Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my esteemed colleague from Kitchener Centre.
During the course of the first day of debate on Bill C-47, certain members of this House chose to focus their sights on unfounded concerns with respect to the legitimate use of firearms by law-abiding, licensed firearm owners in Canada. Today, I intend to set the record straight.
It was clear during that debate that there was a deep-seated misunderstanding of the objectives of Canada's accession to the Arms Trade Treaty. It is therefore my intent to address and allay these concerns by factually outlining the intent of the ATT and of this legislation.
I will be absolutely crystal clear on this point. Canada's accession to the Arms Trade Treaty will have no effect on law-abiding Canadian firearm owners, whether they be shooting trap or skeet, hunting upland birds and big game, or keeping their farm animals safe from coyotes. The Arms Trade Treaty is about preventing the proliferation of conventional arms to people or places where lives could be put at risk, where our national security or that of our allies would be undermined, or where we might expect serious violations of human rights or international humanitarian law to occur.
Some of our colleagues suggested in the previous day's debate that the treaty and Bill C-47 do not have a carve-out or other protections for legitimate and law-abiding gun owners. On this subject, let me be equally clear.
The Arms Trade Treaty preamble recognizes very clearly the “legitimate trade and lawful ownership, and use of certain conventional arms for recreational, cultural, historical, and sporting activities, where such trade, ownership and use are permitted or protected by law”. This language sets the context for the ATT and makes it clear that the ATT is not intending to challenge or prevent legitimate trade and ownership of conventional arms when permitted by domestic law.
The ATT also reaffirms “the sovereign right of any State to regulate and control conventional arms exclusively within its territory, pursuant to its own legal or constitutional system”. This is why in this bill there is not a single proposed amendment to the Firearms Act, which is the act responsible for possession, manufacturing, and transfer of firearms in Canada.
I will again reiterate that the rights of law-abiding Canadian firearm owners are not and will not be affected by Canada's accession to the Arms Trade Treaty, full stop. The rights of law-abiding Canadian firearms owners are permitted and protected in Canadian law and regulation, and this will not change.
It is incorrect to say that the Arms Trade Treaty does not recognize the lawful use of firearms subject to relevant national laws. Moreover, we have concrete evidence that there has been no effect on firearm owners in Canada due to the ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty in other jurisdictions, such as Europe, for example. If a Canadian wishes to import a Benelli shotgun from Italy or a Walther target pistol from Germany, the process remains straightforward. First, the individual importing the firearm into Canada must be at least 18 and hold a valid possession and acquisition licence for a non-restricted or restricted firearm. Second, the firearm must be declared to Canadian customs and the appropriate duties and taxes paid. This is the current process, and it will not change after Canada's accession to the ATT.
I would also point out that there is no requirement to seek import authorization in advance for non-restricted or restricted firearms or firearm parts. This would not change with Bill C-47. The Arms Trade Treaty has been enforced in Germany and Italy since December 2014, and those countries still have no issues with exporting firearms to law-abiding Canadian firearm owners.
Canada's accession to the ATT would also not affect the ability of law-abiding Canadians to travel overseas with their firearms. Whether they are travelling to the U.K. for a shooting competition or France to hunt pheasants in Brittany, the temporary export process is very straightforward and would not change with the implementation of Bill C-47.
Those Canadians would be required to comply with local laws, but if the U.K. or French government wished to verify an individual's permit, we can already provide that assurance without compromising personal information. If people are planning a hunting trip in the United States, the process is even simpler, as long as they comply with the relevant local U.S. laws.
The last issue I wish to address is the concerns expressed by some of our hon. colleagues with respect to the record-keeping provisions in Bill C-47. My colleagues have suggested that article 12 of the Arms Trade Treaty introduces new obligations on Canada to collect information and to provide such information to the Arms Trade Treaty secretariat.
This is not accurate. Article 12 speaks solely to what a country should include in its national record-keeping. In this regard, Canada's existing system of export record-keeping meets the Arms Trade Treaty obligations. No change is needed and no change will be made.
The record-keeping requirements of the Export and Import Permits Act predates the Arms Trade Treaty by decades. Exporters have been required to keep all relevant records to demonstrate that they are in compliance with the act, since 1947. The time limitation of six years plus the current year has been on the books since 2006. Canadian exporters are already very familiar with these requirements, and it is incorrect to characterize these requirements as being new.
The existing record keeping-requirements of the Export and Import Permits Act are familiar to all Canadians involved in the legitimate trade of arms. The slight amendment to add “organization” is related specifically to obligations with respect to brokering only.
There will be no requirement to register or retain information with regard to the purchase of a foreign-made weapon, if purchased in Canada. Once legally imported into Canada, no information will be retained for the purpose of the bill. The Arms Trade Treaty does not apply to domestic trade in arms.
In addition, there is no requirement in article 12 of the Arms Trade Treaty to share national records with other member states or with the Arms Trade Treaty secretariat.
The Arms Trade Treaty reporting requirements are contained in article 13 of the ATT, and these annual reporting requirements are not new either. Article 13 of the treaty clearly states that the data that is reported to the Arms Trade Treaty secretariat can reflect the same data as what was listed in annual reports to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms for the specific items covered by the Arms Trade Treaty.
Canada has been filing these reports to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms for 15 years, since 2002. Again, this is nothing new and it is a long-standing national obligation to report that data in aggregate form. No confidential personal or business information is contained in those reports.
The Arms Trade Treaty is about seeking to ensure that weapons exported from Canada or sales brokered in Canada or by Canadians do not accidentally fuel conflict or contribute to violations of international law. The ATT itself is intended to contribute to international peace and prevent human suffering. Canadians expect their government to show global leadership in this regard.
The ATT and this legislation are not about a long-gun registry. Our accession to the ATT will not change the rights and responsibilities of recreational and sporting gun owners in Canada, and Bill C-47 will not create any new obligations on gun owners in Canada. Canadians who export or import firearms will continue to operate exactly as they do now.