Mr. Speaker, I am addressing Bill C-55 which is before the House at present. The point I want to make right off the top is that there is nothing in the bill that would have prevented the terrible events of September 11 last year, in fact it could have the opposite effect.
If the bill goes through unamended it could actually do the exact opposite to the government's stated objective.
I will elaborate. The federal government is using the September 11 terrorist attack as an excuse to continue its anti-gun, anti-hunting, anti-farmer, anti-sport shooter, anti-firearms collector, anti-historical re-enactor, anti-licensed firearm and ammunition dealer, anti-guide, anti-outfitters and anti-aboriginal hunting rights agenda.
Those are the honest, law-abiding, taxpaying Canadians the Liberals have targeted with these 10 pages of proposed explosive act amendments in the bill.
The amendments were so urgent that the Liberals have waited four and a half years to bring them before parliament. After all, it was on November 14, 1997, that former the deputy prime minister, Herb Gray, signed the Organization of American States inter-American convention against the illicit manufacturing and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives and other related materials in Washington, D.C.
Those wanting proof of the government's anti-gun agenda, here is what the former deputy prime minister, Herb Gray, said when he signed the OAS convention in Washington, in 1997:
This could be the start of a global movement that would spur the development of an instrument to ban firearms worldwide that would be similar to our land-mines initiative.
That source was from the Montreal Gazette of November 15, 1997, “Canada signs deal to curb illegal sales of guns”.
If we need more proof, I will make the point that these proposed amendments are more about inexplosives than explosives. The term inexplosive ammunition component appears 26 times in these 10 pages of amendments.
The government already has total control over the explosive part of bullets and shells, namely gun powder. What possible public safety, anti-terrorism objective can be achieved by controlling parts of ammunition that cannot go anywhere without the gun powder?
The proposed amendments to control inexplosive ammunition components are plain and simple government harassment of tens of thousands of responsible firearms owners who happen to load their own bullets and shells for their own legal recreation and sport.
Terrorists and their deadly operations will remain unaffected and undeterred by these amendments. Explosives are easily obtained by terrorists by criminal means and just as easily manufactured with everyday materials that are available in most food and hardware stores.
The only part of the bill that is any good at all is the increased penalties for the criminal use of explosives. The trouble with these sections is that they will most likely hit the wrong target by potentially criminalizing tens of thousands of law-abiding citizens who load their own ammunition for their legal pastimes and sports.
Instead of writing the law the way the government intended, the government assures all concerned:
The people responsible for applying the amended act do not think that the proposed measures will interfere with supplies for hunters and people who manufacture their own agenda.
If that is what the government means then why does the government not say who the laws are intended for and exempt everyone else?
The danger with these amendments was pointed out in a Library of Parliament research paper prepared on January 18. The lawyers reported:
Those who presently make their own ammunition are already regulated under the Explosives Act since an explosive (gun powder) is a regulated product. Thus, licences are currently required, for example, to import explosives. Clause 36 would replace section 9 of the current Explosives Act by requiring a permit to import, to export and to transport in transit through Canada not only for explosives but also for inexplosive ammunition components.
Consequently, law-abiding citizens who manufacture their own ammunition would end up being charged with the new offences proposed in these amendments, offences that call for fines up to $500,000 and imprisonment of up to five years in jail.
Offences that are targeting law-abiding Canadians in this act include: acquiring, possessing, selling, offering for sale, transporting or delivering any illicit inexplosive ammunition component and making or manufacturing any explosive from an illicitly trafficked inexplosive ammunition component. The government has not told us how it thinks anyone can make an explosive from an inexplosive ammunition component. The definition in the act states “inexplosive ammunition component” means any cartridge case or bullet, or any projectile that is used in a firearm as defined in section 2 of the criminal code.
Even the government's own definition clearly demonstrates that no one could possibly make an explosive out of inexplosive ammunition components. I would like to propose at the appropriate time that an amendment be made to remove all references to inexplosive ammunition components from the proposed amendments to the explosives act.
I also would also like to bring the attention of the House to another matter that concerns me and my constituents greatly. Farmers and dealers are examining this bill right now.
A spokesman with the explosive regulatory division, minerals and metals sector of Natural Resources Canada indicated that at this point it had only one component in mind. The component to be restricted by this act is ammonium nitrate, one of the substances used in the Oklahoma City bombing a few years also.
Presently a person can buy this product without having to show any link to the agricultural industry. The goal is that the regulations will impose tighter control on the retail sale of this product. The actual controls would be set out in proposed regulations and would need to go through the regulatory consultation process. It is clear that in the future other components may be added to the restricted list as needed.
This proposed legislation enables the government to go well beyond the parts of this bill and that causes us concern. This is enabling legislation. We do not know what regulations in future the government will bring in. These could be very harmful to farmers and dealers who deal with this particular type of fertilizer.
I would like to conclude by restating what I said at the beginning. There is nothing in the bill as it now stands that will affect the events of September 11 of last year, yet it is being used as an excuse to respond to that. I believe there is something else here that the government has not come clean on. That is why I would like to propose the amendment that I did.