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Track Ralph

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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is national.

Liberal MP for Regina—Wascana (Saskatchewan)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 55% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Firearms Act June 19th, 2018

Madam Speaker, again, let me repeat the record of what the House has gone through with respect to Bill C-71. The bill got six hours of debate at second reading. It was then referred to the standing committee. The standing committee held five full meetings to receive evidence and hear witnesses; the members in fact heard 26 witnesses. Then they went into clause-by-clause for three further meetings, and they adopted three amendments to the legislation.

Now the bill comes back to the House for report stage and third reading. It was debated for several hours last night. That debate will now go on for five more hours at report stage. It will then go on for five more hours at third reading. That will result in a very ample opportunity for members to participate in the discussion and put their views on the record. The issues before Parliament require that we debate and discuss things, but they also require that at some point we take a decision and vote.

Firearms Act June 19th, 2018

Madam Speaker, the commitment that was made in our platform was loud and clear that there would be no federal long-gun registry and there is none.

The provision in the legislation that the hon. gentleman is referring to results from a legal and constitutional quagmire that was created by the previous government in the way that it dealt with instructions that came to the previous government from the Information Commissioner. The Conservatives were into a knock-down, drag-out fight with the Information Commissioner about the way that they were handling the long-gun registry long before the election and long before our government came into place.

We were stuck with a mess that we inherited from that crowd and we entered into negotiations with the Information Commissioner to stop the litigation, to stop the constitutional dispute, and to put the law of the country back on an even keel. We are doing that through this legislation, but we are not, I repeat, we are not, creating a federal long-gun registry.

Firearms Act June 19th, 2018

Madam Speaker, this takes me back to the work of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security which did a very conscientious job in looking at this legislation. Obviously, as members have reflected in the House today, this is a subject that provokes strong emotions on one side of the case or the other side of the case and it is perfectly legitimate and proper that those varying perspectives be brought to the floor of the House of Commons and brought to the standing committee for proper debate and discussion.

The discussion at committee was very thorough. There were five meetings to hear evidence and receive briefs. Twenty-six witnesses were called. The committee then went into clause-by-clause consideration and spent three more days dealing with Bill C-71 clause by clause. In the course of that, the committee adopted three very useful amendments. One enhances the process of background checks. One deals with the authorizations that are required with respect to the verification of licences on purchases. That one, incidentally, came from the NDP and it was a very useful amendment to expedite that process.

The committee did its work. It studied the bill and reflected on what needed to be improved. It made those improvements and we are now at report stage and soon at third reading.

Firearms Act June 19th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the question, and the first part of the answer is that the transportation authorizations that are required under the legislation apply only to restricted and prohibited weapons. They do not apply to ordinary hunting rifles or other kinds of weapons that fall in the category of non-restricted. That is a fact.

The transportation requirements relate only to restricted and prohibited weapons. In the administration of that procedure, which will apply to the transportation of maybe 5% of firearms in total, the officials who will be in charge of the administration of the transportation authorizations, in fact, understand that service to customers is exceedingly important, that Canadians who will be operating under the terms of the legislation will be expecting that their requests for transportation authorizations will be dealt with in a conscientious and expeditious fashion. That is a reasonable expectation on the part of Canadians. The officials administering that provision under this law have an obligation to provide a high standard of service.

Firearms Act June 19th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I fundamentally disagree with the premise of the hon. member's question.

The issue of it being a registry or not was very thoroughly discussed in the parliamentary committee. I would note the member for Red Deer—Lacombe, a member of the Conservative Party, said in committee, “Everybody at this table agrees that this is not a registry.” That is very clear, on the record, in the committee. Indeed, the committee went a step further and it adopted an amendment. The amendment says:

For greater certainty, nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to permit or require the registration of non-restricted firearms.

That is embedded in the law. That amendment was accepted unanimously in the parliamentary committee. It was proposed by a Conservative.

It is abundantly clear that this phony fiction from the Conservatives that this somehow amounts to a registry in any way, shape, or form is completely, utterly, and absolutely false.

Firearms Act June 19th, 2018

Madam Speaker, indeed a very substantial amount of time has been taken. I would remind hon. members that the content of Bill C-71 was included in the election campaign of 2015 in great detail. The proposals were laid out in the election platform. That was the subject of a complete campaign, and in fact endorsed by Canadians in general as a result of the election.

In terms of the legislation now specifically before the House, which reflects very faithfully what was in the campaign platform, we tried to call this bill twice at second reading and ran into parliamentary shenanigans which delayed or diverted the discussion onto something else so we could not get to this subject matter. When we were finally able to get to the subject matter, there were six hours of debate at second reading. Then the bill went to committee. There were five meetings in the committee. There were 26 witnesses. There were three more meetings to deal with clause-by-clause consideration. Three amendments were adopted.

Now there will be five more hours of debate at report stage and five more hours of debate at third reading. That will provide ample opportunity for members of Parliament to reflect their views and the views of their constituents.

Firearms Act June 19th, 2018

Madam Speaker, the legislation was very thoroughly discussed in a committee of this House, and I want to thank the public safety and national security committee for the good work it did. It heard a great many witnesses, 26 altogether. It held five meetings, and had three further meetings to deal with clause-by-clause consideration of the bill. The committee amended the legislation in three specific ways. In fact, an amendment from each of the parties was successful in getting through that process. That reflects a very conscientious effort on the part of members of Parliament, not only in this House but in the committee, to listen to witnesses such as the chief referred to by the spokesman for the official opposition and to respond accordingly. Parliament has done its job in a very effective way.

National Security Act, 2017 June 18th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, we have addressed that issue in two ways. First is by clarifying the rules within the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act to give more direction and more instruction to the agencies about how they properly share information, to try to get rid of the vagueness, to establish what the thresholds are, and to ensure it is being recorded and reported on both ends of the equation, those who are giving the information and those who are receiving it, to make the process more understandable by the people who are involved in it, and in fact producing a set of guidelines for how to share information properly.

The second step that is important is in the review process, under the umbrella of the national security and intelligence review agency. That review process has jurisdiction over all the agencies. It is not limited to one particular agency. It has the authority to examine the activities of every department and agency of the Government of Canada that has anything to do with national security or intelligence. That review process will be able to track very carefully whether and how information is being shared properly.

National Security Act, 2017 June 18th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, so much of this discussion sometimes tends to get polarized, where the focus is either exclusively on one side of the equation or the other. Unfortunately, that happened in spades in the course of the last election campaign. There were some political voices arguing exclusively that the legislation needed to get tougher and other political voices arguing it needed to get weaker. Quite frankly, when we asked Canadians on the street, they said that they did not want either of those two options.

Canadians actually wanted both of those values together. They wanted to know that the legislation on national security and intelligence was good, strong legislation that gave our security agencies the tools they needed to keep Canadians safe. At the same time, they wanted transparency and accountability, and they wanted their rights and freedoms to be safeguarded. That was what we were looking for through the whole process of putting this legislation together, to get that mix right.

It was not so much a balance, because a balance implies a tradeoff, one against the other, and Canadians were saying that they wanted both together. They wanted us to give them legislation that would protect their rights and freedoms and at the same time keep them safe. On the basis of the vast majority of the input we received, I think we have the mix right and we achieve those two objectives simultaneously.

National Security Act, 2017 June 18th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, as the legislation now says, they are no longer ministerial directives. In fact, after the passage of Bill C-59, and the inclusion of part 1.1, they become orders in council of the government in total, which has the full force and effect of the law.

The language was adopted the way it was to ensure that our police and security agencies would have the capacity to take action when they believed the lives of Canadians were at risk. If information becomes available to CSIS or the RCMP, which they believe is credible, and indicates that the lives of Canadians are imminently in danger, Canadians would expect their government to authorize their security services to act on that information to save Canadian lives. That is why it is written the way it is.