Mr. Speaker, I rose several times before, and was not able to be recognized. I probably was not quick enough to get up to be recognized. Before I begin with my remarks, I notice that the theme of the Liberal Party platform is hypocrisy. I would never accuse my New Democratic colleagues of that. I, at least, know that they believe in something.
We often disagree, but on the Liberals' side it is all about power and how to use it. We can see it right here in the legislation and the treaty itself. They say one thing but the law says something completely different. Through talking points, press releases, and carefully scripted exempt-staffer-written speeches on that side, they are saying the truth is that they are not creating a registry when they actually are.
We heard the parliamentary secretary mention that the G7 and NATO have signed on and are abiding by it. One of the biggest arms manufacturers and biggest military equipment manufacturers, the United States, signed it but did not ratify it. That is a factual error that the parliamentary secretary committed in this House.
There is a Yiddish proverb that says that half an answer also says something. We are hearing half answers a lot on that side. They are not saying the full thing. I wanted to repeatedly rise in the House and ask them to show me in this legislation and the treaty where sharpshooters, hunters, and sports shooters will not be affected by a gun registry. That is exactly what is going to happen. My remarks will be principally demonstrating how, in fact, this creates such a system, not one run necessarily directly by the federal government, but one through the collection and amalgamation of information that will do exactly that.
This morning, we heard the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs present this bill and make a big deal about how no lawful gun owner would be affected by this. He is carrying the water today for his minister. I know that. What is the clause? Why did he not mention in this House what clause it was that protects gun owners, law-abiding, family-oriented people who just enjoy hunting or sport shooting on weekends with their friends? Where is the section in the legislation that specifically speaks to them and exempts them from sections of this bill? Why did they not choose to add perhaps something in the preamble to the amended legislation that would say that they believe Canadians have a right to lawfully own firearms for lawful purpose? Why did they not provide a greater clarity clause, as it is called here?
Why did the Liberals not express their reservations through that mechanism? If it is not in the arms treaty that the United Nations has, why did they not go ahead and just write it in? They could have done that. It would have been a drafting mechanism to demonstrate to lawful gun owners in Canada that the government has their backs and is actually listening.
The best I could find was a press release on the Government of Canada's website that states:
The proposed legislation is consistent with Canada’s existing export controls and system of assessing export permit applications. The proposed changes will not impact the legitimate and lawful use of sporting firearms.
They could have put that into a preamble. Instead, they chose to put it into a press release, which really has no force of law or effect to it. Why did they not do that?
When the member for Durham spoke, he basically explained exactly what Canada has been doing up to this point. He covered it all, from the 1940s to today: the export control system that Canada has for military manufactured equipment and its export and import controls.
When we speak about the treaty, article 10 talks about the brokering, how it is going to be controlled now, how people will need to get permits, and that there will be certification of documents that will need to be created. It even says that it may include requiring brokers to register or obtain written authorization before engaging in brokering. This is for military equipment.
The parliamentary secretary went through the list in article 2, the scope of the treaty. I will go through it too. Before I do, I want to mention the record-keeping aspect of it, which is what many gun owners are concerned about in Canada. This is article 12 of the treaty, which goes through details such as:
Each State Party shall maintain national records, pursuant to its national laws and regulations, of its issuance of export authorizations or its actual exports....
It then goes into further details, such as “transit or trans-ship territory under its jurisdiction”. It also talks about conventional arms actually transferred. It then goes into certification details such as what type of registry this will be and how it shall be kept.
In the law, we see that they are amending the section on keeping of records, which is 10.3(1). Then they are amending sections 10.3(4), (5), and (6), but in there, the minister can already direct individuals and organizations to keep records in a specified manner and for a specified purpose. The minister can tell them what to do with it.
I know that the parliamentary secretary talked about scope, and started reading off all of them. I am going to do it, too, just to refresh the memory of this House.
Article 2 is about scope: battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large-calibre artillery systems—we can all agree the average Canadian should not own any of these things—combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers, and small arms and light weapons.
I have an electronic version of the Merriam-Webster dictionary. The definition of “small arms” is “weapons (such as handguns and rifles) that are fired while being held in one hand or both hands”. That could mean civilian or military use. There are many firearms that have a dual use, that are used by military forces across the world, even our allies, for training purposes, for cadet programs and that also have a secondary use.
Lots of times the same manufacturer will make two versions of the same firearm, one for civilian use and one for military use. It is military equipment that the member says the treaty is concerned with and the law is concerned with. However, it actually covers everybody, because it covers all the manufacturers. That is where there is a problem.
Even though he said that the previous Conservative government of the time had participated in negotiations of a treaty, governments participate in negotiations of treaties all the time. Sometimes when a government has a losing hand or it does not get what it wants in a treaty, then the government does not accede to that treaty, regardless of whether it is about firearms, military equipment export controls, or financial regulations. Governments choose at the time of signing whether they agree with the principles within the treaty and whether they can actually get it ratified by their parliaments, hopefully. One would hope that they would then turn to their parliament for that second step.
I want to give an example. If, for our anniversary—and we have tried to do this before and ran out of time—I go out and buy a Beretta shotgun, a very specific one, an A400 Xtreme 12 gauge semi-automatic shotgun at Cabela's in Calgary, for $2,200, and we decide we would like to go for a weekend of duck hunting, I would become the end user, as covered by the treaty and by this legislation.
The government would then keep a record of me, having purchased this firearm, and would then notify the Italian government about my purchase. Now, that is a gun registry. Where is the concern for privacy laws? Why does the Italian government need to know whether I own that particular Beretta shotgun? I would like to know. Where is the concern about the privacy of Canadian gun owners, when their information will be transferred in that fashion to another government? I know that NATO countries are participating in this. I will mention that afterwards.
What we are seeing through this Arms Trade Treaty, and specifically this legislation, is a two-tier system. There is one for the despots and tyrants of the world, and one for law-abiding democracies of the world.
Let us remember the earlier debate just a few days on Bill C-21, when we talked about privacy rights and customs control with the United States. One party was particularly worried on this side of the House, the New Democratic Party. It was extremely worried about privacy rights of Canadians.
What about the privacy rights of lawful gun owners in Canada? What about them? What about when we transfer this information on specifically what they own, how they purchased it, their MasterCard or Visa information, to another government? Why does it need to know?
The shop owner needs to know, of course, for warranty purposes. If something happens and it is defective, I need to take it back to the shop owner so the manufacturer can fix it.
That is an example. That is also a dual-use weapon. There could be a military version that is used for training purposes. It could be used for target shooting. Beretta is a manufacturer of a lot of military equipment, and some of it does have a dual use. One purpose is military; one purpose is civilian. I do not see a difference being made here.
I talked about these two worlds that we are basically creating. Russia and China are not parties to the ATT. Russia is one of the largest exporters in the world, and it did not sign. It exports 39% of its military equipment to India, 11% to China, and 11% to Vietnam, its top three markets. None of those three are signatories to this treaty.
In the total take of what China exports in military equipment, 35% goes to Pakistan, 20% to Bangladesh, and 16% to Myanmar. Pakistan is not a signatory to this treaty. Bangladesh is a signatory but has not ratified it, so the rules do not apply to it. However, it intends to sign it. Myanmar has not done so either.
This creates two worlds. One is that in the western world the democracies agree that the arms control should exist and we should know who the end-user is. On principle, I do not disagree with that. It is an important goal to track sales and understand where weapons go, with military equipment being whatever it is on the list, which is why the Canadian government has been doing it, as the member for Durham said, through the Export and Import Permits Act. We have known about this and have been doing it since the 1940s. Therefore, we already know that we track all exports of military equipment using categories negotiated by the World Customs Organization. We have been tracking it with that organization. We have been doing our part and doing what we expect other countries to do now.
The blanket ban option, as the member for Durham mentioned, is available through the area controls. He mentioned North Korea and Iran, and we can add others to that list. We could add regions to it if that is the desire of the government. It already has that option and mechanism to do so.
There are also drafting issues with the legislation itself. This is from the Rideau Institute. I know it may seem odd that a Conservative reads something from the Rideau Institute, but I do like to see both sides and the problems that people on the left and the right have with particular legislation. It mentions a drafting issue in proposed section 7 of this legislation, asking why the government is relegating a central provision of the enabling legislation, namely, the legal obligation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs when assessing export permits, to the regulations. All of those criteria are in the law right now, but they are being moved into the regulations.
I mentioned this before at committee in regard to other pieces of legislation. I was on the foreign affairs committee, but I have moved to the Standing Committee on Finance. At many of the committees I have been substituted in, I have mentioned that more should be in statute than in regulation and that more should be decided by the House and that other place than by government ministers sitting around a small table. More voices, not less, should have a say on what the categories and the criteria should be, especially for something like the export and import of military equipment. That is a drafting issue that I have, and I have mentioned the others that I have.
If the government wants to say it is on the side of lawful gun owners, it could have introduced a greater clarity clause, amended the preamble, and written it into law. However, it chose not to. That was a choice it made. The government could issue as many news releases, make as many speeches, and make as many Facebook posts as it wants, but it does not change the fact that there is no difference made between the manufacturer of equipment for military and civilian purposes in the law. The manufacturer is the same. The equipment is made in the same place.
It is not the principle of arms control we disagree with. Of course, people agree with controlling the movement of military equipment to other countries. That is why we have been doing it since the 1940s. What the Conservatives fervently disagree with is that there is no protection for lawful gun owners in the legislation or in the treaty itself. Those are serious issues.
The summary provided for this legislation talks about fines being increased, about the term “broker” and how brokers will now have to get permission to be the in-between in the sales of military equipment. It talks about a report having to be tabled in the House that will define the military exports in the previous year. However, as the New Democrats have suggested, the United States will not be included in it because it is a trusted ally. I agree that it is a trusted ally; it is the second greatest democracy in the world after our own here in Canada. The government replaced some of the requirements that only countries that Canada has an intergovernmental arrangement with may be added to the automatic firearms country control list. By a requirement, a country may be added to this list only on the recommendation of the minister after consultation with the Minister of National Defence. Again we have more ministers deciding things and Parliament finding out afterward what is going on. I would much rather that we found out first and decide in the House first what the rules will be and how things should be.
After having returned from the summer recess, it was interesting for me to realize when the parliamentary secretary was speaking that I missed this part of my day and debating him in the House, where he usually brings his A game.
I enjoyed campaigning in Winnipeg over the summer and hearing from the constituents in the different ridings. The parliamentary secretary mentioned that he is open to debate and continuing this. However, just before we returned, the government House leader threatened during a CTV or CBC interview to move more time allocation in this session to achieve its mandate, but the parliamentary secretary is saying something else. I would assume that the member talks to the government House leader on a regular basis. Therefore, I wonder if the government will move time allocation on this a piece of legislation if more members rise in the House to have a say and represent lawful gun owners, hunters, and those who enjoy sports shooting. I met many of them in my riding during the last election. I always tell my campaign volunteers that if a garage door is open and they see someone fixing or cleaning his or her lawfully owned firearm to leave them alone, as it is not the best time to approach someone. It is is better to come back to those houses later on.
Treaties alone do nothing. They are just pieces of paper. One of the problems with the ratification of the ATT by the government is that the Liberals will push it through because they have the votes. At the end of the day, they will have their way and the lawful gun owners across Canada, who have legitimate concerns, will be the losers.
I want to ask these questions of the parliamentary secretary who presented this bill in the House on behalf of his minister. How many gun owners did he or the department speak with? How many associations did they speak to and consult with? How many people said it was a great idea, and how many said it was a bad idea, and why? I did not have an opportunity to do ask these questions earlier, because so many members were standing to speak that I was not noticed.
As the member for Durham so eloquently stated, we already have an effective system for the control of exports and imports of military equipment. Therefore, the main concern on this side of the House is the rights and privileges of lawful gun owners. It is not just the rural members; it is also the urban members. I represent an urban riding. There are a lot of sports shooters in my riding. The Shooting Edge is located across the river just over the edge of my riding in the riding of the member for Calgary Midnapore. It is always packed. There are a lot of people who enjoy the sport and the challenge. However, this treaty will create a registry system. In the example I gave previously, the manufacturer and the government where that manufacturer is based will know that I had purchased a Beretta shotgun from Cabela's at a certain price, what it is, and what it does. However, it also applies to ammunition. Therefore, when the member opposite said that the treaty talks about scopes and small arms, he should look at the definition in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, which includes handguns, rifles, or a firearm being held in one or both hands. That is extremely broad.
Gun owners, who are not dumb and can read legislation, figured out long ago that the Liberal Party of Canada is not on the side of lawful gun owners. The gun registry has cemented that idea. Therefore, I do not understand how the Liberals can defend this piece of legislation and the implementation of a national treaty and say that lawful gun-owning Canadians, who go home every day to their family, will not be impacted by this at all. There is no way they can say that.