wrong, so this legislation is for them. What about the guy who drove into someone's yard and stole a quad, or the guy who drove into someone's yard and shot at a family, or the guy who drove into someone's yard and stole things out of a shed for the fourth or fifth time? What is being done to catch those people and make sure they stay in jail? What is being done to take that revolving door away? How are judges being instructed to give sentences that actually stick? That is what the farmers would say. If we were talking about that, they would be watching us on TV and applauding all of us. However, what are we talking about? We are talking about law-abiding citizens going through more processes, more bureaucrats being hired, and a backdoor long-gun registry for people who already follow the law. It is so disappointing.

If the Liberals had their priorities right, what would we be talking about in this chamber tonight? Jobs and the economy should the top topics. We are seeing investment flee this country left, right, and centre, and the Liberals seem to ignore it. They say it will be fine; it will come back some day. It will. In 2019, when there is a Conservative government, it will start coming back, but until the Liberals change their ways, it will not. It keeps bleeding out. The numbers are very real. The impact on jobs, on our kids, and on the ability of our kids to find jobs is very real.

We could be talking about NAFTA. The NAFTA negotiations are ongoing. We could be discussing the future of that and the path forward. We could talk about the softwood lumber agreement and the forestry workers. There is still nothing in place for them. We could talk about the TPP. That would be a great thing to talk about, something the Conservatives and the Liberals actually agree on. We want to get this done and get it through the House as quickly as possible. Why has that not been put forward so we could do that this week, so that the farmers, the manufacturers, the people who require export markets could take advantage of those markets in this time of turmoil? Why are we not talking about that? No, we are telling those same farmers that we are talking about Bill C-71 and making them criminals, making their lives even more difficult if they own a .22 or a shotgun. It does not make sense to the average Canadian.

There are lots of things that people are concerned about moving forward. In the auto sector, there are tariffs coming. Where is the discussion on that? Again, the Liberals have nothing to say. They have no game plan, and yet they will talk about Bill C-71 and all sorts of things. They will keep the House going for as many days as it takes to pass legislation on pot, and yet when it comes to something like the TPP, where are they? They say, “Let's go home.” It is unreal. It is absolutely amazing.

Where are their priorities? Where are their heads with regard to what Canadians really want? The by-election proved that. Their priorities are so mixed up and delusional, somewhere out there in left field, that they have lost the basis of reality. The reality is that if there are no jobs, we cannot take care of the environment, because the environment and the economy go hand in hand. Let me repeat that: The environment and the economy go hand in hand. We have to take care of the economy in order to take care of the environment, and they have ignored the economy. That is the reality.

In five minutes, I have touched on a few things that the Liberals could take care of that would make our country a better place to live. That is just in five minutes.

The Liberals have had two years, and they have done nothing. How many bureaucrats have been hired in the last two years? The government has spent a lot of money, but on what? I do not have a new bridge in Prince Albert. I do not have a new hospital. I still have sewer and water issues on all the reserves.

However, the Liberals are in control. They have their finger on the pulse. They know what they are doing. Canadians are starting to realize very quickly that they do not. I know my colleague from Calgary Nose Hill talked about the trip to India. I think it was the BBC article that made Canadians start to look and say, “Holy cow, what did we do?” Canada is back. What does that mean? What is the Liberal interpretation of “Canada is back”? If that is what it is, please, somebody do something.

I go back to my riding to talk about a variety of things. I think back to the last long-gun registry. My riding was actually a Liberal riding, and then came the long-gun registry. It will never go Liberal again.

Do members know what happened? Do members know why that changed? It was because there were a lot of people who looked at that riding and said that the Liberals at the time, Paul Martin and Ralph Goodale, were balancing the budget. People thought they could maybe buy into that—

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 10:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

At least for one more year.

Mr. Speaker, let us get back to the bill at hand, Bill C-71. We still have gangs in Toronto, and they are going to do what they want to do, when they want to do it. They are going to ignore this legislation.

I am sure they are going to go into a gun shop, buy a gun, and say, “Oh, by the way, I'm going to fill out these forms and wait my time to get that. I will take the PAL course and do all that. You bet.” It is going to do a lot for real crime. It is going to be wonderful to see these guys sitting there thinking, “I'm going to attack that yard, but I better go get my gun registered before I do it.” That is not going to happen. Let us get back to priorities.

If the Liberal government was going to bring in legislation like that, as I said, Canadians will be watching us to the nth degree.

Anyway, I think I will close there. I think I have said enough. I look forward to questions.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 11 p.m.
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Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the hon. member talk about his understanding of the bill. I have before me a quote from a gun vendor, an actual business person who has talked about the bill and his understanding of it. How does the hon. member feel about this interpretation? This gun vendor said:

[T]here's not been a real big change on the actual aspect of logging the customer's information and keeping on record what they've purchased. We already do it with ammunition, now they're just asking us to do it with guns. By doing it with guns we're going to give the police and the community the tool to begin to track where guns are purchased, how they're being trafficked and how they're being used, so that's not a bad thing.

If Bill C-71 is okay for gun vendors, if it passes their test, what is wrong with it? Why is the hon. member opposed to what law-abiding gun vendors have to say about the bill?

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 11 p.m.
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Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand here tonight and talk about Bill C-71. This is an important bill for my riding. I have spoken to this a number of times.

Before I get into the bill's history, I want to talk for a minute about so many of my good colleagues around here, especially my colleagues from Quebec. We added to their numbers tonight up in Chicoutimi--Le Fjord. I am looking forward to another Conservative member coming here. I used to buy cattle in the Chicoutimi area. I also used to hunt and fish up in that area. There is no doubt in my mind that Bill C-71 is one of the reasons that Mr. Martel, apparently one of the most famous hockey coaches in Quebec, was elected tonight with a huge majority.

The reason I mention that is that Canadians everywhere, whether they are in Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, in Yukon, or in Chicoutimi, Quebec, are ordinary Canadians who hate to be told they are criminals just because they like to hunt or farm and they have a rifle.

I was a farmer in my other life. Most farmers in this country, whether they hunt or not, have a firearm. They use their firearm to go after that rabid fox that gets in with the livestock, or a coyote or bear that is trying to take down a newborn calf, or as the member for Prince Albert mentioned, intruders who come on the property with the intention to steal stuff. It is commonplace in rural Canada for people to have a firearm.

Earlier, the member for Oakville North—Burlington commented that firearms owners are law abiding until they are not. What in the heck does that mean? I just shake my head at that. I have a lot of respect for that member who sits on the public safety committee but if that is not aiming a dart at a large law-abiding group of people in this country then I do not know what is. I am ticked off by her comment. I am offended by it and I am sure a lot of people across this country are offended by it as well.

Turning to some of the history as to why Bill C-71 came out, the Liberal government said it was going to do something about gang violence and the illegal firearms trade. What did it do? It did not do one thing. I have talked privately to a number of members across the way who admitted there is nothing in this legislation. This is a signal to a group of people who are absolutely against firearms for various reasons, or they are against hunting or whatever, and the ultimate goal is to get rid of firearms everywhere. It does not recognize the fact that lots of people know how to handle them.

I have had a gun in my hand since I was eight or nine years old. I was taught by my father how to handle it safely. My boys got their licence when they were 12 years old, which is what the legal hunting age was. I taught them how to handle a firearm, the same as I taught them how to ride a bike or do whatever. Respect is taught along with that. It is not just about learning how to operate a firearm. It is the same when it comes to running farm equipment. The member for Malpeque, who sits on the opposite side of the aisle, grew up on a farm. He would have taught his kids the same way. Whether it is a piece of farm equipment, a firearm, or whatever else, we have to teach the proper way to handle it and to treat it with respect and then everything will be good.

I sat in on a public safety committee meeting a few weeks ago. Some of the testimony that I heard that day would blow one's mind, no pun intended.

What came out of Bill C-71 was that the government fudged the numbers. The crime rate with firearms has been dropping since the mid-1960s, which is common knowledge. However, they really dropped in 2013. What did the government do? It used that as the base number, knowing that no way would we get the same drastic drop in firearms crime in 2014, and it went up a bit. All of a sudden, my God, the sky was falling, and everybody was shooting everybody everywhere, but that was not the case. On fudging numbers, two witnesses both said something long the same lines.

The reason I mention that is because of what we got from the member for Kenora. I have hunted and fished in his riding. I have a lot of friends up there. I am sure they will be happy after his comment tonight. He said that among firearms owners, there was a lot of mental health issues. There sure as heck is not in my family, friends, and the people who I know who hunt and handle firearms. That was a pretty blanket statement. I do not know if he meant to say it, but when I asked in a question, he pretty well repeated it, so I kind of think he meant it. That kind of thing is not helpful. It is not correct. Sure there are examples, but the one thing worth pointing out in this is when he talked about some of this mental health, he started off by talking about the U.S.

The U.S. has a way worse record and a way worse problem with firearms than we do in Canada. Why? Because we have the toughest laws in the world. We have had the toughest handgun laws in the world since the 1930s, and we are well ahead with long guns, etc.

We all know the history of 1995. In fact, one of the things that motivated me to get into federal politics was the long gun registry. I can still hear my dad. At 86, he is still hunting. He was made to feel like a criminal. My father-in-law was felt the same way. God bless his soul, he has passed away. However, he was going to bury his guns rather than register them, and he did not want to break the law. That just shows us that when we attack law-abiding firearms owners, they get upset, they want to fight back, and they shove back.

In this most recent attack, the numbers were fudged and members tried to pretend that we had the same crime problem or gun problem as the people in the United States. When members start comparing us with the U.S., they are going down a road they should never go down. It is like apples and oranges. We just cannot do it. The U.S. has problems because it does not have the same kind of laws as we have up here.

I talked about the crime rates dropping and the Canadian firearms advisory committee. My good friend from Calgary spoke a few minutes ago. About a year ago, I had a long conversation with her about this. She had a bit of a personal issue with firearms. She finally realized that she did not understand it and did not know what it was. She said she had a lot of people who hunted in her riding. What did she do? Probably the smartest thing any politician could do. She went out and got a PAL. Everybody was telling her that it was so easy to get a gun, a licence, and do all of that. She went out and did it all, and it took her over a year. There is nothing wrong with that. We are not complaining, but it just goes to show that all kinds of rules are in place. If more members went out and did what the member from Calgary did, we would be a lot better off.

Every member who sits on the Canadian firearms advisory committee should have gone out and got a PAL, like the member from Calgary did, so they would know how the system worked instead of bringing their bias to the committee.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 11:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Mr. Speaker, it has been a very interesting evening and an interesting debate, with a lot of information and emotion. I get to follow the last three, and they are tough to follow. Many of the things I might say will be related to things that have already been said, such as gang violence, illegal guns, illegal handguns, the penalties for those people who use those illegal weapons, and the consequences that follow.

I have heard from a lot of my constituents on this. There are a lot of unhappy constituents. I just heard a member across the aisle say that it is a registry, but I heard several members across the floor tonight saying it is not a registry. It was really nice to hear a member stand up and say it is a registry, but all the previous ones stood up and said it is not a registry. This bill targets law-abiding firearms owners in my riding. It does not actually prevent the crimes. They use firearms in legitimate and lawful ways. They use them to hunt, to work, and for sport shooting. Firearms are a big part of their rural life.

I remember a few years ago when I was the principal of a high school, there were issues about guns and gun violence with youth. I happened to be in a regional meeting of principals talking about guns and other issues, and I said there would be guns in vehicles in the parking lot of my school. There were other principals from urban areas who were astounded that I would admit there were guns in vehicles in my parking lot. I said, “You bet there are.” Those are farm trucks. Those are ranching vehicles. Those guns are tools. Those students know how to use those tools. They are trained how to use them, and they are there as a tool in their vehicle. They drive the vehicle to school and they drive it home. They may use that gun as a tool on the way to school or on the way home. It is part of rural life. They are responsible for those firearms. They do not like being targeted every time a Liberal government says that we need to have a registry or more gun control.

The opposition to this bill is not just in my riding. It is across Canada. E-petition 1608 which calls on the government to scrap this law had over 80,000 signatures the last time I checked. That is the second largest e-petition in history. I do not know why that number does not give the government pause. Regardless, I am happy to have the opportunity to convey some of my constituents' concerns about the bill.

The largest source of disappointment is it has nothing to do with gang violence, illegal handguns, and crime in rural areas. My constituents say they hear about the gang violence, the shootings in cities, and they experience rural crime, but where in the legislation does it do anything about that, other than make them do more red tape as legal gun owners?

There are a lot of obvious points about the bill, but criminals are generally not using legal firearms. What is driving gun violence is gangs and illegal handguns. The illegal use of handguns will not be impacted by this legislation. Only those who already follow the law will. Criminals do not register illegal weapons nor do those who have the number filed off those weapons.

Let me move to some obvious points suggesting this legislation is poorly designed. Given that we are at report stage of the legislation, it is worth looking at some of the testimony my colleagues heard in committee. They heard from Solomon Friedman, a criminal defence lawyer in Ottawa and expert in firearms. He had some interesting testimony. We all heard the Minister of Public Safety suggest the legislation is intended to combat increasing gun violence from 2013. Mr. Friedman noted, as some of my colleagues have already said, that the year 2013 as a starting point for the reported trend was not chosen at random. As we know, 2013 was a statistical aberration in terms of violent crime and homicide in Canada. The year 2013 saw the lowest rate of criminal homicide in Canada in 50 years. If we start at a point that was the lowest, the only place it probably will go is slightly up. It looks like the Liberal government has used statistics to justify targeting law-abiding firearm owners. This is a disappointing choice.

My colleagues at the public safety and national security committee also heard from Mr. Gary Mauser. He noted that 121 of the 141 firearms-related homicides that the minister cited were directly related to gangs in cities. Where in the legislation does it deal with gangs that are working with illegal handguns? It is not there.

We know what the real issues are out there. We agree that the safety of Canadians should be our priority. However, the government seems intent on distorting the evidence to suit its particular narrative. I think many of my colleagues have pointed out why it is doing this. The Liberals are pretending the legislation will do something to combat crime, but all it does is place more regulations on law-abiding firearms owners.

At the same time, the government has introduced Bill C-75, which makes all kinds of serious crimes punishable with a mere fine. That for rural crime is a real challenge. We have many people in western Canada, in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, where rural crime rates have increased in the last two or three years. People are using guns and violence, robbing properties, and are being slapped with fines. They will be right back on those properties. It should be the reverse. If people are using guns in crimes, there should be more severe penalties. This is not how we stop gun use in crimes by letting people off with fines.

The witness testimony I noted undermines a lot of rationale for this legislation. It supports what I have heard from so many law-abiding constituents, who use their firearms for sport, work, or hunting. They are not happy that the word '“gangs” never appears in this bill. “Illegal handguns” does not appear there. However, they are even more unhappy to see the word '“registrar” in the legislation. In fact, it looks like the words “registrar” or “reference number” are used 28 times. It is a registry. As the last member from across the aisle admitted, it is a registry.

It seems pretty clear that Bill C-71 would make it mandatory to register firearms and provide reference numbers. That information would be logged by a business and then passed onto the government. The government has been insistent that this is not a new gun registry.

Law-abiding gun owners will follow the law. They will do this because they are law-abiding gun owners. They will go through more red tape because they re law-abiding Canadian citizens. That is all it is doing is providing more red tape for those people.

I was happy at first to see that the Liberals supported one of our amendments, the one that stated “For greater certainty, nothing in this act shall be construed so as to permit or require the registration of non-restricted firearms.” I expected they would back up their support for this amendment by actually taking action. I assumed they would then support changes that removed the elements of the legislation that essentially created a new registry. However, they did no such thing.

It makes sense that the government does not want to remind Canadians of the wasteful $2 billion gun registry we dealt with before, but we do not know the cost of what they will do with this one. There will be a lot of bureaucracy, but there is no cost assigned to this. It is going to cost money, possibly a lot.

As I said, we want concrete measures that keep Canadians safe. I know the members opposite do not have bad intentions in supporting this legislation. However, they should understand that the bill would do nothing to fight the criminal elements that are behind gun violence. They should be focused on that. Instead they try to criminalize law-abiding citizens. I know there are members who are from rural communities and have misgivings about this legislation. Again, does this stop gun violence? Does this stop the illegal use of handguns? We need handguns to be out of the hands of criminals.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 11:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would invite the member to look at the blues of the proceedings of the committee on public safety in which two things happened.

The MP for Red Deer—Lacombe, who spoke earlier tonight, is a member of the committee. He said outright at committee, “everybody at this table agrees that this”, Bill C-71, “is not a registry.” Therefore, it is on record that Bill C-71 does not constitute a registry in any way, shape, or form. In fact, the Conservatives, as we have heard tonight, tabled an amendment to that same effect. Why are they playing these sorts of games when their own members have put on the record the fact that Bill C-71 does not constitute a registry in any shape or form.

What does the hon. member have to say to that?

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 11:30 p.m.
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Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to touch on something I know my colleague did not have a chance to speak about in his intervention.

We had a rural crime task force in Alberta. Many of us had open houses throughout the province. One of the things that came out, loud and clear, was the frustration from our constituents that Bill C-71, proposed to deal with gun violence, gang violence, and illegal firearms, but those things were not in this bill.

We hear the frustration from our constituents in Alberta, where there is such an increase in rural crime. I know many of my colleagues from both sides of the floor are dealing with this issue. Could the member comment a little on how frustrated our rural constituents are throughout the country that this bill had an opportunity to address one of the largest issues that rural Canadians are facing, and it failed to do so?

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 11:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-71 was introduced in March of this year. In his speech arguing in favour of the bill, the Minister of Public Safety called it “important legislation that prioritizes public safety and effective police work, while treating law-abiding firearms owners and businesses fairly and reasonably”. He went on to add that this bill upheld the Liberal Party's commitment not to reinstate a federal long-gun registry.

I take issue with both of those claims. What I have seen with the Liberal government's Bill C-71 is quite the opposite. Bill C-71 does not treat law-abiding firearms owners fairly, and it is abundantly clear that the Liberals are moving forward with what is, in effect, even if not in name, a new gun registry.

Let us begin with the claim that law-abiding firearms owners are treated fairly by the Liberal government. I think all Canadians believe in ensuring we treat firearms owners responsibly. We understand that, in the interests of public safety, there are sensible measures that can be taken. I think all of us in this place agree on that point. The trouble with Bill C-71 is that it is not offering any sensible measures to combat gang violence, gun violence, or escalating crime rates in our rural communities.

My Conservative colleagues and I recognize that the safety of Canadians must be the number one priority of any government, and we will support common-sense legislation related to firearms that will help keep Canadians safe, but here is the problem: Bill C-71 does not do that. It has no measures to combat the increasing rates of gun violence, domestic violence, gang violence, or to address the increasing rates of rural crime either in my riding of Provencher or across the country.

All this bill does is add greater costs and regulatory burdens to law-abiding firearms owners. In fact, the bill uses the words “registrar” or “reference number” 28 times. Do members know how many times the words “gang” or “criminal organization” appear? Zero. If Bill C-71 is not targeting criminals, who exactly is going to be impacted by this legislation? How are Canadians going to be better off for it? The answer to that first question is, unsurprisingly, law-abiding firearms owners. This bill makes the same mistake the Liberals always make on this issue. It is targeting law-abiding firearms owners instead of criminals. It is high time the Liberals stopped treating lawful gun owners like criminals.

This legislation offers plenty more red tape for those who follow the law. It will certainly create a larger burden for farmers and hunters. However, for those who disregard our laws and commit crimes, there is nothing here to dissuade them from continuing.

As I often say in this place, it is among the primary responsibilities of government to protect its citizens. In fact, our previous Conservative government understood that we could be tough on crime while respecting those who own firearms legally and operate them safely. The criminal element behind firearms violence was always where we focused our attention, yet with Bill C-71, the Liberals have entirely neglected to address the criminals who use guns to commit violence, while treating law-abiding firearms owners like criminals. Why would they do this?

As is the case on most occasions with the Liberals, they are more interested in being seen to be taking action rather than actually taking meaningful action. Let me explain.

It is difficult to address gun and gang violence; we all understand that. It is quite easy, however, to increase red tape and place new restrictions on those who are already following the rules. The Liberals get the benefit of being seen to do something even though the impact of their proposals will do nothing for the serious gun and gang violence Canadians want to see gone from their streets.

I think it is worth highlighting a CBC analysis that was undertaken on this bill, because it speaks to the way the Liberals have tried to justify Bill C-71. The Minister of Public Safety used statistics going back to 2013 to suggest that there had been a dramatic surge in gang shootings since that time. “Gun homicides are up by two-thirds”, he warned. However, he chose 2013 specifically because it was an unusual year statistically speaking. The year 2013 “saw Canada's lowest rate of criminal homicides in 50 years, and the lowest rate of fatal shootings ever recorded by Statistics Canada”, the CBC analysis from March reads. As the analysis indicates, “What appears to make 2013 attractive as a point of comparison is that any year in the past half century can be made to look alarmingly high by comparing it to 2013.”

The Liberals want to be seen as doing something. They were able to manipulate the statistics to create a monster that does not really exist. The Conservatives know that there are still very real issues out there with respect to gun and gang violence, but the Liberals have shown they are not serious about addressing the difficult challenges.

Conservatives will not simply vote in favour of this legislation and play pretend with the Liberals. When the Liberals want to tackle serious crime, Conservatives will be the first to stand with them. In fact, they may consider looking back at our years in government for some pro tips in that regard. Canadians can count on us to fight for concrete actions to keep Canadians safe, focusing our efforts on the criminal element behind this violence. We will not join the Liberals' crusade to make life more difficult for law-abiding Canadians.

Second, I want to discuss the Liberals' claim that Bill C-71 somehow would not reintroduce a gun registry. Now, I know that my Liberal colleagues and the Prime Minister bristle when any assertion is made that this bill is nothing more than a backdoor attempt to bring back the federal long-gun registry. We have heard the Prime Minister say that they are committed to not restoring a long-gun registry and that they are not restoring a long-gun registry; it is that simple. However, somebody needs to explain to the Prime Minister, and to my hon. colleagues, for that matter, that when the federal government is using a federal registrar to keep records on law-abiding firearms owners, that is a gun registry. It is that simple: registrars keep registries. This bill is not about restricted firearms. This is not about illegal guns. The Liberals want to use a federal registrar to keep records on non-restricted firearms and law-abiding firearms owners.

Again, the bill uses the words “registrar” or “reference number” 28 times, and the words “gang” or “criminal organization”, zero times. That is why we on this side of the House have called out this proposal for what it is. It is nothing more than a backdoor attempt to bring back the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry that Conservatives were given a clear mandate to eliminate. I find it interesting that the Prime Minister dismissed this long-gun registry as a failure back in 2012. This was despite his vote in favour of keeping it intact earlier on. Therefore, we should not be surprised that he has changed his mind again. Now he wants a new registry, he just does not want to call it a registry. However, if it walks like a registry and if it talks like a registry—I think members know where I am going—it probably is a registry.

Here is why these kinds of registries do not work. In Canada, 93% of gun crimes that result in death are committed with illegal guns by people who should not have them. The people the government should be targeting with this bill are not legal firearms owners, but those in possession of illegal weapons. Therefore, why in this legislation are the Liberals ignoring gangs, and instead targeting hunters, farmers, and northern Canadians? I serve a rural riding. A lot of good, law-abiding people own firearms, and nobody knows better than hunters and farmers the importance of gun safety and the social responsibility that comes with owning a firearm. That is why it is deeply insulting to have the Liberals consistently impugn not only those people's ability to be responsible citizens, but the kind of moral equivalency we see the Liberals trying to draw between violent gang members, criminals, and then law-abiding firearms owners. The Liberals need to stop focusing their fire on law-abiding farmers, hunters, and northern Canadians, and focus it on felons, on gangs, and on the flow of illegal guns across the borders. However, instead, they continue to target law-abiding citizens, trying to trip them up into an offence by changing the rules.

I do not see any merit in this piece of legislation as it stands. It would not achieve what the Liberals say it will. Instead of targeting gangs and illegal guns, they have stubbornly chosen to keep law-abiding Canadians in their crosshairs. That is why I will be voting against this bill.

That said, I am pleased to highlight that Conservatives have been behind initiatives to address crime in Canada. As I close, I want to highlight the recent efforts of my colleague, the member for Lakeland, and her work to draw attention to rural crime in particular. I was pleased to second her motion, Motion No. 167, which called for an in-depth study of rural crime rates and trends, as well as the current resources available for rural policing and whether they are sufficient. This represents just one of the many efforts by the Conservatives to tackle crime and improve the lives of law-abiding Canadians. I am pleased to say that motion was passed unanimously by this House. With that, I want to close.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 11:45 p.m.
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Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have a number of questions I want to ask tonight to kind of wrap this up.

One of the main questions, as I sat here and listened tonight, is that I fail to understand why the Liberals do not even seem to know the basics of what this proposed law is about. I heard a number of things this evening that are concerning. They do not seem to know what the past requirements were for background checks. I heard a number of people talking about that. They do not seem to understand that they have been adequate in the past. There has been a good system in place for doing background checks, and it has worked well for Canadians. They do not seem to know that firearms owners have to be registered and be licensed themselves in order to own a firearm. Earlier we heard someone ask why we treat guns differently than some other things. Well, the reality with firearms is that one actually needs to be registered. One has to take the course and get the certification.

I was really concerned a little earlier about why the Liberals approach firearms owners in the way that they do. When the member for Oakville North—Burlington said that all gun owners are law-abiding until they are not, I wondered what she meant by that. There is some sort of attitude of superiority that the Liberals come with in regard to firearms owners, and we have seen this for 25 years. We saw it with Bill C-68 and the fact that they would never back down on that legislation. It cost them dozens of ridings across this country. Several elections later, they have come back with another piece of legislation. I think we are beginning to see both in Ontario, and with the results in Quebec tonight, that the attitude the Liberals have is starting to irritate Canadians. I think we are going to see a response to that, and an even better response from our perspective, in the next federal election.

Also, I do not think the Liberals understand that there is no right to firearms ownership in this country. I think everyone needs to be reminded of that. The only reason that we can own firearms is because the government gives us permission. When I talk to my friends with the Canadian Wildlife Federation on those kinds of things, they say that we need to help Canadians understand that. We do not have a right to own firearms. If we do not get licensed, we are criminals. They resent that, but they will accept the fact that we need to have a licensing regime in place.

Another concern is that I am wondering why those Liberals who have firearms owners in their ridings do not seem to be willing to listen to them. I want to point out that at the committee, the leader of the opposition in the Yukon legislature was not allowed to speak. I am told that there was not a single northern Canadian who was able to testify on how the bill would impact their way of life. I want to read a little from his briefing, which said, “unlike the provinces, Yukon only has one Member of Parliament. This leads to situations where the input of Northerners is often an afterthought and not taken into account. This is the case with this piece of firearms legislation..”.

I can tell members that there are others. I have another notice on this situation from members of the Yukon Fish and Game Association, who are very concerned that they cannot track down their MP and talk to him about this issue. This is a member who has been around on this issue before. He should be standing up for his constituents. Why is it that the Liberals in the rural ridings, the ones whose constituents depend on having access to firearms for much of their livelihood, are not speaking out?

As my colleague mentioned earlier, we heard about a few of the ridings where there was concern about this, but these Liberals need to speak out. We are getting to the end of the proposed legislation, and it is basically the re-establishment of a semi long-gun registry, where every transaction that takes place at a gun store is going to be recorded for 20 years. The firearm, serial number, the name of the person who bought it, along with their PAL number, will be recorded. That certainly has all the makings and all the components of a firearms registry, and we do not hear anything from the other side.

Another concern is why the Liberals always need to manipulate things on this file. I can go on about this for a long time. I found it very interesting that the public safety minister from Regina has appointed a number of people to the firearms advisory committee who are clearly against firearms in any way, shape, or form. It is interesting that one of them was appointed and ended up being in the vice-chair position. She was a lobbyist. She said she would step down from her lobbying activities. The agreement she signed said that she is not to “engage in lobbying activities or work as a registered lobbyist on behalf of an entity making submissions or representations to the Government of Canada on issues relating to the mandate of this committee”. However, 10 months after signing that, this person submitted a legislative demand to the Government of Canada under the letterhead of that organization, and with her signature on it.

I would go through it if I had more time, but many of the bill's provisions happen to be exactly as she has laid them out. Is she actually doing the government's bidding, or is the government doing the lobbyists' bidding, who have said they are not going to lobby the government and then turn around and do it?

I can give members another example in which the government has felt some sort of necessity to manipulate every piece of data it can on this issue. That is around the issue of statistics. As Mark Twain said, “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.” With the Liberal government, that is certainly more true than almost anything else we can say about it.

It was mentioned earlier that 2013 had one of the lowest rates ever for firearms crimes. It is interesting that even CBC recognized that the Liberals are playing games with this situation. It writes, “2013 saw Canada's lowest rate of criminal homicides in 50 years, and the lowest rate of fatal shootings ever recorded by Statistics Canada” and “every year since 1966 has been worse than 2013.” The Liberals use a year in which the stats are lower than they have ever been, and then use that to set their base, and compare it to today. Today is still below the 30-year average, but the Liberals' news releases completely mislead Canadians. When the government has to resort to that kind of manipulation and misinformation, we can see that it is not very comfortable with the legislation that it is bringing in.

The article goes on to say that the “homicide rate in 2018 will be similar to or lower than it was...in 2008...or in 1998”, and well below 1988 and 1978, and similar to what it was in 1968. We certainly did not get that from the Liberal press release we saw.

There are a number of other important issues we need to touch on. A member across the way was speaking tonight about the Assembly of First Nations. I wanted to ask him a question. The AFN has said that it was not consulted before Bill C-71 came forward. The AFN also said that the bill violates first nations treaty rights, and that it is going to launch a constitutional challenge. It is interesting to note that we have heard nothing about that, and there has been no response to it from the government. The Liberals claims to want to work with these communities, but when it comes to their legislation, they are very happy to set these communities aside, and ignore what they have to say about it and just go on.

We have heard comment tonight about Bill C-75 and Bill C-71 playing off each other. Bill C-75 has all kinds of penalties that are basically being written off for serious crimes. For things like terrorism, we are reducing the charges. Imagine there being a summary conviction for terrorism activity. The punishment for genocide is being reduced in Bill C-75. The penalties for organized criminal activity, municipal corruption, and so on are being reduced in Bill C-75, and Bill C-71 is making the lives of honest gun owners even more complicated and bureaucratic than ever. Why is the government doing that? Why are the Liberals ganging up on Canadian citizens, while they are happy to leave all of these other gangs to go through life the way they want?

There is another issue around mental health. We heard a member earlier tonight talk about how proud she was of her amendment. I am sure she had good intentions when she put it forward, but we are not just criminalizing activity anymore; we are criminalizing possible intent. She mentioned that CFOs will make the distinctions. How are the CFOs going to decide if someone is suicidal or not? What CFO wants to take on the responsibility for the entire province in trying to find every person with a mental health issue? It was pointed out earlier that there are police and veterans who have PTSD who want some help for their mental health issues. Are they going to come forward? Why would they do that with a bill like this when those kinds of things come into play in their lives and in their careers, and with a tool they use every day in their occupation?

We can be very proud of the record we have. We brought in a number of pieces of legislation, which have been criticized tonight. In terms of youth violence, we brought in the youth justice fund. The guns, gangs, and drugs component of the youth justice fund was launched to focus on the rehabilitation of youth. We created the youth gang prevention fund. We are very proud of that. We supported a national crime prevention strategy, and there is the northern and aboriginal crime prevention fund. We passed bills that dealt with organized crime and the protection of the justice system. We were always trying to protect the victims, while making sure criminals were the ones who paid the price for their crimes.

This bill is a long way from that. Why an entire bill that is supposed to deal with gun violence and gangs does not mention either of those things, and targets normal, law-abiding citizens, I will never understand.

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 28th, 2018 / 3:55 p.m.
See context

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, if I had leave to give a detailed answer, I would love to provide all the details in answering that question. Having said that, it is really important that we look at Bill C-71 as another commitment made by the government and checked off, when the legislation ultimately passes. It is all about making Canadians safer, whether it is in urban or rural Canada. This is a good piece of legislation.

Interestingly enough, the Conservatives, who I hope will rethink their position, are trying to give the impression that they are going to be voting against it because retailers are going to be obligated to register serial numbers and so forth. Keep in mind that they have been doing that in the United States since 1968. In fact, the NRA supports retailers by providing them with leather-bound registration kits. Even before we had the long-gun registry, it was being done. I do not quite understand the logic.

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 28th, 2018 / 3:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise to speak to Bill C-71. I will note that I will be sharing my time with the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner.

I am going to be very clear. I will not be supporting Bill C-71, and I will tell the House why. There are three basic reasons, although there is a whole list. I could probably give the House the top 10, but there are more reasons than that.

First of all, the Liberals cannot be trusted when it comes to firearms legislation that would do anything to get firearms out of the hands of criminals while at the same time protecting and respecting law-abiding Canadians. The Liberals cannot be trusted.

There is a statement we have all seen that is true, and that is that the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. What have we seen from the Liberals when it comes to gun legislation? We all know about the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry that was introduced by the Liberals. They defended and supported it. It cost $3 billion. It penalized and made criminals out of law-abiding Canadians.

That was the very first thing the Liberals did when they had a chance to do something to combat crime. Now they are back at it. They told Canadians that they were going to introduce a bill on firearms legislation.

The Liberals are having a lot of trouble right now around the disastrous India trip. They are having a lot of trouble because they are breaking promises. The Prime Minister is failing Canadians with his ethical lapses, so the Liberals had a brainwave and decided to go after law-abiding gun owners again; that would work.

As I said, the Liberals cannot be trusted. Gun owners know and Canadians know that the Liberals are going after them instead of going after the people who are actually committing crimes.

In 2009, I was a new member of Parliament, and I introduced a private member's bill, Bill C-391, which would have ended the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry. There were a whole lot of Liberal MPs who had told their constituents that they would vote to end the long-gun registry, and the first chance they had to fulfill their word, they did what Liberals do. They broke their promise, which would result in law-abiding Canadians being penalized. I want to remind the House of some of those members who broke their word and are here in this Parliament and will have to answer to their constituents.

For example, the member for Yukon broke his word to protect law-abiding Canadians. He supported the long-gun registry. The next one on the list I will not name. The third one is the member of Parliament for Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame. He, as well, had an opportunity to support law-abiding Canadians. What did he do? He supported the long-gun registry. The member for Malpeque promised his constituents that he would vote to end the long-gun registry. What did he do? He supported the long-gun registry. The Minister of Public Safety himself, when he was part of the opposition, had a chance to end the long-gun registry. He voted for it and supported it.

One might ask why I am bringing this up now. As I said, the Liberals cannot be trusted. They want to target law-abiding Canadians, because it is easy. It is very easy to target people who are already obeying the law, people who get a license to own a firearm or store owners who already keep records. What easy targets for the Liberals. It is so easy to go after people, under the guise of doing something to combat gun crime, who are already following best practice and already obeying the law.

First and foremost, I do not trust the Liberals. I do not trust them on ethics. I do not trust them on balancing the budget. I do not trust them on keeping their word. I do not trust them when it comes to any kind of gun legislation that would do anything to penalize criminals.

Let us remember, the Liberals actually like to protect and reward criminals. It is quite interesting that we have returning terrorists who have been fighting with ISIS who are being protected. They are being told, “We believe in you. We think you can be rehabilitated.” There is no legislation coming for ISIS terrorists who return to Canada. They will get a nice little group hug and probably more money. However, for gun owners and stores that sell firearms, like Canadian Tire, the government is coming after them.

People who have fought against our allies, like Omar Khadr, get a big payout. The Liberals had no problem just laying that down. Everything Omar wanted, he got. However, they are not standing up for gun owners. It is a whole lot of talk. The only people who actually get protection with the Liberal government are criminals. Therefore, I do not trust them.

I want to talk about the actual substance of Bill C-71, which is the same old, same old. There is nothing here that will protect anyone or do anything to fight crime.

Let us talk about the part of the legislation that will ask store owners to keep records. They are already keeping records. This is like a solution in search of a problem. Crimes are not being committed by people who are legally purchasing firearms. I will provide the statistics on that:

Analysis of a Special Request to Statistics Canada found that between 1997 and 2012, just 7% of the accused in firearms homicides had a valid firearms license (or 2% of all accused murderers).

A person in this country who has a licence to own a firearm is 50% less likely to ever commit a crime with a firearm. It is not like we have some big outbreak of people buying firearms at Canadian Tire and using those firearms in the commission of crimes, and Canadian Tire is saying to the police that it will not give them that information. That is not happening. That is not a problem that needs to be fixed.

I will tell members what is happening. I am going to refer to John Tory, the mayor of the city of Toronto. He noted that only 2% of gun homicide victims in Toronto had no connection to either gangs or drugs and that 98% of the crime that is going on has to do with gangs and drugs. That is where the problem is, and that is what needs to be addressed.

As I mentioned in my question earlier on, this bill does not even mention the words “gangs” or “organized crime”. However, it does mention words the Liberals love, like “registry” and “reference number”, which is their new one, 26 times.

Let us be clear. As per the normal Liberal way of doing things, this is getting ready to create a backdoor registry, which will then very easily turn into the regular, wasteful, and ineffective type of registry the Liberals like to promote.

Some of my colleagues mentioned some of the areas where gangs are getting guns. Let us talk about this seriously. We need to get tough on gangs and on violent crime. When we were in government, there were a lot of things we did. We had the Tackling Violent Crime Act. It provided mandatory prison sentences for serious firearms offences and stricter bail provisions for those accused of serious offences involving firearms. It tackled the problem and did not go after law-abiding gun owners and store owners.

We passed the Act to amend the Criminal Code with respect to organized crime and the protection of justice system participants, which provides police officers and officials with important tools to help them fight organized crime.

Conservatives are the party of law and order. We believe that criminals and people who use guns in the commission of crimes should know that the penalty will be swift and just. We do not believe in attacking law-abiding Canadians who are using firearms for legitimate purposes, nor the store owners who are legally, and in a principled way, selling those firearms.

Because of all their failures and the problems they have encountered over the last number of months, the Liberals are trying to import a problem that is occurring in the U.S. The U.S. gun control situation is completely different from Canadian gun legislation. However, they are trying to bring that here and somehow say that they are fixing a problem that actually exists in the U.S. It is window dressing. It is disingenuous. It is the typical Liberals saying one thing and doing something completely different. It is bad legislation, and it should be revoked.