Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to the government bill, Bill C-3, an act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and the Canada Border Services Agency Act. The bill would rename the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP to the public complaints and review commission. It would also amend the Canada Border Services Agency Act to:
grant to that Commission powers, duties and functions in relation to the Canada Border Services Agency, including the power to conduct a review of the activities of that Agency and to investigate complaints concerning the conduct of any of that Agency’s officers or employees.
The bill is a copy of Bill C-98, which died on the Order Paper at the end of the 42nd Parliament. During the study of Bill C-98, the committee heard from just seven witnesses, including the minister and five officials who reported to him. I hope this time, in our minority Parliament, the parliamentary committee will have the ability to study the bill as thoroughly as it deserves and hear testimony from more witnesses, contrary to the study of Bill C-98, when the Liberals failed to consult customs and immigration in the creation of it.
One would think that when creating legislation regarding the security of Canadians, all stakeholders would be consulted and such legislation would be presented in a substantive and timely way. We now have the chance to ensure that all stakeholders are heard at committee and members are given the time needed to undertake this.
That being said, the bill seems straightforward in its objective that Canada's law enforcement agencies ought to have an oversight body. This is especially helpful at the border, where a civilian review commission would improve oversight and help CBSA be an even more effective agency in its duties and functions.
There is a Liberal crusade against law-abiding firearms owners, highlighted by Bill C-71, passed in the previous Parliament, and the apparent upcoming blanket firearms bans are likely to come before both the RCMP and CBSA oversight bodies. This is problematic because of the extra and quite unnecessary amount of work it would create for both agencies.
The Liberal government likes to paint law-abiding firearms owners with one brush, that they are dangerous and cannot be trusted with the responsibility of firearms ownership or are outdated, backward and likely criminals. On this side of the House, we know that to be false.
We know that law-abiding firearms owners are among the most vetted citizens in the country. It is illegal to possess, store or transport a firearm without first possessing a licence, the PAL or the RPAL, through a program that is run by the RCMP. It includes extremely stringent requirements, including background and reference checks and classroom instruction and testing.
People who are deemed fit to be given the restricted firearms licence must then register all of these restricted firearms with the government and receive authorization to transport them to and from the range. These responsible law-abiding firearms owners are run through police databases regularly, if not daily. The Liberals' portrayal of them is wrong and insulting.
The government is also trying to spin the firearms legislation as the right move, that it would enhance safety for Canadians. However, the legislation does nothing to address the safety of Canadians and seeks to punish law-abiding Canadians instead of criminals.
Given the spirit of Bill C-3, with its oversight bodies that are meant to reduce harm and combat overreach, would it not make sense for all of the government's safety and security legislation to be in the same spirit and have the same goal?
The Liberals are seeking to ban certain firearms and are moving to reclassify some rifles as prohibited, which means over 10,000 legally purchased and owned rifles would be reclassified for no reason in particular. They have not advanced a logical argument for the banning of these firearms, and I cannot think of one either. These firearms function in a similar method to a technology first introduced in 1885, so it cannot be that they are unsafe when used properly. Also, they adhere to the same regulations regarding capacity as other non-restricted firearms.
How does the government's plan to classify legally bought and owned rifles as prohibited combat gang violence? It does not, not one bit. In fact, it has the potential to criminalize the owners of these rifles if they do not comply with the new ownership requirements of the prohibited firearm.
Retroactively applying this law means that a person could be jailed for up to 10 years for something that was perfectly legal when it was done. Let us imagine this. A government that is giving pardons for actions that were crimes when committed but are now legal is criminalizing something that was perfectly legal when it was done. This totally rejects the premise of Bill C-3, because the changes to firearms laws certainly overreach and mistreat law-abiding Canadians.
The attacks on law-abiding firearms owners by the government neglects to combat crime. It punishes lawful firearms owners in other ways as well, especially those who live in rural areas like the residents of Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.
Because of the Liberal government's disdain for firearms owners and rural Canadians writ large, it is working to revoke authorization to transport firearms except from store to home and between home and target range. Gun shows, gunsmiths, border crossings and airports would require special permission each and every time. If people want to pick up their firearms from the gunsmith on their way to a shooting match, they would need an ATT. If they are dropping off their firearm at the gunsmith after a day at the range, they would need an ATT. If they want to take a firearm from the store where they bought it to the gunsmith, they would need an authorization to transport, or an ATT. Besides disregarding the realities of travel in rural areas, this would create a constant need for bureaucratic paperwork and would increase costs to Canadian taxpayers, with absolutely no benefit or increase to public safety and security.
When it comes to the safety and security of Canadians, the government's short-sighted legislative record on firearms decreases the safety and security of law-abiding firearms owners through its creation of a backdoor firearms registry. It would force firearm retailers to keep detailed transaction records of every firearm buyer and purchase spanning a period of 20 years. When people walk into their favourite retailer and purchase a rifle and ammunition, the retailer would be forced to record their personal information and register it with the registrar. This is not just in stores that specialize in retail firearms. This is also in big box stores, even for simply purchasing ammunition. These lists would become highly prized targets for hackers and thieves, and citizens on the registries would be put at great risk of being robbed, or worse.
Since we are talking about the role of oversight bodies and Canada's law enforcement agencies, I will note that the government's attack on law-abiding firearms owners would create an environment where there is a greater risk of overreach. It would give law enforcement greater leeway to arbitrarily prohibit firearms by removing the government's ability to easily un-prohibit firearms, fuelling concern of more bans and more overreach. We are seeing this now, as the minister has indicated his intention to subvert democracy and undertake a blanket ban on certain firearms. If that does not spell overreach from the highest levels, I do not know what does.
Canadians expect effective oversight of federal law enforcement agencies. The bill looks as if it would be effective in doing so, but the Liberals made a promise to do this in 2015 and they let the bill die on the Order Paper in the last Parliament. It is disappointing that they failed to consult the union representing Canada's border officers and that they have a culture of lazy legislation when it comes to the safety and security of Canadians.
Canadians expect the House to give thorough review to all legislation put before it. They expect that the legislators here will speak to witnesses and the relevant stakeholders. Even though that was not permitted to happen under majority rule in the previous Parliament, in this Parliament we hope to undertake a full study.