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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 2, among other things,

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

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

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

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

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

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, the first aspect is the seriousness of this. What is presumed to have happened is that unwittingly, Canadians could believe that they are committing a criminal offence with respect to firearms and their possession of them, and some of those offences could have a sentence of up to five years.

Canadians believe that the RCMP, our national police service, speaks the truth, and when the RCMP is presumptuous in its language, it can cause great confusion. The arrogance and the lack of oversight is a greater aspect of seriousness with respect to the Liberal government. We have a government body that oversees our highly respected national police service, and it should be respected, because it does great work in this country.

Officials were at committee talking about Bill C-71, but for them to presume, as I indicated earlier, that this was a done deal means that someone at Public Safety Canada provided the okay and said that the bill was going to pass anyway, because the Liberals have a majority. That arrogance is alarming to Canadians.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 4:35 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have some comments I would like to make on the Speaker's ruling and on the motion that seeks to refer the matter to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

First, I thank my colleague from Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, with whom I have the pleasure of working at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, for bringing this information to the attention of the House. I also thank the Chair for the ruling that was made.

I would like to dwell on the speaker's comments because I believe that there is something worrisome, if not arrogant, about correcting a situation after the fact and claiming it is no big deal as the matter is swept under the rug. There is indeed cause for the committee to investigate further.

I would add that the government's general attitude seems to be going down the wrong path. As the speaker pointed out, there is an accountability problem within the RCMP with regard to the executive and the government. I am not criticizing the men and women in uniform who protect us. These issues come from higher up.

This morning, we debated another time allocation motion for Bill C-71. The first one was tabled at the beginning of second reading. This contempt of Parliament shows that a certain arrogance is setting in, which is problematic as it can undermine the work of parliamentarians, who want to have healthy debates on very complex matters.

It goes without saying that we support the motion to have the matter referred to the committee, who will hopefully shed light on it. I heard a member across the way saying it was an honest mistake and that they corrected the situation, but as the Chair said so well, it is not the first time it happens. Obviously, the executive and all the departments it is responsible for, including the RCMP, will have to make every effort to avoid situations like this in the future. After all, citizens use these sources of information to learn about their obligations under the law. As members of Parliament, we also have a responsibility to inform citizens. When these sources of information and legislators contradict each other, it can be a problem.

Finally, I simply want to say again that we are in favour of the motion and that we are all very concerned about what happened. We thank the Speaker since there is indeed contempt of Parliament in this case. We hope that this trend does not continue, as it did with Bill C-76, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 4:40 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and talk about what I believe is very important legislation. It is legislation that comes from a great deal of concern that Canadians have expressed to the government in the last year, and it is an issue that has been at the forefront in many communities in all regions of the country even before the last national election.

We saw a commitment given by the Liberal Party of Canada to look at ways to enhance background checks, for example, to have some sort of accurate and consistent classification. Legislation that was brought in from the Harper government said that we wanted to determine what would be a prohibited or restricted weapon and give that determination to politicians, as opposed to allowing the RCMP to make that determination. That is the direction the Harper government had taken on that issue.

As a result of that and other concerns, it was widely believed there was a need to bring in legislation that would make our communities safer. That is what we are talking about today in the form of Bill C-71. I have been following the debate and listening to what members across the way are saying, in particular last night when at times we were having a fairly heated exchange. Conservatives often refer to Bill C-71 as a way in which the government is trying to create a registry. There is really no truth to that whatsoever.

The Conservatives are trying to go back to the days when there was a long-gun registry and our Prime Minister has been very clear on that point. In part, the Conservatives have felt frustrated because we are keeping to the word of the Prime Minister when he said we would not be creating a long-gun registry.

No matter what we say in the House, we have had direct quotes from the Minister of Public Safety and others indicating that this does not create a registry. When the bill went to committee, the issue again came up. It was quite telling when the Conservative critic for public safety proposed an amendment to ensure, “For greater certainty, nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to permit or require the registration of non-restricted firearms.”

The Conservative Party brought forward this amendment. That amendment passed unanimously, by all members of Parliament at the committee, the Liberals, Conservatives, and New Democrats. It ultimately led the member for Red Deer—Lacombe to clearly state, “everybody at this table agrees that this is not a registry”.

Let us contrast that to what members in the Conservative Party were saying last night in the House. They were trying to convey a message that this is all about a registry. Collectively, the Conservative Party is trying to mislead Canadians as to what the bill is about. They are doing it for all the wrong reasons.

The Conservatives want to divide Canadians and spread a mistruth about good legislation we have, legislation I believe the vast majority of Canadians would be very supportive of.

I would suggest Progressive Conservatives would be supportive of it. I understand former member of Parliament Jason Kenney, now leader of the Conservative Party in Alberta, supports certain aspects of the legislation, from some of the comments he has made. For example, I made reference to the enhanced background checks and licence verifications. There are certain situations in society where one should seriously consider not allowing ownership. Domestic violence is a great example of that. This legislation would enhance that aspect. That is a positive thing. I believe people of all political parties recognize the value of that.

It would also standardize the retail record-keeping. During the eighties and the first few years of the nineties, there was a registry maintained by retailers. It is my understanding that in the United States it has been ongoing for years. I was once told that the NRA, which many suggest is fairly right on the issues of anything related to guns, supports retail gun registries. I believe we will find many of the retail outlets are gifted these logs. They are encouraged. I see going back to the way it was, having these retail registries, as a positive thing. In the past, Conservatives have agreed to them.

Getting back now to this whole idea of the accurate and consistent classifications of firearms, if we were to canvass constituents on whether politicians or the RCMP should be doing the classification, I believe we would find a great deal of support for having the RCMP doing it. They would feel much safer with the idea of the RCMP doing it. The RCMP is dealing with the issue at the ground level.

When I think of Bill C-71, it is about making our communities safer. It is not about what the Conservatives are trying to tell Canadians it is all about, which is a gun registry, because that is just not true. In the backrooms, we will find Conservatives will admit that is not true, but it does not fit their narrative. I find that to be very unfortunate. When I am in the community of Winnipeg North, I see many of the concerns many urban and rural community members have, as well as the types of responses we have been getting to the legislation overall. I would suggest this is good, sound legislation, and the Conservatives are determined to prevent it from passing. I find that unfortunate.

I understand my New Democratic friends, and possibly the Green Party, are going to be supporting Bill C-71. If that is the case, I applaud them on making a good decision. At the end of the day, this legislation would fulfill yet another commitment the Liberal Party of Canada made to Canadians going into the last federal election. That is why I feel very good about standing and talking about yet another piece of legislation that would put into place a commitment made by this Prime Minister and my colleagues in the Liberal caucus when we knocked on doors in the last election.

It will make a positive difference in our communities in all regions of our country. I encourage Conservatives to reflect on what was said in committee by Conservatives, get behind this legislation and vote for it.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 4:50 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to assure the parliamentary secretary so quickly after his speech that indeed I plan to vote for Bill C-71. The Green Party is very supportive. In fact, I had the great honour of participating in the crafting of an amendment to the bill, working with the hon. member for Burlington. She was willing to take a Liberal amendment and craft-in my amendment, which included raising as a concern, as decisions were being made about legal gun ownership, whether there was not only a previous offence involving a firearm, but a restraining order or other concerns about violence against an intimate partner or use of a weapon in those contexts.

This bill is welcomed. There are many things we need to do to continue to advance security issues across Canada. However, this is a good bill, and I look forward to voting for it.

My remarks fall under “comments”.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 4:55 p.m.
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Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-71, an act to amend certain acts and regulations in relation to firearms.

I have been a member of this place for nearly 13 years. I am proud that over that time I have played a part in legislation that ensures Parliament is reaching three important objectives: first, that laws are put in place to protect the public from violent crime; second, that we are standing up for victims of crime and their families; and third, that law-abiding Canadians are treated with respect.

In this case, Bill C-71 misses the mark on all three of these objectives.

I recognize, and indeed our previous Conservative government recognized, how important it is to ensure that violent offenders and those who intend on using weapons to commit crimes are taken off the streets. I am certainly an advocate for legislation that targets dangerous offenders, protects our public, and ensures justice for victims and their families. I am proud that over my time here, I have been able to do my part to do just that.

In 2013, I introduced Bill C-479, an act to bring fairness for the victims of violent offenders. This legislation, which received all-party support, made certain that violent offenders who were clearly not remorseful or ready to be reintegrated into society could not drag their victims and their families before the Parole Board every year needlessly.

Indeed, any laws that aim to tackle violent crime must also seek to protect victims of violent offenders and their families from being re-victimized. They must also ensure that these offenders, those that are among the most likely to reoffend, do not get that opportunity.

By introducing legislation such as the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act, the Safe Streets and Communities Act, and the Tackling Violent Crime Act, among many others, our Conservative government implemented productive, common-sense policies that treated firearms owners in the manner that any law-abiding citizen should be treated, while also cracking down on violent offenders and protecting the rights of victims.

The Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act took the power to reclassify firearms out of the hands of the RCMP and officials and put it in the hands of parliamentarians, who could be held accountable by the public. In doing so, our government sought to prevent any law-abiding citizen from being criminalized due to an unsubstantiated classification change.

The Tackling Violent Crime Act mandated jail time for serious gun crimes and made bail provisions stricter for those who had been accused of such crimes.

The Organized Crime and Protection of Justice System Participants Act provided police and justices with crucial new tools to fight against organized crime and to target reckless shootings by adding a new offence for the use of a firearm in the commission of a crime, regardless of whether the person caused or meant to cause bodily harm.

Of course, who could forget that we repealed the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry, which did absolutely nothing to reduce crime, but did waste millions in taxpayer dollars to treat law-abiding Canadians like criminals. In fact, I would challenge my Liberal colleagues to show me any data that would prove that there has been any increase in firearms crimes from legal firearms owners since the firearms registry was eliminated.

These are just a very small sample of the measures our previous Conservative government took to protect our communities and keep Canadians safe.

It is a shame now that the current Liberal government is trying to undo the progress we made. We have seen over the past two and a half years that the government cannot be trusted when it comes to protecting the public, while also protecting the rights of farmers and recreational and competitive firearms owners.

Bill C-71 proposes a myriad of changes that would potentially criminalize law-abiding Canadians, while doing nothing to target violent offenders or organized crime. The bill would put firearms classification powers back in the hands of unelected officials who Canadians cannot hold accountable, and risks unsubstantiated changes that would indeed create legal problems for people who have done nothing wrong. For my colleagues across the way, we experienced that in the last session when changes were made. Some members of Parliament who possessed firearms were criminalized by the changes.

What is worse is that the Liberals are pretending they are not trying to bring back the long-gun registry, which is nothing less than misleading. This bill would create a registrar to keep track of transfers of non-restricted firearms, yet the government insists it is not bringing back the long-gun registry.

I took the liberty of doing a quick Google search for the word “registrar”, and right at the top of the page was a definition that read, “an official responsible for keeping a register or official records.” That certainly sounds like a long-gun registry to me, and it sounds equally as wasteful and ineffective as the last one.

Originally, our caucus was optimistic about the government's intentions when it accepted our amendment at committee, which stated, “For greater certainty, nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to permit or require the registration of non-restricted firearms.” However, much to our surprise, it rejected our additional amendments that would have ensured that the elements of Bill C-71 to bring in this new long-gun registry were taken out of the bill. The government can say that it is not bringing back the long-gun registry, and I have heard it say that many times, but that does not make it true.

Meanwhile, Bill C-75, the government's legislation that proposes to overhaul the Criminal Code, would reduce penalties for very serious crimes, in some cases down to simple fines. The penalties for crimes like participating in the activities of a terrorist group, advocating genocide, and participating in organized criminal activity are being reduced in one piece of legislation, while farmers are being potentially criminalized in another. That is absolutely shameful.

The riding I represent, Flamborough—Glanbrook, is home to many farmers, hunters and sport shooters. These are people who are legally and safely using their firearms to protect their livestock and their crops, and who are participating in recreational pastimes that are ingrained in our national heritage.

I have heard from a wide variety of firearms owners in my riding who are deeply concerned that the government is targeting them through this bill, while completely neglecting to address rising crime rates in rural communities across the country which are particularly derived from illegal imported firearms.

I personally enjoy going down to the range for recreational purposes, and I completely understand the concerns of my constituents. They are concerned that they could be randomly criminalized by bureaucrats who they would be wholly unable to hold to account. They are concerned that the government is increasing red tape and treating them like criminals when they have done absolutely nothing wrong.

As has already been pointed out by our Conservative caucus several times throughout debate on this bill, this new long-gun registry that the Liberals are bringing in through the back door is treating law-abiding Canadians like suspects, and that is just not right.

The tandem of Bill C-71 and Bill C-75 is symbolic of much of the last two and a half years, where the government has been terribly ineffective on numerous files. The Liberals introduced these two pieces of legislation with the notion that they wished to tackle gun violence. However, they are doing nothing of the sort. What these bills would do is potentially criminalize law-abiding farmers, hunters, and sport shooters, and reduce the penalties for very serious and violent crimes. What they would not do is make our communities safer.

Canadians want to feel safe in their communities and their homes. They want a government that ensures that those who pose a threat to them and their families are taken off the streets. Bill C-71, and Bill C-75 for that matter, would do nothing of the sort.

This legislation is not only deeply flawed, but wasteful, and quite frankly offensive to the thousands of law-abiding Canadians who it will affect. Our Conservative caucus is determined to ensure that the laws we produce in this place protect our communities and respect the rights of law-abiding Canadians. Anything less is not good enough.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 5:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak this afternoon on behalf of law-abiding gun owners in Simcoe—Grey, like me and those across the country who feel that Bill C-71 is an intrusive piece of legislation designed as a backdoor entry for the revival of the Liberal long-gun registry.

I am not sure why this needs to be said yet again, but when it comes to gun crime, criminals do not care about a registry, background checks, or any other piece of legislation the Liberals bring forward. Criminals are criminals, because they break the law. They are not signing up for a background check or registering their guns. They will not be calling in for a reference number when they try to buy or sell an illegal firearm. They are criminals. They do not believe that they need to abide by this law or, quite frankly, any other.

The Liberals can introduce all the legislation they want, including Bill C-71, but it will have little effect on the very matter it attempts to address. All the legislation in the world is not going to stop a gang member in downtown Toronto from pulling an illegal handgun out of his pocket and shooting someone in cold blood.

Now, support for front-line policing can help decrease the crime rate, but this legislation will not. One would think that the Minister of Public Safety would understand this. If he does indeed understand this, then why is he only blindly following the orders of the Prime Minister's Office? Perhaps like his more urban colleagues he actually does not understand the situation and thinks that cracking down on farmers and hunters, people like my grandfather and my neighbours in Creemore, will actually help lower crime rates in our cities.

I know that he has produced a slew of statistics designed to instill fear in Canadians because of rising gun homicide rates in major Canadian cities. The Liberals seem to be very concerned with increasing criminal possession of firearms. This is something we should all be concerned about, yet the Liberals have neglected any investment in technologies or services to intercept illegal firearms passing across the border from the United States or other countries into Canada. Who could trust a government that cannot even stop people from illegally walking into our country, to be able to stop people bringing in illegal hand guns or smuggling guns?

Earlier this year, the Minister of Public Safety touched on the insufficient commercial storage of firearms. He used the example of a theft in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, which led to 24 handguns being stolen from a local gun store by a suspected gang member. What he failed to describe, though, was any effective legislation that would prevent this act from happening again.

Backdoor gun registries do not prevent theft and illegal trade. Sound legislation that is enforced, along with front-line support for local law enforcement can. Sadly, the Liberals have continued to fail to provide adequate funding to the provinces to support efforts to combat illegal gun activity, exactly as the minister himself has lamented.

This legislation, as I mentioned, is a blatant backdoor attempt at reintroducing the intrusive long-gun registry. Through this bill, criminal suspicion of law-abiding firearm owners will just ramp up once again. Bill C-71 is legislation designed to criminalize law-abiding gun owners and compromise the integrity of an already well-functioning system.

The mandatory record-keeping by retailers will simply lead to the re-establishment of the long-gun registry by another name. Instead of a list, the government will just ask for a series of receipts. A database is still a database, and can and will be traced to the original purchase, so let us not be surprised when those receipts become a list, and law-abiding gun owners find themselves on it.

In addition, the long-gun registry was criticized by Canadians for its considerably large cost, and the level of suspicion incited on gun owners. An increase in the size of government bureaucracy and red tape, a well-known Liberal trait, will accompany this legislation as well.

For many Canadians, rural and urban, firearms ownership is of great cultural significance. For some, it is multi-generational, with grandfathers passing on their love of hunting to fathers, who pass it on to their sons and, increasingly, to their daughters. For many others, shooting is a hobby, an afternoon at the range with friends on a weekend.

However, the public safety minister and the Liberals like to distort statistics to instill fear in Canadians as a reason to take actions like this. The minister's friends in the media will use headlines littered with firearm homicides, particularly from the United States, in order to feed that fear. Unfortunately, this legislation would not address the source of the problem at hand: gang violence and organized criminal activity. Those conducting the majority of homicides, gangs, and those who facilitate organized crime would continue to slip through the cracks with this legislation,.That is the very matter that needs to be addressed.

Canadians already feel safe with the current gun control laws. The RCMP knows those who have been issued licences and the strict process that has to be followed to receive them. We have in place today sensible legislation and regulations that are appropriately followed and actively monitored by highly trained members of the RCMP. We can all agree that increasing gang violence is a grave concern and a tremendous burden on those who have witnessed or have been involved in tragic events. We all want to prevent the next tragedy conducted by a person using an illegal firearm. However, the Liberals are focused on the wrong place and on the wrong people.

Increased gun control has not prevented organized crime in the past. Likewise, this legislation would not be a step forward in combatting that crime, only a step into the freedoms of law-abiding citizens.

The safety of Canadians should be the number one priority of any government. Legislation like this would not protect Canadians from violent crimes. What it would do is continue to perpetuate the sense that law-abiding gun owners, like farmers, duck hunters, my constituents, those who follow all the rules and laws, are the problem when we really need to support front-line policing to tackle gangs and organized crime.

I will be voting against this legislation in support of my law-abiding constituents, the men and women in Simcoe—Grey, many of whom own guns and utilize them on their farms, hunt, and spend time at the range with their friends. I encourage all Liberal MPs to support their law-abiding gun owners as well and to vote against this legislation.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 5:20 p.m.
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Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting. We have Bill C-71 here. We have a good firearms registry in this country, because people who want to participate in firearms activities have to be licensed and get the proper certification. This bill just adds more bureaucracy. It is more of a process. It creates more difficulty for legitimate people to actually be involved in these kinds of hobbies.

I would like to have my colleague just comment on the difference between this bill, which reflects the attitude of the government on Bill C-71 and the fact that it is clamping down on legitimate, honest people across this country, and Bill C-75, which reduces the sentences for things like terrorism, genocide, criminal activity, organized municipal corruption, and those kinds of things.

Could she reflect on that a bit?

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 5:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Mr. Speaker, we saw different iterations of the firearms registry come before our Conservative government, and one of the mandates we had was to get rid of the registry. We did so with the exception of two copies, as we are told by the Information Commissioner. It was preserved for a person named Bill Clennett, who had made an ATIP request because he wanted to preserve that part of the data.

It seems more than strange in reference to my colleagues' comments about it not being a registry, not a backdoor registry, not a front door registry, etc.

I beg to differ, and I will quote from Bill C-71 itself. Many folks are watching this debate, especially law-abiding firearms owners who are concerned about this bill and how far it goes, and I am going to let them decide.

This is what I call the front door registry, the one that is not supposed to exist. The minister has said the government is not going to re-establish the registry. I even looked at the talking points of the Liberal Party. I looked at my phone, and the Liberals say on Twitter, “No new gun registry”.

The bill states:

The Commissioner of Firearms shall—for the purpose of the administration and enforcement of the Firearms Registration Act, chapter 15 of the Statutes of Quebec, 2016—provide the Quebec Minister with a copy of all records that were in the Canadian Firearms Registry on April 3, 2015 and that relate to firearms registered, as at that day, as non-restricted firearms, if the Quebec Minister provides the Commissioner with a written request to that effect before the end of the 120th day after the day on which the Commissioner sends written notice under subsection (2).

That is not legislation from two years ago. This is from Bill C-71, the legislation we are debating on the floor of the House right now. It seems more than strange that the minister can stand and say what we are saying is false, that we are calling what they are proposing a new firearms registry.

I will read it again, for those who did not hear:

for the purpose of the administration and enforcement of the Firearms Registration Act, chapter 15 of the Statutes of Quebec, 2016—provide the Quebec Minister with a copy of all records that were in the Canadian Firearms Registry

—that is giving the hard drive to the Quebec minister if they ask for it—

on April 3, 2015 and that relate to firearms registered, as at that day, as non-restricted firearms

I am a person who owns handguns, so I am a restricted firearms owner. We are already on a registry in the database for that purpose alone. Prohibited firearms owners are there as well, but the government says it is not creating a new non-restricted firearms registry.

I said it twice, but the Liberal members here do not seem too interested in the facts of their own bill, which are that the minister is going to pass a copy of the registry that was supposed to have been destroyed with the previous government to the Province of Quebec to re-establish a firearms registry.

I do not know how much clearer we can be. What are they going to do when they have a former firearms registry that is now three years old? They are going to update that firearms registry data.

Let us say the Quebec minister makes a request for this firearms registry of the data that was supposed to have been destroyed, and brings it into the province. This is speculation, of course, but we need not look too far to see what is going to happen. The Quebec government takes its copy and then chooses to update it. Here we go again. We have a firearms registry that is going to happen in Quebec as a result of this legislation.

The troubling part of this is that the Information Commissioner preserved a copy because of the request by one individual named Bill Clennett. That is the only reason this copy has been preserved. I am told there are two copies of this. The only reason it sits in a vault to this day is to honour a request by that individual. For no other purpose does it exist.

Therefore, for the minister now to offer a copy of that to the Quebec government goes against a Supreme Court ruling saying that the jurisdiction lies within this place and in the federal government.

It also strikes me as strange that a previous government's mandate was to destroy the registry. It made attempts to do that. Because of a request, it has been preserved. It is clear this registry's data as they sit, the two copies that exist in this vault, need to be destroyed once this requirement is met. To me, this is an obvious case of establishing a firearms registry through the front door. When I come back, I will also speak about the registry as it sits, as they try to get it through the back door.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 6:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will carry on with where I was before. We talked about part 1 in my reference to what the Liberals are bringing into the front door registry, by giving a copy of the Quebec registry data to Quebec. This is the backdoor registry, as we have referred to many times. I am sitting with my colleagues here, who are largely from Alberta, who know Bill C-71 well. One of the things we picked up on right away when we saw the first draft of this bill was that it would establish that backdoor registry in what is called a registrar, and that the issue of a reference number will be necessary for the transfer of firearms either from a store or from individual to individual.

It would help people who are watching tonight to hear the actual language within the bill. They have heard a lot of promises from the Liberals that they are not going to re-establish a long-gun registry. This lays out in clear language that this is exactly what is going to happen.

A registrar is the head of a registry. That is why the person is called a registrar. Regarding the reference number, the bill states:

The Registrar shall issue a reference number if he or she is satisfied that the transferee holds and is still eligible to hold a licence authorizing them to acquire and possess a non-restricted firearm.

That alone establishes that this is a registry. I will go into the details too of what is going to be required. One of the things that disturbs us as Canadians was the cost of the former registry. That is one of the big reasons we were opposed to it. It was somewhat of a $2-billion fiasco. That amount of money could have been invested in policing the border and dealing with gangs and guns. They could have put the money where it would really make a difference as opposed to building a bureaucracy.

The registrar would be required to issue a number for the transaction to occur. All that exchange of information would happen. Instead of the information being on government servers somewhere, the government would mandate the business owners to record it and keep the information. The bill states:

(a) the business must record and, for the prescribed period, keep the prescribed information that relates to the business’ possession and disposal of non-restricted firearms;

Again, it is a record of non-restricted firearms interactions and transactions. The bill then states:

(b) the business must record and — for a period of 20 years from the day on which the business transfers a non-restricted firearm, or for a longer period that may be prescribed — keep the following information in respect of the transfer:

We are talking here about 20 years or more. This is what would be part of the registry that the Liberals are denying is there. It continues:

(i) the reference number issued by the Registrar,

(ii) the day on which the reference number was issued,

(iii) the transferee’s licence number,

That number pinpoints every one of us. If I am going to be that licensee, my name is on my licence and it is attached to the number, so it picks out and says who the person is. It continues:

(iv) the firearm’s make, model and type and, if any, its serial number; and

(c) the business must, unless otherwise directed by a chief firearms officer,

This is the concerning part:

transmit any records containing the information referred to in paragraph (a) or (b) to a prescribed official if it is determined that the business will cease to be a business.

Part of the concern is where the government tends to go. It tends to creep out. It does not tend to pull in and be more efficient. My concern is that businesses are going to be required to provide this information to the chief firearms officer at his or her request. In this day of real-time information, where we have regular monitoring of our Google accounts 24-7, etc., it is going to be easier to update that information on a real-time basis. That is what most firearms owners, especially non-restricted firearms owners, are concerned about. This is supposed to be only something that is solicited, based on the needs of a particular request of an RCMP officer or whatever. This makes that jump to where it becomes a transmission where the RCMP are monitoring firearms sales on a real-time basis, all the time.

I was in New Brunswick for a few days last week. One thing that was most alarming to the people there was that it is one thing for the Liberals to say they are not going to establish a registry and then do it. Something that rural Canadians are concerned about is not just the registry, but ultimately it is the broken promise that the Liberals were not going to establish a registry.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 6:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with the respect and support of the people of my riding, Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, that I rise today to speak against any Liberal legislation that would lead to another useless, wasteful long-gun registry.

“A gun registry by any other name is still a gun registry.” That is a quote from Garry Breitkreuz, a former MP. Those words were spoken by one of the finest members of the House I have ever had the privilege of working with. Garry Breitkreuz was a legendary defender of the rights of the average, middle-class working Canadians, including hunters, farmers, and sports shooting enthusiasts. I intend to channel the spirit of Garry in my comments today.

Already the threat of the Liberal Party bringing back the long-gun registry is a topic of discussion when I am out and about at the various public engagements I am invited to attend. My constituents are following the progress of this legislation very closely. They are disgusted by the cynical, manipulative ploys of the Prime Minister and his party. My constituents assure me they will never, in their lifetime, support a government that thinks harassing law-abiding gun-owning Canadians with useless regulations is fair.

Welcome to the culture wars, where left-wing Liberal Party ideology trumps common sense.

Bill C-71, the “bring back the long-gun registry” legislation, is all about the cynical manipulation of people's fears and what the government is doing to stoke those fears. Bill C-71 has nothing to do with public safety. No sooner had the Liberals tabled this legislation than outrageous, over-the-top appeals for money by the Liberals were sent out to misinform the public about the true intent behind it. Even someone whom the government expected support from was sickened by the cynical manipulation in the Liberal money appeal:

[A] member of a gun-control advocacy group established in the wake of a 1989 shooting massacre that killed 14 women at Montreal’s Polytechnique engineering school said she was shocked at the Liberal message on the heels of the firearm bill.

Meaghan Hennegan, a survivor of the 2006 Dawson College shooting in Montreal who was shot twice by a gunman outside the building in that attack, said the Liberal fundraiser was “insulting.”

“We’ve been pushing for the legislation to be put through for almost three years, and then the second thing they do is go out and start selling it....”

Hennegan said the fundraiser makes the Liberals appear to be exploiting the gun-control issue.

Welcome to the culture wars.

The decision to include Hill+Knowlton lobbyists and Liberal insiders Peter Donolo and David Rodier as consultants on Bill C-71 is proof that the government was never really serious about consulting the public about this legislation. Donolo wrote a public opinion piece in The Globe and Mail in February, in which he said, “it is now much easier in Canada to own a gun than to drive a car.” The Liberals used taxpayers' dollars to have an opinion piece published to promote Bill C-71. Lobbyists should disclose they are being paid by the government to author articles paid for with tax dollars.

Responsible firearms owners know that legally owning a gun requires taking a safety course designed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It requires passing a written and a practical test, waiting two months to pass background and reference checks to obtain an RCMP-authorized firearms licence card, and then passing a daily RCMP background check to be allowed to keep it. All legal gun owners are registered with the federal police, and so are all the privately owned handguns and AR-15 rifles.

Also with Hill+Knowlton, David Rodier is a former lobbyist for the Coalition for Gun Control and a former adviser to Allan Rock, the Liberal minister of justice who led the 1995 passage of Bill C-68, the firearms act. Rodier co-wrote an article in Policy Options magazine in March of this year, which concluded that “[g]un control presents an untapped opportunity” for the Liberal Party to win votes in the next election.

Bill C-71 will not stop gun violence in Toronto. According to a Toronto media outlet, there has been an 11% increase of shootings in Toronto from the same time in 2017, with 176 shootings, 18 fatal.

The last time there was this much gun violence in Toronto, with 359 shootings and 52 deaths, was the year when the member for marijuana from Scarborough Southwest, who is the spokesperson for making pot legal, assumed control of the Toronto police force. The police unit he created that year to respond to gun violence had, and I quote the Toronto Star of June 8, 2018, “a 10-year history of arbitrary stops and searches, allegations of assault and a public strip search in broad daylight” and “it left troubled neighbourhoods increasingly mistrustful of officers.”

That type of approach and Bill C-71 will not stop gun violence in Toronto.

Every illegal gun does not begin as a legal gun. In Canada, restricted firearms, including handguns, are registered, and have been since 1934. Turning hunters and farmers into scapegoats to deflect attention from how badly the Prime Minister is performing sickens members of the public.

In my riding, demonstrations against the Liberal long-gun registry the last time similar legislation was brought forward were not occupied by young people being manipulated by radicals funded by foreign interests. Those demonstrations were held by middle-aged firearm owners, whose first reflex is to respect the laws of the land, whose parents and their parents before them built this great nation.

Welcome to the culture wars.

The creation by the Liberals of a new criminal class, Canadians who may happen to own a firearm, or Canadians who believe that it is their democratic right to dissent against Liberal policies they reject, and who refuse to sign loyalty attestations, is the ultimate trademark of the current federal government, which excels in the practice of negative politics. Canadians reject negative, mean-spirited politics in the same way they rejected the Liberal long-gun registry when it was first introduced in Bill C-68.

The political alienation of rural Canadians by the Liberals was a far greater loss than the $2 billion-plus that had been wasted on an experiment in social engineering. It was an experiment that backfired on the Liberal Party, and it continues to backfire. This may be the worst and most enduring product of the gun registry culture war.

When it comes to the right to use and enjoy private property, my constituents all know my stand. I defend their right to own private property with the same vigour with which I defend the right of all Canadians to dissent.

Whenever constituents in my riding hear a Liberal use mealy-mouthed words like “enhancement of community safety”, they put their hand on their wallet, run home, and make sure the lock on their gun cabinet is safe.

We should have no doubt about it: Bill C-71 is the starting point to bring back the 1995-era gun registry we all fought so hard and long to get rid of. We knew this was coming when the real power behind the throne, PMO party insider Gerald Butts, stacked the firearms advisory committee with a majority of people who lack the professionalism and expertise of the people they replaced.

It is clear the Liberals did not learn their lesson the last time, with Bill C-68. That is certainly what my constituents are telling me when they find out that the Liberals are downloading a provincial gun registry, starting with Quebec. Regulating and legislating against law-abiding people, which is what we are talking about here, is just as unacceptable today as it was back when Bill C-68 became the rallying cry for protests across Canada.

When I was first elected, I was elected on the promise to protect the rights of average Canadians. That includes opposing bad legislation like Bill C-71, an act to harass law-abiding Canadians.

Among the useless aspects of Bill C-71 is confirming the licence for non-restricted firearms transfer. It is already expected under current law when the PAL is shown to a vendor. As per section 101 of the Criminal Code and section 23 of the Firearms Act, it is already a crime punishable by five years of imprisonment to transfer a firearm of any kind to an individual who does not possess a licence to obtain or possess this type of firearm.

Having to call the CFP for every single transaction and obtain a reference number serves no other purpose than to keep a record of firearms transfer. By matching the PAL to the transaction reference number, the RCMP can connect firearms to specific individuals, and this is building the framework and infrastructure for another wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 6:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite can distort what happens in committee, but the provincial chief firearms officer would be completely within his or her authority to record not only buyer and seller information, but also make, model, and serial number of firearms being transferred. Furthermore, it would force businesses to keep 20 years of records, including on make, model, serial number, and buyers' information.

This information is another step toward a backdoor registry, and would be accessible to the CFO. The provincial CFO already has the authority to, at any time it wishes and without warrant, audit a business's records, and make as many copies as it wants. Furthermore, under Bill C-71, should a business close, all records would be turned over to the RCMP rather than be destroyed.

Then we have the issue of lifetime background checks, but I will get into that after the next question.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 6:50 p.m.
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Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am proud as a licenced firearms owner to be speaking today against Bill C-71.

I have been listening to the debate, and I am quite amazed at the ridiculous comments coming from Liberal members.

For the member of Winnipeg North to claim that the amendment that was proposed by the Conservatives to ensure “with certainty” in the beginning of the bill that is not a registry and that this somehow changes the rest of the bill is ridiculous. That clause would put the rest of the act in conflict, and it is contrary to what it says. If Bill C-71 would no longer be a registry, then we should be striking out all the words in it that refers to “a registry” and “a registrar”.

As Conservatives, we will always support sound policy that ensures the safe storage and handling of firearms. All of us as licenced firearms owners have to take the proper courses to ensure that our firearms are stored kept under lock and key. We will support the proper screening of those who are applying to become firearms owners.

We want to ensure, as we go forward, that firearms are classified on function and not on visual looks. We also have to ensure that everyone who commits a crime using a firearm is properly treated under the Criminal Code. However, Bill C-75 would do none of that. Bill C-75 does not mention criminals, gangs, gun dealers, and is completely mute on the subject, and for that I am appalled.

Then, when we combine Bill C-71 with Bill C-75, the proposal coming from the Liberals to amend the Criminal Code, those guys want to look like they are getting tough on crime, but they are getting tough on legal firearms owners. When it comes down to the real criminals, the Liberals are going to take indictable offences that provide jail time and mandatory minimum sentences to criminal offenders and turn them into fines, a slap on the wrist. Those types of summary convictions are no way to treat real criminals, but that is the hug-a-thug, soft-on-crime Liberal mentality.

Here they are getting tough on firearms owners. They are going to make it more difficult for us to own and transport our firearms and transfer them to other people. However, if someone commits assault with a weapon, then that person can have a summary conviction, get a slap on the wrist and a fine. If people participate in a terrorist group or leave Canada to participate in a terrorist group, the Liberals are just going to slap them on the wrist and maybe put them on house arrest. There will be no mandatory minimums; it is going to be a summary conviction.

There are over 27 things. People could advocate for genocide, or abduct someone under the age of 16 or children under the age of 14 and get summary convictions. That soft-on-crime mentality is percolating through those Liberal benches, which is making Canada more dangerous. However, they are taking law-abiding firearms owners, the most law-abiding citizens in the country, and turning them into criminals. It is ridiculous. I find the mantra of the Liberals completely disgusting.

Nothing in Bill C-71 will fix the gang violence and the gun violence on our streets, whether it is in Toronto, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal, or Vancouver. It will do nothing to stop it. Nor will it stop the crimes that we see in our rural communities and rural areas where there are more and more home invasions and properties being ransacked.

The member for Winnipeg North was saying that the bill had nothing to do with a registry. As has already been pointed out, in Bill C-71, subsection 29(1) says that we can provide a copy from the Canadian Firearms Registry to the Quebec government if the Quebec minister requests it. It is right here. The front-door gun registry, the actual registry that existed until 2015, is being moved over to the Quebec government.

The bill also talks about this issue of whether there is a registry. If there is no registry, why is there is a registrar in the bill? Bill C-71 keeps talking about the registrar. In section 23 paragraph (2) provides for reference numbers for the transfer of a firearm from one owner to another. We know that registrars keep reference numbers, because they have a registry.

Regardless of the rhetoric coming from across the way, we have a situation where the bill again establishes a backdoor gun registry on top of the front-door registry, with records being transferred to the province of Quebec.

We know that the registrar along with the chief firearms officers in each province will monitor the movement of our firearms from one area to the other. The only thing that will keep is that those of us who own firearms that are restricted in nature will be able to take them to our shooting clubs and ranges without having to get an authorization to transport that firearm.

However, if we want to take that firearm to a gun show, or a gunsmith to be fixed and maintained or even to return it to a peace officer, if we no longer wanted to have a firearm, or we did not want to pass it on to our family or sell it to a friend or a neighbour, we would have to get an authorization to transfer it. That is ridiculous, but that is the type of thing the Liberals believe in and that is what they have put in the bill. That is disturbing.

We can look at 2016 and look at what Gary Mauser at Simon Fraser University, who has done a lot of this work, had to say. Essentially he said that in 2016, out of the 223 gun murders that occurred, only 2% were committed by licenced firearms owners. Over half of them were committed by those involved in gangs. If the drug cartels, the biker gangs, the different gang organizations out there are committing most of the firearm offences, causing murders and criminality, then should we not be concentrating on them rather than giving them a pass in Bill C-75, rather than ignoring them completely in Bill C-71? Why are the Liberals always ready to turn a blind eye to crimes being committed by gangs.

We know criminals do not register their firearms. We know criminals do not buy their firearms from Cabela's or any other store that sells firearms. It is a ridiculous idea and an asinine policy to burden legal firearms owners, to burden our retail outlets that sell firearms with extra red tape and extra bureaucracy. They may not have to pay for a registration fee anymore, but we know all this data will be in the hands of the Government of Canada. We know that all this data, when it comes down to transferring firearms, when it comes down to transferring ownership between individuals, will be kept with a registrar. Registrars are the operators of registries.

Again, I am disappointed. It is almost 20 years since Allan Rock brought forward the first gun registry, which the Conservatives worked long and hard to get rid of it. I committed myself to that back in 1993. Here we are in 2018, talking about the Liberals bringing back an other gun registry. It is back to the future. It is the same old, same old when it comes to the tired Liberal governments. We cannot allow that to continue.

I call on all members of the House to vote against this poorly thought-out legislation, which would do absolutely nothing to protect Canadians. It would do absolutely nothing to enhance the screening of firearms ownership in the country. It would do absolutely nothing to help with our border services to stop illegal transport of firearms into the country.

This has been poorly thought out, but I am not surprised. It is coming from the Liberal government. It is an attack on law-abiding citizens, farmers, hunters, sports shooters, men and women who pass this culture on to their children and grandchildren, and I am proud to be part of that. I am ashamed to see the Liberals ramming this down our throats once again.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 7:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand again in the House tonight on behalf of the constituents of Battle River—Crowfoot to speak to Bill C-71. For those perhaps watching at home, we need to at least give some context as to why we are here.

Today is June 19. We are scheduled to break for the summer this week, and the government is trying to push legislation through that it would like to have before the summer break. We anticipate tomorrow that it will bring forward the cannabis bill and may well try to push that through. However, today the government has put time allocation on a gun bill, Bill C-71. It is trying to do it at the very end of a session, thinking that the opposition will probably not stand and debate it too long. We will stand and fight bad legislation as long as it takes to represent our constituents and Canada.

The government has brought in through the back door another piece of gun legislation. Some say it is an easy step from here to a gun registry. Others say this is a gun registry, albeit not as expensive as the $2-billion boondoggle the Liberals attempted before. This bill sounds an awful lot like a piece of gun registry legislation.

For those watching, there may be some who say, “There is so much gang activity. There is so much crime in our major cities. Why doesn't the government stand up and do something to fight that crime?” This bill is in response to that. The minister stood and said that they were concerned about gun offences and crime and other things and that the bill would answer that.

We talked to every gun club, firearm association, rifle association, and recreational, angling, and sporting association. I do not know of one that supports this legislation. Why is that? The reason none of them support the legislation is a tough one. First, their major frustration is that they see that this would do absolutely nothing to curtail crime, gang crime, street gangs, and that type of criminal activity that is on some of the streets of our major cities. The government says it is going to bring forward a bill that will remedy some of those problems. Every gun association I know of says that this is not going to solve any of it, because all the government is doing with the legislation today is adding red tape, making it more difficult to own a firearm and making it more frustrating for those who have to transport a firearm.

I am a registered firearm owner, and I know exactly what has to happen when people want to own a firearm. I know the courses they have to take. I know the regulations around safe storage they have to accommodate. I know that those who typically get a licence and go through and register for the course are, by and large, very safe gun operators. I have met many who are speaking to youth and children about the safe operation of a firearm.

What would Bill C-71 do? Why is it problematic? Why are people standing and opposing this type of legislation? First, for the background check for an individual, it would leave the five-year background check and basically look at the entire lifespan to see if a person should qualify for a firearm. Therefore, anyone who, even in high school, ended up in fisticuffs with someone, and 20 years later wanted to obtain a firearm, that could come up in this background check. Someone could very well evaluate the information and say that the person is disqualified.

I have had cases in my constituency where, at the time of a divorce, a very stressful time, people have said things that 15 minutes later they would not have said. In fact, I had one case of a lady who phoned my office and basically told my staff that when she was asked if there was any domestic offence, she said that she was scared of him and that he had all these firearms, and they came and confiscated his firearms. By the way, the same lady contacted me probably a year or so later and told me that she had said that, but they had settled, and he was not a problem at all. Now, how could he go about trying to win back his firearms?

There are just so many questions about this new piece of legislation, but there should not be a question about one thing. This legislation would make it more difficult for law-abiding firearm owners, such as farmers and hunters, to operate and purchase all of the above. It would extend the background check. We do not know about the qualifications of those who would be evaluating the information or what the criteria for the evaluation would be based on. Why would there be no appeal process in this?

The Speaker is calling time, and I have not made it to my fifth point. I have not made it to the second.

The second point I think is very problematic is that it would limit the amount of transportation of that firearm. It used to be that if I wanted to purchase a firearm, I could bring it home immediately. My understanding is that one could still do that. However, now if there was a problem with a restricted firearm, I could not just take it to a gunsmith for repair. I would have to call in and explain it all. I would now have to go through more red tape if I was going to get my firearm fixed. A lot of times, when people do this, it is exactly when they are ready to use it in the lead-up to hunting season, when all of a sudden, they realize that the firing pin is not working right and they want to get it fixed.

Why would transport to and from a gun store for appraisal for a sale be taken away? We do not know, other than that the Liberals want to add red tape to frustrate those gun owners.

The other issue is licence verification. To me, this is very important. In my riding, in Hanna, Consort, Castor, Torrington, and a lot of other communities, they have gun shows. At these gun shows, people come from all across Canada. In a little town of 200, 300, 400, or 500 people, and in Castor maybe close to 800 people, they will fill the arena. People will come from across Canada, and maybe some from the United States, to purchase old collector firearms or new firearms. To do a transfer, even at a gun show, they would now have to get a purchasing number and a transfer number. They would have to go through all this red tape, in a rural riding where there is very little cell coverage to begin with.

A concern that has also been brought to me is what the chances would be, on a Sunday afternoon, of being able to get through to a government number to get that verification number. What are the chances? If I tried to get through to Revenue Canada today, I would need to be prepared to sit on the line for 45 minutes. If at a gun show I wanted to purchase a gun from maybe a farmer or someone who had a booth or table there, now they would have to call in and get a number and verify my licence. In my opinion, it is going to shut down an economic driver in some of these small towns where they have gun shows on the weekends.

I could go on. I have not talked at all about other parts of licence verification. I am told that my time is up. To sell a firearm, they would have to keep records for 20 years.

It is bad legislation. I would encourage all members of the House to fight crime and recognize that we have to do things about crime, but this would not solve anything.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 7:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, there is little evidence to justify the many changes found in the Liberals' firearms legislation proposed as Bill C-71. They are trying to fix a problem that does not exist. In fact, they would only further burden law-abiding firearms owners rather than actually going after people who commit crimes. I, for one, would prefer that our law enforcement agencies and the Government of Canada spend their time, energy, and resources on cracking down on gangs and criminals.

To step back for a moment, law-abiding firearms owners do not trust the Liberal government. They do not believe that the changes found in Bill C-71 would actually make our streets safer or put criminals behind bars.

I want to focus my comments on two aspects of the legislation that are deeply flawed and why I believe the bill must be defeated.

In the last Parliament, our previous Conservative government passed the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act. Found in that legislation was the sensible change of introducing an automatic authorization to transport firearms. This meant that individuals were no longer required to contact the RCMP for certain routine and lawful activities as it became a condition of a restricted PAL holder's licence. This was a common-sense change. Why would law-abiding licensed owners need to notify the RCMP that they were taking their licensed firearm to a firing range? By adding the authorization to transport their firearm as part of their licence, it freed up valuable RCMP resources. It must be said that if the firearms owners did not follow the conditions as part of their licence, they would have it revoked, which is a very severe punishment.

If the government is going to give someone the right to own a firearm, to shoot a firearm, to store a firearm, to compete with a firearm, why would we not give them the automatic right to transport a firearm?

Found in the legislation, the Liberals are reverting to the old ways of not trusting responsible law-abiding Canadians to automatically transfer their firearms. Why? Well, they think it suits their political needs, and there is ample evidence to back that statement.

Before the last election, the Liberal Party went as far as scaring the public by suggesting that an automatic authorization to transport firearms was going to make Canada less safe. During question period on November 26, 2014, the now leader of the Liberals said that the right to have an automatic authorization to transfer a firearm would “allow handguns and assault weapons to be freely transported in a trunk anywhere within a province, even left parked outside a Canadian Tire or local hockey arena”. This was and remains a very erroneous statement. The law is quite clear when it says that one is only allowed to transport prohibited or restricted firearms “between two or more specified places for any good and sufficient reason”. If we dig even further into the regulations, it says that they must transfer their firearms by “reasonably direct” routes.

While the Liberals are entitled to their opinions, they are not entitled to ignore the facts. They cannot just purport something to be true while the law says something completely different.

For those thinking that calling up the RCMP every time they want to get authorization to transport a firearm is not that big a deal, let me put on the record the number of times the RCMP previously had to go through this process. Since 2008, the RCMP issued 992,139 authorizations. That is almost one million phone calls. For argument's sake, let us just say that it takes an average of eight minutes to get this process done. That is 132,285 hours that the RCMP could have used on investigating crimes and patrolling our streets and highways.

Now that we have established the inordinate amount of time this process takes, with little evidence that it actually enhances public safety, let us dig further into the numbers. If we really think that the RCMP's issuing authorization to firearms is doing something to keep our streets safe, people might want to know that over the past seven years, out of close to one million authorizations issued, only 17 have been refused. This would indicate that it is a fruitless endeavour that really does not accomplish a whole lot.

With all that in mind, what evidence did the Liberals put forward for why we have to revert to the old ways? They put forward nothing.

When the Hells Angels start calling the RCMP to let the RCMP know when they are transferring their firearms, I might change my tune on this matter. However, until criminals decide to start applying for firearms licences, I think we should call a spade a spade and admit that seeking an authorization to transfer a firearm does nothing to enhance the safety of Canadians.

The second part of this deeply flawed legislation is the removal of any oversight of the classification of firearms. For years, there was no recourse or appeal process if a firearm was not correctly classified. That meant the individuals in charge of this process could make millions of dollars' worth of property worthless with the stroke of a pen. While I am not a hunter or a sport shooter, I can understand their frustration when a firearm they have owned for years, or in some cases even decades, is suddenly prohibited.

No one in the House is suggesting that classifying firearms should not be taking place. All we are asking for is an appeal process, or at the very least a very clear understanding of the regulations that determine the classification of a firearm.

I want to be very clear that firearms should not receive a classification based on their appearance. Their classification should solely be based on their form and function.

If the Liberals wanted to provide greater clarity on the classification of firearms, they would have legislated the firearms reference table into law. The firearms reference table information is used during the process of firearms identification, classification, tracing, importation, and registration. Right now, the public has no ability to find out what is contained in the firearms reference table or to find out the justification of why a firearm was classified as it was.

I want to salute Matthew Hipwell, a former RCMP officer who served for 17 years, for bringing this issue to the public safety committee during its study of Bill C-71. It was Matthew who brought to the committee's attention that Murray Smith of the RCMP said, “the Firearms Reference Table has no standing in law. It's simply the...viewpoint of the firearms program on classification and description of any particular item.”

This has led to all sorts of problems, as the definitions to determine a classification are neither clearly nor legally defined. They are open to different interpretation and opinion. An example is the use of the word “variant”. There is no legal definition of “variant”. Another challenge in correctly classifying a firearm is the definition of “readily and easily”, which would be applied when determining if a firearm can be reconfigured.

If the firearms reference table has no standing in law, why are the Liberals completely gutting the ability of cabinet, made up of elected representatives, to overturn a wrongful classification? This was the only possible way to correct a wrongful classification. People who want to challenge the classification of a firearm would actually have to be arrested. That is the most irresponsible and undemocratic element of this legislation. Let us think for a moment. As a firearm owner, people would literally have to get arrested in order to challenge the reclassification of a firearm they may have owned for decades.

If this Liberal legislation has accomplished one thing, it has shown the need to establish clearly defined definitions of the criteria used to classify firearms. It also must be said that after reviewing all the expert witness testimony, not a single recommendation or amendment put forward by a firearms expert was accepted.

I cannot and will never support a piece of legislation that only goes after law-abiding firearms owners. There is little to nothing contained in this legislation that would crack down on criminals. Once again, the Liberals think that duck hunters and sport shooters are the problem.

While the government blindly passes this legislation, I will oppose it every step of the way. I will always stand up for law-abiding firearms owners and advocate for legislation that will actually make our streets and communities safer. Bill C-71 fails in this effort.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 7:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, one of the things I would like to point out with Bill C-71 is the fact that when it comes to firearms and when it comes to dealing with crime, the Liberals have it all backwards. If we look at Bill C-75 and Bill C-71 at the same time, we see that law-abiding Canadians, Canadians who are jumping through all the hoops that the Liberals put in place, are being punished by Bill C-71. However, when we look at Bill C-75, the so-called enhancements of the judicial system, we see that the Liberals are downgrading all of the sentencing for a lot of the crimes across Canada.

What does my colleague have to say about the complete lack of clarity between the two pieces of legislation?