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

Sponsor

Ralph Goodale  Liberal

Status

Second reading (Senate), as of Oct. 16, 2018

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 2, among other things,

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

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

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

Elsewhere

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

Votes

Sept. 24, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms
June 20, 2018 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms
June 20, 2018 Failed Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms (report stage amendment)
June 19, 2018 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms
March 28, 2018 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms
March 27, 2018 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

October 16th, 2018 / 3:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, I am honoured to have the opportunity to talk about Bill C-65, which deals with workplace harassment and violence.

Violence against women is not new. While I would like to believe that in a predominantly rural riding like mine in eastern Ontario violence against women is an urban problem, we know that is not the case. Violence against women continues to be a fact of life in Canada and in rural Renfrew County.

Carol Culleton, Nathalie Warmerdam, and Anastasia Kuzyk were killed on September 22, 2015. Their killer was known to all of the women and to police for a long history of violence. He had been released from prison just shortly before the murders. The system failed these women.

On average in Canada, one woman is killed by her intimate partner every five days. The man arrested and accused of their murders had a long criminal history, including charges involving two of the three women. I am not prepared to let Carol, Nathalie, Anastasia and all the other women who have been murdered by their intimate partners die in vain. My memory of their senseless murders pushes me to speak out in this debate.

When I was first elected in 2000, I immediately recognized the transient and precarious nature of politics in general, and Parliament Hill in particular. For a female in a new political party with an evolving political culture, my position was even more precarious. Uncertainty after each election, and with the change in assignments in the ebb and flow of duties, was compounded by the hierarchical nature of Canadian politics and the fact that we serve at pleasure.

To quote one of my colleagues:

At any moment, everyone here weighs the opportunity cost of making a complaint or committing an non-acquiescent action with the threat of quiet dismissal, being overlooked for a promotion, being shuffled out of a spot, having a nomination candidate quietly run against us, or not having our nomination papers signed at all.

She went on to say:

To say that there is a power imbalance here is an understatement. Further, for all the talk of feminism and pursual of women's rights, there is not gender equality in the broader context of Parliament Hill. Women are still used as photo-op props, included for quotas or optics without having the authority of real decision-making automatically attached to their perceived utility. For that, women have to fight, and fight hard, and put up with being accused of not being a team player, or being an “insert choice of gender expletive here” when they do. That is only for those of us who are lucky enough to have built a platform and a profile that allows us to do that without those in the top tiers of power having to take a bit of damage in order to suppress our voices.

When this legislation was debated in the House of Commons previously, I did not have an opportunity to be part of this discussion. I was successfully defending my right to represent my party in the next federal election.

Bill C-65 is being supported by the Conservative Party. Today we are discussing amendments made by the other place, which allows for a re-examination of the legislation and the context in which it has been brought forward. At the time the legislation was previously in this chamber, it was presented by the government as partisan politics being set aside for a common purpose. All parliamentarians were prepared, or so I thought, to stand together and send a strong message to all Canadians that workplace harassment and sexual violence are unacceptable and that they will not be tolerated any longer, period.

It was that implied spirit of co-operation that encouraged my party to support Bill C-65. As a long-standing female member of Parliament, I am very cognizant of my position as a role model. I am reminded of my responsibility as a positive role model by the Daughters of the Vote program.

Young women are smart enough to spot a hypocrite when they see one. All parliamentarians have a responsibility to be a positive role model, starting with the Prime Minister.

I was hopeful that Bill C-65 would not be just another example of virtue signalling by the Liberal Party, where the Prime Minister directs his attack dog Gerald Butts to throw social media mud from the political ditch he occupies while claiming to take the high road. Subsequent events have proven me wrong.

Sexual violence and harassment in the workplace are nothing new.

I was particularly encouraged by the comments made by newly elected members of Parliament on the government side, such as the member for Oakville North—Burlington, who talked about taking a stand together. She shared her personal experience of harassment and bullying on Parliament Hill when she worked as a staffer prior to seeking elected office. She made reference to the #MeToo movement, #AfterMeToo and Time's Up and to having the courage and the strength to speak out and be a positive role model. In that context, her brave words in the House of Commons and her subsequent total capitulation to the Gerald Butts, “Kokanee grope” talking points were all the greater disappointment.

The greatest disappointment in this entire discussion has been the deafening silence from the female caucus on the government benches, who have quietly condoned the Prime Minister's behaviour with their silence. Not one female Liberal MP rose to defend the female reporter who was subjected to an unwanted sexual advance by the Prime Minister in her workplace. Not one government MP rose to demand a coherent explanation of what the Prime Minister admitted to doing when he belatedly provided an apology to the young female reporter who was the subject of his unwanted advance.

Enabling bad behaviour almost guarantees that it will continue. After all, is that not the subject of Bill C-65, which is what we are discussing here today? Silence is tacit approval.

Certainly in my career as the member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, spanning six elections over 18 years, I have experienced sexual harassment and bullying. It would be impossible to find a woman in politics who is not expected to put up with misogynist fools like Dan Leger or the tiresome Dick Mercer, let alone similar dinosaur attitudes in their own parties.

From the time Bill C-65 passed third reading and returned from the other place with amendments, something has changed. Canadians learned something about the leader of the Liberal Party. Canadians learned that the Prime Minister admitted to groping a young woman reporter at a music festival before he sought elected office. This is a very important discovery.

Unlike the recent events in the United States during the confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh about alleged events before he started his professional career, the Prime Minister has avoided a rigorous examination of his inappropriate behaviour.

South of the border, the Prime Minister has been referred to as the Bill Clinton of the great white north.

The Prime Minister had an opportunity. Rather than making up one answer, the Prime Minister chose to come up with a series of tortured explanations for the groping allegation against him. Constantly changing his story, he had an opportunity to come clean with Canadians.

In the process, the Prime Minister dodged questions about the need to call an investigation on his own conduct, the way he did with Liberal MPs Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti in his caucus, who faced similar allegations in the past and were removed from the Liberal Party.

The Prime Minister has single-handedly “terribly set back”, to quote Kathleen Finlay, founder of the Zero Now campaign to fight sexual misconduct in the workplace, progress on women's issues.

Ms. Finlay said:

He went from saying he had a good day and sort of smiling about it, and dismissing it that way...and then he went on to explain it, in a tortured explanation about different perceptions, how men and women can perceive things differently. And from where I was sitting, that just re-opened the whole “he said, she said” kind of explanation...which is something women who have suffered incidents of sexual misconduct do not want to hear.

The incident was first published in an editorial in the Creston Valley Advance, a community newspaper in British Columbia. The Prime Minister, who was in Creston to attend the Kokanee Summit festival, put on by the Columbia Brewery, admitted later to inappropriately groping the reporter while she was on assignment.

In addition to being on assignment for the Creston Valley Advance, the female reporter was also on assignment for the National Post and the Vancouver Sun. While her connection to the big city newspapers may have prompted remorse after the fact, that is a topic for a proper investigation.

The incident resurfaced online, including in a scandal magazine earlier this year. The allegation came into wider circulation the first week of June, when photos of the Creston Valley Advance editorial were widely shared on social media, and it received further comments when prominent online media outlets reported on it that same week.

The now former female reporter for the Creston Valley Advance community newspaper, the Vancouver Sun and the National Post confirmed that the Prime Minister groped her, or in his words, “inappropriately handling”, while she was on assignment at the festival.

After the incident, she wrote an unsigned editorial blasting the Prime Minister for his misconduct. The editorial did say that the Prime Minister told the female reporter that had he known the reporter was working for a national paper, he never would have been so forward.

The reporter wrote this about the Prime Minister:

...shouldn't the son of a former prime minister be aware of the rights and wrongs that go along with public socializing? Didn't he learn, through his vast experiences in public life, that groping a strange young woman isn't in the handbook of proper etiquette, regardless of who she is, what her business is or where they are?

After the incident, the female reporter, who is not in journalism anymore, held meetings with Valerie Bourne, the then publisher, and Brian Bell, the then editor of the newspaper, and communicated her displeasure about the Prime Minister's conduct. In a statement, the female reporter said she reluctantly went public to identify herself and to confirm the incident because of numerous media requests. She would not offer any comment or take part in any discussion on the subject, she said, adding that the incident happened as reported.

This is what the Prime Minister stated on CBC Radio, on January 30, 2018, before details of the groping incident were reported in the national and international media. He stated:

I've been very, very careful all my life to be thoughtful, to be respectful of people's space and people's headspace as well. This is something that I'm not new to. I've been working on issues around sexual assault for over 25 years.

My first activism and engagement was at the sexual assault centre at McGill students' society where I was one of the first male facilitators in their outreach program leading conversations—sometimes very difficult ones—on the issues of consent, communications, accountability, power dynamics.

To connect the dots, it was after the Prime Minister left university in Quebec when the groping incident occurred.

The following is from the newspaper editorial following the groping incident. It states:

It’s not a rare incident to have a young reporter, especially a female who is working for a small community newspaper, be considered an underling to their ‘more predominant’ associates and blatantly disrespected because of it. But shouldn’t the son of a former prime minister be aware of the rights and wrongs that go along with public socializing? Didn’t he learn through his vast experiences in public life, that groping a strange young woman isn’t in the handbook of proper etiquette, regardless of who she is, what her business is, or where they are?

And what makes the fact that she was working for the Post of any relevance? Big stories break first in community newspapers after all.

It may not have been an earth-shattering find, but one thing could have been learned from the experience. Like father, like son?

That was from the Creston Valley Advance, Monday, August 14, 2000.

What are Canadians expected to take away from this incident of groping that took place between the Prime Minister and a young female reporter? First and foremost, this incident is about hypocrisy, saying one thing and applying a different set of rules to one's own behaviour. It is about believing women, until it happens, then it is deny and hope that the clock runs out on the media cycle.

It has been noted by the CBC that there is no dispute that this incident happened. In 2018, the excuse “I did not think I was doing anything wrong” does not pass the smell test. Worst of all, the Prime Minister has shown no ability to grow with the job and learn from his mistake. Women in Canada deserve better from a Prime Minister who claims to be a feminist.

What this incident has also taught Canadians is that they cannot trust the Prime Minister, when he tells the public he is doing one thing but legislatively does another. It was finally figured out by the temporary socialist government of Alberta that the current government has no intention of seeing any pipelines built, let alone the Trans Mountain pipeline. In response, the NDP in Alberta pulled its support for the scam carbon tax, which is all about getting the provinces to take the blame for raising taxes while using the environment as an excuse to raise taxes.

If dragging the government's feet on this issue somehow does not work, Bill C-69 will be sure to suffocate any resource project from going forward.

There are ethics rules for parliamentarians, versus the Prime Minister's trip to a tropical island. When the Ethics Commissioner rules that opposition members are in violation of the rules, charges are laid by the RCMP. Where are the charges against the Prime Minister for his breaches of the code of ethics for parliamentarians?

In public, the Prime Minister claims that his government is going to crack down on guns and gangs but it cranks out Bill C-71 instead, which cracks down on law-abiding citizens who are already obeying the law. Then there is Bill C-75, which would soften the penalties for gang violence, among other atrocities.

The biggest lie of all is the Prime Minister's betrayal of veterans. It was announced by the government that no Canadian Armed Forces personnel would be medically released until their benefits were in place, yet last week, not only was it confirmed that soldiers are being released without their pension amounts and benefits confirmed but that soldiers should be told to wait longer.

In the last election, the Prime Minister claimed that the problem was that there were not enough offices open to service veterans. The government went ahead and spent funds intended for veterans to open offices in government ridings, and it now tells veterans that it has just doubled the official wait time, if they even qualify.

How much is the political decision to direct shipbuilding contracts going to cost Canadians?

I had high hopes for Bill C-65. It now appears that Canadians will be disappointed, as they have been disappointed with everything else this Prime Minister has touched.

National Defence ActGovernment Orders

October 1st, 2018 / 6 p.m.
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Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a matter of misplaced priorities. As I sat through this debate today, I heard members on the government side stand and say that they are defending victims, yet as an example of what my hon. colleague said, in the last couple of weeks, we have dealt with the Christopher Garnier situation and the Tori Stafford situation, where her killer is, effectively, in a minimum-security prison. What is interesting is how that relates to Bill C-71, currently in the Senate, the new Liberal gun registry and the contrast and hypocrisy with respect to Bill C-75, summary convictions. I know that my hon. colleague listed just a few of what those summary convictions are, but it speaks to the essence of the fact that the government has a judicial backlog, and its answer to that backlog of court cases is to reduce these sentences to summary convictions.

Does my hon. colleague not share the same hypocrisy Canadians are seeing with respect to the pieces of legislation and how hypocritical and contrary they are to each other in the overall Liberal narrative?

National Defence ActGovernment Orders

October 1st, 2018 / 5 p.m.
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Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, before I get into the issue at hand, it is no wonder that taxpayers and voters across this country get skeptical about politics when somebody, whether it is the parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister or the Minister of Veterans Affairs, stands up every day and tries to pretend that something is exactly like something else when it is not. I am referring to what he just talked about on the minimum-security prison where this murderer, child killer, was moved to. She was behind bars in minimum security. She is not today and that is a huge difference. People get it, no matter how they try and spin it.

Before my blood boils much more, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-77, which will amend the National Defence Act to bring about some changes to the Canadian military justice system. For the most part, these changes are both needed and welcomed. The bill before us today is in fact very similar to a previous Conservative bill, Bill C-71. I do not want to confuse anyone. The Bill C-71 that I am referring to is a bill from a previous government. It is not the same Bill C-71 that the Liberals have passed through this House which is a direct attack on law-abiding firearms owners. That is most certainly a Bill C-71 that I will never be supporting. The Bill C-71 that I am referring to was put forward by our previous Conservative government in an attempt to accomplish many of the same goals that the bill before us here today seeks to accomplish.

The fundamental objectives of this legislation, that I believe are supported across party lines, are aligning the military justice system in Canada with the Criminal Code of Canada, enshrining the Victims Bill of Rights into the National Defence Act, putting a statute of limitations of six months on summary trial cases and clarifying what cases should be handled by a summary trial. These are all very positive steps forward that are contained within Bill C-77 and I am supportive of them moving forward.

I would like to take some time to focus on one of these central points, with respect to enacting the Victims Bill of Rights. It should be pointed out that it was the former Conservative government that brought forward the Victims Bill of Rights when we were in government. It was an incredible step forward to ensure that Canadians who are victims of crime are supported. That is our party's record when it comes to supporting survivors.

Unfortunately, time and time again we see the Liberals talking the talk but not walking the walk when it comes to support for victims in this country. In fact, they've adopted a “hug a thug” mentality when it comes to modernizing the Criminal Code. Through Bill C-75, the Liberals are actually making it possible for perpetrators of heinous criminal acts, some carrying sentences of 10 years in prison, to get off with only a ticket, fine or minor jail time. Bill C-75 introduces a number of measures that are intended to deal with delays in Canada's court system. However, as I have said, the massive 302-page bill will also end up reducing sentences for a number of dangerous crimes. This will be done by provisions in the bill that could reclassify indictable offences so that they may be punishable as summary offences, which would carry a maximum penalty of only two years.

A potential 10-year sentence lessened to two years is the Liberal solution to judicial delays. I sent a mailing out to my constituents that informed them of Bill C-75 and what it would do. I invited them to respond to me via a response card. The response card asked them if they agreed with Bill C-75. To be clear, there was literature that went with it to explain exactly what was there so that people understood what they were voting on.

In my entire time serving the riding of Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, I have never had such an immense return to a mailing like this. I received nearly 1,600 responses to this question. Of the responses, 97% of respondents said that they disagreed with Bill C-75, while only 31 individuals out of that 1,600 agreed and 17 were unsure or needed more information. This was certainly a message heard loud and clear. Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound does not support Bill C-75.

Canadians are also having a hard time believing that this government supports the men and women who serve this country.

I rose in the House last week to make the Minister of Veterans Affairs aware of a veteran in Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound who cannot receive the important support he needs. He is 87 years old and is a veteran of the Korean War. His name is Barry Jackson. I know the family well. He served our country admirably and is now looking for any kind of help from Veterans Affairs. Unfortunately, it will not return his calls.

First I will provide a bit of history. It took years for Barry Jackson to be approved for a wheelchair ramp. Now he needs a scooter, and all he gets is silence from Veterans Affairs. His son Jonathan contacted my office after learning that the Liberals were paying for PTSD treatment for a convicted murderer who has never served in the military one single day in his life. It truly is shameful that a murderer and cop killer with not one day of military service is receiving benefits.

When Barry Jackson got the call from Canada in 1951, he answered that call and headed off to Korea, just like thousands of other young Canadian men did. However, years later, when Barry Jackson needed help and reached out to Canada, nada, nothing, zero. From Veterans Affairs, nothing; from the Prime Minister, nothing; from the Minister of Veterans Affairs, nothing. They should all be ashamed.

Christopher Garnier, meanwhile, committed unspeakable acts, but because his father served in the armed forces, he is getting support, while actual veterans like Barry Jackson wait and wait. It is unfair and, I would say, un-Canadian. What is really ironic, and we can use whatever word we want, is that with the money in Veterans Affairs and the services available, veterans like Barry Jackson, who laid their lives on the line to earn those services when they needed them, are the ones who cannot get them. However, a cop killer and rapist like Chris Garnier, one of the worst human beings one can imagine, has no problem getting them and did not serve one day. That is why people shake their heads and wonder why they even support or want government. It is things like this that give it all a dirty feeling.

When it comes to supporting victims and the men and women who serve this country, the Liberals do not have a great record.

Earlier in my remarks, I mentioned that Bill C-77 almost directly mirrors Bill C-71 from a previous Parliament. There are, however, a few differences I would like to highlight. Perhaps the most glaring difference between the two bills would be the addition of the Gladue decision in relation to subsection 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code of Canada to the National Defence Act.

This addition would mean that aboriginal members of the Canadian Armed Forces facing charges under the National Defence Act may face lighter punishment if convicted. There is absolutely no place in the Canadian Armed Forces, or in Canadian society, for that matter, for discrimination of any kind. No one should ever be discriminated against based upon race, gender, religion, culture or any other factor. That being said, the insertion of this principle has the potential to result in different considerations for offences committed by aboriginal CAF members than for those committed by non-aboriginal forces members. This could lead to sentences that are less harsh and could undermine operational discipline, morale in the forces and even anti-racism policies.

I want to point out, while I have the opportunity, that there are two reserves in my riding. Cape Croker, which is just north of my home town of Wiarton, has the distinction of having the highest percentage of young men who have served in wars. That is something I know they are proud of. Wilmer Nadjiwon, a former chief, just passed away a year or so ago at 96. I stand to be corrected, but I believe that he and seven of his brothers, the eight of them, were in the war, and some of them did not come home. They gave it all, so this is not a slam against aboriginal veterans across this country.

National Defence ActGovernment Orders

October 1st, 2018 / 3:35 p.m.
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Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleagues for being so interested in this issue. I heard the Liberals say that they wanted this to leave the House immediately, but some of us do not have a lot of chance to speak to bills that are outside of our portfolio area. I am not on the defence committee, so that is not a place where I will be able to participate. Therefore, this is my sole chance to participate in this debate.

I hope my colleagues opposite understand that we are not ragging the puck here. We just want to give people an opportunity to speak to the issues.

These are important issues that come out of a number of different areas. I want to talk later about the Victims Bill of Rights, what it means and how much it has improved and changed the lives of Canadians. That has been the foundation of what we are doing. Bill C-77 tries to apply that bill of rights to the military as well.

My colleague who spoke previously basically had the same opening as I did. He talked about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. It is interesting that on the things the government has succeeded in, it has had to copy us. The things the Liberals have not copied us on have been pretty much a disaster. If we think about electoral reform and so on, their own initiatives have not gone anywhere. However, the ones we had done the work on and laid the foundation and the groundwork for, the Liberals have had some success.

Apart from this bill, I think of things like CETA, the trade agreement with Europe, which was pretty much handed to the Liberals, but they almost messed that up. They took it back and started messing with some of the text. The next thing was the Europeans wanted to open that whole agreement up again. The government had to fight and struggle to ensure it was implemented the way that we had negotiated it.

We are seeing the same thing with TPP. The agreement basically was finished and handed to the Liberals. We are sitting here two and a half years later and still do not have it through the House even though we were the ones who did the work on it. It is a good agreement and it should be implemented as soon as possible.

We saw the struggles the Liberals had around NAFTA, where they insisted on taking the agreement that worked very well and came so close to making a complete mess of it. Canadians need to understand that we were saved at the last minute by the fact that the U.S. auto sector stepped in and said that it needed to get the agreement done, that the negotiators could not be serious if they allowed the President to put tariffs on autos. Finally, our government realized it had better quit playing games, trying to make the President look bad, fooling around that way, and decided to get the agreement done.

Interestingly enough, the Liberals really did not gain anything with it. It barely held the ground that we had in the past. That seems to be the way the government operates.

That brings us back to Bill C-77, hopefully something that will be much easier for the Liberals to get through in the form it is in right now. We have heard debate about it. At this point, we will support the bill at second reading to go to committee as soon as the debate is done in the House. The point of it is to align the military justice system of Canada with the Criminal Code of Canada. It is a good and important objective. As I said before, it centres around the Victims Bill of Rights that was passed in 2015. It takes that and enshrines it in the National Defence Act.

Many people talked specifically about Bill C-77 and what is included in it. However, I would like to back up a step and talk about the Victims Bill of Rights, which lays the foundation for the discussion we are having today and for the bill that is being presented here today.

Obviously, the Victims Bill of Rights created a clear set of rights for victims of crime. It requires those rights to be considered during the trial processes and it provides four rights for victims in Canada. Those rights are the ideas of information, protection for their rights of participation in the system and then some aspect of restitution.

Some of it seems to be common sense, but perhaps is not in the courts. Canadians will understand that every victim should have the right to request information that he or she needs with respect to the system and the role the victims play in that, the services and programs that are available to them. Victims should be aware of the fact that they have the right to file complaints if their rights are being violated.

In investigations, victims have the right to ask about the status and outcome of the investigations. They have the right to know where the location of the proceedings are taking place. They have the right to ask for information about any kind of reviews that are being done under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

For the last week we have been talking about an issue in western Canada, actually in my riding. A young “lady”, and I use that word very loosely, participated in the kidnapping, rape, torture, murder and burial of an eight-year-old girl. She was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Then about a week ago we found out she had been moved from a maximum security prison to medium security prison a couple of years ago. In the last few weeks, she was moved to what was basically a minimum security prison.

I am familiar with the Okimaw Ohci healing lodge. It is in my riding and I have been there several times. I have been there for its open days and have enjoyed going there. However, this is not the appropriate place for someone like that.

As I pointed out, the rights of victims require that those who have suffered have the opportunity to find out what is going on in the system. When Tori Stafford's father found out what had happened, he appealed to the Prime Minister. He said that it was crazy. The person had murdered his daughter and he had to live with that every day of his life. He said that the Prime Minister had sent her to a minimum security prison. Not only was it not a prison, but it was in a treed area. It was like a park setting with small cabins arranged in small units. Not only did it not have a fence around, or have restrictions or whatever, but children were allowed to go and spend time with their mothers.

My constituents have made their opinions clear to me. They agree with our position over the last week that this needs to be reversed.

The reason we know about it is because there is a Victims Bill of Rights and that is the foundation for the changes being suggested in Bill C-77.

Victims are allowed to attend hearings that are open. With respect to protection and security, people have the right to have their security considered. In the criminal justice system, they have the right to protection from intimidation and retaliation. We have talked about that today in regard to Bill C-77. They have the right to have their privacy considered and having their identity protected as well. They also have the right to request any kind of help they might need when appearing as witnesses in proceedings.

There are other things around participation. Victims have the right to give their views about decisions to be made by the appropriate authorities in the criminal justice system that affect their rights. They have the right to speak up. We think that is an important right.

We are all familiar with victim impact statements and the role they play. In some court cases, victims are allowed to give victim impact statements, how the criminal impacted their lives, how this activity has destroyed, for example, the lives of their families.

The Victims Bill of Rights also talks about restitution orders and the fact that victims have the right to have the court consider making restitution to them by the offender.

There are a number of other things in the Victims Bill of Rights, but that lays the foundation for us for Bill C-77. The bill is about enshrining that Victims Bill of Rights in the National Defence Act. It also puts a statute of limitations of six months on summary hearing cases.

We heard this morning about the various levels of discipline and how the defence minister , if we trust him, was trying to make some changes that would speed up some of the discipline cases on lesser offences. We are hoping that what the Liberals are saying is actually true.

This is virtually a copy of something that was presented three years ago by the former Conservative government just before the last election. I guess the good thing is, as I mentioned, the Liberals have taken this on and have decided that they are going to bring the bill forward in much the same fashion and structure that it was before and introduce those changes.

There are some differences. We have talked a bit about them as well. One of the main differences in this bill, and probably will be one of the main things that will be discussed at committee, is the addition of the Gladue decision in the National Defence Act. For those people who are not familiar with that, it instructs the courts to take into consideration an aboriginal person's background when he or she is sentenced. On occasion, when that is applied, it may mean that the sentencing itself or the sentencing process will be different for that individual than it would be for a non-aboriginal person.

People have questioned whether this should be considered in the military. Is it appropriate that in the military, where everyone is subject to the same structures of discipline, where we try to bring about equality and equal participation, someone would have a different sentencing structured or a different level of punishment than other people would based on these kinds of considerations? I am sure we will be bringing forward those issues and asking those questions at committee.

Our government made it a priority to stand up for victims. That is why we brought forward the Victims Bill of Rights. That is also why we saw our Bill C-71 come forward prior to the election, in pretty much the form being presented by the current government. We know that the priority of government, on this side of the House anyway, should be to protect the safety of its citizens. We take that responsibility very seriously.

Putting the rights of victims back into the centre of the criminal justice system was important to us. It was something we spoke about many times and made it the centre of a number of different pieces of legislation, the guarantee that victims would have the right to have a more effective voice in the system and that they would be treated with courtesy and compassion. I think we are all familiar with situations in the past years where often victims seemed to be harassed more than they were treated with compassion and respect when they came forward with charges. We were determined to try to reverse that trend and ensure people were treated with respect, while keeping our streets, our cities and communities safe for Canadians and their families. That was why we took so many concrete steps to hold people accountable for their actions. We are glad to see this being extended to the military as well.

The question I need to ask is this. Are the Liberals really serious about this bill? They say that they want it to go to committee as soon as possible, and we hope that is true. However, what we have seen in the past is that they are far more interested in PR when it comes to issues of criminal activity than they are in the content. We see that in this Parliament.

I think of Bill C-71, the firearms legislation. The bill has come forward. The government has made a declaration that it wants to deal with the crimes with respect to gangs and the illegal use of firearms. The bill does not mention either of those things but creates massive problems for legitimate firearms owners. It is almost as if the Liberals looked at what the PR side of it was, decided they could make it an attack on legitimate firearms owners, convince the media country that it was a good thing and they did not have to do the hard work of trying to solve the gang situation and getting illegal guns off the street.

Bill C-71 is an example of where the Liberals do not seem to take this issue of crime seriously. I hope they are with respect to Bill C-77. I asked a question of the minister this morning and I trust he answered it honestly.

With respect to Bill C-71, another issue we had was the misuse of statistics. The Liberals take an extreme statistic, apply it, then say that is the average and that they will operate using that as a starting point. However, anyone who knows the statistics knows that the year they were using, 2013, was such an exceptional year and it did not really fit into the normal trend. There is a lot of attack on regular citizens it seems, particularly in Bill C-71, and not much that would actually protect victims of crime.

We brought forward a number of other bills when we were in government: the Safe Streets and Communities Act; the reform of the not criminally responsible legislation, which was needed for many years, and we were happy to bring that forward; and the laws against sexual exploitation and cyber intimidation.

It is good to see these changes are coming forward. I know there have been some changes made since 2016, even within the military. The government talks about the fact that the director of military prosecutions has changed the way that it does things, the way it approaches these issues. There are a number of things in the government's document. It talks about how it has already introduced changes, such as providing information proactively to victims on the choice of jurisdictions in a sexual misconduct matter. Therefore, if there is a charge of sexual misconduct, the victim now has more say in what jurisdiction he or she wants it looked at. It has some information that it can provide that will help. Victims are kept informed throughout the investigation and throughout the trial process. That did not happen before in the military. The DMP, in its overhaul of the way it has done things, has included this as one of the things it thinks is important.

Now the DMP has started to consider the views of victims in determining the public interest in these cases. Is there public interest in moving forward with the prosecution of the cases? It is allowing victims to participate. I know that witness preparation has been improved. It is spending more time with witnesses, finding out what they will be testifying to and if they are prepared to be competent witnesses. It is assuring victims' comfort and security. I am told it is one of the key considerations. In the past, as I mentioned, people have been intimidated, even by the way the system is set up, so this is set up to be much more fair to them.

It is making efforts to make sure that in sexual misconduct cases, victim impact statements are relevant and considered. It is trying to get consistency with the prosecution and prosecutors so that each of them approaches the issues in the same way. That is probably an important consideration in that there needs to be consistency within the military itself and the way it deals with and addresses these issues. That is part of what Bill C-77 is trying to do: to bring the consistency provided in the Victims Bill of Rights into the military part of the justice system. Another thing is that sexual misconduct cases are being expedited in the military courts to try to get them out of the way.

There are a lot of things going on. As I mentioned, there are the indigenous sentencing considerations. We heard earlier today that there are changes to the summary trial process and the way summary charges are handled. There are a number of other areas around the victims rights at courts martial as well that have changed. They have a different perspective and a different opportunity. A victim's liaison officer would be put in place to give victims an opportunity to get this information and go to somebody who can work with and help them.

I come back to the concern that Liberals are honest about dealing with victims. We have heard over the last three or four weeks in the House of Commons about a gentleman who murdered a female police officer, desecrated the body and was sentenced to jail. Then he applied for Veterans Affairs benefits and the government has been providing those benefits to him. Those benefits, I am told, can be provided by Correctional Service Canada, but the government has made the decision that he deserves veterans benefits. Conservatives have argued that he does not. There are people who have served who receive them, but he has not served or spent a moment of time in military service and yet he is getting these benefits.

The government said it would cut them off for now, but we need a better response than that from the government. That was a bad response in that case. Now with Tori Stafford, we have heard the comments made by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness this afternoon. It is another slow response, a bad response to people who have been victimized in the worst ways by crimes and the best the ministers of the government can say is they have given it to somebody who will review it for a long time and when that person gets back to them, they will let us know how it turns out. In the case of Tori Stafford, by the time that happens, how long will that woman have been in the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge, being able to do whatever she wants to do, having access to children and wandering off the property if she wants? She is not eligible for parole for another 13 years. What does she have to lose should she decide to do something inappropriate in Okimaw Ohci?

That is an example of the government not being willing to react to these issues. We hope that when this bill goes to committee, Liberals will deal seriously with it, and when it is implemented, they actually treat it seriously, because they do not have a history anywhere else of dealing fairly and honestly with victims. Hopefully, in this situation, they will and we look forward to when this bill is passed.

It is a good bill, Conservatives wrote most of it, and we are looking forward to the government applying it and hopefully, it will take care of many of these issues that people have faced at military trials and those kinds of situations.

National Defence ActGovernment Orders

October 1st, 2018 / 3:30 p.m.
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Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is a terrific question. All we have to do is look at the evidence of the government, via its actions. This is a government, and I have said this many times in this House, that loves governing by Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook, because with those 140 characters, or 280 now, and the way it controls them, it can really manipulate the message.

However, the way the government actually conducts itself on issues of victims and supporting criminals, there is evidence after evidence, as has been going through the House over the last couple weeks, with the Tori Stafford situation, the Catherine Campbell situation in Truro, Nova Scotia, and Omar Khadr. The list goes on and on.

This weekend I was speaking to the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. We were talking specifically about Bill C-71, which is the government's new gun registry, its answer, supposedly, to solving the gangs and criminal activity situation. In fact, what the government is doing is actually going after law-abiding firearms owners in this country.

It gives the government and the Liberal MPs a chance to go to their municipalities and say that the government is doing something tough on crime, but in fact, what it is doing is penalizing the wrong people. It is not solving a problem that exists in this country.

Bill C-75 is another example of that, with the amendments to the Criminal Code and the summary convictions, taking some of the most egregious and heinous crimes in this country and reducing them to a slap on the wrist, because the government has an inability to put judges in place to deal with the backlogs in the courts. The government would rather see criminals go free than criminals go to jail. That is the way these Liberals operate.

National Defence ActGovernment Orders

October 1st, 2018 / 1:50 p.m.
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Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today to speak about Bill C-77, to enact military justice reforms. They say that imitation is the best form of flattery. The government of the day has taken into account many of the proposals that were in Bill C-71 from the previous government, with the exception of adding a couple of things. It has simply copied and pasted that legislation into Bill C-77.

I want to spend a couple of moments on some issues that have come up lately in the House. Throughout the debate this morning, we heard the government side talk about victims and victims' rights. On this side of the House, and in the previous government, I have strongly advocated for the rights of victims, as we did the previous government with the introduction of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. It is paramount that governments ensure that they put the rights of victims ahead of the rights of criminals.

Over the course of the last couple of weeks, we have seen some highly publicized situations come up that have gained the attention of Canadians, in large part because of the issues brought up in the House. I will note two cases in particular as examples.

There is the Christopher Garnier case in Nova Scotia. Christopher Garnier murdered police officer and volunteer firefighter Christine Campbell. It was a highly publicized case. Ahead of veterans, Mr. Garnier was receiving PTSD benefits from Veterans Affairs.

Of course over the last week, we have also seen the issue around Tori Stafford come up. Her murderer is now sitting in an aboriginal healing centre in northern Saskatchewan when she should be behind bars and razor wire, which is exactly where she was before.

On the issues of victims' rights, we have to ensure we put them ahead of the rights of criminals. We have not seen that, as an example in the case of the government, over the course of the last couple of weeks. Many of us heard the father of Tori Stafford over the weekend, pleading with the Prime Minister of our country to correct that situation.

Fortunately, tomorrow on opposition day, members of the government side will have the opportunity to stand and do what is right with respect to an opposition day motion we will be put forward. It calls on the Government of Canada, the Prime Minister, and the Minister of Public Safety to reverse the decision of Correctional Service Canada and ensure Tori Stafford's killer is put back behind bars and razor wire where she belongs, not surrounded by trees at a healing centre. The government and its members will have the opportunity tomorrow to do the right thing by standing in support of the opposition day motion.

On the issue of Bill C-71, as I said earlier, the Conservatives will always stand for victims and not criminals. Over the weekend, I had a robust discussion about this very issue as it related to criminals. It was more so about the current legislation, Bill C-71 and Bill C-75, as it relates to the new Liberal gun registry and changes to criminal justice acts, and in particular about the list of many otherwise serious criminal activities being reduced to summary convictions.

In some of the discussions I had around my riding this weekend, people were quite concerned not only with the gun registry and that it did little to tackle the real issue of gangs, gang violence and illegal gun activity, but also with the fact that many of these more heinous and serious crimes would be potentially reduced to summary convictions. The reason for that is the government's inability to fill judicial appointments on the bench and cases are getting backlogged. The government would simply rather slap criminals on the wrist with this potential summary conviction rather than looking after victims' rights and victims instead of criminals.

Part of this legislation, one of the important pieces of it, is the Gladue decision. For the most part, this is a copy and paste of the previous bill, Bill C-71, from the previous Conservative government. However, the main difference between the two would be the addition of the Gladue decision into the National Defence Act.

In effect, this addition would mean that aboriginal members of the CAF, who face charges under the National Defence Act, would face lighter punishments if convicted. That causes problems with respect to the fact that the special considerations for indigenous members could result in sentences that would be less harsh than those of other CAF members. In fact, it could undermine the operational discipline, morale and some of the anti-racism policies of the CAF. It is a concern.

We will support this legislation and get it to committee to ensure we hear from those various stakeholders, such as first nations communities and advocates.

September 27th, 2018 / 11:30 a.m.
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Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

I think it is germane in the sense that we will wait with anticipation for that.

In relation to this, I think it's appropriate that we hear from the CEO of Ontario, and begin the process.

I don't think anyone wants to see us taking up time and wasting our time. There are other matters this committee needs to and ought to deal with.

An order of reference that has come to this committee is a prima facie question of privilege in the House related to Bill C-71. As we take up time with the study of this bill, that is a matter that is being pushed off. We do want to see that come before the committee. Within the House of Commons a question of privilege takes priority over all other matters of business. I believe the same ought to be true in committee, so I am eager to see that come before this committee within the foreseeable future.

Related to this committee study, we all received from the clerk a request to appear before this committee from the CNIB, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. I think it's rather appropriate that we received this request when we did. As members know, this week and earlier last week, we were debating Bill C-81 in the House, known as the barrier-free Canada Act, the accessible Canada act. It was adopted yesterday in the House of Commons shortly after question period by unanimous consent, I believe. I wasn't in the House, but there were no bells, so I assume that either five members didn't stand or it was by unanimous consent. It was nice to see that bill go to committee. I think it's a worthwhile discussion we need to have, although I'm sure there are some concerns.

I think it's appropriate and germane that the debate was occurring when we did receive this request. I would hope that this would be something we might be able to accommodate before going to clause-by-clause.

Ms. Clarke, a government relations specialist from the CNIB, does request to appear specifically on Bill C-76. They mentioned they're celebrating 100 years in 2018. I think 2018 is a special year for 100th anniversaries. It's also the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. I'm not positive, but I believe there was a connection to the CNIB's founding and those veterans coming home from the First World War with visual impairment because of the war. I do think it's appropriate that we hear from them.

One of the lines in the request.... As someone whose mother-in-law uses a wheelchair—she lost her right leg to amputation about 15 years ago following an automobile accident—I think applying a disability lens to legislation is important, particularly when we're talking about elections.

I was pleased with the efforts that Elections Canada made in the 2015 election to make voting locations accessible, or as accessible as possible, at least for those with mobility issues. There are other disabilities that are not necessarily always as—

September 25th, 2018 / 4:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

—you're not presenting us with any evidence today that suggests that the numbers you're purporting...that domestically sourced firearms are the real problem in this country.

Now, you said in your opening remarks what you have said repeatedly, as has Mr. Goodale. You and your Liberal colleagues talk about an investment in gang prevention. You talk about $500 million, with $327 million announced during a by-election in Surrey. As to the reason why your government passed yesterday, through the Senate, Bill C-71...which does nothing to stop gangs and gun violence in our country. However, just last week you tabled a document in the House that confirmed that you haven't spent a dime of the $327 million that was promised over a year ago. It's going to take another two years, or a year and a half, for it to even be rolled out.

Why? I guess that's my question. What is stopping that money from being spent on law enforcement, on the labs, on all the work it takes to keep Canadians safe and deal with public safety, not just a charade?

September 25th, 2018 / 3:30 p.m.
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Bill Blair Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair and committee members. I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to join you today.

As you can see, I am joined by senior officials from departments that play a very significant role in my responsibilities. I'm very grateful for their support today.

As you have stated, Mr. Chair, this is my first opportunity to meet with you in my new capacity as the minister for border security and organized crime reduction. I very much look forward to the opportunity to work with this committee. I see it as a valuable source of insight and advice that will assist me, the government and the responsible departments and agencies in their important work.

As the minister, my overarching goal is to help ensure that our borders remain secure and to lead cross-governmental efforts to reduce organized crime. I and my officials have been working hard to get a head start on the priorities under that banner, which have been entrusted to me by the Prime Minister.

The issues we are tackling are not confined to a single department or agency. They run across government, whether we're looking at cannabis, irregular migration, guns and gangs, organized crime or opioids. That is why the Prime Minister has asked me to work with the full support of all of the relevant departments to ensure a coordinated and effective approach to these very important critical issues.

I am fortunate to have already forged a solid working relationship with many of the departments with which I now work when I served as the parliamentary secretary to two ministers and had the opportunity to work across ministries on important issues. I look forward to working with all of my cabinet colleagues and fellow parliamentarians on both sides of the House.

I am pleased to provide some insight to you today as to how I intend to deliver upon my mandate.

First, I would like to begin by thanking this committee for their excellent and important work in their careful scrutiny of Bill C-71, which yesterday, I am pleased to say, passed the House at third reading.

We cannot ignore the reality that offences involving firearms have been increasing over the last five years. I have seen that first-hand, not only in my city but in communities across the country. I am pleased that this crucial legislation makes common-sense proposals to keep guns out of the wrong hands, to improve licensing classification and to strengthen records commitments.

Thank you for your amendments. Thanks to those amendments, the bill was further strengthened to propose additional background-check criteria related to violent behaviour, which must be considered before a licence will be issued.

Additionally, you made helpful proposals to clarify non-restricted firearm transfers and to providing greater certainty that no federal registry will be created with the enactment of Bill C-71 when it becomes law. These are welcome additions to an already strong set of new measures aimed at reducing firearms-related crime in Canada. I am proud that I have been given a responsibility to support Minister Goodale as this bill moves forward through the Senate.

As my mandate letter has indicated, I have also been given responsibilities to examine ways to reduce gun crime involving use of handguns and assault rifles while not impeding the lawful use of firearms by lawful firearm owners. Therefore, I will be beginning a formal process of engaging with Canadians on this important issue. Over the next month, my parliamentary secretary and I will host round tables across the country.

I'll stop here and introduce my parliamentary secretary, who I believe is with us today, Mr. Peter Schiefke.

We will host a series of round tables across the country to hear from a wide range of expertise and opinions. We will also be soliciting feedback from law enforcement, municipalities and indigenous communities, and as well, of course, our provincial and territorial colleagues. In addition, we will create an online portal so that all Canadians can provide their thoughts on this important issue.

Our government is open to looking at any measure that will be effective in keeping our communities safe. We have already invested over $327 million in initiatives to reduce gun crime and criminal gang activities. The majority of this funding will be going to provinces and territories to bolster local prevention and enforcement programs.

I want to emphasize that we need to take a broad and all-encompassing approach to reducing violence in our communities. In my time as a police officer and a police chief, I learned that in high-crime neighbourhoods there tends to be only a small number of people who victimize law-abiding people who are struggling with disadvantage. Those neighbourhoods often have higher rates of poverty, poor housing, higher rates of problematic substance use, a lack of jobs, a lack of access to mental health and other services, a lack of opportunity and a lack of hope. These are what are sometimes referred to as the social determinants of crime and victimization.

I can tell you that in my city we made every effort to ensure that we had a robust and visible police presence on the streets, but we've always held that addressing the social circumstances that give rise to violence is the other important part of that equation.

In my experience, you cannot arrest your way out of these very complex social issues. Our government has taken steps to address these challenges. We've created the first-ever national housing strategy. We've implemented the Canada child benefit, which is addressing child and family poverty, and we have increased the amount of money that is available for youth employment. We will continue to work closely with all of our colleagues in all departments to make sure that the government is doing all that it can to address crime.

The same must go for our approach to opioids. The impact of opioids, as this committee well knows, is being felt in communities of all sizes in every part of Canada. In the last two years, over 8,000 Canadian lives have been cut short due to opioid-related overdoses.

I have been given the responsibility of leading our work in reducing the smuggling of opioids across the border. Canada has a four-pillar strategy—a national strategy for drugs—and an important part of that strategy is law enforcement. It is dealing with that issue of interdicting the supply of drugs, principally opioids, and some of the precursor chemicals used in their manufacture, as well as other materials.

Law enforcement is an important part of this puzzle, and it will be supported. As we work with partners to interdict the illegal supply, we also intend to do so in the context of the other pillars: demand reduction, harm reduction, and treatment and rehabilitation. This will involve a public health lens to address the illegal supply and distribution. It includes pursuing law enforcement activities to counter drug trafficking in a manner that also balances health and safety concerns.

Mr. Chair, in my experience, this is a transnational issue. I look forward to the opportunity to ensure that we are well equipped at our borders to maintain their security and that we are able to tackle this problem with a whole-of-government approach. It also necessitates—and I am familiar with—a strong collaboration between Canadian and American law enforcement and law enforcement around the world.

The illegal movement of narcotics and other poisonous drugs into our communities is a transnational crime problem, and it is one that requires a global response.

With respect to our other immediate priorities, we are, of course, only a few weeks away—22 days away as my colleague from Health Canada advises me—from the beginning of a transition to a legal adult-use cannabis regime in Canada. It is important to remember that the transition to legal cannabis will be a process and not a single event.

We will continue to work collaboratively with all of our cabinet colleagues on the implementation of this new form of effective cannabis control, and we are working collaboratively with the provinces, the territories, municipalities, law enforcement and stakeholders across the country to ensure an orderly and responsible implementation.

We believe that this new system will do a far better job than the failed current criminal prohibition in protecting our children from the harms of cannabis consumption and in protecting the health and safety of all Canadians, and it will take billions of dollars in profit out of the hands of organized crime.

With respect to my mandate commitments on irregular migration, the safe third country agreement and opportunities surrounding concurrence operations for travellers, I am keen to move forward quickly on these issues as well. I have discussed the former with the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. I look forward to providing updates in the very near future. I feel that both Canada and the U.S. have an opportunity to demonstrate how our close partnership can help us adapt to evolving and complex migration challenges while managing the border effectively. To that end, I have written to the Secretary of Homeland Security to begin discussions about how the safe third country agreement can be improved and enhanced to the mutual benefit of both countries.

Through all of these commitments, Mr. Chair, I'm honoured to carry out the responsibilities that have been entrusted to me. I look forward to your continued advice and engagement in keeping our borders secure and our communities safe.

Thank you very much. I look forward to your questions.

September 25th, 2018 / 11:55 a.m.
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Calgary Midnapore, CPC

Stephanie Kusie

No, you actually sound like a Conservative, Monsieur Perrault. This is similar to our thinking with regard to Bill C-71 and its approach that criminals don't register. Please, continue.

The House resumed from September 20 consideration of the motion that Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms be read the third time and passed.

FirearmsStatements By Members

September 24th, 2018 / 2:10 p.m.
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Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, it would seem that there is no end to the Liberals' summer of failure.

I rise today as an avid hunter and a member of the Conservative hunting and angling caucus.

I want to give a shout-out to all of the hunters and fishers for whom this time of year is very important.

I was recently invited to participate in activities at a shooting club in my riding. I witnessed all those who participate in this sport systematically applying existing safety rules and legislation. I previously had the same opportunity in the Isle-aux-Grues archipelago, also in my riding.

In a region like ours, hunting is not just a hobby; it is a way of life. After all, Montmagny is Canada's snow goose capital. Anyone can clearly see how hunting plays a role in my constituents' everyday lives. However, some Canadians are worried about Bill C-71. They believe, as do I, that Bill C-71 will have no effect on gun violence and will simply create more red tape.

I am committed to standing up for the interests of hunters in my region by saying no to a registry that is costly, ineffective and—

National Defence ActGovernment Orders

September 21st, 2018 / 1:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member would have heard, before I got sidelined with the heckling from his benches, that we would like to see this go to committee. I mentioned the three slight differences between Bill C-71 and Bill C-77.

I find this most interesting, and I hope Canadians who are watching do as well. The Prime Minister stood in the House and said that this was a treatment that should be available for Mr. Garnier. Whenever we hold the Liberals to account for that, they attack. I am sorry, but I am here as an opposition member to hold them to account. That is what Canadians want us to do. If they take that as an attack, it is a sign that they are failing.

In the case of Garnier, which I got into because of heckling from the Liberal benches, nothing shows a disconnect with what Canadians expect of their government more than allowing a murderer to jump ahead of veterans.

National Defence ActGovernment Orders

September 21st, 2018 / 12:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with our hon. colleague from Edmonton West.

It is an honour to stand and speak to Bill C-77.

Today we are talking about Bill C-77 and the military justice reforms from the government. Essentially in the eleventh hour and pre-writ for the most part, the government has chosen to table a bill which it has said is going to be absolutely transformative and is so important. The Liberals believe very strongly in it, yet there are so many other pieces of legislation that came before this bill, such as changing the words to our national anthem and the cannabis piece of legislation, and now we have Bill C-77 which talks about enshrining victims' rights into our military justice system.

I will say right at the outset that the Conservatives always err on the side of victims and believe that victims' rights should always be there. As a matter of fact, it was our previous Conservative government that enacted the Victims Bill of Rights Act. We support enshrining victims' rights into the military justice system. It is why we introduced Bill C-71.

People who are listening to this debate should not get that bill confused with the backdoor registry Bill C-71 that has been talked about in the last couple of weeks, which the Liberal government is trying to bring through this House and unfairly punish law-abiding gun owners. I am talking about Bill C-71 which was brought forward by the previous Conservative government. The hon. member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour actually thanked us. It will go down in Hansard that we actually had a Liberal thanking us for all the hard work that we did. We actually did the hard work on this file.

Bill C-71 and Bill C-77 are almost identical, with the exception of a couple of minor things. All the Liberals did was take the cover page off and change the name, which is what we see them do very often with a lot of the good pieces of legislation they have brought forward. They did change C-71 to C-77. They have to put their Liberal spin on it, and we will get into that in a bit.

Also, prior to getting into the depth of this, I will say that this is not my file. I do not profess to be proficient in all the legal terms and all the benefits that Bill C-77 would bring, but I will talk about victims' rights.

It is interesting that earlier during question period and throughout the week, we were talking about a gentleman who committed a heinous crime and through the course of committing that crime gave himself PTSD. He committed murder. He actually murdered an off-duty police officer, put her into a garbage bin and then rolled it out and like trash tossed her aside. Now he has actually stepped in line with veterans, stepped in line before the veterans, and is receiving mental health services.

I receive messages from veterans and first responders every day about mental health challenges. I also receive messages every day from victims of crime who felt that when the Liberal government came in and started its hug-a-thug programs, the process was rigged against them. I actually get calls and messages from law enforcement officers who say that the system is now rigged against them, that it is harder for them to do their job. We should be doing everything in our power to give those whom we trust to protect us, our silent sentinels, every tool to be able to do their job, to be able to do their mission and come home and remain healthy and productive.

We should be giving the victims every opportunity to be protected and to know that when their day in court comes, the focus will be on them and their rights and not on the person who committed the crime.

I sat through the debate on Bill C-75. This is a piece of legislation where the government is looking to speed up our judicial process. We should not be speeding up the process. We should be making it effective, making sure that those who come before the courts get the appropriate rights and freedoms that we all enjoy, but those who are found guilty, if they do the crime, they better do the time.

I will not get into that. I am not a lawyer, but there is a lawyer sitting in front of me. There are far too many lawyer jokes that I could insert here, but I will not do that.

It was interesting to sit through the debate on Bill C-75. I listened to the witnesses who came before committee. They were very articulate and they all said the same thing. They all had the same concerns. They said we should not weaken our system, that we should make sure that victims are not revictimized through the court process. They want to know that they will get their day in court, that every tool available will be there to make sure that the perpetrator of a crime, if found guilty, will serve the time.

Bill C-77 is almost a carbon copy of Bill C-71. There are a couple of changes which I will talk to right now.

The main difference between the two bills is the addition of the Gladue decision into the National Defence Act in Bill C-77. This addition would mean that aboriginal members of the Canadian Armed Forces who face charges under the National Defence Act may face lighter punishment if convicted. I will not say “will”. This document says “will”, but I would say “may”. I still believe in our judicial system. They may face lighter punishment if convicted.

It also would mean special consideration for indigenous members, taking in their background and perhaps what they went through. We have heard horrific stories over the years.

We need to make sure that there is a parallel system and the addition of special consideration for indigenous members that results in sentences that are perhaps less harsh versus their other CAF colleagues and comrades. The concern would be that perhaps that could undermine operational discipline, morale, and anti-racism policies. It may be well intended but it could have unintended negative consequences.

We support getting the bill to committee where we can study it further and hear from groups that come before us and offer their opinions. I look forward to that.

I want to go back to the couple of hours of discussions I sat through on Bill C-75. I am conscious of the short amount of time I have to speak, but I want to comment on this. My hon. colleague down the way mentioned this as well. First, we should do everything in our power to give those who are enforcing our laws every tool possible for them to complete their mission and to remain healthy. Second, we should be doing whatever we can to make sure that we institute mental health components within our legislation to make sure that they come home healthy. We should not be trying to speed up our judicial system. We should be finding ways to make it effective.

National Defence ActGovernment Orders

September 21st, 2018 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House this morning, on behalf of my colleague from Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, who could not be here today, to speak to Bill C-77, an act to amend the National Defence Act.

As members know, I served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 22 years, as have many of my colleagues on both sides of the House.

The national defence world is a very complicated one. To the average person, to civilians, this is a closed-off world. What happens in the forces stays in the forces. Civilians have no idea. We have our own Code of Service Discipline and we do things our own way.

Fortunately, things have changed. As society evolves, everyone must adapt. The function of the military remains the same; what we ask of our armed forces will not change. The purpose of the military is to prepare for a potential conflict. We cannot act in the same way as civilians.

It is not the norm for someone to learn to shoot because he or she may one day be called upon to use a weapon against an enemy; that is very specific and requires a whole different approach, which is why it is so important to have a strict and regulated military justice system.

When I was a unit commander, I was required to judge summary trials. I judged different cases at different levels during my command. There were some very trivial cases, involving someone who did not shave in the morning for example. That person might be subject to a trial and be fined. There were also much more serious cases, like the one involving a violent fight between soldiers in a military bar. The assaults and injuries made that a serious case.

Over the years, we realized that discipline was important and that people who were caught committing such offences were severely punished through fines and demotions. Sometimes they were even kicked out of the Canadian Armed Forces.

However, the victims were not the focus of these trials. Often military or civilian victims were not taken into consideration because the Canadian Forces were focused on punishing the people who committed the reprehensible acts. However, there was no concern for the surrounding situation. Luckily things have changed.

I want to point out that the Conservatives have always had the interests of victims at heart. The Conservative Party has always cared about victims. The previous Conservative government took major steps to protect Canadians and defend victims of crime. We know that the number one priority of any government is to keep citizens safe, and that is a responsibility that the previous Conservative government took very seriously.

We believe that our laws and discussions should always put victims' rights first. We want victims to have a strong voice, to be heard, to know that they are not just victims and that they are not alone. We want them to be able to speak up and be present throughout the judicial process.

The previous Conservative government made a commitment to make a change and ensure that our streets and communities are safe for Canadians and their families. We took concrete measures to hold criminals responsible for their actions.

The Conservatives are proud of their track record, which includes passing the Safe Streets and Communities Act, the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act, and laws against sexual exploitation and cyberbullying.

The Conservatives feel that the criminal justice system has prioritized criminals' rights for too long. We believe that victims should be the central focus of our criminal justice system. We believe that they have a right to information, protection, participation and, if possible, compensation.

That is why we introduced the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, a historic act that received royal assent on April 23, 2015.

Former prime minister Harper, former minister Peter MacKay, Senator Boisvenu, who became an ardent victims' advocate after his daughter was murdered, and the member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis were involved in the development and implementation of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights.

This charter is now the centrepiece of what we are doing to protect victims of crime in Canada. We commend the Canadian Forces for wanting to have a law for victims so that their rights are given the same recognition as the rights of alleged criminals. That is very important.

In addition to the four pillars that are the right to information, the right to protection, the right to participation and the right to restitution, it is vital that the future law on the rights of Canadian Forces victims endeavour to recognize the right of victims of crime. The future law on the rights of Canadian Forces victims must require a military tribunal with gender parity for cases involving sexual assault. This right must be officially recognized in the law.

To protect the rights enshrined in the law on the rights of Canadian Forces victims, the position of ombudsman for victims must first be created to ensure victims that they will be heard and protected and that their rights will be duly respected. A permanent position at a rank higher than liaison officer, which could be abolished at any time, is vital to the enforcement and creation of the law on the rights of Canadian Forces victims.

Canada currently has a federal ombudsman for victims of crime, a position that was created in 2007, but this position is not protected. The ombudsman is not an officer of Parliament and operates at arm's length from the Department of Justice. The ombudsman position has been vacant since November 15, 2017, and the Minister of Justice refuses to fill it. She refuses to give victims of crime a voice and refuses to protect their rights under the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights and ensure that they are represented and protected, the way criminals' rights are.

By contrast, the position of correctional investigator, who looks after prisoners, was filled on January 2, 2018, two weeks after the last ombudsman left. That is totally unacceptable. It is an affront to victims.

I also want to point out that Bill C-343, introduced by my colleague from Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d'Orléans—Charlevoix, which would have made the ombudsman for victims of crime equal to the ombudsman for criminals, was shut down by the Liberals. The Liberals are being disingenuous when they claim to want to protect victims of crime, yet refuse to give them the same kind of official voice in Parliament that criminals have.

Creating a victims bill of rights to ease one's conscience is one thing, but failing to enforce that bill of rights because there is no voice to fight for victims, whether in the civilian or military courts, is quite another.

The Liberal government needs to have its two victims bills of rights and its two victims' ombudsman positions in order to properly enforce victims' rights. Otherwise, victims will be revictimized at our hands.

I have already told the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence that Bill C-77, which we support, I might add, is largely based on a previous bill that the Conservative government introduced in 2015. I am referring to Bill C-71, which is not to be confused with the current Bill C-71. The bil I am referring to is from the previous Parliament.

When we introduced Bill C-71 to amend the National Defence Act, those reforms were important because we were focusing on restoring victims to their rightful place at the heart of the justice system. That is why we introduced a bill that reflected the Canadian Victims Bills of Rights and made it part of military law.

It was the result of many years of work and took into account hundreds of submissions and consultations. My colleague said that he held consultations all across Canada. Perhaps the Liberals consulted with regard to the part that they added, but I can safely say that most of the bill had already been developed by our former government. We held hundreds of consultations across the country. The bill proposes to give victims better access to information, greater protection, more opportunities to participate, and improved restitution.

Bill C-77 will be complicated to implement. The three parties support it, and we want to send it directly to committee so that it can be passed quickly.

I would hope that, in 2018, the Department of National Defence has a clear understanding of what victims go through. Victims in the civilian world still have a hard time being heard. As I mentioned, the government still has not appointed a successor for the ombudsman, and there is no protection system in place to help victims. I am worried that this is all just talk. If the government is having difficulty helping civilian victims, I do not see how it will be able to help those in the military world, which is very closed and discipline-oriented. This will be a challenge for the leadership of the Canadian Armed Forces and for the government. The government needs bring back the ombudsman position, give the new ombudsman a clear mandate, and ensure that the new law is enforced. Changes must be made to many mechanisms and to the culture within the armed forces, but I think people are ready.

When I joined the Canadian Forces 30 years ago, the mentality was quite different. I see my colleague opposite, who reached the senior ranks of the Canadian Forces. He is very familiar with that reality. People who join the Canadian Forces today do so to serve in the profession of arms, of course. They want to serve their country to the best of their physical and intellectual capabilities. However, they have a better understanding of the reality facing victims today. I therefore expect the chain of command to accept this legislation at every level and ensure that it is enforced effectively.

In closing, the Conservatives are committed to defending victims of crime and ensuring that they have a stronger voice in the criminal justice system. It was our Conservative government that passed the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. We support enshrining in law victims' rights in the military justice system. That is why we introduced Bill C-71 in the previous Parliament. The Conservative Party will always stand up for victims of crime. The Conservatives support referring Bill C-77 to the Standing Committee on National Defence as soon as possible.