House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was firearms.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Yorkton—Melville (Saskatchewan)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 69% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Taxation June 17th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, family has always been important to me and I am thankful for the many blessings bestowed upon me and my wife. My four wonderful children, their spouses, and 12 grandchildren make me look forward to October 20 and a new chapter in my life.

Our Conservative government also values families and knows that they are the solid building block of our society. That is why we are supporting choice for parents who know best how to care for their children.

Giving $160 for children under six and $60 for children up to 17 years of age makes Canada the envy of most nations, but we are also giving solid support to seniors who, together with those parents with children, can split their income for tax purposes and save up to $2,000 per year.

If the Liberals or NDP were ever to be in charge, this would all disappear. I hope that all Canadians will realize what our Prime Minister and government have done and what is at risk in the next election.

I welcome some of my family to Parliament Hill today. I was elected 22 years ago because I wanted my children and grandchildren to have a better Canada to live in.

May God bless Canada.

Members not seeking re-election to the 42nd Parliament June 10th, 2015

Mr. Chair, I have not prepared a speech. I was walking down the aisle for our votes yesterday and it struck me how much I am going to miss the people that I am working with. I want to stand and thank them so much for the wonderful opportunities they have given me, the colleagues on my side, the colleagues on the other side that I have worked with. It has been just a tremendous experience.

I see some of my good friends sitting over on the other side and I appreciate some of the fond memories I have of being with them. I will have huge withdrawal symptoms. It is going to be a very difficult adjustment for me after 22 years to leave this place because I have so many memories. I have listened to the speeches here and they bring back so many memories, I cannot recount them all.

I will give members an idea of what has moulded my career here. I became a Christian when I was in university. It was a huge struggle for me. I was challenged to scratch below the surface on issues and I dabbled in many faiths. Finally, I had to make a decision. Scratching below the surface has defined my career here.

I was challenged shortly after I was elected by my constituents on the gun control issue. Some know my nickname is “Mr. Gun”, but I was challenged to scratch below the surface on that issue and the rest is history. I had never planned on that. I know very little about firearms and yet by scratching below the surface, I realized that $2 billion would be much better spent by putting 10,000 more policemen on the street if we are going to improve public safety. That is just the bird's-eye view of what has become almost a defining part of my career here.

I worked a lot on the abortion issue and again, I had to scratch below the surface. What is it that is in the womb of a woman? I had to look at that very carefully. There are so many other things that I have worked on and I always tried to take a principled approach. Many people have helped me in that and I want to thank them very, very much.

The opposition members are a key part of that because they challenge our thinking.

When I sat with the Prime Minister from 1993-97, we would be on duty and duty was not his favourite time, I must say. He was also one of those people who would really scratch below the surface. He is very intellectual. When he was trying to determine whether to run for the leadership of the party, he called me. I did not know what to advise him because, I have to be careful what I say here, but I did not know that he would be that good a Prime Minister at that point. He has turned out to be phenomenal from the person I did duty with way back then.

I want to conclude by thanking so many people. I thanked all of my colleagues here and all of the staff. I already rose on a statement a while back and thanked them. But I must emphasize that my wife, Lydia, needs so much thanks, and sympathy as well. I have been in almost every constituency in the country speaking on that issue and some constituencies on the east and west coasts more than once. She has been a political widow. For her to stay with me, I appreciate that more than she will probably ever know.

My family were all teenagers when I first started and we have one perk. That perk was free telephone calls home. I became closer to my children by that 10-minute call every evening. It was a huge commitment on my part, but it actually was a good thing. My wife has suggested that when I retire we should put a phone on her side of the bed and one on my side of the bed because we have talked more than we normally would have. I probably would not have talked to my children either as much as I did once I became an MP.

I have had terrific staff. The right people came and sought a job with me. Dennis Young and Elizabeth Nye were the first, but Sandy is one of the last ones now. They have made me look good and I really appreciate that. There was tremendous support there.

I must also thank my constituents and all the people who have worked on my campaigns over the years. Some of them are no longer on this earth, but they really have given me strong support. With every election my plurality has increased and after seven elections that is quite amazing, so I want to thank them for the wonderful faith they have shown in me.

I am starting to break up, so I think maybe that is a good time to conclude. I thank everyone so very much.

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act May 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the question has nothing to do with the common sense firearms licensing act.

However, let me say this, and I will tie it together with what we are debating today. We need to stop wasting resources on needless paperwork, which was one of the tragedies with the long gun registry. It was $2 billion going down a big black hole, and it did not accomplish anything.

We could instead use those resources to target the problems that we do have. Smuggling is a problem, and that is something that I agree with the member we need to take a look at. In fact, our government is doing just that.

When we have scarce taxpayer dollars, we have to ensure that we use them in the right way. Needless paper-pushing, which was what the old ATTs were, did absolutely nothing. It did not even inform the police of who had a firearms licence or who was transporting firearms.

I appreciate the question from the member because I think it ties in with what we are trying to accomplish here in government.

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act May 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member for Prince George—Peace River for taking on the co-chairmanship of the outdoors caucus. Members from all parties are a part of it, including the Green Party.

His job there will highlight the traditional heritage activities that we need to protect in Canada. There are people who are trying to destroy our heritage activities, and we need to defend them. I wish the member the best as he co-chairs the caucus. I am sure he will do a good job.

Who are we representing? It is probably between four and five million people who are looking to us for leadership on the file we have been debating today. That is a sizeable part of the Canadian mosiac. It indicates how many people are interested in our heritage outdoors activities. As an example, there are more people who fish than play hockey and golf together in Canada. It is these activities that we need to ensure are properly protected.

Hunting is enjoyed by many people, and we need to get more young people involved. The more that young people are involved in these outdoor heritage activities, the less involved they are in unhealthy activities. We need to promote these things. Young people can enjoy hunting, shooting, fishing and all of these outdoor activities.

I thank the member for this question. I think it strikes at the heart of why the Conservative Party represents a part of the population in Canada that the other parties would like to dismiss, and in fact fight against.

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act May 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's humour, but what he says is not funny. Nothing has changed. I do not know how many times I have to say this: the ATT that is part of the licence would not change any of the rules as far as transportation is concerned. It would change nothing.

The member should quit presenting false information.

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act May 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that question for the opportunity it gives me to clarify some of the misinformation out there.

We did consult far and wide. In fact, at committee, police organizations were invited to attend. When the member says that it is the unauthorized carry that concerns them, an ATT, as we have it in this legislation, does not allow people to carry a gun in an unauthorized manner. That is a completely false statement. The member is misleading the public.

The ATT, authorization to transport, that would become part of the licence, would not change any of the rules as far as gun owners being able to transport their guns. People would still have to have them locked up, doubly. Most people do not realize that they have to have trigger locks and the guns have to be in a locked case. To be sure, very often gun owners will also lock them in their trunk. Things would not change because of this common sense firearms licensing act.

I wish the member would withdraw the statement that she made. We consulted far and wide. There is nothing here that would compromise public safety.

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act May 29th, 2015

However, Mr. Speaker, it seems that the members opposite fail to understand that, as I have pointed out today in a few of their quotations.

However, it gets worse. Despite the objection, it is clear that both the NDP and the Liberals will bring back the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry should they ever get the chance.

The NDP leader said on December 3 of this past year:

I think that it is possible to provide the police with the tools to better protect the public and themselves by making sure they're able to follow every gun....

I have nothing against seeing honest farmers and duck hunters be able to have their weapons. But, you know, that honest hunter who goes out with his pickup truck, it's a registered pickup truck...the trailer's registered and the 4X4 is registered. Heck, his dog is registered.

[New Democrats] have confidence in the ability of farmers and duck hunters to fill out a form.

The Liberal leader has said he voted to keep the firearms registry. He said, “If we had a vote tomorrow, I would vote once against to keep the long-gun registry”.

It gets worse. The Liberal member for Trinity—Spadina said that he even drew a moral equivalency between hunters and jihadi terrorists. It would be unbelievable if it were not from the same party whose former justice minister said that he came to Ottawa firmly of the belief that only the police and military should have access to firearms.

The fact of the matter is that it is only our Conservative government, led by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety, who will stand up for the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

Approval for the bill is widespread. Let us listen to the former police officer from Saskatchewan, Murray Grismer, who said:

As a veteran police officer, master firearms instructor, and court-qualified expert, I am of the opinion changes to Bill C-42, the common-sense firearms licensing act, contrary to what others would have you believe, do not constitute a threat to public safety, nor do they inhibit a police officer from executing his or her duties. In fact, they enhance public safety and through the simplification of the licensing regime and ATTs greatly assist police officers in the execution of their duties, all done by the application of a little common sense.

Let us listen to Professor Gary Mauser, from Simon Fraser University, in British Columbia, who said:

I do not think that any of the changes in Bill C-42 would increase the danger to women or children through guns. At the present time, only 2% of accused murderers have any kind of firearms licence. That's a PAL, POL or the old FAC. So this is a very small group of people and nothing would change. ...gun ownership is subject to intense scrutiny to achieve a licence, and secondly, nightly to make sure that there are no restraining orders or any kind of offences committed overnight. Nothing in this bill would reduce that.

Greg Illerbrun, from the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, said:

...I understand that there are serious disconnects between the legitimate firearms users and those for whom the very mention of the word “gun” strikes unwarranted fear into their hearts. Sadly, this is the reality, which is continuously fuelled by a politically motivated and sensationalist media agenda.

Today's measures do represent common-sense improvement, and for that I thank you. Legitimate firearms owners are ready to get to work. We will help you foster the discussion and assist in creating a common-sense act that stops criminalizing the traditional lifestyle of legitimate firearms users in Canada.

Even the editorial board from the National Post was onside. It said:

...the Common Sense Firearms Licensing good news for responsible gun owners and good news, as the name suggests, for common sense.

[It shows that] it is possible to streamline the process of legally acquiring a firearm without reducing the already stringent controls on their ownership, and we welcome its...passage.

This is clearly a bill that is supported by a wide cross-section of Canadian society, and what is more important, it is good sound policy that will make Canadians safer, without needless red tape. It will make sure that the criminal justice system focuses on bad guys, not on ordinary folks who forget to fill out a form.

I could go on for much longer on this issue that is very close to my heart, but I see that my time is about to expire. I would like to leave members with one parting thought. At the core of the bill is Canada's outdoors culture. I am the outgoing chair of the all-party parliamentary outdoor caucus, and I am also a member of the Conservative hunting and angling caucus, the only party that has such a body.

Some members of the Liberals and NDP took debate on the bill as an opportunity to engage in a drive-by smear of outdoor enthusiasts, by saying that those who want to obey clear rules are part of “an American-style gun lobby”, as if we should hang our heads in shame at such a moniker. This is patently ridiculous, and it is offensive to the millions of Canadians who engage in hunting and sport shooting.

I want to quote Greg Farrant, from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. He said at committee:

Firearms owners in Canada are judges, lawyers, farmers, electricians, mechanics, plumbers, accountants, even federal politicians, many of in and represent urban ridings. They are not criminals. They are not gang members. Rather, they are lawful firearms owners who obey the law.

The laws as they are currently drafted discourage ownership of firearms and seek to bring about the end of hunting and sport shooting in Canada. We will never stand by and let this happen. Conservatives will always fight for respect for those who enjoy outdoor heritage activities. When the vote comes at third reading on the common sense firearms licensing act, I can assure everyone in this House that the firearms community will be watching, and they will take that into consideration during the events coming up this fall.

I look forward to answering any questions.

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act May 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to debate Bill C-42, the common sense firearms licensing act, which is in fact what it is.

This is a bill that is very important to my constituents and to the law-abiding firearms community across Canada. It is also a bill that is very important to me personally.

As members know, I will not be running again in the next election. As members also know, changes to our firearms laws to make them safe and sensible has been something I have worked on very hard during the time I have been in this place. I introduced almost half a dozen private member's bills to reduce needless red tape that had been heaped upon law-abiding gun owners over the years. I am pleased that many of the measures I have advocated for over the years have made their way into legislation introduced by ministers in our Conservative government.

Canadians are interested in the facts of what this common sense firearms licencing act will do and will not do.

This important point is something the NDP and Liberals seem to forget. This bill will make participation in the classroom component of the firearms safety training course mandatory, for the first time, for firearms owners. It will ensure that all those who join the rapidly growing ranks of the 2.2 million licensed firearms owners will have a common understanding of how to safely operate firearms.

What the bill will not do is allow “duck hunting with a machine gun capable of bringing down a MiG”. This is the shocking misinformation suggested by the NDP member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin.

What the bill will do is end needless paperwork for the authorization to transport restricted and prohibited firearms. This paperwork was not shared with law enforcement, or anyone for that matter. It was simply filed away in a drawer, never to be thought about again.

What the bill will not do, as the Liberal leader suggested, is “allow handguns and assault weapons to be freely transported in a trunk anywhere within a province, even left parked outside a Canadian Tire or a local hockey arena”. Members do not need to believe me. The non-partisan assistant deputy minister of Public Safety was asked about these comments and whether they were accurate. Her answer was simple and straightforward. She said, “no”.

I think the Liberal leader is cynically trying to scare Canadians, or he simply has no understanding of how firearms laws work in Canada. Either way, it is just another example that he is just not up to the job of leading.

The common sense firearms licensing act will also establish a six-month grace period for firearms owners so that they do not become criminals overnight when their licence expires. I was listening to the debate previously, and it was said that we get a notice for every other licence. However, we do not become criminals if we neglect to renew our driver's licence. It is very different with a firearms licence.

The NDP member for Newton—North Delta said:

For a gun owner it would still be perfectly okay for six months after one's licence expires. That would be legalized in this legislation. When my driver's licence expires, it expires on that date and I have to get it renewed beforehand.

While that is a correct statement, what she forgets is that if I forget to renew my driver's licence, I face about a $200 fine. If I forget to renew my firearms licence, I face many years in prison. It simply does not make sense. We need common sense, and that is what this bill is all about.

This bill will also merge the possession-only licence and the possession-and-acquisition licence. This technical-sounding change can be broken down very simply.

Approximately 600,000 experienced firearms owners did not want to comply with the Liberal firearms regime back in 1995. They did not want to jump through hoops, as they had owned guns for some time. Therefore, this category was created, but they were not allowed to buy new firearms.

This group averages about 60 years of age. They have all had their firearms in excess of 20 years. They are well trained in how to safely use firearms. Therefore, this change will be good for the economy, as this large group of people will be able to purchase firearms.

Let us listen to what Pierre Latraverse, of the Quebec hunters and anglers federation, had to say about this measure. He said:

It's a very positive measure, given that there will only be a single licence under these conditions. This is much more representative of what owning a firearm is like. Currently, there are two licences: a possession licence and a possession and acquisition licence. If you only have a possession licence, you cannot purchase firearms. You have to go through the system to buy a possession and acquisition licence. With the merger, a hunter won't have to go through the whole administrative process again to purchase another firearm.

The common sense firearms licensing act will also restrict the ability of chief firearms officers to make arbitrary decisions. Currently, section 58 of the Firearms Act gives authority to unelected bureaucrats that I do not believe exists anywhere else in law. Let me read this section. It says:

A chief firearms officer who issues a licence, an authorization to carry or an authorization to transport may attach any reasonable condition to it that the chief firearms officer considers desirable in the particular circumstances and in the interests of the safety of the holder or any other person.

Tony Bernardo, the executive director of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, rightly describe this section as creating “God powers” for the CFO. We will return elected officials to their rightful place as the overseers of bureaucrats.

I have talked a lot about measures that will reduce red tape. I would also like to talk about a measure that I find very important in the common sense firearms licencing act. That is the strengthening of firearms prohibition orders for those who have been convicted of domestic violence offences.

We believe that past behaviour is a good indicator of future results. Clearly, someone who has a serious conviction for domestic violence is volatile. We do not believe that firearms ought to be present in those types of situations.

The last measure in the bill I would like to touch on is the ability of elected officials to overturn decisions of the Canadian firearms program regarding classification. We all recall the decision of the Canadian firearms programs to attempt to ban two firearms that had been sold in Canada for well over a decade. In fact, by the stroke of a bureaucrat's pen, thousands of Canadians were turned into criminals overnight, probably without their knowledge. This was without consulting the Minister of Public Safety or his staff, without consulting the public safety committee, and without consulting anyone.

It is clear that this is unacceptable. That is why we are creating this measure. It is why, as soon the bill receives royal assent, we will move to restore the classification of the Swiss Arms family of rifles and the CZ858 to its previous non-restricted status.

As many of my colleagues have said through the course of this debate, it is about culture. There are 2.2 million Canadians who are licensed firearms owners, many in Toronto, despite what some people here think, and an estimated four million Canadians, partake in hunting, fishing, trapping, or sport shooting. I will repeat that: four million Canadians participate in these things.

Why is that? It is because these activities are part of our shared Canadian heritage.

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act May 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to what my colleague across the way had to say. It was very light on the facts. In fact, most of what he said was factually incorrect.

He said that we are relaxing the rules. We are not relaxing any of the rules. Public safety is not being compromised. He said that it will be easier to transport. That is totally false. The rules we have in place today will still be in place after the bill is passed. He said that the police will not know where someone is going. They today do not check the authorization to transport. They do not get that information, so that will not change.

He may not realize that in some provinces, like British Columbia, one's authorization to transport is good for three years, the same as what we are implementing now. It will become part of a licence. That is not changing. However, there is a huge discrepancy across the provinces as to how this is implemented.

He said that firearms owners will get a notice that their firearms licence has expired. Today over half of firearms owners do not get that notice. That is a very serious thing. Therefore, in the six-month grace period, if they go to buy ammo, they will realize that their licence has expired, because they will not be able to buy ammunition or go hunting.

So much of what the member said is completely misleading. He does not know what he is talking about.

Eligibility is reviewed daily. One does not need to renew one's licence. Whether one should have a gun is reviewed every night.

Free Votes May 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I am struggling to understand how what this member is saying relates to the motion. I hope he will at some point make it clear how he is suggesting that these are matters of conscience.