Madam Speaker, I enjoy debates because sometimes I have a few notes prepared for them. However, if Canadians are watching this debate, it is better for me to rebut some of the ridiculous positions just outlined by the deputy House leader for the Liberal Party and so ably and ridiculously outlined by the parliamentary secretary.
If Canadians are concerned about why Bill C-47 is before this House and perhaps why Canada did not sign onto the UN Arms Trade Treaty, I will explain why that did not happen under the former Conservative government. I will also explain our concerns about Bill C-47 and its companion bill, Bill C-71, which has sports shooters, lawful gun owners, and hunters concerned about a return to an Allan Rock style of gun registry of the past. These are valid concerns, and I am going to show why reasonable questions have been asked of the current government by Canadians, but have been ignored. Not only have they been ignored, but the Liberals are also trying to create a wedge between urban and rural Canada, the same old things we saw from Allan Rock and Jean Chrétien decades ago.
In their remarks, the Liberals have said that the Conservatives are saying things that are not true. My friend said it is crystal clear that the lawful use of firearms would not be caught up in Bill C-47 and Bill C-71. I am going to explain why the former Conservative government did not sign onto the UN ATT. I would note that several other countries have not done so either.
As we heard at committee from Steve Torino, who was involved at the time with the Canadian delegation and the advisers to the government on the UN Arms Trade Treaty, Canada was consistently asking for a carve-out for the lawful and cultural use of firearms by hunters, aboriginal Canadians, and sports shooters. Canada was consistently advocating for a specific carve-out in the body of the treaty. Canada under the Conservative government did not just roll over. We expressed our desire to see an outcome that was fair to our citizens. We could not get that, so we kept pushing. The current government rolled over, and there was no such provision in the UN treaty. In fact, the only reference to the lawful use went in the preamble to the treaty, which states:
Mindful of 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.
Unfortunately, a reference in the preamble is not a specific treaty provision or section. It is insufficient. In fact, I quoted University of Toronto law professor, Kent Roach, at committee and I will quote him to this House to say that it is a mug's game to rely on a preamble. The parliamentary secretary seems to think it is sufficient. Professor Roach said this about preambles:
Preambles can oversell legislation either by expressing unrealistic hopes that are not always supported by the fine print or the text of the law or by suggesting that “we can have it all”.
Therefore, only fools rely on preambles, and we have heard a good dose of their perspective here this morning.
As a lawyer, I want to see something in the print of the treaty. That is what Canada was pushing for, and we should not sign treaties until we are satisfied that aboriginal use of firearms, hunting, and traditional and cultural uses are considered to be fair and that some of the most lawful Canadians who do so are respected. These same Canadians have asked the parliamentary secretary and the Liberals to provide that same specific exemption in Bill C-47. In fact, Greg Farrant from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, and Steve Torino, as I mentioned, were working on these. Our committee acknowledged that it would be reasonable to put this provision directly in Bill C-47, because we cannot rely on the preamble at law. That did not happen. Indeed, the Conservatives were prepared to work with the government on Bill C-47 if we could get that bare-bones, reasonable assurance. Therefore, when the Liberals stand in the House and suggest that we are misleading Canadians or that we are not telling the truth, I will go to any of their ridings and have this same conversation there, because I am not using talking points from the Prime Minister's Office.
I know this bill and the history of it, and what Canada was asking for is reasonable. It is reasonable to say that first nations can continue to use rifles and to do their traditional hunt. That is protected by Supreme Court decisions. With respect to lawful ownership in Canada, some of our most law-abiding citizens use their right responsibly.
Once again, Bill C-47, with its companion Bill C-71, sets up this dynamic in which the Liberals are trying to portray some Canadians as being unreasonable or as being risks, and that is divisive.
What is also divisive is the suggestion that without the bill, we would be able to sell arms to countries where there is gender-based violence or human rights crimes. In fact, Wendy Gilmour, who is the director general of the government department that manages the country control list and these controlled goods, said clearly at committee that the ability to control exports based on sanction, human rights abuse, and violence, and therefore to preclude arms sales, has existed since 1986. In fact, she referred to the memo from Joe Clark on the ability to stop arms sales in these circumstances. Last I checked, he was a Conservative member of Parliament at the time.
It is misleading Canadians to suggest that without Bill C-47, we are suddenly going to be selling arms in situations where there is ethnic cleansing or gender-based violence. Once again, that is misleading and unfair, and I would invite the parliamentary secretary to look at the committee transcripts wherein his senior official acknowledges that this has been true since 1986.
In fact, in my last speech on this issue, I noted that since the 1940s, Canada has had a superior arms control regulatory regime compared to the ATT. It is superior on many fronts. In fact, the area control list right now only contains one country, which is North Korea. However, for decades, through legislation and regulation, we have had the ability to stop all trade of all goods with any country. Wendy Gilmour, the deputy general, acknowledged this in committee, when she said:
Indeed. The purpose of the area control list is to give the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Government of Canada the ability to control, but not necessarily restrict, the movement of any items to a country listed on the [area control list].
For decades, we have been able to responsibly control the movement of military goods and nuclear materials. Canada has actually been a leader in this.
Since 1986, with the Conservative government of Brian Mulroney, we have also been able to restrict based on concerns with respect to human rights abuses, and a range of other things. Canada is a responsible player. Therefore, when the government puts up Bill C-47 and its companion Bill C-71 to once again sow division, it is doing so based on a premise that is not only false, but it is misleading. If it thinks that a preamble provides the appropriate protection for the lawful use of firearms by Canadians and indigenous Canadians, it is showing it does not understand that it should fight for Canadian interests when it is negotiating an international treaty. Furthermore, since Bill C-71 is being brought in shortly after Bill C-47, there are real concerns by some Canadians that the government is bringing back the gun registry of the Chrétien-Rock era and it will be providing for the provision of records, or this same approach to the United Nations.
That is terrible. Canada should be very proud of the fact that we have one of the most responsible regimes for the trade of military-type goods and controlled goods, and we have had it since the 1940s. In fact, this week in Ottawa, we are going to see the defence and security industry at the CANSEC show. It will include tens of thousands of Canadians who work in the defence and security industries. We have been a world leader on satellite technology and aerospace. We were the third or fourth country to have controlled nuclear fission. We are leaders in these technologies, and we are also leaders when it comes to regulation.
I would like to see the Liberal government stop this divisive, inaccurate, and biased approach to legislation. I would be happy to come to Liberal ridings to debate these things, and not just in the House of Commons. These are the facts, and this is why we have concerns about both of these bills.