House of Commons Hansard #307 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was firearms.

Topics

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

9:40 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my hon. colleague about the complaints and criticisms we heard from Canada's Assembly of First Nations and indigenous peoples about the lack of consultation and the fact that many treaties may be violated, as well as the traditional rights to subsistence hunting. Can the member explain why the Liberal government, which prides itself on consultations with the first nations, has allowed so little discussion with the first nations on this bill?

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

9:40 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Madam Speaker, my answer to my friend's question would be, because the Liberals probably were not going to get the answer they wanted, why bother consulting?

Heather Bear, the vice chief of the Saskatchewan assembly of first nations, testified before the committee. She spoke eloquently on a number of things, including the tragic suicide of her own daughter. She rebutted one of the Liberal member's accusations that this bill will prevent suicide, and rebuked the questioner solidly.

The reality is that when my colleague from Medicine Hat asked the question about whether or not the assembly of first nations felt adequately consulted, the answer to that question was no. We asked the vice chief if the assembly of first nations would consider a constitutional challenge; the answer to that was yes. I could see the heads explode on the other side of the table when that answer came forward.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

9:40 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, I urge the House to instruct the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to get out of Ottawa and listen to the concerns of ordinary, working, middle-class Canadians regarding Bill C-71, an act to bring back the firearms registry. More importantly, rather than pretend to listen to the concerns of Canadians, I urge the Liberal MPs, and their friends who sit to their left in the chamber, to listen and act if they have any desire to be more than a one-term wonder.

I believe a short history lesson for all the newly elected government MPs is in order. I owe my seat in Parliament to a very arrogant former Liberal MP, who insisted on being Ottawa's gun registry messenger to the good people of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke. When constituents told him to scrap the registry, he chose to lecture rather than to listen. One could feel the tension in the room as he screamed at the constituents to get a life, a room packed with voters at the Pembroke Outdoor Sportsman's Club, when they asked for the courtesy of having their concerns about Bill C-68 heard. They gave Hector a new life all right, as the defeated MP for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke. A one-term wonder he became, and has been ever since.

Prior to my election as the MP for a brand new political party, Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke was considered to be one of the safest Grit seats in Canada. It even stayed red through both the Diefenbaker and Mulroney sweeps. The former MP thought he had a position for life. The second time he ran against me, my plurality jumped from 2,500 to 18,000 voters. The farmers, hunters, and outdoor enthusiasts never forgave him, just as they will never forgive every Liberal MP who votes for Bill C-71.

Having the committee get out of Ottawa, away from Gerald Butts' PMO talking points, to hear from ordinary Canadians, is actually doing a favour to those MPs who can also expect to be one-term wonders. If Liberal MPs are afraid to defend Bill C-71 before it is passed into legislation, how do they expect to defend it during the next federal election?

Consultation must be real consultation, not the fake consultation put on by the member for Kanata—Carleton, who showed up in my riding yesterday to lecture a handful of people about how Big Brother knows best. This is what a voter had to say about that bogus meeting set up by the soon-to-be one-term wonder for Kanata—Carleton: “Number one of 101 ways on how to lose the riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke is to hold a bogus gun reform meeting in an area full of hunters, recreational shooters, and sports shooters, by telling them it's okay when it's not.”

The sad thing about the fake consultation set up by the temporary member for Kanata—Carleton is that she is afraid to hold a real consultation in her own riding. The smart voters in my riding, Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, know that I am not afraid to hold a real consultation with the people of my riding. I have always been Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke's representative to Ottawa, not the other way around. I am pleased to confirm that, unlike the pretend consultation held in Petawawa by the temporary MP for Kanata—Carleton, the information session I hosted with trusted independent experts from the firearms community, Steve Torino, Tony Bernardo, and Chris di Armani, packed the Cobden Agricultural Hall with hundreds of participants.

The people of Canada want their democratic right to be heard respected. They deserve to be heard by the parliamentary committee studying Bill C-71. Silencing the voices of Canadians will not make them go away. It will only make them louder.

I hear the voices of Canadians who want the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to hear them. If the member for Hastings—Lennox and Addington is listening to this debate, this is what his constituents are saying about Bill C-71.

Mike from Deseronto writes, “In this area you were warned about siding with the lunatic you're serving, destroying this country now with this blatant attack on legal gun owners. Legal guns are not the problem. You, in this area, fully know this. If not, you best move out of the area, as we do not need this form of Liberal lunacy spreading to our children.”

Michel from Marmora writes, “This proposed legislation will do nothing to stop criminals. Criminals do not follow any rules. It's the law-abiding citizens that suffer the consequences.”

Mike from Napanee writes, “I keep trying to understand the Liberal fixation with destroying the sport of law-abiding hunters and sport shooters while ignoring the real bad guys. I believe I have it finally figured out. Politicians are so afraid of not being politically correct that they won't target gangs. Instead, they go after law-abiding firearm owners. We have already proven time and again that we will obey the law. Adding to it does one thing and one thing only. It makes it appear that the government is doing something about crime. Please stop using us as scapegoats and go after the real criminals.”

Bruce from Madoc writes, “Listen to Canadians for a change.”

Richard from Flinton writes, “Once again, our government is set on fixing a problem that is not a problem. Why don't you get tough on criminals and leave law-abiding people alone? I'm so sick of hearing on the news 'known to police'. You guys are like a dog with a bone.”

This is a message from Larry, from the riding of Peterborough—Kawartha. He asked me to send it to his temporary government MP: “I am very discouraged with Bill C-71. I have been a hunter and a recreational sport shooter for 39 years. During that time, I have met thousands of fellow enthusiasts from all over Canada, who respect and enjoy the shooting heritage and privileges we have in our country. The current firearm laws are sufficient and fulfill their intended purpose for the majority of law-abiding citizens. Leave them alone. More restricting legislation will only expose me and my colleagues to more unnecessary red tape, while the criminal element continues to flourish, unabated, especially in the large cities. I realize that this impending legislation is only a political power manoeuver to placate the Liberal anti-gun voters. It will not begin to address the real issues. Thank you for letting me share my opinion and thoughts. Please do not limit debate regarding this regressive legislation bill.”

This is the message Brian is sending to the temporary MP for the Bay of Quinte: “So much for a promise of a transparent government. Another election promise broken. Can't wait for 2019.”

Blaine has a special message for the temporary MP for Northumberland—Peterborough South: “I don't think you realize what you have done to unite the two million-plus firearms owners. This will reflect voter turnout in 2019 for sure. In the previous election you were able to get all the legalize marijuana votes, but once legal, they will simply be uninterested in any further support of your government. At that point, the firearms community will become the voters who will turn the tides. The firearms community is an all-party community...equally tired of the constant attack on completely safe law-abiding enthusiasts. This Bill C-71 does zero to go after guns and gangs. What it is is a slap in the face to intelligent, law-abiding citizens by a smug group of individuals who believe they are duping all Canadians, including non-firearms enthusiasts, into believing that they are safer. Shame on you.”

Add to this the fact that people behind gun control in Canada have repeatedly misrepresented the facts regarding gun control, and one can see why people who live in rural, small-town Canada reject the big-city approach of the Liberal Party.

When the Liberal Party introduced its gun-control bill, Bill C-68, it made a variety of exaggerated claims as to why it was doing so. The most exaggerated claim was the cost to taxpayers for the gun registry: $85 million. The Liberal gun registry cost the taxpayers of Canada over $1 billion, and that amount did not include the cost of lost jobs to outfitters, tourist lodges, and other small businesses that were shoved out of business by Bill C-68, the government gun law. The second-most widely exaggerated claim was that the Liberals' bill would reduce crime.

Values drive and guide actions and beliefs. They influence perceptions of the world and allow us to make distinctions between good and evil. Values are culturally transmitted, often by parents, and increasingly by the media. Values play an important though often denied role in gun-control debates. Someone with anti-gun values is likely to support anything called gun control. Someone with pro-gun values is likely to resist anything called gun control.

Firearms owners are reluctant and bewildered participants in a debate they did not start. They were willing to follow the reasonable laws but felt betrayed when the actions did not end the debate. After the last federal election, reasonable Canadians thought the debate was over.

Support of and opposition to gun control, smoke screens and partial analogies aside, depend to a great extent on views on the place of firearms in Canadian society. Some citizens have little or no tolerance for guns. Arguments about recreational use or wildlife management are meaningless to them. Those who lawfully own firearms find the views of the first group incomprehensible. At the level of values, the basic question is whether Canadians have the right to own firearms. Canadian gun owners are not campaigning for the right to keep and bear arms—

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

9:55 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

There is a point of order. The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

9:55 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, I just want to know if I heard correctly. It is very important. The member said that gun owners would be bewildered when they listen to her. I am too. Was that what the member said, or did I misinterpret her intent?

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

9:55 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I believe that is a point of debate. I would ask the member to stand up for questions and comments when it is time for that. Right now, we still have seven and a half minutes.

The hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

9:55 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

There is a smug arrogance behind the refusal to allow debate on this bill and shutting down committee, and that is not allowing Canadians to be heard. These Canadians want to be heard, and they are relaying through me what they want to tell the government and other people opposing the gun laws.

Those of us who support the right to own a gun see the further restrictions as an attack on the right to own private property. Both positions reflect fundamentally opposed but unspoken value assumptions. Both sides feel that the other is arguing in bad faith from a flawed outlook. Gun owners favour hunting, while many non-gun owners oppose it.

Among those who agree strongly with the right to hold private property, including a firearm, a big majority favour hunting, while those who strongly disagree oppose hunting too. Attitudes on these two basic values drive the gun control debate but are rarely mentioned.

One of the rules of discourse in our rational society is that proposals have to be justified on utilitarian grounds. If people were to say they are for gun control because they do not like guns and no one should have them, or that they are against gun control because they like guns and want to keep theirs, no further discussion would be fruitful.

Proponents of additional gun controls have frequently been heard to say that they do not want to confiscate hunting guns or stop legitimate gun use. Is this really true? An indication that they are concealing their basic values comes when it is suggested that the controls would be costly and ineffective. Proponents of new controls have talked about the benefits of gun control 20 years from now without always specifying that this is a society in which no one but government agents will have guns. The gun subculture, wherein parents teach their children how to shoot and hunt, is apparently to be extinguished.

Many Canadians are second- or third-generation urbanites who think hunting is barbaric. Their conception of hunting and hunters is something quite fantastic. One thinks of the lower-income family man purchasing a permit, hunting under strict regulations designed for wildlife management in the hope of feeding his family better in the winter.

From the “no right to hunt” point of view, the goal of gun control is to reduce the number of firearms in the country, to reduce firearms use, and to reduce hunting. If both can be eliminated, that would be even better. From this perspective, gun control has already been extremely effective in reducing participation in shooting for sport and hunting. Membership in hunting and shooting clubs has declined. Turnouts for competitions involving pistol shooting, rifle competitions, shotgun competitions, and trap and skeet, and the number of firearm retailers and the number of issued hunting licences, have all declined. The overall trend is clear.

The decline in hunting licences has direct and indirect consequences and costs for wildlife management. Much wildlife management is paid for by hunting licences. If hunters cannot be counted on to control excess populations, many more animals will starve, and crop damage will increase.

There are also economic costs associated with the decline in other shooting sports. It appears that it is easy to discourage the law-abiding Canadian from participating in a sport by simply increasing the regulations every year. For those with “no right to hunt” values, these arguments are irrelevant, and a decline in hunting is a victory.

The RCMP reported a stunning drop in the issuance of firearms acquisition certificates, or FACs, another success from the “no right to hunt” value point of view. If we take the rate of FACs issued from 1984 to 1990, about 600 per 100,0000 as the normal rate, there will probably be a rebound from the low 1994 rate of 169 per 100,000. With these new regulations, many will be discouraged from applying for acquisition rights with the new firearms possession permits. Additionally, a number of firms have been forced out of business.

Bill C-71 is a continuation of promoting the values of those who are in the “no right to hunt” camp. With Bill C-71's words and bewildering complexities, few gun owners or police officers will be certain whether an act is criminal. It would allow the RCMP to ban any firearm it wishes, regardless of whether it is commonly used in hunting or target shooting. It would add more layers of regulations for shooting clubs. It would discourage people from the use of recreational firearms through increasing costs and red tape.

Values are important in the gun control debate. Those who have anti-firearms values can be expected to support any measures that restrict firearms use. Those who have pro-firearms values can be expected to oppose these measures. Logic and reason are of little use when it comes to values. Emotion and a sense of right and wrong are the foundations of value disputes. Just as partisans in some debates are seldom converted by the opposition, those who have pro- or anti-firearms values are probably not open to argument.

The greater the cost or reduction in public services, the less the support. Gun owners are law-abiding citizens. Since 1978, all legal owners have been checked out by the police before being granted an FAC. However, some are a higher risk than others. If the low-risk people register in great numbers and the higher-risk people do not register, as is certainly likely, the registration records will be relatively useless, an experience Canada has had twice before with firearms legislation. The first was in the 1920s to register firearms purchased by aliens. The second was an attempted universal registration during the Second World War.

The argument has been made that before domestic conflict arises, the participants are law-abiding and will register their guns.

Public opinion may support building a new highway, but the opposition from people who will forfeit their homes to it will be tenacious, long lasting, and divisive. The strongest proponents of registrations are those who think Canadians should not have a right to own firearms. They rarely have a personal stake in the law. It is not their property that will be prohibited, and it will not produce any direct benefit to them, in most cases. They will probably not be completely satisfied so long as any Canadian is still allowed to use a gun.

The values driving the gun registry debate are deeply felt but are often not discussed.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, people back home who were not watching anything relevant tonight and tuned in to this show may be concerned that they are part of some kind of really strange reality TV script, where we have someone who sneaks into the House of Commons to warn us that the government is coming with black helicopters, with these anti-gun values, to come and take away one's right to hunt.

I listened with fascination to my colleague, and I did agree with her on one fundamental point. It is an important point. She said that logic and reason are of little use in this discussion. She certainly proved that tonight. I would like to thank her for being so subversive in how she did it. With the most ridiculous, bizarre, and paranoid whack-job analysis she did prove that logic and reason are of little use in this debate. I would like to at least thank her for that.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to the question. The member said that he was listening with fascist imagination. I just would—

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:05 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay has a point of order.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

June 4th, 2018 / 10:05 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, did she say “fascist”? Was that the word she used? Did I hear that? If she said that, then she misinterpreted. I certainly would not want her to say the word “fascist”. Maybe she said something else, but that is what I heard.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:05 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I believe this is more a point of debate. I know that it is getting late, and I just want to remind members that when they are using language in the House, they should be respectful. Everyone should be respectful of what is being said here. Everybody here is elected democratically.

The hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, the member opposite speaks directly to the fact that logic does not matter. It is his emotions that are taking over. He will make great speeches about how there is a right to hunt and to use firearms, but at the end of the day, when it comes to vote and to vote against firearms legislation that is simply restricting law-abiding citizens' rights, he always turns his back on his constituents and votes for more regulations, more government, and eventual confiscation.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:05 p.m.

Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Madam Speaker, I listened to the speech with great interest, and I appreciated the history lesson offered by the hon. member. She took us through a history of gun control in Canada. It seemed that every aspect of it was negative and that there is no benefit at all to gun control. That is an interesting position taken by the Conservative Party.

I wonder what the hon. member would do and how she would reform gun control in this country. It sounds like she would want to get rid of the whole thing. I am wondering if she could comment on that and provide us with an answer on where it should go.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, as a matter of fact, I have been to two well-attended firearms legislation meetings with firearms clubs in the member opposite's riding. In terms of firearms legislation, they would like to see having mandatory minimum sentences and harsher sentences for people who use firearms in the commission of crimes instead of what we are seeing in Bill C-75, where all these harsher sentences for people who use firearms in committing crimes are being let go.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:05 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Madam Speaker, I have been here for 17 and a half years. I was elected along with my colleague from Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke in 2000, and we were the only two non-Liberals at the time. I think there is an element of my colleague's comments that ought to be listened to very carefully by members on the opposite side of the House, and also by our friend from the New Democrats, as they have what they think of as fun at her expense.

I remember Hec Clouthier, who represented that Liberal-held riding at the end of a 70-year streak of unbroken Liberal victories. He thought he could laugh at the people who were gun owners, who are too stupid to understand that there is a good for society in getting rid of guns, that the guns themselves are evil, not the people who use guns irresponsibly, illegally, who think of that with contempt.

There is a reasonable argument to be made in favour of the position being advocated by the government. I do not support it, but making that position, or any position in this place, with respect is fundamental to our own long-term survival in this place. I would encourage all those members, including the one who represents the riding to my west, which I used to represent, Hastings—Lennox and Addington, and the one to my east, Kanata—Carleton, that in those areas, people respect politicians who are respectful and not those who are not respectful.

I congratulate my colleague on her speech. I have no questions. I just wanted to say that respect will get us a long way.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague. I recall quite distinctly in 2000 when we were elected under the banner of the Canadian Alliance. Back then, it was with this very issue we were able to make the beachhead in Ontario because of this very simple, fundamental issue of the right to own and use private property.

Like today, we have a number of one-term wonders who will be in this Parliament as temporary members of Parliament. So too did we have some before them, and the sweep will come back when people realize that they are not laughing at me. The Liberals and the NDP are laughing at the law-abiding citizens who have the right to own and use firearms.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:10 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, I join my colleagues in supporting the member's speech.

Our Liberal friends who laughed at my colleague the entire time she was giving her speech should never forget that the indigenous peoples of our country, with whom the Liberals are always trying to stay on good terms, use guns to earn their livelihood. Guns are part of their everyday lives. Hunters—

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:10 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, the members opposite should listen instead of being so insulting.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:10 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Order. I would like to remind members that they all have an opportunity to rise to ask questions. They may prefer not to do so, but I do not think we should have people speaking across the aisle.

The member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles has the floor to finish his question.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:10 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, indigenous peoples live and hunt with guns. White hunters, or hunters of any other colour, lead similar lives in our communities and wildlife management is important. Even Quebec has a problem because there are fewer hunters, and animal populations that were usually controlled by hunters are growing. Today, we are asking for further study of this bill.

Does my colleague have information about problems with wildlife?

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, when deer go unchecked in rural areas, they become sick. The deer also eat farmers' crops and, most tragically, when they are not held in check, there are car accidents. They are on the roads at dusk when it is hardest to see and they cause loss of life.

It is one thing to claim to be tolerant and to represent indigenous people, but it is quite another when we consider their true way of life and that they need firearms to subsist, including to make sure they have enough to eat through the winter.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:10 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Before recognizing the next speaker, I wish to remind the House that I realize that we are sitting late and that we certainly have different points of views and opinions. However, we must respect the opinions of others. If members have questions or comments, they should rise at the appropriate time.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Oshawa.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:10 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, I really do appreciate your wise comments. I will be splitting my time with the member for Thornhill this evening.

Let me start by saying why we are here tonight. Again, the Liberals are refusing to consult, refusing to allow reasonable amount of input and debate on another piece of controversial but very important legislation, Bill C-71. What has been exposed by the very limited conversation so far is that Bill C-71 effectively breaks another Liberal promise, the promise not to bring back the wasteful, ineffective long-gun registry. I want to thank my constituents in Oshawa for their input and insight into this bill.

To start, Conservatives support public safety, safe and effective legislation, and we also respect the fact that firearms owners in Canada are, by and large, law-abiding citizens. We believe that no government should take punitive action against those who uphold the law.

I was proud to be part of a Conservative government that eliminated the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry. It was a good example of how poorly thought out, wasteful policy is ineffective at reducing crime rates by targeting law-abiding gun owners, instead of criminals who, by the way, do not register their firearms. That is why I cannot, in good conscience, support Bill C-71, which does nothing to address the issue of criminal unauthorized possession of firearms and gang violence, places new burdens on business and law-abiding firearms owners, and opens the door for a new registry.

As I said, Bill C-71 does nothing to address the issue of criminal, unauthorized possession of firearms. Let me emphasize this point. The Liberals seem to have difficulty understanding that criminals are not law-abiding firearms owners. Therefore, the provisions included in Bill C-71 will not affect criminals, who do not follow laws to begin with. Thus, it is highly unlikely that they will follow provisions included in Bill C-71.

In an expert submission to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security regarding Bill C-71, Dr. Gary Mauser, a Canadian criminologist and professor emeritus in the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University, stated that Bill C-71 is a red herring and would be regarded as a failure to fulfill the Liberal government's promises to develop criminal legislation using evidence-based decision-making. Tonight we have not heard very much of that evidence, have we?

I support Dr. Mauser's view. I feel that the Liberal government is trying to create a problem where one does not exist. For example, the Liberals are intentionally using a low outlier year of 2013 to justify saying that homicide rates are increasing. Realistically, firearms homicides have gone up since 2013. However, our overall firearm homicide rate has been steadily falling since the 1950s. This is a point that the Liberals are intentionally misleading Canadians with. Total homicides, have declined at least since the 1990s, and if anything, knife stabbings in Canada have increased more dramatically. The Liberal government's statistics also leave out the fact that these homicides are primarily driven by gang murders. The majority of Canada's gun violence stems from illegal gang and similar criminal activity. However, this bill mostly focuses on gun licence holders, and not violent criminals or gangs. If we think that the homicides are driven by gangs and criminals, we should be focusing legislation against them.

Gang-related activity and repeat offenders make up the bulk of the 223 homicides in 2016. Some 141 of the 223 homicides were related to gang activity. That is well over half. Let me reiterate that criminals do not register their firearms. It seems this is becoming a theme.

I just want to briefly raise the issues with another Liberal bill, Bill C-75 which also fails to deliver tough on crime approaches. Bill C-75 aims to do away with preliminary inquiries and seeks to lower the maximum sentencing for terror and gang-related offences. In other words it is getting softer on crime. How can the government justify weakening penalties for Canada's gang and criminals while at the same time targeting law-abiding Canadians? This just does not make sense.

Let me address another thing that the Liberals are being misleading about, which is the process of applying for and receiving firearms licences. It is very important, and Canadians need to understand, that we are not the United States. In order to qualify for a licence, one must complete safety training and learn the rules that govern the privileges these licences afford one. Not everyone is eligible for a firearms licence. One must be a responsible Canadian citizen who does not have a criminal record and be mentally stable.

The first step in the process is to take a firearms safety course. The courses are dictated by the licences someone is intending to apply for. There are two different licences that could be applied for, a PAL and an RPAL, respectively. The first licence is a basic firearms licence, which allows one to buy and possess the types of firearms primarily used for hunting purposes, for example, rifles and shotguns. The second licence is a restricted possession and acquisition licence, which allows one to buy and possess firearms that are permitted by law for sporting and hunting purposes in Canada.

Each course has a written and practical exam that one must score 80% or better on to pass. Each course focuses on the safe handling of firearms and the responsibilities of ownership. These courses are the same across the country.

Then, step two, once someone has passed the courses, they can submit their license application to the RCMP for review and processing. This process and background check can take six to eight weeks.

I repeat, this is a process that criminals will not follow. Bill C-71 only penalizes law-abiding gun owners and small businesses. Criminals continue to operate in the shadows and will continue to ignore any federal legislation. Law-abiding gun owners and small business owners are then left feeling the burn of Bill C-71.

Small businesses will be burdened with unnecessary red tape, as this reintroduces a wasteful and ineffective firearms registry. The unnecessary red tape will be of no benefit to public safety, and will only make transportation of firearms to a gunsmith or a gun store more onerous.

The bill is forcing businesses to keep 20 years of records. In fact, I visited a local firearms retailer in Oshawa, CDNGunworx, to discuss the impact this bill will have on small business. I learned that Bill C-71 is increasing the costs of doing business for many small businesses like this one.

These unknowns make Bill C-71 all the more concerning, as the additional costs, money, and resources could be the final nail in the coffin that will put hard-working business owners in jeopardy of failing to keep their business afloat, all without increasing public safety.

Again, I want to point out that Bill C-71 gives the RCMP overreaching authority. It will increase the power of the RCMP to reclassify firearms at a moment's notice, which would make otherwise law-abiding gun owners criminals overnight. For example, Bill C-71 reclassifies an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 non-restricted rifles as prohibited, and turns their owners into immediate criminals unless they comply with new ownership requirements.

Carlos, a young constituent of mine, voiced his concerns to me in regards to providing the RCMP with the power to classify firearms. With this bill, firearms he currently collects can be banned by the RCMP at any moment, forcing him to either turn them in or become a criminal, and he will not be compensated for his lawfully owned property.

Our previous Conservative government allowed for our elected representatives to overrule any of these RCMP mistakes, and allow individuals to keep their legally owned property by exercising a democratic mechanism. No such mechanism will exist under Bill C-71. There will be no mechanism to correct the mistakes made by the RCMP.

Recently in fact, the RCMP was bold enough to launch, on its website, a page that formally read: “How would Bill C-71 affect individuals?”

To be clear, Bill C-71 is not law. The RCMP quickly changed the wording on the web page, but the damage had been done. The RCMP obviously felt that it could pre-emptively tell Canadian citizens to comply with a law that had not yet achieved royal assent. This had only been corrected after my colleague, the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, pointed it out. This is a glaring issue that Canadians need to know about.

Bill C-71 opens the door for a new registry. We have heard Liberals say tonight that it will not, but it very clearly will. They say it will not be a registry, but it mentions the word “registrar” 15 times, the word “registration” 17 times, the term “reference number” 12 times, and the word “record” 26 times. If this is not a registry, I do not know what else is.

Record keeping conditions are placed on businesses, including information collected for 20 years. Records would be accessible by police officers on reasonable grounds and with judicial authorization. However, the government would essentially have businesses build and maintain the registry on its behalf. Businesses would have to pay the higher costs for it.

In conclusion, I hope I have made it abundantly clear that Bill C-71 will not impact criminals or stop illegal firearms practices, as the Liberal government claims. It in fact targets law-abiding firearms owners and harms small businesses. It opens the door to a gun registry 2.0, and gives overreaching powers to the RCMP. I stand with law-abiding Canadians, not the criminals.