Mr. Speaker, the motions that I am presenting and speaking to on behalf of the government are:
Motion No. 23 which is a correction of the French text.
Motion No. 54 would amend the conditions which attach to lending a firearm to better reflect the actual practice. If a firearm's owner lends a gun to someone he or she knows very
well, it may not be necessary for that owner to verify the borrower's licence each time. If someone is lending a firearm to a brother, his wife, or a wife to her husband, that firearm owner has every reason to believe that the person has a licence.
Consequently this motion would change one of the lending conditions in the bill at the present time. What the government would require with the amendment now is: "having reasonable grounds to believe that the borrower holds a licence".
This depends on the actual circumstances and may require a lender to request proof of the borrower's licence. For instance, if it is a stranger, someone the lender has never met before, then the lender would not have reasonable grounds to believe that the borrower holds a licence whereas if it was a member of a family, the borrower would.
Therefore it is a significant change which will make the actual practice of using a borrowed firearm much more in line with reality.
Motion No. 72 would clarify that a non-Canadian business wishing to ship firearms in transit through Canada must obtain an authorization to export, but need not have a business licence in Canada.
As has been said before, even if the firearms are in transit through Canada, the firearms must be registered. There cannot be a shipment in transit, or otherwise, of firearms in Canada if those firearms are prohibited weapons.
A motion was adopted at committee stage which provided that in an application to the registrar for an authorization to export, the registrar could only request from the applicant such other information as is reasonably required. For consistency sake, Motion No. 78 would also add the word "reasonably" to authorization to import. Therefore, the word "reasonably" would be required not only for export but for import as well. We have to look to the business practices of manufacturers. There is no reason that they should be giving any information requested of them, particularly if it does not have any relation to what is required and gives confidential competitive data that would only serve to hurt their competitive position.
As I mentioned, a very similar motion was introduced and adopted at committee stage. However, customs in particular is asking for a slight modification in the wording referring to the in transit shipments to avoid any future confusion.
Motion No. 109 relates to changes introduced at committee allowing an appeal of the minister's decision in respect of shooting club approval. In it we referred to provincial ministers. This change is to make a reference to federal ministers as well as provincial ministers. The federal and provincial ministers will be able to give approval to shooting clubs.
Motion No. 111 is essentially the same as 109. It relates to changes introduced in committee allowing the appeal of a minister's decision in respect of shooting club approval. The minister may be provincial or federal. As I have said, this motion is intended to clarify the appropriate minister in the appropriate circumstances.
Essentially, most of the amendments in group three relate to the registry system. A number of motions delete the role of and references to the registry right through to the registrar and is related to the Reform Party's proposal to eliminate the registry.
The second largest area where motions are put forward refer to the rationale for a registration system and whether they should apply to long guns. The concern is that the registry system is put into effect for various reasons for long guns as well as for handguns. The idea is so that we will have a record of all firearms in Canada. If a firearm is stolen, we want to know where that firearm is. We want to have, if not the serial number, then certainly pertinent data that would allow us to track that firearm.
We also want to be able to register firearms immediately on their entering the country. We found that when certain firearms are brought into Canada initially and not registered, as was practice in the past, between customs and the wholesaler-distributor, some of those firearms disappear.
As I mentioned earlier, we also want to register firearms even when they are in transit through the country. If that is to be an inconvenience then so be it, but frankly we do not really want to encourage the in transit shipment of firearms through Canada.
We also want to be able to impress on people that firearms are important and that the owner's care is very important as well.
We feel the registration system will be of benefit and will reduce death through firearms. We feel there will be a greater appreciation of firearms. The minister has stated time and again that the costs are going to be minimal for the registration of a firearm beginning in January 1, 1998. It may not be anything but very shortly it will go to $10 for up to 10 firearms and maybe up to $18 for 10 firearms before the end of the five year period.
The minister has been very frank on that. He has stated there will not be any cost initially for getting a possession licence but for the renewal of an FAC or eventual renewal of a possession licence it will be $60 for a five year period. Once a firearm has been registered there will not be any need to register it again. With respect to the possession licence there does not have to be
any course taken if the possession licence is for firearms presently possessed and not for the purchase of new firearms.
The registration system has been put into effect with the lawful gun owner in mind. Supposedly there will be the inconvenience of having to register long guns. That is in the eye of the beholder. A lot of people who have long guns do not mind registering them. It is not, as some people have stated, an idea of keeping track of all the long guns with the eventual intention of confiscation. That is not the intent at all. If that were the case, we would not be spending up to $85 million on the registration system.
The member for Yorkton-Melville has requested costing. The minister provided the costing in committee when he initially appeared. He stated why in his and the government's opinion it would be $85 million.
The idea is to put the possession licence in effect on January 1, 1996 and the registration certificates for firearms beginning in January 1, 1998 to give the system a chance to work gradually. Also it is hoped that Canadians will see that the registration of firearms and the possession licences are not an attempt to act against the lawful gun owner.
To know what firearms are illegal first we must know which firearms are legal. That makes sense. We cannot just say that a particular firearm is illegal unless we have a common denominator to say which ones are legal. That is a basic axiom and we want to create that basic axiom in the registration of firearms.