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.