House of Commons Hansard #316 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-59.

Topics

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

10:55 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Sorry, I apologize to my colleagues.

There was balancing budgets and getting back to balancing books, things that Canadians could buy into. Then a Liberal member came to the riding and said, “You will do this. You will register your long guns. By the way, if you don't, you're a criminal, and I don't care how old you are. If you're 80 years old and you didn't register, you're a criminal.”

They turfed him. Canadians turfed a lot of Liberals. If you want to do that, then watch yourselves get turfed again. The reality is such—

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

10:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I have to ask the hon. member to direct his comments to the Chair.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

10:55 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

At least for one more year.

Mr. Speaker, let us get back to the bill at hand, Bill C-71. We still have gangs in Toronto, and they are going to do what they want to do, when they want to do it. They are going to ignore this legislation.

I am sure they are going to go into a gun shop, buy a gun, and say, “Oh, by the way, I'm going to fill out these forms and wait my time to get that. I will take the PAL course and do all that. You bet.” It is going to do a lot for real crime. It is going to be wonderful to see these guys sitting there thinking, “I'm going to attack that yard, but I better go get my gun registered before I do it.” That is not going to happen. Let us get back to priorities.

If the Liberal government was going to bring in legislation like that, as I said, Canadians will be watching us to the nth degree.

Anyway, I think I will close there. I think I have said enough. I look forward to questions.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

10:55 p.m.

Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is refreshing to hear passion from a member of Parliament when he speaks. I appreciate the member.

He talked about the political history of his riding of Prince Albert, and after a dark Liberal period, there emerged a great Conservative leader from Prince Albert, much like that previous Conservative from Prince Albert, John Diefenbaker. He is doing Diefenbaker proud, because Diefenbaker had the Bill of Rights, and it is about rights and responsibilities, as my friend from Lévis said when we had the common-sense firearms legislation, where we brought common sense and fairness back.

The approach has been different under the Liberals. They talk about guns and gangs, and they have a summit, but there is zero in the legislation on gang crime. Could the member reflect for a moment on how this, much like Allan Rock a generation ago, is another attempt to divide Canadians, and will do nothing for public safety.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

11 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, John Diefenbaker, the former prime minister, was a leader in so many ways: appointed the first female cabinet minister, recognized the importance of the north, and allowed aboriginals to vote. These are Conservative initiatives. No matter what people say, they cannot rewrite that history. Those are Conservative initiatives and they are things of which to be proud. I am sure if “Dief” were here right now, he would tell people—

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

11 p.m.

An hon. member

Vote Andrew Scheer.

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11 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Of course, vote Andrew Scheer.

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11 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order, please. I have to remind the member not to use the names of members of the House.

The hon. member for London North Centre.

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11 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the hon. member talk about his understanding of the bill. I have before me a quote from a gun vendor, an actual business person who has talked about the bill and his understanding of it. How does the hon. member feel about this interpretation? This gun vendor said:

[T]here's not been a real big change on the actual aspect of logging the customer's information and keeping on record what they've purchased. We already do it with ammunition, now they're just asking us to do it with guns. By doing it with guns we're going to give the police and the community the tool to begin to track where guns are purchased, how they're being trafficked and how they're being used, so that's not a bad thing.

If Bill C-71 is okay for gun vendors, if it passes their test, what is wrong with it? Why is the hon. member opposed to what law-abiding gun vendors have to say about the bill?

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

11 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, the member found one gun vendor who was able to give him a quote that he could use in the House of Commons. However, gun vendors have become a shopping list for gangs. They break into that store and they have a shopping list of all the guns in all the areas and of who has what. Is that what we really want? I do not think so. That is just what they have delivered to the gangs. It is just a shopping list of where to get the guns they want.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

11 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Gordon Kitchen Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague and I have talked over the years. I used to be a registrar before I became a member of Parliament, and I was a registrar for the chiropractor profession. Whenever we put in legislation, etc., the criminals had gotten around it before it even went before the Queen's printer. I wonder if the member could comment on how criminals do not follow the rules.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

11 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that the the member from Estevan really knows his stuff. Again, here is an example of a member taking his life experience, bringing it to the chamber, and talking about things that are important to the people in his riding. Some members on the government side could learn a lot from him.

The member is right: Criminals will always find a way to do what they want to do, so it does not matter—

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

11 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound.

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11 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand here tonight and talk about Bill C-71. This is an important bill for my riding. I have spoken to this a number of times.

Before I get into the bill's history, I want to talk for a minute about so many of my good colleagues around here, especially my colleagues from Quebec. We added to their numbers tonight up in Chicoutimi--Le Fjord. I am looking forward to another Conservative member coming here. I used to buy cattle in the Chicoutimi area. I also used to hunt and fish up in that area. There is no doubt in my mind that Bill C-71 is one of the reasons that Mr. Martel, apparently one of the most famous hockey coaches in Quebec, was elected tonight with a huge majority.

The reason I mention that is that Canadians everywhere, whether they are in Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, in Yukon, or in Chicoutimi, Quebec, are ordinary Canadians who hate to be told they are criminals just because they like to hunt or farm and they have a rifle.

I was a farmer in my other life. Most farmers in this country, whether they hunt or not, have a firearm. They use their firearm to go after that rabid fox that gets in with the livestock, or a coyote or bear that is trying to take down a newborn calf, or as the member for Prince Albert mentioned, intruders who come on the property with the intention to steal stuff. It is commonplace in rural Canada for people to have a firearm.

Earlier, the member for Oakville North—Burlington commented that firearms owners are law abiding until they are not. What in the heck does that mean? I just shake my head at that. I have a lot of respect for that member who sits on the public safety committee but if that is not aiming a dart at a large law-abiding group of people in this country then I do not know what is. I am ticked off by her comment. I am offended by it and I am sure a lot of people across this country are offended by it as well.

Turning to some of the history as to why Bill C-71 came out, the Liberal government said it was going to do something about gang violence and the illegal firearms trade. What did it do? It did not do one thing. I have talked privately to a number of members across the way who admitted there is nothing in this legislation. This is a signal to a group of people who are absolutely against firearms for various reasons, or they are against hunting or whatever, and the ultimate goal is to get rid of firearms everywhere. It does not recognize the fact that lots of people know how to handle them.

I have had a gun in my hand since I was eight or nine years old. I was taught by my father how to handle it safely. My boys got their licence when they were 12 years old, which is what the legal hunting age was. I taught them how to handle a firearm, the same as I taught them how to ride a bike or do whatever. Respect is taught along with that. It is not just about learning how to operate a firearm. It is the same when it comes to running farm equipment. The member for Malpeque, who sits on the opposite side of the aisle, grew up on a farm. He would have taught his kids the same way. Whether it is a piece of farm equipment, a firearm, or whatever else, we have to teach the proper way to handle it and to treat it with respect and then everything will be good.

I sat in on a public safety committee meeting a few weeks ago. Some of the testimony that I heard that day would blow one's mind, no pun intended.

What came out of Bill C-71 was that the government fudged the numbers. The crime rate with firearms has been dropping since the mid-1960s, which is common knowledge. However, they really dropped in 2013. What did the government do? It used that as the base number, knowing that no way would we get the same drastic drop in firearms crime in 2014, and it went up a bit. All of a sudden, my God, the sky was falling, and everybody was shooting everybody everywhere, but that was not the case. On fudging numbers, two witnesses both said something long the same lines.

The reason I mention that is because of what we got from the member for Kenora. I have hunted and fished in his riding. I have a lot of friends up there. I am sure they will be happy after his comment tonight. He said that among firearms owners, there was a lot of mental health issues. There sure as heck is not in my family, friends, and the people who I know who hunt and handle firearms. That was a pretty blanket statement. I do not know if he meant to say it, but when I asked in a question, he pretty well repeated it, so I kind of think he meant it. That kind of thing is not helpful. It is not correct. Sure there are examples, but the one thing worth pointing out in this is when he talked about some of this mental health, he started off by talking about the U.S.

The U.S. has a way worse record and a way worse problem with firearms than we do in Canada. Why? Because we have the toughest laws in the world. We have had the toughest handgun laws in the world since the 1930s, and we are well ahead with long guns, etc.

We all know the history of 1995. In fact, one of the things that motivated me to get into federal politics was the long gun registry. I can still hear my dad. At 86, he is still hunting. He was made to feel like a criminal. My father-in-law was felt the same way. God bless his soul, he has passed away. However, he was going to bury his guns rather than register them, and he did not want to break the law. That just shows us that when we attack law-abiding firearms owners, they get upset, they want to fight back, and they shove back.

In this most recent attack, the numbers were fudged and members tried to pretend that we had the same crime problem or gun problem as the people in the United States. When members start comparing us with the U.S., they are going down a road they should never go down. It is like apples and oranges. We just cannot do it. The U.S. has problems because it does not have the same kind of laws as we have up here.

I talked about the crime rates dropping and the Canadian firearms advisory committee. My good friend from Calgary spoke a few minutes ago. About a year ago, I had a long conversation with her about this. She had a bit of a personal issue with firearms. She finally realized that she did not understand it and did not know what it was. She said she had a lot of people who hunted in her riding. What did she do? Probably the smartest thing any politician could do. She went out and got a PAL. Everybody was telling her that it was so easy to get a gun, a licence, and do all of that. She went out and did it all, and it took her over a year. There is nothing wrong with that. We are not complaining, but it just goes to show that all kinds of rules are in place. If more members went out and did what the member from Calgary did, we would be a lot better off.

Every member who sits on the Canadian firearms advisory committee should have gone out and got a PAL, like the member from Calgary did, so they would know how the system worked instead of bringing their bias to the committee.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 11:10 p.m.

Spadina—Fort York Ontario

Liberal

Adam Vaughan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families

Mr. Speaker, I was at a wedding last night in my riding. It was a very beautiful night. One of the saddest moments was when a mother walked in. A month ago as her son was taking out the garbage at 11 p.m. in downtown Toronto he was shot in retaliation for a shooting that took place in my colleague's riding in Eglinton—Lawrence a few weeks before. In that case, an innocent bystander was killed.

The weapon used in that shooting belonged to someone who lived in the riding that I represent, the same neighbourhood where this young man was shot. That person owned 11 handguns legally and he ferried them around the city to different gang members to pay for his university education. This situation is something which I would like the opposite side to start to contemplate and provide some reflection for me on it. It is a serious situation in the city that I represent and real kids are losing their lives.

The mother is a nurse at St. Michael's Hospital. She found out that her kid had been shot because he was wheeled into her emergency room while she was taking care of other people's children. This is a serious situation in Toronto. I appreciate the long guns that the member opposite just talked about, the tools that are used to protect cabs and that are used to get rid of foxes that are rabid and are used to protect tree planters like my sister was. She has a long gun and she worked in the interior of B.C. for many years. I get that they are tools.

You register your tractor. You register your car. You register your boat. You register the other tools of your hobbies and businesses. I do not understand why guns make you so upset—

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

11:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order. I have to ask the member to direct his comments to the Chair.

“You” is speaking of the Speaker.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

11:15 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Mr. Speaker, what is the problem with registering the guns? Second, you say there is not enough in the bill to deal with—

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

11:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I think we had better go to the hon. member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, please.

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11:15 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague's question is a good one. My condolences go out to the family. That is the kind of stuff that we all hate to hear about, it does not matter where it is.

Respectfully, the answer to his question is in part of the comment that he made. The 11 handguns, if I heard him right, were basically sold to gang members. If that is not the case, I would like to talk to him in private because that was my understanding from listening, that they ended up in the hands of the gangs.

Young lives were lost and I feel very bad for the mother, but I do not know what we have to do to get the hon. member and others to understand that the bill does nothing to address gang crimes and illegal firearm sales. It only puts another burden on the people who already register and are law-abiding firearms owners.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

11:15 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honest conversation because I think the bill does two things. It places much more stringent background checks on individuals so that when someone is acting in a way that is inappropriate, there is a longer and deeper investigation as to why that person may be inappropriately holding guns or a licence.

Second, restrictions on moving guns around cities makes cities safer. Those are two things that will make the communities that I represent safer.

Could the other side explain why registering all those other tools is acceptable, but guns somehow should be different?

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

11:15 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, I guess I misunderstood his first response. I thought he was going to stand and clarify it and he did not. He wants to target something that is already happening to law-abiding firearms owners. Tomorrow or the next day, I hope the member contacts me because as a law-abiding firearms owner and a politician, a legislator like he is, I would like to better understand the situation and at that point maybe we could have a good dialogue.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

11:15 p.m.

Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Mr. Speaker, it has been a very interesting evening and an interesting debate, with a lot of information and emotion. I get to follow the last three, and they are tough to follow. Many of the things I might say will be related to things that have already been said, such as gang violence, illegal guns, illegal handguns, the penalties for those people who use those illegal weapons, and the consequences that follow.

I have heard from a lot of my constituents on this. There are a lot of unhappy constituents. I just heard a member across the aisle say that it is a registry, but I heard several members across the floor tonight saying it is not a registry. It was really nice to hear a member stand up and say it is a registry, but all the previous ones stood up and said it is not a registry. This bill targets law-abiding firearms owners in my riding. It does not actually prevent the crimes. They use firearms in legitimate and lawful ways. They use them to hunt, to work, and for sport shooting. Firearms are a big part of their rural life.

I remember a few years ago when I was the principal of a high school, there were issues about guns and gun violence with youth. I happened to be in a regional meeting of principals talking about guns and other issues, and I said there would be guns in vehicles in the parking lot of my school. There were other principals from urban areas who were astounded that I would admit there were guns in vehicles in my parking lot. I said, “You bet there are.” Those are farm trucks. Those are ranching vehicles. Those guns are tools. Those students know how to use those tools. They are trained how to use them, and they are there as a tool in their vehicle. They drive the vehicle to school and they drive it home. They may use that gun as a tool on the way to school or on the way home. It is part of rural life. They are responsible for those firearms. They do not like being targeted every time a Liberal government says that we need to have a registry or more gun control.

The opposition to this bill is not just in my riding. It is across Canada. E-petition 1608 which calls on the government to scrap this law had over 80,000 signatures the last time I checked. That is the second largest e-petition in history. I do not know why that number does not give the government pause. Regardless, I am happy to have the opportunity to convey some of my constituents' concerns about the bill.

The largest source of disappointment is it has nothing to do with gang violence, illegal handguns, and crime in rural areas. My constituents say they hear about the gang violence, the shootings in cities, and they experience rural crime, but where in the legislation does it do anything about that, other than make them do more red tape as legal gun owners?

There are a lot of obvious points about the bill, but criminals are generally not using legal firearms. What is driving gun violence is gangs and illegal handguns. The illegal use of handguns will not be impacted by this legislation. Only those who already follow the law will. Criminals do not register illegal weapons nor do those who have the number filed off those weapons.

Let me move to some obvious points suggesting this legislation is poorly designed. Given that we are at report stage of the legislation, it is worth looking at some of the testimony my colleagues heard in committee. They heard from Solomon Friedman, a criminal defence lawyer in Ottawa and expert in firearms. He had some interesting testimony. We all heard the Minister of Public Safety suggest the legislation is intended to combat increasing gun violence from 2013. Mr. Friedman noted, as some of my colleagues have already said, that the year 2013 as a starting point for the reported trend was not chosen at random. As we know, 2013 was a statistical aberration in terms of violent crime and homicide in Canada. The year 2013 saw the lowest rate of criminal homicide in Canada in 50 years. If we start at a point that was the lowest, the only place it probably will go is slightly up. It looks like the Liberal government has used statistics to justify targeting law-abiding firearm owners. This is a disappointing choice.

My colleagues at the public safety and national security committee also heard from Mr. Gary Mauser. He noted that 121 of the 141 firearms-related homicides that the minister cited were directly related to gangs in cities. Where in the legislation does it deal with gangs that are working with illegal handguns? It is not there.

We know what the real issues are out there. We agree that the safety of Canadians should be our priority. However, the government seems intent on distorting the evidence to suit its particular narrative. I think many of my colleagues have pointed out why it is doing this. The Liberals are pretending the legislation will do something to combat crime, but all it does is place more regulations on law-abiding firearms owners.

At the same time, the government has introduced Bill C-75, which makes all kinds of serious crimes punishable with a mere fine. That for rural crime is a real challenge. We have many people in western Canada, in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, where rural crime rates have increased in the last two or three years. People are using guns and violence, robbing properties, and are being slapped with fines. They will be right back on those properties. It should be the reverse. If people are using guns in crimes, there should be more severe penalties. This is not how we stop gun use in crimes by letting people off with fines.

The witness testimony I noted undermines a lot of rationale for this legislation. It supports what I have heard from so many law-abiding constituents, who use their firearms for sport, work, or hunting. They are not happy that the word '“gangs” never appears in this bill. “Illegal handguns” does not appear there. However, they are even more unhappy to see the word '“registrar” in the legislation. In fact, it looks like the words “registrar” or “reference number” are used 28 times. It is a registry. As the last member from across the aisle admitted, it is a registry.

It seems pretty clear that Bill C-71 would make it mandatory to register firearms and provide reference numbers. That information would be logged by a business and then passed onto the government. The government has been insistent that this is not a new gun registry.

Law-abiding gun owners will follow the law. They will do this because they are law-abiding gun owners. They will go through more red tape because they re law-abiding Canadian citizens. That is all it is doing is providing more red tape for those people.

I was happy at first to see that the Liberals supported one of our amendments, the one that stated “For greater certainty, nothing in this act shall be construed so as to permit or require the registration of non-restricted firearms.” I expected they would back up their support for this amendment by actually taking action. I assumed they would then support changes that removed the elements of the legislation that essentially created a new registry. However, they did no such thing.

It makes sense that the government does not want to remind Canadians of the wasteful $2 billion gun registry we dealt with before, but we do not know the cost of what they will do with this one. There will be a lot of bureaucracy, but there is no cost assigned to this. It is going to cost money, possibly a lot.

As I said, we want concrete measures that keep Canadians safe. I know the members opposite do not have bad intentions in supporting this legislation. However, they should understand that the bill would do nothing to fight the criminal elements that are behind gun violence. They should be focused on that. Instead they try to criminalize law-abiding citizens. I know there are members who are from rural communities and have misgivings about this legislation. Again, does this stop gun violence? Does this stop the illegal use of handguns? We need handguns to be out of the hands of criminals.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

11:25 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would invite the member to look at the blues of the proceedings of the committee on public safety in which two things happened.

The MP for Red Deer—Lacombe, who spoke earlier tonight, is a member of the committee. He said outright at committee, “everybody at this table agrees that this”, Bill C-71, “is not a registry.” Therefore, it is on record that Bill C-71 does not constitute a registry in any way, shape, or form. In fact, the Conservatives, as we have heard tonight, tabled an amendment to that same effect. Why are they playing these sorts of games when their own members have put on the record the fact that Bill C-71 does not constitute a registry in any shape or form.

What does the hon. member have to say to that?

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

11:30 p.m.

Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Mr. Speaker, if I heard right, the member's colleague, just down the bench, just a few minutes ago, called it a registry. He called it a long-gun registry. Check the record. His Liberal colleague, sitting straight across from me, called it a registry.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

11:30 p.m.

Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have noticed over the last few hours that the questions seem to be coming from our side of the House, and there has been a kind of hush over the Liberal side of the House. I wonder if it is not a reflection on the base that they formerly held in Chicoutimi that went rather silent, seeing a great Conservative win there, adding to our numbers here in the very near future.

I have a question for the member for Bow River. This bill does not seem to address anything dealing with gun crime, gun violence, or gang violence. It does not seem to address any of that. Have we missed something in the bill, or have the Liberals missed something in this bill?