I also want to start by expressing, on behalf of all of us, my condolences to Jim's family. I want to share something with this committee before I get into the substance.
I had the chance to speak to Jim on Thursday after his bill was sent to third reading. He said something that I wanted to share with everyone, because it was actually about us. Jim said that, among his parliamentary experiences, working with this committee was one of his greatest joys. He went on to say that it was because we had managed to figure out how to do complicated things together.
In the spirit of that, I am channelling what Jim said to me: “I know it's tough, but you guys are going to get this done together.” I just wanted to share that with everybody. I think that's been a guiding principle for a lot of us in this committee. We've had our differences in how we've come up with things and come through things, but I think it's an important message for us to reflect on as we go into the holidays.
I want to thank my colleagues from the Bloc and the NDP for signing the 106(4) and for all of us coming together to do that. I think it's an important step. I think it channels a bit of what Jim would have wanted us to do.
We've said from the beginning that Canadians deserve to feel safe in their communities. We've also said that we want to make sure that hunters, farmers and indigenous communities are not affected in that process. There have been a lot of conversations in the last few weeks about how best to protect Canadians from gun violence. It's an emotional and complicated issue. A lot of people are counting on us to act in the right way to help prevent gun violence and to make sure we're taking dangerous weapons off the streets.
There's been a lot of discussion about the amendments to Bill , and rightly so. I think this, of course, would create the standard legal definition for what constitutes an assault-style firearm. The definition of an assault-style firearm is a complex, technical endeavour. It's not really something that lends itself to broad generalizations, which is how we seem to want to do politics these days. The gun community, gun control advocates and Canadians of all political stripes have asked for a clear definition so that everyone knows which side of the line they are on.
There's been a lot of misinformation and confusion around this amendment that was presented to the committee. A lot of people have taken advantage of what is not known by others to fan outrage. There's also a lot of misinformation from people who just don't know. I personally had a couple of people reach out to me who said, “Listen, I have this particular gun. I'm concerned that it is now banned.” I went back, checked for them and was able to reassure them that it was not. We don't all have that luxury. I think we need to find a way to make sure that we are able to reassure people of whether or not their guns are going to be on this list.
I think the most important part of this is making sure that we're hearing voices that feel they haven't been heard, so we can hear different points of view to help make this better legislation and dispel some of the myths—and, frankly, so that we can do our job, if we can, to improve this legislation and make it even better. When it comes to working through those guns that are on this list that perhaps should not have been, then we should have those conversations together.
I think before us is a motion that allows us to do exactly that. I think this, if passed, will give us the opportunity to hear from new witnesses, which I think is critical. It allows us to consult broadly and take down the temperature. I think we all want to do that. It allows us to listen to different perspectives and actually have a healthy discussion based on facts.
Now, that said, we've heard from a lot of witnesses already. We've had hours of testimony from government officials. They have sought to dispel misinformation or concerns about certain guns with technical expertise. We may not have liked their style, but they did a really good job of going through the guns that people thought were on the list but that actually weren't. They clarified that for Canadians to give people the comfort that their guns were not caught on this list.
What I would suggest, humbly, is that we use this motion to really narrow down our discussions and iron out the specifics of the amendment. Let's call on people who are informed as to how amendment G-4 will impact the public. Let's try not to get lost in partisanship. Let's actually make sure Canadians have the facts they need. Let's do it in a way that allows voices that have not been heard to be heard. I think that's really important.
I know all of my colleagues and I are committed to working collaboratively to make sure that no guns that are commonly used for hunting are captured within the proposed amendment. We have always said that the goal of this is to target assault-style weapons and not hunting rifles.
I know it's going to take work. I know we have to find ways to bridge the gaps together, but we are committed to doing that work together. We are committed to making sure that we pass a good bill to protect Canadians and get guns off the streets that need to be taken off the streets, and that hunters, farmers and indigenous communities do not find themselves unreasonably impacted by this.
I think we can do it. We have a track record in this committee of getting stuff done. I really think that if we can pass this motion today and get on with the work of ensuring that we get this bill right, Canadians will look to us and accept...I think they will respect the fact that we had healthy debate and we had disagreement, but we got something over the finish line that would protect Canadians from gun crime and protect hunters, farmers and indigenous communities and their ability to go and hunt.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I'm glad to be able to offer remarks on my Bloc colleague's motion today. Conservatives were, unfortunately, not able to put any words on the record last week. However, I was quite impressed that Mr. Noormohamed was able to talk for two solid hours last Thursday. That was, by all parliamentary accounts, quite impressive. Well done.
However, it limited our ability to weigh in on this and ask experts further questions. I was hoping to ask them a number of things. Hopefully, we'll have the opportunity again.
I appreciate Ms. Michaud trying to find a pathway forward here.
To address some of the things she said in the last committee meeting, when she put forward her first effort to do that, my main issue with it was that we would have had to go in camera. That means it would have been in secret and beyond the public's ability to view what we would have done. That means, ultimately, that we would have come out of a secret meeting with a plan forward for something that impacts 2.3 million gun owners, and I don't think that's the best approach.
I'm very glad we have the opportunity today to speak about this in public. I would have appreciated the opportunity to review the letter. There is the possibility that we may have signed on to it, as the Conservative team, as well. We're not opposed to more witnesses. In fact, what we would like to see is considerable consultation on this historic long-gun ban that impacts hundreds, if not thousands, of models of commonly used hunting rifles.
Something that's really important for the committee to remember is that the only consultation the Liberal government can currently point to in this regard is from 2018, when they went to Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Fredericton, which are all phenomenal cities with phenomenal Canadians in them. However, I think you'd agree, Mr. Chair, that there aren't a lot of farmers there. The density of hunters is likely not as high as in, say, rural Quebec, rural Manitoba, Nunavut or the Northwest Territories. I feel that the main consultation they did on gun control falls very short of the rural and northern constituencies that should be represented at the table.
It's been widely established by the National Post, CBC and CTV that there are numerous commonly used long guns on this ban list that are used for hunting and as protection tools for livestock by farmers and the like. We could also talk about the conservation aspect of this. That's been widely recognized and established. There are countless examples of that.
In fact, the National Post today had an article about a lot of misinformation from the government. They really break down the misinformation. I agree with Mr. Noormohamed that there has been misinformation in this. I believe, contrary to his point, that a lot of it is coming from the Liberal government, which for weeks said, “This isn't a hunting rifle ban; this does not impact commonly used rifles.” Of course, now we know it does.
The SKS is a perfect example of this. It's one of the most popular hunting rifles in Canada. It was used in the 1940s. About 70 or 80 years ago, it was used as a military tool, and now it is commonly accepted as a hunting rifle. I guess what they're trying to say is that anything that's ever been used, perhaps even going back to muskets and the Civil War, should be banned in Canada.
I think a lot of hunters.... As it has been established, there are so many long guns that are so common. We're talking classic, wood stock hunting rifles being used that will be banned by this. That's the problem we're coming down to. I don't necessarily see a path forward.
The came out last week and said he will—I'm paraphrasing; this is not his verbatim quote—absolutely not be adjusting the definition in the semi-automatic context. That is one of the biggest problems.
Something the committee may have missed—to Mr. Noormohamed's credit, he asked this question—is that the civil servants who were here made it very clear that the list, which is about 300 pages long, is made up of firearms that fall under the OIC from May 2020 and the ban criteria there. They have 10,000 joules and a 20-millimetre bore diameter. That's what's in those 300-odd pages, with several hundred firearms. In there, 480 of them are brand new. That's what's causing all the uproar.
What people don't understand, and it was confirmed in the last committee meeting, is that the list is actually going to be thousands of models of firearms long, because the semi-automatic definition.... The bureaucrat from the last meeting confirmed that there is not a list that outlines how many firearms there are. That is not encompassed in the hundreds of pages that hunters have been able to see.
Again, Canadians who are impacted by this don't even realize that of the firearms that are being banned, actually thousands more models will be banned. There are so many semi-automatic hunting rifles with magazine capabilities that don't meet the 10,000 joules and don't have the 20-millimetre bore diameter. Those are countless more hunting rifles that we don't even have a list for yet.
That was quite a shocking development. The list that's this big is likely going to be this big. This is just really what we feel is the beginning. They're opening the door.
Of course, a lot of the firearms on that list are lever action, break action and bolt action. A number of those are caught up in this. There are obviously classic hunting rifles as well.
We just feel that with the approach so far, there has been misinformation. Of course, we feel that the government has been leading on that. Even the gun control community has said that they're very disappointed with the government's communication on this.
When we're talking about the witness testimony in particular, while I appreciate the effort, I do feel that with two meetings, we might as well not even have meetings. Two meetings do not even cover the indigenous communities that deserve to be at the table. Remember that we have Métis, first nations and Inuit and we have various regional differences for various indigenous cultures. There are very different issues from region to region. If we're going to even adequately represent the indigenous communities, we would need more than two meetings for those alone, let alone hunting, wildlife and angling associations and conservation associations.
Gun shops have been absolutely hammered. This would be the third gun ban they've had to deal with in two and a half years. These are mom-and-pop shops, for the most part. If you take Cabela's out of the mix, all of these are run by families, especially in rural and remote communities. They have been absolutely hammered. We need them represented as well. Of course, there are gun ranges that are widely used by police in the areas as well. Those are privately owned. Those are being hammered by this.
We also have heirloom collectors and World War II enthusiasts who collect memorabilia from the various world wars. We should have them at the table. We've seen the CBC coverage talking about the heirloom aspect of impacting Remembrance Day. A number of the cannons and some of those antique World War I rifles will be banned under this. Of course, there are a lot of Remembrance Day ceremonies and other re-enactments that happen in this country that are very important for remembrance purposes and for honouring how much Canadians sacrificed and what they experienced, to give Canadians a bit of an education of what that was like. They're being targeted by this as well, so they should be at the table. Perhaps we should have various Legions at the table, for example, or at least one.
We also have the Premier of the Northwest Territories coming out and saying that if this passes, people will starve in her community because they use legitimate tools, which are being banned, to feed their families. We have a premier in this country saying that if this passes, people are going to starve in the north. She should absolutely be here, and so should other first nations or Inuit communities in the north as well.
The governments of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta are expressing great dismay about this. Perhaps we should have folks from their various levels of government come out.
I think I mentioned conservation as well. What is the impact on those with hunting licences and other licensing fees? What is the decrease going to be in that regard? We know that a lot of the conservation efforts in Canada are a result of those fees. What impact is that going to have?
We also know that rural and northern communities really depend, in many parts, especially indigenous communities.... Often there will be guides for hunters and often they're American hunters. We have hunting tourism in this country, particularly from the Americans, who will often bring semi-automatic rifles, which will be banned now. The Americans pay tens of thousands of dollars to come here, enriching local, northern and rural communities and indigenous guides. What's going to happen to that source of income? Are the Americans going to see that this is the third ban and they are just not going to bother?
What's that going to mean for areas like Timmins, Ontario, northern Manitoba and other communities where there are prime fly-in hunting lodges and outfitters that really provide the ability to have resources and economies in areas where other industries aren't booming?
I've just outlined a few, Mr. Chair. They're certainly not exhaustive. The idea that we can fit in even half of what I just mentioned in two meetings is impossible.
What's really frustrating for us as Conservatives is that this work should have been done by the Liberal government and their vast resources. As you know, Mr. Chair, this is now the committee's fourth week talking about this. We're going to have to go back and sort of flip-flop through this backwards in this committee process because they didn't do their homework.
Now they're sort of turning it around and saying they'll do it in two meetings. So we have two meetings. We barely scratch the surface of the people who are impacted by this ban—again, the largest hunting rifle ban in Canadian history. We barely scratch the surface.
For people who don't know, two meetings, as you know, Mr. Chair, are about 12 witnesses. I don't think 12 witnesses are nearly enough.
We feel that any suggestion that two meetings are adequate.... I'm going to say that I do feel that it is offensive to the people who are going to be impacted by this. It does not give them the dignity of having a seat at the table, and, like I said, it does not even represent the indigenous communities who need to be at the table, let alone everybody else.
We could not and we will not support two meetings under any circumstance.
Now, recognizing that as many meetings as the Conservatives would want would likely not be supported by all parties, I would say 50 meetings would be adequate, given that's the consultation that should have been done across the country. They should have gone to Nunavut. They should have gone to the Northwest Territories, northern B.C. etc. I'd love to see them go to Churchill.
I'm going to propose a bit of a solution to this, and perhaps it will open up a bit of the discussion.
Again, one of the last points I'll make before I do that is that I mentioned something about the utility of semi-automatics in, I believe, our first committee meeting when the Liberals pulled this amendment. We've seen a number of people come forward who are saying the same thing I am, so it's not just me, Mr. Chair.
The NDP member for Nunavut—I'll give her so much credit—in question period talked about the polar bear threat in Nunavut and how the ban will impact people's safety against polar bears in Nunavut. That was something I raised first off in this discussion, which has not been widely recognized.
Just recently somebody sent me.... Do you remember that I talked about those wild boars? I don't know if committee members of other parties were aware, but I was just sent a video. There are 30-odd wild boars that attacked a group of hunters. Again, they are very fast. They have tusks. They can be very deadly and they do an all-out assault. These hunters are running away for their literal lives from these wild boars.
Again, I feel that we need to have expert testimony to explain the raw utility of having a semi-automatic hunting rifle, because there is one, Mr. Chair. I know this. I know hunters know this. I know farmers know this, and certainly northern Canadians are aware of this.
I don't mean to go on and on, but I have so much to say, and we weren't allowed to talk in the last week, but I will wrap it up.
I will move a subamendment here, Mr. Chair.
Before I do, I should have done this off the top—my apologies. I've been thinking a lot about Jim Carr. It was almost a year we had with him as the chair. When I first came on as vice-chair here, he was the chair. It was his first time chairing, and he did a really phenomenal job. I do have to say it was nice to come to work and to be on this committee.
We worked together for the first time on public safety. We were able to all sign onto a guns and gangs study, and it was pretty unheard of for all parties to agree to policy on guns and gangs. We also did an IMVE study, and we all came together on those. There were no dissenting reports. That is pretty impressive, and I credit a lot of that to Jim.
Mr. Chair, I know you will do a phenomenal job as well. I have full confidence in you, but I am going to miss him a lot. These have been quite emotional 24 hours for all of us.
In that spirit, much like Mr. Noormohamed, I am trying to put forward a good-faith amendment to this motion so we can open the discussion to something more reasonable and just underline that there is no way we will agree to two meetings. It will not do justice to this, so I'm going to put a proposal out there. People are welcome to counter-propose, but this is the proposal we're putting forward for discussion.
Within this amendment, Mr. Chair, when we were writing this, we thought about the rural and northern Canadians who need to be represented at the table and also how this committee has never travelled in the year that I've been vice-chair of it, so why not take this opportunity and do the homework the Liberal government should have done? I hope that we can come together on this and meet in the middle.
I don't have the amendment in front of me, Mr. Chair, so I don't know where exactly this would be placed, but likely it would start at “two consecutive meetings”, and it would say—
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Before I get into my remarks, I also want to add my voice to those of my colleagues about the late Honourable Jim Carr.
It's funny how your relationship with a person changes over your parliamentary career. Jim and I are both from the class of 2015. In the first Parliament I served with him—the 42nd—I was often doing battle with him, in his role as Minister of Natural Resources, because of pipeline projects, which negatively affect the coastal British Columbians I'm so proud to represent.
I got to know a more personal side of Jim as chair of this committee. I think you can summarize him as tough but fair, and a very kind-hearted person. I think the people of Winnipeg South Centre were very fortunate to have him as their representative. I know his prairie colleagues, from all parties, will miss him. If his family is watching this, all I can say is that I offer my sincere condolences. The parliamentary family is going to miss him.
Rest in peace, Jim. You were a great chair.
Mr. Chair, I know those are big shoes to fill, but you have our confidence. It's not an easy committee to manage. I think you will be the first to admit that.
Colleagues, we have now had six meetings, at this committee, for clause-by-clause, and we are still stuck on clause 1. We're still stuck on the very same amendment we were six meetings ago. That's hardly a tale of parliamentary efficiency, or an effective use of tax dollars. I think the Canadian public rightly understands that.
I haven't had a chance to put my voice on the record on this, so I'm going to ask colleagues to indulge me for a bit, because I have a few things I want to get on the record.
What I would like to say first is this: In politics, as in life, trust is easily broken, but it's extremely hard to repair. The way this amendment landed has, frankly, been a complete and total abuse of process. The reason why we're hung up here is because we, as committee members, with our limited resources—especially on the opposition side—are now being asked to do a tremendous amount of extra work on a bill that should have been done on the government side.
To land this amendment in our laps at the eleventh hour, after we completed witness testimony.... I had no chance whatsoever to tailor my committee strategy based on an amendment that will affect long guns. I will tell you this. The irony is that—because I know how important Bill was to this government—if this amendment hadn't been dropped at the eleventh hour, we would be having a very different conversation right now.
We would probably be talking about how Bill was sent off to the Senate, and we would be conducting important work on Bill . That's being held up by this mess of the government's own creation. Bill C-20 is an important piece of legislation that's going to create much-needed oversight, transparency and accountability in the RCMP and CBSA. That's something we've been talking about for seven years now.
I know there's frustration on all sides, but this was brought about by the government. It should have been anticipated, because it's like the Newtonian laws of politics: For every action, there's going to be an equal and opposite reaction.
I have to tell you that, correspondence-wise.... I have talked to colleagues from all parties, but some members of my caucus had not received one single piece of correspondence on Bill until this amendment dropped. Now, it's making up half their correspondence. The way it was rolled out is going to be a textbook example, for future generations, of what not to do when amending your own bill, of communication strategy, etc. The list is long.
I need to get on the record about how displeased I am, because I think it took for granted the important work we have been able to do at this committee.
To underline, Mr. Chair, just how egregious this was, as soon as the amendment came to our attention, I had my legislative assistant contact the Library of Parliament, because we wanted to get a sense of how amendment G-4 was going to impact firearms models. We also wanted to get a sense of how the scheduled list was going to compare with the May 2020 OIC. Our analysts, to their immense credit, produced a pretty amazing document. It was a very long Excel spreadsheet. However, they warned us that it was going to be incomplete, because they checked right away with the justice department and they confirmed that there was no such analysis to share with the Library of Parliament.
Here you have a government dropping this amendment in our laps, and its own department has not done an impact analysis. We're expected to suddenly take this work up with our limited resources as the opposition. That is a simple no-go.
In fact, Mr. Chair, I want to reference this, because when Bill was introduced on May 30, —I think it was in an exchange with reporters—made mention of an amendment they were thinking of bringing to the bill. This begs the question why the bill had to be introduced on May 30 if, already at that point, they were thinking of an amendment.
In the very first meeting we had, we had the minister for the first hour and we had departmental officials in the second hour. I have it right here, Mr. Chair. I asked the assistant deputy minister, Talal Dakalbab, in the last minute of questioning I had about the May 30 announcement of the amendment. I asked:
Can you inform this committee what specific section of Bill C-21 you're seeking to amend and what it is going to look like, so we have some heads-up notice on this?
His response was:
The only thing I could say is that you heard the same thing I did from the minister on TV. I can't comment any further on that one. I'm sorry about that.
An assistant deputy minister, on square one, at the very first meeting, was unable to comment on what was eventually going to be a huge amendment to a bill.
After that, given that the assistant deputy minister, a pretty high official in the department, was unable to provide details to me as a committee member—and I'm supposed to do my due diligence on a bill—and was unable to provide that information, I dropped it. I did that because there were other things in the bill—tangential things that I could see and comment on—that I had had the chance over the summer of this year to speak to my constituents about.
I made the effort this summer to visit the Victoria Fish and Game Protective Association. I had some very frank conversations with people about the handgun freeze and what that would mean, and I took their comments back with me to try to make some fixes based on that feedback. These are law-abiding constituents who simply want to be able to practise their sport.
At no time, Mr. Chair, did I talk to people about their hunting rifles or their hunting shotguns, because again, that wasn't in the bill. It was not defended by the during his second reading speech. I did not have the opportunity during questions and comments to ask the minister about that. I did not have the chance during my own second reading speech to talk about these things, because they were not in the bill. It is a complete abuse of process.
I have to say, I sit on three committees, and I've seen this happen in other committees, especially with consequential legislation. I'm going to cite Bill from the last Parliament. That was, of course, the amendments to our medical assistance in dying regime, which added track two for people whose death was not reasonably foreseeable.
In the debates on that, the first version of Bill included a continued prohibition for persons who had a mental illness as a sole underlying condition. The government even introduced a charter statement with Bill C-7, explaining why that prohibition should continue, because there was not enough knowledge and there were still some gaps in whether treatments would be effective.
What happened in that process, Mr. Chair, was that the Senate amended Bill C-7. They got rid of that prohibition and introduced a sunset clause, and then the government accepted it. They accepted it, so it became part of Bill C-7, and then they established a committee afterwards. Again, it put the cart before the horse so that we, as a committee, could study something that's already part of the law.
That's exactly what we are being asked to do at this committee. It is a proposed amendment to a very consequential bill and now we're being asked to do it after it's been proposed, again, having had no chance to speak to Canadians, having had no chance to speak to our constituents or any affected group. You can see why there's a strong reaction to this bill. The way it has been rolled out.... Honestly, I think I've said enough on that point.
I will also say that we've had some very helpful testimony from officials here, and they certainly have done their utmost—and I want to salute them—to walk this committee through many of the technical questions. The frustrating part of it is that they are limited to technical questions about the wording of the bill. If I want substantive questions answered about impacts, how this was developed or whether there are other options, they cannot speak to those parts of the questions.
There has certainly been a fair amount of misinformation, and I'll acknowledge, as Mr. Noormohamed has said, that some concerns out there about whether this make or model of shotgun will be on the list have been refuted. But, again, it goes to communication and rollout. The government should have done this from the get-go, to make the Canadian public understand exactly what its intention is.
The other thing, Mr. Chair, is that for some makes and models, after the May 2020 OIC was launched.... By the way, let's face it, the section of the Criminal Code that allows for those orders in council has been used by both Liberals and Conservatives, and we do have extreme policy lurches on both sides. For some people who might have owned a firearm that escaped the May 2020 OIC, afterwards they probably said, “My firearm is safe. The government didn't take it.” A lot of these are non-restricted firearms that are now being moved to prohibited. They're skipping a step: They're not even going into the restricted category; they're going straight to outright prohibited.
The government never explored other options. This is kind of the sledgehammer approach. There were never any other options explored. This could have been the homework that was so crucial to be done before the amendment was proposed. Could we have explored options such as tighter licensing requirements for semi-automatic firearms? I understand the concern that's out there. A semi-automatic firearm can discharge ammunition at a much faster rate than a lever action or a bolt action rifle can. I understand there are concerns and yes, there are some makes and models that have been used in horrible crimes. You could find a lot of non-restricted firearms that you could say the same thing about.
There's a requirement, Mr. Chair, for restricted firearms. Handguns all have to be registered. Did the government ever explore that as an option over the concerns that people have with some semi-automatic firearms? Again, we never had the chance to explore a middle ground here to find a compromise, and that's what we, as a committee, are now being forced to do.
There's another thing I want to put on the record, because I think last week's announcement by the Assembly of First Nations was a game-changer. For a government that has, in the seven years that I've been here, talked about how no relationship is more important than that with first nations, the unanimous resolution from the AFN should serve as a wake-up call.
I want to remind committee members that it was in the previous Parliament that we finally passed an act of Parliament to bring Canada's federal laws into harmony with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. If you look at some of the articles of the declaration, it says:
Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard.
Again, this goes to their relationship with the land, the resources that are on it, and the fact that hunting is not just something they do for fun. These firearms are tools and they provide for their families with them.
There are many other articles that establish that states, like the Canadian state, have a duty to consult whenever they are implementing changes that affect that relationship and affect the way indigenous peoples can practise their traditions on their lands. We're being asked to do the consultation after the fact.
If we look at the actual law that was passed in the previous Parliament, it states that under the act, the Government of Canada will work “in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples, [to] take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the Declaration”, as well as “prepare and implement an action plan to achieve the objectives of the Declaration”, and develop annual reports on the progress and submit them to Parliament.
I would submit to this committee that, given the overwhelmingly negative reaction we have seen from indigenous groups, that has not been done. In the House today, when a specific question was asked of about the AFN resolution last week, he mentioned that he had spoken to them. That's not consultation with indigenous peoples. I'm sorry, but it's not. You don't announce a policy—an amendment to a bill—and then consult. It happens the other way around. That was obviously not done.
The other thing I want to mention is that we know that Canada, as a state, has a duty under the UN declaration. I don't think that has been met in this case. We haven't had a charter statement issued. I know that for the previous bill, Bill , which was introduced in the 43rd Parliament, the government introduced a charter statement.
Given how expansive this amendment to the bill is—the fact that it is widening the net of what's going to be impacted—I would submit, Mr. Chair, that a charter statement is also needed for this additional section. I don't think a charter statement requirement for this amendment nor compliance with the declaration has been met.
There's been talk about the number of witnesses we need. I absolutely think two meetings are not enough. I think 20 might be too high.
As we've approached this meeting, I've been wondering, what if this had been a stand-alone piece of legislation? If felt so strongly about this amendment that he had taken the time to make his case in a 20-minute second reading speech, where we would have 10 minutes of questions and comments to ask him about that and where he could stand in the House to defend why this is a strong idea and why it should be passed in principle and sent to the committee, if that had been the case, then I expect we would have allocated the same number of meetings to such a substantive expansion of firearms legislation as we did to Bill and Bill .
I would land on eight as a minimum. With eight meetings, I believe we would land somewhere in the neighbourhood of 60 witnesses. You'd have to check my math.
We would want to hear from many of the witnesses we've already had on Bill , because again, we never had the chance to ask them about the impact on long guns. We would want to hear from as many indigenous groups as possible. At a bare minimum, we're talking about the Assembly of First Nations, the Métis National Council and ITK representing the Inuit up north. I know there's been mention of a premier. We want to hear from many of the provincial indigenous groups, as well.
We never had the chance to talk to the various police forces that were here about what their opinion is about this. In their experience in law enforcement, is this a massive problem? Is the way this amendment is worded going to help them do their job, etc.? The answer to that might be yes, but we never had a chance to get that on the record.
I would want to have people from my own riding. I was talking with a constituent today on the phone. He's owned firearms for most of his life. He's just bewildered by the fact that his firearm is suddenly appearing on this scheduled list. All he wants to do is have his firearm to be able to go out and hunt. He's ex-military. He knows how to handle a firearm.
It goes to the fact that we've never had the chance, as representatives—in our own ridings and across this country—to talk to people. I understand the intent behind the amendment, but it's an abuse of process to go about it this way. If you have an idea as substantive as this, and you're sure it's the right way to go, then do it the right way. Submit it to the parliamentary process, where it goes through a second reading and a full range of committee meetings, so we have the chance to adequately study it, with the runway to do so—where we can consult with legislative counsel, after hearing from witnesses on whether there might be some appropriate subamendments.
Mr. Chair, I would like to move a very small subamendment.
I agree with the Conservatives that travel will be necessary. I think this committee could benefit from having a lot of that hands-on knowledge. I would keep everything related to travel. My only change, Mr. Chair, would be that we change the number 20 to eight. That would be the bare minimum, because it's giving this substantive amendment the same respect we gave the previous bill, Bill , and the current Bill .
I will close there. I think I've put everything on the record that I needed to. Honestly, we are stuck in the mud right now, in our seventh meeting, precisely because of how this was rolled out. I'm sorry to my Liberal colleagues, but the blame for that lies squarely on their shoulders. They created this mess, and they have to find a way to fix it. It's not our responsibility, as the opposition. We're trying our best with our limited resources, but we do not have the vast and powerful resources of a national government with two departments—Public Safety and Justice. We don't have the ability to create broad, national surveys or go out and talk to people. I have me and my legislative assistant—two people. My caucus has less than 10% of the seats, and we're trying our best to find a way forward.
You have to understand that the reaction you're seeing, not only from members of the opposition but also from the public, is precisely because of how this landed. My Liberal colleagues have to wear that and take responsibility for that.
I'll close with that, Mr. Chair. I just want to make sure my subamendment was, in fact, moved.