Mr. Speaker, I would have thought after all the debacles the Liberal government has been through in the past that maybe, during the debate on something as important as the rights of law-abiding citizens and their property, there would be someone in the Liberal Party who would actually know what they were talking about when they got up to speak. Virtually everything we just heard from the previous member is untrue, and unqualifiedly untrue, because it simply reflects a complete lack of knowledge of how the current system actually works.
I am proud to be a member of a political party, the Conservative Party, which, under former prime minister Stephen Harper and the previous minister, brought to this House in the previous Parliament the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act. I can tell everyone why that was so important. What my hon. colleague over there does not understand is that in no other jurisdiction in Canada does someone need to have a licence for the privilege of owning property. This has nothing to do with the use of a firearm or the deployment or activities pertaining to it, but is a licence to possess and acquire only.
We could go anywhere in Canada and buy a car, a house, or any other piece of property and would not need a licence to do so. The fact that a licence and the licensing requirement for firearms owners is already in place is a precedent. All that this bill by my hon. colleague from Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies seeks to do is to keep law-abiding citizens from becoming arbitrary criminals because of bureaucratic delays.
One of the things the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act did was to provide a grace period of up to, I believe, six months on the expiry of a possession acquisition or possession-only licence, and it merged the possession-only and possession acquisition licences into a common one. It made things easier for the police when it came to enforcing the laws with regard to background checks and the authorizations to transport. The Liberal government has already gone back on this to a paper system, despite the fact we had the ability, through the Canadian Police Information Centre, to have this digitally. Indeed, the police officer would have had the information instantly on an authorization to transport for any restricted firearm anyone had.
However, no, we are going to go back to the old ways, the old ways where the Liberals hide behind institutions. They love institutions. Over here on this side of the House, we trust in Canadian citizens and in their ability to make decisions that are best for themselves, and we trust law-abiding firearms owners. I grew up in the countryside, where if a police officer were in trouble, my friends and neighbours would come to the aid of the police officer. These are the kinds of people who own firearms in my community—farmers, hunters, sport shooters, patriotic Canadians who love the sport or need that tool for their way of life. These are not criminals.
I have a big news flash for everyone on the other side of the House: laws only pertain to law-abiding citizens. The more onerous we make the laws, and if we create laws that artificially make criminals out of people, we are not doing justice to anyone.
Here is the problem with what the Liberals are doing. Basically, they are now going back to hiding behind the RCMP. Now, I love the RCMP. What an iconic symbol it is for our country. I love the men and women on the front lines of the RCMP who serve and protect us every day. In fact, a member of the Abbotsford police force gave up his life on Monday. They are salt of the earth hard-working people, and virtually every RCMP officer I know likes hunting, and is maybe a firearms enthusiast. Most of them would disagree with the opposite side's notion that they should be voting against this piece of legislation.
A few years ago, I followed what was prescribed on the firearms site maintained by the RCMP. It said that if someone's possession acquisition licence were about to expire, the person should fill out a renewal at least six months beforehand. I had to go through the exact same process I had gone through in the first place to renew the licence. In that time frame, I was at the mercy of the whims of the RCMP bureaucracy to process my renewal. Guess what happened? That renewal did not come back within the six months.
The day after my birthday that year, I was automatically a criminal, through no fault of my own, after following the advice of the RCMP. I had firearms and ammunition in my possession that I had lawfully purchased, while I had a valid possession and acquisition licence. Simply because the bureaucracy did not return my possession acquisition licence renewal, I was an automatic criminal. If anything had happened to me, or if my house had been robbed, or if I wanted to go hunting and something happened or someone stole a firearm from my vehicle, I would have been in serious trouble, potentially criminal trouble, for doing something I did every hunting season.
Every time I go out to my parents' property to do varmint control, or whatever the case might be, I am a law-abiding Canadian citizen. I have no intent whatsoever of being in violation of the law. However, the law made a criminal of me. This is wrong. This is no different than the Liberals changing their minds and moving away from their elected responsibilities as members of Parliament and members of an executive branch of government through orders-in-council. They are now letting the RCMP, again, with a stroke of a pen, change regulations pertaining to firearms in our country, rather than taking the political responsibility and the decision for themselves on the advice of the RCMP.
I love this legislation because it simply suspends someone. It is not a complicated thing to understand. If a person's licence is suspended, it cannot be used, but the person does not have to go back and start the process all over again. Updating information every 10 years is no different than providing the same information again in an application. It just avoids the rigamarole. It is not a complicated concept to figure out. We do it for a passports now. The precedent is set for government-issued IDs for 10 years to be valid. What is so complicated about that? Is it just the love of bureaucracy and creating jobs in the bureaucracy that the Liberals admire and adore so much?
This is an attack on law-abiding citizens. I will remind the House that no one in Canada wants to see any type of violent crime. This issue is not about violent crime; it is about law-abiding Canadian citizens and is another attack or assault on their rights.
Bill C-346 would amend the Firearms Act to eliminate the expiry of firearms licences within the mandatory provision that the licence holder updates the relevant information every 10 years. In the government's mind we cannot have that. We need to have it every five years and start the process all over. God forbid if one's licence expires, as he or she will immediately be a criminal. What is so complicated about this?
It simplifies and streamlines a process. People have already been vetted and if their licences have been revoked in some way, they would know that, because 365 days a year, the RCMP, through the Canadian police information centre, and the CPIC database, would have verified and validated every Canadian firearms licence owner. If something was flagged through either a trial or court decision that someone's firearms licence should have been revoked or the person lost his or her privileges, the RCMP or the local police force would remove the licence from the individual and take he or she off. That is how someone who is in trouble is flagged, not by going through an application process all over again.
If people's licences are suspended, they cannot buy or sell their firearms or buy any ammunition. What an incentive to actually get the paperwork done in that 10-year period, to get the information into the police, and have the licences returned from the suspended mode. People should be able to turn their licences in at any point in time. This bill makes it easy for people who realize they no longer need their firearms licences to hand them in and be done with them. That is how the process should be stopped.
This bill is full of common sense. Obviously, anyone voting against it has none.