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

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 1:30 p.m.
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Liberal

John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time today with the hon. member for Winnipeg North.

I am proud to take part in this debate. As communities across the country face the devastating consequences of gun crime and violence, it is important for Canadians to see the government taking a stand. Doing so does not have to mean making radical changes or placing unreasonable measures on responsible firearms owners, nor does it mean a return to the measures of the past like the long gun registry. On the contrary, it means taking a clear-eyed look at the problems, the data, and the evidence, filling the gaps that need to be filled, and taking a practical approach to tackle gun violence.

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

The Statistics Canada report entitled “Homicide in Canada, 2016” paints a clear picture of that problem. The year 2016 is the last year for which we have data on this issue and the numbers, frankly, are startling. It indicates that for the third consecutive year, firearms-related homicides increased in both numbers and rate. It tells us there were 223 firearms-related homicides in Canada that year, 44 more than in 2015. The statistics also tell us there were 2,465 criminal firearms violations that year, an increase of 30% since 2013. These figures reflect a tragic trend on our streets and in our communities.

My community is no exception to this reality and in fact faces alarming rates of gun and gang violence. I have the honour of representing the city of Surrey alongside several other members in this place. Last year alone, there were 45 firearms-related incidents in our community, including the riding of Cloverdale—Langley City. While this was a declining trend from previous years, it is still extremely concerning and one of the most important and frequents issues I hear about when door knocking and talking to constituents in the community.

Stories persist in our region of shootings taking place in residential areas that leave bullet holes in homes and front doors, and people are concerned for their safety and that of their families.

The first shooting in Surrey this year took place on 64th Avenue, a main road with gas stations, a variety of businesses, and residential housing in the surrounding area. It is unacceptable that anyone should feel unsafe or that this type of violence could erupt in our neighbourhoods at any given time.

The root of the trend is clear. Guns are falling into the wrong hands and this is happening in communities across the country. Sometimes, they are acquired by break-ins or by smuggling across the border. Other times, they are acquired through illegal sales by licenced owners or through firearms trafficking by organized crime. This only fuels the rise of handguns on our streets and more firearms-related violence in our otherwise peaceful communities, such as my home community of Surrey.

One way we can make a difference in keeping guns out of the wrong hands is by enhancing the utility of background checks and the effectiveness of the existing licensing system. One of the practical proposals in Bill C-71 would allow for a more rigorous licence verification process. Under this legislation, licence verification for non-restricted firearms sales would be mandatory. If people want to purchase or receive such a firearm from a business or an individual, they would be required to prove they have a valid licence. Further, the business or individual would be required to confirm the licence validity with the RCMP. Currently, this verification process is voluntary for non-restricted firearms. This legislation fixes that deficiency.

As part of strengthened background checks, authorities determining eligibility would have to consider certain police-reported information and other factors spanning a person's life, rather than just the last five years. If people have been convicted of certain criminal offences involving violence, firearms, or drugs, have been treated for mental illness associated with violence, or have a history of violent behaviour, authorities would be required to consider those factors over their life history.

Further, all licensees currently undergo continuous eligibility screening. This means that when a chief firearms officer is made aware of certain police-related interactions, they may place a licence under administrative review, pending an investigation to determine if the individual continues to be eligible to hold a licence.

This is only one of the reasonable reforms we can make to ensure firearms do not fall into the wrong hands. When we see the devastation gun violence causes, we often ask ourselves, “Why did that individual have a gun? How could this have been allowed to have happened?” In some cases, the answer can be quite complex. It may have been someone who never surrendered their firearm when they were supposed to, or it may have been someone without a licence or who smuggled or purchased a firearm on the black market.

Illegal gun sales often happen through so-called straw purchasing in which a licensed owner purchases firearms legally and then sells or transfers them illegally. A practical approach to this problem is to strengthen current tracing measures in order to better track the flow of firearms when that happens.

That is why under this legislation firearms businesses will be required to retain, transfer, and inventory records related to non-restricted firearms. While that is common practice in the industry, we will be requiring it by law. Making it mandatory will better support criminal investigations, giving police an important tool to help identify suspects of firearms-related offences.

In addition, under Bill C-71 business records must include information like the reference number of the licence verification, the licence number of the transferee, and information on the firearm that is sold or transferred, thereby ensuring firearms are only being sold to those with a valid licence. Firearms businesses, not the government, would need to maintain these records for at least 20 years.

In 2016, 31% of recovered firearms from gun-related homicides did not require registration. That included long guns, for example, hunting rifles and shotguns. Case in point, guns are falling into the wrong hands and that is why we are taking concrete action on licence verification and tracing.

All of this is bolstered by proposals in Bill C-71 that will provide consistency in classification of firearms and strengthen requirements for the safe and legitimate transport of firearms.

The Government of Canada has no greater responsibility than keeping Canadians safe, including citizens of my riding of Cloverdale—Langley City. The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has clearly demonstrated that we will crack down on gun crime and criminal gang activities by recently announcing $328 million over five years and $100 million annually thereafter to reduce gun crime across Canada. This announcement took place in Surrey and reflects our government's commitment to investing in measures that will reduce crime in our communities.

Our approach to public safety also includes investing in our youth so that we prevent them from coming into contact with guns and gang violence in the first place. In February, I had the opportunity to announce $5 million over five years in federal funding for the national crime prevention strategy to help expand the YMCA's plus-one mentoring program. We are building on the proven success of this program of directing at-risk youth away from interactions with the justice system and ensuring they have the support and guidance they need.

Our approach is multi-pronged, recognizing that public safety is paramount.

The Minister of Public Safety also recently hosted a summit on gun and gang violence, bringing together partners from government, law enforcement, academia, community organizations, and mayors from some of Canada's largest urban centres to tackle gun and gang violence.

These measures, along with the legislation before us today, demonstrate a package of sensible reforms and actions flowing directly from the platform commitment we made in 2015. They are aimed at reversing the increasing trend of gun violence in our country and we are confident they will make a real and lasting difference. These are practical, targeted, and measured steps that, when taken together, will make our communities safer.

In making these changes, we have ensured our approaches are fair, effective, practical, and safe. We believe we have achieved that.

I am proud to give my full support to Bill C-71 and encourage all of my colleagues to do the same. My community will be grateful for the improvements we will see in the safety of our neighbourhoods.

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 1:40 p.m.
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Liberal

John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his comments, his responsible gun ownership, and for his question. To the point that he has raised, I have heard from many gun owners who, like my colleague, are responsible and take the proper precautions and safety measures. That is what we need in our country.

To the specific point, I had a concern when the previous government made changes and put the classification into the political process. Our law enforcement officers and agencies are trained to do this, to make informed decisions. I think that is where it should be. I am very pleased to see that Bill C-71 will make that change. I think that it is the right direction for us to be heading toward.

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 1:45 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, what a pleasure it is to stand and talk about Bill C-71.

Members across the way should not be surprised. Bill C-71 is yet another piece of legislation in which the Liberals are saying that we made a commitment prior to the last federal election and we are fulfilling that commitment. Every day we see initiatives by the government that reflect what I believe Canadians really want to see good and responsible government doing and taking action on.

Contrast that to my Conservative friends across the way, who prefer to keep their heads in the sand, who prefer to stay out of touch with what truly are the interests of Canadians. They prefer to keep on the course Stephen Harper was leading them on. Quite frankly, I would think Stephen Harper was still leading the Conservative Party, given the behaviour those members continually demonstrate when it comes to their positions on policy.

The Conservatives should be a little cautious on that note. They should try to deviate from the old Stephen Harper agenda and move toward an agenda that at least demonstrates they are concerned about what Canadians have to say about good, solid public policy.

In listening to my friends across the way, it seems to me that they want to vote against this piece of legislation. They are talking negatively about this legislation. I would suggest that if they were to canvass their constituents, they would find there is very good, solid support for the legislation. Why? The essence of this legislation is all about public safety.

That is really what Bill C-71 is all about. It helps to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals, as an example. That is a positive thing. Conservatives would find their constituents would support that. It helps police trace firearms used in the commission of a crime. Again, that is a positive thing. Conservative members would find that most of their constituents would support that. The key is they have to listen to what Canadians have to say.

We hear members across the way talk about law-abiding gun owners. The vast majority of law-abiding gun owners do an outstanding job. I commend them on the fantastic work they do to ensure there is responsible ownership. The majority of those individuals, the average law-abiding gun owner would recognize this legislation as good legislation. If we take out the spin from the Conservative Party, it would be most, if not all, Canadians. There might possibly be a few eccentrics, the ones who believe that AK37s should be in everyone's home, who might say no.

This is good legislation. Why are the Conservatives opposing this legislation? They say it is about the long gun registry. Imagine that. They continuously mention the back door. How much clearer can the government be? We have the Prime Minister, even before he was prime minister and now while he is prime minister, saying that we are not bringing in the long gun registry. It is as simple as that, end of story.

It does not matter how many times we say it on this side of the House, the Conservatives will continue to tell mistruths, untruths, on the issue. They will try to stir the pot to say that the Liberals are bringing in a gun registry, when it is just not true. The national long gun registry is done. It is gone. We are not bringing it back—

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 26th, 2018 / 12:20 p.m.
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Regina—Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

moved that Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to begin debate on Bill C-71. This is important legislation that prioritizes public safety and effective police work, while treating law-abiding firearms owners and businesses fairly and reasonably. With this bill, we are upholding the commitments that we made to Canadians during the last election. To be clear, that includes our commitment not to reinstate a federal long gun registry. As we heard a couple of weeks ago at a policy summit here in Ottawa, many Canadian communities have been facing a steady increase in gun violence over the past five years.

Crime rates generally in Canada have been on the decline for decades, and of course that is a very good thing. However, offences involving firearms are bucking the positive trend. They have become more prevalent since 2013. There were almost 2,500 criminal incidents involving firearms in Canada in 2016, and that was up by 30% since 2013. Gun homicides are up by two-thirds. Cases of intimate-partner and gender-based violence involving firearms, as reported to police, are up by one-third. Gang-related homicides, a majority involving guns, are up by two-thirds. Since 2013, break-ins for the purpose of stealing guns are up by 56%. These are realities that we need to face.

Also by way of context is this. The majority of firearms owned by Canadians are non-restricted. They are typically long guns, like hunting rifles and shotguns, used in a manner that is fully compliant with the law. In 2016, however, 31% of all gun-related homicides involved these types of firearms that do not need to be registered. Furthermore, while cities like Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa, and Regina have been particularly hit by violent gun crime, in my home province of Saskatchewan more than 60% of such crimes actually happen outside the major urban centres. In the Atlantic provinces, there is a similar pattern, where 56% of violent gun crimes occur outside the cities. Hard evidence shows a gun violence issue that is serious, appears to be worsening, and is not confined to big cities or to particular weapons. Bill C-71 would help in five important ways.

First, it would enhance background checks for those seeking to acquire firearms. Right now, when a person applies for a licence, there is a mandatory look back over the immediately preceding five years to see whether the applicant has engaged in violent behaviour or whether he or she has been treated for a mental illness associated with violence. That five-year limitation would be removed by Bill C-71, so the applicant's full record as it relates to violence and criminal behaviour can be taken into account. This is in fact a measure once proposed in a private member's bill introduced in Parliament by former Conservative MP and cabinet minister, James Moore. As he said at the time:

...if a person has ever committed a violent crime in their life never does that person get to own a gun. If a person has ever beat his wife or ever committed rape or ever committed murder and is released from jail, never in his life does that person get to own a gun in Canada. This is effective criminal justice and this is something the Liberals should put into law.

Those are the words of the Hon. James Moore, and the provision that he was recommending is in fact included in Bill C-71. It is also important to underscore that when it comes to mental illness the background check that we are talking about involves only mental illnesses associated with violence. We all have friends and family who have dealt with mental health issues, and in the vast majority of cases there is no violence associated with it at all, so those people would not be affected.

The second important way that Bill C-71 would make our communities safer is by enhancing the usefulness of the existing licensing system.

Since 2012, when a person acquires a non-restricted firearm, there has been no obligation for them to demonstrate that they are authorized to do so. To be clear, vendors can check voluntarily, but there is no legal requirement to do so. In other words, a person could apply for a firearms' licence, undergo a background check, be denied because of a history of violence, and then go on to buy a shotgun anyway, because the seller does not actually have to check whether they have a licence or not.

Let me provide another practical illustration for why this provision should be mandatory. Picture a small firearms shop where a customer has shopped for many years. In 2016, that customer was one of hundreds of people who committed violence toward his partner with a firearm present. The court ordered him to forfeit his firearms and his licence. Today, a few years later, he drops into the usual shop looking to buy a rifle. The person behind the counter currently has the option of verifying whether the customer's licence is valid or not, but they are not obligated to do so. Having sold several firearms to this same customer over the years, the sales clerk decides that he knows the customer well enough and does not have to run a check against the licence.

Bill C-71 will ensure that the salesperson is required to make that call to the firearms program. This is just basic common sense. The process for doing so will be efficient and straightforward. The RCMP will operate a call centre, as well as an online portal that will be open 24 hours a day. The verification will take about three to five minutes, and for transactions involving non-restricted firearms, no information about the firearm itself will be sought or retained. The call is to verify the validity of the licence, not to identify a non-restricted firearm.

Third, Bill C-71 will support police officers investigating gun-related crimes and crime-related guns by requiring commercial retailers to apply good, common business practices in maintaining adequate business records of their inventories and sales. Most, in fact, already do so for economic, safety, or liability reasons, and because it may have a bearing on such practical things as their insurance.

Their records would be private and not accessible to governments, but police would be able to gain access given reasonable grounds and with judicial authorization as appropriate. This would help police trace guns discovered at a crime scene, detect straw purchasing schemes, and identify trafficking networks.

In the last few days, we have heard from some folks who have been raising concerns about this being some kind of new long gun registry, and that is simply not the case. According to A.J. Somerset, a firearms expert, a hunter, and a former member of the Canadian Armed Forces, “The sales records are maintained by the retailers. So the government does not have access to them, so they can't be treated as a registry. In fact, it's going to be exactly the same system that exists federally in the United States, and nobody complains there is a registry in that case.” In fact, the requirement to keep business records has existed in the United States since 1968.

The co-owner of High Falls Outfitters, a firearms retailer in Belleville, Ontario, says that while the long gun registry tracked “where guns are kept, the home, the addresses, all these different things.... 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). It just gives the police a starting point when they have to investigate a crime.”

The fourth important public safety measure included in this bill has to do with ensuring the impartial, professional, accurate, and consistent classification of firearms by RCMP experts. Parliament, of course, will always control the definitions that create the various classes of firearms. As is the case with many other laws and regulatory frameworks, the rules will be written by the elected officials in this House and then interpreted by law enforcement.

Currently, as we all know, there are three classes of firearms defined by Parliament in the Criminal Code: non-restricted, restricted, and prohibited. Within that frame, we will rely on the technical expertise of the RCMP, not political considerations, to determine which guns belong in which class. This means that we are repealing the authority the last government gave itself to overrule RCMP determinations.

When we repeal that power, we will automatically invalidate two decisions made by the previous government to assign a lesser classification to two particular groups of firearms, one Swiss and the other Czech. These are firearms that the RCMP, applying the definitions established by elected officials, believe to be deserving of a higher classification than the previous government gave to them. In the interests of fairness, we will grandfather the ownership of these particular firearms so innocent third parties are not put offside with the law through no fault of their own.

Finally, Bill C-71 would bolster community safety in relation to restricted and prohibited firearms, mostly handguns and assault rifles, by requiring specific transportation authorizations to be obtained for moving those types of guns through the community, with the key exception of transportation between a residence and an approved shooting range. This is an important tool for police because it helps them determine whether a person is taking their restricted or prohibited firearm to somewhere it should not be.

As with verifying a licence, the process for obtaining an authorization to transport is simply a matter of calling the hotline or logging in to the online portal. This legislation would implement practical measures, all of which are directly connected to public safety outcomes. That is why the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police says it is “encouraged by the positive direction taken by [the government] towards sensible firearm legislation enhancing the tools available to #policing to ensure public safety”.

There are four other matters, which are not in Bill C-71, that I look forward to discussing with my provincial and territorial counterparts as well as with the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and the Canadian firearms advisory committee.

One was raised with me by the mayor of Prince Albert, Greg Dionne, who is concerned that insufficient commercial storage rules allowed the thieves in that city to snip one cable and steal 24 handguns from a local gun shop and those restricted weapons are now in illegal circulation. It is certainly worth examining whether the current after-hours commercial storage regulations are appropriate.

Second, at the suggestion of Poly se souvient, I would like to look into whether it is reasonable for commercial firearms manufacturers to promote the sales of their wares, namely restricted and prohibited weapons, in a manner that particularly glorifies violence and simulates warfare. Is such promotion consistent with public safety?

Third, as raised by the mayor and the police in Toronto, do we need a mechanism to identify large and unusual firearms transactions, especially those involving restricted and prohibited guns, which may be indicative of some illicit straw purchasing scheme, gang activity, or a trafficking operation?

Fourth, as is done in the province of Quebec already, should other provinces consider requiring medical professionals to advise provincial authorities about persons who have diagnosed conditions that are likely to put the lives of other people in danger?

The pros and cons of these and other questions will be given very careful future consideration. As we examine these matters, our priorities will always be protecting people and communities, supporting the police, and ensuring fair and reasonable treatment for firearms owners and businesses.

Those are the very same priorities that guided us as we developed the legislation which is now before the House in Bill C-71, and they will continue to guide us throughout the parliamentary study of the bill ahead. However, as that study unfolds, as members of Parliament consider the details, if they come up with good and useful ideas that can improve the legislation, we are always open to interesting, useful, new suggestions.

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 26th, 2018 / 12:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Madam Speaker, as the hon. gentleman would know from studying our platform in the last election, and I am sure he has studied it in great detail, there are a number of provisions that we recommended at the time which are in the process of being implemented. The amendments contained in Bill C-71 are part of that package.

The various items I was referring to in response to the previous question will all be of assistance in helping to make our society safer. Specifically with respect to illegal guns being imported across the border, we have provided, and will provide more, resources to the Canada Border Services Agency to help the agency be more effective at the border in interdicting illegal smuggling of firearms.

We are also working with local communities and provinces, providing $100 million a year in new funding to support activities specifically aimed at gang activity using guns. That money could be used in a variety of ways, depending on local circumstances, which will not all be the same, in supporting the integrated enforcement teams that have proven to be very effective in a number of communities in ferreting out gang activity, and then marshalling a full-court press in order to deal with that activity.

There is no one single solution. It is a complex collection of things, all of which are contained in our package. The legislation is part of it, but not all of it.

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 26th, 2018 / 12:50 p.m.
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Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, I am extremely pleased to be rising in the House today to speak on Bill C-71. I cannot remain silent on this subject, because I see that the Liberals are once again stubbornly determined to bring back a bill that feeds their obsession with reducing crime by constantly going after honest citizens. I cannot believe they still have not learned from their past mistakes. I will explain what I mean for the benefit of those under 35 or new Canadians who have only been here a few decades, since they may not know what I am talking about.

Back when Jean Chrétien was prime minister, his Liberals introduced the Canadian firearms registry. I can tell you that not only was this idea poorly conceived, it was also a direct attack on law-abiding Canadians. Even worse, when the initiative was first introduced, the minister said it would cost about $2 million. The Liberals said they would take care of that, and that is when they created the registry and started going after honest citizens. They said it would not cost much, just $2 million. We know what happened next. Instead of $2 million, the infamous registry ended up costing $2 billion. The Liberals of the day created this initiative in an amateurish way. Worse still, they never apologized to Canadians for spending so much public money on an initiative that, in the end, was nothing but yet another attack on law-abiding citizens.

The Conservatives of Canada believe that the safety of Canadians must be the top priority of any government. Our position is very clear in that regard. Canada's Conservatives put the safety of Canadians first. I would not want the government members, Liberal members, to ever question that.

We cannot trust the Liberals when it comes to the firearms legislation. Rather than cracking down on criminals who use weapons to commit violent crimes, they are treating law-abiding gun owners like criminals. It is important to understand that. The Liberals should be going after criminals, but instead they are treating upright citizens like criminals. That is not right. When we were in office from 2006 to 2015, we worked hard to keep Canadians safe. We kept the promises that we made.

For example, we passed the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act, which simplifies the firearms licensing regime, while strengthening firearms prohibitions for those convicted of domestic violence offences. We passed the Tackling Violent Crime Act, which provides for mandatory prison sentences for serious firearms offences and stricter bail provisions for those accused of serious offences involving firearms. We passed the Act to amend the Criminal Code regarding organized crime and protection of justice system participants, which provides police officers and justice officials with important new tools to help them fight organized crime, including new sentences for the reckless use of a firearm. We also funded initiatives across the country to advance Canada's crime prevention and community protection objectives under the national crime prevention strategy.

The Conservatives have a long and successful track record when it comes to security and safety. The list goes on. We created the northern and aboriginal crime prevention fund as part of the national crime prevention strategy in order to meet the specific needs of indigenous and northern communities when it comes to crime and community safety. We also created the youth justice fund in December 2006. The guns, gangs, and drugs component of this fund was introduced to put a focus on the rehabilitation of young offenders. The fund responds to youth involved in the justice system and involved in gun, gang and drug activities. We also created the youth gang prevention fund in 2006 to support community groups that work with troubled youth in order to prevent them from joining gangs by addressing the risk factors associated with gangs.

In other words, we kept our promises. We worked for law-abiding citizens, not against them. Let no one doubt our determination to fight crime.

The Liberals' Bill C-71 is further proof that this government, whose imagination is petering out after only two years in office, is just winging it.

Halfway through its first term, the government is waffling. By that, I mean the government cannot make up its mind and makes decisions based on which way the wind is blowing. The Liberals are also cowardly. For example, this bill does not address the criminal or unauthorized possession of firearms, nor does it have anything to say about gang violence.

The minister keeps trying to tell us all kinds of wonderful things, but the fact is that Bill C-71 does not have the answers. In his speech, the minister even said a lot was missing from the bill, so when I say they are “winging it”, I am talking about how they are already scrambling to fill in those gaps. They just introduced the bill. They want us to talk about it, but they admit it is missing important elements. Once again, they are listening to the Conservatives and then reacting.

The Liberals believe that the way to fix gun violence and gun crime is to go after law-abiding citizens without dealing with street gangs or organized crime. There are some very intelligent people across the way. We are not going to insult their intelligence. I just cannot believe that such intelligent people can act this way, but that is a matter for another day.

For the most part, this bill does little to nothing to improve public safety. However, it imposes a number of new conditions on law-abiding gun owners. We cannot say it enough: it is always honest folks, sport shooters and hunters who get punished. The Liberals always go after those types of people. On this side of the House, we know that law-abiding citizens are not part of the problem. Under the leadership of Stephen Harper, we dealt with criminals, terrorists, and those who promote violence. Those are the people we need to be focusing on.

On the other side of the House, we have a government that made election promises. Once in power, however, it forgot about its commitment to Canadians, and hoped that they had already forgotten what was promised. For example, some of the Liberals' promises concerning the gun registry were broken or are yet to be fulfilled.

First, they promised to give the provinces and territories $100 million per year to combat illegal activities involving firearms. There has been no mention of that. Where is the money? Where is the Prime Minister and his grand speeches?

The Prime Minister is a big talker. He is like Obama, who made grand promises that never amounted to anything. The Canadian public is starting to notice this problem, but we will talk about that another time.

The Liberals have yet to implement the marking regulations on imported firearms, even though they promised to do so as soon as they took office two and a half years ago. Two and a half years is a long time.

What is this party's leadership doing? They seemed to have all the answers during the campaign but now that they are in power they seem mostly confused. I have an explanation for why that is. There are agencies and specialists that are really talented at coming up with marketing ideas. They suggest saying this or that and predict that people will react like lemmings or sheep.

The Liberals ran a great campaign. They had a great marketing plan. When a party gets elected, it is the MPs, and not the marketing agency reps, who get to sit in the House. These MPs then find it hard to implement policy because they do not know what the marketing plan was about. At least, that is the impression we get. They had great marketing, but nothing concrete behind it. Again, who is paying for this? Canadians are the ones feeling the impact of the government's failings.

Canada is now emerging from a long night in which everyone learned the truth about a certain gifted public speaker who, in the end, had nothing to share with Canadians.

The Liberals have also forgotten their promise to invest in technologies that would help customs officers detect and intercept illegal arms from the United States.

Furthermore, thousands upon thousands of foreign nationals are crossing illegally into Canada from the United States through places like Quebec. Instead of trying to contain this crisis, the Liberals seem to be trying to accommodate it. I am not allowed to say that there are not many people here to listen to me, but it does not matter. Normally, they would react by saying that I am totally wrong.

Those watching may not know this but Quebec is currently dealing with a problem, a crisis, namely illegal immigration. You may hear that we should be using another word, but I say it is illegal. The Government of Quebec is asking to be reimbursed the $125 million it has spent on this. The government is refusing, saying that it is not so bad and that everything is just fine. Sure, everything is fine. How disheartening. There comes a time when enough is enough.

The Prime Minister told people to come here because Canada is a country of refuge and that everything is great here, so people are coming. In fact, at least 50 to 100 people a day continue to enter this way.

Quebec is left footing the bill. The Prime Minister does not see a problem with that. He turns a blind eye and walks away. People are entering Canada illegally, but that is fine. Promoting Quebec and Canada as beautiful places to see is part of this marketing plan I mentioned earlier. However, this plan is not panning out in real life. These policies have a cost and will result in social problems, but the Prime Minister prefers to turn a blind eye. This issue is also causing chaos at the border.

Indeed, chaos seems to follow the Prime Minister around. As we saw in last week's headlines, we can no longer say “mother” and “father”. We have to say “parent one” and “parent two”. We no longer have the right to say someone is a man or a woman. No one knows anymore. This is plunging society into chaos. People identify as a man or a woman. Parents are saying that they cannot tell their kids that they are their mother or father, but rather parent one or parent two. The next time they are having an argument, a parent will say that he is parent one and the other is parent two. Come on. This is becoming ridiculous.

We have been seeing nothing but this sort of thing from the beginning. The minister said earlier this was not about re-establishing the long gun registry. When you read Bill C-71, it is obvious that they are being very careful. It is very subtle, which is why we, the Conservatives, are going to keep a very close eye on this.

Under this legislation, gun control would be achieved through merchants. The onus will be on firearms dealers and retailers to keep a registry, and they will also be tasked with maintaining the records afterwards. This is an insidious way of bringing back the registry. The government can deny it, but clearly, this is about putting everything in place to eventually bring back a registry.

At this point, the Prime Minister needs to decide where the real threat is. Is it street gangs or farmers? Is it sport shooters or organized crime? That is the real question.

To most Canadians, the answer is obvious. When you get up in the morning and think about it, you imagine a hunter with his firearm, or a farmer who needs firearms to keep animals from attacking his livestock. There is nothing unusual about that.

When people get up in the morning, they see that the government and the Prime Minister are saying these people are the ones they are going after. The government says that it will go after criminals and street gangs later. As the minister finally said earlier, some elements will be added to the legislation later, since the government is not ready. Honest Canadians are once again getting up in the morning and wondering what on Earth they did to become targets yet again. This is how it goes.

Eventually, the Prime Minister will have to make a decision. Does he have advisers around him who are smart enough to explain how this works in real life, in the lives of Canadians? Canadians get up in the morning and all they hope is to live a good, honest life. These are the people that the government is always going after. It needs to recognize this and stop. At some point, the government needs to stop doing this.

I am going to talk about another issue that was not addressed. There is nothing in the bill about an issue that we are just starting to hear about in the news. It is a little more complicated and involves life, criminals, the modern world, and technology. This morning, I was reading an article about the dark web. Not many people, including myself, know much about the dark web. I know that it exists, but it is complex and involves technology. This morning, journalist Jim Bronskill explained that criminals are using the darker corners of the Internet, in a similar manner as pedophiles. The same principle is used for guns: there are computer protocols that allow users to carry out transactions in hidden parts of the Internet.

We have also heard about cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, which are almost impossible to trace. Criminal gangs use them to buy guns, which they are smuggling in ingenious ways. For example, they will hide a handgun in an Xbox console to get it through customs. People who buy guns on the Internet in this way do not have a licence. There is a whole criminal structure to the Internet, and the RCMP is sounding the alarm.

Police officers grappling with this type of crime and border services officers know that there is a problem. We need to look into this aspect and pass legislation that will address these problems. We would have no problem backing the government on that because we want to go after the criminals. However, we heard nothing about this, and there is nothing in Bill C-71 to deal with this problem.

Not only does Bill C-71 include no legislation that would tackle criminals, but its preamble contains misleading statements, such as the alarming statistics the minister mentioned earlier.

At the summit, the minister used 2013 as a benchmark. However, what the minister failed to mention is that the crime rate has remained fairly consistent over the past 20 years, except for in 2013, when it was particularly low. In 2014, it returned to a level comparable to that of the past 10 to 20 years. It was likely the marketing firm that decided to use data from 2013, to make people believe that there had been a dramatic increase in crime. The reality is that criminals probably stayed out of trouble that year because the Conservatives scared them. This is a matter of inappropriate marketing designed to frighten law-abiding citizens.

I will have to hurry up or I am going to run out of time.

During his summit on gun and gang violence, the minister heard from many experts in the field, but the bill in no way reflects their comments and concerns. In his speech, the minister talked about issues that are not covered in the bill, such as insufficient commercial storage rules. He talked about how a thief stole 24 handguns from a gun shop in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, but Bill C-71 does not address that.

The proposed change requiring firearms dealers to keep records for 20 years after the sale of a firearm is a burden for business people. I imagine the members opposite will someday realize that criminals could not care less about these rules. Criminals do not buy their weapons in gun shops. I mentioned the dark web, which is one of the ways they acquire guns.

We see this as yet another bill that will just annoy law-abiding people and will do nothing to target criminals, which is deeply disappointing because I think that is the most important issue here.

Let us not forget the 1993 firearms registry, which was supposed to put a dent in crime. It was useless.

I have a far more complicated problem. The government wants to stick to its agenda and act like nothing is wrong. Let us not forget that the Prime Minister's blatant and shameless lack of transparency forced us to hold a marathon voting session that lasted more than 22 hours. No one across the way had the courage to talk to the Prime Minister and have him listen to reason.

Canadians are not asking for anything complicated. They are asking for an hour-long meeting with Daniel Jean at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, so that Mr. Jean can give the same briefing he gave to the media. It is not complicated. Anyone can see that. Members of the House represent the people and the people want to be informed.

Therefore, seconded by the hon. member for Oxford, I move:

That the debate be now adjourned.

FirearmsStatements By Members

March 26th, 2018 / 2:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, as Conservatives, we will always support sound policy that ensures the safe storage and handling of firearms, screens licensed owners of firearms, classifies firearms based on function, and targets the criminals who commit gun crimes. Unfortunately, the Liberals' new backdoor gun registry in Bill C-71 fails to stop the criminals who use guns to commit violent crimes. Again, the Liberals are treating law-abiding firearms owners as criminals. Their legislation has no new measures to combat gang violence in our cities, gun violence on our streets, or crime in our rural communities.

The Liberals are re-establishing a federal registrar to keep records on law-abiding firearms owners. Registrars keep registries. What the Prime Minister fails to understand is that gangs, thugs, and gun runners do not register their firearms.

I fought against the original long-gun registry for almost two decades, and I will continue to oppose the Liberals' new ill-advised and unnecessary backdoor gun registry.