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—