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

Sponsor

Ralph Goodale  Liberal

Status

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 2, among other things,

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

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

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

Elsewhere

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

Votes

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

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 20th, 2018 / 3:35 p.m.
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Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Pursuant to order adopted Tuesday, May 29, 2018, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at report stage of Bill C-71.

The House resumed from June 19 consideration of Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms, as reported (with amendments) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

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.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

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

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to rise today and the hon. member spoke about Bill C-75 in conjunction with Bill C-71 and the fact that the Liberals are limiting the ability of judges and giving the option of imposing lesser sentences for some of the most egregious crimes in this country. Can the member comment further on how that is going to impact Canadians?

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 / 8:45 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 / 8:40 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 / 8:30 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 / 8:25 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 / 8:15 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 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 / 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 / 7:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his involvement in filling in for us at committee on a number of occasions. He brought some great value to the work there. I wonder whether he could provide a commentary on some of the evidence that was heard from the experts who spoke to where Bill C-71 really fails Canadians.

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 / 7:40 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?