House of Commons Hansard #322 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-71.

Topics

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by telling my colleague that I was touched by the stories she shared. These were particularly sad stories. I think that everyone is worried about gun violence.

I also want to tell my colleague that it is sometimes a bit difficult to grasp the distinctions between firearms obtained legally or illegally, and particularly between unrestricted, restricted or prohibited firearms.

Unfortunatelly, the bill will have no effect on illegal firearms. It will have no effect on organized crime or smuggling. It will make administrative changes to how people may legally obtain firearms. The majority of the crimes the member talked about were mostly likely committed with illegal firearms that were acquired through organized crime, for example.

We do not want to confuse people or make them fear legislation that, in reality, does not address a problem.

Has the member talked to the new minister about how to address violence committed with illegal guns? Is the minister available to hear from opposition members who have suggestions?

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12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Salma Zahid Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my speech, we definitely need to do more, and we need to look at why so many young people turn to violence. I am proud that our Prime Minister agrees that we need to do more. That is why he has appointed my colleague from Scarborough Southwest as the Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, and told him to put everything on the table when it comes to action to address this violence. I will read from the minister's mandate letter:

You should lead an examination of a full ban on handguns and assault weapons in Canada, while not impeding the lawful use of firearms by Canadians.

Therefore, we will definitely need to look into different options, and I look forward to participating in those consultations.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, before I start, may I say it is a delight to see my colleague for Scarborough Centre back in the House after her recent illness. We share a border, and I know her to be a very hard-working MP. When she supports Bill C-71, I know it is on the basis that she has a very good ear to the ground and has worked hard with her constituents to establish her support.

It is an honour to rise and speak to Bill C-71. I have the good fortune to chair the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. As the chair, I remained relatively neutral as the debate occurred. However, it is not as if I do not have an opinion on Bill C-71.

After hearing 39 witnesses, reading 101 briefs, and meeting for over 18 hours, we now have an amended bill back in the House. This does not include either the minister's or his parliamentary secretary's extensive consultations, both within and outside of caucus.

At its heart, Bill C-71 is a relatively modest bill. It tries to do three or four things.

First of all, it tries to remove the decision on the classification of guns from the Governor in Council, namely the government, i.e. politicians, and place it with the RCMP.

Second, it grandfathers individual licence-holders in two sets of prohibited weapons, one being Czech and one being Swiss. Then, on a specific day that has already passed, June 30, it reinstates those weapons as prohibited weapons and makes new acquisitions prohibited. Under the previous legislation, or the order under the Governor in Council, those guns were not prohibited.

Third, it expands the realm of inquiry into background checks.

Fourth, it requires vendors to keep a record of sale and have a potential purchaser show a valid licence. There has been some considerable discussion about that over the course of the morning.

In addition, two very significant amendments were made. The first was unanimously agreed to by the committee, and I quote from the amendment: “nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to permit or require the registration of non-restricted firearms.” In other words, it was unanimously agreed that this bill is not a gun registry. That amendment was moved by a Conservative member, the critic for public safety.

As my colleagues know, the term “gun registry” sends both sides of the debate into paroxysms of fear and loathing, which is not particularly helpful in actually reconciling this dialogue of the deaf. It seems to happen every time guns are debated on this floor. Apparently, anything that might make it easier for police to trace a weapon in an efficient way is something to be resisted at all costs, even at the cost of solving a crime.

The second amendment expands the realm of inquiry for someone looking to acquire a firearm licence. For instance, looking into somebody's digital life is good, and looking into someone's history of violent and threatening behaviour is also good. That amendment also passed unanimously after some vigorous back and forth among committee members.

In my view, the arbiter of the weapons classification system should be the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, not the Governor in Council. The first of the two main arguments against the removal of the GIC states that there is no right of appeal. This argument presumes that there should be a constitutional right to challenge the RCMP's classification or that of the Governor in Council.

ln my view, when those who are in the pro-gun lobby think that a weapon has been classified as too restricted, i.e., prohibited or restricted, there is no one they can lobby to downgrade that classification: not an MP or a minister, and not during an election or after an election. The reason is as imaginative as one can be. I cannot understand why people would think that I, a politician, not particularly familiar with the classification of guns, should have any say in whether a gun is restricted or prohibited or not, on the basis of its millimetres, calibre, frequency of fire, length of barrel, etc. This is a responsibility that is appropriate for the RCMP only.

The second argument is that the RCMP makes mistakes. I do not know anybody who does not make mistakes. I do not know of any organization that does not make mistakes or is entirely consistent, including the courts, and indeed including this chamber.

However, there are a number of administrative and quasi-judicial entities from which there is no right of appeal and whose decisions are final. The classification of firearms seems to me to be one of those areas of administrative law in which it is appropriate that the police classify and make the final decision. I would note that any administrative decision can be appealed regardless.

Personally, I would rather take my chances with an organization that has a daily life experience with firearms, rather than some people in cabinet or on the floor of the House.

The firearms that are listed in Bill C-71, the Swiss and Czech firearms, which were grandfathered until June 30, were given a lower classification. This just illustrates the problem: Some people would have classified them as restricted, some would have classified them as prohibited, and some would have classified them as not restricted. I believe the RCMP should make that decision.

Finally, Bill C-71 requires a business to keep a record of sale. This might be thought to be obvious, and apparently it has been obvious for a number of years in a number of jurisdictions. Bill C-71 makes this a requirement. Many are convinced that this makes for a backdoor registry. Apparently, business records held by multiple private businesses across the country constitute a backdoor registry in the minds of some. I would hope that the amendment, as moved by the Conservative member, and as agreed to unanimously by the committee, puts an end to that argument.

In conclusion, this bill is exceedingly modest. Expanding background checks is good. Removing political input into the classification of firearms is good. Requiring the retention of sales records is good. The reclassification of certain weapons is good. I believe colleagues should support this bill as amended.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, in my riding I have a number of farmers, hunters and sport shooters. This summer I took the opportunity to visit a few of the sport shooting ranges and was impressed with the increased attention they were giving to safety and training. They are totally committed to the safety of firearms, proper licensing, background checks, and all of these things. They are convinced that Bill C-71 has good intentions but does nothing more than make it difficult for lawful gun owners. They believe it does nothing toward increasing the public safety of our country.

My colleague who just spoke has been quoted as saying, “I don’t think I speak out of turn when I say that there is no tolerance for people having guns in Toronto, period—long guns, short guns, in-between guns, fast guns, slow guns.” Coming from the chair of the committee that studied this bill, this shows a lack of understanding of the number of gun owners there are in Toronto who are sport shooters and hunters, and who abide by the rules as they are.

I am also wondering if the member could comment on his thoughts about the Liberals' eventual plan to ban all firearms.

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1:05 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the great honour to represent a riding in the east end of Toronto, a riding I have represented for 20-odd years. I believe I have some authority and right to speak to this on behalf of my constituents.

It is virtually unanimous that there is no need to have handguns, or any kind of guns, in one's possession in the city of Toronto. That was reflected in the unanimous motion by the City of Toronto. It was reflected in the unanimous motion by the City of Montreal.

If there is a requirement to sports shoot, that can be accommodated. However, to have firearms in one's possession creates difficulties. We heard at committee that the possession and ready availability of weapons made for higher incidents of crime, with very tragic consequences.

I am sure my colleague would actually support the elimination, reduction and control of weapons, as much as possible. I look forward to him supporting Bill C-71.

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1:05 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I support Bill C-71. I am particularly grateful to have this chance on this debate. I attempted to gain the floor a few times before today.

I did want to draw attention to one amendment I am particularly pleased to note was achieved through collaboration, which is always nice to see, and non-partisan co-operation in the clause-by-clause. One of my amendments was adopted, changed, and re-emerged as an amendment by the hon. member for Oakville North—Burlington. I am grateful to her. I want to mention this amendment again, and ask my friend from Scarborough—Guildwood for his thoughts on it.

What we have done is expand those things for which prospective gun owners will be screened to include any history of threats of violence against an intimate partner. I am feeling optimistic that the legislation may help protect usually women, but not always, from being killed at the end of a bad relationship. I cannot begin to describe how bad that is.

The history of violence against women in the country has to come to a stop, and threats of violence against intimate partners are now in the fabric of the legislation as a reason that someone would not be able to buy a gun.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I could not agree more.

Given the past summer, given the evidence we heard, given the tragedies spelled out by witness after witness, not only with murder and assault but also with suicide, also with intimate partners, I just cannot imagine how anyone would not support this amendment, which might go some distance toward reducing that. Just a basic inquiry into the violent history of an individual or the psychiatric history of the individual seems to me to be a step forward.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is an absolute honour to rise in the House today to stand up for law-abiding gun owners as I declare my opposition to Bill C-71.

I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek.

Today is my last opportunity to address the flaws in this failed legislation brought forward by the Liberal government. We all know the Liberals intend to ram it through the House of Commons without due process. They have already shown us that.

The Liberals shut down debate at second reading and at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, members of the committee asked that Bill C-71 be allowed a sufficient number of meetings and witnesses, but the Liberals decided to cut it short. They do not care about what law enforcement agents have to say. They do not want to give time to legislative experts. They certainly do not want to give voice to the Canadian public.

When those empowered turn a deaf ear to the people they represent, arrogance incapacitates any ability to exercise logic or common sense.

From the start, the government did not want to debate Bill C-71. It did not want to consult or listen; it wanted to just ram it through. The Liberals would rather push through this failed legislation that aims to deceive Canadians into believing that it actually would do something to protect them, when, in fact, it does nothing. In actuality, the Liberals are going after those who already follow the law. At the same time, the Liberals are putting legislation in place that would reward criminals.

Bill C-71 would create a backdoor long-gun registry. It calls for the confiscation of firearms that were legally purchased by Canadians and would allow the federal government to share firearms records with the province of Quebec. Furthermore, it would remove the ability of licensed firearms owners to transport their restricted firearms to a gunsmith or trade show.

Bill C-71 is flawed legislation that would crack down on responsible, law-abiding firearms owners and would do absolutely nothing to go after those who would engage in violent crime.

The Liberals are rushing through flawed legislation that would potentially criminalize tens of thousands of responsible citizens, while allowing a whole host of criminals to go free.

When I was in Nunavut this spring, I had many opportunities to speak with hunters. These Inuit hunters talked to me about the potential implications of the legislation and how upset they were by it. At the public safety committee, indigenous leaders said that the legislation actually threatened them and, therefore, they could take legal action against it, that it infringed upon their constitutional rights.

I am proud to live in the southern Alberta riding of Lethbridge. Many families there enjoy the heritage of hunting and sports shooting. These are peaceful individuals. They are peaceful gun owners, men, women and youth. They have the opportunity to use their firearms in a responsible manner and have gone through a rigorous vetting process in order to do so.

When I talk to my constituents, they are deeply concerned about Bill C-71. In fact, I recently sat down with my youth advisory board. It is a non-partisan group of individuals between the ages of 16 and 24. I had the opportunity to listen to their thoughts. This is what they wanted me to share with the Prime Minister on their behalf.

They asked me to remind the Prime Minister that he was the leader of a country and not a teacher in a high school drama classroom. They asked me to remind him that he needed to lead with honesty, that he needed to function with integrity and that he needed to stop attacking those who owned their firearms legally and used their guns responsibly. Instead, they asked him to put legislation in place that would go after the real criminals.

They called this legislation “absolute nonsense”. They said that this legislation was an emotionally charge response to a problem in the United States and unfairly punishes law-abiding Canadians. Furthermore, they begged the question, “Why is the Prime Minister skewing facts and telling mistruths in order to pass this legislation that punishes those who lawfully own a firearm?”

The fact that indigenous people across the country and the youth of my riding strongly oppose this bill should be some indication to the House that there are huge flaws. However, there is more.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of standing in the House and presenting e-petition 1608. As the sponsor of this petition, which calls for the repeal of Bill C-71, I felt it was absolutely essential to provide Canadians with the opportunity to oppose the Liberals' reckless and nonsensical legislation.

This petition was started by a 15-year-old in my riding by the name of Ryan Slingerland. As an informed and engaged young Canadian, he was upset when he learned about the Liberals' failed legislation. To quote Ryan directly, he said, “law-abiding citizens are not the issue with gun violence”.

With more than 86,000 signatures, e-petition 1608 is the second most signed e-petition in Canadian history. It sends a strong message to the Liberal government, and that is to back off.

The e-petition has signatories from every single province and territory, which means this is an issue that impacts our country as a whole. There are voices standing up in unity from coast to coast, asking the government to do something about the real criminals and to stop going after those who are law-abiding citizens.

The government is clearly more interested in painting a picture of caring rather than actually caring about the safety of Canadians. That is wrong. That is not good governance. Canadians from coast to coast can tell this, and they are calling on the government to be honest and to put proper legislation in place.

Good governments rest on the principle of listening, followed by action. Therefore, on behalf of law-abiding gun owners, I am pleading with the government today to exercise wisdom, to do what is right and take a step back.

The irony in all of this is that while the Liberals are demonizing hunters and sports shooters, the Prime Minister is actually reducing penalties for a massive list of extremely serious crimes. I am talking about participating in a terrorist group, trafficking women and girls, committing violence against a clergy member, murdering a child within one year of his or her birth, abducting a child, forcing marriage, advocating for genocide or participating in organized crime. The list goes on and on. That is just a sample.

Under Bill C-75, the government is reducing the penalties for these crimes. Does that sound like a government that cares about taking criminals off the street? Does that sound like a government that cares about protecting the well-being of Canadians, about making sure that moms are safe at home with their kids, or that they are safe at the park, or that Canadians are safe to go and enjoy an ice-cream cone out on a patio on a public sidewalk? Does that speak of a government that actually cares about our general border safety and control and security of the country? No, absolutely not.

A government that cared about the well-being of Canadians would put laws in place that would combat gang violence and organized crime. That government would not go and reward those people.

The current government is saying that it wants to keep Canadians safe and prevent gun violence, but Bill C-71 does absolutely nothing to accomplish this end. It fails to address gang violence. It fails to address the issue of illegal firearms and it fails to address rural violence and crime. In fact, the Liberal government's failure is so severe that of the $327 million it earmarked to tackle gun and gang violence, not a single penny has gone out the door.

Again, I ask this. If the government were really concerned about the well-being of Canadians and wanting to tackle crime and go after perpetrators, should it not be rolling out the money it put in the budget to do so? However, it is not concerned about that at all. Instead, it is concerned about going after the women and men who properly own their firearms, who have been extensively researched, who have a licence and are able to possess their firearm legally and use it responsibly. Why is the government doing that?

Bill C-71 targets those people unfairly and it creates the failed long gun registry that cost Canadians $1 billion to set up the very first time. I am proud to be part of a party that scrapped that wasteful legislation. We have vowed to do the same thing when we become government again.

Furthermore, it should be noted that the legislation before the House also unfairly turns thousands of Canadians into criminals overnight. It does this by reclassifying a number of firearms as prohibited. I am talking about firearms that are legally brought into Canada and that are legally possessed. This has been done for years. These individuals would, overnight, be in possession of something that would be illegal, thanks to the government.

Not a single one of the measures being put in place would take guns out of the hands of criminals. Criminals do not purchase their guns legally and they certainly do not register them.

In summary, Bill C-71 is yet again another failed piece of legislation from the government. It does absolutely nothing to protect our communities, to make them safer or to target those who are responsible for crime.

I am proud to say that a Conservative government will repeal and replace this legislation. We will replace it with a law that targets criminals, protects Canadians and respects those who lawfully own their firearms. That is a good government. That is the government that the House will see in 2019.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the hon. member realizes that the signatures on that petition reflect just 4% of licenced Canadian firearms owners. I would not sign that petition. We need to listen to all Canadians. It also only reflects 0.25% of all Canadians across this country.

While I do believe that we should respect the rights and privileges of licenced gun owners, we also have to realize that we need to listen to all sides of this debate.

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1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member said that we need to listen to members on all sides of this debate, and I could not agree more with her. But why would the Liberals shut down debate at second reading? Why did the Liberals not want to hear from an extensive list of witnesses? Why would the Liberals not want to do that? Why would they want to shut those voices down? If they actually care about making sure that every voice makes it to the table, why not allow that to happen? That acted to prevent that from happening.

From the beginning, the Liberals saw an opportunity to bring a bill forward that was incredibly dishonest, one that would resonate at an emotional level. They said they were doing all of these things to protect Canadians, when in fact the bill does nothing to take guns off the street. The bill does nothing to take guns out of the hands of criminals. It only goes after those who have already gone through an extensive vetting process and who use their guns responsibly. That is all this legislation does. The government has failed.

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1:20 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I can understand that my colleague is a little angry because false information has been circulating about this bill.

For example, the Prime Minister sent out tweets stating that the government was going to crack down on illegal guns, but the bill does not deal with that. Most of the bill concerns restricted and prohibited guns. There are also some regulations concerning long guns.

In the interest of providing accurate information, would the member agree with me that the major changes that affect people with a long gun licence and who do not own a gun that will be reclassified is that their name will be recorded when purchasing a gun and that they will have to make a phone call when they sell one?

Is that information correct? If she could spell that out, it would help people understand what they are hearing.

Firearms ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the hon. member brought up a tweet by the Prime Minister. Another of the Prime Minister's tweets was also a mistruth. Canadians would call it a lie, but in this place we are not allowed to call it that, so it is a mistruth here. The Prime Minister tweeted that when this legislation comes into play, Canadians will “have to show a license at the point of purchase. Right now that's not a requirement.”

We have a Prime Minister putting legislation in place but who does not even understand the existing laws. Right now, if an individual wants to acquire a firearm, that individual must show a PAL. That individual must show a licence that he or she can acquire that firearm. In order to get a licence that allows an individual to acquire a firearm, that individual not only has to got through an extensive amount of training but also has to be vetted. Extensive background checks are done and references have to be provided. Then the individual has to present a passport or some other form of government ID with his or her picture on it, as well as the licence verifying that you are that person. They have to prove they are that person and they are licenced to acquire and use that firearm.

It is incredibly deceptive of the Prime Minister to attempt to mislead Canadians and try to convince them that he is somehow doing something in their favour when in fact that law already exists.

The Prime Minister needs to stop painting law-abiding firearms owners as if they are the devil when they are not.

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1:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Before resuming debate, I just want to remind the hon. members that we cannot do indirectly what we cannot do directly in the chamber when we are referring to something. I know there are slip-ups, but because there are more discussions and speeches coming up, I just want to remind everyone so that members can apply it their remarks. Resuming debate.

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1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-71,, an act to amend certain acts and regulations in relation to firearms.

I have many concerns with this piece of legislation, but as there is limited time, I would like to focus my remarks today on what I consider to be a shocking oversight. I believe that all of us in this place would agree that it must be the highest priority of a government to protect the lives and safety of its constituents, of the people they are serving. Of all our duties, this is the most profound.

In order to protect our citizens, to put effective solutions in place, it is vitally important that we understand the problem. In this case, it is to recognize who is committing the violent crimes within Canada. I believe there is a simple answer to that question, and it is gangs.

In 2016, one of every two firearms-related homicides was committed by organized crime, yet nowhere in this bill are the words “gang” or “organized crime” mentioned. At best, this is an unintentional oversight. At its worst, it is intentional. After all, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness himself spoke about this issue earlier this year, saying on March 18:

Criminal gun and gang violence is a grave threat to the safety of our communities. While overall crime rates in Canada are much lower than decades ago, homicides, gun crime and gang activity have all been steadily increasing. Gun homicides have almost doubled over the past four years—and more than half are linked to gangs.

Before continuing, I want to address one point about this statement. Statistics can provide a good basis for solid policy, but only if they are seen within their proper context. I believe the minister did not provide that proper context. The minister chose to use a particular timeline in the quote above, namely “four years”. As was made clear by his office, the year he is referencing is actually 2013.

Why is that significant? The minister claimed that gun homicides have almost doubled over the past four years. That statement is very misleading when placed in context. The year 2013 happened to have had the lowest number of firearms homicide ever recorded by Statistics Canada. The next closest year on record, 1998, had 13% more homicides.

The Liberals chose 2013 as the base year to make it appear as if gun homicides were growing at a shocking rate. Now the Liberals are using these statistics to justify punishing highly vetted, law-abiding gun owners by painting a picture of Canada as the wild west. However, an unbiased look at the numbers reveals a different story. If there is to be any comparison to the wild west, it would have to refer to our ongoing struggle with gang violence.

In 2016, gang members committed 114 firearms homicides compared with 134 total homicides in 2013, the year referenced by the minister. That is a shocking statistic, no matter how it is viewed. The minister noted that gang-related firearm homicides made up half of all firearms homicides in 2016. This is significantly above average and is a cause for concern.

How is it that after recognizing the central role of organized crime in firearms murders on March 8, the minister introduced a bill just days later that ignores organized crime?

Further, not only have the Liberals failed to meaningfully address gang violence in this bill, but in this bill's companion piece, Bill C-75, they are weakening the laws currently in place to combat gang violence. Bill C-75 amends the Criminal Code to lessen the sentences for serious and even violent crimes to as little as a fine. Among those crimes is participation in organized criminal activity, in other words, joining a gang.

What is the justification for lowering the legal penalties for gang members while punishing legal firearms owners? I cannot think of one. However, time and time again the Liberals have gone after legal firearms owners rather than the criminals who use firearms.

Gang members or other criminals are not going to be deterred by a law that further restricts legal firearms owners. They will only respond to laws that hold serious consequences for their illegal activities. The government had two opportunities to address the significant problem of gang violence, a problem the minister is very aware of, yet has failed to do so. The government has failed by weakening the punishment for gang activities, and again by not making changes to our firearms laws that would target gangs.

Not only does Bill C-71 do nothing to address gang violence, but it misses the mark on rural crime as well. My riding of Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek is a large and mostly rural riding. I have heard numerous concerns from constituents about the growing issue of rural crime. This place recognized the severity of that issue and passed unanimously the motion brought by my colleague from Lakeland, Motion No. 167. That motion will result in a committee study of rural crime. Every Liberal member who was present voted for the motion, including the Prime Minister. Surely that must mean the government understands there are unique problems faced by rural Canadians, yet nothing in this bill addresses rural crime.

Instead, Bill C-71 targets law-abiding firearms owners by, among other things, breaking the Liberals' election promise and reintroducing the wasteful and divisive long-gun registry through the backdoor. In this bill, the Liberals have introduced a backdoor registry by requiring firearms retailers to keep a registry of every firearm they sell for 20 years and by requiring private transfers to be verified by the registrar of firearms. This should come as no shock, but registrars keep registries. Firearms retailers would now be required to act as registrars themselves. They would be responsible for the cost of maintaining this information and for the security of that information. The private and personal information of millions of Canadians must by law be kept by a business for 20 years. These registries would be accessible by law enforcement and must be turned over to the government if the retailer goes out of business.

It is a registry by any other name, but the Liberals will now continue to refuse to use the term “registry” because they know how upset Canadians were about the last Liberal long-gun registry. They think that by not naming it and obscuring its location, Canadians will not notice. They are wrong. I have heard from hundreds of constituents who are frustrated that the Liberals have broken their campaign promise and reintroduced the firearms registry. They feel betrayed by the current government. They are disgusted that the Liberals would try to hide their broken promise behind technicalities and muddied language. They deserve better than to be treated like criminals.

In closing, I believe that we as parliamentarians have the responsibility to create laws that protect our citizens; that reflect real-world, objective data; that treat law-abiding Canadians fairly; and that address the concerns of Canadians regarding crime and gang violence. This bill does not meet any of those requirements. For this reason, I cannot and will not support Bill C-71.

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September 20th, 2018 / 1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, during this debate and the last time it was before the House, we repeatedly heard the arguments why decisions on the regulation and classification of firearms should be taken out of the hands of politicians and put into the hands of the experts and those who understand firearms and what they are capable of. Can the member opposite comment on whether she agrees with the fact that experts are better at handling the classification, or if she believes that politicians would in fact be better at handling that classification?

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1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, what I agree with is that it is up to lawmakers, up to members of Parliament to create laws, and it is up to us to be very clear about what it is we are creating. The fact that the current government has been very ambiguous and somewhat deceptive in what it is trying to create through Bill C-71 should be a concern not only for the rest of us in the House, those of us sitting in the opposition benches, but also to all Canadians and the experts themselves.

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1:35 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is really directed to the Conservative caucus about the process we are following today. The hon. member for Lethbridge spoke of the Liberals forcing this bill through, ramming the bill through and bringing in time allocation, but under parliamentary procedure, if even one Conservative had said no to time allocation on Bill C-71, there would not be time allocation on Bill C-71. It was a motion by unanimous consent.

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1:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

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1:35 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Was it not unanimous consent? Well, perhaps my memory is faulty for which I apologize.

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1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I understand the question. It is my understanding that whenever the government introduces time allocation on any piece of legislation. we vote on it and that the majority wins.

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1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would invite my colleague to comment on the juxtaposition that takes place between Bill C-71 and Bill C-75.

Bill C-71 of course is a piece of legislation the Liberal government has brought forward that has to do with guns. Meanwhile, Bill C-75 has to do with decreasing sentences for a number of heinous crimes, including genocide. The Liberals are claiming that Bill C-71 would actually go after gangs and gun violence and that it would help make our communities safer. Meanwhile, Bill C-75 would appear to do the exact opposite by actually making life a whole lot easier for criminals.

I wonder if my colleague would comment on that.

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1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, SK

Mr. Speaker, I note that my colleague made a wise intervention earlier today.

I think I mentioned this contradiction in my remarks on Bill C-71. It is somewhat rich to introduce a bill that would appear to be getting tough on crime when it would actually do nothing to address violent crime or gangs, while at the same time reducing the sentences for individuals who perpetuate violent crimes.

The member did a great job of articulating that in her remarks, I mentioned it in mine, and I think it should come as no surprise that this contradiction exists with this particular government.

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1:35 p.m.

Karen McCrimmon Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Surrey Centre.

It is a pleasure to rise at the third reading stage of this important legislation. Bill C-71 will uphold the commitments made by the government during the last election to introduce modest measures on firearms that address weaknesses in the current legal firearms regime. That includes the commitment not to reinstate a federal long-gun registry.

From the start, the bill has been guided by the priorities of protecting people and communities, supporting law enforcement and ensuring law-abiding firearms owners are treated fairly and reasonably. I am pleased to note that throughout the bill's progress, those priorities were reaffirmed by a broad range of stakeholders, partners and individual Canadians. Consultation does not mean that everyone agrees. It means that we have made the effort to hear all of the arguments, pro and con.

At committee there were some important motions for amendment. In fact, the amendments that were adopted came from every party. The first added to the specific criteria that must be considered when determining eligibility to hold a firearms licence, specifically to add threatening conduct, non-contact orders and more explicit language around risk of harm to self or to others. The amendments also make it clearer that when threatening violence and conduct occur, it includes those communicated in the digital realm. The amendments also specify that when considering eligibility for a firearms licence, expired orders prohibiting the possession of firearms where an offence in which violence was used, threatened or attempted against an intimate partner or former intimate partners must also be considered.

This should reassure Canadians that in the interest of public safety, the process through which a person can obtain a firearm includes a more comprehensive consideration of eligibility factors. Explicitly including the concept of harm on that list, which includes self harm, may also have important impacts. It is an absolute tragedy that 80% of firearm deaths in Canada are suicides and while suicide prevention is a whole-of-society issue, there are meaningful actions we can take through legislation. This is one of those contributing actions. Prevention experts agree that limiting access to guns for those at risk of suicide is part of the solution, along with access to mental health support.

I am glad to see that the concept of harm is clearly identified in the bill before us. I will also point out that the additional new criteria reflects the types of violence that predominantly target women, and I thank the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for all her work on this issue. This includes harassment and cyber-violence. In the online space, women are often targets of intimidation and propaganda and young women and girls are impacted disproportionately by cyber-violence, bullying and harassment. Adding these new factors updates our laws to reflect and address today's reality of increasing online abuse and harassment. It is consistent with the government's gender-based violence strategy.

Other amendments add some clarification to the bill. For example, the committee amended clause 1 to make it clear that the government will not recreate the federal long-gun registry. We now have that clarification right in the text of the bill. I will point out that the bill never included any components that would have permitted or required the registration of non-restricted firearms. While this amendment does not change the effect of the bill, I am confident it can provide reassurance that the long-gun registry will not be reinstated.

In addition, another amendment to clause 5, which was adopted at committee, will help clarify that a person meeting the conditions to transfer a non-restricted firearm can transfer more than one. In practice, the amendment changes the word “a” in the bill to “one or more”.

In fact, as proposed, the bill would not limit the number of non-restricted firearms that can be transferred, providing the conditions to do so are met. Once again, the bill is now clearer on that issue by virtue of the amendments. It now spells out specifically that a valid licence and a valid reference number attesting to the licence validity can support the transfer of ownership of more than one non-restricted firearm.

I am grateful that all parties have played an important role in the close scrutiny of this bill. It started off on solid footing. It already strengthens current laws around eligibility to hold a firearms licence. For example, it requires licensing authorities to consider specific information from the applicant's life history rather than just the previous five years. It improves licence verification, requiring anyone selling or giving a non-restricted firearm to verify the validity of the recipient's firearms licence. It improves record-keeping requirements among firearm businesses by requiring them to keep records of sale for non-restricted firearms. Responsible vendors already do this, but making it mandatory would not only set in law what they already do, it would also provide police with an additional tool to track non-restricted firearms which may have been trafficked from the legal to the illegal market.

The bill strengthens the regime around the transportation of restricted and prohibited firearms, but does not include non-restricted firearms, the ones used by hunters and farmers. It creates a more consistent approach to classification, responsibly leaving the technical determination on the classification of firearms to experts.

Today we have new measures with added benefits, such as enhanced background checks, greater certainty that no federal registry will be created and welcome clarification on non-restricted firearms transfers. Many Canadians from all walks of life have told us that the measures in this legislation are important. It is just one part of a larger package that will help make our communities safer and give law enforcement the tools they need to do their jobs.

In closing, I want to thank the members on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, all those who provided testimony and my colleagues in the House for helping shape this important legislation along the way. I encourage all members to join me in supporting Bill C-71.

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1:45 p.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I come from a rural riding and there are a lot of concerns that are meaningful and I have brought a lot of those concerns to this House.

One of the questions I am hoping the member can answer is on the issue around authorization to transport. What we are hearing is that this is going to be an online process. I am wondering how long it will take to be up. When it is up, will it be accessible for people for things like weekend gun shows and other activities people may want to participate in? Will there be any cost?

One of the challenges for a lot of folks in my riding is they do not want a lot more costs added to this process than they are already bearing. They are law-abiding gun holders who deserve and need these answers.

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1:45 p.m.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Lib.

Karen McCrimmon

Mr. Speaker, the minister made it perfectly clear that for this regime, the transportation and movement of firearms, to be a success, we needed to put the priority on customer service. He committed to putting the resources there so that the process would be very responsive. If needed, people could actually have access to an ATT via their cellphones. He knows that is an important piece of this legislation and that it has to work in order to make that happen.