An Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal organizations)

Sponsor

Rhéal Fortin  Bloc

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Outside the Order of Precedence (a private member's bill that hasn't yet won the draw that determines which private member's bills can be debated), as of June 2, 2022

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-279.

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.

Consideration of Motion ResumedOrder Respecting the Business of the House and its CommitteesGovernment Orders

June 23rd, 2022 / 1 p.m.
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Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, June 23, and tomorrow, Quebeckers will gather to celebrate. I invite everyone to proudly celebrate our national holiday. The large celebrations in Quebec City and Montreal will be held tonight.

In my riding, we will be celebrating this evening in Joliette, Saint-Charles-Borromée, Notre-Dame-des-Prairies, Rawdon, Crabtree, Saint-Michel-des-Saints and Sainte-Marcelline.

After two years of the pandemic, this national holiday is a very good occasion to get back to proudly celebrating together our love for Quebec and for our national language.

The 188th celebration will bring people together and inspire them. This year's theme is “One Language, a Thousand Accents”, which refers to the immense richness that our beautiful language contributes to Quebec culture and identity. Quebec society is vibrant, innovative and open to the future. We want our nation to develop in French. In that regard, I want to quote Michel Tremblay from today's edition of the Journal de Montréal:

I looked for a new argument to warn against the danger to the French language in Quebec. It seemed to me that everything had already been said and repeated. Then I remembered the last verses of Émile Nelligan's Vaisseau d’or: What has my heart become, thus set adrift at sea? Alas, that ship has sunk in an abyss of dreams! We must not let the French language sink in an abyss of dreams; we must make it flourish, we must make it prevail.

I would also like to take a moment to quote Gilles Vigneault, who was also published in the Journal de Montréal:

Language is like a country, both nomadic and sedentary!

Words, like its inhabitants, travel around the world.

If you recognize them, if these are your words,

They are your passport; this is your country!

Everyone's country is a strange thing

That sleeps through the long winter, like a rose in the garden, only to wake up in the spring, after I'd nearly forgotten about it

Creating a garden that is both numerous and singular

It is, simultaneously: house, garden, ship,

The ocean, the fountain and the tree and the paper.

No sooner had these words come off the pen

Than I heard the wind. A tacking sail

Is inviting me to prepare for a long journey...

What do words offer to the entire planet,

In space and time, where borders don't matter...

Should we leave at night or at daybreak?

The smallest window becomes a mirror in the dead of night

And reflects back to me the words I need to know myself.

At dawn...we have to believe someone is waiting for us, somewhere. Lutetia, Athens, Rome...are they part of my history?

The word LANGUAGE, immense and deep territory, will tell me where I come from, where I'm going...so I'm off!

Before I quoted those two giants, a few moments ago I said “we will be celebrating” in my riding. However, I probably cannot include myself in that “we”, because we here in the House are likely to be sitting late again tonight.

The thing is, in Quebec, local, national and federal elected representatives usually attend the celebrations. It is a perfect opportunity to meet the people we represent. I will not be able to do that this year. We will not be able to do it after two years of a pandemic. We asked the government to wrap things up earlier this afternoon by adopting the Friday schedule, but it refused. The Leader of the Government had zero interest in accommodating our request. Why? Because we have to debate this motion.

The government wants to extend the hybrid Parliament by a year. It seems to think this is a pressing issue that we cannot just discuss when we come back at the end of the summer. This government and its leader stubbornly opted to prevent Quebec members from celebrating our national holiday with our constituents. That speaks volumes about the Liberals' respect for Quebec. That is how Canada recognizes the Quebec nation. We will remember this.

Throughout the spring, the government has been ramping up the number of gag orders to get bills passed quickly. The House did not have to sit late tonight. However, the government and its leader do not care about my nation. I think it is best to describe this government with bird names, which is about all it deserves: mockingbird, cuckoo, woodcock, dodo, cuckold, chicken, tufted tit-tyrant, little bustard, horned screamer, smew, turkey and vulture. I will stop there, even though it is deserving of more.

Their insensitivity is not unrelated to the fact that this session has been marked by a clash of values between the federal government and Quebec, as well as by the ineptitude of a Liberal party that is struggling to keep the government functioning at the most basic level. The Prime Minister has made it official: He intends to attack Quebec's Bill 21 on state secularism, as well as Quebec's Bill 96 on the protection of French.

He introduced a bill on official languages that does not protect French in Quebec but instead protects the right to anglicize federal workplaces. He condoned reducing the political weight of the Quebec nation in the Parliament of Canada.

This government embodies the clash between the values of Canada and Quebec on every issue. We in the Bloc Québécois will continue our work, which is now more essential than ever, to defend and promote Quebec's interests.

This session made it clear just how incompetent the federal government is. If governing means looking ahead, the passport crisis paints a picture of a worn-out government caucus that is struggling to provide even basic services to Quebeckers.

The number of Liberal ministers who have been in the hot seat at the end of this session because of embarrassing mistakes is worrisome. This government is incapable of being proactive. It would rather make grand gestures in front of the camera than ensure the sound day-to day management of the country's affairs.

What is more, the Liberals seem to have knowingly lied to Quebeckers and Canadians about the greenhouse gas reduction targets and invoking the Emergencies Act at the request of police.

We asked for more powers for Quebec in the area of immigration from an unwilling government.

We noted the resistance of federal parties to state secularism when we proposed abolishing the prayer in the House.

We raised the debate about ideological criteria being imposed on funding for scientific research, which the government refused to consider.

The Bloc Québécois voiced the concerns of Quebeckers on gun violence, in particular by introducing Bill C‑279 to create a list of criminal organizations when faced with a federal government that has a lax approach to gun trafficking and organized crime.

We also advocated for the environment in a Canadian Parliament that, in the midst of the climate crisis, supports the Bay du Nord oil project.

We also continued to fight for increased funding for health care and the abolition of two classes of seniors by increasing old age security for people aged 65 and over.

If the Liberals wanted to convince Quebeckers that they have everything to gain by looking after all their public matters themselves, they would not go about it any other way. They used the artificial majority they gained with the NDP's support to oppose Quebec. Quebeckers have taken note. We will remember.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2022 / 5:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Louise Chabot Bloc Thérèse-De Blainville, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague the following question.

Bill C-21 is a half measure, because it will have no real impact on organized crime and illegal weapons. With regard to organized crime, the Bloc Québécois has introduced Bill C-279, which aims to create a list of criminal organizations.

Would the member agree with this kind of crackdown?

Second ReadingCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2022 / 12:45 p.m.
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Bloc

Luc Desilets Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his brilliant speech.

I would like him to explain why our Liberal colleagues do not support Bill C-279, which seeks to create a list of criminal organizations.

Second ReadingCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 21st, 2022 / 12:10 p.m.
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Bloc

Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will begin by saying I will be sharing my time with the always incisive member for Rivière-du-Nord.

Some debates are complex, difficult and delicate. They elicit strong reactions, and even divide us and help create rifts in our society. The debate on Bill C-21 is a striking example.

I remember that this is the first file I commented on publicly after I was elected for the first time in fall 2019, and here we are at the end of the session in my second term, in June 2022, and we are still talking about it.

I would like to point out that the Bloc Québécois will still be voting in favour of Bill C-21 at second reading, but we believe that the bill should be improved in committee. My colleagues can rest assured that the Bloc will try to be as constructive as possible, but our now-famous dynamic duo, namely the hon. member for Rivière-du-Nord and the hon. member for Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, could explain it better than I can, since they have asked the Minister of Public Safety many questions on the issue. I will begin my speech by addressing certain aspects of Bill C-21, then certain points more specifically related to femicide and, lastly, other points focusing on domestic violence.

First, given the numerous events in the news in Montreal lately, Bill C-21 is a step in the right direction, but it will have little effect in the short term and change practically nothing in the streets of Montreal. The most important new feature in this bill is a complete freeze on the acquisition, sale and transfer of handguns for private individuals. Legal handguns will therefore disappear on the death of the last owner, since it will be impossible to bequeath or transfer the guns to others.

However, the bill includes exceptions for people who need a handgun to perform their duties, such as bodyguards with a licence to carry, authorized companies, for filming purposes for example, and high-level sport shooters. The government will define by regulation what is a “sport shooter”.

Those who already own a handgun will still be able to use it legally, but they will have to make sure to always renew their licence before the deadline or lose this privilege. The bill freezes the acquisition of legal handguns, but we will have to wait many years before all of the guns are gone, through attrition. In contrast, the number of illegal guns will continue to grow.

The federal government estimates that there are more than one million legal handguns in Canada and that more than 55,000 are acquired legally every year. The federal freeze would therefore prevent 55,000 handguns from being added to the existing number, but it does nothing about the millions of guns already in circulation. The Bloc Québécois suggests adding handguns to the buyback program in order to allow owners to sell them to the government if they so wish. In short, we are proposing an optional buyback program.

However, one of the problems is that, according to Montreal's police force, the SPVM, 95% of the handguns used to commit violent crimes are purchased on the black market. Legal guns are sometimes used, as in the case of the Quebec City mosque shooting, and it is precisely to avoid such mass shootings that the Bloc Québécois supports survivor groups in their demands to ban these guns altogether.

Bill C‑21 does nothing about assault weapons either, even though manufacturers are custom designing many new models to get around the May 1, 2020, regulations. The Bloc suggests adding as clear a definition as possible of the term “prohibited assault weapon”, so that they can all be banned in one fell swoop, rather than on a model-by-model basis with taxpayers paying for them to be bought back. The government wants to add to the list of prohibited weapons, but manufacturers are quick to adapt.

Also, Bill C‑21 will have no real impact on organized crime groups, which will continue to import weapons illegally and shoot people down in our streets. The Bloc Québécois has tabled Bill C-279 to create a list of criminal organizations, similar to the list of terrorist entities, in order to crack down on criminal groups that are currently displaying their gang symbols with total impunity while innocent people are dying in our streets. My colleague from Rivière-du-Nord will discuss this bill in more detail, since he is the sponsor.

The most important thing for getting to the heart of the problem is reducing the number of guns available. Bill C‑21 increases prison sentences for arms traffickers, from 10 years to 14, and makes it an offence to alter cartridge magazines. It was already illegal to possess cartridge magazines that exceed the lawful capacity, but the government is now making altering cartridge magazines a crime.

Second, as the Bloc Québécois critic for status of women, I am regularly asked about this type of bill. What is interesting in this case is that Bill C‑21 incorporates the red- and yellow-flag system from the former Bill C-21. With the red-flag provisions, the Criminal Code will allow any individual to ask a judge to issue an order to immediately confiscate firearms belonging to a person who could be a danger to themselves or others, and even to confiscate weapons belonging to a person who might make them available to a person who poses a risk. The order would be valid for 30 days, and judges could take measures to protect the identity of the complainant.

The yellow-flag provisions would allow chief firearms officers to temporarily suspend a person's firearms licence if they have information that casts doubt on the person's eligibility for the licence. This suspension would prevent the person from acquiring new firearms, but it would not allow for the firearms they currently own to be seized. However, the person would not be allowed to use those firearms, for example at a firing range.

A new measure in this version of Bill C-21 is the immediate revocation of the firearms licence of any individual who becomes subject to a protection order or who has engaged in an act of domestic violence or stalking. This measure has been lauded by many anti-femicide groups, like PolyRemembers. There are several such groups, far too many, in fact.

This includes restraining orders and peace bonds, but also, and this is interesting, orders concerning domestic violence and stalking, including physical, emotional, financial, sexual and any other form of violence or stalking. A person who was subject to a protection order in the past would automatically be ineligible for a firearms licence.

However, there is another problem in relation to gun smuggling. The bill contains only a few measures and, I will say it again, it does not mention a buyback program for assault weapons or even the addition of a prohibited assault weapons category to the Criminal Code, two things that are absolutely necessary.

It is important to point out that 10- and 12-gauge hunting rifles are not affected by the ban. The gun lobby tried to sow doubt with a creative definition of a rifle's bore, which is now limited to under 20 millimetres. The bill therefore does not affect hunters. I know that many hunting groups are concerned about the new measures, but we need to reassure them that assault weapons are not designed for the type of hunting they do.

Getting back to assault weapons, the government as already planning to establish a buyback program through a bill in order to compensate owners of newly prohibited weapons, but it did not do so in the last legislature. If the government persists in classifying guns on a case-by-case basis, the number of models of assault weapons on the market will continue to rise. That is why the Bloc Québécois suggests adding a definition of “prohibited assault weapon” to the Criminal Code so that we can ban them all at once.

The Liberals keep repeating that they have banned assault weapons when there is nothing preventing an individual from buying an assault weapon right now or going on a killing spree if they already have one, since a number of models remain legal. Having already come out against this in Bill C‑ 5, the Liberals are also sending mixed messages in removing mandatory minimum sentences for certain gun crimes.

Third, I know that this bill will not stop all cases of femicide, but it is significant as part of a continuum of measures to address violence. There is still much work to be done, for example in areas such as electronic bracelets and health transfers, to provide support to groups that work with victims and survivors.

On Friday, the Standing Committee on the Status of Women tabled its report on intimate partner and family violence in Canada, and that is essentially the message I wanted to convey in my supplementary report. I hope it will be taken seriously. We will also need to work on changing mindsets that trivialize violence and try to counter hate speech, particularly online.

To talk a little bit about the bill, it relates to cases of violence, and we mentioned electronic monitoring devices. The bill would provide for two criminal offences that would qualify for electronic monitoring, including the authorized possession of a prohibited or restricted firearm or ammunition. That is a good thing. Something worthwhile came out of the work that we did at the Standing Committee on the Status of Women.

In closing, we are not the only ones who are saying that this bill does not go far enough or that it needs more work. The mayor of Montreal herself said that this bill does not go far enough. She said, and I quote:

This is an important and decisive measure that sends the message that we need to get the gun situation under control. The SPVM is making every effort to prevent gun crime in Montreal, but it is going to be very difficult for police forces across the country to do that as long as guns can continue circulating and can easily be obtained and resold.

There is still work to be done, and we must do it. We owe it to the victims. Enough with the partisanship. Let us work together constructively to move forward on this important issue. We cannot stand idly by while gunshots are being fired in our cities, on our streets and in front of schools and day cares. Let us take action to put an end to gun culture.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 9th, 2022 / 9:30 p.m.
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Bloc

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

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to finally speak to Bill C-21.

We had almost given up hope of hearing about a gun control bill before the end of the parliamentary session. The government finally introduced a bill last week, perhaps somewhat reactively. That is typical of the Liberal government, always reacting to events. Unfortunately, a few days ago, there was the massacre in Texas. Also a few days ago, shots were fired near a child care centre in Rivière-des-Prairies, in the greater Montreal area. I get the impression that these kinds of events are what finally pushed the government to act. That is fine, but it is unfortunate that violent events like these have to happen before the government introduces legislation that we have long been calling for.

My colleague from Rivière-du-Nord and I make it our mission during virtually every question period to remind the minister that taking action on gun control is important. That is our topic this evening, but legal weapons are not the only problem. Illegal weapons and arms trafficking, especially in Quebec, but also across Canada, are problems too. I think legislation is long overdue. The Bloc Québécois made it clear elsewhere, in the media for example, that it thinks Bill C‑21 is a step in the right direction.

Quite honestly, the previous version of the bill, which was introduced in the last Parliament, pleased nobody. Neither groups for gun control nor those against it liked the bill. It was flawed. I will say that the government really listened to groups advocating for women and victims of shootings. They came to talk to the government and tell it which important elements they thought should be included in the bill. Clearly a lot has changed since the first version, and that is great.

However, we need to point out some elements that are perhaps more negative. As I was saying, unfortunately, Bill C‑21 does not solve all the problems. Currently, one of the biggest problems in the greater Montreal area is the shootings being carried out by criminal groups. They are obtaining weapons illegally. There have been shootings in the past with firearms that were 100% legal and that belonged to licensed gun owners who had no mental health issues or criminal records. It does happen, but not very often. I have the impression that most of the shootings happening these days involve illegal firearms. We must find a way to address this problem.

There was talk earlier about how Quebec has been proactive and has almost done everything that we have been calling on the federal government to do for months. We were with the minister this morning at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security when the news dropped that Quebec will invest $6.2 million in the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service. Representatives from this police department came to tell the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security about their particular situation. Akwesasne is an indigenous community that straddles the borders of Quebec, Ontario and even the United States. This requires collaboration among the different police departments. Smugglers are very familiar with this area, where trafficking is done by boat in the summer and by snowmobile in the winter. Weapons come through the area by the hundreds every week. The federal government needs to get involved because it is responsible for the borders.

This morning, Quebec announced $6.2 million for police services. This money will be used to hire five additional police officers and to purchase a new patrol boat, an all-terrain vehicle and snowmobiles to bolster the fight against gun smuggling in Quebec. This is great news. While making this announcement, Geneviève Guilbault, Quebec's public safety minister, said she was still waiting on the money from an agreement with the federal government. The federal government promised funding to help Quebec and the provinces crack down on firearms, but it seems they are still waiting for this money. They are anxious to receive it and continue this important fight.

Let us come back to Bill C‑21. This version is better than earlier ones, but there are still some flaws. Some elements seem poorly drafted. I think it is shameful that the government is rushing things and not letting us have the time to do our job as parliamentarians. I am guessing that is what it intends to do, since that is what has been happening in the House of Commons over the past few days. By constantly invoking closure, the government is trying to shorten debate by a few hours in order to move forward more quickly. However, it is actually our job as parliamentarians to take the time to study bills, debate them in the House, make amendments and improve them. That is what I intend to do with Bill C‑21.

I want to try to work constructively with the government to improve the bill. I want to come back to the motion my Conservative colleague wanted to move today at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. I must say that she stated in good faith that there are some elements of the bill that we can all agree on. Let us move forward quickly with those measures, while taking the time to study the rest more closely.

The Liberals did not agree, obviously, for partisan political reasons. On the other hand, when the Liberals try to speed things along, the Conservatives oppose them. Let us try to be more constructive and work together like we do at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. As my colleague mentioned earlier, we very much agree on the firearms issue, to the point where it feels almost unprecedented. We have managed to work together quite well, which is important to highlight.

I want to discuss all aspects of the bill, beginning with the measure about handguns. This is really the government's key measure, which proposes a freeze on the acquisition, sale and transfer of handguns by individuals. This was quite unexpected. I myself was surprised to hear this. I never thought the government would go so far.

It was the way it proceeded that surprised me a bit. The way this was announced at the press conference made it sound like the freeze was part of Bill C‑21. A little later, the government realized that it could proceed through regulations, which is a whole other procedure. It would be 30 business days before this came into effect. Those 30 business days left enough time for those who already had a licence to go out and buy more guns. Gun sales exploded across the country. I saw a B.C. gun seller on CTV News who said that the Prime Minister had become “salesman of the month”. That really is the message he sent to people.

The government's intention was to reduce the number of handguns in circulation, but it had the opposite effect. That is a shame, because I think there was another way to go about this. Take for example the assault weapons ban on May 1, 2020. The government compiled a list of 1,500 banned guns, and the ban came into effect immediately. People did not have time to go out and buy a gun before the ban took effect.

I wonder why the government chose a freeze instead of a ban and why it did that through regulations, when we were led to believe it would be in the bill from the start. Questions like that remain unanswered.

I think it is especially unfortunate that the government did not anticipate that people would rush to the store to buy more guns. Perhaps they should have taken more time to iron out all the details before presenting them.

Our understanding is that once the freeze is in place, handguns will eventually disappear because they can no longer be transferred to someone else. People who currently have a permit will be able to continue to use their guns. Of course, there are some exceptions for police officers and bodyguards who have a firearms licence. It is still unclear what will happen with sport shooters. We are being told that the government will establish by regulation what it all means, but questions are already popping up.

The procedures in Quebec are quite strict already. I get the sense that these regulations will not necessarily change much in Quebec, but I will come back to that.

I would like to say that I am not a firearms expert. It is easy enough to go on social media, demonize me and say that I have no clue what I am talking about.

Recently, I was asked if I knew the procedure for buying a weapon. It is actually fairly complex. I will give the people who asked me this: It may happen overnight in the United States, for example, but not here.

Gun culture is a thing in the United States, and it is pretty intense. We are worried it might spread to Canada. Acquiring a firearm, however, is very different. After the Texas shooting a few days ago, people from Le Journal de Montréal went down there to run a test and find out how individuals get firearms. What they found out is that all one needs is a driver's licence and 15 minutes to walk out of the store with a gun and ammo. In Texas, it takes longer to buy a car than a weapon. That is pretty unbelievable.

In Canada, the rules are stricter, and I think that is a good thing. People who choose to pursue their passion for firearms and make it their hobby need to understand that weapons are dangerous. That is why they need to be regulated. It all needs to be governed by regulations. I think we have to be cognizant of that.

If someone in Quebec wants to obtain a handgun right now, they have to complete several training courses. There is the Canadian firearms safety course, the Canadian restricted firearms safety course and the Bill 9 aptitude test. Next, they have to apply for a possession and acquisition licence. That can take around six months. Lastly, the individual has to join a shooting club. That is a requirement in Quebec.

I will admit that this is not a simple process and cannot be done overnight. I sometimes hear the rhetoric that guns are not dangerous, that the person pulling the trigger is dangerous. I have to disagree. Guns are dangerous.

As I was saying, anyone using this device or tool, I am not sure what to call it, needs to be aware that it is dangerous. Anyone choosing to use a firearm must be aware that it could be used by a person with bad intentions and that firearm regulations make sense.

What we understand is that with the freeze handguns will eventually disappear. We also understand that for people who train to use guns competitively, there may be a way to get around the rules. Reading legislation or regulations is rather complicated. However, when we take the time to read between the lines, we sometimes see certain details that may be questionable. That is true here, there are questionable details, and we certainly need to take this to committee to determine what it means.

The other thing is that the freeze may not do anything beyond what Quebec is already doing, in other words require that a person be a member of a gun club before being able to acquire a handgun. If a person is already a member of a gun club then there will be no real change. They will be grandfathered and allowed to continue using the handgun. These are questions I will have to ask during study of the bill.

I want to come back again to the fact that people have been rushing out to purchase handguns, because they know the regulations are not yet in effect. This shows that Bill C-21 will not solve the problem in the short term, so it does not meet its own objective. Guns continue to be a problem on our streets and in our municipalities, which is why people are increasingly concerned. We are reminded of this every day, given current events.

There was another car chase in broad daylight in a residential area in greater Montreal yesterday. Dozens of shots were fired. People were eating on their balconies and walking down the street, and they witnessed this first-hand. Fortunately there were no casualties, but there could have been injuries and even fatalities. It has practically become the norm in Montreal, in Quebec. It is scary when you think about it. It is also scary for parents to send their children to school, to go to work, or to go anywhere for that matter, because in the last few months, there have been shots fired near a day care centre, near schools and even in a library. The library's windows shattered because of the gunfire. It is unbelievable.

This notorious gun culture, which I mentioned earlier and is entrenched in the United States, seems to be gradually taking hold in Canada, and no one wants that. Unfortunately, Bill C-21 gives us no reassurance that it will solve this problem. It might solve certain things and it might be a step in the right direction, but the terrible problem of gun trafficking remains prevalent. Bill C-21 does not address this.

I want to share some statistics. According to the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal, 95% of handguns used in violent crimes come from the black market. During question period we often hear that organized crime uses illegal weapons and that members of these organizations are the ones committing crimes most of the time.

I often hear people say that we are going after good, law-abiding gun owners. This is true in some cases, but not always. As I said earlier, mass shootings with legal firearms are rare, but they do happen.

We made a lot of proposals that were not included in Bill C‑21 in an attempt to find a number of measures that would work best together. My colleague from Rivière-du-Nord introduced Bill C‑279 to create an organized crime registry.

The way we see it, giving police officers more tools and means to act is another way we can control firearms. Why is being a member of a terrorist group illegal but being a member of organized crime is not? This is a fair question because organized crime groups are behind the violence we are seeing in the big cities right now. I think that this bill could be a worthwhile, easy-to-implement tool, and I urge the minister and his colleagues to read it.

We have heard a great deal about investments at the border, and I just mentioned the investments made by Quebec. We must not forget that the border is under federal jurisdiction and that there is work to be done there. Witnesses told us about what is actually happening at the border. Even border services officers told us that they were ready for their mandate to be expanded and that they would like to patrol the areas between border crossings, which they currently cannot do. It is true that the Canada-U.S. border is so long that it is almost impossible to have officers covering every kilometre of it. However, the mandate of these officers could be expanded so they could go on patrol.

My colleague also reminded us earlier that smuggled guns and drugs arrive in Canada by boat and by train. We do not have the tools we need to search these conveyances. These types of measures could certainly help the fight against firearms, especially those that are illegal.

Thanks to a motion that I moved a few months ago in the House, the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security was able to study this problem. It was the topic of its first report, which was tabled recently in the House. The report contains several recommendations for more resources and more collaboration. On that subject, the RCMP commissioner admitted to the committee that police forces could talk to each other more and share more information.

Experts from public safety agencies agreed with every point and argument we made and told us that we do indeed need to provide more financial and human resources. It is a problem that we will not be able to fix in the short term, but we should start working on it immediately.

The National Police Federation told me that the police forces are short on officers and will not be able to get more overnight. I learned that dozens of officers are deployed every week to Roxham Road to receive irregular migrants. The Government of Quebec and the Bloc Québécois have been calling for that road to be closed so that the migrants can be received the regular way through a safe, normal process. This would allow these officers to be reassigned to the fight against guns.

Madam Speaker, since you are signalling that my time is up, I will end there and I look forward to my colleagues' questions.

Public SafetyOral Questions

June 2nd, 2022 / 2:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, former Italian prosecutor Roberto Scarpinato, who spent his life going after the mafia, said last week that Canada is a paradise for the mafia.

When an Italian prosecutor says that Canada is extremely attractive to the mafia because it offers the best opportunities to get rich, it is time to do something. Canada is a paradise for all organized crime groups, which is why we need an organized crime registry to identify these groups and make it easier for police to do their job.

This morning I introduced Bill C‑279 to create such a registry. Does the government plan to support this bill?

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

June 2nd, 2022 / 10:30 a.m.
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Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-279, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal organizations).

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to introduce this bill today because, as we in the Bloc Québécois often say, it is in keeping with the interests and values of our citizens.

As everyone knows, there is currently a significant spike in gun violence throughout America and, for us in Canada, particularly in the Montreal area. Again last night, a man was shot at point blank range in a restaurant at 7:30 p.m., at dinner time, in front of children.

This situation has gone on day after day. There are new such incidents every day, and it is Parliament's responsibility to do something about this. The federal government is responsible for the Criminal Code, and provisions must be put in place quickly, because this cannot go on.

Bill C-279 seeks to give the Minister of Public Safety the authority to establish a list of criminal organizations that individuals will be prohibited from joining under the Criminal Code. This will help make the work of police and the courts easier.

Right now, when the authorities want to put someone who is accused of belonging to a criminal organization on trial, not only do they have to prove that the accused belongs to the organization, but they also have to prove that the organization in question is a criminal organization. That is the kind of proof that can often take weeks or even months to provide.

Bill C‑279 would provide for the creation of a list of criminal organizations, much like what is already being done for terrorist organizations. There are currently about 30 to 50 organizations listed as terrorist organizations. The same thing would be done for criminal organizations. This would make it easier to fight organized crime, it would help curb the flow of illegal firearms as much as possible, and it would hopefully put an end to the shootings on our streets.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)