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

Sponsor

Ralph Goodale  Liberal

Status

In committee (House), as of March 28, 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

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 28th, 2018 / 3:55 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, if I had leave to give a detailed answer, I would love to provide all the details in answering that question. Having said that, it is really important that we look at Bill C-71 as another commitment made by the government and checked off, when the legislation ultimately passes. It is all about making Canadians safer, whether it is in urban or rural Canada. This is a good piece of legislation.

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

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

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

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 28th, 2018 / 4:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to share the time with my esteemed colleague for Portage—Lisgar.

I rise to share the disappointment of tens of thousands of Canadians who are once again under attack by the government for being law-abiding citizens.

Bill C-71, the Liberals' new gun legislation, is a regulatory bill, not a public safety bill. The Liberal government is again ignoring anything to address crime and gun violence. What is apparent is that it was drafted without any thought of what this would do to law-abiding, gun-owning Canadians, like farmers, hunters, gun collectors, and sport shooters. There is nothing in this proposed legislation that addresses any of the problems facing Canadian families, police, rural communities, first nations, inner cities, border agents, gun violence, gangs, or rural crime.

Legislation should be about the values and merits of what Canadians need to improve their quality of life, protect their communities, empower people to prosper, not the Liberal Party.

We have heard what Canadians need for safer communities. In ridings like mine, with vast rural areas, police can sometimes be hours away. Rural Canadians often feel they are left to fend for themselves. With crime rates increasing in rural parts of Canada by 41% in the last few years, the bill would do nothing to address the needs of rural Canada. However, it has the potential to turn rural Canadians into criminals if they own a gun.

Many Canadians have a gun because they need it. They need it to deal with with aggressive predators. They need it for their work, like farmers who may have to put an animal down or control rodents. Sadly, today, many Canadians feel they need these firearms to defend their homes, families, and property from violent attacks and criminal activities.

No one wins when those in rural Canada need to defend themselves from violent criminals. No one should be afraid in their homes, on their farms, or in their communities. However, this is the reality for far too many Canadians in rural communities in Alberta and across our great nation. The fact that this reality is ignored in this regulatory bill is a slap in the face for hard-working, gun-owning Canadians. The bill fails rural Canada and public safety.

As recent as a few weeks ago, we heard at the minister's own guns and gang conference about the challenges facing communities and police, with rising violent crime rates and, in particular, organized crime, guns and gangs. As a former police officer, I understand that police services are doing what they can with the resources available to them and with the many restrictions law enforcement have placed upon them. Criminals do not follow these rules.

We heard from the police at the summit about the increasing number of gangs that were involved in gun violence. These gangs are typically drug dealers or drug related and the shootings are related to protecting territory. These drug dealers and gang members have acquired guns through the black market, smuggling, and theft.

These people do not register their guns. They do not show a licence to buy it. They do not go through a background check. They do not submit to police scrutiny. Only law-abiding gun owners follow these processes.

Adding more processes and background checks does not improve the fight of our communities against gun violence and gangs. Nothing in the bill deals with gangs and their acquisition of illegal weapons. There is no mention of gangs, organized crime, or smuggling in the bill.

The legislation would do nothing to help rural residents in my community. It would do nothing for families dealing with gangs in Surrey. It would do nothing to help police in Montreal or the GTA. It would nothing to combat illegal weapons coming through the black market, smuggled across our borders and into our cities. However, it would provide the Liberals with an ability to say that they tabled legislation, even if it really would not deal with the problem we face.

Here is what I am hearing from Canadians in response to this proposed legislation. How will Canadians be better off with the bill? The government has not provided any evidence that Canadians will be any safer. Why are Canadians who are law-abiding taxpayers being made to look like criminals, while criminals are not being dealt with? What the minister should be concerned about is real public safety issues in Canada, keeping guns away from gangs and violent criminals.

Bill C-71 would not address these issues. It would not make communities safer. It would not protect and save lives. To paraphrase the Prime Minister, it is purely a political game.

For example, the Liberals would remove the limit on background checks from five years to indefinite to meet their promise to enhance background checks. That seems logical and a good idea. However, what would aid Canadians and Parliament is having evidence that this would actually improve public safety. Currently, possession and acquisition licences for firearms must be renewed every five years. The government checks the registry automatically against criminal charges laid in Canada against anybody who had a licence, daily.

Are there Canadians who, in retrospect, should not be receiving gun licences? How would these changes improve public safety? Would longer background checks result in more people being denied guns for good reasons? A better question might be this. If we lift that five-year background check, what reasonable limits will be placed on it?

For example, for mental health screening, what mental health issues would make someone ineligible? What about recovery? Does a minor anxiety issue make one less or more likely to be blocked from hunting? If a veteran has returned from combat and has gone through a mental health issue or battled back from an illness like depression, what would the response be from the chief firearms officer? Would hunters who have gun licences and respect every aspect of our gun laws have their licences removed because of an incident that occurred 25 years ago?

It is not just the new licensing provisions we are hearing about from Canadians. It is the real fear that the Liberals are only looking to bring back a gun registry for unrestricted guns like hunting rifles. This is their fear. In fact, government members have been pushing one line over and over again, which is that this is not a gun registry. Well, that line is as believable as the Aga Khan being a close family friend, as believable as “these taxes will only affect the rich” or “It was India's fault”.

When the Liberals keep telling the House and the public that something is not true, we all have reason to be cautious and scrutinize them carefully.

First, this bill makes specific reference to the “registrar”. I think most Canadians would agree the point of a registrar is to keep a registry. The registrar will have a list of names of licence holders and require all gun sales to consult that list in advance of the sale. That registrar will require all businesses to keep a list of sales and make them available. The registrar will take the records of a gun shop going out of business and keep those records.

The Liberal government is now changing the rules to transport guns again as well. People taking unloaded and trigger-locked guns for repair will now require permission from the chief firearms officer to do so. Then there are the new costs, which have not even been addressed. It would be no surprise to anyone in Canada if the cost of gun licences will increase as a result of all the added red tape.

What should we be doing? There is a better way than ignoring the problem. We cannot address Canada's concerns for safer communities without addressing the cause of these problems. From my perspective, and those with whom I have spoken, there are a number of things the government can do that will have a far greater impact on reducing gun and gang violence in our communities.

Let us actually provide the police the promised funding and the plan for the $327 million to tackle gangs and gun violence. Get that money into the hands of the specialized police units across the country to deal with guns, gangs, and drug traffickers. The RCMP has raised the issue of straw purchasers. Those are people who acquire guns with licences and then sell them on the black market. Instead of punishing law-abiding gun owners who follow the rules, let us empower the police and put in legislation to go after those criminals. We cannot licence the problem away.

Let us help our border agents. CBSA has had a battle, and is in a battle, of dealing with increased black market activities and tens of thousands of illegal border crossers, with no extra resources. Agents I have personally spoken to are exhausted. Let us enforce our border rules, remove illegal crossers, and give CBSA agents the tools to find illegal weapons being smuggled into the country. Let us cut off criminals from their supply of illegal weapons.

Let us focus on intervention programs that stop at-risk youth from entering gangs in the first place. The Conservatives launched these programs in 2006, and I would urge my government colleagues across the way to focus efforts on reducing the flow to new gangs and between gangs.

Finally, let us stop supporting terrorism, terrorists, and criminals and start taking the side of law-abiding Canadians. Law-abiding gun owners should be trusted above criminals.

This bill would hurt law-abiding, honest, hard-working gun-owning Canadians. I hope all members in the House will shift the focus to protecting Canadians by targeting criminals.

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 28th, 2018 / 4:25 p.m.
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Fundy Royal New Brunswick

Liberal

Alaina Lockhart LiberalParliamentary Secretary for Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time today with my colleague, the member for Scarborough—Rouge Park.

I am pleased to rise today and continue my participation in the legislative process to amend firearms regulation. I stand today as the representative of a largely rural New Brunswick riding called Fundy Royal, a riding where firearms are associated with hunting and sport. It is a riding where the vast majority of firearm owners are law-abiding, dedicated to the community, and very aware that there is growing gun crime in Canada, especially in big cities.

It is for this reason that when our party's 2015 election platform was introduced, which did include a section on gun control, I began consulting with those who were interested in the topic to ensure that I had considered it from many different perspectives, and also to counter the Conservative Party's narrative that the long gun registry would be reinstated. To clarify, Bill C-71 does not implement a gun registry, regardless of how many times that is said by the opposition.

When I was elected, I made a conscious decision to carry out my duties as a member of Parliament with the goal of listening and being persuasive rather than playing into partisan games to the detriment of my constituents. An example of my approach is my analysis and vote against Bill C-246, the modernizing animal protections act, because of the detrimental impact it would have had on our rural area.

I am glad to have been consulted by the Minister of Public Safety in advance of the tabling of Bill C-71, which allowed me to seek meaningful feedback from stakeholders in my riding, whom I now consider my firearms advisory council.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Ron Whitehead and the representatives from many of the sportsmen clubs and fish and game clubs in Fundy Royal for lending me their time and for providing candid feedback, which I was pleased to see had an impact on the drafting of this legislation. It has been my priority to identify the realities of firearm ownership in rural Canada, and to bring that perspective to be considered alongside urban concerns, which are legitimate and do need to be addressed.

In my riding, a firearm is seen as a tool. For generations, law-abiding Canadian gun owners have safely used their firearms for hunting and sport shooting, as well as predator and pest control. Canadian farmers, hunters, and sport shooters are among the most safety-conscious gun owners in the world.

This is in stark contrast to other cultures, where firearms are used as weapons. A weapon is something that is used with the intent to injure, defeat, or destroy. Our challenge is to address the crimes that are being carried out by weapons, while respecting law-abiding firearm owners. It is a fine needle to thread, but through consultation, I believe the minister has found that balance.

I am very pleased that the conversations I have had with my advisory council are reflected in the legislation as it was tabled. I would like to take a few minutes to reflect on what I heard from this group.

To begin with, there were several actions that we have already taken as a government that were well received by the council, for instance the recognition that Bill C-71 is part of a larger strategy to ensure that firearms do not find their way into unlawful hands. This is a strategy that has seen an investment of $100 million each year to the provinces and territories to support guns and gangs police task forces to take illegal guns off our streets and reduce gang violence. It is a strategy that has modified the membership of the Canadian firearms advisory committee to include knowledgeable law enforcement officers, public health advocates, representatives from women's groups, and members of the legal community, to work alongside sport shooters and hunters. It is a strategy that has made investments in border infrastructure and technologies to enhance our border guards' ability to detect and halt illegal guns from the United States entering Canada.

The Fundy Royal firearms advisory council also brought forward the concept of taking a closer look at mental health to combat gun violence. It implored the government to make sure there are enough resources available to do thorough background checks and to find a way to identify red flags.

Bill C-71 proposes to strengthen background checks. Authorities determining eligibility would need to consider certain police-reported information, including criminal and drug offences, a history of violent behaviour, and mental illness spanning a person's life, rather than just the last five years. The licensees will continue to undergo eligibility screening, as they do today.

Through the course of my discussions with constituents, the following items each resulted in recommendations that I would like to bring to the attention of the minister and to our committee as we enter that part of the process.

Currently, most gun retailers across Canada are keeping track of who buys guns and ammunition. Bill C-71 proposes to make that best practice standard across Canada. My constituents voiced concerned about the accessibility of the information gathered, and I am pleased to see that the bill requires law enforcement to have judicial authorization to attain this information in the course of an investigation.

Up until this point, legislation has required that only those licensed can purchase firearms and ammunition. However, there is no verification required. Bill C-71 proposes that the seller verify the validity of the licence to make sure that the licence is not under review or has not lapsed. I have heard from those in my constituency who are seeking clarification on how they would complete that verification, something many constituents assumed was already the current practice.

Canada currently issues an authorization to transport, or ATT, for the transportation of restricted and prohibited firearms. There will be no change for those who transport from home to an approved range in the owner's home province. However, to better track the movement of restricted firearms to gun shows, gunsmiths, across the border, or to other uncustomary locations, a separate authorization to transport would be required. I would ask the minister to consider a few points on this measure as well.

First is that consideration be given to including transportation to a gunsmith in the ATT. A firearm that is damaged or not functioning properly could be a safety hazard, and adding an additional step to transport the firearm for repair may not be in the best interest of public safety.

Second, I would like to recommend, on behalf of my constituents, that ample resources be committed to the Canadian firearms program so that the processing of ATTs and verifications of licences could be done in a timely and efficient manner so as not to impede the normal activities of firearms owners.

I think it is agreed in Canada that we all want to make our communities safe from the illegal possession and use of firearms. Doing so does not mean making radical changes or placing unreasonable measures on responsible firearms owners, but it does begin by recognizing that we have an issue. We may not in Fundy Royal, but it is happening in areas across Canada, and we must allow some flexibility to address the fact that there was a 23% increase in firearm-related homicides in 2016 compared to 2015. That is the highest rate since 2005. In 2016, shootings were the most common method of committing murder in this country, exceeding stabbings for the first time since 2012.

My family and I are blessed to have been born in Atlantic Canada, and I grew up in a time when the term “lockdown” did not exist. Kids today cannot say that. They practice them all the time. We really need to acknowledge that even in Atlantic Canada, 56% of violent gun crimes occur outside of cities.

I appreciate the approach taken by Robert Snider, president of the Moncton Fish and Game Association, in reviewing this legislation. He recently said in the Times & Transcipt:

We have looked thoroughly at the recently introduced legislation and while we neither endorse the legislation nor vehemently oppose it, we have taken a more pragmatic, neutral position of “we can live with it” for now.

The legislation will have minimal or no impact on our members who hunt.

As I said before, from the beginning of my term I have worked to engage and listen to my constituents, concerned firearms owners, and stakeholders from across New Brunswick, and I can personally say that I have learned a great many things through those discussions. I was proud that the president of the Moncton Fish & Game Association chose to publicly compliment my approach, but I want to thank everyone who took the time to speak up.

At the end of this stage of debate, this legislation will proceed to the public safety committee, where MPs from both sides of the House will have an opportunity to hear from witnesses, stakeholders, and concerned Canadians. I very much believe that better policy will be achieved because of MPs speaking to their constituents, and I look forward to ongoing discussions on the path forward.

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 28th, 2018 / 4:40 p.m.
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NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, New Democrats welcome the tabling of this legislation and the fact that we have a few more hours to talk about it in the House. It is important and we want to make sure that we understand it. We are both protecting people, and representing rural areas and respecting the concerns of our constituents. Therefore, I am willing to support the bill to send it to committee to make sure that it has some common-sense elements in it.

One of the elements that looks like an improvement is the removal of the five-year limit on background checks. Therefore, for anybody who had a history of mental health problems or especially a record of domestic violence, a personal record check would be able to go back through the whole life of that person.

Could the member talk more about that element and what she is hearing in her riding about whether that is hitting the right balance for Bill C-71?

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 28th, 2018 / 4:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Gary Anandasangaree Liberal Scarborough—Rouge Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to acknowledge that we are gathered here on the traditional unceded lands of the Algonquin people.

Let me start by thanking the Minister of Public Safety and his parliamentary secretary, the member for Ajax, for their diligence and hard work in bringing forward Bill C-71. This commitment was made during our election in 2015, and I am proud to be part of a government that is following through on much needed changes to our gun laws.

There are two ways of addressing the issue of gun violence, and for that matter, violence as a whole. The first is to address the root causes of violence. The roots of violence can be linked to many socio-economic conditions, and despite living in one of the most prosperous countries in the world, we know there is a lot of disparity between those who have and those who have not, and their outcomes in life. Be it education, health care, access to mental health support, we know that when young people find themselves in a conflict, they sometimes do not have the support to resolve issues in a peaceful way. Sometimes it is the local setting in individual communities that prevents them from moving forward.

We know our justice system has many issues. Most importantly, it has outcomes that are sometimes based on one's race. For example, young black men are more likely to end up in the justice system than their non-black counterparts. This is a result of racial profiling and anti-black racism that exists in all spectrums of the justice system.

As a government, we have to address these inequities, and to a large extent, we are doing that now. We are investing in much needed infrastructure, our Canada child benefit has lifted over 300,000 young people from poverty, and we are working hard to narrow social inequities. However, it is not enough. We have to address the real issue of guns in our communities.

The second issue I want to address is the guns themselves. The issue of gun violence is startling and the numbers really do speak for themselves. Over the past three years, Canada has seen a huge surge in gun violence. In 2016, there were 223 firearms-related murders in Canada, 44 more than the previous year. This represents a 23% increase in just one year. There were 2,465 criminal firearms in 2016, an increase of 30% since 2016. Looking at the issue with a gendered lens, from 2013 to 2016, the level of domestic violence against women where a gun was present increased dramatically from 447 incidents to 576.

The issue of gun violence is very personal to me. Over the past 20 years, I have been to way too many funerals of young people, mostly, of young racialized men who have died as a result of gun violence. My work against gun violence started in 1999 with an organization called CanTYD, the Canadian Tamil Youth Development Centre. CanTYD started off 20 years ago this past February with 17 young Tamil men and women who got together to respond to the many senseless deaths in our community. It was sparked by the murder of a young man called Kabilan Balachandran, a University of Waterloo student. He was murdered by a coward who picked up a gun and killed him.

CanTYD's work has been powerful and has led to an entire generation of young people moving away from violence to becoming productive citizens of our country. I had the privilege of being the coordinator of this organization from 2000 to 2002, and I cannot recount how many funerals I attended and how many young men I saw being buried. I would sometimes just sleep with my phone on Friday or Saturday night, waiting for a call. Oftentimes it would be from either Michelle Shephard from the Toronto Star or Dwight Drummond from CityTV, asking what was going on. These calls were punctuated with calls from young people who were either afraid, or just damn angry that yet another one of their friends was killed.

There were times when youth outreach workers and I would be at the Sunnybrook Hospital. We would see the headline in the Toronto Sun or the Toronto Star, that was when we would find out the person who was hospitalized as a result of a gunshot had actually died.

Working closely with many family members, siblings, schoolmates, and parents moved me a great deal. I witnessed families change over night, mothers who would wait in front of their windows for their sons to return home one day, knowing full well they had buried their sons, but hoping it was a dream, parents who never really got over the loss of their child.

Let me just take this opportunity to thank all the volunteers, staff, board members, and the great many young people who have worked with and for CanTYD for the past 20 years. I want to thank the families who entrusted CanTYD with their children. It is because of the work of organizations like CanTYD that many young people have gone on the right path, including those who once picked up a gun. I wish CanTYD many more years of success in directing our young people.

Permit me to also thank all the great youth outreach workers and youth-serving organizations in Scarborough, many of whom I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with over the years.

Gun violence in the greater Toronto area continues to affect us all. My riding of Scarborough—Rouge Park has seen its fair share of gun violence in recent years, and shall I say, an unfair share of gun violence.

On July 16, 2012, the community at Danzig Road in Scarborough—Rouge Park got together for a celebration. Danzig is a vibrant community with a great deal of young people. In the early evening of that day, some young people came in a car and shot randomly at the crowd. Two people, 14-year-old Shyanne Charles and 23-year-old Joshua Yasay, died that day. Twenty-three people suffered injuries, making this the single largest mass shooting in the history of Toronto.

Sadly, this was not isolated. Just last year, during a weekend in July, three young men under the age of 35 were killed in Scarborough—Rouge Park by gun violence. Sadly, the spate of gun violence is expected to continue.

We have all seen recent accounts of young people in the United States, led by the young people of Parkland, Florida. It is not a right to own a gun in Canada. It is not a constitutional right to carry arms.

I have, sadly, been to way too many funerals of young people who died as a result of gun violence, and I cannot count the tears of these family members.

In the past year, I have met with members of the Zero Gun Violence Movement. The Zero Gun Violence Movement has been working since 2013 to bring awareness and advocacy to reduce gun violence in the city of Toronto and around the country. One of the disturbing trends that the founder, Louis March, consistently mentions each time we meet is that young people have clear access to guns. They know where to get them when they need them.

The Zero Gun Violence Movement, in recent years, has gathered the mothers who have lost their children to gun violence. I was inspired by the mothers who came to Ottawa recently. They spoke of their losses and hardships, and the anguish of burying sons, some of them fathers themselves. The entire family is crushed and is deeply affected by the personal loss of their child. The families are at a loss as to why governments have not moved forward in limiting access to guns. They have told me that in some places guns are easier to find than jobs. This is why we have to take ownership of this issue and find the right legislative tools to get guns off our streets.

Bill C-71 strikes a balance by respecting legitimate, law-abiding gun owners, and ensuring that minimum safeguards are extended to the public against the drastic growth of illegal guns.

I will summarize the five key elements of the legislation. First, the legislation will introduce enhanced background checks. Second, Bill C-71 will ensure that all individuals or businesses selling firearms verify that the buyer is legally able to buy a firearm before completing the transaction. Third, there is record-keeping and the tracing of firearms used in crimes. Fourth, the bill will reintroduce restrictions for transportation of prohibited firearms. Finally, fifth, it would remove the ability of cabinet to arbitrarily reclassify weapons.

Today we have the opportunity to take a path to limiting illegal guns and taking them off the streets, while ensuring that these laws do not affect law-abiding citizens. We cannot continue on the path of the U.S. where we see gun violence hold an entire nation hostage while the gun lobby refuses to regulate even the most dangerous of weapons.

As the member of Parliament of a riding where I have witnessed the deaths and destruction of young people and their families, I want to ask my colleagues of all parties to support this sensible legislation. I recognize that this alone will not solve the issue of gun violence, but I am confident that it goes far in taking guns off the street.

We must, however, continue to work to ensure that young people have the necessary supports to resolve conflict, seize opportunities, and move away from violence.

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 28th, 2018 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to our hon. colleague, and I have a simple comment.

There has been a lot of debate going back and forth on Bill C-71. Of course, the government has shut down debate by forcing time allocation on this bill.

Reckless misinformation is being spread by our Prime Minister. I will read into the record a tweet made by our Prime Minister on March 20: “We’re also introducing stronger and more rigorous background checks on gun sales. And if you want to buy a gun, by law you’ll have to show a license at the point of purchase. Right now that’s not a requirement.”

That is a misleading statement. It is false. Of course, he sent that out.

I would like to ask our hon. colleague what his opinion is on our Prime Minister spreading misinformation, such as in that tweet, and targeting law-abiding gun owners.

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 28th, 2018 / 5 p.m.
See context

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, if I have any extra time, I want to share it with the member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup.

The member for Scarborough—Rouge Park talked about the number of mothers in his riding and other Canadians who have been fundamentally affected by gun violence. He must be bitterly disappointed in the bill that has come forward, because it never mentions the words “gangs” or “criminal organization”. These words never come up in the bill and yet he is talking about how he wants to see those kinds of things being impacted.

He is not the only one on the Liberal side, I am sure, that is disappointed with the bill. The members of the Liberal rural caucus have failed to protect their constituents one more time.

Here we are talking again about a Liberal-imposed gun registry. The Liberals' commitment was to deal with guns, with gang violence, and with illegal activity. This legislation would not deal with any of that.

Some familiar patterns are taking place here. Over the last while, Liberal members have been playing it easy. They want to take the easy way out. They take an initiative and when the pressure is on, they drop it. We saw that with electoral reform. We saw it with tax hikes on small businesses. They often make up phony statistics to try to make things more palatable to Canadians.

We also see them deliberately dividing Canadians in the hopes of getting some political gain. We have watched them try to isolate small groups to get some advantage. We saw that in things like the carbon tax and recently the summer jobs program. They use selective or misleading information to try to create an opportunity to advance their issues.

The Liberals want to go easy on the laws that they do not want to actually enforce. We have seen that through bills such as the First Nations Financial Transparency Act. We have seen it on immigration, where they ignore the rules and will not enforce the rules as they are put in place. We saw it again obviously with respect to the payment to Mr. Khadr, when they jumped ahead of the court and decided to make a payment because the Chrétien government would have looked bad if they had not done that.

It looks like all of those bad habits have come together in Bill C-71. The Liberals are trying to manipulate the Canadian public. They are trying to work PR angles on this with information that they know is untrue. They are using this to divide Canadians one more time. They are taking the easy way out by avoiding the real issues, which are gang violence and illegal gun activity. The Liberals are doing what they said they would not do, which is setting up the basics of a renewed long gun registry.

The way this bill was introduced showed us that the Liberals are deliberately trying to set up legitimate firearms owners as the fall guys. Someone mentioned the Prime Minister's tweet a few minutes ago. The press release that came out with the bill is another example. Part of it declares that in Canada, restricted firearms are made up of “handguns, certain rifles, and semi-automatics”. I do not know if members know about firearms laws in Canada, but this is inaccurate. It is a complete fabrication about semi-automatics. This may be the goal of the government today but that is not what the legislative reality is. Canadian firearms owners need to pay attention to this early misinformation.

That is not the only misinformation that was presented. CBC, of all organizations, did an analysis of the statistics used by the Liberals in their press release and their communications. The Liberals focused on 2013. CBC reported that 2013 saw Canada's lowest rate of criminal homicide in 50 years, the lowest rate of fatal shootings ever recorded by Statistics Canada. Every year since 1966 has been worse than 2013. The Liberals took a year when all the stats were lower than they have been for decades and they used that to compare to today, and today is still below the 30 year average. Just a few minutes ago a Liberal member actually used those statistics again.

The CBC report goes on to talk about Canada's homicide rate. It said that the rate in 2018 is similar to or lower than it was in 2008 or 1998. It is well below 1988 and 1978. It is similar to what it was in 1968. The rate today is very close to that in 1928. It goes on to say that if one were to ask how 2016 compared with the decade before, one would find the rate of firearms homicides remains boringly unchanged, including the rate of homicides with handguns. I am sure some members have been taken with that article and have read it through as well.

The CBC report concluded that none of this constitutes as they call it a “steady increase”. The CBC said that this is what a statistician might reasonably call a steady decrease.

It is not accurate to say that offences involving firearms have become more prevalent, especially since 2013.

That is not the only place where the Liberals have been misleading Canadians. There is a second media report. The CBC, after the government briefing I assume, stated, “Police will be able to determine who exactly was the last licensed firearms owner to purchase a particular gun.” If the government has the capacity to track the last legitimate owner of every firearm in Canada, that actually accomplishes the goals of a firearms registry.

Are the Liberals setting up a gun registry or are they not? They have given up on gangs and they are ganging up on Canadians. In this process they need to distort the facts or they know that Canadians will not accept that. The bill itself is a lot of nothing and what is there for the most part is targeting legitimate gun owners and business people as it lays the foundation for a new registry.

Again, the CBC article says that every firearm will be tied to its owner. That is not possible unless the government uses a new reference number system, which we will talk about in a couple of minutes, to track individuals and their firearms. People need to pay attention to this. This is the foundation for establishing a registry. It lays out the components of a registry. There is a front door registry by returning all the data to Quebec.

Canadians also need to ask if any other data exist, because in the legislation it says that the changes that we made will be designated to have never existed. If there is other data that exist, are the Liberals going to bring that back and use that across this country? We need to know that. Some people should start taking a closer look at this.

It sets up a backdoor registry. In the past when people purchased a firearm they had to verify that the other person had a licence. Businesses have put that number on file and everyone I have ever dealt with has done that. Adding new requirements, such as the reference number, the serial number, the buyer and a 20-year hold, allows for the establishment of a gun registry. The reference number for private transactions is even more interesting because it actually makes no sense. It will not be one single bit effective unless it is the first step in requiring the private registration of firearms. Again it is a registry.

This needs to be understood. It has a pile of consequences. It has consequences regarding the invasion of privacy, the question of financing the register, and the entire reference implementation and how it is being put together.

I talked to a friend who has been involved in this for a while and he said this new set-up is going to require hundreds of employees in order to handle these reference numbers. I would like to know what the budget is. Is it perhaps $2 million like the last one? What number will that grow to? We need to know that quickly.

The provision on background checks requires the examination of extended time periods on the application process. It is okay, but is it really effective? Those background checks are already very thorough.

I want to wrap up by saying that this bill divides Canadians on bad assumptions. The manipulated data make it look like there is a growing problem when there is not one. The legislation targets only legitimate firearms owners and marks them. The Liberals have avoided the hard work because gang issues are hard to deal with. Regular Canadians are a lot easier to beat on.

The Liberals have come forward with a phony piece of legislation. It sets the groundwork for a front door registry and a backdoor registry. It uses deliberately distorted statistics to scare people. None of us knows what it will cost. It will make it more expensive and inconvenient for honest people. It will lay the groundwork for the registry in Quebec and the foundation for a registry across this country. It picks out legitimate firearm owners and does not deal with the problems the Liberals claim they are trying to address.

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 28th, 2018 / 5:10 p.m.
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Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, I talked to a person who had been involved in this business for a while. He said that no one could get a response on the weekend. It was impossible to get a response. Now the government is telling us that every gun show across the country, every place that people go where they might be exchanging or buying firearms or whatever, are going to have to call in and get a reference number. However, no one is working.

As I mentioned earlier, someone who has been involved in this for a long time with the other gun registry said that this will require the hiring of hundreds of people to make this work. It will not be instantaneous. The authorization to transport typically will take two to three days. If that is the case, it will destroy the gun shows on which so many people across the country depend.

Also, I am very sorry that my colleague probably will not get his time today because of the time allocation motion the Liberals have brought in on Bill C-71. We are very sad to see the fact that our members are being muzzled because the Liberals do not want to have a discussion about these issues.

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 28th, 2018 / 5:10 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, the member across the way talked about being muzzled. However, just the other day the government brought in Bill C-71 and wanted to have a debate on it. One speaker from the Conservative Party addressed the bill and then moved to adjourn debate. Therefore, it should be no surprise that the debate ended that day.

Now the Conservatives want to play games and so forth. However, the legislation is about public safety for Canadians. A commitment was made to Canadians in the last election and this government is fulfilling it. Even the NRA supports parts of the bill, which the Conservatives oppose. No one is saying that this is about the long gun registry. It is not about that. However, no matter how many times we say it, the Conservatives want to twist it into something it is not.

Would the member not concede that maybe the NRA's position on the bill of having the retailers record the information is a responsible approach? Why are the Conservatives even further right than organizations like the NRA?

Rural CrimePrivate Members' Business

March 28th, 2018 / 6:35 p.m.
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Ajax Ontario

Liberal

Mark Holland LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Lakeland for her important motion. Certainly there is no question that crime wherever it happens is unacceptable and that those who are the victims of crime suffer enormously. One of government's main responsibilities is to stop that suffering in any way that we can.

The point that is made around the rural context is one she is absolutely right about. We know that rural areas are often near the top of Statistics Canada's crime severity index and across the country in rural communities property crimes are plaguing these communities in a way that is utterly and totally unacceptable.

We agree fully and we think this is an area where it is essential that we have bipartisan co-operation to find ways to reduce this scourge so that we do not hear the kinds of stories that the member is talking about. There is no one in any part of this country who should feel scared in their home. There is no one who should feel that they are unsafe. Certainly it is our responsibility to make sure that happens.

We recently had a very good and effective session at the guns and gangs summit held in Ottawa where we heard from experts from across the country, with a very heavy preponderance of those coming from rural communities, to talk about some of the solutions that we need to bring to bear. One of the things that was evident from that was the imperative nature of understanding the needs at a local community level and funding those.

In other words, when I was on council, or when I was on the Durham Regional Police Service's board, the needs in my district of Ajax or the broader Durham region, would not be the same as the member's for Lakeland. The community at a ground level understands what they need to curb crime and make a difference, and how they can build community capacity to create the kinds of safe environments that we mutually desire.

It is one of the reasons we put forward the money in the first year of $32 million growing to $100 million a year in order to build that community capacity and to deal with helping communities curb this type of problem.

I also want to point out that in first nation communities we recognize that they too have also been under-resourced. That is why we were pleased to sign new agreements with first nation police forces that saw an increase of $291.2 million for first nations policing and that included $144 million specifically for officer safety, police, equipment, and for salaries. Starting in 2019, we will see 110 new positions at a cost of $44.8 million.

There are 450 first nation communities across the country and many of the issues we are talking about affect those first nation communities as well. When we are looking at what we can do to restore funding to the RCMP and build up their capacity, similarly we also have to take a look at our first nation communities.

I know the member did not specifically talk about gun-related crime, but I would also make mention of the fact that we are seeing a very disturbing trend in firearms-related victims. We have seen a one-third increase across the country and that is also reflected in rural communities. It is not just victims who are involved in gang-style shootings. We are also seeing it in domestic violence and tragically also in suicides.

The crime element as it pertains to guns is one that is very concerning to us because it bucks the overall trend line down that we see in crime. We see that increase being quite pronounced over the last five years. That is one of the reasons why we had Bill C-71 in front of the House today, not as a panacea but as part of a broader solution in how we can deal with this escalation of gun crime that we are seeing in the country.

While we often see gun crime as an urban phenomenon, we know that roughly three in 10 crimes that happen in relation to a firearm happen in a rural community. In both Saskatchewan and in the Atlantic provinces, firearms-related crimes are higher in rural communities than in urban settings. The firearms legislation is also an important step.

The work the RCMP conducts is mostly rural.

I will talk for a second about some of the initiatives that are happening at the local level with the RCMP to try to address this problem, and hopefully we can look at furthering some of them.

The crime reduction strategy implemented by the RCMP in Alberta, for example, helps police resources target the small percentage of people responsible for a great deal of the criminal activity in the province. That is one of the disturbing trends we often see. The crime we see, which impacts so many of the different stories we are talking about, is committed by a very small number of individuals. By targeting those individuals and going after the ones who are responsible, we can have a much greater impact.

The Alberta RCMP and the Alberta Rural Crime Watch Association recently signed a memorandum of understanding to help citizens take an active role in crime prevention, through patrol programs and police liaisons. There are also four crime reduction teams in Alberta, led by the Alberta RCMP, spread out to focus on rural crime concerns, such as breaking and entering, and property theft. These teams have led to more than 200 arrests, new criminal charges, and recovered stolen property.

I think the key here is what happens when we work as partners with provinces, the federal government, and municipalities. I thank my hon. colleague from Toronto, who got up to speak about the importance of working with local municipalities. It is that intersection of the different levels of government working collaboratively to come at this problem that is going to be absolutely key to our success.

At the same time, we recognize that the number of RCMP officers is absolutely essential. We know that the RCMP cadet enrolment is up 175% over the last couple of years. We are increasingly reaching out to make sure that the RCMP is reflective of the communities it represents, so that when the RCMP is in a rural setting, ideally there are people who have come from that community, know its local circumstances and challenges, and are able to respond accordingly.

As another example of that intersection of different elements working collaboratively to build community capacity, I would point out that in Saskatchewan the province's community safety officer initiative helps address high-priority but low-risk policing needs, including traffic and liquor bylaw enforcement, freeing up the RCMP and municipal police forces to focus on higher needs and more serious crimes. There are other ways of looking at this in terms of resource allocation, to make sure that the RCMP can focus on some of these larger issues, some of the ones that are more severe and causing communities more of a challenge.

The broader message is that the member for Lakeland is 100% right that we have a problem that is utterly and totally unacceptable. We need to bring the full force of government to bear, and that includes not only the RCMP but looking at all the interrelated elements of government that could help solve this problem, to partner with provinces and municipalities, and to do so as much as possible in a bipartisan way.

While we may not completely agree on the solutions, while we may look at it and think that we should do this or that, we both fundamentally agree that it is unacceptable, that it has to be fixed, and that we need to do everything in our power to accomplish that.

On that basis, I am pleased to work with the member opposite on this motion and, in a broader context, on this issue generally.

Rural CrimePrivate Members' Business

March 28th, 2018 / 7:05 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak about the motion from my colleague across the way.

What the member is trying to get across is very admirable. All Canadians should feel comfortable and safe in the communities in which they live.

In the past, particularly in the city when I would knock on doors, there was one door I was always interested in. When I knocked on the door, the elderly woman would ask me to wait a minute. I could hear some movement. She was literally moving a couch away from the door so she could talk to me. She talked about how her life pattern had changed when. At one time, she would sleep at night, as most people do, but she chose to sleep during the day because she felt safer. There was a fear factor.

Whether it is urban Canada or rural Canada, it should not matter. People should feel safe in the communities in which they live. However, there are certain challenges rural communities need to overcome and they are truly unique to them. We could talk about things like population density and the vastness of rural Canada today. We can compare the city of Winnipeg and its related issued. We can talk about the advantages of having a higher density, although at times there is a disadvantage to that. All sorts of factors need to be taken into consideration when we consider why certain things take place in our communities.

However, it does matter who we talk to, whether it is someone in rural Saskatchewan, or downtown Toronto, or any other municipality. There is the general belief that people should respect property, that violence should not be tolerated, and that government has a role to to play.

I find it interesting that the member is recommending that the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security study this and then report back. I have had the opportunity to sit on a number of standing committees, as have all members. Standing committees can do an outstanding job, especially if they are prepared to put Canadian interests first and foremost and study a particular issue. I am not now and have not been a member of this committee, but I would have thought this motion would have been a nice discussion point at the committee itself. Representatives of the committees could sit down and talk about what they should look at in future committee reports.

Therefore, I am bit surprised. Maybe the committee has had the issue, but I do not know. Maybe it actually has done a study on the issue, but I do not know. Having these types of questions answered would assist members on all sides of the House to determine how they might want to vote on this motion.

Let us not underestimate how important it is to do what we can as a legislative body to address this very serious issue that rural Canadians face today. There is very much a growing concern about the amount of violence or property crimes that take place in our rural communities. We need to concede that there are many different stakeholders, and some of them are fairly significant. However, I was encouraged by the sponsor of the motion accepting the NDP amendment.

The NDP amendment addressed a very important component. We talk about the importance of our RCMP and how important of a stakeholder group that is. We know that we have indigenous law enforcement out there as well. Equally, this is a group that needs to be engaged in the process. There are certain factors that need to be taken into consideration. As a stakeholder and as a partner, we need to ensure that we are reaching out as much as possible, recognizing the critical role they have to play.

Our provinces also play a very important role in this. In previous years, under Stephen Harper, when I was in the opposition, there were actually cutbacks to the RCMP. In the last couple of budgets, there have been some improvements to the RCMP budget. However, to get a better sense, in terms of the financing of our RCMP today, there is an argument to be made, and I would suggest that we need to have that debate. When we take into consideration all the different factors at play, that could very easily justify a study.

The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has done an outstanding consultation job in regard to a bill that we actually passed just an hour ago. It is now at the committee stage. I suspect we will be hearing many ideas and thoughts out of rural Canada when Bill C-71 goes to committee. It will afford both rural and urban members, and Canadians as a whole, either directly or indirectly through elected officials, the opportunity to express many of the problems that are there today.

The minister responsible did an outstanding job, in terms of reaching into the communities, both urban and rural, looking at indigenous-related concerns and non-indigenous concerns, and looking at ways to improve the way we deal with firearms in Canada, as well as some of the implications of bringing forward a progressive piece of legislation and how that would make our communities a safer place to be.

A few hours ago, when I was speaking to Bill C-71, I indicated that in my opinion the bill was all about public safety. That is one of the reasons I truly believe that when Bill C-71 goes to committee, we will be afforded the opportunity to have that dialogue, at least in part. It will not be anywhere near as detailed as my colleague and friend across the way is suggesting in the motion.

The motion is fairly substantive. This is just the first hour of debate and it could be a while before we get to the second hour of debate. Whatever takes place here, I would encourage my colleague across the way to have that discussion, at the very least informally if not formally, with some of the standing committee members, to see where they might fall on the issue, given the fact that we are going to be debating or having input on Bill C-71, and how one could ultimately complement the other and possibly assist us in making a decision here, inside this wonderful chamber.

I see my time has expired. As always, I appreciate the opportunity to share a few thoughts.

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

March 27th, 2018 / 10:45 a.m.
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Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

moved:

That, in relation to Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill;

and

That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

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

March 27th, 2018 / 10:45 a.m.
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Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the minister about Bill C-71.

The government has clearly stated that it will not reintroduce a gun registry in any way, shape, or form. In January, however, the Government of Quebec implemented a mandatory gun registry. All Quebeckers must register all firearms, be they long guns or restricted weapons. Now that creates a problem: if someone from New Brunswick, Ontario, or elsewhere in Canada wants to sell a firearm to a Quebecker, or vice versa, the transaction has to be registered.

I would like to ask the minister if there were any discussions with Quebec about this. Was Bill C-71 designed to make it easier to record transactions in the Quebec registry?

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

March 27th, 2018 / 10:50 a.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Madam Speaker, I have a good deal of sympathy for the position that has just been taken by the representative of the New Democratic Party. In the proceedings thus far, the NDP has not had an opportunity to participate in the debate. The House will know that we have on two occasions attempted to bring Bill C-71 to the House of Commons, last Friday and again yesterday. On both occasions, the official opposition chose a different procedure and stymied the opening of a discussion on Bill C-71. There were two speeches, mine and the official representative of the Conservative Party, and then the Conservative Party moved to adjourn the debate before even giving the NDP an opportunity to be heard.

I understand that is not a fair situation with respect to the NDP. However, the honourable gentleman's grievance is not with the government. His grievance is with the official opposition, which is obviously not interested in having a serious discussion about this legislation. The better place for that discussion to be had would be in the standing committee, where the various parties can call forward witnesses, talk about the provisions of the act in detail, and bring forward whatever amendments they think are appropriate to improve the legislation.

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

March 27th, 2018 / 11 a.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Madam Speaker, the facts of the matter are clear with respect to Bill C-71. We had it on the Order Paper for debate on Friday. That was totally pre-empted by the official opposition. We put it on the Order Paper again yesterday. We began the debate and the opposition moved to adjourn the debate.

Clearly, there was not a serious intent on the part of the official opposition to have a serious discussion at second reading on Bill C-71. We are prepared to provide one full further day to go through that process, but the process has been truncated and pre-empted thus far by the official opposition.

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

March 27th, 2018 / 11 a.m.
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Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, in concert with the tabling of Bill C-71, the Ontario Provincial Police, together with regional police forces, issued an amnesty, suggesting that firearms owners in Ontario hand in their firearms. Just as it was with the carbon tax, where the federal government imposed the tax and expected the provinces to do the dirty work and collect the taxes, is it not true the Liberals are doing the same thing with this gun registry act, that they are going to implement it but have the provinces enforce it and do what they ultimately want to do, which is to see no firearms in the hands of civilians?

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

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

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

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

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

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

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

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

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

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

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

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

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

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

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

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

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

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

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

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

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

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / noon
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

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

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

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

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

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

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

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

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

March 27th, 2018 / 12:30 p.m.
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Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

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

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

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

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

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

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

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

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

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

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

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

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

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

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

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

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

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

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

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

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

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

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

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

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

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

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

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

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

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

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

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

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

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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.
See context

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.