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

10:20 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, I have been listening to my colleague's intervention, and I would like to hear more of his thoughts on this. What would be the harm of sending a committee of the House out into our communities to ask Canadians what they think of this legislation? It would be an opportunity to hear directly from communities that would be impacted, communities that are very remote and where subsistence hunting might be simply a way of life and therefore access to firearms would be a necessity. Anything that would complicate it would affect them negatively. It would also be an opportunity to hear from communities in the larger urban centres. There may be a lot of sharp shooters for whom going out on a weekend to practice an art with their kids or family members at a shooting range would be made more complicated by certain provisions found in Bill C-71. I would like to hear more from the member on that.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:25 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to speak a lot to that because there is no harm in listening to Canadians. This is another example of the Liberal government arrogantly feeling that it knows what is best for Canadians.

We have heard from colleagues who sit on the committee about certain aboriginal groups, different police chiefs, and sports shooters as he mentioned. One of the things Canadians do not realize is that 25% of the berths we had in the Olympics were for sports shooters, Canadians who have taken up the sport, enjoy it, and are the best in the world. Part of the challenge with the legislation is there is an authorization to transport. The Liberals are changing that so for people who would like to take their firearms across the borders, for example Canadian sports shooters, it would make it more onerous for these things to happen.

Some legitimate things have been heard at committee to which the Canadian government should listen. It is unfortunate that the current government has taken the approach, and we have seen it over and over again, of using closure. It is trying to stop Canadians from having their voice.

I appreciate the fact that our colleagues across the House are being allowed to debate this important legislation, because it will make a difference to a lot of Canadians.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:25 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Madam Speaker, my colleague from Oshawa is exactly right. Dr. Gary Mauser, professor emeritus, was one of the few in the country who was given the privilege to speak before the committee. I am sure there are many more like him who would like to bring to bear their information. He used Statistics Canada information in his presentation. He said that in 2012 there were 1,325 violent crimes where a firearm was used to injure a victim. From 1998 to 2016, on average, there were 15,000 administrative firearms violations each year. They were the only charges actually laid. There were no victims. In the vast majority of those it was simply a paper crime.

Why do the Liberals not seem to understand they should not be making criminals out of law-abiding citizens? Instead, they should be making law-abiding citizens safe from criminals.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:25 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, I really do not have a good answer for him. This is what is really unfortunate with this legislation. My colleague is correct that there were 15,000 administrative criminals. In other words, as I said, the gun owner in my community, whose name is Carlos, owns certain firearms and he is worried that an arbitrary group in the RCMP will change the classification of the firearms that he uses for his sport. He is really worried he will become a criminal overnight. The bill does not provide any mechanisms to inform law-abiding Canadians, if the RCMP arbitrarily changes something out of the blue, whether they will or will not comply?

I wish I could give my colleague a really good answer. However, I think if we talk to most Canadians, they would want us to look to public safety and make Canadians safer. What seems to be lost on the Liberals is that criminals do not register their firearms. Criminals do not follow the law. Therefore, the only people they are penalizing are Canadian sports shooters, hunters, our indigenous community, and people who are following the law.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

June 4th, 2018 / 10:25 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of the motion that would enable the public safety committee to continue its work and to hear witnesses beyond Ottawa and across Canada.

I am pleased as well to speak to the content of Bill C-71, despite the legislative guillotine that has fallen in committee, blocking any further witnesses after barely four two-hour committee meetings, and in the shadow of the time allocation that will almost inevitably be imposed by the Liberal government. As members know, time allocation was imposed five times in barely three days last week, setting a new and unfortunate record for the Liberal government.

I am pleased I have this opportunity to debate this dishonest legislation. I use the word “dishonest” advisedly in the same way the Liberals attempted to impose their version of electoral reform and then abandoned their own legislation when they could not get their way. It is dishonest in the same way the Liberals promised to run modest budget deficits and then threw all caution and fiscal prudence out the window with runaway and ineffective spending.

Bill C-71 is dishonest in the same way as the Liberals' legislation to impose on Canadians a carbon tax, while downloading the responsibility at the same time on the provinces, imposing a carbon tax on Canadians, while refusing to share with Canadians the actual cost of such taxes.

Bill C-71 is dishonest because the Liberals claim that the legislation the government is ramming through the House, without adequate consideration, is in response to increased criminal gun use. However, the legislation is absolutely void of any provisions to actually combat, control or reduce the illegal guns used by gangs and organized crime.

Bill C-71 would target law-abiding Canadian gun owners who already follow regulations to acquire licences for gun purchases and who use them within the law.

Bill C-71 boils down to the Liberals' imposition, again with the tyranny of their majority, of the recreation of an expensive, bureaucratic, and ineffective gun registry by the back door. The claim by the Minister of Public Safety that this is not a backdoor registry is preposterous, it is farcical. The government says it is a public safety bill, but, as I mentioned earlier, it does not deal with threats to public safety as posed by gangbangers or organized crime or even the increasing wave of rural crime.

This is a regulatory bill, a regressive regulatory bill, aimed at already law-abiding citizens. The public safety minister claims that Bill C-71 only requires firearms retailers to keep records of who buys a gun and with which possession acquisition licence. However, that is not true. I would direct the minister to section 58.1 of Bill C-71 for those details, and the mention of the registrar and the references.

With regard to the new requirement under Bill C-71, that the private transfer of firearms between two legally licensed individuals confront bureaucratic hurdles through a yet not costed firearms call centre, we are told it is not a registry because, at this point, a description of the firearm in question and its serial number will not be required. However, a reference number will be generated and registered, and it would only be a short hop to amend the legislation in future to achieve a 100% registry.

I would like to speak on what the public safety minister claims Bill C-71 would do to combat gun crime and the reality of what it would not do.

There is nothing within Bill C-71 to address the 167% increase in gun violence in downtown Toronto this year. There is nothing to address the 162 shootings up to May 28, just last week, that have occurred in Toronto this year, beyond downtown and across the suburbs of Canada's metropolis. If this trend continues, and there is absolutely no reason to believe that it will not, this will be the fourth straight year in Toronto in which the number of shooting victims has increased.

In 2015, Toronto saw 429 shootings. In 2016, there were 581 shootings. In 2017, there were 594 shootings. This year, with 215 people shot to date, the city is on course for another very bad year. There were six shooting homicides in May alone. In fact, these recent numbers will exceed, in fact are approaching double the numbers of Toronto's infamous year of the gun in 2005, when there were 359 shooting victims and 52 died.

Just this morning, a professor of criminology at the University of Ottawa, Irvin Waller, was reported by the Toronto Star newspaper as saying that Canadian cities had not prioritized violence prevention. The same can be said about the Liberal government's Bill C-71, which misses the mark so unacceptably. The problem that the Liberal government cannot seem to recognize is that the problem is gun crime, not legal firearms ownership.

Statistics Canada informs us, in the oft-quoted testimony tonight of Gary Mauser, the professor emeritus at the Institute for Canadian Urban Research Studies at Simon Fraser University, that licensed gun owners, those holding possession and acquisition licences, pose virtually no threat to public safety. Professor Mauser told the committee that PAL holders had a homicide rate lower, at less than one PAL holder per 100,000 licensed gun owners, than the national homicide rate. The professor reminded the Standing Committee on Public Safety that there was agreement among criminologists that no substantial evidence existed that legislation restricting access to firearms to the general public was effective in reducing criminal violence.

We will recall that the Minister of Public Safety and a passel of acolytes hosted a so-called summit on guns and gangs, at which they claimed the problem of gun crime was domestic. They claimed the problem was no longer the illegal smuggling of weapons of all sorts from the United States. However, turning to the testimony before committee by Professor Mauser, he said that criminals were not getting their firearms from law-abiding Canadians. It was either by stealing them, as the public safety minister suggested was the case these days, or through what the professor called straw purchases. He said that at the height of the long gun registry, only 9% of firearms involved in homicides were registered. He quoted Statistics Canada again, revealing that only 135 out of 1,485 firearm homicides from 2003 to 2010 involved registered weapons. In other words, barely 3% of the total number of homicides recorded in that period were legally registered firearms.

Professor Mauser said, “All reputable research indicates that gang crime — urban or rural — is driven by smuggled firearms that flow to Canada as part of the illegal drug trade.” He said, again as an academic expert in the field of gun control and firearm law in Canada, “Analyses of guns recovered from criminal activity in Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver and the Prairie Provinces show that between two-thirds and 90% of these guns involved in violent crime had been smuggled into Canada.”

I return to my original contention that Bill C-71 is dishonest Liberal legislation, as with so many other pieces of legislation that the government has either abandoned or steam-rolled, or attempted to steam-roll, through Parliament. Bill C-71 would impose a back door gun registry on law-abiding citizens, while doing absolutely nothing to address gang gun crime or organized crime.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:35 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member mentioned dishonest legislation. I want him to comment on the misleading comments made by the government to gain public support, and its contradictory statements.

I will read the government statement: “The requirement for retailers to maintain their own private records is just that, they’re private records of the retailers, and they will not be accessible to government.” However, the Minister of Public Safety, on March 20, 2018, reiterated that “These records would be held by businesses only—not law enforcement or government.”

I would like the member to consider that section 102 of the Firearms Act grants the provinces' chief firearms officers full access to all store records and inventories at any time, and they may make copies of any record they find without explanation or justification.

Bill C-71 would not repeal section 102 of the Firearms Act and, therefore, the minister is not being honest when he tells Canadians that the government will not have access to these records. The minister said that a search warrant is required to obtain them, but we can see from section 102 that they do not require that.

Could the member please comment on the strategy here, where the Liberals are going out and saying things to get the support but in reality they are not making the appropriate changes?

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:40 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are any number of inconsistencies and contradictions in the answers and explanations offered not only by the public safety minister, but also by some of those on the backbenches of the Liberal government who are trying to make excuses for what is a regulatory bill that takes clear aim at legal, law-abiding, licenced sport shooters, farmers, and hunters. The provisions and contradictions in the bill, the arguments presented by the minister at any number of news conferences, and reflected in the early termination of witnesses before committee show that the government, in fact, has a very difficult time explaining those contradictions in Bill C-71.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:40 p.m.

Liberal

Ken McDonald Liberal Avalon, NL

Mr. Speaker, during his speech, the member kept talking about legal gun owners being punished because of this bill. However, in October 2013, Juliane Hibbs and her fiancé showed up at a medical clinic in my home town of Conception Bay South only to be followed there by her ex-boyfriend who was a law-abiding citizen and a law-abiding gun owner. He decided to take matters into his own hands and to shoot and kill Vince in his car in the parking lot, and then walked into the medical clinic and shot Juliane.

What do you say to her parents and Vince's parents about your being in favour of less stringent rules, especially for any gun owner?

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I think the member for Avalon means, “What does he say”. Of course, when the members says “you”, he is asking the Speaker. I do not think the member for Avalon expects me to answer the question, although the member for Provencher says he would be very interested to hear that, and I appreciate it.

Instead, we will turn to the member for Thornhill.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:40 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for a very heartfelt question. I understand the pain and suffering of the family and those close to the victims of this shooting.

Conservatives believe in common sense precautions and background checks, even of those who, in some cases, would own possession acquisition licences.

I am not familiar with the circumstances in this particular case, but I do know that the statistics cited by experts at committee, before the committee was cut short from hearing witnesses, overwhelmingly point towards unregistered firearms owners as the problem in Canada with regard to gun crime, and not those holding legally acquired and respected licences.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:40 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to join this debate and have an opportunity to add the points of view that my constituents have shared with me. I represent an urban riding. I do not have any type of rural area in it. It is wholly within the city of Calgary. Therefore, I represent people who enjoy shooting on weekends. They will go to a shooting range, with their kids and spouse, and enjoy a few hours of doing it as a pastime or hobby. Some of those I have met are amateurs who would like to someday compete for Team Canada in the biathlon. It is something they look forward to. Others in my riding are hunters. They live in the big city but travel out every year during the hunting season to partake in something that really is part of Canada's heritage; it is something that Canadians have been doing since colonial days before the creation and establishment of this Parliament. It is something they have been enjoying for generations, and is passed down from generation to generation. There are special spots that individual hunters have in a little corner of Alberta where they go every single year to enjoy hunting with their kids because their grandfather took them, because their great-grandfather took them. Everybody has those types of stories in Alberta. That is the point of view I want to share with the House today, as I add my voice in support of an instruction to the committee to travel across Canada so that we can hear these types of stories and include them in the record.

My hope, and the hope of many constituents who have communicated with me on this particular issue, is that the government will change its mind. The question is not between having less regulation when it comes to firearms or having way more; it is what is reasonable in this situation, and a lot of the provisions contained within Bill C-71 are unreasonable. There are a lot of hunters, firearms owners, and individuals who used to own firearms stores and provided that service to the community, selling firearms in a reasonable, respectful, logical, rational way, not just selling them willy-nilly to anybody who came off the street, but doing their due diligence in providing a service and a product that people wanted because they had a past-time that involved it. Those are the people I represent, and I hope to be able to pass on their wisdom to the House so it can vote and move in favour of this instruction to the committee to travel.

I am a big believer in having committees travel across Canada. I sit on the Standing Committee on Finance. It is a committee that travels every single year, and maybe it will be able to travel later on this year if it says yes to a certain mortgage study I would like to undertake on behalf of constituents in my riding. Travel is something that the finance committee does quite often, with the pre-budget round tables that it holds to hear from Canadians in different communities to get their perspectives and not have them all travel here to Ottawa, which is a cost to many. It is a cost in time especially because the House reimburses much of the cost of travelling here, but time is the most precious thing that they do not get back and many people simply do not have the time to travel to Ottawa to have their voices heard at committee.

There were 95 briefs provided to the public safety and national security committee on Bill C-71 and 31 witnesses. I do not think that is enough for this particular piece of legislation. The committee could easily have double, triple, quadruple that number of witnesses, who would give them really interesting data and personal perspectives, and provide evidence that is so crucial to good public-policy making. Therefore, where is the harm in sending the committee to travel and to have the time to consult with Canadians and hear from them both the evidence and their individual perspectives of what a reasonable piece of legislation on firearms regulation is?

I have heard members here accuse our side of not wanting any types of limits on gun ownership, which is patently untrue. We understand that some limits, some administrative procedural limits, are indeed reasonable. However, where is that fine line where it becomes a burden, sometimes such a burden that a person abandons even owning any type of firearm? In the cases of firearms owners who are farmers as well, that becomes an immense inconvenience to them. If hunters, because of government regulation, give up the practice of hunting they have done for generations and hope to pass on to their kids, that is unfair and unjustified. Government should not lead people to abandon hobbies they have been doing in a law-abiding way for generations. It is part of the Canadian experience to go out and participate in hunting. I will mention that a bit more as I go into further points on why I believe this committee should indeed travel, because it is worthy to hear from Canadians.

I have a Yiddish proverb, as I always do. A lot of members ask me which one it will be today. It goes like this: “No one hides—neither the wicked his wickedness, nor the fool his folly.” I really hope that neither of those is true in this case and that the Liberals are not trying to hide here in Ottawa something that they know will be deeply unpopular in rural areas and in parts of my riding in suburban Calgary, where I have many constituents who hunt and enjoy sports shooting at the many target ranges in Calgary.

I also hope this is not folly, the folly of following activities and the news that we hear from the United States, which do not translate very well to our experience here in Canada. They are not the same thing. We cannot be influenced by what we hear happening in the United States on the six o'clock news and then instantly compare that to our experience here in Canada. We have a totally different civic culture and a different point of view on what is considered responsible firearms ownership. It is completely different.

I say this as someone who has studied in the United States. I say this as someone who has spent a lot of time with Americans on campus. I can attest to the fact that they have a totally different perspective when it comes to their inheritance of what they call the second amendment. It is something completely different from what we have in Canada.

I also hope that there is no ulterior motive behind this particular piece of legislation, such as sewing division among Canadians for purely partisan political purposes. The wicked cannot hide their wickedness, just like the Yiddish proverb says. I really hope that is not the case.

As supporter of mine sent me a fundraising email put out by the Liberal Party of Canada, which was fundraising off this particular piece of legislation. I am concerned when I see things like that. I am concerned when I see division being sewed for the sake of division.

Going outside of Ottawa will help us draft better legislation. I do not think we have all the answers here in the nation's capital. The common wisdom of Canadians will pull through in the witness testimony and briefs they provide. Why do we not send the committee out to draw out that information? It could bring it back to the House so we could create a more fulsome piece of legislation, a more fulsome report to the House of Commons, and make a judgment call that is evidence-driven and not driven by what happens inside the bubble. We have all heard stories of what happens inside the bubble. If we get this information, we will not be swayed just by debate here on the floor, but by what Canadians have to say on the subject.

As I said, I have spoken to many constituents in my riding who are hunters and sports shooters on weekends. They are all lawful firearms owners.They are not looking to break the law in any way. The simple thing is that they have likely spend thousands of dollars on a sport they would like to continue to enjoy. A few of them will attest to the fact that some of these rifles do not come cheap.

I am not by any means saying this is a sport for everyone. Sharpshooting or sport shooting on weekends requires a certain type of firearm that is simply not easily available. This sport takes a lot of skill and ability. These people are not looking to commit crimes. They do not want to lose the investment they have made. This is the perspective they have brought to me.

There are a lot of shooting ranges around Calgary where they go to practice. They are worried that some of the provisions in Bill C-71 would make it more difficult for them to travel between their homes and the range. They are worried that the bill would make it more difficult to purchase a new firearm to replace an older one. They are worried that the legislation would make it more burdensome for them to continue practising a hobby they enjoy.

This is not the case for everyone. As we heard from our colleague from Thornhill, there are people out there who will commit a crime. They will commit a crime of passion. They will commit a crime because they have fallen on hard times and have resorted to criminal activity. These people will not be stopped by more procedure, more administration, or more red tape. If they are intent on committing a crime, they will find a way to do so.

We have heard from other members, and I agree with this point, that this legislation would not stop gangsters and criminals in any way from continuing to commit crimes.

The wicked will continue their wickedness, and there is nothing in this piece of legislation that will stop them. Neither gang nor organized crime appears in this piece of legislation. I would have thought if the stated purpose was to clamp down on violent crime with firearms, then why is no one addressing that issue? Why are we not going after those who use firearms in their daily activities, as far as an organized crime gang? Why are we not targeting specific individuals? Things like minimum mandatory sentencing achieves that goal. It puts them away.

I want to propose a few ideas I have that the government could achieve to reduce gang activity, to take away the ability of gangsters to cycle through our justice system without ever facing a judge. The FOB gang is a good example, in Calgary. They are gangsters who have been involved in murders, attempted murders, trafficking, and their leader was set free once again a few weeks ago because of the Jordan decision.

That same day, I met the arresting officer here in Ottawa. He explained to me how they arrested this gang leader. Now he is out on the streets once again, and the police know he will commit another crime. He had a loaded firearm underneath his car seat when he was stopped and then arrested. That was why they were able to arrest him on that charge and send him back to jail.

Why are we not targeting those types of individuals? Those are the individuals we should be trying our best to keep off our streets. It is not the hunter, the farmer, or the gentleman who enjoys showing his kids how to do sport shooting on weekends. They are not the problem; it is the gangsters. Those are the people we should be targeting. The FOB gang is a good example. It is a perfect example, coming from Calgary. There are other provisions.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:50 p.m.

An hon. member

Oh, oh!

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

10:50 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

If a member wishes to heckle me, I will be happy to cede some time to them if they want to ask me a question.

This piece of legislation creates a registrar. The only purpose for creating a registrar is to manage a registry. I used to work for a professional association, and I was named its registrar. I managed a registry of professional members. A mayor will run a city. A reeve will run a county. The president of a company will run a business. We cannot pretend for one minute that a registrar will not run a new long-gun firearms registry. In this piece of legislation is embedded a method to do so; every single sale will be tracked. It is a return through the back door to the national firearms registry that a previous government got rid of because it was so massively unpopular across Canada. It was ineffective and a boondoggle. Billions of dollars were wasted on a registry that achieved very little.

In this piece of legislation are also provisions on a background check, and that will go on for lifetime. At a time when people have become extra sensitive about their privacy, it is interesting that they will go through a whole lifetime of an individual to judge whether they should be able to have a PAL or an RPAL to own and use a firearm.

What about second chances? What about persons changing? I thought that was one of the things we were advocating for. That is a concern of mine. I have met a lot of great constituents, great individuals, who in their past had criminal activity, and they changed. They have successful professional pursuits. They have married. They have family lives. Are these the people we want to target? Do we want to tell them that there are no second chances?

I completely agree that there should not be second chances for certain types of criminal activity. It is hard to tell in the provisions in Bill C-71 what those are and where the line will be drawn. Why not go out into our communities and ask Canadians where the line should be drawn? Where should the difference be between people who perhaps have made mistakes early in their lives and have reformed, and decades later are seeking to have the privilege in Canada to own a firearm so they can go hunting with fellow family members?

As I have mentioned many times in the House before, there are provisions in this bill that would give the right to reclassify a firearm from unclassified, non-restricted, or restricted, to prohibited, solely to the RCMP, with no oversight from the House of Commons or the minister. I have a serious problem with that. To me, it is a deep issue of parliamentary supremacy and responsibility with respect to who is responsible at the end of the day for decisions made on the administrative side. It should be this House that keeps the Minister of Public Safety accountable for the decisions he or she makes in the conduct of duties. It should be members in the House making these decisions, and not the RCMP. The RCMP is there to advise. We can say that it has a body of evidence and it can provide a certain expertise, but it should not be solely up to the RCMP to make decisions on how certain firearms are reclassified.

There are two important ideas why it should not be allowed to do this. First is this idea of parliamentary supremacy that I talked about. We should not be giving agencies of government the power to deprive people of their private property without having Parliament make a judgment call. That would be by making a direct decision, or by demanding the Minister of Public Safety to be held accountable in the House through the different procedures we have, either through committee, question period, or through debate in the House. I do not think that should be allowed.

Second, this is private property as well, and a lawful firearms owner can have his firearm reclassified. Sometimes we are talking about just one firearm that an owner has to dispose of, but we could be talking about thousands of dollars in firearms that an owner no longer has access to.

What can be done? I have a few suggestions that have been suggested to me by constituents. Minimum sentencing laws are a proven way to keep gangsters and criminals who use guns off the streets. I do not mean for administrative penalties; I mean for violent crimes committed with firearms. As long as minimum sentencing is not excessive, it serves the purpose of taking violent criminals off the street for the minimum amount of time necessary, and it keeps our streets safe. Repeat criminals would also be deterred by this. We should punish criminals. People should be sent to jail for using a firearm in criminal activity. It cannot be that a person gets to go just to provincial court, or that a person gets a fine.

I also think we should do more to help our major urban centres, because crime does not stay there. One of the things the Calgary Police Service told me repeatedly is that rural crime is driven by what happens inside the cities. There are criminals inside the cities who go into rural communities to commit crimes. I know it has happened in the member for Foothills' riding just south of mine. There are repeated stories all across Alberta of criminals from big cities moving into our smaller communities and taking advantage of the fact that there are not enough police officers to police every single township road there. It is not physically possible. Cities need to do more to take control of the gang problems they have.

Lastly, prison time should be used for rehabilitation. It is something I fervently believe in as a result of the time I spent learning about the prison system in the United States while I studied there. I believe that prison time should be used for rehabilitation. A component of prison time is punishment and paying one's dues back to society for the crime one has committed, but rehabilitation should definitely be part of it.

These are just a few things. The problem is repeat criminals, the gangsters.

To go back to the Yiddish proverb I mentioned that no one hides, let us not hide the committee here in Ottawa. Let us not allow the wicked his wickedness, nor the fool his folly. We have an opportunity here to instruct the committee to travel across Canada and collect more information and more evidence from Canadians. I see no harm in this, and therefore I am supportive of it. I hope all members of the House will support it as well.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, every summer in my riding of Yellowhead, we have a shooting competition called Got Your Six. First responders and military personnel from across Canada participate. I am talking about ambulance drivers, police officers, firemen, and retired and current military personnel. They come to our community of Edson because we have one of the longest ranges in western Canada. It is a mile range. I go there every year during their competitions and meet with the guys.

Bill C-71 would directly affect these people. These are hard-working Canadians who are first responders. Why do they go to Got Your Six and what is it? It is an organization that looks after people in the military, police, fire department, and ambulance who have post-traumatic stress. They raise funds through their combat shoots. It is a way of bringing some of those comrades suffering from post-traumatic stress out to the range and to help them. It is a form of medication, yet Bill C-71 would directly affect these people.

Money could be more wisely spent on seriously combatting the criminal element out there than going after the law-abiding Canadians. I wonder if my hon. friend from Calgary Shepard would like to comment on that, especially since they have a problem in Calgary with organized gangs.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:05 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his 30-plus years of service in law enforcement. When he speaks of the community he used to be part of, he speaks from experience. He knows the subject very well.

Fundraising with a firearms-related event such as skeet shooting is really common in Alberta. I have been to political events all across Alberta, and probably a half-dozen skeet shooting events that were political fundraisers. These are simply a way for the community came together to raise money for a good cause. Sometimes it is for a political party, and other times it is community organizations looking after fellow community members. This is what they do. This is what they know. It is very popular. It is part of the shared cultural heritage of a lot of our communities, especially in rural Alberta. They have been doing it for generations and want to continue doing it. The rules embedded in Bill C-71 would make it that much more difficult to continue these types of good events.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:05 p.m.

Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate very much my knowledgeable colleague's speech today, particularly when he touched on a very specific aspect. We are very proud of the Canadians who owned the podium at the Winter Olympics, and of the events in the Summer Olympics. Where do we think these people come from and get their experience to participate in these Olympic events? We are very proud to see our athletes perform in these sports and compete.

The member touched on the Olympic events. The Canmore Olympic centre west of Calgary is a site left from the 1988 Olympics and is very well used. Part of that has to do with guns, the sporting of guns, and the Olympic events. Maybe you could make a comment about that.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I will give a gentle reminder to the member for Bow River that it is “he” and “his” and so forth. Of course, “you” is referring to the Speaker.

The hon. member for Calgary Shepard.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:05 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, the question is always where these people will come from, the ones who are really great at the biathlon and who have perhaps had a decade of practice before they get to that level of competing on the world stage and where we can really see who is truly the best athlete.

It is the same thing with hunting. It is not something one can just learn overnight. It is something that one will probably spend a decade or two going out and learning with someone else. I have a personal story. I remember working for Fish & Wildlife back in Alberta when we introduced the hunter host licence. It was a way for a dad to take his 12-year-old son hunting in a supervised and controlled way. As a hunter host licence holder, one had to go with someone who had a full licence in order to hunt. It was a way to learn and encourage families to pass on their traditions, to pass on this heritage they had and not to abandon hunting. It was a big problem in the big cities. It worked and started to reverse the trend of people abandoning what is and continues to be part of their Canadian heritage, which is something that should not just be abandoned because we are concerned about gun crimes. Gangsters using firearms in their illicit, illegal activities should be addressed by other means.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if my hon. colleague could comment on the juxtaposition or comparison between Bill C-71, which would punish law-abiding firearms owners, and Bill C-75, which the Liberals would also put in place, which would decrease sentences for heinous crimes, such as being a part of a terrorist group or an organized crime group, promoting genocide, forcing women into marriage, and trafficking women and girls for sex purposes.

There are these types of crimes the Liberals would actually be going extremely soft on. They would actually decrease the sentences for these types of crimes. Meanwhile, the Liberals want to put law-abiding firearms owners behind bars.

Could the hon. member comment on the comparison of the legislation the Liberals would impose on the Canadian population?

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, that question is a good juxtaposition of the two bills, a contrast, almost.

I am very happy that one of the member's constituents is the one who proposed what I think is going to fast become the e-petition with the most signatures. Maybe the member could tell me afterwards what the signature count is.

It is interesting to see that in Bill C-71, we would be going after law-abiding firearms owners. What will do they? They will abide by the new law. They will try their best to obey the law as it is written by the Parliament of Canada.

On Bill C-75, we would download onto the provincial courts a lot of the provisions for criminal activity, such as the promotion of genocide, such as drinking and driving causing serious bodily harm, such as infanticide, and say that the provincial courts would handle it now, and that would be better.

What happens in Alberta, oftentimes, in provincial court, because they are so overloaded with cases, is that they are always looking for an opportunity to find a plea deal they can live with. They will offer up a fine to people, saying that if they do not pay the fine, they will serve jail time. In certain cases, and there is a laundry list of these provisions in Bill C-75, it is irresponsible to offer an opportunity to simply pay a fine for the crime done. We can contrast that with Bill C-71 and the provisions imbedded within it.

These are the wrong priorities, especially at a time like this, when resources at our courthouses are limited. For the longest time, the Minister of Justice was behind on appointing judges, and the issue remains. If we approve of this, travel of the public safety and national security committee, the members are going to hear this story in our communities. They are going to hear stories of local courthouses being overloaded with work already and not being able to deal with additional court cases.

They are going to be able to tell the story that law-abiding firearms owners will abide by the law, whichever way it is written by the Parliament of Canada. However, gangsters, organized crime, and other criminals will not. That will not change. Those individuals who take part in illegal organized crime activity, such as trafficking in firearms, people, and narcotics, are not going to be swayed by a piece of legislation passed in the House. Frankly, they just do not care about those things. The deterrence will be through greater law enforcement resources, more police officers, and a more effective way of tracking down the money as it is being spent by those types of organizations.

We are not focused on that. We are focused on lawful firearms owners who are looking to just obey the law.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:10 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak to this motion tonight. I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Lethbridge, who just had a very good question in the House.

This motion is a simple motion that should play well to what the Liberals talk and brag about. I will use the fisheries committee. Every time we want to get something done there, we had better consult. The Liberals have their chance this time to actually go and consult with Canadians on a very important bill. They are fighting it tooth and nail. It does not surprise me, but it is certainly wrong.

This is a good motion and is one that is certainly needed, as many have said here tonight. It asks that the public safety and national security committee travel throughout Canada to hear testimony from witnesses as they continue to review Bill C-71. The reason this is necessary is that the government has failed, as with a lot of other consultations it says it is doing or has done, with Canadian firearms owners and other interested groups when it comes to the new firearms legislation. It really is shameful. As I said earlier, it is not surprising, but it is certainly shameful.

The government has introduced legislation that will make significant changes and will impact only law-abiding firearms owners. However, they have proposed these changes without truly engaging with these individuals to fully understand what these changes would actually do.

Since the 2015 election, the government has conducted more than 2,000 different consultations on a wide range of subject matter. However, a search through those consultations shows that they did not, or would not, consult with firearms owners about legislation that would significantly impact them. What is the reason for that? Is it that they are not going to like what they are going to find? I think they know that this bill, Bill C-71, has nothing to do with what they said they wanted to tackle, which was gang crime and illegal firearms. Why they do not want to, I do not know.

We have the hon. colleague from Scarborough, a former police chief. When he was in the public sector working as a police chief, he was adamantly against the legalization of marijuana. What he is doing today? He is the guy who is managing how it is going to come about. It is total hypocrisy. Things change when one puts on a political stripe. I cannot get my head around that and how wrong it really is.

In fact, I have been hearing from a number of concerned Canadians regarding this exact issue. They are concerned that not only did no consultation take place but that consultations were only conducted with groups that support the government's agenda when it comes to firearms. They keep asking me where this gang crime and illegal firearms issue is the government purports to want to address. Again, there is exactly nothing in here about it.

I put a question on the Order Paper on April 18 . It asked the government where, when, and with whom the government consulted when it came to Bill C-71. I am still anxiously awaiting the government's response. It is coming up to two months. I strongly suspect that the reason I have not had an answer to my Order Paper question is that the government did not consult at all on Bill C-71.

That said, this is another reason this motion is necessary. The government has been unwilling to listen to firearms owners, and we need the public safety committee to do the work the government is unwilling to do. They need to travel across Canada to ensure that any firearms legislation that is passed through this House directly targets gangs and illicit firearms and not individuals who have safely and properly used firearms for years, like me. I have had a gun in my hand since my father taught me when I was eight or nine years old. I had my granddaughter, who is now 13, on the range with a safety instructor there when she was 12.

It is all legal. It is the way to teach things. It does not matter whether it is manners or anything. If people are taught the right way, at the right age, they will learn it, and it will stay with them. That is what I want my granddaughter to do, and my other grandchildren as they come of age. That will happen the same way. It is what people in rural Canada do. Actually a lot of urban Canadians do the same thing. It is just a higher proportion in the rural parts, for different reasons.

Had the government conducted consultations, it would have heard that its proposed legislation only would create more red tape for those who already followed the law. It would do absolutely nothing to fight the real problems when it came to firearms violence in Canada: gangs and illegal firearms.

I sit with the hon. member for Avalon on the fisheries committee. I have a lot of respect for the gentleman. He told the previous member about a terrible incident that had happened in his riding. Unfortunately, with people, things happen from time to time, but that is not the norm and is not what happens every day with law-abiding firearms owners. As I said, it was very unfortunate

However, because something like that happens, we do not go out and basically victimize every law-abiding firearm owner in the rest of the country. We already have the toughest handgun laws and firearms legislation in the world. There is no doubt about that. It is not up for questioning. However, we have a segment of people out there, and I hope my colleagues across the way understand this and realize it, whose goal is not for stricter rules on firearms. Its goal is to at some point in time have absolutely no guns in the world. If it ever gets to that point, there will still be guns, but they will all be owned by the criminal sector of gangs, organized crime, etc. Why those guys across the way cannot get that through their heads always leave me shaking mine.

We hear time and again from a diverse range of groups, associations, and individuals that Bill C-71 is an attempt to solve problems that do not exist.

Last week, I was able to sit in at the public safety committee for my colleague to my right. It was a great meeting. We had some great witnesses on both sides of the issue. I have some testimony of that day. For example, Mr. Soloman Friedman of the Criminal Lawyers' Association told the public safety committee “Bill C-71...fails to meet that mark” when it comes to meeting the benchmarks of being modest, fundamentally rational, and supported by objective evidence. He went on to say that the apparent problems that Bill C-71 would attempt to solve were ”unsupported by evidence”.

I would like to quote again from his testimony before the committee. He stated, “in presenting its rationale for this bill, the government has misrepresented the objective statistical data to create the appearance of a problem that simply does not exist. As a society, we are the poorer for it when government promotes criminal legislation on a misunderstanding, or worse yet, a willful manipulation of what it claims is empirical evidence.”

These are very strong words, and they are true. One thing the government did was use the year 2013. Gun crimes have been steadily dropping since the mid-60s, but in 2013 they really dropped. What did the government do, and it was pretty sneaky? It used that year as ground zero, knowing it was going to go up the next year. It started with the wrong data. It is misleading.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:20 p.m.

Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate the common-sense approach to this issue that my colleague has taken. On the one hand, as he mentioned, the government is becoming softer on criminals, and on the other hand, it is creating issues for law-abiding gun owners. He spoke about how confusing this is to us on this side of the floor. Could he comment as well on the fact that, on that side of the floor, there are at least 30 MPs from rural ridings where this is a serious issue, yet they are not standing up for their constituents?

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:20 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, the question from my colleague from Saskatchewan leads right into something that my colleague from Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke mentioned previously about the temporary MPs on the other side of the House. In 2011, there were a few MPs over there who, because of their past support for the long gun registry and so forth, ended up being temporary MPs. I can tell members that there are going to be a lot more of those temporary MPs over there, in those rural ridings, if they continue to go after legislation like this, pretending to target gang crimes, illegal firearms, and organized crime but instead tackling law-abiding firearm owners because they are an easy hit, instead of going after the others.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:25 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals promised that they would draft legislation based on evidence. My colleague knows, as I know, that sport shooters are responsible people who keep their firearms in good condition. What the Liberals are doing is changing the authorizations to transport. In other words, they are eliminating transport to and from a gunsmith; transport to and from a gun store for appraisal of sale; transport to and from a gun show; transport to and from a border point.

My colleague has a lot of experience. He said he has been using firearms for a very long time. Is there any public safety issue with respect to why the Liberals eliminated these provisions? If there is a public safety issue, what would it be?

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:25 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is a great point. No, there is no public safety issue here. Bill C-42, which the previous government passed in 2015, actually streamlined some of these. It did not let people off the hook. They still had to get these transport permits. However, the government before that, and the party across the way today, actually made the rules so that people had to get an invite every time. If people could not show that they had an invite from, say, the Bruce Peninsula Sportsmen's Association in my riding to go there, and they were heading to an advertised legal shoot, all of a sudden they were criminals because of some technicality that they may or may not have even known about. That frustrated and ticked off law-abiding firearms owners.

While I am on this, I want to talk about the registry part of it and some of the testimony that we heard last week. When it comes to the registry, we know that this is the backdoor idea. At the meeting I referred to, Mr. Solomon Friedman's comment was, “If it walks like a registry, talks like a registry, and even seems to quack like a registry, it's a registry.”