Evidence of meeting #15 for Public Safety and National Security in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was amendment.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Mike MacPherson  Procedural Clerk

11 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

I call the meeting to order.

Good morning, everyone, and welcome here. This is the 15th meeting of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. It is Tuesday, November 29, 2011, and I would like to welcome you to this meeting. As you are all aware, today we will proceed with clause-by-clause consideration of the Ending the Long-gun Registry Act.

As you are aware, on November 15 the committee adopted the first report of the subcommittee on agenda and procedure, which among other things stated: “That the committee allocate five meetings to the consideration of Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act, including its clause-by-clause consideration”. That was the motion. As you are also aware, today is the fifth meeting; thus it is my pleasure to inform this committee that I will be reporting the bill to the House in the state in which it exists at one o'clock. As I see we have a number of opposition amendments before us today, we want to deal with those in an expeditious way and hear debate on them. I would suggest we move forward on those amendments and on clause-by-clause as soon as we can.

Without any further ado, I would ask you to take your package that the table has provided for you, a package of each clause and the amendments that have come forward, amendments from the New Democratic Party, the official opposition, and also from the Liberal Party of Canada. Let's move into clause-by-clause if you have your package there.

11 a.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Chair, in the spirit of your opening statement, it might be wise then if we would agree on a time and maybe limit debate on each one of the clauses, so we'd have time to get through all of them.

11 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

My sense on this is that's a good suggestion. We have how many amendments in total? There are ten amendments and 31 clauses.

Sometimes these can be the shortest meetings ever--and as you know, they can be the longest meetings ever. I will try to watch the ten that we have and move them along so we can proceed in an orderly fashion and get through these today. I will try to undertake that desire.

11 a.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

You're aware of the time.

11 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

I think all of us are aware of it, and I think we're probably wanting to see this thing done.

All right, let's move to clause 1. As normal, we'll postpone clause 1 until the end of the package.

So let's move on to clause 2. Shall clause 2 carry?

11 a.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Is there any discussion?

11 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

Yes, you can raise your hand and you can discuss clause 2.

11 a.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

I'll be brief, Mr. Chair. To help my colleagues fully understand the reason for amendment NDP-2, I will simply read it:

That Bill C-19, in Clause 11, be…

11 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

No, we're on clause 2.

11 a.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Oh, you're on clause 2. Excuse me; sorry.

11 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

We're going to carry the clauses.

11 a.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

No, that's all right; excellent.

11 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

I want to make certain. There have been no amendments brought forward on clauses 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, down until we get to about clause 11.

11 a.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

I understood "amendment 2".

11 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

All right.

(Clauses 2 to 10 inclusive agreed to on division)

(On clause 11)

On clause 11, we'll move in.

First we have amendment LIB-1, and I will allow Monsieur Scarpaleggia to speak to his amendment.

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Thank you, Chair.

Essentially, this amendment seeks to require that if someone transfers a gun through a sale or purchase--a sale specifically--to another individual, the individual selling the gun or transferring the gun would be required to verify the validity of the transferee's licence with the Canada Firearms Centre. So really, this is essentially reinstating, as I understand it, a very similar clause that appeared in Ms. Hoeppner's Bill C-391, where it says:

in the case of a transfer to an individual, the transferor verifies the validity of the transferee’s Firearms Licence with the Canada Firearms Centre, and obtains a reference number for the inquiry.

We've heard all along that there are two separate unrelated issues here. There's the issue of the registry and the issue of the firearms acquisition certificate. But we've also seen that there's a big disconnect, because there's no real requirement to check that the person has a valid firearms acquisition certificate. So this attempts to reconnect the two, Chair.

November 29th, 2011 / 11:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

All right. I want to first of all explain to those who may be watching today and also those here at committee that we have our regular analysts and our clerk here. We also have our legislative clerk here. The legislative clerk's role here is to go through each amendment and to decide whether these are admissible. Very seldom does the chair stand on his own opinion. We consult with the legislative clerk.

Bill C-19 in clause 11 amends the Firearms Act to alter the conditions under which a person may transfer a firearm that is neither a prohibited firearm nor a restricted firearm. The amendment attempts to insert conditions upon the transferor that would require the transferor to verify certain information with the Canada Firearms Centre, confirm certain other information, and document the interaction by obtaining a reference number for the inquiry. As House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, states, on page 766,

An amendment to a bill that was referred to a committee after second reading is out of order if it is beyond the scope and principle of the bill.

In the opinion of the chair, the introduction of these conditions on the transferor is a new concept that is beyond the scope of Bill C-19. Therefore, this amendment is deemed inadmissible.

That being said, I want to also explain.... I see we have some seasoned parliamentarians here, not a lot of new parliamentarians. I guess that wouldn't really matter, but you know that when the chair has ruled that something is inadmissible it is not debatable. We have a number of amendments today that have been ruled inadmissible and we have a number that have been ruled admissible. We basically rule LIB-1 inadmissible.

We will now proceed to LIB-2. What I will want to do on each one of these, regardless of whether they're admissible or inadmissible, is ask the mover to explain the rationale, the reason for the amendment, and then we'll proceed.

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Thank you, Chair.

The second amendment attempts to reinstate a requirement that existed as a result of the 1977 gun control bill. Specifically, this amendment would require that gunshop owners or wholesalers keep a record of the firearms that they have sold. So for investigative purposes there would be a record on hand somewhere, obviously not in the Canada Firearms Centre per se, but at the level of the retailer there would be a record so that if there were an investigation into a crime or some other such thing involving a firearm, we could find out, we could trace to some extent the firearm and who purchased it and so on and so forth.

So this is really attempting to fill a void that was left by this legislation and attempting to create some kind of record of who's buying firearms in this country at the retailer level.

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

Thank you, Mr. Scarpaleggia.

Bill C-19 in clause 11 amends the Firearms Act to alter the conditions under which a person may transfer a firearm that is neither prohibited nor restricted. The amendment attempts to require any business that carries on activities—which include the manufacturing, buying and selling at wholesale or retail, importing, repairing, altering, or pawnbrokering of a firearm—to keep specific records of all transactions as well as detailed inventories to be provided upon request.

Again, House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, states on page 766 that an “amendment to a bill that was referred to a committee after second reading is out of order if it is beyond the scope and principle of the bill”.

In the opinion of the chair, the introduction of these conditions on such businesses is a new concept that is beyond the scope of Bill C-19 and is therefore inadmissible.

We also have amendment NDP-2. Madame Boivin.

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I have a good idea about what's coming, but we will still repeat that clause 11 of the bill, as drafted, contains a major gap, which means that we could easily lose control. In fact, I'm going to praise my colleague, Ms. Hoeppner, because I think her bill was better than this one. It did fully cover this gap.

The study of Bill C-19 is going to leave me with a great deal of concern, a concern that was expressed to this committee by many witnesses, including victims of the École polytechnique and Dawson College, the people involved with centres for abused women, and so on. There's a danger that, at some point, over the course of the transactions, we may no longer know who owns the firearm in question.

I repeat that the wording of Bill C-391 was much better in this regard. The NDP and I find it unfortunate that what was in Bill C-391 was not put into Bill C-19 to fill that gap.

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

All right, thank you.

I will spare you the preamble, which is the same as the others.

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Please do.

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

In the opinion of the chair and of the table, the introduction of these conditions on the transfer is a new concept that is beyond the scope of the bill.

Thank you for that good discourse on the suggestion.

We have clause 11 now.

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Can we have a recorded vote on that?

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

A recorded vote has been requested. Yes, we can have a recorded vote.

(Clause 11 agreed to: yeas 6; nays 5)

(Clauses 12 to 27 inclusive agreed to on division)

(On clause 28)