An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms)

This bill was previously introduced in the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session.

Sponsor

Bill Blair  Liberal

Status

In committee (House), as of June 23, 2022

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-21.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

June 23, 2022 Passed C-21, 2nd reading and referral to committee - SECU
June 23, 2022 Failed C-21, 2nd reading - amendment
June 23, 2022 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms) (subamendment)
June 21, 2022 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms)

The House resumed from June 22 consideration of the motion that Bill C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms), be read the second time and referred to a committee, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.

Bill C-21Statements by Members

June 23rd, 2022 / 2:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Eric Melillo Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, once again, the government is bringing forward firearms legislation that will impact lawful gun owners and not do nearly enough to address gun crime. The arbitrary handgun ban in Bill C-21 will do nothing to stop gun smuggling, nor will it prevent gang violence.

However, there are some measures of this bill the Conservatives support, such as the provision to keep firearms out of the hands of those who have committed domestic abuse. Despite the Conservatives' efforts to fast-track these pieces of the legislation, the NDP-Liberal coalition teamed up to block it, which I believe revealed their goals to be political rather than practical.

On this side of the House, our approach will always be to stand up for common sense measures to ensure that Canadians are safe and that guns are out of the hands of our criminals, instead of the soft-on-crime approach from the government.

Order Respecting the Business of the House and its CommitteesGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2022 / 7:05 p.m.
See context

Ajax Ontario

Liberal

Mark Holland LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved:

That, notwithstanding any standing order, special order or usual practice of the House, beginning on Friday, June 24, 2022, and ending on Friday, June 23, 2023:

(a) members may participate in proceedings of the House either in person or by videoconference, provided that members participating remotely be in Canada;

(b) members who participate remotely in a sitting of the House be counted for the purpose of quorum;

(c) provisions in the Standing Orders to the need for members to rise or to be in their place, as well as any reference to the chair, the table or the chamber shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the virtual and hybrid nature of the proceedings;

(d) the application of Standing Order 17 shall be suspended;

(e) in Standing Orders 26(2), 53(4), 56.1(3), and 56.2(2), the reference to the number of members required to rise be replaced with the word “five”;

(f) the application of Standing Order 62 shall be suspended for any member participating remotely;

(g) documents may be laid before the House or presented to the House electronically, provided that:

(i) documents deposited pursuant to Standing Order 32(1) shall be deposited with the Clerk of the House electronically,

(ii) documents shall be transmitted to the clerk by members prior to their intervention,

(iii) any petition presented pursuant to Standing Order 36(5) may be filed with the clerk electronically,

(iv) responses to questions on the Order Paper deposited pursuant to Standing Order 39 may be tabled electronically;

(h) should the House resolve itself in a committee of the whole, the Chair may preside from the Speaker’s chair;

(i) when a question that could lead to a recorded division is put to the House, in lieu of calling for the yeas and nays, one representative of a recognized party can rise to request a recorded vote or to indicate that the motion is adopted on division, provided that a request for a recorded division has precedence;

(j) when a recorded division is requested in respect of a debatable motion, or a motion to concur in a bill at report stage on a Friday, including any division arising as a consequence of the application of Standing Order 78, but excluding any division in relation to the budget debate, pursuant to Standing Order 84, or the business of supply occurring on the last supply day of a period, other than as provided in Standing Orders 81(17) and 81(18)(b), or arising as a consequence of an order made pursuant to Standing Order 57,

(i) before 2:00 p.m. on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, it shall stand deferred until the conclusion of Oral Questions at that day’s sitting, or

(ii) after 2:00 p.m. on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, or at any time on a Friday, it shall stand deferred until the conclusion of Oral Questions at the next sitting day that is not a Friday,

provided that any extension of time pursuant to Standing Order 45(7.1) shall not exceed 90 minutes;

(k) if a motion for the previous question under Standing Order 61 is adopted without a recorded division, the vote on the main question may be deferred under the provisions of paragraph (j), however if a recorded division is requested on the previous question, and such division is deferred and the previous question subsequently adopted, the vote on the original question shall not be deferred;

(l) when a recorded division, which would have ordinarily been deemed deferred to immediately before the time provided for Private Members’ Business on a Wednesday governed by this order, is requested, the said division is deemed to have been deferred until the conclusion of Oral Questions on the same Wednesday, provided that such recorded divisions be taken after the other recorded divisions deferred at that time;

(m) for greater certainty, this order shall not limit the application of Standing Order 45(7);

(n) when a recorded division is to be held, the bells to call in the members shall be sounded for not more than 30 minutes, except recorded divisions deferred to the conclusion of Oral Questions, when the bells shall be sounded for not more than 15 minutes;

(o) recorded divisions shall take place in the usual way for members participating in person or by electronic means through the House of Commons electronic voting application for all other members, provided that:

(i) electronic votes shall be cast from within Canada using the member’s House-managed mobile device and the member’s personal House of Commons account, and that each vote require visual identity validation,

(ii) the period allowed for voting electronically on a motion shall be 10 minutes, to begin after the Chair has read the motion to the House, and members voting electronically may change their vote until the electronic voting period has closed,

(iii) in the event a member casts their vote both in person and electronically, a vote cast in person take precedence,

(iv) any member unable to vote via the electronic voting system during the 10-minute period due to technical issues may connect to the virtual sitting to indicate to the Chair their voting intention by the House videoconferencing system,

(v) following any concern, identified by the electronic voting system, which is raised by a House officer of a recognized party regarding the visual identity of a member using the electronic voting system, the member in question shall respond immediately to confirm their vote, either in person or by the House videoconferencing system, failing which the vote shall not be recorded,

(vi) the whip of each recognized party have access to a tool to confirm the visual identity of each member voting by electronic means, and that the votes of members voting by electronic means be made available to the public during the period allowed for the vote,

(vii) the process for votes in committees of the whole take place in a manner similar to the process for votes during sittings of the House with the exception of the requirement to call in the members,

(viii) any question to be resolved by secret ballot be excluded from this order,

(ix) during the taking of a recorded division on a private members’ business, when the sponsor of the item is the first to vote and present at the beginning of the vote, the member be called first, whether participating in person or remotely;

(p) during meetings of standing, standing joint, special, special joint, except the Special Joint Committee on the Declaration of Emergency, and legislative committees and the Liaison Committee, as well as their subcommittees, where applicable, members may participate either in person or by videoconference, and provided that priority use of House resources for meetings shall be established by an agreement of the whips and, for virtual or hybrid meetings, the following provisions shall apply:

(i) members who participate remotely shall be counted for the purpose of quorum,

(ii) except for those decided unanimously or on division, all questions shall be decided by a recorded vote,

(iii) when more than one motion is proposed for the election of a chair or a vice-chair of a committee, any motion received after the initial one shall be taken as a notice of motion and such motions shall be put to the committee seriatim until one is adopted,

(iv) public proceedings shall be made available to the public via the House of Commons website,

(v) in camera proceedings may be conducted in a manner that takes into account the potential risks to confidentiality inherent in meetings with remote participants,

(vi) notices of membership substitutions pursuant to Standing Order 114(2) and requests pursuant to Standing Order 106(4) may be filed with the clerk of each committee by email; and

(q) notwithstanding the order adopted on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, regarding the Special Joint Committee on the Declaration of Emergency, until the committee ceases to exist and where applicable,

(i) the committee shall hold meetings in person only should this be necessary to consider any matter referred to it pursuant to subsection 61(2) of the act,

(ii) members who participate remotely shall be counted for the purpose of quorum,

(iii) except for those decided unanimously or on division, all questions shall be decided by a recorded vote,

(iv) in camera proceedings may be conducted in a manner that takes into account the potential risks to confidentiality inherent in meetings with remote participants,

(v) when more than one motion is proposed for the election of the House vice-chairs, any motion received after the initial one shall be taken as a notice of motion and such motions shall be put to the committee seriatim until one is adopted;

that a message be sent to the Senate to acquaint Their Honours that this House has passed this order; and

that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs be instructed to undertake a study on hybrid proceedings and the aforementioned changes to the Standing Orders and the usual practice of the House.

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise on this motion and talk about the extension of hybrid provisions for one year and the opportunity for the procedure and House affairs committee members to study the issue of either the use or the non-use of those provisions as they deem through their process and their recommendations thereafter.

I will take us back for a moment to March 2020. As the whole business of the pandemic was unfolding, it was about a week before this House shut down when I had a conversation with the House administration at that time asking what the pandemic plan was and what we had on the books. Of course, those who wrote it had put something together, but it became apparent very quickly upon looking at it that the intersection of what was planned with what happened in real life meant that the plan, frankly, was not of much use.

We then began a process, and I want to thank members from all parties, reflecting back on those early days in March 2020, as we attempted to find a way for Canada's Parliament to continue to do its business and to make sure that, notwithstanding the fact that we had this incredible public health emergency that sent people to their homes, Canadians knew that the seat of their democracy continued to function, continued to get bills passed and continued to put supports out there for them.

Before I talk about some of those supports, I want to take a moment to thank the House administration and officials who worked with us to create these tools and innovations to allow our democracy to continue to function. In an incredibly short period of time, an ability was developed to participate and vote virtually. This eventually led to a voting app and other refinements that have enabled members, whether or not they are sick, whether or not they are unable to be at the House for medical or other reasons, to continue to participate in the proceedings of the House and to make sure they are not disenfranchised and their constituents continue to be represented.

Members would remember that Canadians and businesses were reeling in those early days of COVID, and some three million jobs were lost. There was a real state of folks not knowing where things were going to go. Small businesses were left unable to serve their customers and wondering what their future would be. It was specifically because of the provisions we put in place, which all parties worked on with the House administration, that we were able to still get those supports adopted and make historic support available to make sure that businesses and individuals did not fall through the cracks.

Now we see the economy roaring back, and 115% of jobs lost during the pandemic have come back, compared to below 100% for the United States. We see us being a world leader in economic growth, number two in the G7 and trending towards being number one next year. It is absolutely evident that the supports that were put in place to make sure that Canadians did not fall through the cracks were what got us there.

When we think of the bravery of people opening a small business, taking a chance and putting themselves out in the world, putting their shingle out and hoping to survive, there are a lot of things they have to prepare for, such as the possibility that their product may not be as popular as they had hoped, or the long hours that they, and the people they employ, will have to put in to try to make the business successful. Of course, it is not reasonable for folks to expect that a global pandemic will be the thing that shuts them down. It was, in fact, those hybrid provisions that enabled people to get that work done.

The pandemic continues, but before I talk about the continuing pandemic, I will take a moment to talk about all the things that we got done, and not just those historic supports.

As the pandemic came and went, as we thought it was over last November and we thought that things might be returning to a sense of normalcy but we got hit by omicron, the flexibility of Parliament meant that we were able to continue to get the job of the nation done. We can take a look at how much Parliament was able to accomplish from January to June: 14 bills, not including supply, were presented, and we introduced seven bills in the Senate on a range of important issues. Many of the bills that we are passing now or that have just passed through the House are going to the Senate, and it is our hope and expectation, particularly with the great work that was just done on Bill C-28, that the Senate will be able to get that done as well before it rises for the summer. This was all done using the hybrid provisions.

Let us take a look at some of those bills.

Bill C-19 is critical to grow our economy, foster clean technology, strengthen our health care system and make life more affordable for Canadians in areas such as housing and child care.

Bill C-18 would make sure that media and journalists in Canadian digital news receive fair compensation for their work in an incredibly challenged digital environment.

Bill C-11 would require online streaming services to contribute to the creation and availability of Canadian stories and music to better support Canadian artists.

Bill C-21 would protect Canadians from the dangers of firearms in our communities, making sure that we freeze the market on handguns, attack smuggling at the border and implement red flag provisions to address domestic violence.

Bill C-22 was brought forward to reduce poverty among persons with disabilities in Canada and is part of a broader strategy that has seen more than one million Canadians lifted out of poverty. That is particularly remarkable when we think that it was this government that set the first targets ever for poverty reduction. After we set those goals, we have been exceeding them every step of the way, and Bill C-22 is a big part of that strategy.

Bill C-28, which I talked about a minute ago, deals with the extreme intoxication defence. It is a great example of Parliament in a hybrid environment being able to work collaboratively to ensure that we close an important loophole to make sure that the extreme intoxication defence is not used when murder has been committed.

These are just some of the bills that we have been able to put forward, and we have been able to do so in a way that empowered all members of Parliament to be able to participate, whether they had COVID or not.

To give members a sense of the challenges, not only was all of this done using the hybrid system and during the middle of a pandemic, but it was done while dealing with obstruction. We saw all the times the Conservatives obstructed government legislation. In fact, 17 times over the past 14 weeks, the Conservatives used obstruction tactics, using concurrence motions and other tactics to block and obstruct, in many cases, legislation that was supported by three out of the four official parties here. They took the opportunity to obstruct, yet despite that, we have been able to make great progress.

The Conservatives support Bill C-14, yet we ended up spending a night because they were moving motions to hear their own speakers. At the MAID committee looking at medical assistance in dying, where there was incredibly sensitive testimony, witnesses were not able to testify because of the tactics and games that were happening here in this place. However, despite all that, in a hybrid environment we have been able to move forward.

Let us look at last week. Last week there were five members of the Liberal caucus who had COVID, and one of these people was the Prime Minister. I do not know how many members there were in other caucuses, but all were still able to participate in these proceedings. Every day, unfortunately, thousands of Canadians across the country continue to get COVID. Sadly, many of them are in hospitals and, even more tragically, many of them are dying. This pandemic is still very much a reality.

What we have seen over the last two years is that every time we try to start a parliamentary session, we spend weeks debating whether we should or should not continue using the hybrid system. Parliament deserves stability. People are still getting COVID. They have the right to be able to participate in this place, and as has been demonstrated by the incredible amount of work we have been able to get done during the pandemic, from historic supports in the deepest, darkest time of the pandemic to the more recent times dealing with a whole range of legislation that is absolutely critical to Canadians, these provisions allow us to continue to do the work of this nation in extraordinary times.

I do not think we should be in a position such that every time we start Parliament, we continue to have this debate. Canadians need predictability, as we do not know where this pandemic or public health circumstances are going. Canadians need predictability until the House of Commons, through a committee process, can evaluate the utility and usefulness of the provisions outside of a pandemic reality to see if they should be extended or used. We need to have a proper, thorough debate in that venue, hearing from witnesses, hearing from parliamentarians, taking a look at what was accomplished and at what could be done better or differently.

We are already seeing big improvements in everything, from the services that are being delivered to interpretation. I look forward to PROC's work to see whether or not these provisions have utility, but until then, this measure would give us the stability for PROC to do its report and for Parliament to continue to function in incredibly challenging times.

That is why I think it is only prudent to pass this measure now. It is so that Parliament will have the stability to do its work, so Canadians will know this work will not be interrupted, and so we can focus instead on the business of the nation.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2022 / 6:55 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

The government says it wants to reduce gun violence by introducing Bill C‑21, but the Montreal police service tells us that 95% of handguns used in violent crimes come from the black market.

I would like to know if my colleague thinks the government is doing enough to fight violence committed with illegal weapons. Is it doing enough at the borders, for example? Is Bill C‑21 sufficient?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2022 / 6:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Grande Prairie—Mackenzie, AB

Madam Speaker, today we are debating Bill C-21. My Conservative colleagues have already laid out some of the bill's content and really the false narrative the Liberals have tried to advance in trying to pass this bill.

We know there is a significant crime problem in many of our urban centres, especially in those where we have seen a rise in shootings and gun crime. We also know that illegal weapons are the real problem. In the city of Toronto, the police have clearly stated that in over 85% of crimes involving a firearm in that city the weapons were smuggled in illegally from the United States. As a matter of fact, CBC reported that municipalities across the country report very similar stats. It said that, depending on the municipality, between 70% and 95% of all guns used in the commission of a crime have been imported from the United States.

The stats clearly prove that very few crimes were committed by those who are legally permitted to own them, who are the real targets of Bill C-21. Members will notice the Liberals never share that data. They never say that legal gun owners are not the problem because that is the group of people they like to target. They want to have Canadians believe that legal gun owners are the problem, are scary and need to be eliminated. They are stating in this bill that they want to see an end to the trading of these guns.

It is important that Canadians know that anybody who owns a weapon that is addressed in this bill has gone through extensive training and background checks, and the stats clearly indicate they are not the problem when it comes to crime in our cities. The Liberals have been fabricating a narrative that is completely hypocritical when we see what they have done. Bill C-21 does next to nothing to deal with smuggled firearms or target the criminals who import, sell and use them.

What makes the Liberals even more hypocritical is the fact that they have a bill to deal with these criminals, which is Bill C-5. In that bill the Liberals are reducing the mandatory minimum imprisonments for criminals who are involved in the following crimes: unauthorized possession of prohibited or restricted weapons; possession of prohibited or restricted firearms with ammunition; possession of firearms obtained by commission of an offence; firearms trafficking; possession of firearms for the purposes of trafficking; and knowingly importing and exporting an unauthorized firearm. They are reducing the penalties for the people who are actually the problem when it comes to gun crime in this country. It is clear to see the Liberals have no interest in dealing with the real problem, taking illegal weapons off of our streets.

As if we needed any additional evidence that the Liberal government would go to disturbing lengths to advance its own political agenda, in breaking news just yesterday afternoon we learned that the Liberals would jeopardize the independence of the institution of the RCMP for their political interests. The evidence in the report that was released included some of the scariest evidence of how low the government will go and how many boundaries it will break to advance its own political agenda. The Halifax Examiner exposed the rot that exists in the government and the manipulation it expects from the highest levels of what should be an independent trusted public institution.

The headline screams, “RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki tried to 'jeopardize' mass murder investigation to advance [the Prime Minister's] gun control efforts”. In her report, Jennifer Henderson stated:

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki “made a promise” to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and the Prime Minister's Office to leverage the mass murders of April 18/19, 2020 to get a gun control law passed.

A week after the murders, Lucki pressured RCMP in Nova Scotia to release details of the weapons used by the killer. But RCMP commanders in Nova Scotia refused to release such details, saying doing so would threaten their investigation into the murders.

The Trudeau government’s gun control objectives were spelled out in an order in council issued in May 2020....

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2022 / 6:30 p.m.
See context

Kingston and the Islands Ontario

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (Senate)

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise today to speak to Bill C-21, an act to amend certain acts and to make certain consequential amendments, specifically with respect to firearms. I know that there has been a lot said about this bill and how it would impact Canadians. I know that there have been some unfortunate comments that, in my opinion, do not exactly reflect what is in this bill, so I will use the opportunity today to try to highlight exactly what this bill would do.

First and foremost, this bill would establish a national freeze on handguns. Individuals would no longer have the ability to buy, sell, transfer or import handguns. This is extremely reasonable in today's society with what we are seeing going on not just outside of our borders in the United States, but also as we have actually witnessed here in Canada. We know that for the vast majority of those who are looking to harm individuals and utilize a gun for an illegal purpose, the weapon of choice is a handgun, and it is extremely important to ensure that there is a restricted ability for people to access these.

There would be exemptions, and there are exemptions in the bill, that ensure that those who require a weapon for security or policing purposes, etc., would obviously be exempt for those reasons. They would be able to make purchases for those reasons.

We also know that a certain number of people out there enjoy using a handgun for sport: for shooting at a range or in various ways. They utilize that. Although it might be more challenging to access a handgun in order to continue using it for that purpose, this bill certainly makes it known that this is not about attempting to regulate those individuals or prevent those individuals from utilizing a handgun for that purpose. In many cases, for sport, those individuals would not be impacted.

This bill would also establish red flag and yellow flag laws to expand the licence revocation process when it is deemed necessary in the right context.

The bill would also combat firearms smuggling and trafficking, notably by increasing the maximum penalty of imprisonment for indictable weapons offences. This is extremely important to reference because this, along with the mandatory minimum sentences bill that the House has also been debating in the past few weeks, is a talking point for Conservatives, with respect to minimum sentences being dropped primarily because the Supreme Court has determined that to be a necessity. Because those are being dropped, the Conservatives are suggesting that the government is being more lenient on those who commit certain crimes that would have otherwise been, and currently would be, regulated by mandatory minimums.

It is actually the opposite, because although the government does feel that when it comes to sentencing, judges should be the ones who are determining what sentencing is, we also recognize that for some of these indictable offences, particularly those around weapons, we would be giving greater sentencing capacity to change that maximum sentence from 10 years to 14 years. Indeed, when judges find it appropriate to increase the sentence even further, they would be given more capacity to do that.

Of course, as indicated by other people who spoke before me, there is a provision within this bill to prohibit mid-velocity replica airguns. The reasons for that are quite notable, despite the fact that we have heard some conversation about the fact that different sporting activities might from time to time require these airguns.

It is very important to point out that this bill, at least in my opinion, is not about targeting law-abiding gun owners.

Most of my uncles in particular either own hunting lodges, where they hunt with their friends and families, or have been participating as hunters for generations, quite frankly. On my wife's side of the family, my father-in-law grew up on a hunting and fishing lodge. I am quite familiar with the needs and requirements of hunters specifically, and I must admit I have never heard one of them talk about the need to use a handgun or an AR-15 for the purpose of hunting.

What we are really trying to do here is curb the use of guns for illegal purposes: for the shootings we have seen in our country and continue to witness in the United States to the south of us. That is what the issue really is here.

I know the default, and quite often used, excuse from the other side of the House is to ask why we are not going after those who are trying to bring the guns across the border, because a significant number of guns that are used in criminal activity are coming from across the border.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms), be read the second time and referred to a committee, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2022 / 5:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Randeep Sarai Liberal Surrey Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in the debate today on Bill C-21, an act to amend certain acts and to make certain consequential amendments concerning firearms. This is a very important issue for the majority of Canadians, and it is particularly important for my constituency, where public safety was recently identified as a top area of concern for our community.

All levels of government and numerous dedicated organizations in my riding of Surrey Centre have been working for many years to address gun violence and gang-related violence. Rates of gun violence have continued to rise since 2009, and violent offences that involve guns have increased by 81%. With so much news content from the United States available to Canadians, we hear daily reports of shootings in the United States. We do not want this constant exposure to desensitize us to the horrific, unspeakable tragedies that come from gun violence. As we know, Canada is not immune to that violence.

Too many communities across the country have grieved the loss of loved ones. École Polytechnique, Moncton, the mosque shooting in Quebec City, and Nova Scotia are only a few of many examples of violent acts with firearms that have occurred in Canada. These examples do not even cover the number of individuals who face gun violence on a regular basis due to domestic or intimate partner violence or gang-related activity.

According to Statistics Canada, there has been a notable increase in firearm-related violent crime across many rural areas in the country, and 47% of Canadians reported feeling that gun violence posed a serious threat to their communities. This includes my own community of Surrey Centre. Earlier this year, the RCMP in Surrey reported that, in a six-day span, there had been four incidents of shots fired in the city.

From my days in high school, I saw hundreds of young boys and men shot and killed for petty disputes and turf wars. Others will recall the innocent victims of gun violence who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Paul Bennett, a nurse and hockey coach, was killed outside his home in Surrey. Chris Mohan was shot for simply being on the same floor as a gangland hit. Bikramdeep Randhawa, a correctional officer, was killed outside of a McDonald's in another case of mistaken identity. These are all on top of hundreds of women killed in cases of domestic or intimate partner violence, including Maple Batalia, a young woman studying at Simon Fraser University, who was killed on campus by a jealous ex-boyfriend.

This is far too regular an occurrence and it puts our communities at risk of being caught in the crossfire. It is clear we need to do more to address gun violence in our communities. Canadians deserve to feel safe in their communities, homes, schools and workplaces, and we do not want to wait for another tragedy to occur in Canada before we take strong action to address that violence.

We know that reducing access to firearms reduces the amount of gun violence. It is simple. Other countries around the world have essentially eliminated gun violence in their countries by enacting tougher laws. Scotland, Australia and New Zealand are all examples of this.

In 1996, a deadly shooting at Dunblane Primary School in Scotland killed 16 students and a teacher and injured 15 others. The following year, the U.K. Parliament banned private ownership of most handguns as well as semi-automatic weapons, and required mandatory registration for shotgun owners. The reforms required owners of permitted firearms to pass a strict licence process, which involves interviews and home visits by local police who have the authority to deny approval of permits if they deem the would-be owner a potential risk to public safety. In the last decade, there have only been three homicides by gun violence in the United Kingdom. There has never been another school shooting.

Also in 1996, in a shooting at a café in Port Arthur, Australia, a man opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle. He killed 35 people and wounded another 28. Australia's then new prime minister, John Howard, who had taken office only six weeks prior to the tragedy, led a sweeping nationwide reform on guns following the incident. Australia's National Firearms Agreement restricted legal ownership of firearms in Australia. It established a registry of all guns owned in the country, among other measures. It required a permit for all new firearms purchases, as well as a flat-out ban on certain kinds of guns, such as automatic and semi-automatic rifles and shotguns.

Similar to our own government's plan, the Australian government has established a mandatory buyback of legal and illegal guns resulting in 650,000 formerly legally owned guns being peacefully seized. The average firearm suicide rate in Australia, in the seven years after the bill, declined by 57% compared with the seven years prior. The average firearm homicide rate went down by nearly 42%. Between 1978 and 1995, 13 mass shootings occurred in the country. In the years since those mass shootings, Australians brought in sweeping gun reform, and since 1995 there has only been one mass shooting.

New Zealand has traditionally had a high gun ownership rate, but tight restrictions and low rates of gun violence. In less than the two weeks after a far right extremist killed 50 people at a mosque in 2019, authorities in New Zealand announced a ban on military-style semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity magazines, like those the attacker had used. They also created a buyback program, as well as a special commission to explore broader issues around the accessibility of weapons and the role of social media.

Gun ownership in Canada is the fifth highest in the world. The countries I have mentioned, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand, are like Canada in that they all have a strong culture of guns. Despite this, they have successfully reduced the number of gun-related incidents and saved countless lives through comprehensive reforms and policies that address the complexity of gun violence.

The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security recently tabled a report entitled, “A Path Forward: Reducing Gun and Gang Violence in Canada”. The committee heard from 50 witnesses who echoed the same message: Gun violence is a complex issue that will take more than one program or policy to fix. The committee heard that it will take a multi-faceted and comprehensive approach that includes all levels of government, indigenous peoples, grassroots organizations, law enforcement and social services. It will require research, collection of data, and preventative and intervention measures.

Our government is committed to addressing gun violence, and we will continue to take action in an effort to mitigate the senseless tragedies that occur at the hands of firearms, and this legislation is the next step.

For those who say illegal guns smuggled across the border are the ones that we should be concerned about, they should have spoken up when the Harper Conservatives cut CBSA staff by 30%, or when they disbanded and defunded the major organized crime unit in the RCMP that investigated cross-border smuggling. How were they silent then? Are they silent now, when it comes to reducing gun violence? The story is the same.

We re-funded the CBSA and the RCMP, and the proof is in the pudding, with gun seizures at the border being double last year from the year prior.

Our plan to address gun violence will address this complexity. Bill C-21 will establish a national freeze on handguns; establish red flag and yellow flag laws; expand licence revocation; combat firearms smuggling and trafficking, notably by increasing the maximum penalty; and prohibit mid-velocity replica airguns.

This plan is about the survivors and about communities across Canada from coast to coast to coast, which are too often touched by gun violence. Canadians told us they wanted to see more action, more quickly, and we are doing that through our commitment to do more.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms), be read the second time and referred to a committee, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 22nd, 2022 / 5 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-21, the NDP-Liberals' most recent attempt to scapegoat law-abiding firearms owners and to trick the average Canadian into believing they are trying to improve public safety while doing absolutely no such thing.

If we looks at the balance of the government's agenda on public safety and justice, we see that Liberals seem content to undermine both of these departments and the essential institutions that support them. This is being done in order to virtue signal and play petty politics to the detriment of our entire society.

While this is deeply disappointing, it is hardly surprising. The government is light on substantive policy solutions and heavy on press conferences and so-called alternative facts.

Today additional details came to light about interference by the government and the Prime Minister in the investigation of the tragic mass murders in Nova Scotia in an attempt to create a narrative that would fit their political agenda. This is important, because it speaks to the foundation on which substantial parts of the Liberals' firearms policy rests, including parts of Bill C-21, the bill we are currently debating.

The Halifax Examiner reported yesterday that “RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki 'made a promise' to [the] Public Safety Minister...[at the time] and the Prime Minister’s Office to leverage the mass murders of April 18/19, 2020 to get a gun control law passed.”

To be clear, that former public safety minister is now the current Minister of Emergency Preparedness.

The article makes it clear that the commissioner was being pressured by the Prime Minister's Office and the current Minister of Emergency Preparedness to ensure that information was released that would help them politically, to the detriment of the ongoing investigation and potentially placing it in jeopardy.

As the Minister of Emergency Preparedness is a former police chief, we would expect better from him. However, maybe this is how he has always operated. This is a pattern of behaviour with this Prime Minister: He puts himself first, the Liberal Party second, his donors and insider friends third, and then if there is time and the chance for a really good photo op, he might try to do something that actually helps a few Canadians.

This is an example of the first two. The Prime Minister was willing to interfere with the ongoing police investigation in order to try to leverage a political edge. This used to be unimaginable, but given the Prime Minister's SNC-Lavalin track record, it is totally in line with his character. The way someone does one thing is the way that person does everything.

I want to read part of this article, because it is important and deserves to be heard in this place. Nova Scotia Superintendent Darren Campbell wrote about a meeting he had with Commissioner Lucki, stating:

The Commissioner was obviously upset. She did not raise her voice but her choice of words was indicative of her overall dissatisfaction with our work. The Commissioner accused us (me) of disrespecting her by not following her instructions. I was and remain confused over this. The Commissioner said she told Comms to tell us at H Division to include specific info about the firearms used by [the killer]….However I said we couldn’t because to do so would jeopardize ongoing efforts to advance the U.S. side of the case as well as the Canadian components of the investigation. Those are facts and I stand by them.

Those are the words of Superintendent Campbell.

I will add that every police officer carries with them an evidence notebook. I, as a former law enforcement officer back in the 1990s, still have today my evidence notebooks in case I need to recall facts about events that happened while I was on duty.

The article continues:

Campbell noted that Lucki went on at length and said she was “sad and disappointed” that he had not provided these details to the media. Campbell continued:

The Commissioner said she had promised the Minister of Public Safety and the Prime Minister’s Office that the RCMP (we) would release this information. I tried to explain there was no intent to disrespect anyone however we could not release this information at this time. The Commissioner then said that we didn’t understand, that this was tied to pending gun control legislation that would make officers and the public safer. She was very upset and at one point Deputy Commissioner (Brian) Brennan tried to get things calmed down but that had little effect. Some in the room were reduced to tears and emotional over this belittling reprimand.

The article makes it clear that this was not the only way that the government interfered with this investigation and the release of information, by pressuring the commissioner to break agreed-upon protocols.

The article also attributes a quote to Lia Scanlan, communications director for the RCMP, that says, “The commissioner releases a body count that we don’t even have. She went out and did that. It was all political pressure. That is 100% the minister and the Prime Minister. And we have a Commissioner that does not push back.”

Those are the words of RCMP communications director Scanlan. It is deeply concerning that the commissioner would not push back against the government on this request, but it is completely and totally unacceptable that she should ever have had to. I can only surmise that she is all too familiar with what happens to women who speak truth to power to the Prime Minister and his underlings.

This is the foundation on which Bill C-21 was constructed: political pressure and interference with the RCMP, misinformation about the perpetrators of gun violence and naked political opportunism. The bill was also announced on the heels of an American tragedy, deliberately importing American political discourse into domestic Canadian policies. The Prime Minister seems to be confused about the impact of Canadian legislation on American society, of which there is virtually none.

Unless he is announcing his plan to run for president of the United States, he should start trying to address the issues that Canadians face, not American issues here in Canada.

The firearms regimes in our two countries, Canada and the United States, are completely different. It has been made clear that the mass murderer from Texas would not be able to get a gun in Canada. In most U.S. states, a 21-year-old American with no convictions could purchase a firearm and, in pretty much every state, carry it. In about half of them, they could carry concealed with limited regulations. That is not the reality in Canada.

I am a law-abiding firearms owner. In Canada, people need to take a firearms safety course, apply for a licence and submit to a background check, not only on the initial application but on every reapplication every five years, in which the RCMP can contact former conjugal partners. Then, they wait for that information to come back for a few months, and maybe then can go and purchase a firearm and abide by stringent safe storage and transport laws. That is the reality in Canada. Every day, my ability to continue to own or possess firearms is checked against the Canadian Police Information Centre’s database to ensure that I am still legally and lawfully able to.

If only the government of the day would spend that much time following up on people who are prohibited from possessing or acquiring firearms, spend that much time policing our borders and making sure that the people on our borders had the tools and equipment that they needed, and spend that much time in this chamber actually focused on criminals who commit crimes: they shoot guns in our urban centres, in our communities and in our rural areas and have no respect for the law and no respect for human life.

That is not the case with the 2.1 million law-abiding Canadian firearms owners. In fact, the data clearly says the opposite. If we are going to be harmed by somebody in the country with a firearm, the vast majority of that harm is coming from somebody who is not licensed to have the firearm in the first place.

Every gun in this country is illegal unless it is in the possession of somebody licensed to have it. We have the best firearms laws in the world, and I will put that up against the record of any other country.

It is shameful that the government is importing U.S. politics into Canada to sell misinformation to the voters of this country and disenfranchise law-abiding Canadian citizens.

The House resumed from June 21 consideration of the motion that Bill C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms), be read the second time and referred to a committee, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.

Interruption to ProceedingsPrivilegeOral Questions

June 22nd, 2022 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Greg McLean Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a question of privilege concerning last night's crash of the hybrid Parliament system. I was working in my Confederation Building office here in the precinct for the House of Commons, but could not log into the Zoom portion of the House's proceedings last night. We were discussing Bill C-21, the government's cynical approach to gun control, which was to be followed by Bill C-28, a response to the Supreme Court's decision that relieved extremely intoxicated criminals of taking responsibility for their crimes. These are both issues that many of my constituents are very passionate about, and I wanted to be present for the debates.

Several colleagues also tried to access the video conference for the sitting, but were unsuccessful, I was told. I also understand that a meeting of the very important Special Joint Committee on the Declaration of Emergency, the committee looking into the government's choice to declare a national emergency over this winter's truck protest in Ottawa, had to be abandoned because of these technical failures.

Beyond the obvious inconvenience and embarrassment of the hybrid system, which incredibly the government House leader will be asking later today to be renewed for another year, this incident represents broadly, I believe, a breach of the privilege to be able to represent my constituents. Under the House order of November 25, 2021, which reinstituted hybrid arrangements after last year's election, “members may participate in proceedings of the House either in person or by video conference”. It states “may participate”. There is no caveat or qualification to that. There is nothing that says it is only applicable when all the technology lines are up.

As much as I may think the hybrid Parliament should be scrapped, the House has agreed to those arrangements until at least tomorrow, so I sought to exercise my right to participate remotely from my parliamentary office, yet I simply could not.

While I acknowledge that the House suspended last evening shortly after the connectivity problems were flagged, which was appropriate, the way the House adjourned was not, however. According to the records of the House, the sitting resumed at 8:54 last evening when the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader then sought unanimous consent for the House to adjourn. The chair then canvassed the House in the usual manner and found there was agreement for the motion. Since I was trying to attend remotely, but with a technical range that prevented me from doing so, I was unable to present for that vote. That too is a breach of my privileges.

I have since come to understand that there had been a consensus of party representatives to reconvene the House for the purpose of adjourning when it became obvious that technical issues could not be resolved prior to midnight. That said, I understand that my House leader's office had been assured by the government House leader's office that a minister of the Crown would be proposing the adjournment of the House. That is a critical point in these circumstances. Last night's sitting was an extended sitting under the House order of May 2, better known as Motion No. 11, which permits a cabinet minister to move an adjournment motion on a point of order, which is deemed adopted upon being moved. There would have been no vote and no opportunity to object. The NDP-Liberal agreement on Motion No. 11 already stripped me of those rights.

Had any of the 39 ministers of the Crown been here to manage the Business of the House, the House could have properly adjourned early under the Liberals' ruthless Motion No. 11, but they did not even manage that correctly. Instead, there was a vote and I was not able to be present for it. Your predecessors, Mr. Speaker, have found several prima facie cases of privilege concerning the inability of a member to reach the House, especially when there is a vote.

Mr. Speaker Regan put it well on April 6, 2017, at page 10,246 of the Debates:

The importance of the matter of members' access to the precinct, particularly when there are votes for members to attend, cannot be overstated. It bears repeating that even a temporary denial of access, whether there is a vote or not, cannot be tolerated.

He cited favourably the 21st report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs in 2004, in relation to security arrangements on Parliament Hill for the visit of an American president:

The denial of access to Members of the House—even if temporary—is unacceptable, and constitutes a contempt of the House. Members must not be impeded or interfered with while on their way to the Chamber, or when going about their parliamentary business. To permit this would interfere with the operation of the House of Commons, and undermine the pre-eminent right of the House to the service of its Members.

Those cases concerned physical obstruction.

Page 111 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, reminds us, “A Member may also be obstructed or interfered with in the performance of his or her parliamentary functions by non-physical means.” This new hybrid world obviously presents entirely new considerations that had not even been contemplated when those previous cases arose or when our procedural authorities were written. Bosc and Gagnon, at page 112, continues, “It is impossible to codify all incidents which might be interpreted as matters of obstruction [or] interference”.

That said, Mr. Speaker, I know that you, yourself, have been seized with considering just how privilege intersects with the virtual component of our proceedings from the very beginning. When the procedure and House affairs committee first began studying these issues in the earliest weeks of the pandemic, you testified on April 21, 2020, saying, at page five of the evidence, “By not having the connectivity or by having any issues, that could be an issue down the road.”

Later you added, at page 10, with particular relevance to my situation last night, “Allowing individuals to vote is the heart of our system, and it's the base of parliamentary privilege.” You reinforced this point in your July 6, 2020, appearance before the same committee by commenting, at page six of the evidence, “It is a member's privilege to vote, and we don't want the member to lose that privilege or not be able to access it.”

The issue goes much deeper than just attending votes. I could not attend any of the virtual sitting. A predecessor of yours, Peter Milliken, bluntly made the point about connection failures to the procedure and House affairs committee on April 23, 2020, at page 19 of the evidence. He said, “It would be a matter of privilege if they couldn't get into it.”

Taking the evidence the committee heard in the spring and summer of 2020, it presented two reports which helped form the structure of the hybrid system which has evolved here. Its views on these issues are equally clear.

In its fifth report presented in May 2020, the committee wrote at page 31, “It is essential that any modifications to the procedures and practices of the House made in response to the COVID-19 outbreak fully respect the rights possessed by members under parliamentary privilege.” It continues, “Further, in the exercise of the rights accorded by parliamentary privilege, members have the right to full and equal participation in parliamentary proceedings.” Last night, I did not have full and equal participation in parliamentary proceedings.

In its seventh report, which was presented in July 2020, at page 55, the committee recommended:

That the virtual or hybrid parliament replicate the rules and customs of the House as closely as possible...in order to fully ensure the democratic role of Parliament (deliberation, accountability and decision-making), as well as the parliamentary rights and privileges of members.

Further in the report, at page 60, the committee recommended, “That members participating virtually in any proceedings of the House of Commons enjoy and exercise the same parliamentary privileges that apply to members physically present.” I was incapable of exercising the same rights and privileges as my colleagues inside the chamber last evening when the Chair canvassed the House on the parliamentary secretary's unanimous consent motion.

As for the causes of the outage last night, I would submit that identifying the origins and motivations, if any, if either can even be identified, is immaterial to this question of privilege.

First, and most important, House business was conducted in defiance of the order adopted on November 25, 2021, denying me the opportunity to participate and vote, which is in breach of parliamentary privilege.

Second, that is a matter that a committee of the House, with a privilege reference, can determine. I will quote Mr. Speaker Milliken from October 15, 2001, at page 6085 of the debates, who said:

There is a body that is well equipped to commit acts of inquisition, and that is the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which has a fearsome chairman, quite able to extract information from witnesses who appear before the committee, with the aid of the capable members who form that committee of the House.

Third, even if the source of last night's technical difficulties can be readily pinpointed, I would refer you to the ruling of your predecessor, the hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, on March 6, 2012, at page 5,834 of the debates, where he found a prima facie case of privilege in connection with the online hacker collective Anonymous.

I have long thought that we need to get back to traditional in-person sittings of the House. Yesterday's situation is just the latest example of why it is so important.

Though I recognize I am straying into debate on Motion No. 19, which is on today's schedule, the point remains that something serious happened last night. It was something that rose to the level of a breach of privilege, and a committee needs to get to the bottom of it. Should you agree, Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to move the appropriate motion.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2022 / 7:15 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Yves Perron Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague, whom I hold in high esteem, for the quality of his speech and his thoughtful consideration. He is proving it again today.

When I mentioned the 95% figure earlier, I was referring to 95% of violent crimes committed on the streets of Montreal. We are not talking about the same statistics. I have not seen the statistic that 75% of suicides are committed with firearms. I will trust my colleague on the validity of that figure.

Of course that is an issue. Bill C-21 could contribute to some progress in that regard, since it will reduce the number of handguns in circulation, gradually and over time.

Beyond that, I think my colleague mentioned the key elements: mental health and resources. The day that society adequately funds health care, for instance, to focus on prevention rather than the cure, or band-aid solutions after the fact, we will be well on our way to solving these problems.

My question is fundamental. It is clear where I am going with this. I am still talking about those darn health transfers. Can we just get the money to take care of our people? Then we can invest in mental health or homelessness and we can make a difference. I am sure my colleague agrees with me.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2022 / 7:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

John Brassard Conservative Barrie—Innisfil, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague from the Bloc for his speech.

The member talked about some of the issues that the government has been dealing with, and spoke in terms of illusion. I would suggest that, right now, we are a country in chaos. Even the most basic government services are being bungled by this government: passports, immigration, border issues at Roxham Road, the issues with Afghanistan and Ukraine, inflation, affordability and, not least, political interference, according to a news story that came to light today.

This is a complicated issue that requires complicated solutions. Is there any confidence, on the part of the member who just spoke, in the government's ability to deal with this issue effectively? The issue is guns, gangs, illegal criminals and the illegal importation of guns that are used for violent crimes. Does the member have any confidence in the government's ability to actually find an effective solution through Bill C-21, or is this simply smoke and mirrors and just another way of the government mishandling something?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2022 / 7:05 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Yves Perron Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was saying that I do not understand why the government does not work with the opposition to table bills that will really make a difference.

I was talking about a definition for an assault weapon. That is important. Taking action is a Bloc proposal. We have a lot of proposals like that. Every time I rise, I am thrilled to list the Bloc's intelligent and well-thought-out proposals. I often sound brilliant when I do that, but our extraordinary research team really deserves a lot of credit.

Then there is organized crime. The people shooting at each other in Montreal are organized. They are in a gang. They want to eliminate the other gang and take over the neighbourhood. We have all watched plenty of movies and can imagine what motivates them to go and shoot someone in a restaurant, in front of children. The tragedy is that this is not a movie on Netflix. This really happens. We do not have to accept that.

As elected members of the federal Parliament, it is not only our duty but our moral obligation to act on this. We are debating Bill C‑21, which will affect 5% of the firearms being used. It is a small step forward, but it does not address the real problems. Lately, during almost every question period, my colleague from Rivière-du-Nord has been asking the Minister of Public Safety when he will create a list of recognized criminal entities.

Something similar exists for terrorist groups. It gives police something to work with. It gives prosecutors tools. It makes it easier to bring people to justice. We control the laws. We have the freedom to do that.

Why not give ourselves this gift? I do not understand. Who are we afraid of? Those are the questions we need to be asking ourselves.

We are dealing with a government that will go to the media and say it is taking action on guns by passing Bill C-21, when really, the bill does absolutely nothing. I can say this because every time my colleague from Rivière-du-Nord sits down after a question in question period, that is the answer he gets. He is told every time that the government has introduced Bill C-21 and that it hopes the Bloc Québécois will support its passage. Of course the Bloc Québécois is going to vote in favour, but we need more than that. We need to tackle the root cause of the problem.

We are dealing with a government that is all about image. It does not care about tackling problems. Just look at the passport crisis we are currently facing. That is the perfect example. How long have we been talking about that? Can the government do something about it, put resources into it, open the offices on weekends?

The minister stands up and says that the offices are open on weekends, but people are telling me over the phone that the offices are not open on weekends. Then we are not supposed to get upset. For 10 years, we have been calling for employment insurance reform. What is happening? Nothing. Last fall, fathers still had to prove they were using food banks in order to get benefits. Cuts are still being made to the guaranteed income supplement. The Liberals are going to stop making cuts in July. The machine is too big. No one knows how to press the button without messing up the entire calculation. It is going to take another cheque. It is totally ridiculous. Despite the inflation we are seeing right now, the government refuses to increase the old age security pension. I could go on at length.

I asked a question about support for agriculture today. It has been more than a month since people from agricultural organizations proposed practical solutions. They are not asking for money to be thrown at them. They are showing up with a list of solutions. More than a month has gone by, and there is still no response. It is radio silence. The management of the border during the COVID‑19 pandemic is another issue. I could go on until midnight. Are we sitting until midnight? I am game.

Let us come back to the bill. This bill has positive elements. Earlier, the parliamentary secretary spoke about red-flag and yellow-flag provisions. We are aware of these provisions, and that is why we will support the bill. At the same time, there are contradictions. Bill C‑21 increases the sentence for gun traffickers in an attempt to impress the public, whereas Bill C‑5 reduces the sentences.

We say that we agree with reducing sentences, but this is not the time to reduce them for crimes committed with a firearm. The response is that, in any event, it does not change criminals' minds.

The same argument does not hold from one bill to the other, which I have a hard time understanding. Everyone in the Bloc Québécois is reaching out to the government. We want to crack down on real organized crime, the real criminals, the thugs who traffic firearms and terrorize our cities. There is work to do and we are prepared to do it. Until then, we will vote in favour of Bill C‑21 because it is a step in the right direction.