Evidence of meeting #116 for Public Safety and National Security in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was firearm.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Alan Drummond  Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians
Atul Kapur  Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians
Mario Harel  President, Director, Gatineau Police Service, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police
Solomon Friedman  Criminal Defence Counsel, Criminal Lawyers' Association
Fady Mansour  Criminal Defence Counsel, Criminal Lawyers' Association
Gary Mauser  Professor Emeritus, As an Individual
Gordon Sneddon  Organized Crime Enforcement, Toronto Police Service, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police

11:50 a.m.


The Chair Liberal John McKay

Ladies and gentlemen, I see a quorum.

It's 10 minutes to 12:00. I apologize to our witnesses for the interruption by the vote. However, it is the time of year when these things happen.

We've had to make some adjustments. We're going to have just one panel with everybody. I appreciate that this may not be optimum for some; however, in order to make up some time, that's what we're going to do.

I want to see whether there's any appetite to reduce the seven-minute rounds to five, bearing in mind that the burden would be on Mr. Dubé. If not, we'll just stick with the same round.

No? Okay. He's a tough guy, that Mr. Dubé.

Do you want to end up with another five, Matthew?

11:50 a.m.


Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

If that's amenable to the committee, that works as well.

11:50 a.m.


The Chair Liberal John McKay

Are you fine with that, colleagues?

11:50 a.m.

Some hon. members


11:50 a.m.


The Chair Liberal John McKay

We'll just do five minutes. That way, we'll hopefully make up some time.

One final thing that I want to mention is that, in our voting last week, we voted on a motion by Mr. Motz that had not actually been tabled. Therefore, the vote is null.

Your motion is still a live vote.

With that, I'm going to ask Dr. Drummond, who has patiently waited in Calgary for the better part of an hour, to lead, in the anticipation that we don't always get co-operation from our technical services.

Colleagues, is there an appetite to extend by half an hour until 1:30?

Seeing no negatives, I'm going to assume that we're going to 1:30, assuming that there are no other votes between now and then.

Again, Dr. Drummond, if you would begin, please. You and Dr. Kapur have 10 minutes between you.

11:50 a.m.

Dr. Alan Drummond Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians

Thanks so much.

Dr. Kapur is an emergency physician at the Ottawa Hospital. I am a rural family physician in Perth, Ontario, so we bring both ends of the spectrum to this discussion.

We're representing the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, which is the national specialty society of emergency medicine in Canada, representing 2,500 physicians, and looking after 16 million people in Canada on an annual basis.

For us, this whole discussion of firearms is a public health and safety issue. We appreciate that crime is an issue for many of our citizens, but for us, principally this is an issue of preventing suicide, of reducing the lethality of intimate partner violence, and also making sure we can prevent unintentional pediatric injury.

In Canada, suicide is the second-leading cause of death among those aged 15 to 34, and the lethality of firearms as a suicide method is incontestable. Eighty per cent of all firearm deaths in Canada are related to suicide, and 500 Canadians commit suicide on an annual basis with the use of firearms. Between 2003 and 2012, at least 6,000 Canadians ended their lives with guns. Canada has one of the highest rates of suicide by firearms in the entire developed world.

There is strong scientific evidence that a gun in the home increases the risk of suicide by firearm. More recently, it has been shown that for every 10% decline in gun ownership, firearm suicides drop by 4.2% overall.

Firearms are responsible for somewhere between 21% and 31% of intimate partner homicides, and rifles and shotguns, the common firearms in Canada, are used in 62% of all spousal homicides. Keeping a gun in the home is a risk for spousal homicide.

Again, this is an issue for us, not of access to firearms and whether ownership is the issue, but rather keeping guns out of the hands of individuals who are at risk.

CAEP has previously produced two position papers relating to firearm violence in Canada. This is our third appearance before a committee since 1995 on the same issue, and it remains an issue of major concern for our members.

With respect to the bill that's currently being discussed, our response to the proposed legislation is one of overall general support, while noting that in our view the bill does not go far enough. We agree entirely that there should be an enhanced screening provision, or at least expansion of the timeline for seeking clinical red flags. That resonates with us a great deal.

We agree entirely that there must be rigorous screening and restriction of licensing for those individuals who are deemed at risk. We would suggest that we take that one step further overall, that there be mandatory reporting by physicians of those individuals who own firearms who are deemed to be at risk by virtue of mental illness, psychosis, substance abuse, or previous history of intimate partner violence. This would allow for identification of individuals at risk, and the restriction of their owning firearms, even if it's on a temporary basis during the period of initial treatment.

We would like to see safe storage provisions become more meaningful through assessment and documentation that they actually exist, and perhaps greater emphasis on gun locks. Any prevention attempts should focus on education, on engineering, and enforcement. The idea of safe storage is probably quite key, and making sure that, on the purchase or the collection of a firearm, that the safe storage provisions are actually being used.

We would suggest greater research into firearm-related injury and death so that scientific data, rather than opinion, guide future efforts at making Canadians safer.

Last, we would like to see greater educational efforts for the public and the medical profession on the roles of firearms and their role in completed suicides.

That concludes my presentation. Thank you.

11:55 a.m.


The Chair Liberal John McKay

Dr. Kapur, you have a little more than five minutes.

11:55 a.m.

Dr. Atul Kapur Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians

Thank you.

I think Dr. Drummond has covered the situation well, and in the interests of time, I don't need to add to that.

11:55 a.m.


The Chair Liberal John McKay

Thank you very much.

With that, I'll turn to the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and ask them for their testimony.

11:55 a.m.

Mario Harel President, Director, Gatineau Police Service, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police

Mr. Chair, distinguished members of the committee, once again, I would like to thank you for having the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police present to you today during your study on Bill C-71. My name is Mario Harel, and I am appearing before you as President of the CACP.

Allow me to introduce my colleague Superintendent Gordon Sneddon, who is the supervisor of the Toronto Police Service organized crime enforcement unit. He also acts as a firearms advisor to the CACP.

I can't speak to the extremes within this debate to either increase the number and fire power of guns or prohibit all firearms. I can only speak to what I believe is the position of most Canadians, who are law-abiding and who balance their individual privileges with the broader rights of society. They understand and support regulations that, as much as possible, place a priority on public safety and the protection of the most vulnerable among us. They, in my view, represent the very premise of a just and responsible society.

We believe that the Minister of Public Safety has appropriately conveyed a very disturbing trend of gun violence that continues in Canada despite reduced crime rates. Between 2013 and 2015, there was a 30% increase in criminal incidents involving firearms. Gun homicides were up by 60%. Intimate partner and gender-based violence involving the use of a firearm was up by one-third.

Gang-related homicides, the majority of which involve guns, were up by two-thirds, as well. Break-ins for the purpose of stealing guns were up by 56%. In 2016, 31% of all gun-related homicides involved the use of non-restricted firearms. Even more troubling is the fact that about 50% of all handguns used in crime that we have been able to trace were diverted from legal Canadian firearm owners.

Without concrete action, we do not foresee any changes to this growing trend. We need protections to help mitigate the impact of the worst outcomes of gun violence, even if those protections place requirements on law-abiding firearm owners. It is important to state that we support this legislation, not because it is panacea to gun violence, but because it is part of an overall strategy to help prevent victimization by way of a firearm.

To the best of our ability, we need to minimize opportunities for criminals to continue to wreak havoc in our communities, not only in major centres like Toronto and Vancouver, but throughout Canada. There is no doubt that further action is required, and we, as police leaders, will be developing a broader position in the near future. I would like to highlight a few of the areas of the bill that we believe are very important and suggest a few amendments to further strengthen it. I do so from the lens of law enforcement agencies' core responsibilities—the safety and security of all Canadians.

This legislation changes enhanced background checks on those seeking to acquire firearms beyond five years, so the applicant's full record, as it relates to violence and criminal behaviour, can be taken into account. We are very supportive of this change and, in fact, we would support calls for physicians to be required to advise authorities if, in their expert opinion, they felt that a person should not be in possession of a firearm for the safety of themselves or the public. This is much like the concept of revoking a driver's license given health concerns.

The requirement that, when a non-restricted firearm is transferred, the buyer must produce his or her firearms license and the vendor must verify its validity is critical in our view. Currently, license verification is voluntary.

Unfortunately, non-restricted firearms are being sold to and purchased by individuals without appropriate verification taking place.

Too often, we witness these firearms getting into the hands of those who are subject to prohibition orders or bound by recognizance. This is particularly noticeable when it comes to domestic violence cases. Additionally, we have seen cases where a stolen or fraudulently obtained licence was used in online sales to purchase firearms.

As domestic firearms trafficking cases increase, this initiative will also allow police to better identify mass purchases of firearms where the purchase patterns suggest illegal resale. Therefore, the ability to trace non-restricted firearms that have been used in crime will be improved.

Regarding record-keeping by vendors, I would say that most reputable businesses are already doing this for their own purposes. Since the long gun registry was abolished, the police have been effectively blind to the number of transactions by any licenced individual relating to non-restricted firearms. The absence of such records effectively stymies the ability to trace a non-restricted firearm that has been used in crime. The tracing of a crime gun can assist in identifying the suspect of a crime and criminal sourcing of a trafficking network.

When the serial number is known, the Canadian National Firearms Tracing Centre can provide the information about the vendor where the original sale took place. A production order must still be used to obtain the information about the buyer from the vendor.

The CACP submits that the standard to obtain such a specific order should be amended from “reasonable grounds” to “reason to suspect”.

In the United States, it is interesting to note that they federally mandate each store to track and keep records of sales. The U.S. authorities also stated that one of their biggest issues is the sale of firearms through the secondary market, such as gun sales that are not recorded.

When it comes to the transportation of prohibited and restricted firearms, the CACP appreciates and supports this change as a positive step. This change to the legislation means that discretion is afforded to the chief firearms officer in determining limitations on the transporting of firearms.

It was our view that the prior change that allowed automatic authority to transport was too broad and allowed too much latitude for abuse. In practical terms, it allowed the licence holder to carry the firearm at all times, even if they were not forthcoming about their purpose and intent.

It also allowed for a false defence to be articulated at trial suggesting that the firearm was being transported to a border crossing, a gun show or a gunsmith. In short, it provided an escape route to a person who is willing to break the law.

Finally, a system in which Parliament defines the classes but entrusts experts in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to classify firearms must be restored. We support elected officials determining firearm classes. However, we must rely on the professional expertise provided by the RCMP to classify firearms and do so without political influence. Their impartiality lies in public safety, which, as I stated earlier, must be given priority over individual privileges.

I will conclude by saying that we respect the debate that has occurred and the opposition to our views by those who simply want to hunt and engage in the sport of shooting. We do not wish to punish law-abiding citizens for the illegal actions of criminals. However, we want law-abiding citizens to accept their responsibilities and adhere to a set of laws and regulations targeted towards the safety and security of all Canadians.

Thank you.



The Chair Liberal John McKay

Thank you.

The next witnesses are from the Criminal Lawyers' Association, Mr. Friedman and Mr. Mansour.

The next 10 minutes are yours.

12:05 p.m.

Solomon Friedman Criminal Defence Counsel, Criminal Lawyers' Association

Mr. Chair, vice-chairs, honourable members, thank you for inviting us to address you on the subject of Bill C-71.

My name is Solomon Friedman. I'm a criminal defence lawyer and a managing partner of Edelson and Friedman LLP. I'm joined today by my associate Mr. Fady Mansour. We're both members of the Criminal Lawyers' Association.

As you may know, the association comprises over a thousand criminal defence lawyers, many of whom practise in the province of Ontario, but some of whom are from across the country. It's both a privilege and a pleasure to be given the opportunity to appear before this committee to express our views on this particular piece of legislation.

The Criminal Lawyers' Association supports criminal law reform that is modest, fundamentally rational, and supported by objective evidence. On each of these measures, Bill C-71, in our view, fails to meet the mark.

First, the proposed reforms in Bill C-71 are unsupported by the evidence. In fact, in presenting its rationale for this bill, the government has misrepresented the objective statistical data to create the appearance of a problem that simply does not exist. As a society, we are the poorer for it when government promotes criminal legislation on a misunderstanding or, worse yet, a willful manipulation of what it claims is empirical evidence.

On May 8, 2018, the honourable Minister of Public Safety, Ralph Goodale, told this committee that between 2013 and 2016, the number of criminal incidents involving firearms rose by 30%. Gun homicides in that period went up by two-thirds. Those numbers are alarming. They give the clear impression that gun crime and homicide by firearm specifically are a rampant and increasing problem in our society.

With the greatest of respect to the minister, that is simply not the case. The year 2013, the starting point for the purported trend, was not chosen at random. As we now know, 2013 represents a statistical aberration in terms of violent crime and homicide in Canada. That year saw the lowest rate of criminal homicide in Canada in 50 years. To put that in perspective, every single year since 1966 has been worse than 2013, and it's not surprising that the three years following 2013 would be worse as well.

The truth of the matter is that homicide by firearm, in fact, has been steadily declining in Canada since the mid-1970s, and when an appropriate sample size is taken, the alarming trend that the minister purported to identify is seen for what it is: a selective manipulation of statistical data. The rate of homicide by firearm, when viewed over a 10-year period, a reasonable sample size, has remained relatively stable. In fact, it was slightly lower in 2016 than it was 10 years earlier, in 2006.

The same lack of empirical evidence extends to Minister Goodale's contention, echoed by others who have testified before this committee, that there has been some dramatic change in the sources of firearms used in crimes. They claim that these guns are increasingly being traced to domestic sources, such as break and enters or straw purchasers. These claims are anecdotal and wholly unsupported by Statistics Canada research on this topic. I cite no greater authority than Lynn Barr-Telford, director general of health, justice and special surveys at Statistics Canada who stated at the recent guns and gangs summit, “We don't know...the origin of firearms involved in gun crime” in Canada.

Surely if the numbers cited by certain police representatives were based on hard evidence, word of this would have reached Statistics Canada. That, however, is not the case.

Second, this committee should bear in mind that there is no stand-alone scheme for regulating firearms in Canada outside of the criminal law. Accordingly, any violation, no matter how minor or technical, engages the criminal law process. As all justice system participants know well, the criminal law is a blunt tool. It is more akin to a sledgehammer than a scalpel, and most importantly, it is an ill-suited implement of public policy. Indeed, this legislation creates new criminal offences where none were needed. For example, Bill C-71 will make it an offence for a firearm owner to transfer a firearm—meaning to give, sell, or barter—to another person without first obtaining a reference number from the registrar of firearms. Let me be clear: It is already a criminal offence to transfer a firearm to an individual who is not authorized to possess it.

Section 101 of the Criminal Code prohibits that precise conduct. It is punishable by a maximum of five years' imprisonment. In fact, I have personally represented retailers who have been charged under the existing scheme for failing to check licence validity.

The government says that the new provisions under Bill C-71 are required to ensure that firearms are not transferred without lawful authority. Not surprisingly, the existing offence under section 101 is entitled “Transfer without authority”. However, under Bill C-71, one law-abiding licensed firearm owner can transfer a firearm to another law-abiding licensed firearm owner and still commit a criminal offence if the government is not duly notified. This does nothing more than create another trap for the unwary, a trap that carries with it criminal consequences. For what? It is not for actual public safety, but for the appearance of public safety.

With respect to one final area of Bill C-71 that is particularly worrisome, I'll give the balance of my opening time to my colleague, Mr. Mansour.

12:10 p.m.

Fady Mansour Criminal Defence Counsel, Criminal Lawyers' Association

Good afternoon.

Bill C-71 effectively removes parliamentary oversight over firearms classification decisions that can now be unilaterally made by the RCMP. This is both bad criminal law policy and bad precedent.

First, it is particularly troubling in light of the RCMP's history of questionable, and sometimes incorrect, technical classification decisions. Notwithstanding that history, however, this deference is inherently undemocratic. Bill C-71 would stand alone in our criminal law in giving a police agency the power to determine what is legal and what is illegal when it comes to firearms and related classification, and to punish such an infraction with criminal sanction.

As with many issues in public policy, reasonable people can disagree about the appropriate ways to classify and regulate firearms, but Bill C-71 takes that debate away from lawmakers, who are traditionally entrusted with wrestling with these complex and weighty policy matters. In fact, it's a complete reversal of our democratic process. In our system of responsible government, elected legislatures make laws and the police enforce them. Bill C-71 would turn that on its head. Once again, recall that these classification decisions made by the RCMP are more than just opinions about the legal status of firearms. They can, in an instant, transform an otherwise law-abiding citizen, a licensed firearm owner, into a criminal who is subject to criminal sanction.

I'll conclude by saying this: You have an offence that is in pith and substance regulatory in nature being punished with a criminal offence in a justice system that is currently plagued by extreme delays and that currently cannot handle, and is overburdened by, the number of cases before it. This would only make that problem worse.

Thank you very much for your time.

12:10 p.m.


The Chair Liberal John McKay

Thank you.

Professor Mauser, you have the final 10 minutes.

12:10 p.m.

Dr. Gary Mauser Professor Emeritus, As an Individual

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. I appreciate this opportunity to appear before you.

I am Gary Mauser, professor emeritus at Simon Fraser University. As part of my academic duties, I have published in criminology and political science journals for more than 20 years. My presentation is based on Statistics Canada data, not heart-rending anecdotes.

Bill C-71 ignores violent crime completely and merely harasses law-abiding people. It is a distraction from the real problems. Canada has a gang problem, not a gun problem.

Two-thirds of gun murders in 2016 were gang related. Most of these were in our bigger cities. As you can tell, gang crime and gang-related homicides have been increasing for over a decade. They declined for a while, but since Mr. Goodale's magic date they have increased again. Increases in gang-related homicide is what accounts for the recent increase.

Bill C-71 also ignores the suffering of aboriginal Canadians. These aboriginal-against-aboriginal crimes are what account for most of the violent crime in rural Canada. Public gun ownership does not threaten public safety.

Professor Gary Kleck, one of the most distinguished and well-respected criminology professors in the United States, recently reviewed a host of academic articles looking at the link between gun ownership and higher violent crime rates. He found a very strong relationship between the technical quality of the research. High-quality, well-done studies did not find a link. Those that were weak, poorly conducted, and possibly manipulated did find such a link. This suggests that public gun ownership is not linked to public safety.

Licensed Canadian gun owners are less dangerous and have a lower homicide rate than the rest of Canada. The national homicide rate is 1.85 over the time period I compared, and the licensed gun owners were one-third of that. This is not a dangerous group.

Rural Canada, where there are more guns per capita than urban Canada, has a lower percentage of misuse of firearms and homicide than does urban Canada.

The research is clear that general gun ownership is not the source of violent crime, so it is no surprise that general gun controls do not limit violent crime. An example is the Republic of Ireland, where they've virtually banned all firearms, although a few .22 target rifles were excluded, in an effort to stem the increase in murders. It did not work. It's a similar problem in Jamaica. These are island countries. You would think that you could control this easily. There is a total ban on firearms. A bullet would get you 10 years in jail and, for a gun, life in prison. No defence. You find it. You got it. The police charge you and you're in jail. That's it. It did not work. The homicide rate continued and still continues to increase.

The fundamental flaw of Bill C-71 is the assumption that gangsters somehow get their guns from law-abiding gun owners. This is predicated upon two false assumptions.

First of all, the police secretly changed the definition of “crime gun”. They now have a bigger pool, so therefore it increases. By this definition, they increase the access of domestic sources.

Second, “domestic sources” falsely implies law-abiding firearms owners. Gang members cannot, statistically, get their guns primarily from legal sources. At the height of the long-gun registry, Stats Canada documented that 9% of the firearms involved in homicides were registered. This was at the height of the long-gun registry.

Why does Bill C-71 ignore more than 90% of guns used in homicides? Where do gang members get their guns? Sometimes the police are straightforward. The Toronto police chief says that 70% are smuggled. The Vancouver Police Department says that 90% are smuggled. Toronto Police Services say that 2% to 16% are stolen from Canadian owners.

Let's look at the change in definition. I claimed it was a change, so let's look at this so we can see in detail what's going on. The traditional definition of “crime gun” is any firearm that has been used or suspected of being used in a criminal offence, which means a violent offence. This is still the definition used by the FBI in the U.S., by the Home Office in the U.K., but no longer in Canada.

In the new RCMP decision, which was hidden from the public, hidden from Parliament—except that MP Bob Zimmer finally got a copy—we saw that a crime gun is now any firearm that is illegally acquired. This means that found guns are now included as crime guns. Somebody commits suicide by hanging themself and the police arrive at the scene and find a gun—a long gun or whatever—in the closet and confiscate it, and it's a crime gun.

Some old duffer like me forgets to renew his PAL. His guns are confiscated, and these are crime guns. Well, it's a crime to own a gun without a permit, so these are crime guns, but this is not what is traditionally meant by a “crime gun”. It was not used in a crime; it was merely an administrative problem.

In fact, most firearms crime is administrative. Roughly 1,300 victims are injured each year by an aggressor using a firearm, but 10 times as many charges are laid for administrative firearms violations—roughly 15,000—and 2,000 of the 15,000 are for things like unsafe storage or paper permit difficulties.

You realize that any error—any error—on any paperwork submitted for your PAL is your fault. It's a criminal charge. Some 90% of these charges do not involve any additional violent crime. This is just some quiet, non-violent person being charged with a paperwork violation.

My final technical point is the definition of “domestic sources”. This is not synonymous with PAL holders, as the minister would have us believe. There is a large pool of firearms in Canada of questionable legality. In 2001, when licensing was introduced, about one-third or one-half of then law-abiding Canadians declined to apply for a permit. The official estimates—this is not StatsCan data; this is Government of Canada data—for Canadian civilian gun owners ranged from three million to four million gun owners. Fewer than two million licences were issued.

To sum up, government has not provided solid justification for why more regulations would improve public safety. Indeed, the government has never provided a public report of an evaluation of the present system. Has it improved public safety? We don't know.

Other than police claims based on a secret, bloated definition, there's no support for the change in the source of crime guns. According to Stats Can, lawful owners cannot be a major source of crime guns. According to StatsCan, PAL holders are much less apt to commit murder than other Canadians.

Increased regulatory complexity does not mean greater public safety. Why is the government scapegoating PAL holders?

Thank you very much.

12:20 p.m.


The Chair Liberal John McKay

That completes the witness testimony.

We're going to go to five-minute rounds until 1:30. We have an hour and five minutes for that.

I believe we're leading with Ms. Damoff. You have five minutes, please.

12:20 p.m.


Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

Thank you, Chair, and thank you to all our witnesses for being here today.

I wanted to start with a question for the chiefs of police and the emergency physicians.

We had a brief submitted to us by Dr. Sinyor, I believe his name is. He's at Sunnybrook hospital. He's a suicide prevention expert and founder of the program of research and education to stop suicide. He was in support of Bill C-71, but he did suggest some amendments to it. One of them had to do with the background checks. As you know, we've extended the time period for background checks, but it's a very prescriptive criteria that are used.

One of his suggestions was, where the current criteria is when someone has a history of behaviour that includes violence, or threatened or attempted violence, to add “including public online behaviour”. The second suggestion was to add the criteria “or for any other reason considered a threat to themselves or other”. This is for the application for the licence.

I'm wondering if the emergency physicians and the chiefs of police can perhaps give me their opinions on that. Maybe the emergency physicians could start.

12:25 p.m.

Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians

Dr. Atul Kapur

Thank you for the question.

It is in line with our recommendation as in our brief and as Dr. Drummond spoke to you about mandatory reporting by physicians of those at risk by virtue of severe mental illness, including temporary risk. Both of those provisions would be in line with our recommendation.

12:25 p.m.


Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

Do the chiefs of police have any thoughts on that?

12:25 p.m.

President, Director, Gatineau Police Service, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police

Mario Harel

Quebec has the same practice under Anastasia's law. If a health professional has reasons to believe that an individual with a firearm is a threat to themselves or to the health and safety of those around them, they must report that risk to the police.

12:25 p.m.


Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

Sorry, this isn't a duty to warn, because, as much as I would like to have that, my understanding is that it's a provincial jurisdiction. This was adding that when someone is applying for a licence and you're looking at whether they have a criminal record, there's a number of criteria adding on to that, that they're a threat to themselves or others, or online public behaviour. We know that there have been a number of times where people have publicly posted things that would be triggers for someone looking at whether or not to approve a licence.

12:25 p.m.

President, Director, Gatineau Police Service, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police

Mario Harel

Of course, we support any initiative to ensure the safety of Canadians. Right now, when we are told about individuals with risk behaviour online or on social media, we take action to find out whether they have firearms. We support an initiative whereby health professionals would be able to report to us, as soon as an individual applies for a license, if they have exhibited risk behaviours for their health or safety in the past.

12:25 p.m.


Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

I want to ask you about PolySeSouvient, one of our previous witnesses, who specifically said that there should be an automatic prohibition for a possession and acquisition licence where an applicant has a restraining order involving an intimate partner. Do you have any thoughts on that? Currently, that's not a restriction on getting a licence to own a firearm.

12:25 p.m.

Superintendent Gordon Sneddon Organized Crime Enforcement, Toronto Police Service, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police

Good afternoon, and thank you.

I'll say just a little bit about me so you know where my thoughts are coming from.

12:25 p.m.


Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

We only have 45 seconds.