Mr. Speaker, I had a private member's motion in the last Parliament. It specifically addressed the ATT and our not signing on to the particular agreement, and not being a part of it in the form that it was currently in. It was Motion No. 589 which stated:
That, in the opinion of the House: (a) Canada already exceeds all the standards listed in United Nations resolution 55/255 concerning firearms (the resolution); (b) the regulations envisioned in the resolution would do nothing to enhance public safety, and would serve only to burden the law-abiding firearms community; and therefore, the government has already surpassed its obligations with respect to the resolution and is not required to take any further steps.
I mention that today because the same problems that existed when I presented my private member's motion in the last Parliament still exist to this very day. What needs to be understood by a couple of our friends who maybe are not part of the firearms community out in Canada today, and they are watching, is that Canada already has an extremely good system in terms of monitoring the sales and permitting sales of military equipment around the world.
The trade controls bureau regulates the Export and Import Permits Act, which, since 1947, has allowed the minister to prevent the supply of military equipment to countries for a variety of reasons, including security threats, internal and external conflicts, or sanctions by the United Nations. That is already in place, and Canada already abides by that and uses it effectively.
I will bring the question back to the firearms community. Why not exclude the firearms community from this particular Arms Trade Treaty? We would maybe have broad agreement throughout the firearms community that it would not be such a bad thing, but since it is not exempted, it would become a big problem for firearms owners.
I will bring this all back to pre-election 2015. The Liberal Party promised it would not reinstitute a firearms registry in Canada. It was a very hot topic for the Liberals. There were many rural Canadians who were upset by a firearms registry, and it was a big problem for the government because the prior Liberal government was the one that brought it in.
It was not a very popular piece of legislation. Pre-election, the Liberals said they were not going to do this again. The minister, by all his actions, is showing the exact opposite. He is just trying to do it through the back door, and we have mentioned it many times. My colleague from Red Deer—Lacombe and I mentioned this before when this was brought forward in the House. With Bill C-47, there is a real desire to bring in a back door registry without saying so.
I will read out some of the parts of what this bill would actually require. This is Bill C-47 for all those in Canada watching. They can see the actual act. I am going to read what it would require of business owners who sell long guns and firearms. It would require them to keep records.
Every person or organization that applies for a permit, import allocation, export allocation, certificate or other authorization under this Act shall keep all records that are necessary to determine whether they have complied with this Act.
If company X is a company that sells firearms, it might export and sell them to somebody from the U.S. who buys them. This would then apply to that company's database. I might go in and buy a firearm from this particular company, and this is a question that some have asked. What limitations are there to access the records of that particular company? Are all records accessible? For every firearm that was bought and sold, is the record accessible? Because the bill does not exclude firearms owners or long gun owners, it really says that all databases would be made available to the minister.
I will talk about some more things in the actual act, and why we have problems with it. Under electronic records, the bill states:
Every person or organization that is required to keep a record and that does so electronically shall ensure that all equipment and software necessary to make the record intelligible are available during the retention period required for the record.
Those are computers, so they need to be accessible. Under inadequate records, the bill states:
If a person or organization fails to keep adequate records for the purposes of this Act, the Minister may, in writing, require them to keep any records that the Minister may specify, and they shall keep the records specified by the Minister.
Those are not some records; those are any records.
The period for retention is another issue with firearms communities. Is it just for a week? Is it just for a certain period of time? It is actually much longer than a week. The bill states:
Every person or organization that is required to keep records shall retain them until the expiry of six years after the end of the year to which they relate or for any other period that may be prescribed by regulation.
It could be up to seven years. Firearms companies such as a little local firearms store in my community's backcountry, like Corlanes in Dawson Creek, because they are exporters and importers, would be required by the minister of public safety and this Parliament to have accessible records of those sales. It sure sounds like a firearms registry to me.
Let us get to the bottom of it, where this is all coming from is demand by the minister. The bill states:
If the Minister is of the opinion that it is necessary for the administration or enforcement of this Act, the Minister may, by a demand served personally or sent by mail, require any person or organization that is required to keep records to retain those records for any period that is specified in the demand, and the person or organization shall comply with the demand.
There it is. There is the back door registry. The minister has already talked about, in another piece of legislation that is coming before us very soon, handing over the previous firearms registry data to a province in this country. It seems that on one hand he reassured his electorate, especially those in Saskatchewan who sent him back to Ottawa, that there would never be a firearms registry brought forward again by a Liberal government, but here we have two examples—today, in Bill C-47 and next in Bill C-58—of doing the exact opposite. That is why our firearms community is so concerned.
We saw it was ineffective the last time it was brought in. It was very expensive and it was putting the focus on the wrong individuals. I am a firearms owner myself. I do it lawfully. I have been trained in how to safely fire and handle restricted firearms, non-restricted firearms, etc. For people who obey the law and do it properly, this is unneeded attention on a community of people who safely and lawfully buy and sell firearms and do it as part of our history.
I have a pin on my lapel. I am co-chair of the parliamentary outdoor caucus. I do that with my colleague across the way. We support hunters, anglers, outfitters, trappers, etc. We support the historic events that really started this country. It started with the fur trade. A lot of my constituents still hunt, trap, and fish. I like to do that when I have time to get out there. These kinds of laws have a negative effect on those communities, because we put the focus on them as if they are criminals already, when they have done nothing wrong. All they have done is chosen to buy a firearm to go hunt and provide food for their family.
The crux of my argument today is that the Liberal government said it was not going to bring in a firearms registry. The Liberals said it over and over again, because it was a big deal to a lot of their constituents. A lot of rural folks elected Liberal members of Parliament with the reassurance that it would not happen, and here we have a minister and a government that is trying to do that. From one back door or another, it is determined to get a firearms registry re-established in the country.
We need to come into this with our eyes wide open. Voters who are watching this today need to understand this is a big deal. This is why we did not accede to the Arms Trade Treaty when we were in government. It was because it did not have exclusions for firearm owners written within our particular act. My private member's bill spoke to that. It was one more reason why we did not accede to it.
I challenge the government to have a sober second thought and look at this again. We implore the government not to accede to the ATT. We already have enough regulations and laws that get to the same end the ATT is trying to get to in terms of selling military equipment across the world. The Liberals should especially think about the firearm owners to whom they promised they would not start a registry. Hopefully, the government will not support this legislation today.