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

Sponsor

Ralph Goodale  Liberal

Status

Second reading (Senate), as of Sept. 25, 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

Motions in amendmentFirearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 9:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise tonight to speak to this important legislation.

During the last election, we made a promise to take pragmatic action to strengthen the laws governing firearms use in Canada. Bill C-71 upholds this commitment to introduce sensible new measures on firearms, and that includes the commitment not to reinstate a federal long-gun registry. From the start, the bill has been guided by the priorities of protecting the public and communities, supporting law enforcement, and ensuring that law-abiding firearms owners are treated fairly and reasonably. I am pleased to note that, through the bill's progress, those priorities were reaffirmed by a broad range of stakeholders, partners, and individual Canadians.

Before the bill was introduced, the government heard from many groups and individuals with diverse experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives. That includes members of the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee and consultations with many groups, both in person and by phone. In March, the government took the additional step of hosting in Ottawa a national summit on gun and gang violence, with stakeholders and partners from across Canada.

All of this engagement helped to shape not only the bill itself but also the package of new measures complementing it. That package included committing up to $327.6 million over five years, and $100 million a year thereafter, to support a variety of initiatives specifically aimed at gang activity and gun crime. Bill C-71 is only one part of the package, but it is a critical part of it. I am pleased to see that it has now been strengthened through the House debates and committee review.

I was personally very pleased to introduce an amendment to the bill in collaboration with my colleague, the MP for Saanich—Gulf Islands, which addresses the need to protect survivors of intimate partner violence and reduce the lethality of suicide attempts. In my research on firearms in Canada, I realized that there were two very important aspects of the firearms debate that were not being talked about enough: intimate partner violence, commonly known as domestic violence, and suicide.

In its 2016 annual report on domestic violence, the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario reported that 26% of deaths related to intimate partner violence involved a firearm. I also heard from stakeholders that 80% of all firearms-related deaths in Canada are suicides. Clearly, both of these factors need to be a central part of any conversation around Bill C-71.

I had numerous conversations with many national stakeholders, as well as local stakeholders in my riding, Oakville North—Burlington, which helped shape this amendment, and I would like to thank those who provided thoughtful and important insights.

Specifically, my amendment would add to the criteria that must be considered when determining eligibility to hold a firearms licence. The amendment would add the criteria of threatening conduct and non-contact orders, and add more explicit language around risk of harm to self and to others. Officials confirmed that the amendment would strengthen the criteria around licensing and add greater clarity to existing laws, so that people who are considered to be at risk of harming themselves or others would be prohibited from owning guns.

For example, if a woman has a restraining order against her abusive ex-partner, and the ex-partner legally owns firearms that he uses to threaten her safety, the chief firearms officer would now be explicitly required to take this into consideration when reviewing his eligibility for a licence. The amendment also specifies that violent or threatening conduct can include threats made on social media and other online forums.

To be clear, the amendments specify that, when considering eligibility for a firearms licence, what must also be considered are expired orders prohibiting the possession of firearms where there was an offence in which violence was used, threatened, or attempted against an intimate partner or former intimate partners.

This should reassure Canadians that, in the interest of public safety, the process through which a person could obtain a firearms licence includes a more comprehensive consideration of eligibility factors. Explicitly including the concept of harm on that list, which includes self-harm, may also have important impacts.

It is an absolute tragedy that 80% of firearms deaths in Canada are suicides, and while suicide prevention is a whole-of-society issue, there are meaningful actions we can take through legislation. This is one of those actions. Prevention experts agree that limiting access to guns for those at risk of suicide is part of the solution, along with access to mental health support. I was very proud to introduce the concept of harm through my amendment, so that it is clearly identified in the bill before us.

I will also point out that the additional new criteria introduced in the amendment reflects the types of violence that predominantly target women, for example, harassment and cyberviolence. In the online space, women are often targets of intimidation and propaganda. Young women and girls are impacted disproportionately by cyberviolence, bullying, and harassment. Adding these new factors updates our laws to reflect and address today's realities. It is consistent with the government's gender-based violence strategy.

Other amendments add some clarification to the bill. For example, the committee amended clause 1 to make it clear that the government will not recreate the federal long-gun registry. This was an important amendment put forward by the Conservative public safety critic and accepted by the committee. We now have that clarification right in the text of the bill. Indeed, the member for Red Deer—Lacombe stated during committee proceedings, “Everybody at this table agrees that this is not a registry”.

I will point out that the bill never included any components that would have permitted or required the registration of non-restricted firearms. While this amendment does not change the effect of the bill, I am confident it can provide reassurance that the long-gun registry will not be reinstated.

Finally, another amendment to clause 5 adopted at committee will help clarify that a person meeting the conditions to transfer a non-restricted firearm can transfer more than one. In practice, the amendment changes the word “a” in the bill to “one or more”. In fact, it is proposed that the bill does not limit the number of non-restricted firearms that can be transferred providing the conditions to do so are met, but once again, the bill is now clearer on this issue. It now spells out specifically that a valid licence and valid reference number attesting to the licence's validity can support the transfer of ownership of one or more non-restricted firearms.

I am grateful that all parties have played an important role in the close scrutiny of this bill. The bill started off on a solid footing. It already strengthened current laws around eligibility to hold a firearms licence. There is a new requirement for licensing authorities to consider specific information from the applicant's history throughout their whole life rather than the previous five years, as was the case prior to Bill C-71.

Bill C-71 improves licence verification, requiring anyone selling or giving a non-restricted firearm to verify the validity of the recipient's firearms licence. It improves record-keeping requirements among firearms businesses, requiring them to keep records of sale for non-restricted firearms. Responsible vendors already do this. However, making it mandatory will not only set in law what they already do, it will also provide police with an additional tool to track non-restricted firearms used by criminals.

The bill strengthens the regime around the transportation of restricted and prohibited firearms. It creates a more consistent approach to classification, responsibly leaving technical determinations on the classification of firearms to experts.

Today we have new measures with added benefits: enhanced background checks, greater certainty that no federal registry will be created, and welcomed clarification on the transfer of non-restricted firearms.

Canadians from all walks of life have told us this legislation will make a difference. It is one part of a larger package that will help make our communities safer and give law enforcement officers the tools they need to do their job.

I want to thank the members on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, all those who provided testimony and comment, and my colleagues in the House for helping shape this important legislation along the way.

I want to give special thanks to the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for working with me to ensure that the amendment we put forward was reflective and would ensure that intimate partner violence would be fully recognized in Bill C-71.

I encourage all members to join me in supporting this bill.

Motions in amendmentFirearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 9:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for the work she has been doing at committee. Throughout the study of this bill, we heard about the challenging issues of suicide and violence against women, and domestic violence in particular. We hope these issues will be addressed with the amendment which I supported.

The member raised an interesting point and I want to hear more about it. It is the notion that sometimes when legislation is being developed one is looking at what could be said for greater certainty. One of the things that Bill C-71 attempts to do, and I think some of these amendments attempt to do, is to essentially take practices that already exist, whether it is background checks or in record-keeping at point of sale, and create certainty in the law so that when law enforcement officers go into a shop, they now can assume it is likely there will be records. The idea now is that with the law they will have more certainty of that.

I would ask the member to comment on the importance of distinguishing between radical new measures and creating certainty in law, which is also an important part of how we work on legislation.

Motions in amendmentFirearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 9:30 p.m.
See context

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise again to speak to Bill C-71. There is no denying that this issue has been stirring up a lot of emotion in Canada for many years, and for good reason.

Organizations such as PolySeSouvient and victims of horrific gun crimes are advocating for gun control and courageously lending their voices to the political process to talk about that. I must say that in communities represented by members in the House from all parties, there are law-abiding gun owners. They have legal permits and use them to hunt or sport shoot. They do not want to be targeted by the legislation being passed, and we are trying not to target them. Ultimately, as parliamentarians, we have a duty to pass legislation that ensures public safety. Doing that work and finding the right balance is not always easy.

I would like to explore certain elements of Bill C-71, as well as the debate overall, which will be challenging. First of all, I want to thank everyone who appeared before the committee, especially those who represent victims' groups. Every time we study an issue, whether it be impaired driving legislation or crime and punishment legislation, victims' advocacy groups always appear. After enduring these horrific crimes, these individuals have the courage to speak publicly about their point of view and participate in the legislative process, which is already intimidating enough. I have to give them credit. I think they deserve a tremendous amount of admiration and respect.

One way to show our respect is to actually listen to them. I feel like we did listen to them in our study of this bill. As my Liberal colleague just said, that is why we adopted an amendment to try to establish enhanced criteria for background checks. I think all parties in the House agree that if we have the best background check process we possibly can, every law-abiding citizen should easily pass it. This would allow them to get a licence, and Canadians could rest assured that we are making every effort to ensure public safety.

In the same vein, that is why we support the measures to make the background check cover the applicant's entire lifetime. This is already being done on a de facto basis anyway, I might add. The courts have ruled in several cases that, despite the existing five-year time frame, there is a discretionary authority to examine the applicant's entire life. We think it is only appropriate that this be included in the legislation. That said, we also need to look at recording keeping by firearms dealers and sellers.

It is important to note that when it comes to the point of sale records, this is something that existed before from the 1970s to the 1990s, and it is something that even opponents of the long-gun registry referred to. I am thinking in particular of testimony in 2012 before the public safety committee of the then Calgary police chief, Rick Hanson. He was brought to committee to express his opposition to the long-gun registry. He specifically said that with the elimination of the long-gun registry, it would be important to bring back the point of sale records which would allow police, with a warrant, to obtain that information which, as we heard at committee, all respectable sales folks and businesses already keep at any rate.

It is the law in the U.S. as well. In fact, it is important to note that in the United States, contrary to what is proposed in Bill C-71, records would be kept for a lifetime, indefinitely essentially, whereas Bill C-71 prescribes a 20-year period. I see some distinctions there as well. It is seen as a relatively reasonable measure that allows police to have the tools they need to ensure public safety.

When it comes to an individual selling a firearm to another individual, some concerns were brought forward at committee, most notably, the reference number that would be given when an individual with a non-restricted firearm had to go through the process of ensuring the person to whom he or she was selling had a valid PAL. In that process, it is important to note that one of the concerns was the use of “singular” in the legislation, which essentially led some folks to believe there would be a reference number for each firearm being sold in a single transaction. Therefore, if one individual were selling three firearms to another individual, there would be one reference number generated for each firearm.

Officials reassured us that based on the Interpretation Act in Canadian law, when “singular” was used, it could mean plural unless otherwise specified. That being said, I brought forward an amendment, which was unanimously adopted by the committee, to add for greater certainty “one or more firearms” to ensure that only one reference number would be generated per transaction and to make it clear that the reference number would be generated for the purposes of PAL verification and not to track individual firearms and be perceived or portrayed as any sort of backdoor registry.

The other element that we must closely examine is the issuance of permits for transporting guns, the automatic permits, which Bill C-71 would change significantly. We are still opposed to automatic renewal, as we were in the previous Parliament with Bill C-42. The change being made by the Liberals is appropriate.

That said, we heard some powerful testimony concerning the ability to renew a permit automatically to transport a gun to a gun repair shop. It is extremely important because witnesses explained that having a firearm that is damaged or not operational can be a threat to public safety. Consequently, allowing gun owners to travel to an authorized repair shop would be just as appropriate as allowing them to transport a firearm from the point of purchase to the place where the gun will be stored or to a shooting range. Unfortunately, the amendment was rejected. We will continue to support this proposal in the hope that the amendment may be made in future.

The question of gang violence, as raised by the Conservatives, is a legitimate one. I do not think anyone will go that far in this direction, but it is important to understand, especially if the government says that this would be the tonic solution. I do not believe, in good faith, that is what has been presented to us. The issue of gang violence is a complex one. One piece of legislation will not resolve it and the New Democrats believe more needs to be done to tackle this. We need to tackle trafficking at the border. I know the member for Windsor West has done extraordinary work in this direction, as a member of Parliament representing a border community.

We need to do more to fight radicalization. When we think of radicalization, we think of terrorism, but we also need to look at street gangs. Street gangs prey on vulnerable youth and recruit them. That is a form of radicalization as well, and more needs to be done to tackle that.

The member for Lakeland brought forward a fantastic motion on rural crime, which the New Democrats were pleased to support, and we were pleased she supported our amendment as well. It will be before the public safety committee as part of that study. We need to look at ensuring the RCMP has the resources to tackle rural crime. Firearm theft, unfortunately, is part of that reality from some of what we have heard.

There are obviously a lot of complex issues going on and certainly, on that front, the Conservatives are absolutely correct in raising that issue and ensuring that more needs to be done to take on that issue. We will be pleased to look at that as well, because it is an important public safety issue. No one is denying that and we will continue to work in that direction.

Although the criticism that we must do more to address gang violence is legitimate, we support certain measures. A bill concerning firearms must respect the victims who are always asking us to do more. They have experienced horrific crimes and want to ensure that they live in safe communities. We must respect the law-abiding gun owners and communities affected by this kind of legislation. I believe that we achieved this at our committee meetings.

I hope that we will be able to continue to move in that direction. The current dynamic on issues like this, where all parties are contributing to a toxic debate, is unlikely to ensure public safety or to earn the respect of the communities that demand it on a file as emotional as this one.

I am proud, as a New Democrat, to be able to continue to work with all of the stakeholders involved in this file and to support the bill in the meantime. There is still a lot of work to be done by everyone.

Motions in amendmentFirearms ActGovernment Orders

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

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. Indeed, the way I understood the comments in committee, all parties agreed that we should have a solid background check process. In the same vein, we heard some disturbing comments in committee, so I think that it is important to differentiate between someone with severe mental health problems and someone who has a criminal record for stealing candy from a corner store. Discretion still exists in the system, even with Bill C-71. It is an important distinction to make in order to truly understand that serious mental health problems, or other problems that can make it difficult to obtain a permit, are very different from a youthful misstep. The public service has very much understood that distinction.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Liberal

Bob Nault Liberal Kenora, ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

[Member spoke in Cree]

[English]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

At least for one more year.

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

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 11 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 11 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

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

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

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