Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate your ruling. I move:
That the matter of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police publications respecting Bill C-71, an Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms, be referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
I appreciate that the Speaker reviewed the evidence that was before the House and made a ruling based on the evidence that I feel was very strong. For those who are involved and may be hearing this for the first time, let me briefly reiterate exactly what happened.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, in its online publication, started in early April explaining to the Canadian public some aspects of Bill C-71. It was language that made the public believe that Bill C-71 was, in fact, passed by Parliament and already enacted in law and to be abided by.
It was listed in “RCMP Special Business Bulletin No. 93” and used presumptuous language, with phrases such as, “CZ firearms will be impacted by changes in their classification”, and, “businesses will need to determine if their firearm(s) will be affected by these changes.” It went on to explain that Swiss Arms firearms will also become prohibited. If one owns SA firearms, it identified the steps one would need to take, because they would be affected by Bill C-71. It went on to explain the grandfathering clauses and how to avoid being in illegal possession of a firearm, as if Bill C-71 had, in fact, been enacted.
The language used was “will be impacted”, will become “prohibited”, and “will be affected”. The language it could have used was “it could be” or “may be” or “might be” affected.
Later on in that same bulletin, the RCMP website went on to say, “Business owners will continue to be authorized to transfer any and all CZ and SA firearms in their inventory to properly licenced individuals, until the relevant provisions of Bill C-71 come into force.” Before one thinks that the language presumes that it is going to come into force, it did not concede that it needed parliamentary approval first, as we know today.
The second document the RCMP had on its website was “How does Bill C-71 affect individuals?” In that particular document, it also used very presumptuous language. A lot of it mirrors what I already indicated was in Special Business Bulletin No. 93. Passages included, “If your SA firearm was listed in Bill C-71, it will be classified as a prohibited firearm.” Again, it said, “was listed”, as if Bill C-71 was a document from the past and not a bill that is currently before the House.
It went on and said that “for grandfathering of your currently non-restricted or restricted CZ/SA firearm, the following criteria must be met”. Again, it went through a whole list of details for firearms to meet, which, coincidentally, happen to be laid out exactly, almost word for word, in clause 3 of Bill C71. Again, there is no indication that these proposals were just that. They were proposals before a committee to be studied by parliamentarians, let alone sanctioned or in effect.
I received a number of calls on this prior to it coming to our attention. There was great concern across Canadian law-abiding firearm ownership groups across the country.
One of the passages I referred to earlier explained the grandfathering requirements and how to avoid being in illegal possession of a firearm. It said, “If your SA firearm was listed in Bill C-71, it will be classified as a prohibited firearm.”
Conservatives have been clear all along. There have been concerns raised about Bill C-71. There have been great concerns voiced by the Canadian firearms public that the proposed changes to the rules in Bill C-71 would require the RCMP to be the be-all and end-all on firearms classification and reclassification. The Conservatives gave the Governor in Council an oversight role, and Bill C-71 took that oversight role away from the Governor in Council and gave it to the RCMP.
I am not going to take the time of the House to explain all of them, but the RCMP has made a number of very grave mistakes when it comes to the classification and reclassification of firearms. It needs to be involved, but it cannot and should not be the final arbiter in the classification of firearms. The reality is that the RCMP is there to enforce the law, not create it. That is our role. Do we need RCMP experts and firearm-owner experts across the country to be part of the classification process? Absolutely. Should they make recommendations to the House? Absolutely. However, it is the House that makes that decision, not the RCMP by itself. That is one of the many flaws in Bill C-71.
Under the regime the Liberals are proposing in Bill C-71, all law-abiding Canadian gun owners who follow all the rules and regulations on firearms could suddenly find themselves, because of one meeting with some bureaucrats, declared criminals because they possess illegal firearms, when they have owned and used those firearms for sports shooting or hunting for many years. Suddenly, with one blanket move and without oversight, dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people who already possess guns could be deemed illegal. That flies in the face of common sense for all Canadians, and certainly for law-abiding Canadian gun owners. We have seen disrespect before for law-abiding Canadian gun owners, and we do not want to keep seeing it happen.
What is even more distressing about this whole process is that the Minister of Public Safety, who oversees the RCMP, should have made it very clear to that organization that this bill has not passed in Parliament and is still before committee. He is one of the most experienced members we have and should be urging the agencies that work under his purview as Minister of Public Safety to have respect for Parliament. The RCMP is not above the law or above the requirements of Parliament and the House of Commons.
As the Speaker indicated in his ruling, the fact that the RCMP changed the website the day after the question of privilege was presented was proof positive, and many Canadians believe the same thing, that it put that provision in there. I do not want anyone to misunderstand me. I do not believe for a moment that the RCMP acted on its own. I am sure that someone would have called someone in the public safety office of the government to ask whether it should go ahead with this. I do not believe for a moment that the RCMP acted on its own. The failure of the government, and not only on Bill C-71, which would do nothing to address the issue Canadians want addressed, which is guns and gang violence, goes to show the contempt that exists in a majority government when it has lost touch with Canadians.
I appreciate the ruling of the Chair and respect the fact that the critical role of Parliament to ensure that Canadians continue to have support and believe in democracy in this place was upheld today. For that, I give credit to the Speaker for his ruling.