Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to rise to speak to Bill C-47 and to express my displeasure at this legislation by the government. First, as the shadow minister for defence, I want to assure Canadians that the current system we have in place to manage the export of military equipment from Canada is robust and safe.
The programs here have so many layers of government oversight and the involvement of government agencies that we can be assured that military equipment is not going into the wrong hands, that it is not a part of the illegal trade in firearms, and that it is being used in a way that is consistent with Canadian values.
What we really have to look at here is that Bill C-47, and the ATT it would allow Canada to accede to, is all about bringing in place a backdoor gun registry into Canada. It would disadvantage Canadian manufacturers of firearms and military defence equipment, and we are incredibly concerned that this is just another attack on legitimate long-gun owners across Canada.
To go back to the assurances we have about the system in place today, I remind members that under Global Affairs Canada, we have the automatic firearms country control list and that only countries approved by the Government of Canada and that are on that list are allowed to buy military defensive weapons, including firearms and automatic weapons, from Canada. However, that does not guarantee that Canadian companies will be able to export firearms and military equipment to those nations. Once a country is on the list and approved by Global Affairs Canada, then we go through a process. When the business deal is signed and a purchase decision is made and a Canadian company wants to export the arms, it has to apply for an export permit under the Import and Export Permits Act through Global Affairs Canada. Global Affairs Canada again has the ability to say yes or no to the sale of that equipment. Conditions may change in the country that it is being sold to, or the military of that country may be under observation or have been removed from the list, as can happen.
Countries can be banned, as has happened in the past. We have taken Myanmar off the list. North Korea is definitely not on the list; it has been banned. Right now, for example, we on the Conservative side would like to see Ukraine placed on the list. The government is looking at that, but Ukraine is not yet on the country control list.
In Manitoba we have a number of companies that build various types of equipment that have to fall under the government oversight list that is in place. In Winnipeg we have PGW Defence Technologies on the list. It builds firearms, automatic weapons, and sniper rifles and exports them around the world. Before it can send them, it has to get an export permit.
Magellan Aerospace in Winnipeg builds all sorts of different components for the aerospace industry, but it is also building pieces of the F-35. We have to remember that even though the United States is somewhat exempt from Bill C-47, Magellan is part of a global supply chain for the entire F-35 program, which includes countries from other consortium members around the world. This Arms Trade Treaty could actually disrupt the flow of these parts that are so timely to the manufacture of the F-35 stealth fighter jet.
In my riding, there is also a company called MicroPilot, which builds autopilots for automated aerial vehicles and also builds micro aerial vehicles. Even though it builds them for nonmilitary use and its customers are not military clients, it still has go through the same process to ensure that its clients will not put the autopilots into drones for military purposes.
Therefore, the oversight by Global Affairs Canada of export permits, and the oversight by the Government of Canada of who will actually be allowed on the automatic firearms country control list is robust and strong, and guarantees that Canada is dealing with legitimate partners and allies.
All that the ATT will do is to disadvantage Canadian companies versus other nations that are not part of it, including the United States. The United States supports the treaty in principle but has not ratified it, and because it has not ratified the treaty it plays by a different set of rules in its export regime than Canada does. We have a healthy defence manufacturing industry, aerospace industry, and manufacturing sector right across this country and those companies will be at a disadvantage because of this so-called treaty.
As I said in an earlier question to the Liberals, they have a utopian view. They think that by signing this treaty we will magically change the way the world operates in the illegitimate firearms trade and the illegitimate, criminal use of weapons. Treaties are only paper thin and as long as major manufacturing is done by countries that are not a part of this and that have no problem selling to regimes and untrusted partners around the world, like Russia, Iran, North Korea, and China, there will never be a way to control their trade in weapons to terrorist organizations. There will never be a way to control their trade in weapons to regimes that are not trusted right now, like North Korea, that wants to bomb the United States with its new intercontinental ballistic missiles.
We have to take care of our own defensive needs. There is one thing that this treaty does that a lot of people do not realize. Under Bill C-47, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces are currently exempt from these types of programs. If the Government of Canada wants to donate military equipment to a partner or an ally it can, but under Bill C-47 it will now be tied up by article 5 of the UN ATT.
We already have all sorts of oversight. In addition to Global Affairs Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency and Statistics Canada already keep track of all movement of firearms and military equipment through the World Customs Organization. Canada has the ability to impose blanket bans on the export of our weapons to countries or regions where we believe firearms or weapons will be used in defensive means or against civilian populations. That is why in the past we put Belarus and Myanmar on the list.
This is a back door long-gun registry. I have spent 17 years of my life as a politician fighting against a long-gun registry. We have legitimate trade in hunting and sports shooting firearms. Manufacturers are concerned that they have not been consulted. Firearms owners across this country, who already have to be licensed under the possession and acquisition licensing program, have not been consulted. They are legitimate, lawful, law-abiding firearms owners and yet the Liberals are plowing ahead anyway to bring in this back door registry.
Manufacturers are saying that what is required under the UN treaty is a different marking than what they already have. This would be an added cost. If a U.S. manufacturer of a firearm wants to send a shotgun to Canada, it would have to laser imprint a new serial number. This would be an extra cost. Who is going to pay for that? It will be Canadian firearms owners, our Canadian customers. What happens if the United States or that company decides they are not going to export to Canada anymore? We will have less choice in what firearms we can purchase.
Article 5 in the treaty states, “Each State Party shall establish and maintain a national control system, including a national control list, in order to implement the provisions of this Treaty.” That sounds like a gun registry to me. It goes on to say, “Each State Party, pursuant to its national laws, shall provide its national control route list to the Secretariat, which shall make it available to other State Parties.” Now we will have to submit it to the UN. We are going to have to share with every country that signed the treaty exactly how many firearms we have in our country, as registered now through the Liberals' new long-gun registry. State parties are encouraged to make their control list publicly available as well. We just created a shopping list for all of the criminals out there.
I like what the Canadian Shooting Sports Association said:
Canada, under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, requested that civilian firearms specifically be removed from the treaty in order to protect the interests of Canada’s lawful firearms community. The UN ignored our nation’s request to respect the interests of Canadians and refused to remove civilian firearms from the language of the treaty. So the Harper government did what was right: it stood up for Canadian sovereignty and Canadian gun owners and refused to sign the treaty.
The Liberals have not implemented that. They talk about the preamble that says that civilian firearms ownership will be respected. As legislators, we all know preambles are not law; it is the regulations underneath them that are enforceable.