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

Sponsor

Ralph Goodale  Liberal

Status

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

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Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 2, among other things,

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

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

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

Elsewhere

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

Votes

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

Bill C-71—Time Allocation MotionFirearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 10:30 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

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That in relation to Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms, not more than five further hours shall be allotted to the consideration of the report stage and five hours shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said bill; and

That at the expiry of the five hours provided for the consideration at report stage and at the expiry of the five hours provided for the consideration of the third 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 then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

Bill C-71—Time Allocation MotionFirearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, this time allocation motion will once again undermine our ability to debate Bill C-71, which is a farce. This is nothing more than political games and a public relations exercise, and once again it targets hunters and law-abiding Canadians.

I would now like to hear the minister's thoughts on a serious problem concerning indigenous peoples. Heather Bear, the vice-chief of the Ochapowace Nation in Saskatchewan, the minister's province, appeared before the committee and said that Bill C-71 is probably unconstitutional, that indigenous peoples had traditions, and that they did not have to comply in any way with the contents of Bill C-71.

How can we have two categories of citizens, law-abiding hunters and gun owners on the one hand, and indigenous peoples on the other, who claim that this bill does not apply to them? How can we ensure public safety when people ignore what we are trying to do?

Bill C-71—Time Allocation MotionFirearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 10:35 a.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Madam Speaker, when I had a beard, people used to get me mixed up with my colleague from Longueuil—Saint-Hubert.

Let us move on to more serious things, like this time allocation motion. During second reading of Bill C-71, the Liberals introduced a bill that the minister bragged about. I do not entirely disagree with him. We support some aspects of it, but we still have some concerns and questions about other aspects. The minister said he wanted to bring a balanced approach to firearms legislation in Canada. However, we know that this debate is very emotional, and understandably so.

However, at second reading, before I even had a chance to speak to the bill as the critic from the second opposition party, the Liberals moved a time allocation motion. Now, after only a few hours of debate, they come back with yet another time allocation motion.

The Liberals say that they take very seriously the concerns of victims who are calling for more control over firearms and those of firearms owners, who have questions about some of the provisions in the bill.

If we want to have a healthy debate on this difficult and complex issue in Canada, why move a time allocation motion? Why not truly take the time to listen to parliamentarians as they share the concerns of their constituents?

Bill C-71—Time Allocation MotionFirearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 10:35 a.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Madam Speaker, indeed a very substantial amount of time has been taken. I would remind hon. members that the content of Bill C-71 was included in the election campaign of 2015 in great detail. The proposals were laid out in the election platform. That was the subject of a complete campaign, and in fact endorsed by Canadians in general as a result of the election.

In terms of the legislation now specifically before the House, which reflects very faithfully what was in the campaign platform, we tried to call this bill twice at second reading and ran into parliamentary shenanigans which delayed or diverted the discussion onto something else so we could not get to this subject matter. When we were finally able to get to the subject matter, there were six hours of debate at second reading. Then the bill went to committee. There were five meetings in the committee. There were 26 witnesses. There were three more meetings to deal with clause-by-clause consideration. Three amendments were adopted.

Now there will be five more hours of debate at report stage and five more hours of debate at third reading. That will provide ample opportunity for members of Parliament to reflect their views and the views of their constituents.

Bill C-71—Time Allocation MotionFirearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 10:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Madam Speaker, it is quite clear this is the backdoor gun registry coming back. Under Bill C-71, if a firearms owner sells a firearm to another individual, he or she would have to call a registrar and that purchase would now be registered. Even though both individuals have a valid possession and acquisition licence and show that they are valid, they would still have to call the registrar to have that purchase registered.

It is quite clear from the research done on the old Liberal firearms registry that law-abiding citizens complied with it. I certainly did. However, at the same time, there was zero evidence it reduced crime. On the other hand, we have Bill C-75, where the Liberals would be making punishment for violent crimes and criminals more lenient, while at the same time, under Bill C-71, they would be punishing law-abiding citizens. In the Liberal world, it is far easier to punish law-abiding citizens because they obey the law and the criminals do not. Why this dichotomy? Why are criminals treated better than law-abiding citizens under the Liberal government?

Bill C-71—Time Allocation MotionFirearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 10:45 a.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Madam Speaker, this takes me back to the work of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security which did a very conscientious job in looking at this legislation. Obviously, as members have reflected in the House today, this is a subject that provokes strong emotions on one side of the case or the other side of the case and it is perfectly legitimate and proper that those varying perspectives be brought to the floor of the House of Commons and brought to the standing committee for proper debate and discussion.

The discussion at committee was very thorough. There were five meetings to hear evidence and receive briefs. Twenty-six witnesses were called. The committee then went into clause-by-clause consideration and spent three more days dealing with Bill C-71 clause by clause. In the course of that, the committee adopted three very useful amendments. One enhances the process of background checks. One deals with the authorizations that are required with respect to the verification of licences on purchases. That one, incidentally, came from the NDP and it was a very useful amendment to expedite that process.

The committee did its work. It studied the bill and reflected on what needed to be improved. It made those improvements and we are now at report stage and soon at third reading.

Bill C-71—Time Allocation MotionFirearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 10:50 a.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Madam Speaker, again, let me repeat the record of what the House has gone through with respect to Bill C-71. The bill got six hours of debate at second reading. It was then referred to the standing committee. The standing committee held five full meetings to receive evidence and hear witnesses; the members in fact heard 26 witnesses. Then they went into clause-by-clause for three further meetings, and they adopted three amendments to the legislation.

Now the bill comes back to the House for report stage and third reading. It was debated for several hours last night. That debate will now go on for five more hours at report stage. It will then go on for five more hours at third reading. That will result in a very ample opportunity for members to participate in the discussion and put their views on the record. The issues before Parliament require that we debate and discuss things, but they also require that at some point we take a decision and vote.

Bill C-71—Time Allocation MotionFirearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 10:50 a.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Madam Speaker, I cannot possibly admit that because it is false.

First, on the question of the consultation, that was gone through prior to the legislation, before our platform was put together, during the course of the election, after the election, in the preparation of the legislation, and so forth. That information was requested some weeks ago in an Order Paper question. That question has been answered, and all the details of the consultation are now on the public record in response to the Order Paper question.

Second, I would underscore the fact that the content of Bill C-71 was embodied in specific promises in our election campaign. Those promises were thoroughly debated over the course of the longest election campaign in Canadian history. In fact, Canadians had an opportunity to vote on the content, and the result of that vote was clear.

Third, there were two further key channels for consultation. One was the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee, which examined the content of what would become Bill C-71. I would also note that a few months ago we convened here in Ottawa a national guns and gangs summit, which dealt with a number of issues, including firearms. It was well attended, including by members of the opposition and almost all of the major organizations that deal with firearms, and we had a very good discussion in the course of that summit meeting.

Therefore, there were, indeed, extensive consultations.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 1:45 p.m.
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Ajax Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in this place to talk once again about the important public safety measures being brought forward in Bill C-71. At the top, I want to talk about the tone of this debate and some of the messages and rhetoric.

It is important we have that push, that thrust and parry that occurs in debate and on issues. However, unfortunately my inbox has been filled with enormous hate, including death threats over this issue, which is deeply disturbing and entirely inappropriate. Therefore, we really have to watch the tenor of our debate. This is about public safety and about working together to make our communities safer. We may have differences in approach, but those kinds of messages and death threats certainly have no place in our public discourse, and have been enormously disappointing.

Unfortunately, we have a serious problem in Canada with gun violence. Only a brief couple of weeks ago, at the Pickering ribfest, a shooting terrorized our community. This is a very peaceful event that has gone on for a long time. Only months earlier, there was a horrific multiple homicide then suicide, a domestic violence situation. That is emblematic of what we have seen over the last number of years where Canada has had a decrease in the crime rate overall, but the gun violence in all of its forms has been on the incline.

Some have said that it was low when we look back at 2012, so the fact it has gone up one-third is no big deal because it was so low before. A one-third spike in gun violence, when we had made such progress to drive those numbers lower, is a big deal. It is a big deal because a one-third increase represents a massive number of new victims, people who should not have been victimized, people for whom we could have avoided that situation. Unfortunately that increase in violence has manifested itself in a number of different ways. It has happened with guns and gangs, but tragically it has happened in domestic violence situations. Not often enough do we talk about the increases that have also occurred with respect to suicides.

Therefore, we need to look at this issue from every angle. We have never held out that Bill C-71 is a panacea that will solve all the problems of gun violence, but it is an important part of a broader strategy.

I also want to talk about the fact that when we introduced everything during the election campaign more than two and a half years ago, we said from the outset that we wanted to work with law-abiding gun owners to ensure the measures were as little an imposition on them as possible, while at the same time achieve our public safety objectives.

Let us talk about what we ran on in the platform and what is here today. One of the things we said in the platform, and this has been done in the United States since the 1970s, was that when a gun shop sold a gun, it would have to keep a record of that weapon. It has to keep a record of who of sold it to. Some concerns were raised by gun owners and members of the House that this information might be misused. Therefore, we made a concession in the platform, which is in the bill, that someone had to have lawful access to get that information. In other words, the only way that information could be obtained from a gun store was if it would help an investigation and help catch a criminal. It would allow a police office to go to a gun store, say a gun was involved in a crime, and ask who the gun was sold to. The only way the officer could get that information would be if it could be demonstrated, through judicial access, that in fact that information would help solve a crime. It is behind a firewall.

Unimaginably, the Conservatives have called this a “gun registry”. That is a piece of fantastical imagination and is on the level of believing in unicorns. The reality is that this information can only accessed by police to solve crimes. To describe it in any other way is frankly dishonest and it does this debate no service.

Another thing we ran on as part of our platform in the campaign was that when people were transporting a prohibited or restricted weapon, they would require a free permit to ensure they had authorization to take weapon wherever they would be going. a free permit. In this instance we are not talking about hunting rifles or shotguns; we are talking about high-powered semi-automatic rifles and handguns. We are talking about a class of weapon that is very strictly controlled.

We listened to the gun community. We listened particularly to sports shooters and others. They said that if they were taking it to their gun club directly and they were pulled over by the police for something else, then it would be self-evident they were going to their club and they should not require that authorization to transport. We thought that was a fair point, so we changed what we put in the platform and made that concession so it would only be required when they took their guns somewhere other than a gun club.

Some people have suggested that it should only be a person's own gun club, but we heard from sports shooters. They said that would be a great imposition. When they are competing in tournaments, they are not going to given the opportunity to visit multiple locations. They will have to get a permit all the time, which would be an enormous imposition for people who were doing this as a sport, as an example, or for Olympians. This is why we allow people within the province to drive to any gun club and not require an authorization to transport.

However, in the fewer than 10% of instances when people are taking their guns somewhere other than a gun club, then they are required to get a free permit to demonstrate they are taking them where they should be taking them. By the way, the permits can be emailed to them and they can show it as a PDF. Some people asked why they should do that. There are a couple of very important reasons for this.

If we look at the rules today and do a hot map of any city in Canada, not having that provision means a person can have a prohibited or restricted weapon in the car at all times and be able to explain to police that he or she is taking it somewhere. The individual is allowed to take it to so many places that effectively there is no restriction on driving around with a handgun, a high-powered semi-automatic rifle, or even a fully automatic prohibited weapon in their car.

We have heard from the OPP and the RCMP, and certainly we have heard very clearly from the chiefs of police, that there have been many instances where police officers have pulled people over for one offence and have noticed a prohibited or restricted weapon in their car. The individuals in question are not going to a gun range, the officers cannot figure out where they are going and there is nothing the officers can do. Therefore, police say it is important to have that authorization to transport, which is free and can be provided as a PDF. It provides an important public safety instrument. By the way, again, that represents only less than 10% of the cases. It certainly does not make sense to me that people are sending me death threats over this kind of measure.

As well, the bill would do a couple of other important things. It was actually Jason Kenney, a former member of the House, who talked about the need to have expanded background checks. The reason for this is that unfortunately in a five-year window, somebody's violent history may not be captured. I have spoken in the House before about instances where unfortunately, and all too often, women trapped in violent relationships do not report that violence and do not come forward. It can drag on for years. When the woman finally escapes that relationship, the individual in question can go in and buy guns legally because his violent history with women has not been reported on for more than five years. That person is then able to purchase weapons and unfortunately shoot his former partner dead. It has happened far too many times in the country.

Sadly, gun violence occurs with both registered and unregistered weapons. The measures contained in the bill, and there are a lot more than I have time to address today, do important public safety good to ensure we are a bit safer.

This is one part of the puzzle. We are putting $100 million a year into the guns and gangs strategy to build up our strength at a local community level, to make our communities stronger and more resilient against gun violence. The work we are doing to improve the situation at the border, of the illegal transportation of weapons into this country, is so vital. We saw so many cuts to CBSA and to the RCMP. We are restoring those cuts, ensuring that strength is present.

It is part of an overall strategy to make our communities safer, while ensuring we have as little imposition as possible on those who use firearms responsibly.

Firearms Act—Speaker's RulingPrivilegeGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 4:10 p.m.
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Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised on May 29, 2018 by the hon. member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner concerning documents published on the website of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in relation to Bill C-71, an act to amend certain acts and regulations in relation to firearms.

I would like to thank the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner for having raised the matter, as well as the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader for his comments.

In presenting his case, the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner contended that information on the RCMP website led readers to believe that Bill C-71 had already been enacted by acknowledging neither the parliamentary process nor the fact that the bill remains subject to parliamentary approval. He added that the presumptuous language used, including such phrases as “will be impacted”, “will become prohibited”, and “is affected”, is proof of contempt of Parliament.

The member returned to the House the next day to explain that the website in question had been updated that day to include a disclaimer about Bill C-71 in fact being a proposed law. He viewed this as an admission of fault.

For his part, the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader explained that the matter raised was simply one of debate as there was clearly no presumption of anything in the information respecting Bill C-71 on the RCMP website.

As the charge being made by the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner is one of contempt, the Chair must determine if the information provided on the RCMP website does in fact anticipate a decision of Parliament. If it does, this would offend the authority of the House.

Having reviewed in detail the relevant information on the website, before the disclaimer was added, I found instances where some provisions of the bill were in fact framed as legislative proposals, using such phrases as “proposed legislation” and “is expected to be”. Despite these statements, the vast majority of the information was presented as though the provisions will definitively be coming into effect or are already the law of the land. Nowhere did I find any indication the bill was still in committee and was not yet enacted law.

Further to this, I reviewed the material to try to determine if the assertions being made could be related to existing regulations or statutory provisions. I can confirm that, although some elements of the information are rooted in existing statutory or regulatory provisions, many more would be new measures that would come into force only with the enactment of Bill C-71.

The member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner did acknowledge that some of the language is conditional but, even then, the Chair shares the member's concern that the website information suggests that the only approval required is that of the government.

Parliament's authority in scrutinizing and adopting legislative proposals remains unquestionable and should not be taken for granted. The Chair is troubled by the careless manner in which the RCMP chose to ignore this vital fact and, for more than three weeks, allowed citizens and retailers to draw improper conclusions as to their obligations under the law. Changing the website after the fact does little to alleviate these concerns. Parliamentarians and citizens should be able to trust that officials responsible for disseminating information related to legislation are paying attention to what is happening in Parliament and are providing a clear and accurate history of the bills in question.

The work of members as legislators is fundamental and any hint or suggestion of this parliamentary role and authority being bypassed or usurped is not acceptable. The government and the public service also have important roles when it comes to legislation, but these are entirely distinct from those of members as legislators. In fact, part of their responsibility is to state loud and clear that legislation comes from Parliament and nowhere else.

As the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner reminded us, some 30 years ago, Speaker Fraser had cause to state on October 10, 1989, at page 4461 of the Debates in ruling on a similar matter:

This is a case which, in my opinion, should never recur. I expect the Department of Finance and other departments to study this ruling carefully and remind everyone within the Public Service that we are a parliamentary democracy, not a so-called executive democracy, nor a so-called administrative democracy.

Again, on November 6, 1997, at page 1618 of the Debates, Speaker Parent was equally clear about the respect owed to the authority of the House, stating:

This dismissive view of the legislative process, repeated often enough, makes a mockery of our parliamentary conventions and practices.

As Speaker, I cannot turn a blind eye to an approach by a government agency that overlooks the role of Parliament. To do otherwise would make us compliant in denigrating the authority and dignity of Parliament.

Accordingly, the Chair finds this to be a prima facie matter of contempt of the House. I invite the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner to move the appropriate motion.

I thank all hon. members for their attention.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 4:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate your ruling. I move:

That the matter of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police publications respecting Bill C-71, an Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms, be referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

I appreciate that the Speaker reviewed the evidence that was before the House and made a ruling based on the evidence that I feel was very strong. For those who are involved and may be hearing this for the first time, let me briefly reiterate exactly what happened.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, in its online publication, started in early April explaining to the Canadian public some aspects of Bill C-71. It was language that made the public believe that Bill C-71 was, in fact, passed by Parliament and already enacted in law and to be abided by.

It was listed in “RCMP Special Business Bulletin No. 93” and used presumptuous language, with phrases such as, “CZ firearms will be impacted by changes in their classification”, and, “businesses will need to determine if their firearm(s) will be affected by these changes.” It went on to explain that Swiss Arms firearms will also become prohibited. If one owns SA firearms, it identified the steps one would need to take, because they would be affected by Bill C-71. It went on to explain the grandfathering clauses and how to avoid being in illegal possession of a firearm, as if Bill C-71 had, in fact, been enacted.

The language used was “will be impacted”, will become “prohibited”, and “will be affected”. The language it could have used was “it could be” or “may be” or “might be” affected.

Later on in that same bulletin, the RCMP website went on to say, “Business owners will continue to be authorized to transfer any and all CZ and SA firearms in their inventory to properly licenced individuals, until the relevant provisions of Bill C-71 come into force.” Before one thinks that the language presumes that it is going to come into force, it did not concede that it needed parliamentary approval first, as we know today.

The second document the RCMP had on its website was “How does Bill C-71 affect individuals?” In that particular document, it also used very presumptuous language. A lot of it mirrors what I already indicated was in Special Business Bulletin No. 93. Passages included, “If your SA firearm was listed in Bill C-71, it will be classified as a prohibited firearm.” Again, it said, “was listed”, as if Bill C-71 was a document from the past and not a bill that is currently before the House.

It went on and said that “for grandfathering of your currently non-restricted or restricted CZ/SA firearm, the following criteria must be met”. Again, it went through a whole list of details for firearms to meet, which, coincidentally, happen to be laid out exactly, almost word for word, in clause 3 of Bill C71. Again, there is no indication that these proposals were just that. They were proposals before a committee to be studied by parliamentarians, let alone sanctioned or in effect.

I received a number of calls on this prior to it coming to our attention. There was great concern across Canadian law-abiding firearm ownership groups across the country.

One of the passages I referred to earlier explained the grandfathering requirements and how to avoid being in illegal possession of a firearm. It said, “If your SA firearm was listed in Bill C-71, it will be classified as a prohibited firearm.”

Conservatives have been clear all along. There have been concerns raised about Bill C-71. There have been great concerns voiced by the Canadian firearms public that the proposed changes to the rules in Bill C-71 would require the RCMP to be the be-all and end-all on firearms classification and reclassification. The Conservatives gave the Governor in Council an oversight role, and Bill C-71 took that oversight role away from the Governor in Council and gave it to the RCMP.

I am not going to take the time of the House to explain all of them, but the RCMP has made a number of very grave mistakes when it comes to the classification and reclassification of firearms. It needs to be involved, but it cannot and should not be the final arbiter in the classification of firearms. The reality is that the RCMP is there to enforce the law, not create it. That is our role. Do we need RCMP experts and firearm-owner experts across the country to be part of the classification process? Absolutely. Should they make recommendations to the House? Absolutely. However, it is the House that makes that decision, not the RCMP by itself. That is one of the many flaws in Bill C-71.

Under the regime the Liberals are proposing in Bill C-71, all law-abiding Canadian gun owners who follow all the rules and regulations on firearms could suddenly find themselves, because of one meeting with some bureaucrats, declared criminals because they possess illegal firearms, when they have owned and used those firearms for sports shooting or hunting for many years. Suddenly, with one blanket move and without oversight, dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people who already possess guns could be deemed illegal. That flies in the face of common sense for all Canadians, and certainly for law-abiding Canadian gun owners. We have seen disrespect before for law-abiding Canadian gun owners, and we do not want to keep seeing it happen.

What is even more distressing about this whole process is that the Minister of Public Safety, who oversees the RCMP, should have made it very clear to that organization that this bill has not passed in Parliament and is still before committee. He is one of the most experienced members we have and should be urging the agencies that work under his purview as Minister of Public Safety to have respect for Parliament. The RCMP is not above the law or above the requirements of Parliament and the House of Commons.

As the Speaker indicated in his ruling, the fact that the RCMP changed the website the day after the question of privilege was presented was proof positive, and many Canadians believe the same thing, that it put that provision in there. I do not want anyone to misunderstand me. I do not believe for a moment that the RCMP acted on its own. I am sure that someone would have called someone in the public safety office of the government to ask whether it should go ahead with this. I do not believe for a moment that the RCMP acted on its own. The failure of the government, and not only on Bill C-71, which would do nothing to address the issue Canadians want addressed, which is guns and gang violence, goes to show the contempt that exists in a majority government when it has lost touch with Canadians.

I appreciate the ruling of the Chair and respect the fact that the critical role of Parliament to ensure that Canadians continue to have support and believe in democracy in this place was upheld today. For that, I give credit to the Speaker for his ruling.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeGovernment Orders

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

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

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

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

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

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House AffairsPrivilegeGovernment Orders

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

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Liberal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

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

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

My remarks fall under “comments”.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

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

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

Could she reflect on that a bit?

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

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

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

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

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

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

The bill states:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(i) the reference number issued by the Registrar,

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

(iii) the transferee’s licence number,

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

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

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

This is the concerning part:

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to the culture wars.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to the culture wars.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 7:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for drawing the differences in these pieces of legislation so clearly in his question.

Here we are with legislation that we need to make sure we are going to classify by the form and function of a gun when we have legislation on the other side that would soften the sentence that criminals or gang members may get for acting illegally. It is telling that the Liberal government is bringing both of these bills forward under the auspices of trying to make it tougher on crime, when both bills would actually make it softer on crime. That is the similarity between the two, and it is unfortunate that the Liberals do not really tie in the fact, with Bill C-71, that this would not do anything to make it tougher for the criminals.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 7:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak in the House today to represent my constituents in opposing Bill C-71, which is causing concern not only in my riding, but across Canada, especially the rural regions of Quebec.

Let me provide a brief history lesson. The former Liberal government of Jean Chrétien promised a gun registry in 1995 at a net cost of $2 million. He believed that it would cost only $119 million to implement it and he would collect $117 million in fees. Well, it took only seven years before the auditor general sounded the alarm in 2002, saying that the cost of this initiative had reached $1 billion. Two years later, it was valued at $2 billion. It went from $2 million to $2 billion.

That does not include the harm caused to thousands of hunters and farmers across the country, some of whom lived hundreds of kilometres from major centres and risked having their guns confiscated if their registrations or renewals were not done on time. That is when we noticed the disconnect between the Liberals and rural Canada and we still see it today. We had to wait for a Conservative government to make things right.

Let us be clear. The Conservatives support common sense gun control measures and the responsible use of firearms. It always has and it always will. In fact, it was a Conservative government that added the requirement for a firearms safety course to the national safety code in 1991. A Conservative government also amended the Criminal Code to include mandatory minimum sentences for firearms offences.

Let us not forget also that street gangs do not walk around with hunting rifles. That is the first thing. They like being discreet and they prefer handguns, which are already controlled and prohibited by law since 1934. Those criminals will continue buying their firearms on the black market, probably from the box of a pickup truck in some back alley in a large urban centre. This does not necessarily happen in the regions. Bill C-71 will not change that reality.

The Conservative government suspended the mandatory registration of long guns in 2006 and abolished the firearms registry in 2012 because it was costly and inefficient. Today, instead of looking forward and finding solutions to reduce the crime rate in Canada, the Liberals prefer to take us back to the 1990s by introducing Bill C-71.

First, they tell us that the bill does not include a registry, but the wording says that a retailer who sells a firearm must check the reference number with the registrar and record it in a system, where it must be kept for a period of 20 years. What is a registrar doing other than maintaining a registry? I am not sure how this translates into English, but in French, the word enregistrement includes the word registre. The word used in the English version of Bill C-71 is “registrar”, which comes from the Latin registrum, meaning “registry”.

As Jean Chrétien said, “A proof is a proof. What kind of a proof? It's a proof.” The Prime Minister likes to say, “A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.” Well, a registrar is in charge of a registry.

They can claim that this registry will be simpler than the last, but there is still going to be a registry and they should not hide that fact. Unfortunately, that is exactly what the Liberals are doing. They are hiding the truth from us. The minister evidently recognized the lack of clarity of Bill C-71 when he introduced it on Monday, March 26, 2018. He indicated that there was no established standard for complying with the obligation to keep records for a mandatory period of 20 years. He recognized that certain small businesses still keep paper records. I can attest to that because I am a hunter. I am not a collector, but my son and I regularly exchange firearms, in accordance with the law and the rules, and the retailer who has sold us our guns still keeps paper records, which he will have to hold on to for 20 years.

Companies sometimes change owners, computer systems are changed sometimes every five years, and even tax documents are only kept for seven years. How did the minister decide on 20 years, which is three times longer? What are the penalties if the records are lost, misplaced, or destroyed as a result of a fire or technical malfunction?

Before introducing legislation, the government must ensure that it is complete.

Furthermore, Bill C-71 requires the owners of certain restricted firearms to call and request authorization to transport their firearm every time they leave home with it.

On March 26, 2018, here in the House, the minister said that owners could request authorization by phone or by Internet, and that the process would take about three to five minutes. However, there is no government office that can serve the public in three to five minutes.

The Auditor General criticized the Canada Revenue Agency, because it is almost impossible to get an agent on the line. Many have spoken out about similar situations of being stuck on hold for 15, 20, 40 minutes, or even longer, with employment insurance, immigration and citizenship, and other government agencies. The Liberals suddenly think that gun owners will be able to get someone on the line in less than five minutes. That is completely ridiculous.

Earlier, my colleague talked about how the Internet is not as fast in rural areas as it is in big cities. In my riding, there are some places where the Internet is not available at all. People have no way to access the Internet to get the PDFs. This will never work. Let's be realistic. Law-abiding people are going to get tired of waiting, and criminals who own illegal guns are not going to call the toll-free number to request permission to transport them.

With respect to privacy, the federal government is getting ready to transfer files from the old long gun registry to Quebec authorities that are trying to set up their own gun registry. Not only is the government doing that without the consent of the people involved, but it is also transferring information that has not been updated in a long time. Registration stopped being mandatory in 2006, which was almost 12 years ago, and the files have not been updated since the registry was abolished in 2012. The government is about to transfer files that have been out of date for six to 12 years.

I ask the Liberals across the aisle what guarantees the federal government obtained to ensure that Quebec's firearms registration service, or SIAF, is fully aware that this list is largely obsolete, and to ensure that Quebeckers do not end up in a situation where they have to prove that they genuinely no longer possess the firearm listed in the old registry or face fines ranging from $500 to $5,000.

Everything seems to point to the fact that this bill was hastily put together. Furthermore, instead of taking meaningful action to reduce crime in Canada, the government did the exact opposite by opposing mandatory sentences and consecutive sentences through Bill C-38.

I am not going to vote for a bill that will create more red tape for hunters in my rural riding and that has the potential of treating my law-abiding constituents as criminals.

Instead of trying to pass Bill C-71 before summer break, I urge the government to take a step back, listen to the concerns of rural residents, and withdraw Bill C-71 before the fall.

In conclusion, I can say that people in my riding are talking to me about this bill. I consulted my constituents and received tons of feedback, several dozen responses, in fact. Everyone is on our side. No one wants a registry, and yet, despite the government's claims, there will inevitably be a registry.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 8 p.m.
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Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand this evening to discuss Bill C-71. It is a bill that is going to change the Firearms Act, and Canadians do not trust the Liberals when it comes to firearms. That is abundantly clear.

One of the things I want to draw into this debate is Bill C-75, which is a bill the government is bringing in to change sentencing for a multitude of crimes in Canada. What are the Liberals doing in that bill? They are reducing the sentences for over 27 significant crimes. One of the crimes they are reducing them for is participation in a terrorist plot. They are reducing the sentence.

Why are the Liberals doing this? It is because they have a “hug a thug” theory that if we would just like terrorists better, they would not perpetrate terrorism against our country. We have seen this on display already. They have given $10.5 million to a terrorist named Omar Khadr. They are now reducing their crimes and have given citizenship back to terrorists.

Canadians do not trust the government when it comes to getting it right. When the Liberals come out with firearms legislation that they say is going to reduce crime, Canadians do not believe them. They say that their track record up to this point has been to reduce sentences, not to reduce crime. We have seen a dramatic increase in crime across Canada.

I was in Toronto earlier this month and met with people who said that break and enters were up in their community. In my community, we have seen rural crime up significantly across all parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan. When the Liberals introduced Bill C-71 and said that this was going to reduce violent crime and gun crime, Canadians looked at the government and said, “Really?” Nothing it has done up to this point has reduced crime whatsoever, and now we are supposed to expect that suddenly, with Bill C-71, the Liberals are going to reduce crime.

What would the bill do? Would it increase sentences for criminals? Would it ensure that if a firearm was used in a crime there would be more restrictions? If weapons were smuggled in from another country, would that change anything? Would it enhance border security? No, it would not do any of that.

What would it do? It would target the people who already have a firearms licence. People who have a firearms licence would now be required to go through an extra hurdle, an extra hoop to jump through, and call whenever they transferred a firearm.

Where I come from, firearms are a fact of life. Typically, every household has a number of firearms. It is just the way the world works where I come from. Firearms are exchanged on a regular basis. There are entire Facebook pages committed to exchanging firearms. Someone says, “I have a firearm. Come and check it out.”

The Liberals rolled out this legislation and said that we do not even have to show a firearms licence to get a firearm in Canada. That is news to me, a firearms owner who has a firearms licence. I need to show my possession acquisition licence, my PAL, every time. I have never gone to buy ammunition and forgotten my PAL and asked to have it sold to me. They have to see my licence before they sell me any ammunition.

The criminals who robbed my local firearms store certainly did not show their PAL. They just broke in and stole the firearms. That is what we are dealing with.

With this particular piece of legislation, I would have to make a phone call to ensure that my PAL was up to date. It says right on my PAL whether it has expired. That should be good enough. When I renew it, I have to fill out all the paperwork again. Once every five years, I have to fill out the paperwork again. They phone my wife to make sure that she is okay with me having firearms. Every time I renew, I have to fill out my wife's contact information, her email address, etc.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 8:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Rosemarie Falk Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise tonight to speak to Bill C-71, an act to amend certain acts and regulations in relation to firearms.

This legislation would have an impact on many of my constituents who are law-abiding gun owners. In fact, this legislation would have a big impact on many Canadians.

Hunting is a big part of the livelihood, traditions, and recreational choices of a significant number of Canadians. Some Canadians also own firearms to protect their crops, livestock, or themselves from rabid animals, and animals like bears or coyotes. Others enjoy competing in recreational shooting sports and some are collectors. Whether they are hunters, farmers, sport shooters, or collectors, what these Canadians can be certain about is that Bill C-71 would result in greater unnecessary restrictions.

I do want to be clear that public safety should always be the priority of any government. Safe and sensible firearm policies are necessary to ensure public safety. Mandatory firearm safety courses, safe storage and transportation measures, and licensing are all common sense measures that contribute to public safety in Canada, measures law-abiding gun owners follow already. Under the guise of tackling gun violence and keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals, the Liberal government has brought forward Bill C-71.

The Liberal government's rhetoric is deceiving. A review of this legislation quickly reveals that the Liberals have completely missed the mark. This legislation would do nothing to address gangs, gun violence, and escalating crime rates in our rural communities. Instead, it would target law-abiding gun owners. It would treat Canadians who legally own firearms as criminals. In fact, a measure in this legislation has the potential of inadvertently making criminals of Canadian men and women who have legally purchased a firearm.

The Liberals are repealing parts of the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act. Specifically, the bill would put the ability to classify weapons solely back in the hands of RCMP bureaucrats, meaning the legislation we have before us would allow the RCMP to prohibit a firearm without notice. That could result in the confiscation of a firearm that was legally purchased and the owner could then be subject to criminal charges.

In 2014, unelected bureaucrats decided to reclassify Swiss Arms rifles and CZ 858 rifles. They were reclassified as prohibited, making it illegal to import, buy, sell, or own them. These rifles had been legal in Canada for years and many responsible law-abiding gun owners had purchased these rifles legally, but the decision to prohibit them turned these lawful gun owners into criminals in possession of prohibited firearms.

Our former Conservative government enacted common sense legislation that restored the property rights to these individuals. It created an appropriate balance, where based on expert advice, the government makes the rules and the RCMP interprets and enforces them.

Another measure that this legislation repeals is the authorization to transport a firearm to specific routine and lawful activities. The Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act automatically gave individuals with a licence authorization to transport their firearm to a shooting range, a police station, a chief firearms officer, a gunsmith, a gun store, a gun show, a border point, and home from the place of purchase. As indicated in the act, this measure was common sense. It removed unnecessary red tape.

Bill C-71 would repeal these measures. It would only allow for a firearm to travel to a shooting range or home from a place of purchase. Any other of the aforementioned activities would require a specific authorization to transport, issued at the discretion of the province's chief firearms officer.

Issuing authorizations to transport firearms to routine locations, like a gunsmith for repair or to the chief firearms officer for verification or registration, is unnecessary. It in no way addresses the criminal element behind gun violence.

Let us talk about the real elephant in the room tonight. This legislation is a backdoor attempt to bring back the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry. The long-gun registry introduced by Chrétien's Liberal government was costly. Canadians were told it would only cost them $2 million, but in the end it cost more than $2 billion, and for what purpose? It was ineffective. There is no evidence that the long-gun registry prevented any crime in Canada. It seems that criminals and gang members never took the time to fill out the necessary paperwork. And there is no evidence that the new registry would be any different.

I admit that the Liberals have said that this legislation does not reintroduce a firearms registry. At the committee stage, they even voted in favour of a Conservative amendment denouncing any effort to re-establish a registry of non-restricted firearms. However, by now we all know that what the Liberals say and what they do are often very different.

The Liberals are said to be tackling crime through this legislation, but words like “gang” or “criminal organization” are not found in the text of the bill. What we do find are words like “registrar”, “registration”, “records”, and “reference number”. That is because this legislation creates a registry of non-restricted firearms. Bill C-71 would require firearm retailers to create and manage a registry of licensed non-restricted firearms buyers, which is a registry they would need to surrender to the chief firearms officer upon request. People would also require permission from the RCMP registrar of firearms to buy, sell, give, or loan a non-restricted rifle.

This begs the question that I know many of my colleagues on this side of the House have asked. What does a registrar do? The answer is quite simple: a registrar keeps a registry. The Liberals are using a federal registrar to keep records on non-restricted firearms. This is the “2.0” version of a federal firearms registry.

Canadians want safe and sensible firearms legislation, but that is simply not what the Liberals have offered them. Instead, they are creating more unnecessary red tape for law-abiding Canadians. They are casting suspicion on law-abiding firearms owners, while doing nothing to address the criminal element behind gun violence. Their priorities are backwards.

This is made only more evident when we consider Bill C-75, another bill introduced by the government. Bill C-75 lessens the sentences for serious and violent crimes to sentences as little as a fine. Some of the crimes that would be eligible for lighter sentencing under this legislation include participating in a terrorist activity, activities relating to human trafficking, kidnapping, forced marriage, or impaired driving causing bodily harm. These are very serious crimes. The punishment should fit the crime. A fine is not the appropriate sentence for these crimes and it is insulting to victims.

The Liberals are weakening the Canadian criminal justice system and making light of serious crimes. At the same time, they are sending a strong message to law-abiding gun owners by treating them like criminals.

I cannot support legislation that does nothing to address gangs, gun violence, and the escalating crime rates in rural communities. I cannot support legislation that enacts a backdoor firearms registry, and unnecessarily burdens law-abiding Canadians with regulations.

Bill C-71 is flawed legislation because it does not take appropriate action to prevent or deter gun violence. It burdens law-abiding Canadian citizens with red tape and villainizes my constituents who are hunters, farmers, and sport shooters.

When it comes down to it, the Liberals have again proven that they cannot be trusted to bring forward sensible and effective firearms legislation.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 8:25 p.m.
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Fundy Royal New Brunswick

Liberal

Alaina Lockhart LiberalParliamentary Secretary for Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, as members know, I represent Fundy Royal in New Brunswick, a largely rural area. Through the course of this discussion on Bill C-71, I have taken the opportunity to consult with many firearms owners in my riding, to understand their concerns and to feed their concerns back into this legislative process, which I found to be a very productive exercise.

Has the member across the way consulted with any domestic violence victims advocates, or with any women's groups or youth? Youth, in particular, are now in the habit of having to regularly practise lockdowns in their schools. The reality is that, even though they live in rural areas, gun regulation is very important for them. Can the hon. member share with us the consultation that she has done with other groups in her riding?

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 8:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, let us summarize some of the key issues I have heard from Canadians all across the country, including the nearly 79,000 who have signed the e-petition, stating that they are opposed to Bill C-71.

First, the proposed bill does nothing to tackle gun, gang or rural crime. Criminals do not register their firearms as we know.

Second, the claims made by the public safety minister, his parliamentary secretary, the Prime Minister, and the rest of the Liberals that the bill goes after criminals while respecting firearms owners are inaccurate and insulting to millions of Canadians.

Third, the Liberals will not call this a gun registry. The rest of the country thinks that it is a gun registry. I guess we will have to leave it to Canadians to decide when they vote in the next election.

We saw what the Liberal MPs really thought of Bill C-71 when we finished our work at committee. Mere moments after ratifying the legislation at committee, with the Liberal majority against the Conservative objectives, the Liberals moved to call a study on issues raised precisely by witnesses, just minutes after stifling Conservative amendments that would have improved Bill C-71.

The Liberals called on the minister to address the real issues facing illegal firearms getting into the hands of criminals; administrative and process issues resulting in criminals getting firearms licences; and improving regulations on firearms storage for retailers and firearms owners. All of these issues are more productive than anything the minister has put forward, and none of the MPs on that committee had the courage to tackle these issues in the legislation when that bill was before us at committee and when they had the chance.

It is time the Liberal government start to take public safety and its duty to protect Canadians seriously. However, it is not taking these issues as seriously as it needs to. Rather, it is targeting law-abiding gun owners and delaying funding for police.

In the fall of 2017, the public safety minister made an announcement in Surrey, B.C., where there is a real gang problem. Gang violence and shootings are a regular occurrence there, and police and communities need more help to tackle these criminals. At that time, he promised $327 million to combat gangs and guns. It was a great announcement, and no doubt one that helped the Liberal MP from South Surrey—White Rock secure his seat since it was made during the by-election.

To date, not one dollar has moved on that funding. Reports suggest it will take a full two more years for the Liberals to make that funding available to police. Since that announcement, the Liberals have tabled Bill C-71, pushing the House by limiting debate and testimony, and ramming it through with almost no amendments, despite nearly every witness saying it was not a good bill.

Looking at the Liberal motions that followed the four days of study on Bill C-71, we saw that the Liberal MPs had little to no understanding of the subject matter, were confused by the current laws, and made little or no attempt to fix the problems that were clearly presented to the committee. The Liberals suggested, again, after the study had been completed, that the minister review the reference process for possession and acquisition licences.

We heard from a Liberal insider who testified, very passionately, about the tragic loss of her daughter. Her killer was described as a non-violent boyfriend but “manipulative and controlling”. He had a firearms licence and legally purchased at least one of the guns that he shot her daughter with. The witness stated that he had an arrest for drug trafficking, forcible confinement, assault, uttering threats, and received only two years probation. To be clear, this individual should never have been granted a firearms licence and was in no way eligible for one with the charges and convictions against him. It was human error that caused this to occur, not a gap in legislation.

Section 5 of the Firearms Act, as it was back then and is now, states, “A person is not eligible to hold a licence if it is desirable, in the interests of the safety of that or any other person, that the person not possess a firearm”. Further, it says that if individuals have been “convicted or discharged under section 730 of the Criminal Code”, which is anyone convicted of an offence, they are ineligible for a firearm.

It also states that anyone convicted of “an offence in the commission of which violence against another person was used, threatened or attempted”, and, “an offence relating to the contravention...of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act” is ineligible.

Moreover anyone who “has a history of behaviour that includes violence or threatened or attempted violence” is also ineligible to legally acquire a licence to obtain a firearm. That is what the legislation is currently and was before Bill C-71 was introduced. The bill specifically dealt with this section.

Clause 2 proposed amendments to section 5, so it was certainly in the scope of the bill. In fact, clause 2 was one of the few areas where any amendments were made. The committee agreed that we amend clause 2 to include language that anyone who “...has a history of behaviour that includes violence or threatened or attempted violence or threatening conduct on the part of the person against any person” or who “for any reason, poses a risk of harm to any person” is ineligible for a firearm licence. To be blunt, not much changed.

The Liberals on committee felt so strongly about this issue of reference checks that they decided to call no new witnesses and hold no added meetings. They made no call for the minister to increase resources to ensure a thorough review of reference checks.

The Liberals also called for the government to examine firearms storage and commercial storage regulations. This is ironic, since the Liberals blocked industry representatives from coming to committee. As with numerous cases during the testimony, this recommendation makes it crystal clear that the Liberal MPs who voted for Bill C-71 still have no idea what the current laws and rules are around firearms in this country.

Here are the rules as per government regulations for storage for non-restricted firearms. They must be unloaded, must be locked in a room that is hard to break into, or have a trigger lock so that they cannot be fired. Ammunition must be stored separately and locked.

For a restricted firearm, like the sidearm I used for policing, it must be unloaded, must have a trigger lock, and be locked in a room or safe that cannot be easily opened.

Ironically, the motion calls for the government to work with all relevant stakeholders, something it did not apparently think was important enough to do during the legislation. Seven of the individuals the minister says were consulted in preparation for Bill C-71 stated that they were not consulted at all, contrary to the minister's suggestion.

The Liberals finally called for the minister to look into straw purchases and that, “the Government study mechanisms to identify large and unusual firearms transactions, especially those involving restricted and prohibited guns, to better identify illicit straw purchasing schemes, gang activity, or trafficking operations”.

I find it funny, that the minister stated that Bill C-71 would deal with this issue. He said it would help police trace guns used in crimes, detect straw purchasing schemes, and identify trafficking networks. However it does not. The Liberals are now calling for it. It is clear that even though Liberal MPs voted for this in committee, they did not even believe their own minister.

The fact is that while some of the suggestions from the Liberals might have merit, they ring hollow. We had an opportunity and an obligation to go after illegal firearms, gangs, and violent crime when the bill came to committee. Sadly, the Liberals lacked the courage of their convictions and passed a pointless bill, a bill they ironically gave so little credence to that they immediately moved to do other things after voting in favour of it.

Bill C-71 would not increase the safety of our communities. It would not combat gangs and illegal firearms, because criminals do not register their guns. It would not provide new tools for police or more resources to deal with the issues. And for my colleagues in the Liberal party, it would not provide any added political cover in the next election.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 8:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the hon. member's accuracy at committee as we were going through amendments.

The reality is that currently, before Bill C-71 came along, criminal record checks and background checks for people applying for a licence did not go back five years. We heard from those who actually do these checks that they go back over the lifetime of the individual when they apply for a PAL. The suggestion that they only go back five years is mistaken.

Is there a need to improve the inability of people to access firearms who have a record or mental health issues? Absolutely. It was the Conservative Party that was the first to bring in prohibitions, the removal of licences, and the removal of firearms from those who are convicted or accused of domestic violence.

I appreciate the hon. member's question. The current legislation is void. There are some steps to be made. I think, however, that this bill does not do it, as required by Canadians, for public safety.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 8:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” is a popular reference to William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet, in which Juliet seems to argue that it does matter that Romeo is from her family's rival house of Montague and that he is a Montague himself. The reference is often used to imply that the names of things do not affect what they really are. Juliet compares Romeo to a rose, saying that if he was not named Romeo, he would be just as handsome and would still be Juliet's love.

In the case of Bill C-71, a gun registry by any other name is, well, a gun registry.

At committee stage, the Liberals passed one of the CPC amendments, which has been often quoted. It stated, “For greater certainty, nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to permit or require the registration of non-restricted firearms.”

When the Liberals adopted this amendment, we expected that they would also support changes that would remove the elements that essentially created a gun registry. Unfortunately, they did not. They kept the registrar tracking of the transfer of firearms, keeping a centralized government record, and that is a registry by another name.

It is very cynical and disingenuous of the Minister of Public Safety and other Liberals in the House to try to skew this as support for the language of the bill. It was much like watching the President of the Treasury Board the other day defending the Liberals' slush fund in vote 40 in the estimates by quoting the current and the past PBO, pretending these gentlemen were in support of the Liberal slush fund. However, Kevin Page, the former PBO, said that there is no way it is an improvement, and the current PBO said that their incomplete information will lead to weaker spending controls.

The bill before us would remove the reference to the five-year period that applies to background checks on licence applications, thereby eliminating any temporal restrictions on such checks. It would require that whenever a non-restricted firearm is transferred, the buyer must produce a licence, and the vendor must verify that it is valid, which would require a registrar to issue a reference number for such transactions. The bill would require commercial retailers to maintain records of their inventories and sales, and such records would be accessible to the police. It would put the power to classify weapons in the hands of the RCMP bureaucrats and take it out of the hands of parliamentarians, and it would amend the Long-gun Registry Act to allow a province to keep its gun registry records. It sounds like a registry.

What is missing from Bill C-71 is any reference to keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and gangs.

What bill does mention gangs and organized crime? Bill C-75 does, but only in relation to lighter sentences. What does Bill C-75 do? It lessens sentences to as little as fines for those participating in the activity of a terrorist group, much like the returning ISIS terrorist wandering around the streets of Toronto. If the government ever gets around to having him arrested, maybe we will hit him with a fine.

The penalty for administering a noxious drug, such as a date rape drug, can now be reduced to a fine. The penalty for advocating genocide is now reduced. It is somewhat ironic that the Liberals would use the word “genocide” in Bill C-75 for reducing the penalty, when they could not bear to say the word in the House to describe what was happening to the Yazidis overseas. The penalty for participating in organized crime would also be reduced in Bill C-75.

To sum up, Bill C-71 would go after law-abiding gun owners, and Bill C-75 would go soft on crime. Maybe we will set out some tea cozies and ask returning ISIS fighters to sit around the campfire and sing Kumbaya together.

To make the streets safer, I have to ask why the Minister of Public Safety does not just get up from his seat, walk about seven benches down, and tell the Minister of Justice to do her job and appoint some judges to the judiciary. In the Jordan ruling, people have a right to a timely trial, but the Liberals have not appointed enough judges, so we are letting accused murderers go. I want to talk about some of them.

Nick Chan, from Calgary, walked free this week. Who is Nick Chan? He was charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and instructing a criminal organization. If the Liberals want to get guns off the street, why do they not appoint judges so that we can keep people like Nick Chan in jail? He has also been accused in the past of murdering three other people and has been charged with firearm offences. Here we have Bill C-71 going after law-abiding gun owners, and we let someone like Nick Chan, who is charged with illegally possessing guns, go because we have not appointed judges.

James Coady, in Newfoundland, facing drug trafficking and weapons charges, was let go because there was no judge and he could not get a timely trial.

Van Son Nguyen was released in Quebec, the third accused murderer released in Quebec because he could not get a timely trial.

Lance Regan was released in Edmonton because, again, no judges.

However, let us focus on Bill C-71. Here is the worst one. A father was accused of breaking his two-week-old baby's ankles. He had his criminal charges stayed because he could not get a timely trial. The grandmother of the poor kid said, “We were angry, we were crying, we were outraged that he was able to get off with this (ruling).”

However, the Liberal government is tying us up with Bill C-71, going after law-abiding gun owners and ignoring its duty to appoint judges, letting murders go free, letting someone who breaks the ankles of a two-week-old baby go free. This is the priority.

In a television interview, the parliamentary secretary for justice said, “We border the largest handgun arsenal in the world.” I assume he means America. However, this bill would do nothing to address that issue.

The Minister of Public Safety says, “it's the drug trade, in particular, that is an intrinsic part of gang culture and gang-related violence and arguably causes the most harm in our communities” and that it is made worse by the “opioid crisis”. What do we have? Vote 40, the slush fund, which is supposed to get money out the door faster, has $1 million to address the opioid issue.

I want to talk about the departmental plans. Departmental plans are plans that every department has to put out. The departmental reports describe departmental priorities and expected results.

I will go to the Minister of Public Safety and see what his plan says, “If we can find a way to intervene early before tragedy strikes, we should.” Here is a hint for the Minister of Public Safety. He should walk down the row and tell the justice minister to appoint some judges and then maybe we can intervene before tragedy strikes.

He talks about safer communities being central to Public Safety Canada's mandate. He invites all Canadians to read the Public Safety Canada 2018-19 departmental plan to find out how it is keeping Canada and Canadians safe.

I have read the plans. I do not think anyone from the other side of the House has, and I am pretty sure the Minister of Public Safety has not read his own plans that he signed off on.

Under the section on national security and terrorism, it sets out four different targets. Departmental results indicate that the first one is Canada's ranking on global terrorism. I am surprised the government has not even set a target to compare things to. The next is Canada's ranking on cyber security, but there are no past areas to compare it to. Then the percentage of the population thinks the right mechanisms are in place for them to respond to terrorism. Once again, there is no target set. It goes on and on.

Under community public safety, and this is great, there are seven targets, three of them have no past targets to refer to. Therefore, the government is pulling a number out of the air as the target to achieve. For the percentage of stakeholders reported consulting public safety, the target is set at 60%. However, there is nothing in the past to compare it to. For stakeholders reporting good or very good results on projects funded through Public Safety, it is 80%. Compared to what? Nothing, everything is not applicable. Here is a great one. The crime severity index is going to go up. This measures, as it says, the severity of crime in Canada. This actually goes up over last year and up over the Harper era.

For the percentage of Canadians who think that crime in their neighbourhood has decreased, the goal for next year is to have it worse than it was in previous years. For crimes prevented in populations most at risk, it shows a drop in results. For the percentage of at-risk populations, there is no target. For the difference between police reporting in first nations communities, again, it shows a drop in results. The three-year plan actually shows 23% in funding cuts to community safety.

This shows the Liberal priorities. Instead of going after terrorists, instead of going after criminals, instead of going after gangs with guns, their priority is to prey on law-abiding gun owners and re-establishing a registry. It is a shame.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 8:55 p.m.
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Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for his very passionate and fact-filled speech on Bill C-71. One of the interesting aspects of this that has been touched on many times today as we have debated the bill is how little mention there is, in fact zero mention, of guns and gangs in the bill, but the words “registry” and “registrar” are mentioned many times. In fact, I think it was 38 times in this legislation.

Why does my hon. colleague think that is? Why are there so many mentions of registrar and register, yet zero mention of guns and gangs? Is this in fact a registry?

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2018 / 8:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his third question and his hard work on the file. He is right in his comments. Nothing in Bill C-71 is going to address the guns and gangs issue.

I am a former gun owner. I had a couple of handguns. I belonged to a gun club in Edmonton. It is very ironic. The name of the gun club was Phoenix. It has, like the Liberal Phoenix fiasco, actually gone under. I spent a lot of time at the Wild West Shooting Centre in West Edmonton Mall. Gun owners are the most conscientious, law-abiding group and again Bill C-71 focuses on those who are following the law and it does nothing against those who are breaking the law.

Public Safety and National SecurityCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 18th, 2018 / 3:25 p.m.
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Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 22nd report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, entitled “Indigenous People in the Federal Correctional System”. This was a unanimous report.

There was a lot of hard work, but it reflects the upset of members with respect to indigenous incarceration. The members wish me to convey that they will be calling the ministers and the officials to the committee in the fall to respond to their recommendations.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to the report.

I also have the honour to present two reports of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security in relation to the recently tabled, as amended, Bill C-71, an act to amend certain acts and regulations in relation to firearms.

Impact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank our colleague from Calgary Midnapore for a very heartfelt intervention. I think I have just scrapped my entire speech because of what our colleague has mentioned.

It brought me back to growing up in the Cariboo and what our thoughts and dreams were as kids. I was one of the those kids who wanted to be a hockey player and to move on. However, the reality was, we were probably going to become a logger or a farmer, because that is what we did, and that is what we do very well in the Cariboo.

Bill C-69 bring us back to yet another failed election promise of the Liberals and to some of what we have mentioned throughout this House over recent days, weeks, and months. When the member for Papineau was campaigning in 2015, he talked about letting debate reign, yet here we sit.

This is the 44th time allocation that has been imposed on this House, meaning that the members of Parliament on the opposition side, and the Canadians who elected them, have not had the full opportunity to present their feelings about what the government is doing, whether it is on Bill C-69, Bill C-59, Bill C-71, or Bill C-68.

Thank goodness that the Standing Orders dictate that private members' bills cannot be time allocated, and our late colleague, Senator Enverga's private member's bill, Bill S-218, has had the full breadth of comments and support.

Bill C-69 seeks to reverse the 2012 changes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. I will bring us back again to the promise from the member for Papineau, or one of the Liberals, who said that the government would undertake a full review of laws, policies, and operational practices when it comes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

There are a number of people, groups, and organizations that have serious concerns over what Bill C-69 proposes. Our hon. colleague has mentioned, and it has been mentioned before, that most notably the legislation says it intends to decrease the timelines for both major and minor projects. Unfortunately, there are a myriad of ministerial and Governor in Council exemptions that can be exercised to slow down approvals.

What Bill C-69 represents is not a further clarification of the rules and regulations so that project proponents and those who are trying to enforce the act know where they stand, but rather it muddies the waters. What we have heard time and again, what the committee heard time and again, was that it was a wait and see. There was a lot of concern, and indeed those very groups, the environmental groups, that the Liberals campaigned to and got their vote are now saying that it does not meet the standards.

We have seen this over and over again with the government. It likes to say it has consulted with Canadians, and its Liberal members stand with their hand on their heart and talk about how important consultation is. Yet we know, time and again, as it is with the cannabis legislation, the Liberals are rushing legislation through without fully looking at some of the concerns that have been brought forward by the groups, the organizations, and the stakeholders who are going to be most impacted.

Let us talk about the Arctic surf clam in my file. I cannot stand up and do a speech nowadays without bringing up this injustice. The minister was given the authority and the discretion to go in and implement policy, without anybody checking how this would impact the stakeholders, and without the minister consulting about how that policy would impact those on the ground, the stakeholders, whose livelihoods truly depend on the Arctic surf clam fishery. These are some of the concerns that we have.

When the member for Papineau was campaigning, he said that omnibus bills were done for, and yet here we are again debating another 400-page piece of legislation.

He also talked about maybe having a small deficit of $10 billion. We now know that it will not be our children but our grandchildren who will see a balanced budget, because of the Liberal government's spending.

Bill C-69 represents more broken promises, and it does nothing to give confidence to industry. We know at this time that foreign investment is fleeing our nation at record levels. The CEO from Suncor recently spoke to Bill C-69 and said that it had absolutely put a nail in the coffin of Canadian investment in industry.

The government would like everyone to believe that it knows best and that the Ottawa-developed policies have the best intentions for Canadians, yet the Liberals are not listening when Canadians are speaking. They are not allowing members of Parliament to stand and bring the voices of Canadians to Parliament.

It would not be one of my speeches if I did not remind the House and Canadians that the House does not belong to me, and it sure as heck does not belong to those on the government side. It belongs to Canadians. All 338 members of Parliament and the Canadians who elected them deserve to have a say and to have their voices heard. When the government is forcing time allocation on pieces of legislation that fundamentally are going to have an impact on Canadians' lives, Canadians deserve to have a say.

Industry is shaken at the government's lack of consultation and lack of understanding on how we are moving forward. A good friend of mine, the hon. member for North Okanagan—Shuswap, asked our colleague from Calgary Midnapore about the industry's lack of confidence. Is it the carbon tax and the fact that the government refuses to tell Canadians how much it is going to be? Is it Bill C-69, the regulatory environment, that is shaking the confidence of the industry? Is it other legislation that is shaking the confidence of industry, or is it all of the above?

I would offer one more. The Prime Minister, in one of his earliest speeches to the world, spoke about how Canada was going to be known more for its resourcefulness than for its natural resources. The Liberals have waged war against our energy sector from day one. He said he wished the government could phase out the energy sector sooner and apologized for it.

Canadians and the energy sector, our natural resource industry, deserve a champion. The Minister of Natural Resources has said that it is about time our forestry producers and our energy producers got in line with what the world is doing in terms of technology and sustainable harvesting.

Whether it is our softwood lumber producers, our oil and gas producers, our fishermen on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, or our farmers, Canada has some of the best, if not the best, in terms of technology and harvesting. They are leading the way. They just need a champion. Guess what? They will have that in 2019, when the Conservatives regain the right side of the House.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 5:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his speech.

On June 20, 2017, almost a year ago to the day, the minister introduced Bill C-59 in the House. Shortly after that, he said that, instead of bringing it back for second reading, it would be sent straight to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security so the committee could strengthen and improve it. Opposition members thought that was fantastic. We thought there would be no need for political games for once. Since this bill is about national security, we thought we could work together to ensure that Bill C-59 works for Canadians. When it comes to security, there is no room for partisanship.

Unfortunately, the opposition soon realized that it was indeed a political game. The work we were asked to do was essentially pointless. I will have more to say about that later.

The government introduced Bill C-71, the firearms bill, in much the same way. It said it would sever the gun-crime connection, but this bill does not even go there. The government is targeting hunters and sport shooters, but that is another story.

Getting back to Bill C-59, we were invited to propose amendments. We worked very hard. We got a lot of work done in just under nine months. We really took the time to go through this 250-page omnibus bill. We Conservatives proposed 45 specific amendments that we thought were important to improve Bill C-59, as the minister had asked us to do. In the end, none of our amendments were accepted by the committee or the government. Once again, we were asked to do a certain job, but then our work was dismissed, even though everything we proposed made a lot of sense.

The problem with Bill C-59, as far as we are concerned, is that it limits the Canadian Security Intelligence Service's ability to reduce terrorist threats. It also limits the ability of government departments to share data among themselves to protect national security. It removes the offence of advocating and promoting terrorist offences in general. Finally, it raises the threshold for obtaining a terrorism peace bond and recognizance with conditions. One thing has been clear to us from the beginning. Changing just two words in a 250-page document can sometimes make all the difference. What we found is that it will be harder for everyone to step in and address a threat.

The minister does indeed have a lot of experience. I think he has good intentions and truly wants this to work, but there is a prime minister above him who has a completely different vision and approach. Here we are, caught in a bind, with changes to our National Security Act that ultimately do nothing to enhance our security.

Our allies around the world, especially those in Europe, have suffered attacks. Bill C-51 was introduced in 2014, in response to the attacks carried out here, in Canada. Right now, we do not see any measures that would prevent someone from returning to the Islamic State. This is a problem. Our act is still in force, and we are having a hard time dealing with Abu Huzaifa, in Toronto. The government is looking for ways to arrest him—if that is what it truly wants to do—and now it is going to pass a law that will make things even harder for our security services. We are having a hard time with this.

Then there is the whole issue of radicalization. Instead of cracking down on it, the government is trying to put up barriers to preventing it. The funny thing is that at the time, when they were in the opposition, the current Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Prime Minister both voted with the government in favour of Bill C-51. There was a lot of political manoeuvring, and during the campaign, the Liberals said that they would address Bill C-51, a bill they had supported. At the time, it was good, effective counter-terrorism legislation. However, the Liberals listened to lobby groups and said during the campaign that they would amend it.

I understand the world of politics, being a part of it. However, there are certain issues on which we should set politics aside in the interest of national security. Our allies, the Five Eyes countries are working to enhance their security and to be more effective.

The message we want to get across is that adding more red tape to our structures makes them less operationally effective. I have a really hard time with that.

Let me share some examples of amendments we proposed to Bill C-59. We proposed an amendment requiring the minister to table in Parliament a clear description of the way the various organizations would work together, namely, the NSIC, CSE, CSIS, the new committee of parliamentarians, as well as the powers and duties of the minister.

In our meetings with experts, we noticed that people had a hard time understanding who does what and who speaks to whom. We therefore drafted an amendment that called on the minister to provide a breakdown of the duties that would be clear to everyone. The answer was no. The 45 amendments we are talking about were not all ideological in nature, but rather down to earth. The amendments were rejected.

It was the Conservative government that introduced Bill C-51 when it was in office. Before the bill was passed, the mandate of CSIS prevented it from engaging in any disruption activities. For example, CSIS could not approach the parents of a radicalized youth and encourage them to dissuade their child from travelling to a war zone or conducting attacks here in Canada. After Bill C-51 was passed, CSIS was able to engage in some threat disruption activities without a warrant and in others with a warrant. Threat disruption refers to efforts to stop terrorist attacks while they are still in the planning stages.

Threat disruption activities not requiring a warrant are understood to be any activities that are not contrary to Canadian laws. Threat disruption activities requiring a warrant currently include any activity that would infringe on an individual's privacy or other rights and any activity that contravenes Canada's laws. Any threat disruption activities that would cause bodily harm, violate sexual integrity, or obstruct justice are specifically prohibited.

Under Bill C-51, warrants were not required for activities that were not against Canadian law. Bill C-51 was balanced. No one could ask to intervene if it was against the law to do so. When there was justification, that worked, but if a warrant was required, one was applied for.

At present, Bill C-59 limits the threat reduction activities of CSIS to the specific measures listed in the bill. CSIS cannot employ these measures without a warrant. At present CSIS requires a warrant for these actions, which I will describe. First, a warrant is required to amend, remove, replace, destroy, disrupt, or degrade a communication or means of communication. Second, a warrant is also required to modify, remove, replace, destroy, degrade, or provide or interfere with the use or delivery of all or part of something, including files, documents, goods, components, and equipment.

The work was therefore complicated by the privacy objectives of Canadians. Bill C-51 created a privacy problem. Through careful analysis and comparison, it eventually became clear that the work CSIS was requesting was not in fact a privacy intrusion, as was believed. Even the privacy commissioners and witnesses did not analyze the situation the same way we are seeing now.

Bill C-51 made it easier to secure peace bonds in terrorism cases. Before Bill C-51, the legal threshold for police to secure a peace bond was that a person had to fear that another person will commit a terrorism offence.

Under Bill C-51, a peace bond could be issued if there were reasonable grounds to fear that a person might commit a terrorism offence. It is important to note that Bill C-59 maintains the lower of the two thresholds by using “may”. However, Bill C-59 raises the threshold from “is likely” to “is necessary”.

Earlier when I mentioned the two words that changed out of the 250 pages, I was referring to changing “is likely” to “is necessary”. These two words make all the difference for preventing a terrorist activity, in order to secure a peace bond.

It would be very difficult to prove that a peace bond, with certain conditions, is what is needed to prevent an act of terrorism. This would be almost as complex as laying charges under the Criminal Code. What we want, however, is to get information to be able to act quickly to prevent terrorist acts.

We therefore proposed an amendment to the bill calling for a recognizance order to be issued if a peace officer believes that such an order is likely to prevent terrorist activities. The Liberals are proposing replacing the word “likely” with the words “is necessary”. We proposed an amendment to eliminate that part of the bill, but it was refused. That is the main component of Bill C-59 with respect to managing national security.

Bill C-59 has nine parts. My NDP colleague wanted to split the bill, and I thought that was a very good idea, since things often get mixed up in the end. We are debating Bill C-59 here, but some parts are more administrative in nature, while others have to do with young people. Certain aspects need not be considered together. We believe that the administrative parts could have been included in other bills, while the more sensitive parts that really concern national security could have been dealt with publicly and separately.

Finally, the public and the media are listening to us, and Bill C-59 is an omnibus bill with so many elements that we cannot oppose it without also opposing some aspects that we support. For example, we are not against reorganizing the Communications Security Establishment. Some things could be changed, but we are not opposed to that.

We supported many of the bill's elements. On balance, however, it contains some legislation that is too sensitive and that we cannot support because it touches on fundamental issues. In our view, by tinkering with this, security operations will become very bureaucratic and communications will become difficult, despite the fact the the main goal was to simplify things and streamline operations.

The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security heard from 36 witnesses, and several of them raised this concern. The people who work in the field every day said that it complicated their lives and that this bill would not simplify things. A huge structure that looks good on paper was put in place, but from an operational point of view, things have not been simplified.

Ultimately, national security is what matters to the government and to the opposition. I would have liked the amendments that we considered important to be accepted. Even some administrative amendments were rejected. We believe that there is a lack of good faith on the part of the government on this file. One year ago, we were asked to work hard and that is what we did. The government did not listen to us and that is very disappointing.

National Security Act, 2017Government Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 6:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-59. As we know, it is the government's national security legislation. After months of debate, hearing from many witnesses, and reading expert briefs with respect to the bill, it is light on actions that will actually improve public safety and national security. I believe that Canada would be weaker because of this legislation, which hampers our agencies, cuts funding to intelligence and national security, and is more concerned about looking over the shoulder of those protecting us than watching those who seek to harm us. Let us be clear on this point. National security and intelligence officers and public servants are not a threat to public safety or privacy. They show dedication to protecting us and our country in a professional manner. However, Bill C-59 is more concerned with what someone might do in an effort to protect others than what criminals, extremists, and others might do to harm us.

In a world with growing international threats, instability, trade aggression, state-sponsored corporate cyber-espionage, and rising crime rates, Canada is weaker with the current Prime Minister and the Liberals in power. As I have said in the House before, public safety and national security should be the top priority of government and should be above politics so that the safety and security of Canadians are put ahead of political fortunes. This bill on national security fails to live up to its title.

Looking at the body of the Liberals' work, we see a continuous erosion of Canada's safety and security. Bill C-71, the recent gun legislation, ignores criminals who commit gun crimes. Bill C-75 softens sentences and rehabilitation for terrorists and violent crimes. The legalization of drugs is being done in a way that all but assures that organized crime will benefit and Canadians are put at risk.

As world hostility and hatred grows, we need stronger support for our way of life, not the erosion of it. That means empowering front-line national security and intelligence workers, stronger border protections, a better transfer of information between policing and security bodies, plus assured prosecution of criminals and threats to Canada. We need to be looking proactively at emerging technologies rather than reactively trying to put the genie back in the bottle, as we have done with cybersecurity.

What was the intent with this bill? Canadians and parliamentarians alike can tell a lot from the language used by the minister and the people who the Liberal majority called to testify. The bill was positioned by the Liberals as protecting Canadians from the public servants who work to protect Canada and our interests, and the majority of witnesses heard at committee were law professors, civil liberties groups, and privacy organizations. While they have important and valid views, they shared essentially one point: be scared of public servants. It is funny that after the many times the Prime Minister has used public servants as a political shield, stating that he “always trusts and respects them”, they are apparently more scary than threats of cyber-attacks from Chinese state-controlled hackers, ISIS extremists, white supremacists, and organized crime.

There is not much in this bill for security forces to do their work. With the Liberals' plan, there will now be four oversight bodies looking over the shoulder of our intelligence and security forces: first, a new parliamentary committee on security and intelligence oversight; second, the new national security and intelligence review agency; third, the expanded intelligence commissioner; and, finally, the existing oversights of Parliament and executive branches like the minister, the Prime Minister, and the national security advisor.

The Conservatives offered positive amendments. We asked the minister to tell us how these groups would work together to make it clear to Parliament, senior government officials, and those affected. This was turned down by the Liberals without any reason. It would seem reasonable that the minister would be happy to provide clarity to Canadians, and to those who need to work with the various boards, agencies, committees, and advisers, on how it will all work together. We also recommended that, as this new central intelligence and security agency would see information from a variety of departments and agencies, they play a role in identifying threats and providing a clear picture on the state of national security. The Liberals on the committee for some reason would prefer that the agency focus on only complaints and micromanaging our security professionals. If their goal had been to improve public safety, this suggestion would have been taken more seriously.

When we heard from security experts, they raised valid concerns. Dick Fadden, the former CSIS director, noted that the bill would send a message to security teams to be more restrictive with the information that they share. He said:

I haven't counted, but the number of times that the words “protection of privacy” are mentioned in this bill is really quite astounding. I'm as much in favour of privacy as everybody else, but I sometimes wonder whether we're placing so much emphasis on it that it's going to scare some people out of dealing with information relating to national security.

Information sharing between national security teams is essential to protecting Canadians and Canada. In fact, several inquiries, including one of the worst terrorism attacks in Canadian history, the Air India bombing, determined that information sharing was critical to stopping attacks.

Mr. Fadden stated that his worst nightmare scenario was an attack on Canada that was preventable; that being that information was withheld by one agency from other agencies. With Bill C-59, we would move toward more silos, less intelligence sharing, and more threats to Canadians. In his words, security professionals would have a clear message from the many repeated insertions of privacy and charter references, and, as he put it, to share less information lest they run afoul of their political masters.

The Conservatives offered a mild amendment that public servants be required to share information they thought was a threat to Canada with national security agencies. This was so all federal employees would have no fear of reprisal for sharing valid concerns with relevant authorities, like the new security review agency. This was turned down, again reaffirming that the Liberals on the committee were not focused on improving public safety and protecting Canadians.

Retired General Michael Day pointed out that there was nothing in the bill or in the government's policies to deal with emerging threats, real dangers today and tomorrow to our economic prosperity and our societal values. When he was asked by the Liberal MP from Mississauga—Lakeshore, “on the questions of artificial intelligence and potentially also quantum computing, how confident are you that Bill C-59,...is a flexible enough framework to address unknown unknowns that may come at us through the cyber domain in those two areas”, General Day replied, “Zero confidence”.

There continues to be clear threats, but dealing with current and emerging threats were not the focus of the government with this bill. We have already missed the emergence of cybersecurity threats and are playing catch-up at a cost of billions of dollars in government spending, lost economic opportunities through stolen commercial secrets, and personal losses through cybercrime. We have not looked forward at the next problem, so we are heading down the same path all over again.

We heard from Professor Leuprecht, a national security expert who teaches at the Royal Military College. He raised a number of concerns. The first was that the increased regulation and administrative work needed to report to new oversight groups would effectively be a cut to those agencies, shifting money away from protecting Canadians. We did find out eventually how much that cost would be. Nearly $100 million would be cut from national security in favour of red tape. Sadly, we only received this information a few weeks after the committee finished with the bill. The minister had knowingly withheld that information from my request for over six months. Once again, a lot of lip service to open and transparent government but very little actual transparency.

Dick Fadden, Professor Leuprecht, and Ray Boisvert, a former assistant director of CSIS and security expert with the Government of Ontario, also raised concerns of the overt hostility of China against Canada. When I asked him about our readiness for dealing with China's aggressions, he said:

I think that the answer is no. I don't think that we're oblivious to the threat...

I would argue that we do not really understand, in all of its complexity, how much China is different from Canada and how it aggressively uses all of the resources of the state against not just Canada but against any number of other countries in pursuit of its objectives.

At one meeting they noted that Chinese agents freely intimidated and threatened Canadians of Chinese descent, pushing them to support communist party initiatives. They or their families back in China could face the backlash of a highly oppressive regime and there was nothing that Canada did to protect them from such threats. China continues this trend, recently ordering Air Canada to call Taiwan part of China.

Mr. Boisvert said:

There's also the issue that China is now in the age of self-admitted “sharp power”, and they exercise that power with very little reservation anymore. There's no longer even a question of hiding their intentions. They are taking a very aggressive approach around resources and intellectual property, and they also are very clear in dealing with dissidents and academics. They've arrested some of them, and they punish others, including academic institutions in North America, at their will, so I think there's a value challenge that Canadians have to consider along with the economic opportunities discussion. The Cold War is over, but a new version is rapidly emerging, and I think our focus on counterterrorism is not always our best play.

We did not have the right people, the right information, and the right issues at committee to have a comprehensive law that would enhance national security. It appears that yet again the Liberals are bringing out legislation to deal with perceived threats at the expense of not dealing with actual threats.

If Canadians were being well served by the government, we would have dealt with serious questions ignored by the Liberals in this legislative process.

Canada has at least 60 returned ISIS terrorists in Canada. That number is likely low, as we have heard that as many as 180 or more Canadians have left our country to fight for ISIS. After the Liberals revoked Canada's ability to strip citizenship from such a heinous and despicable group as ISIS, Canada is now stuck simply welcoming them back with no repercussions and acting like nothing has gone wrong. We will likely never be able to prosecute them or extradite them because we cannot easily transfer intelligence; that is information gathered in other countries of these murders and rapists into evidence suitable for prosecutions in this country.

Canada needs to join the ranks of other modern countries in bringing known crimes conducted by Canadians abroad into our courts without compromising security agents and intelligence sharing agreements. We need to deal with the obvious intelligence to evidence gap that continues to exist in this legislation. This legislation has failed to do this, with Liberal MPs voting against Conservative amendments that tried to address this exact issue.

If we were serious about dealing with national security, we would have treated privacy and security as a single policy, not the competing interests that many civil groups suggested. Protecting Canadians includes protecting their privacy in addition to their economic opportunities, public safety, national security, and social values. These are a single policy, and for the most part those professionals who protect us know this.

Professor Leuprecht said:

We are not here because there's in any way some large-scale violation of the professionalism or the capabilities in which the community does its job....In the Five Eyes community, we have, by far, the most restrictive privacy regime. This is a choice that we have made as Canadians...other countries that have more rigorous parliamentary and other review mechanisms than Canada have also given their community more latitude in terms of how it can act, what it can do, and how it can do it.

Retired Lieutenant-General Michael Day stated:

...the trade-off between privacy and security, between the charter and the reasonable measures to protect Canadians. This is not, from my perspective obviously, a binary issue, or one that should be looked at as absolutes, but rather a dynamic relationship that should remain constantly under review. We should embrace that tension as opposed to pretending it doesn't exist, with a conversation being seen to have value in and of itself.

This is crystal clear when we look at the growing issue of cybercrime, such as identity theft, fraud, corporate espionage, and hacking. Privacy and other interests, social and financial, are one, and yet throughout this legislative process the Liberals presented this bill as a choice between one and the other.

The bill ignores the massive shift in issues with Canada's border security. Canada lacks the assets, people, and facilities to deal with the current threat to our borders. We know that an open border, which is internationally known as unprotected, is currently being exploited. It is being exploited not only by those who are shopping for a new home, but by human traffickers, smugglers, drug cartels, and other organized crime rings. While this issue is new, it is real and needs to be managed better than just hoping everything will sort itself out.

If we were serious about national security, we would be dealing more seriously with Canada's most important law enforcement agency, the RCMP. Beyond a glaring gap in personnel, failing equipment, and an increased lack of faith in its leadership, the RCMP is headed toward a crisis level of challenges: a growing opioid crisis; legalized marijuana; influx of ISIS terrorists; open borders without a plan to manage illegal border crossers; and increasing cybercrime, just to name a few. The RCMP is overwhelmed, while the Liberals present false information and sidestep questions on what to do.

The Liberals may have called this a national security law, but it is more like a regulatory bill. It would erode rather than help public safety. It deals with security from the federal government's perspective rather than from protecting Canadians first and foremost.

Motions in amendmentFirearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 8:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

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

moved:

Motion No. 1

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 1.

Motion No. 2

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 3.

Motion No. 3

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 4.

Motion No. 4

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 5.

Motion No. 5

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 6.

Motion No. 6

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 7.

Motion No. 7

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 8.

Motion No. 8

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 9.

Motion No. 9

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 10.

Motion No. 10

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 11.

Motion No. 11

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 12.

Motion No. 12

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 13.

Motion No. 13

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 14.

Motion No. 14

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 15.

Motion No. 15

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 16.

Motion No. 16

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 17.

Motion No. 17

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 18.

Motion No. 18

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 19.

Motion No. 19

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 20.

Motion No. 20

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 21.

Motion No. 21

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 23.

Motion No. 22

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 24.

Motion No. 23

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 25.

Motion No. 24

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 26.

Motion No. 25

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 27.

Motion No. 26

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 28.

Motion No. 27

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 29.

Motion No. 28

Bill C-71 be amended by deleting Clause 30.

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-71 at report stage.

In my opinion, Bill C-71 is like a bad play. Let me explain. First, with regard to parliamentary work, the government shut down debate at second reading. What is more, the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security asked that it be allowed a sufficient number of meetings and witnesses, but the number of meetings was cut short. From the start, the government did not want to debate Bill C-71; it just wanted to impose the bill on us.

This bill was introduced for marketing purposes. We saw the government doing just that. The Liberals told themselves that they would introduce a bill on firearms to win votes and to get the Conservatives all worked up and drive them crazy. Well, we decided not to get all worked up. We have been smart about this. We looked at what was happening and we saw that it was not working.

Ultimately, Liberals in rural ridings are only hurting themselves. Those people are not fools. Canadians are not fools. Law-abiding Canadians can see that this bill plays politics by targeting the wrong people. It targets hunters and sport shooters while giving street gangs and real criminals a free pass. The Liberals tried to impress, but they ended up shooting themselves in the foot, no pun intended.

This also marks the return of a version of the gun registry, which was abolished a few years back. The Liberals resurrected a very insidious approach, in the form of reference numbers and records that gun retailers have to keep. When a retailer closes, the government takes possession of that information. Reference numbers are kept forever. The Liberals say there is no registry, they swear they are telling the truth, but all the elements are there. In a moment, I am going to talk about the amendments we proposed to fix these problems. All our amendments were rejected.

In order for us, the members of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, to do our job properly, we asked for at least seven meetings. We conducted an analysis and examined what had been done by the minister's much-vaunted committee. Incidentally, the Liberals provided a long list of witnesses they said they had consulted, yet those people said they had never been consulted, despite appearing on the list. That is another problem the minister needs to consider.

We, the members of the committee, determined we needed seven meetings to do our job properly. The Conservatives had a list of 21 witnesses representing a variety of perspectives, from firearms advocates to civil rights defenders. There was a little bit of everything. We wanted to do a good job, but the Liberals cut the number of meetings down to four and limited us to seven witnesses. We had to make some tough choices. The Liberals raced through the study of the bill. We were hoping to get things done so everyone would be happy, but it did not work. The government was in a mad rush to get it over with, because constituents in rural Liberal ridings were getting on their case, and rightly so.

The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness created a committee to discuss guns and street gangs. As I said at the beginning of my speech, all the focus is on hunting weapons instead of street gangs. I do not know what happened between the minister's consultations and the tabling of Bill C-71, but the bill contains absolutely no mention of street gangs. This has yet to be cleared up. It is a mystery worthy of Sherlock Holmes. Maybe one day we will find a solution.

When the minister introduced the bill, he wanted to scare people. He spoke about the serious problem of the rise in crimes committed with firearms in Canada. What he did not say was that the Liberals were using 2013 as their reference year. In the past 10 years, 2013 was the year with the fewest crimes in Canada. He spoke about a surge in crime, but the crime rate was returning to its usual levels. They used the 2013 statistics to indicate that there was an surge in gun crimes and that something had to be done about it. However, crimes are not committed by hunters and sport shooters, but by street gangs. Nevertheless, there is nothing about that.

The other serious problem, as I pointed out at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, concerns first nations. As much as the Liberal government cares about all issues that affect first nations, it did not consult them and is now to some extent ignoring the problem. In committee, a representative from Saskatchewan told us that first nations would not abide by Bill C-71, first, because it is unconstitutional, and second, because guns are traditionally handed down from generation to generation. Canada's first nations are saying that Bill C-71 does not apply to them and that they will go to court to have it declared unconstitutional if the government tries to impose it.

What are we to do, then? The Liberals introduced a bill that does not address the issue of street gangs and that indigenous people are going to disregard. The only ones left are the hunters and sport shooters, who will once more be subject to stricter gun controls, which are already the strictest in the world.

The first nations issue is not a partisan matter, but it is very troubling. When we return in the fall, we need to clarify that, because the fact that indigenous peoples are not concerned about Bill C-71 and are not following the rules is problematic. We cannot have one type of security for one group of individuals and another type for other groups. We must all be on equal footing.

Our committee meetings to ask witnesses questions were limited, but we still did our work. We brought forward 45 amendments to Bill C-71. We took our work seriously. I will list a few of them, so that Canadians can see that they were reasonable.

First of all, we addressed the issue of firearms classification. It is currently the government that determines which firearms are restricted or prohibited, but Bill C-71 puts that entirely in the hands of the RCMP. We proposed an amendment that would give the minister the authority to change the classification of firearms based on recommendations from the manufacturer and the RCMP. Thus, we are proposing that the RCMP and the manufacturers still do their jobs, but that the government retain the power to make certain decisions to prevent the RCMP from making all the decisions, without the government being able to intervene.

Then, there are the chief firearms officers, who will be able to visit the premises of firearms retailers and check their records without a warrant. The government can therefore enter into the place of business of law-abiding retailers with no particular reason other than they sell arms. I believe this needs justification and a warrant.

Now, I want to talk about the date. Today is June 18, and on June 30, a list of 20 prohibited firearms will come into force, even though the bill is still being debated in the House. The firearms that will be prohibited are currently restricted. We are not even at third reading, and the Senate has not yet studied it. We asked the government not to set a fixed date and to implement the act once the bill passes, but the government rejected this legitimate amendment.

As for the list of firearms, the RCMP will now decide which firearms are prohibited, but the bill lists the firearms that will be prohibited. The government lists the firearms in the bill, even though it says that the RCMP will draw that list sometime in the future. This makes no sense. We proposed another amendment to fix this.

Lastly, I want to talk about the reference number that will be required for a transaction. This number will be retained and recorded. This government is therefore creating a registry, no matter what it claims.

No matter what the government said, it is bringing back some form of registry through the backdoor.

Motions in amendmentFirearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Motions in amendmentFirearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

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

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

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

Motions in amendmentFirearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Motions in amendmentFirearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Bob Nault Liberal Kenora, ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 10 p.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

[Member spoke in Cree]

[English]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

At least for one more year.

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

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 11 p.m.
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Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 11 p.m.
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Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

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

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

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-71 was introduced in March of this year. In his speech arguing in favour of the bill, the Minister of Public Safety called it “important legislation that prioritizes public safety and effective police work, while treating law-abiding firearms owners and businesses fairly and reasonably”. He went on to add that this bill upheld the Liberal Party's commitment not to reinstate a federal long-gun registry.

I take issue with both of those claims. What I have seen with the Liberal government's Bill C-71 is quite the opposite. Bill C-71 does not treat law-abiding firearms owners fairly, and it is abundantly clear that the Liberals are moving forward with what is, in effect, even if not in name, a new gun registry.

Let us begin with the claim that law-abiding firearms owners are treated fairly by the Liberal government. I think all Canadians believe in ensuring we treat firearms owners responsibly. We understand that, in the interests of public safety, there are sensible measures that can be taken. I think all of us in this place agree on that point. The trouble with Bill C-71 is that it is not offering any sensible measures to combat gang violence, gun violence, or escalating crime rates in our rural communities.

My Conservative colleagues and I recognize that the safety of Canadians must be the number one priority of any government, and we will support common-sense legislation related to firearms that will help keep Canadians safe, but here is the problem: Bill C-71 does not do that. It has no measures to combat the increasing rates of gun violence, domestic violence, gang violence, or to address the increasing rates of rural crime either in my riding of Provencher or across the country.

All this bill does is add greater costs and regulatory burdens to law-abiding firearms owners. In fact, the bill uses the words “registrar” or “reference number” 28 times. Do members know how many times the words “gang” or “criminal organization” appear? Zero. If Bill C-71 is not targeting criminals, who exactly is going to be impacted by this legislation? How are Canadians going to be better off for it? The answer to that first question is, unsurprisingly, law-abiding firearms owners. This bill makes the same mistake the Liberals always make on this issue. It is targeting law-abiding firearms owners instead of criminals. It is high time the Liberals stopped treating lawful gun owners like criminals.

This legislation offers plenty more red tape for those who follow the law. It will certainly create a larger burden for farmers and hunters. However, for those who disregard our laws and commit crimes, there is nothing here to dissuade them from continuing.

As I often say in this place, it is among the primary responsibilities of government to protect its citizens. In fact, our previous Conservative government understood that we could be tough on crime while respecting those who own firearms legally and operate them safely. The criminal element behind firearms violence was always where we focused our attention, yet with Bill C-71, the Liberals have entirely neglected to address the criminals who use guns to commit violence, while treating law-abiding firearms owners like criminals. Why would they do this?

As is the case on most occasions with the Liberals, they are more interested in being seen to be taking action rather than actually taking meaningful action. Let me explain.

It is difficult to address gun and gang violence; we all understand that. It is quite easy, however, to increase red tape and place new restrictions on those who are already following the rules. The Liberals get the benefit of being seen to do something even though the impact of their proposals will do nothing for the serious gun and gang violence Canadians want to see gone from their streets.

I think it is worth highlighting a CBC analysis that was undertaken on this bill, because it speaks to the way the Liberals have tried to justify Bill C-71. The Minister of Public Safety used statistics going back to 2013 to suggest that there had been a dramatic surge in gang shootings since that time. “Gun homicides are up by two-thirds”, he warned. However, he chose 2013 specifically because it was an unusual year statistically speaking. The year 2013 “saw Canada's lowest rate of criminal homicides in 50 years, and the lowest rate of fatal shootings ever recorded by Statistics Canada”, the CBC analysis from March reads. As the analysis indicates, “What appears to make 2013 attractive as a point of comparison is that any year in the past half century can be made to look alarmingly high by comparing it to 2013.”

The Liberals want to be seen as doing something. They were able to manipulate the statistics to create a monster that does not really exist. The Conservatives know that there are still very real issues out there with respect to gun and gang violence, but the Liberals have shown they are not serious about addressing the difficult challenges.

Conservatives will not simply vote in favour of this legislation and play pretend with the Liberals. When the Liberals want to tackle serious crime, Conservatives will be the first to stand with them. In fact, they may consider looking back at our years in government for some pro tips in that regard. Canadians can count on us to fight for concrete actions to keep Canadians safe, focusing our efforts on the criminal element behind this violence. We will not join the Liberals' crusade to make life more difficult for law-abiding Canadians.

Second, I want to discuss the Liberals' claim that Bill C-71 somehow would not reintroduce a gun registry. Now, I know that my Liberal colleagues and the Prime Minister bristle when any assertion is made that this bill is nothing more than a backdoor attempt to bring back the federal long-gun registry. We have heard the Prime Minister say that they are committed to not restoring a long-gun registry and that they are not restoring a long-gun registry; it is that simple. However, somebody needs to explain to the Prime Minister, and to my hon. colleagues, for that matter, that when the federal government is using a federal registrar to keep records on law-abiding firearms owners, that is a gun registry. It is that simple: registrars keep registries. This bill is not about restricted firearms. This is not about illegal guns. The Liberals want to use a federal registrar to keep records on non-restricted firearms and law-abiding firearms owners.

Again, the bill uses the words “registrar” or “reference number” 28 times, and the words “gang” or “criminal organization”, zero times. That is why we on this side of the House have called out this proposal for what it is. It is nothing more than a backdoor attempt to bring back the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry that Conservatives were given a clear mandate to eliminate. I find it interesting that the Prime Minister dismissed this long-gun registry as a failure back in 2012. This was despite his vote in favour of keeping it intact earlier on. Therefore, we should not be surprised that he has changed his mind again. Now he wants a new registry, he just does not want to call it a registry. However, if it walks like a registry and if it talks like a registry—I think members know where I am going—it probably is a registry.

Here is why these kinds of registries do not work. In Canada, 93% of gun crimes that result in death are committed with illegal guns by people who should not have them. The people the government should be targeting with this bill are not legal firearms owners, but those in possession of illegal weapons. Therefore, why in this legislation are the Liberals ignoring gangs, and instead targeting hunters, farmers, and northern Canadians? I serve a rural riding. A lot of good, law-abiding people own firearms, and nobody knows better than hunters and farmers the importance of gun safety and the social responsibility that comes with owning a firearm. That is why it is deeply insulting to have the Liberals consistently impugn not only those people's ability to be responsible citizens, but the kind of moral equivalency we see the Liberals trying to draw between violent gang members, criminals, and then law-abiding firearms owners. The Liberals need to stop focusing their fire on law-abiding farmers, hunters, and northern Canadians, and focus it on felons, on gangs, and on the flow of illegal guns across the borders. However, instead, they continue to target law-abiding citizens, trying to trip them up into an offence by changing the rules.

I do not see any merit in this piece of legislation as it stands. It would not achieve what the Liberals say it will. Instead of targeting gangs and illegal guns, they have stubbornly chosen to keep law-abiding Canadians in their crosshairs. That is why I will be voting against this bill.

That said, I am pleased to highlight that Conservatives have been behind initiatives to address crime in Canada. As I close, I want to highlight the recent efforts of my colleague, the member for Lakeland, and her work to draw attention to rural crime in particular. I was pleased to second her motion, Motion No. 167, which called for an in-depth study of rural crime rates and trends, as well as the current resources available for rural policing and whether they are sufficient. This represents just one of the many efforts by the Conservatives to tackle crime and improve the lives of law-abiding Canadians. I am pleased to say that motion was passed unanimously by this House. With that, I want to close.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 11:45 p.m.
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Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have a number of questions I want to ask tonight to kind of wrap this up.

One of the main questions, as I sat here and listened tonight, is that I fail to understand why the Liberals do not even seem to know the basics of what this proposed law is about. I heard a number of things this evening that are concerning. They do not seem to know what the past requirements were for background checks. I heard a number of people talking about that. They do not seem to understand that they have been adequate in the past. There has been a good system in place for doing background checks, and it has worked well for Canadians. They do not seem to know that firearms owners have to be registered and be licensed themselves in order to own a firearm. Earlier we heard someone ask why we treat guns differently than some other things. Well, the reality with firearms is that one actually needs to be registered. One has to take the course and get the certification.

I was really concerned a little earlier about why the Liberals approach firearms owners in the way that they do. When the member for Oakville North—Burlington said that all gun owners are law-abiding until they are not, I wondered what she meant by that. There is some sort of attitude of superiority that the Liberals come with in regard to firearms owners, and we have seen this for 25 years. We saw it with Bill C-68 and the fact that they would never back down on that legislation. It cost them dozens of ridings across this country. Several elections later, they have come back with another piece of legislation. I think we are beginning to see both in Ontario, and with the results in Quebec tonight, that the attitude the Liberals have is starting to irritate Canadians. I think we are going to see a response to that, and an even better response from our perspective, in the next federal election.

Also, I do not think the Liberals understand that there is no right to firearms ownership in this country. I think everyone needs to be reminded of that. The only reason that we can own firearms is because the government gives us permission. When I talk to my friends with the Canadian Wildlife Federation on those kinds of things, they say that we need to help Canadians understand that. We do not have a right to own firearms. If we do not get licensed, we are criminals. They resent that, but they will accept the fact that we need to have a licensing regime in place.

Another concern is that I am wondering why those Liberals who have firearms owners in their ridings do not seem to be willing to listen to them. I want to point out that at the committee, the leader of the opposition in the Yukon legislature was not allowed to speak. I am told that there was not a single northern Canadian who was able to testify on how the bill would impact their way of life. I want to read a little from his briefing, which said, “unlike the provinces, Yukon only has one Member of Parliament. This leads to situations where the input of Northerners is often an afterthought and not taken into account. This is the case with this piece of firearms legislation..”.

I can tell members that there are others. I have another notice on this situation from members of the Yukon Fish and Game Association, who are very concerned that they cannot track down their MP and talk to him about this issue. This is a member who has been around on this issue before. He should be standing up for his constituents. Why is it that the Liberals in the rural ridings, the ones whose constituents depend on having access to firearms for much of their livelihood, are not speaking out?

As my colleague mentioned earlier, we heard about a few of the ridings where there was concern about this, but these Liberals need to speak out. We are getting to the end of the proposed legislation, and it is basically the re-establishment of a semi long-gun registry, where every transaction that takes place at a gun store is going to be recorded for 20 years. The firearm, serial number, the name of the person who bought it, along with their PAL number, will be recorded. That certainly has all the makings and all the components of a firearms registry, and we do not hear anything from the other side.

Another concern is why the Liberals always need to manipulate things on this file. I can go on about this for a long time. I found it very interesting that the public safety minister from Regina has appointed a number of people to the firearms advisory committee who are clearly against firearms in any way, shape, or form. It is interesting that one of them was appointed and ended up being in the vice-chair position. She was a lobbyist. She said she would step down from her lobbying activities. The agreement she signed said that she is not to “engage in lobbying activities or work as a registered lobbyist on behalf of an entity making submissions or representations to the Government of Canada on issues relating to the mandate of this committee”. However, 10 months after signing that, this person submitted a legislative demand to the Government of Canada under the letterhead of that organization, and with her signature on it.

I would go through it if I had more time, but many of the bill's provisions happen to be exactly as she has laid them out. Is she actually doing the government's bidding, or is the government doing the lobbyists' bidding, who have said they are not going to lobby the government and then turn around and do it?

I can give members another example in which the government has felt some sort of necessity to manipulate every piece of data it can on this issue. That is around the issue of statistics. As Mark Twain said, “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.” With the Liberal government, that is certainly more true than almost anything else we can say about it.

It was mentioned earlier that 2013 had one of the lowest rates ever for firearms crimes. It is interesting that even CBC recognized that the Liberals are playing games with this situation. It writes, “2013 saw Canada's lowest rate of criminal homicides in 50 years, and the lowest rate of fatal shootings ever recorded by Statistics Canada” and “every year since 1966 has been worse than 2013.” The Liberals use a year in which the stats are lower than they have ever been, and then use that to set their base, and compare it to today. Today is still below the 30-year average, but the Liberals' news releases completely mislead Canadians. When the government has to resort to that kind of manipulation and misinformation, we can see that it is not very comfortable with the legislation that it is bringing in.

The article goes on to say that the “homicide rate in 2018 will be similar to or lower than it was...in 2008...or in 1998”, and well below 1988 and 1978, and similar to what it was in 1968. We certainly did not get that from the Liberal press release we saw.

There are a number of other important issues we need to touch on. A member across the way was speaking tonight about the Assembly of First Nations. I wanted to ask him a question. The AFN has said that it was not consulted before Bill C-71 came forward. The AFN also said that the bill violates first nations treaty rights, and that it is going to launch a constitutional challenge. It is interesting to note that we have heard nothing about that, and there has been no response to it from the government. The Liberals claims to want to work with these communities, but when it comes to their legislation, they are very happy to set these communities aside, and ignore what they have to say about it and just go on.

We have heard comment tonight about Bill C-75 and Bill C-71 playing off each other. Bill C-75 has all kinds of penalties that are basically being written off for serious crimes. For things like terrorism, we are reducing the charges. Imagine there being a summary conviction for terrorism activity. The punishment for genocide is being reduced in Bill C-75. The penalties for organized criminal activity, municipal corruption, and so on are being reduced in Bill C-75, and Bill C-71 is making the lives of honest gun owners even more complicated and bureaucratic than ever. Why is the government doing that? Why are the Liberals ganging up on Canadian citizens, while they are happy to leave all of these other gangs to go through life the way they want?

There is another issue around mental health. We heard a member earlier tonight talk about how proud she was of her amendment. I am sure she had good intentions when she put it forward, but we are not just criminalizing activity anymore; we are criminalizing possible intent. She mentioned that CFOs will make the distinctions. How are the CFOs going to decide if someone is suicidal or not? What CFO wants to take on the responsibility for the entire province in trying to find every person with a mental health issue? It was pointed out earlier that there are police and veterans who have PTSD who want some help for their mental health issues. Are they going to come forward? Why would they do that with a bill like this when those kinds of things come into play in their lives and in their careers, and with a tool they use every day in their occupation?

We can be very proud of the record we have. We brought in a number of pieces of legislation, which have been criticized tonight. In terms of youth violence, we brought in the youth justice fund. The guns, gangs, and drugs component of the youth justice fund was launched to focus on the rehabilitation of youth. We created the youth gang prevention fund. We are very proud of that. We supported a national crime prevention strategy, and there is the northern and aboriginal crime prevention fund. We passed bills that dealt with organized crime and the protection of the justice system. We were always trying to protect the victims, while making sure criminals were the ones who paid the price for their crimes.

This bill is a long way from that. Why an entire bill that is supposed to deal with gun violence and gangs does not mention either of those things, and targets normal, law-abiding citizens, I will never understand.

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.
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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.
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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.

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

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

John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

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

John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

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

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

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

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

Liberal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

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

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The co-owner of High Falls Outfitters, a firearms retailer in Belleville, Ontario, says that while the long gun registry tracked “where guns are kept, the home, the addresses, all these different things.... All they are asking for now is for store owners to keep records of who bought the gun, and under what PAL (Possession Acquisition Licence). It just gives the police a starting point when they have to investigate a crime.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

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

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

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

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

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

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

An Act in Relation to FirearmsGovernment Orders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That the debate be now adjourned.

FirearmsStatements By Members

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

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

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

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

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