House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was firearms.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Cape Breton—The Sydneys (Nova Scotia)

Won his last election, in 1993, with 76% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Multiculturalism April 5th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member for Brant has said, this is a troubling and complex issue which places in conflict two compelling sets of interests.

On the one hand, victims need to be able to seek counselling and medical assistance in confidence and with full respect for their privacy and personal integrity, both at the time of their counselling and later on in any court proceedings. On the other hand, people accused of serious offences need to be able to bring forth relevant evidence that may establish their innocence. Courts across the country are grappling in individual cases with the very difficult balance of victims' and accused persons' interests.

The Supreme Court of Canada heard argument on this issue in the case of O'Connor v. the Queen on February 1. The federal government intervened in that case to urge the court to endorse a strengthened version of the guidelines developed by the British Columbia Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court has reserved its decision.

The O'Connor guidelines developed by the B.C. Court of Appeal are designed to prevent fishing expeditions into the complainant's past. They place the onus on the person seeking access to the records to establish that they are relevant. This is done through a two part procedure which may be done in camera with a ban on publication and at which the complainant and the holder of the records are not compellable witnesses.

At present and subject to the decision of the Supreme Court, the O'Connor procedure is binding only in British Columbia. At a January federal-provincial-territorial meeting of ministers responsible for justice, it was agreed to review the B.C. Court of Appeal guidelines with a view to having them adopted in each jurisdiction. This would govern the situation pending the decision of the Supreme Court in O'Connor and pending any new legislation in that area.

It was further agreed that the issue requires urgent attention. Consequently, officials were directed to work on it and report to the deputy ministers at their next meeting in the spring.

The Department of Justice is consulting with interested groups and individuals to determine how personal records are in fact used, to fully explore all perspectives and concerns, and to develop ways of balancing the complainant's interests with those of the accused.

Firearms Act April 5th, 1995

It is going to fight crime too.

Unfortunately, I only have ten minutes. If the hon. member comes to the committee and listens, he will hear that, if he has

not understood it already. This is going to be a cost factor where those who register, starting in January of 1996, will not pay anything for their possession certificate initially and the cost will increase in a moderate fashion throughout the five-year period. When the five-year renewal period comes around, there will be a cost of approximately $60 per person for the renewal.

The registration cost will not be $100 per firearm, as has been stated by many members in the House. It will be $10 per firearm, and for that $10 the person will be able to register 10 firearms. That is a significant difference from what we have been told by members opposite.

I also want to say that this bill will fight crime. If members opposite do not know that now, they should make a point of looking at the statistics to realize that.

Firearms Act April 5th, 1995

No, they cannot break in. That is nonsense. That is pure fabrication, absolute rubbish.

The possession licences and the firearms registration certificates will be cards similar to credit cards with magnetic tape which will have the information and when it is run through a machine similar to a machine that checks a Visa card, the firearm will automatically be registered. It could be registered in a place of purchase similar to Canadian Tire. It will feed into the main computer system at which there will be fire doors to prohibit the information coming back out.

It will be a safe system. That is one of the reasons we want to wait until January 1998 to start registration. We want to have the people of Canada realize this is a safe system, a beneficial system and it will not cost what they have been told it will cost them.

Firearms Act April 5th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to the bill today. It is very significant that we are in the House talking about this subject at a time which I see as one of the last few periods when we can make this kind of significant change to our gun control laws.

We are looking at the type of society in which we want to live.

The Minister of Justice has brought forward legislation on young offenders and sentencing. He has made a commitment to make changes to the dangerous offender laws and we have before us today the bill on gun control.

I do not want to criticize because I am a very big supporter and fan of our neighbours to the south. However, we have seen a situation there in which citizens who want to change the law cannot. We have seen a situation in which the number of deaths by firearms has escalated to totally catastrophic levels.

In 1992 in the United States, 35,000 people died as a result of firearms; 150,000 people wounded by firearms in the same year. That is alarming. Those who were wounded might have been killed at that time if infrared spotting devices were available. They are now available in the United States, giving greater accuracy in dark areas, at night and to those who really do not have proficiency in the use of firearms to have good aim.

We have been told the United States is different. We have been told this because of the second amendment to the Constitution of the United States. We have been told there is a constitutional right to bear arms in the United States. That is not correct in the sense the National Rifle Association in the United States would have us believe.

The right to bear arms as defined by the Supreme Court of the United States applies to the militias and the constabularies of the states to be able to arm themselves to defend against a national army. That is the basis as interpreted by the Supreme

Court of the United States of the right to bear arms. It is not for citizens of the United States to have unlimited permission and lawfully be able to have arms.

I want to give one example of how that applies with the case of one small community in Illinois, Morton Grove, in the early 1980s, I think in 1982. It decided it wanted to do something about the proliferation of firearms. It decided to ban firearms. There was a municipal bylaw which banned firearms in that community.

The National Rifle Association became very alarmed at this and a great deal of lobbying ensued. As a result, the state of Illinois passed a law that stated municipal laws could not be more prohibitive with respect to firearms than state laws. That destroyed any opportunity for any further municipality in the state of Illinois to do what Morton Grove did.

There are other states with the same law. It was never challenged. The right of the community of Morton Grove to do that was not challenged on the basis of the second amendment. It was the lobbying by the National Rifle Association to make sure state governments moved in to prohibit that sort of thing happening anywhere else in that state and to its determination, any other state in the union.

The National Rifle Association is quite a prominent lobbying group in Washington. It employs approximately 50 people, has an annual budget of approximately $100 million and in the Congressional elections in 1992 spent $1.7 million on candidates favourable to its position.

There is no way the Americans will be able to strengthen their gun control laws significantly in light of that kind of lobbying and force opposed to them.

We just have to look at the Brady bill. Mr. Brady was shot at the same time as President Reagan, a very valued and admired public servant in the United States on the staff of the President of the United States. He was impaired for life. He and his wife worked tirelessly to bring forward a bill for stronger gun control. The bill he wanted was one stronger than the one eventually passed, but it was only through the force of personality and the type of people Brady and his wife were that they were able to get that bill at all.

Congress in the United States now wants to roll back some of the advantages and some of the things obtained in the Brady bill. I credit President Clinton when he says that under no circumstances would he allow that to happen and he would veto any such measures. That is not democracy. That is not allowing the people of the United States to choose.

We in Canada do not have that kind of force opposed to the free will and to the ability of Canadians to make their decision. It is getting more difficult. The structured opposition is becoming stronger. If Canadians want stronger gun control it has to be now.

We want Canadians to decide. We want to have the bill go to committee. We want to have an intense study of the bill in committee. We are prepared to listen to witnesses, to members of Parliament and to make some changes to the bill.

The Minister of Justice said he wants to have the areas of black powder shooting, certified competitions and antiques looked at and perhaps defined a little more clearly; perhaps changes made in these areas. He has also given an assurance to the Canadian Police Association with respect to penalties and the criminalization of non-registration. He wants that looked at. Those are very significant directions. I presume he will be giving further instructions to the committee when he appears.

He has also stated that when he appears before the committee he will give the breakdown and the background information on why he has stated the registration system will cost approximately $85 million. For those who are saying it will be $500 million, I am sure they will want to hear the minister's information. That is fair.

The previous speaker from the New Democratic Party said it has not worked before so why are we trying again. We are trying again because it has not worked before. We are trying to put in a registration system that can work. It is not because it is a registration system. The registration system will work because of advances in technology, a registration that will be-

Questions On The Order Paper March 31st, 1995

The firearms legislation of 1978, 1992 and the current legislative proposals have all introduced several different firearm control measures concurrently. As such, it is not possible for researchers and statisticians precisely to determine the extent to which specific control measures are or will be responsible for reductions in violent crime and increases in public safety in Canada.

The following reports were produced for the Department of Justice Canada to provide the Minister of Justice and the government with background research and statistical information. These reports are available from the research and statistics directorate of the Department of Justice: "Firearm Ownership in Canada," 1991, by Angus Reid Group, Inc. (TR1991-8a); "Domestic Homicides Involving the Use of Firearms," 1992, by Dansys Consultants (WD1992-20e); "Gun Availability and Firearms Suicide," 1992, by S. Moyer and P.J. Carrington (WD1993-3e); "The Use of Firearms in Criminal Incidents in Toronto," September, 1994, by L. Axon & S. Moyer (WD1994-19e); "Review of Firearms Registration," 1994, by T. Wade and R. Tennuci of RES Policy Research Inc. (TR1994-9e); "Research on the Application of Section 85 of the Criminal Code of Canada," 1994, by C. Meredith, B. Steinke, and S. Palmer (WD1994-20e); "Firearm Statistics," October, 1994, by Kwing Hung, Department of Justice Canada.

Justice March 24th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the hon. member that under no circumstances would the government ever minimize the charter rights of any Canadian. The very strength of the country is in the charter. It will continue to be supported to every extent possible by the government.

Questions On The Order Paper March 17th, 1995

The firearms industry is substantial, especially when one considers related industries such as hunting. For example, the Canadian Wildlife Service (Environment Canada) reported that in the year 1991 over 1.2 billion dollars were spent by Canadians and Americans on hunting in Canada.

Firearms control is designed to be cost neutral. The measures introduced continue to respect the legitimate uses of firearms for sporting and recreational purposes.

Stricter firearm control measures are essential to public health and safety, and one cannot pub a price tag on the prevention of violence and the added security felt by Canadians.

Question No. 125-

The Budget March 14th, 1995

Madam Speaker, the hon. member for Burnaby-Kingsway asked a question of the Minister of Justice about the amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act in the House on December 9, 1994.

In reply, the Minister of Justice reiterated the commitment of the government to amending the Canadian Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. He also said the main point is this principle is undiminished and the issue of timing should not be the central concern.

On August 6, 1992 in a case brought under the equality guarantees of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Haig and Birch v. Canada, the Court of Appeal for Ontario ordered that the Canadian Human Rights Act must be read to include that ground as of that date and be administered accordingly. The Attorney General did not appeal the order to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The government views this as the current and correct state of the law. Thus, gay and lesbian Canadians can already file complaints with the Canadian Human Rights Commission should they find themselves refused a job or a service because of their sexual orientation. Complaints can be filed and the act's protection sought on this ground.

What is left is the very important symbolic act of making the Canadian Human Rights Act reflect the current state of the law. The amendment to which the government is committed would give Parliament the opportunity of bringing the act up to date. It will also bring the federal government into the ranks of the eight provinces and territories, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Yukon, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, which have already amended their human rights legislation to add the grounds of sexual orientation.

This government wants to add the federal laws against discrimination to the list of governments that have joined in this fight against discrimination and thereby assure Canadians of the same high standard of protection at the federal level.

Gun Control March 14th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is completely wrong.

As the Prime Minister has said, no minister in recent years has met more regularly and more diligently than the Minister of Justice, particularly on the gun control issue.

He used his whole summer to go from coast to coast to speak with Canadians, to inform them of what he intended to do, to get their feedback and to get information in order to prepare this piece of legislation.

No one could ask for more.

The Budget March 1st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, last December newspapers reported that a United States company had produced two highly destructive bullets; the black rhino, a plastic bullet allegedly capable of piercing armour and the rhino-ammo, a highly fragmenting bullet designed to cause maximum damage to human tissue.

Government officials have been in contact with U.S. officials and in fact the black rhino does not exist and technical experts highly doubt that an armour piercing plastic bullet could be produced.

As regards the rhino ammo bullets, the potential destructiveness was highly inflated and in fact they resemble hollow point bullets currently available in the United States markets and under limited conditions in Canada.

Armour piercing and exploding or incendiary cartridges are now prohibited in Canada and have been since October 1, 1992 under prohibition order number 10. The possession, sale or import of such ammunition is subject to Criminal Code penalties of up to 10 years.

I want to particularly address the question of the hon. member with respect to how ammunition is to be purchased. To purchase ammunition, it will be required to have the registration certificate once the registration certificate period of five years ending December 31, 2003 has elapsed.

Until then everybody may not have a registration certificate. In the interim, where possible it will be the requirement to provide another certificate, a driver's licence or perhaps a firearms acquisition certificate. This is yet to be determined exactly but there will be requirements.

This will be brought forward and stipulated in the regulations.