Mr. Speaker, it is with the respect and support of the people of my riding, Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, that I rise today to speak against any Liberal legislation that would lead to another useless, wasteful long-gun registry.
“A gun registry by any other name is still a gun registry.” That is a quote from Garry Breitkreuz, a former MP. Those words were spoken by one of the finest members of the House I have ever had the privilege of working with. Garry Breitkreuz was a legendary defender of the rights of the average, middle-class working Canadians, including hunters, farmers, and sports shooting enthusiasts. I intend to channel the spirit of Garry in my comments today.
Already the threat of the Liberal Party bringing back the long-gun registry is a topic of discussion when I am out and about at the various public engagements I am invited to attend. My constituents are following the progress of this legislation very closely. They are disgusted by the cynical, manipulative ploys of the Prime Minister and his party. My constituents assure me they will never, in their lifetime, support a government that thinks harassing law-abiding gun-owning Canadians with useless regulations is fair.
Welcome to the culture wars, where left-wing Liberal Party ideology trumps common sense.
Bill C-71, the “bring back the long-gun registry” legislation, is all about the cynical manipulation of people's fears and what the government is doing to stoke those fears. Bill C-71 has nothing to do with public safety. No sooner had the Liberals tabled this legislation than outrageous, over-the-top appeals for money by the Liberals were sent out to misinform the public about the true intent behind it. Even someone whom the government expected support from was sickened by the cynical manipulation in the Liberal money appeal:
[A] member of a gun-control advocacy group established in the wake of a 1989 shooting massacre that killed 14 women at Montreal’s Polytechnique engineering school said she was shocked at the Liberal message on the heels of the firearm bill.
Meaghan Hennegan, a survivor of the 2006 Dawson College shooting in Montreal who was shot twice by a gunman outside the building in that attack, said the Liberal fundraiser was “insulting.”
“We’ve been pushing for the legislation to be put through for almost three years, and then the second thing they do is go out and start selling it....”
Hennegan said the fundraiser makes the Liberals appear to be exploiting the gun-control issue.
Welcome to the culture wars.
The decision to include Hill+Knowlton lobbyists and Liberal insiders Peter Donolo and David Rodier as consultants on Bill C-71 is proof that the government was never really serious about consulting the public about this legislation. Donolo wrote a public opinion piece in The Globe and Mail in February, in which he said, “it is now much easier in Canada to own a gun than to drive a car.” The Liberals used taxpayers' dollars to have an opinion piece published to promote Bill C-71. Lobbyists should disclose they are being paid by the government to author articles paid for with tax dollars.
Responsible firearms owners know that legally owning a gun requires taking a safety course designed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It requires passing a written and a practical test, waiting two months to pass background and reference checks to obtain an RCMP-authorized firearms licence card, and then passing a daily RCMP background check to be allowed to keep it. All legal gun owners are registered with the federal police, and so are all the privately owned handguns and AR-15 rifles.
Also with Hill+Knowlton, David Rodier is a former lobbyist for the Coalition for Gun Control and a former adviser to Allan Rock, the Liberal minister of justice who led the 1995 passage of Bill C-68, the firearms act. Rodier co-wrote an article in Policy Options magazine in March of this year, which concluded that “[g]un control presents an untapped opportunity” for the Liberal Party to win votes in the next election.
Bill C-71 will not stop gun violence in Toronto. According to a Toronto media outlet, there has been an 11% increase of shootings in Toronto from the same time in 2017, with 176 shootings, 18 fatal.
The last time there was this much gun violence in Toronto, with 359 shootings and 52 deaths, was the year when the member for marijuana from Scarborough Southwest, who is the spokesperson for making pot legal, assumed control of the Toronto police force. The police unit he created that year to respond to gun violence had, and I quote the Toronto Star of June 8, 2018, “a 10-year history of arbitrary stops and searches, allegations of assault and a public strip search in broad daylight” and “it left troubled neighbourhoods increasingly mistrustful of officers.”
That type of approach and Bill C-71 will not stop gun violence in Toronto.
Every illegal gun does not begin as a legal gun. In Canada, restricted firearms, including handguns, are registered, and have been since 1934. Turning hunters and farmers into scapegoats to deflect attention from how badly the Prime Minister is performing sickens members of the public.
In my riding, demonstrations against the Liberal long-gun registry the last time similar legislation was brought forward were not occupied by young people being manipulated by radicals funded by foreign interests. Those demonstrations were held by middle-aged firearm owners, whose first reflex is to respect the laws of the land, whose parents and their parents before them built this great nation.
Welcome to the culture wars.
The creation by the Liberals of a new criminal class, Canadians who may happen to own a firearm, or Canadians who believe that it is their democratic right to dissent against Liberal policies they reject, and who refuse to sign loyalty attestations, is the ultimate trademark of the current federal government, which excels in the practice of negative politics. Canadians reject negative, mean-spirited politics in the same way they rejected the Liberal long-gun registry when it was first introduced in Bill C-68.
The political alienation of rural Canadians by the Liberals was a far greater loss than the $2 billion-plus that had been wasted on an experiment in social engineering. It was an experiment that backfired on the Liberal Party, and it continues to backfire. This may be the worst and most enduring product of the gun registry culture war.
When it comes to the right to use and enjoy private property, my constituents all know my stand. I defend their right to own private property with the same vigour with which I defend the right of all Canadians to dissent.
Whenever constituents in my riding hear a Liberal use mealy-mouthed words like “enhancement of community safety”, they put their hand on their wallet, run home, and make sure the lock on their gun cabinet is safe.
We should have no doubt about it: Bill C-71 is the starting point to bring back the 1995-era gun registry we all fought so hard and long to get rid of. We knew this was coming when the real power behind the throne, PMO party insider Gerald Butts, stacked the firearms advisory committee with a majority of people who lack the professionalism and expertise of the people they replaced.
It is clear the Liberals did not learn their lesson the last time, with Bill C-68. That is certainly what my constituents are telling me when they find out that the Liberals are downloading a provincial gun registry, starting with Quebec. Regulating and legislating against law-abiding people, which is what we are talking about here, is just as unacceptable today as it was back when Bill C-68 became the rallying cry for protests across Canada.
When I was first elected, I was elected on the promise to protect the rights of average Canadians. That includes opposing bad legislation like Bill C-71, an act to harass law-abiding Canadians.
Among the useless aspects of Bill C-71 is confirming the licence for non-restricted firearms transfer. It is already expected under current law when the PAL is shown to a vendor. As per section 101 of the Criminal Code and section 23 of the Firearms Act, it is already a crime punishable by five years of imprisonment to transfer a firearm of any kind to an individual who does not possess a licence to obtain or possess this type of firearm.
Having to call the CFP for every single transaction and obtain a reference number serves no other purpose than to keep a record of firearms transfer. By matching the PAL to the transaction reference number, the RCMP can connect firearms to specific individuals, and this is building the framework and infrastructure for another wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry.