Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Peace River—Westlock.
It is always a pleasure to rise in this House to speak to legislation, even bad legislation.
I will be frank. I think Bill C-21 has about as much chance of stopping gun violence as there is of me crossing the floor to join the Liberals. It is just not going to happen. The bill will not work because it is the wrong approach, and the sad thing is that the government knows it is the wrong approach. It knows it will not work, but it is doing it anyway.
I will talk about why it is doing that in just a minute, but let us be clear. Gun control is an important issue. Everyone in the House has agreed that we need sensible gun control, but in this legislation there is the same problem we have come up against every time with the government, and that is that, when it decides it wants to tackle gun crime, it completely ignores the problem. It goes after law-abiding citizens rather than doing the hard work of going after the bad guys. This is because it is easier to control the behaviour of those who already obey the law than it is to deal with those who do not.
Conservatives are eager to tackle this issue. We want to have common sense laws. There are even things in this bill we can get behind, but instead of a serious and honest conversation, we get virtue signalling. We get a Prime Minister who is so eager to import U.S. culture wars into Canada that he politicizes tragedy for his own political benefit rather than taking concrete steps to protect the lives of Canadians. Why is that?
I need to remind the Prime Minister that we do not live in the United States. He is the Prime Minister of Canada, not a pundit for MSNBC. I am not so naive as to think that what happens in the U.S. does not affect us, particularly with the saturation effect of U.S. media, but every time some controversial issue or potential wedge issue pops up south of the border, it would seem that the Prime Minister rubs his hands with glee and wonders how he can weaponize it and use it to divide and control Canadians, whether it is abortion, race, gender, immigration or, what we are talking about now, guns. He seeks to take U.S. issues, import them to Canada and weaponize them to stigmatize and divide Canadians. These are serious issues, and we need to address them, but we need to address them as Canada's Parliament. They are uniquely Canadian issues, but the Prime Minister does not want to do that because it is easier to control people through fear, anger and division than it is to convince Canadians based on the merits of a particular argument.
I spoke in the House last week on the subject of control and how the government wants to pick winners and losers. We see it in the economy. We see it in the media. We see it in society. One group gets federal funding because it agrees with the ideologically of the government and another group does not. One media outlet gets federal funding and the next one does not. Certain people can have their charter rights to travel because they have agreed with the ideology of getting the shot or the second, the third or the fourth. Those who question the government based largely on consistently inconsistent and conflicting information from government sources, not to mention the principle that personal medical choices are private, lost their jobs. They were stigmatized and demonized again and again, and it is still happening.
When certain folks had enough and drove to Ottawa to express their opposition to his overreach, the Prime Minister would not meet with them. He ran away and hid. He and his ministers spun a narrative about these individuals. They said things in the media that have been proven to be false again and again. Where is the accountability for that misinformation? He enacted the Emergencies Act, not, as we now know, on the advice of law enforcement, which is another untruth, but because he had to control. He crushed those people with the full weight of his powers. Why did he do that? It was not because of science or any credible threat, but because of control. He wants to control what we do, what we think, what we can see online.
It was the Prime Minister's father who stated that the government has no business in the bedrooms of Canadians. The government not only wants to be in the bedroom, but also in every other room. It wants to be on every device, and every speech and every thought, and I am not so sure if the government is doing this out of a sense of insecurity. A relationship where one side refuses to listen to the other and always needs to be in control is not a healthy relationship. A relationship where one side belittles and demeans the other is not a healthy relationship. A relationship where one side uses a power differential to force submission is not a healthy relationship. It is an abusive relationship, and right now the relationship between the government and Canadians is not a healthy relationship.
The government has abused power and continues to abuse power, aided and abetted by the New Democrats, who, for a lack of fortitude and courage, are willing to compromise their convictions and sell out to Canadians for just a whiff of power. This is not about public safety. It is about the government controlling the little people, the law-abiding people. Every time government adds to its power to exercise control, individual Canadians lose some of theirs. It only exacerbates and perpetuates the problem.
I look at this bill. I look at how the government went about that process and how it has conducted itself in the past two years, and all I see is another attempt to control law-abiding Canadians. Now, with my remaining minutes, I would like to shift gears a bit because I do want to talk about violence.
There is no greater evil than to perpetuate violence. It is why our criminal justice system reserves the most serious sentences for those who inflict harm on others. However, violence is not a political issue. It is not an issue of hate, but it is an issue of the heart. In my faith we call it sin, which is the corruption of the image of God in humanity. It is a moral defect, the natural expression of which is to inflict harm on ourselves and others. It is a condition and a state of being from which we must be healed if we are ever to find wholeness and peace.
It is a heart issue, and the interesting thing about a heart is issue is that we cannot legislate it. We cannot legislate against what is in a person's heart. We can try, and the government has and will continue to try, and fail, because laws do not fix hearts. Laws cannot eliminate the anger, loneliness or hopelessness that individuals who commit heinous crimes feel, but what laws can do is attempt to control the external factors that contribute to the anger, loneliness and hopelessness that lead to an individual committing such heinous acts. To that end, I would like to offer a few brief suggestions.
We are never going to be able to fully eradicate violent crime, but if we want to get serious about curtailing it, we need to start with our kids. As parents and grandparents, we need to know what they are watching in the media and on social media. We need to know what they are consuming in their minds, which eventually finds its way into their hearts, and the video games and entertainment many of our children and grandchildren are accessing.
We know kids are impressionable and that, even as young adults, people are still developing until their mid-twenties. We know what habitual consumption can do and about neural pathways that habits and patterns create in the brain.
“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”, and we can naturally extrapolate that the body acts. To put it in simple terms, what we put in is likely what will come out. There is an expression that was quite familiar when computers first became very prevalent: “Garbage in; garbage out.” Studies have shown, consistently, the direct correlation between violent video games and being not only desensitized, but predisposed, to violence. As early as the year 2000, which was 22 years ago, a study by the American Psychological Association revealed “that even brief exposure to violent video games can temporarily increase aggressive behavior in all types of participants.”
We see similar patterns when it comes to sexual violence. There is no limit to the depths of depravity and dehumanizing behaviour individuals, including children, can view with just the click of a mouse. That is why in the House we have continually called on the government to take action against Quebec-based MindGeek, which owns Pornhub, one of the largest producers of pornography in the world, including illegal content that is racist, misogynistic and violent, as we have shown in the House in the past.
We recognize that pornography not only isolates individuals, but also creates unhealthy and unrealistic depictions and expectations of sexual behaviour, which leads to violence against women. We know this, but when a young person, or for that matter an older person, is routinely exposed to violence and pornography, they will develop radical and racist views, and that is what many people are consuming for hours a day, day in and day out. We should not be surprised when violence follows.
There is the story in the Bible of the very first murder. It is recorded in the Bible, and it is the story of Cain killing his brother Abel with a rock. The problem was not the rock. We do not read the story and say, “If only God had tougher rock control policies.” The rock was a tool. Jealousy, anger, feeling sorry for himself and feeling hard done by were what motivated the irrational rage that brought on the inability to get past himself and his own desires.
Cain lost control and acted out of his emotions. The problem was not the rock; the problem was the heart.