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

Sponsor

Ralph Goodale  Liberal

Status

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 2, among other things,

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

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

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

Elsewhere

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

Votes

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

Bill C-71—Time Allocation MotionAn Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 11:05 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Madam Speaker, again, with respect to the representative from the NDP and the views he has just expressed, I share a good deal of sympathy for his perspective, but it was clear, on the record from Friday and yesterday, that every time Bill C-71 was going to appear on the Order Paper, the official opposition was going to pull some stunt to try to prevent the debate from proceeding. There is that clear indication from the official opposition. It is important for the affairs of the House to be organized in a timely way, and we are in the process of doing that through the motion presented by the government House leader.

Bill C-71—Time Allocation MotionAn Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 11:10 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Madam Speaker, when Bill C-71 is called another time, my understanding, in terms of the rules of precedence, is the New Democrats will put forward the next speaker, and I will be very anxious to hear the NDP's views with respect to Bill C-71. That is how the resumed debate will begin.

The next important stage is obviously in the committee work. I am looking forward to the very good work that will be done by all members in the committee, dealing with technical and detailed questions. The hon. gentleman is a member of that committee, and I am sure he will present his views in a very able fashion.

Bill C-71—Time Allocation MotionAn Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 11:10 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Madam Speaker, I have two points. I thank the hon. gentleman for putting this whole discussion in its historical context, which is important.

There are specific provisions in Bill C-71 that will enhance the background checks that are to be done. Currently the law says that when those checks are done, when someone is applying for a licence and seeking approval to purchase firearms, the look-back over the person's history in terms of criminal offences, violent behaviour, and other types of activity that would indicate the individual should perhaps not be in possession of firearms is mandatory for a five-year period.

What we are proposing to do is to eliminate that time frame, so that the look-back can be indefinite through the lifetime of the person. It is interesting to note that the original suggestion for that change came from James Moore, a former Conservative member of Parliament.

Bill C-71—Time Allocation MotionAn Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 11:15 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Madam Speaker, Conservatives support protecting the safety and security of Canadians while also supporting the rights of law-abiding, innocent firearms owners.

This debate is really important to my constituency, which has faced escalating armed robberies of bars, hotels, and farm families right across Lakeland. Bill C-71 would do nothing to address the illegal gun trade by gangs or the illegal use of firearms. Bill C-71, just like always, would target law-abiding farmers, hunters, and sports shooters, who already comply with extensive rules, regulations, and paperwork.

Will the public safety minister advocate for stiffer penalties for criminals who use firearms and stop the revolving door in the legal system to stop repeat offenders? When it comes to a tougher crackdown on criminals who use guns, nobody wants that more than law-abiding, innocent firearms owners do.

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / noon
See context

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I see that Bill C-71 is before us again. I imagine the government felt somewhat embarrassed by how it managed this very important and sensitive file.

One thing that has become crystal clear over the last number of years when it comes to the issue of firearms in this country is that far too often, successive governments have played wedge politics with an issue that is fundamentally about respect for communities. It is about public safety, and more broadly speaking, about respect for all Canadians, including, of course, firearms owners.

When the Liberals come forward, as the minister has, with the intention of presenting legislation that seeks to provide, as he says, common-sense legislation, which is certainly, I would acknowledge, a step in the right direction, and then decide on time allocation before I, as the critic for one of the three recognized parties, have even had a chance to speak to the bill, it demonstrates, unfortunately, a lack of seriousness with respect to what is a very serious issue that we, as parliamentarians, must get right.

After less than one our of debate, the government allocated just one day of debate to this bill. The minister praised the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, saying that this committee has qualified members and that they could study the technical aspects of the bill. This is very flattering, since I am a member of this committee, but let's be serious. The vast majority of members in this House have concerns to share about this bill on behalf of their constituents.

The NDP recognizes that this bill is a step in the right direction, and we are generally in favour of it, but there are some questions we want to address in this debate, and this is not solely my responsibility, as critic. All members are responsible for raising questions. It is not just up to the members who sit on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to raise these concerns.

When the government moves a time allocation motion after so little time, it goes against the principles espoused by the Minister of Public Safety. As my colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé mentioned in the debate on this motion, even the previous government, known for its record number of time allocation motions and gag orders, would not have done this.

Those principles come after excuse after excuse has been made. The Liberals have tried to blame the official opposition, saying that it moved a motion to adjourn debate yesterday. Notwithstanding whether one might or might not agree with the tactics being used in the House to make a point on certain issues the Liberals are running away from, the fact is that one party in the House voted in favour of adjourning debate on Bill C-71, and that was the Liberal Party. Despite the heckling, the Liberals perhaps should consult the Journals of yesterday's proceedings. They will see that they were the only ones in the House who voted to adjourn debate on the bill.

Moreover, last Friday members representing the Liberal Party made comments on panels, alluding to deaths in communities as reasons why we had not come to that debate, which is shameful. The Liberals have been in power for two and a half years and have not come forward with this legislation. Then they choose to blame everyone but themselves for the cavalier way in which the bill is coming through the House. That is extremely problematic. As I have said multiple times, and will continue to repeat both in the House and outside the House and at every opportunity I get, this issue should not be one in which we seek to create division and make it subject of procedural and partisan gain. It is one we have to get right.

I know the public safety minister has his heart in the right place on this. I would implore him to perhaps speak to his House leader to ensure his approach is the one being put forward, given the way the government runs the agenda in this place. We cannot afford to get this type of issue wrong. The New Democrats will work and strive in that regard, both here for the limited time we have, and in committee. I can commit that to Canadians without a shadow of a doubt.

Now that I have given an overview of the procedural issues and of how the file has been managed, I would like to focus on our concerns about Bill C-71.

Gun control is an emotional issue for many people, and with good reason. This is about showing respect for those who have had to deal with unimaginable tragedies. They see the bill as an opportunity to defend their community and neighbours and ensure that no one else has to endure such tragedies. There are also law-abiding citizens who hunt or practise shooting sports. We also want to show respect for them in the legislative measures put forward.

We therefore need to strike a balance between the two while protecting the public. That is the approach we need to take when we address these issues in the House. Instead, over the years, we have unfortunately seen more divisive approaches. Gun control has been used as a political fundraising tool, and some questionable action has been taken as gun control has been turned into a partisan issue.

For members of the NDP, one thing is clear. We want to keep the public safe while showing respect for every Canadian and community concerned by this issue.

I will, however, give the minister credit where credit is due since I think that this bill is a step in the right direction. It contains common-sense measures that we can support. I am thinking of the background checks in particular.

Currently, we only go up to five years for the retention and renewal of a licence. However, in a quick study of some of the jurisprudence, in some of the precedents that have been set by the courts, they have deemed it absolutely appropriate, legal, lawful, and respectful of charter rights to go all the way back in a lifetime examination for one's background check, whether it is criminal records or other pieces that are looked at as part of this process. Members on all sides have shown support for that. Both current and previous members from all parties have shown support for it. Essentially, when it comes to background checks, the bill would bring legislation in line with what is already appropriate practice, which has been deemed so by the courts. That is a reasonable measure to ensure we protect public safety.

The other element, one that has received a lot of attention and is a key piece of the bill, is records being kept by store owners who sell firearms to Canadians. On this, let me be clear. When it comes to maintaining those records, I agree with the minister that the vast majority of reputable businesses already do so. We are seeking to standardize the practice, because it will now become part of the law, and also protect that information from government and law enforcement unless law enforcement has a warrant obtained through the courts. That has been happening for a very long time in the U.S. Therefore, I do not see it creating an additional burden on businesses.

However, following the minister's speech before the time allocation motion, I asked him what would be done with respect to consultation with business owners to ensure the standardization did not carry an unreasonable cost and that it was done in a way that was respectful of best practices. Business people know best at the end of the day. Unfortunately, while the minister acknowledged that work had to be done to have that standardization and that it would come from best practices, the details were rather sparse. Therefore, we will be looking at that to ensure the standardization of those practices do not create an additional burden on businesses. Of course some businesses may have to modify their current practices in order to be in line with what will be a legal and government-mandated process. We will keep an eye on that, particularly through the committee process.

I look forward to hearing those business people, who are the experts, bring forward their perspectives, and how to ensure the minister's consultation is done appropriately, in a way that will ease the burden on small businesses, which is already, in some regards, far too large. I say that going beyond the issue before us today.

It is very important to emphasize the issue I raised a few minutes ago and that is obtaining a warrant.

At present, it is a standard practice for businesses to keep this data. After all, it is not unusual for them to keep records about large purchases. This is not just about firearms, and any responsible business owner already does this.

The important clarification made by the bill is that this information can only be obtained with a warrant, in the context of an open criminal investigation.

As I mentioned, we will ask questions so that the minister's consultations will ensure that the standardization of practices does not create an additional burden on businesses.

The other changes that would be brought in by this proposed legislation concern Bill C-42, which was brought forward in the previous Parliament under the Conservative government. It sought to give automatic licences for the transport, for any purpose, of restricted firearms. However, members of the law enforcement community saw that as problematic, because there would be all kinds of instances where it would be difficult for them to know whether individuals, who were stopped by roadside stops, had perhaps firearms in their vehicles, or an individual with unlawful intent, which is an important point to bring to this discussion.

One of the issues is how to find the balance for lawful purposes and more routine purposes. The legislation opens the door to that. Therefore, automatic licences for transport would still be given, for example, for bringing the firearm from the location where the purchase took place to the location where the firearm would be stored. It would be the same for an individual going from the location where the firearm was stored to a shooting range. However, we have other questions over the consequences of some of the administrative burden.

Guns shows are one example. In that context, people need to transport firearms. A number of people might want to obtain an authorization at the last minute.

The changes in this bill requiring that there be a process for obtaining such an authorization are quite appropriate. We now want to know how this will be administered.

In the technical briefing, the minister mentioned several options including an Internet portal. Naturally, any MP who does business with the federal government, for example when looking into matters for their constituents, knows that responses are not always timely. I am not referring only to matters related to firearms licences.

If an added burden is created, while entirely appropriate, it must be done as simply as possible and without creating too much bureaucracy that will make life difficult for anyone seeking to get such an authorization.

Of course, we recognize the relevance of the changes being made and the fact that this legislation repeals certain aspects of Bill C-52 regarding authorizations to transport restricted firearms in all circumstances. In the last Parliament, the NDP opposed Bill C-52, but the changes being made here are appropriate and will ensure public safety.

Another extremely important aspect of Bill C-71 is the issue of weapons classification. This issue has often been controversial, but the NDP's position has always been clear. We believe that the individuals best equipped to make those decisions are the men and women in uniform who keep our communities safe, in other words, the RCMP.

One of the changes made by the previous government gave cabinet the authority to reclassify restricted weapons. That was problematic, and brings me back to the point I made at the beginning of my speech. This issue is quite divisive and has too often been politicized. Previous governments have failed to respect the expertise of impartial individuals who make common sense decisions in the interest of public safety. That is why the NDP is pleased that the RCMP will finally be given the authority to classify firearms.

The bill does leave cabinet some power, so we will look at that in committee to make sure it does not open the door to policy decisions that could result in the kinds of situations that have come up before. It became apparent some time ago that politicians are not equipped to make those kinds of decisions and that if we wanted to ensure public safety in a way that was respectful of all Canadians and all communities, experts had to be the ones making those decisions.

The second part of the bill relates to the now-defunct Bill C-52, which this government introduced quite a few months ago. The government just added some elements that we support. It repeals the Conservative government's changes to access to information laws. The changes were made because the Information Commissioner took the previous government to court over access to information requests pertaining to the gun registry. When the registry was destroyed, the previous government began to destroy the data before the House of Commons and the Senate passed the bill.

Destruction of the data was found to be illegal. I do not want to get into the politics of the registry, but citizens did have the right to request access to that information. That led to legal action between the Information Commissioner and the government.

The government is now making these changes to the law that the Conservatives had put in place to legalize something that was illegal. By doing so, it is correcting the mistakes of the past to resolve this dispute.

There is also the fact that Quebec will be getting all of the former registry's records involving its population, the only data left from the registry. Quebec's National Assembly is entitled to continue the process as it sees fit and in accordance with the principle of asymmetrical federalism.

I would now like to return to the Supreme Court decision on this issue. The Supreme Court ruled that the federal government had the right to destroy the data but, in the spirit of co-operative federalism, it strongly urged the government to return the data to Quebec. This bill does just that, giving the National Assembly the power to do what it wants with the data, as is its right, of course.

I will close by saying that the NDP will always support a common-sense approach that respects all communities and all Canadians and guarantees public safety.

These issues are too important not to get right. They are too important to be lost in a partisan black hole.

We will continue to strive in that direction. That is always what our approach has been, and it is what it will continue to be. I look forward to doing that both here in the House and in committee, working with colleagues in all parties, including colleagues in my own caucus, hearing the comments from their constituents, to make sure that we get this right. This is a good first step. Let us keep going in this direction.

If the minister's heart is truly in the right place, I ask that he pass that message to his House leader to make sure we have the proper time to take the necessary steps to make sure that we are addressing any questions that have been raised by me and those that will inevitably be raised by other colleagues.

There are good things here, things that we support, and we just want to make sure that we get them right.

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question. I thank my colleague for his intervention.

Let us make one thing clear. The Conservatives keep raising certain issues, but we have to make a distinction between Bill C-71 before us today and the existing legislation. The reason something is still enshrined in legislation is that the change has not been made yet. If the previous government felt it was necessary to make a change, it had the chance to do so.

As my colleague mentioned, there were changes, in Bill C-42 for one, which were often problematic, and there were missed opportunities. I commend the government for trying to correct all that through Bill C-71.

What I appreciate about the government's approach, and that appreciation is contingent on the answers we will receive and the process in committee, is that the government understands that some things need to be corrected while others are fine and can be left alone. That is how to achieve the balance that ensures public safety and respect for all so as not to rehash past debates that were far too often partisan instead of being driven by the desire to create sound public policy.

I think that my colleague agrees with me on this. I hope that the government will continue on this path. We shall see.

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Marco Mendicino LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour and privilege to speak on Bill C-71. At the outset, I would like to say that I will be sharing my time with the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell.

There is a great family establishment in my riding, which is in the middle of Toronto, called Playtime Bowl and Entertainment. It is a place where mothers and fathers can take their children and their loved ones to kick back at the end of a busy week, where they can distract themselves with a bit of close time with the ones they care for and work for every day. I take my girls there, like many families in my community do.

The reason I am referring to this establishment at the outset of my remarks is this. A little less than two weeks ago, on a weekend night, shots rang out. Shortly after those shots rang out, the lives of two people were lost. This is part of a disturbing trend we have seen not only in my community, in the city of Toronto, or in the GTA, but right across the country, and it is something all members should be fully grasped with.

In Toronto there were 61 homicides in 2017, many of which were associated with some form of gun violence. In 2018, 28 shooting incidents have already been reported. This number is up 55% from this point in time last year. I want to say that this is in spite of the great efforts of local police officers with the Toronto Police Service, and with many actors within law enforcement. The reality is that gun violence is all too common in many neighbourhoods, not only in Eglinton—Lawrence but right across the country.

One of the victims whose life was lost just outside of this family establishment had been at an IKEA earlier in the day shopping for a cradle in anticipation of starting a family. This person was described as caring and humble. That is one more life that has been snuffed out as a result of gun violence. It is for this reason that so many within the law enforcement, police, and victims communities have been calling for gun law reform for so long.

Bill C-71 is a response to those calls. It contains practical and balanced reforms, including mandatory life history background checks, strengthening controls for the transport of restricted and prohibited firearms, prohibiting certain firearms that meet the Criminal Code definition and limiting their circulation through grandfathering, applying a consistent approach to the classification of firearms, and cracking down on unlicensed access to firearms. Together, these reforms prioritize public safety while ensuring their practical and fair application to responsible firearms owners.

What Bill C-71 does not do in any way, shape, or form is bring back the federal long gun registry, nor does it add any unreasonable measures for law-abiding citizens. I want to make that abundantly clear. It is focused on preventing firearms from falling into the wrong hands and keeping our communities safer. That is what I would like to focus my time on today.

Overall, crime rates in this country are much lower than what they were decades ago. However, while we are seeing a general downward trend in crime, these statistics do not tell the whole story. There is no question that illegal guns are increasingly finding their way into the hands of criminals and gang members. Handgun thefts have recently jumped up by nearly 40%. Break-ins and illegal sales in Canada are only compounding the problem. Even more concerning, there were 223 firearm-related homicides in Canada in 2016, which is 44 more than the previous year. There were nearly 2,500 criminal incidents involving firearms in 2016, which is also a major jump, to the tune of a 30% increase since 2013.

While some of our largest cities are hardest hit by these statistics, this is not just an urban problem. Rural and indigenous communities are also affected. Not every crime can be prevented, but we can and we must take measures to reduce the risks.

The first set of proposals we have introduced would help to stop firearms from falling into the wrong hands. These measures would spell out quite clearly that if a person is planning on selling or giving a non-restricted firearm, it must be verified that the person acquiring it has a valid firearms licence. This occurs automatically for restricted and prohibited firearms and that validity must be confirmed with the RCMP. Currently, verifying licences for non-restricted firearms is voluntary. We are proposing to make it required by law.

Recent police-reported information would be taken into account. For example, an individual flagged for investigation by a chief firearms officer because of a charge of domestic violence could be prevented from lawfully acquiring a firearm until the investigation was complete and the licence was returned to valid.

Further, in determining eligibility, authorities would be required to consider a history of certain criminal activity or violent behaviour over the span of a lifetime, rather than just the past five years. What we are saying is simple. If a person is eligible to own a non-restricted firearm, let us take a few minutes to confirm it. A simple phone call, for example, to the RCMP, free of charge, would answer that question.

This is one of the practical proposals regarding the firearm licensing eligibility criteria. We must also improve how firearms themselves are dealt with.

The authorities have a process for tracking firearm-related crimes, which involves systematically tracking the history of a firearm that has been recovered or seized. The chain of custody starts when the firearm is manufactured or imported, and continues on to when it is sold or transferred, and even beyond that.

What is most worrisome is when the firearms fall into the wrong hands. This is why a rigorous, effective, and unrestricted firearm tracking system would be essential for this law to be enforced.

That is where a strengthened ability to trace non-restricted firearms effectively would be essential for law enforcement.

All of this is being proposed with privacy rights top of mind. In that respect, law enforcement would have no special powers here. They would need to continue to comply with existing laws. All of it is supported by applying a consistent approach to classification of firearms, and requirements for safe and legitimate transport. It is backed by over $327 million of new federal funding to support initiatives aiming to reduce gun crime and criminal gang activities.

The government understands that changing the law is only one piece of the puzzle. Efforts like capacity-building, education, outreach, research, and importantly, more front-line police officers are being dedicated through this new federal funding. We believe in effective measures that strengthen public safety, while remaining fair and manageable for law-abiding owners and businesses. Firearm-related violence has not been the norm in Canada. We intend to keep it that way. That is why I am proud to be standing behind Bill C-71 and this legislation today.

Before I conclude my remarks, I would just encourage all members to think about the innocent lives that have been lost, to remember that in the course of debating this bill what we are trying to do is not only to pay homage to those lives which have been lost needlessly and senselessly as a result of gun violence, but also to prevent the next unnecessary loss. This bill would do that. It would do so in a way by striking a balance between having sensible laws while at the same time respecting responsible gun ownership.

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 12:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to take part in this debate today.

Canadians must see their government take a stand, as communities across the country are suffering the consequences of gun-related crimes and violence.

We are not talking about making sweeping changes or imposing unreasonable measures on responsible gun owners. I would not support such measures, and that is not what we are doing. We are also not talking about restoring old measures, like the long gun registry.

Our Prime Minister made this very clear when he spoke in Hawkesbury, in my riding of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell. On the contrary, we are talking about taking an objective look at the problems, facts, and evidence, to fix shortcomings and to develop a practical approach to combatting gun violence.

Bill C-71 builds on the government's commitment to take a responsible approach to prioritizing public safety, while being practical and fair to firearms owners. This is a direct response to a growing problem.

Statistics Canada published a report entitled “Homicide in Canada, 2016”, which paints a clear picture of the situation. The data for 2016, the most recent year for which we have data about the situation, are alarming. According to the report, for the third consecutive year, there was an increase in both the number and rate of firearm-related homicides.

The report states that, in 2016, there were 223 firearm-related homicides in Canada, which is 44 more than in 2015. The data also show that there were 2,465 firearm-related criminal offences in 2016, which is 30% more than in 2013.

These numbers speak to the tragic trend playing out in our streets and communities. The reason for this trend is clear: the wrong people are getting their hands on weapons, sometimes by breaking and entering or cross-border smuggling, sometimes through illegal sales by licensed owners or arms trafficking by organized crime. These circumstances increase the number of handguns on our streets and the amount of gun violence in our otherwise peaceful communities.

We can reverser this trend by making sure that guns do not fall into the wrong hands by improving the effectiveness of background checks and the firearms licensing system.

Bill C-71 includes, among other things, practical proposals and a more rigorous background check process for issuing licences.

Under this bill, verifying gun licences will be mandatory for the sale of non-restricted firearms. Anyone who wants to purchase or receive that kind of firearm, from either a business or individual, will have to demonstrate that they have a valid licence. What is the point of having a licence if the holder cannot prove that it is valid? In addition, the business or individual will be required to verify the validity of the licence with the RCMP. At present, the verification process is optional when transferring non-restricted firearms. The government does not track those sales. This bill addresses that gap.

As for strengthening the background check process, the authorities who determine eligibility will have to take into account certain information reported by police services, as well as other factors related to the individual's entire life, rather than only the previous five years.

Furthermore, if an individual has been convicted of a violent offence involving firearms or drugs, if he or she has been treated for mental illness involving violent tendencies, or if he or she has a history of violent behaviour, authorities will be obligated to take that into account as part of the overall history.

What is more, all licence holders are currently subject to continuous eligibility screening. That means that when the chief firearms officer is informed of certain interactions with police, he could suspend the licence pending further investigation in order to determine whether the person is still eligible to be a licence holder. This is one of the reasonable changes that can be implemented to ensure that firearms do not end up in the wrong hands.

Whenever we see the devastation that results from gun violence, we often ask why the person was armed and how this could have been allowed. The answer can be complicated.

It may be that the individual never turned in their firearm after being required to do so, or that a person without a licence bought a gun on the black market or brought a gun into the country illegally. Often what happens is that straw purchasers acquire guns legally and then transfer or resell them illegally. Enhancing gun traceability mechanisms would be a practical way of better monitoring where guns end up when this happens.

That is why this bill will require firearms businesses to keep transfer and inventory records on non-restricted firearms. Although this is common practice in the industry, we want to make it mandatory today. This will be a clear rule for all new entrants interested in selling firearms. By making this practice mandatory, we will be giving police an important tool for identifying suspects in gun-related offences, which will support criminal investigations. The government will not own the records and will not force retailers to provide this information without a warrant. If the police wants any of the information for its investigations, it will have to follow the normal Criminal Code procedure for obtaining personal information. These records will have to be kept by firearms businesses, not the government, for at least 20 years.

In 2016, 31% of the guns recovered after gun homicides were firearms that did not require registration, a category that includes long guns, shotguns, and hunting rifles. This is a good example of the current situation. Guns are ending up in the wrong hands, which is why we are taking concrete action on licence verification and guns traceability.

All this is reinforced by the proposal in Bill C-71 to standardize the classification of firearms and strengthen requirements for the safe and legitimate transportation of firearms. The Government of Canada's number one responsibility is to keep Canadians safe. The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has clearly demonstrated his commitment to stamping out gun crime and gang activity. In fact, he recently announced a federal investment of more than $327 million over five years and $100 million per year after that to address this priority.

Thus, the proposed combination of pragmatic reforms that are the direct result of our 2015 campaign promise will further support this priority objective. It seeks to reverse the rising gun violence in our country and we are certain that it will have real and lasting impacts. These are practical, targeted, and well-thought-out measures which, as a whole, will enhance the safety of our communities. In making these changes, we have ensured that our efforts are fair, effective, practical, and safe. We believe the bill achieves that objective. The funding for our police forces and Bill C-71 are tools to combat violence.

As a rural MP, I am proud to support this bill, which does not entail a test, application, or additional costs, and does not impact our farmers and hunters. That is why I am supporting this bill.

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 12:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech in the House of Commons today in this key debate.

This is an essential debate, because the government is rushing Bill C-71 without the proper ability for people to ask questions. Why did the minister, yesterday, in refuting allegations about this being a backdoor registry, suggest that the only record required would be for owners of stores, who would keep a record of the name and the PAL, the possession acquisition licence? He neglected to say the make, the model, the type, the serial number, and a range of other issues. Was that omission a way to discount our suggestion that this is a backdoor registry? It seems that by omitting the types of information contained in the Liberals' old long-gun registry, the minister is trying to deflect our claim that this is indeed the reintroduction of the long-gun registry by stealth. I know that in that member's riding, which is not far from here, a lot of people have concerns about the return of the long-gun registry.

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 12:55 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to repeat that the Prime Minister was in my riding and reiterated the fact that we were not reintroducing the long-gun registry. I would also remind him that the Conservatives presented a motion to adjourn the debate on Bill C-71 yesterday.

The member was in cabinet in the previous government. Through Bill C-42, the Conservatives did not introduce any motion or any law to ban the practice of the Canadian Tires or Cabela's of the world of refusing to get details from gun owners. Why did they not do that back then? When the retailers have to call the RCMP or the chief firearms officer, they will not ask for any details about which guns people bought.

I would remind him that the only gun registry in this House is the Conservative Party's. They ask for names, for emails, and for donations to the cause. It is the only party that is making a gun registry about law-abiding citizens.

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 12:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in debate on Bill C-71. I feel particularly lucky, because the government is once again limiting debate on matters before Parliament, something the deputy House leader of the Liberal Party suggested it would never do when it was in opposition. However, we now have had well over two dozen opportunities for time allocation and omnibus legislation, particularly in implementing budgets, something he called an assault on democracy in the past.

What I find so interesting is that the hashtag used by Liberal MPs during the election was #RealChange, and what we see is a real change from what they promised. A lot of them in ridings like Peterborough, Northumberland—Peterborough South, Bay of Quinte, Hastings—Lennox and Addington, Kenora, and Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, where the previous speaker is from, have told their constituents that they opposed the previous Liberal majority government's targeting of law-abiding gun owners in the form of a long-gun registry, which was premised on fighting crime but was fighting crime by attacking the rights of law-abiding citizens, many of whom are among the most law-abiding citizens in the country. Statistics can prove that. There are responsibilities that come with possessing the right to have a firearm. These are already among the most law-abiding citizens, or they do not get that right.

I should say that I am going to divide my time with the capable MP for Lakeland.

Once again, we have the same approach. All those MPs are now quite worried about keeping their promises to their constituents. They are quite worried, because they see the same approach the Liberal government, under Jean Chrétien and Allan Rock, took to firearms regulation.

The Minister of Public Safety, his parliamentary secretary, and a number of other MPs hosted a summit on guns and gangs. They made a lot of news about that, but in Bill C-71, there is nothing to tackle gang-related crime. There is nothing to tackle illegally smuggled weapons at the U.S. border. In the Conservative government, we armed the CBSA and gave it additional resources to make sure that illegal weapons could be caught coming into the country, which is the problem.

Not only do we not have that, there is no reference in this bill to increasing penalties for the use of guns in violent crime or gang-related organized crime. None of that is there. Just like Chrétien and Allan Rock, the Liberals talk about the need for legislation because of crime and then go after law-abiding sport shooters and hunters in rural Canada from aboriginal communities. These are the people who would have to suffer the consequences of Bill C-71 and the backdoor registry, which I will speak about in a moment.

Even on the weekend, we heard the Minister of Public Safety try to evade questions from CBC Radio on The House. I invite people to listen to that. He used a five-year period when talking about gun violence. He did that because 2013 was the lowest year in modern records for violent crime involving guns in Canada. He used that as a starting point to try to show dramatic increases in crime. Seconds later, the minister had to acknowledge that the Liberals only use a one- to two-year time frame to suggest that this bill is needed because guns are coming from robberies in rural areas or robberies from stores.

The Liberals are saying that the problem is domestic. They are saying that the problem is not the illegal smuggling of weapons from the United States, which I would suggest to this House is the problem with guns and organized crime. They are not using a possession and acquisition licence when running guns from the United States. The minister uses a one- to two-year timeline to suggest that there is a real problem with thefts of firearms from stores and rural properties.

What is terribly ironic in that for two years members of the Conservative caucus have been demanding a response from the government with respect to rural crime, because we have seen a large increase. Not only has there been no response, no additional RCMP resources, and no strategy, but now the government is blaming crime rates in rural Canada and using it as a justification to bring in a backdoor gun registry.

If the government is trying to not cherry pick statistics, why a five-year window for gun violence statistics as a justification for Bill C-71 and a one to two-year window to suggest the problem is domestic based? The CBC caught him in that conundrum, and he tried his best to avoid it.

We are also seeing a change, allowing final control to go from government and cabinet to bureaucrats. I have the utmost respect for the RCMP and all its specialized units, but as a veteran, a lawyer, a parliamentarian, I am very much of the view that Parliament creates the laws and the RCMP enforces the laws. It does not write the laws.

The government has grandfathered in the bill a number of firearms that it is reclassifying. Why did it do that? Because it is admitting that reclassifications are unfair. I would like to see a change to the bill that makes grandfathering permanent going forward, so if there is ever a reclassification, people affected and their property rights are grandfathered. The government seems to admit that grandfathering is required here. Why not make it prospective going forward?

Here is why. Law-abiding owners who follow all the rules and regulations with respect to their firearm are suddenly, because of one meeting of some bureaucrats, declared criminals or in possession of an illegal weapon when they have owned and used that weapon for sport shooting or hunting for many years. Suddenly, with one blanket move, what dozens, hundreds, or thousands of people already possess is somehow deemed illegal. If the Liberals are going to grandfather them in the bill, they should grandfather them going forward. I would like to see that.

The very fact that the Liberals use grandfathering is an admission that the reclassifications we have seen in previous years have been unfair to people who follow the rules and are law-abiding.

This suggestion by the Liberal government that this is not a backdoor registry is laughable. I mentioned a number of ridings before. The Liberals are going to have to go to the ridings and say how this is not a stealth attack to bring back the registry. As I said earlier, yesterday in the House the Minister of Public Safety suggested to the House, “All they are asking for now is for store owners to keep records of who bought the gun, and under what PAL (Possession Acquisition Licence).” That is incomplete. That is actually not accurate. What Bill C-71 says, and I am quoting from section 58.1 (1), “(b) the business must record and—for a period of .... make, model and type and, if any, its serial number....” This is in addition to the two elements that the Minister of Public Safety suggested.

On top of that, the use of the term “registrar”, the data, all of this is in a backdoor way. The problem here, as the member for Kenora, another riding where people are going to be asking questions, is that the Conservative government of Brian Mulroney brought in background checks. We agree with background checks. Enhancing those are fine. However, when the legislation is premised on tackling guns and gangs, and we look at the legislation, there is zero on illegal weapons smuggled from the United States, zero on organized crime, and zero on gangs.

There is a total focus on the registration, the recording, the auditing of people who are following the rules, the people who are using these in rural Canada, hunters, farmers, and first nations. The Liberals have set up the argument as having to tackle urban crime. Once again, it is a back-door attempt to regulate and reclassify law-abiding users.

To have a PAL, one has to be law-abiding. These are some of our most law-abiding citizens. Therefore, I wish the Liberals would stop this pitting of rural Canada versus urban Canada and be straight with all Canadians.

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 1:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for that clarification. I appreciate the the fact that the member for Spadina—Fort York tried his best to correct the record from his previous intervention, but clearly was unable to.

The member is going back and forth. We need to control and ensure there is an urban crime strategy and therefore the Liberals have brought in Bill C-71. The challenge here is that none of this addresses gang-related gun crimes or organized crime. By going to the store level as opposed to the home, the Liberals are trying to bring in the registry by a back door. In several Parliaments in the past we saw that it did not work, it did not hit crime, it cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and it targeted law-abiding people as opposed to law breakers.

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 1:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I come from a rural riding on Vancouver Island. We certainly have had the initial knee-jerk reaction to Bill C-71. However, the vast majority of gun owners in my riding own non-restricted firearms. When I have a cursory look at Bill C-71, I do not think anyone will see much of a change once the bill becomes law.

I want to question the member on the backdoor registry, because I am trying to understand the Conservatives. They like to support law enforcement and they want to support gun owners. If police officers have a case involving a firearm, does the member not agree they should have a tool, through a warrant, to seek out more information about a possible firearm that was used?

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 1:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, as with Liberals in the past, Bill C-71 targets legal and responsible gun owners while doing nothing to combat the criminal and unauthorized possession of firearms, address gang violence, or combat crime in Canada. The lack of focus on crime is particularly frustrating for everyday Canadians, who have felt helpless as crime, with increasing violence, has become a crisis in rural communities, as it has in Lakeland. It also shows how out of touch the Liberals are with rural Canadians who legally own firearms and need them for protecting livestock and pets from predators or for humane euthanasia of livestock suffering from fatal, catastrophic illness or injury when a vet is hours and miles away. For example, on March 5, a cougar attacked a group of farm animals at a rural Comox Valley property, killing a lamb and injuring a donkey. The owner called the RCMP and then shot at the cougar, and the predator subsequently ran away. These are the everyday uses of firearms by farmers and rural Canadians in remote communities.

Responsible firearms owners in Lakeland have seen what Liberal predecessors did, with the creation of a long gun registry, which treated law-abiding firearms-owning men and women as suspicious and nefarious by default, and they have been bracing for legislation similar to Bill C-71 to be introduced. It epitomizes the Liberals' approach of swinging blindly at an issue, in this case the real and serious problems of the unauthorized possession of guns, gang violence, and actual gun crimes, and penalizing only those who have done nothing wrong. Constituents in Lakeland are disappointed but not surprised that the Liberals missed the mark so badly. Tyler Milligan, a proud gun owner who enjoys going hunting with his grandkids, said this: “As a very active hunter and a competition shooter, I feel this bill is an attack on law-abiding gun owners, and I feel that this bill is not targeting issues that Canada has related to guns.”

It is clear that this legislation was created by individuals who have no experience with law-abiding gun owners and no understanding of the legitimate use and need for firearms in rural and remote communities, or of those for whom firearms are culturally and socially significant, representative of pioneering and western heritage, or treasured family heirlooms.

Bill C-71 is yet another broken promise. The Liberal election platform said that the Liberals would take pragmatic action to make it harder for criminals to get and to use handguns and assault weapons in crimes, but law-abiding firearms owners' guns are not on the streets. They are safely secured and locked up in safes and cabinets, or they are on the range or in the fields with their owners. These people are not criminals. They should not be penalized for their choices to hunt or to sport shoot. The Liberals are repeating history and showing that they have learned nothing from the mistakes of past Liberal governments that were expensive and burdensome when it came to the legal possession of firearms in Canada, while being ineffective in actually addressing the criminal use of guns.

Bill C-71 also gives an indication of planned prohibitions to come. I get the strong sense that while the Liberals are trying to reassure Canadians by saying they are not banning anything today, Bill C-71 sets out a framework to implement bans in the future. Proposed subsection 12(9) does not explicitly state who would make the determination of which firearms could be added to a restricted list and under what legislative authority. It is also not clear if there would be any sort of appeals process or provision should a heavy-handed, behind-closed-doors decision without evidence or consultation be made to add a firearm to the list, penalizing law-abiding gun owners. I ask members to forgive the skepticism of everyday Canadians, but there have been mistakes made with incorrect firearms classification in the past, when there was, at the very least, a check and balance of elected officials. With this power removed, who would be left to ensure that law-abiding firearms owners are not suddenly and immediately criminalized and unfairly targeted by incorrect firearms classification? Anyone who supports civilian oversight of law enforcement should be concerned about Bill C-71.

Let us be honest. There is little trust to begin with between law-abiding firearms owners and the Liberals of today. Perhaps the aspect of Bill C-71 that I have already heard the most concern about is the creation of a registry by another name, a backdoor registry. The Liberal campaign also promised explicitly not to create a new national long gun registry to replace the one that had been dismantled. However, under Bill C-71, businesses would be forced to keep a record associating individual people with specific, individual firearms. If this is not a registry, what is? It would create a registry without actually saying so. Under this legislation, firearms owners would be issued a reference number by a registrar. What do registrars do? They maintain registries. Canadians know that the long gun registry, which the previous Conservative government scrapped, was wasteful and ineffective, and did nothing to combat gun violence.

It is incredibly disappointing and frustrating for law-abiding gun owners to face new costs, responsibilities, and hurdles, when that will do nothing to get illicit firearms off the streets, or deter or punish criminals who use firearms in their heinous acts.

The Liberals claim that Bill C-71 is safety legislation. The public safety minister is cherry-picking statistics to maximize the illusion that the situation in Canada is dire, and that this particular legislation is desperately needed. Let me be clear. Conservatives believe strongly in making our country as safe and secure as possible and taking logical and effective steps to empower law enforcement and to protect vulnerable and innocent Canadians.

Let us look at the facts of what the public safety minister could have done to make Canada safer.

The public safety minister held a guns and gangs summit, but chose not to address gangs in this apparently flagship legislation.

The public safety minister has mentioned the insufficient commercial storage for firearms, but has not expanded on the issue and does not deal with it in Bill C-71, which does not allow us to debate it.

The Liberals have failed to invest in technologies to enhance the ability of the hard-working men and women who serve as border guards to detect and halt illegal guns from the U.S. into Canada.

Instead of spending $8.5 million on a skating rink on the Hill, next door to the largest skating rink in the world, the Rideau Canal, maybe if the Liberals wanted to choose a campaign promise to follow through on they could have provided, as they promised, $100 million per year to the provinces and territories to combat illegal gun activity.

Bill C-71 does nothing about any of that. It does nothing to combat gang violence in B.C.'s Lower Mainland, gun violence in the GTA, or the escalating crime rates in rural communities, which are making many in my home province of Alberta vulnerable and they feel totally abandoned by the government's slow inaction on crime.

Perhaps the Liberals will listen to Jennifer Quist, from Lakeland, who writes that people “have lost the 'small town' way of life to constant waves of crime without the punishment. It is the unlawful who run the show around here, the criminals with nothing to lose who win at this game.” She also wrote, “Such bureaucracy in a time when all we hear about is the way our government is wasting the money of the taxpayer.”

What the Liberals ignore is that responsible firearms owners across Canada are careful and conscientious. They believe in a culture of safety in the possession and handling of their firearms. They, more than anyone, want stiffer penalties and real action against those who use firearms to commit crimes, and against gang activity that puts us all at risk.

Roy Green gave a good explanation of what law-abiding firearms owners do. He stated:

To legally own a firearm in Canada comes with responsibility. When not in approved use, a trigger lock, at least, must be engaged on each gun. Ammunition must be stored separately from the gun it is intended for. And separately doesn’t mean an ammo box parked beside the firearm. Separately means just that — perhaps rifle in one room, ammunition in another. Gun owners with children frequently will store their firearms, trigger locks engaged, in a gun safe with ammunition in a locked box some distance away.

These are citizens committed to safety, who are vetted to ensure they can acquire a firearm, not thugs on the streets who are quite obviously not worried about laws, rules, regulations, or paperwork.

I would like to end by imploring rural members of the Liberal backbench to listen to the common-sense concerns they are hearing from their constituents about this legislation. They know, as well as I do, that Bill C-71 does nothing to combat criminal activity and illegal possession or use of firearms. Law-abiding gun owners should not be treated like criminals. I hope these Liberals will not give in to caucus pressure to vote for this ill-conceived legislation, and instead will do the right thing and listen to the hunters, farmers, and sport shooters in their ridings, who are not criminals.

Bill C-71 should be scrapped. The Liberals should listen to everyday Canadians about what it is like to legally own and responsibly handle firearms. They should take action to crack down on criminals, protect the security of innocent Canadians, and prevent more victims of crime. The Conservatives will not support legislation like that. We will continue to be in favour of concrete actions that will actually keep Canadians safe. There are no new measures in Bill C-71 to combat gang or gun violence in urban areas, or to address the serious concerns of escalating armed crime in rural communities.

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 1:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, here is what is happening in my riding of Lakeland. A single woman was working alone in a store at a hotel. Four men, masked with bandanas, sunglasses, and hoodies, entered the lobby and forced her to lie down on the ground. She tried to look up and was reportedly hit several times about the head, suffering minor injuries. She was unable to get a good look at the robbers' appearance and clothing. They were armed. They robbed her. This is a town that has repeated robberies. The RCMP was called immediately afterwards. That was in Vegreville.

More recently, after an armed robbery in Bonnyville, an employee was shot and three suspects were arrested. There are robberies happening all over the place in the rural area where I live, on farms up and down the highway. What is happening is that criminals, who are not worried about adhering to rules, laws, or paperwork, get a slap on the wrist and go out to repeat those exact same offences.

The reality is that Bill C-71 does not do one thing to address any of that. It does nothing to protect my rural constituents who are facing that kind of crime. If the member was being honest, it does not do anything to protect the constituents in his riding either.