Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
My name is Lynda Kiejko. I'm a professional civil engineer. I'm a mother to three young children, a two-time Olympian in the sport of pistol shooting and currently the president of the Alberta Handgun Association.
This is a sport and an organization that I feel is now at risk from the proposals in Bill C-21.
I'm a medallist at both the Pan American and Commonwealth Games. Currently I spend a lot of time when I could be training or with my family applying for additional permits. This is on top of the process to be able to get an authorization to transport when I'm leaving the country to represent Canada.
I've represented Canada on the world stage for over 20 years. Quite honestly, I can say that there's no greater honour than being able to wear the maple leaf and represent my country.
Recent changes and the implementation of the handgun ban have done nothing to reduce violence, in my opinion. They've done nothing to increase public safety. However, they have added several weeks to my preparation for international competition. Since the ban on the import of handguns was placed into effect on August 19, I've spent more than two weeks communicating with a government department, only for them to realize that they were not able to process my export permit, which usually takes up to about six weeks to attain. I now have to pay to bring my own firearms back into the country when I represent Canada on the international stage.
I have just recently returned from Cairo, Egypt, after competing in the world championships. I will shortly depart for the Championship of the Americas in Peru. Instead of being mentally prepared for these competitions, I am now concerned about whether I'll receive my permits in time to be able to enter my own country and come home with my competitive equipment.
The advertised purpose of Bill C-21 is to increase public safety. I really would like someone to explain to me how my firearms are a hazard to public safety. I have young children in my home, and there is no way that I would jeopardize my own children's safety, let alone anyone else's.
I'm concerned about changing rules and regulations while I'm away from home representing Canada, which literally has just occurred. Last week, I was out of the country when the new announcement came out. I really don't want to become a criminal while I'm away from home representing the country because those rules have arbitrarily been changed. I don't want to be a criminal. I do want something done about criminal activity to actually increase public safety.
I compete internationally under the auspices of the Shooting Federation of Canada, which is a government-funded recognized national sports governing body for the target shooting sports of Canada. We are also an active member of the International Shooting Sport Federation, which is recognized by the IOC.
The ISSF oversees many target disciplines involving air rifles, air pistols, small-calibre rifles and pistols, and shotgun shooting sports. There are more than just the Olympic and Paralympic events and disciplines that are recognized by the ISSF. There are a lot of events that shift over time, but they're still recognized at that international level.
Bill C-21 is an attempt to manage criminal violence. It may have some components that help do that, but my concern is that components of this bill really strangle the large portion of our sports resources.
It's competitively practised by people who are 13 to well into their 80s and 90s. It is one of the most gender-inclusive, age-inclusive and physically inclusive sports that you could possibly find. Shooting sports of all types are very inclusive. It doesn't matter your age or ability. Achieving excellence in target shooting sports is something that is a common ground for everyone.
There are numerous highly competitive shooting sports that use pistols that are not in the Olympics. We really depend on these sports to identify talent. They help to create a pathway for athletes to become Olympians. I can say that this is true. I started straight into the Olympic disciplines when I was a child. However, I know several of my teammates, competitors and people whom I have met internationally started in those non-Olympic events to be able to become Olympians and internationally recognized competitors.
As the sole shooting Olympian representing Canada in Tokyo at the 2020 Olympics, I can say that attracting new shooters and identifying potential is already becoming very challenging. With the proposed new regulations, without any increase to public safety, there's economic hardship on law-abiding citizens and shooting ranges in Canada that host multiple shooting sports events.
Without these types of events, without these types of opportunities, our shooting ranges are also going to be at risk, which means that I now no longer have a place to train to be able to get to the Olympics.