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.