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View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Witnesses, I offer insincere apologies for our late start. This has been a curse of this committee and appears to be a continuing curse of this committee.
However, I think we'll extend the meeting at least to 6:30. I want to get this done.
First up is a motion received and promoted by Madame Damoff.
I would appreciate it if she could speak to that motion, and then we can dispose of it quickly.
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you so much, Chair.
I filed a motion last week with the clerk, and it has been distributed. I'm hoping that we can deal with this quite quickly, because we need to turn to a very important private member's bill that's before us today on recidivism. I thank Conservative MP Bragdon for bringing that forward.
Last week, following the tabling of Bill C-21, our government's new firearms legislation, the National Firearms Association took to their show, NFA Talk, where extremely dangerous words were uttered. This video from the NFA now has close to 7,000 views.
My motion today seeks to have our committee condemn this behaviour.
During the broadcast, NFA president, Mr. Sheldon Clare, said the following, and it's in the motion: “...revisit our old woodworking and metal working skills and construct guillotines again. [Laughter followed.] That would really be the best kind of Committee of Public Safety to get re-established. If they want to make it about public safety that was the way.... [T]he sound of this [person's] voice was not one that is joking. He was not joking. I don't think they understand that this is not New Zealand, this is not the United Kingdom, this is not Australia. This is a country made up of people who've been here for thousands of years, [our] aboriginal people, immigrants from Europe who fled tyranny, who fought against tyranny and know tyranny when they see it. And this my friends is tyranny.”
Mr. Chair, words matter. We saw in the Unites States, on January 6, what happens when inflammatory words provoke insurrection and violence. We've seen it here in Canada, with someone breaching the grounds of Rideau Hall and someone else following NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.
It sent a chill down my spine to hear talk of building guillotines when referencing the Committee on Public Safety by the NFA and its leadership.
By no means are these the only statements that the NFA has made, and I want to read some of the other ones that have been made by NFA executive director Charles Zach on social media.
In June 2020, he posted this, along with a photo of four men holding large rifles: “Coming to a Canadian Main Street near you. If the police will not protect you during a violent riot, you will have to protect yourself and others who cannot defend themselves from dangerous and armed organized domestic terrorists.”
On June 25, 2020, Mr. Zach posted an article about gun and ammunition sales soaring, with his heading saying, “Buy more guns and ammo. The police will not protect you.”
In May 2020, Mr. Zach said, “Perhaps we would see organized demonstrations in front of the homes of these civil disarmamentalists”—his term.
There is another one in which he posted a caricature of me and Minister Freeland that says, “But... but... think of the women!!”, with another picture of two women holding firearms saying, “I think we'll be fine”—talking about our firearms policy.
Mr. Chair, I think I'll leave it there with the statements I'm going to read, but what I find extremely concerning is that when confronted with the concerns around their statement, the National Firearms Association has actually doubled down.
In a Global News story yesterday, Mr. Clare is quoted as saying “I've merely related comments from upset people who have a real big problem with tyranny. And I think the virtue-signalling woke liberal left has a problem with being called out as being tyrants.”
Mr. Zach has called me “a rabid anti-gun civil disarmamentalist”, and remember he called for organized demonstrations in front of the homes of “civil disarmamentalists”—his term—in May 2020.
Mr. Zach also told Global News, noting that his use of the metaphor is intentional, “We're locked and loaded.... And I say that unapologetically and unabashedly.”
Today Mr. Zach posted, “If the Liberals feel offended for being called 'tyrants'—then should stop acting like tyrants”, but still has not apologized for talking about the need to start constructing guillotines.
Mr. Chair, this kind of language is dangerous. Sharing these comments on their platform—which, as I mentioned, has had 7,000 views—can lead to violence, as we saw in the United States. The storming of the U.S. Capitol by an armed mob was spurred on by similar language.
These calls for violence against those who want a safer community are not tolerable, and it is incumbent on all of us to condemn them. I'm asking the members of the committee to support this motion and condemn the National Firearms Association and the statement made last week.
Mr. Chair, I ask that the motion be amended at the end to include “and the committee report this to the House”.
I'm hoping we can deal with this quickly and vote on this right away.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Is there any debate?
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Chair, I'm sorry. When we do vote, could we have a recorded vote, please?
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
That's fine.
I saw Mrs. Stubbs first, and then Mr. Harris.
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2021-02-22 16:45
Thanks, Mr. Chair. I appreciate your coming to me, and I hope the committee will indulge me a little bit as I go through a couple of the issues that I see and develop this from my personal perspective.
I first want to say, Pam, that if there is a perception of a personal or public safety threat to either members of Parliament, specific to the public safety committee or in general or to you, then I need you to know that I take that, as do all Conservative members on this committee, extremely seriously.
We hope...and I would invite you to say, if you wish, whether or not that complaint has been made to police, as should be the case; perhaps the chair can confirm whether or not such a complaint has been made to the Sergeant-at-Arms, which should be the case if the comments constitute a threat to members of Parliament at large.
I would note—and I guess this is why we ought to get to the place of having this discussion in camera—that any matters related to MP security and safety are generally dealt with in camera, from what I understand of the procedure and House affairs committee. I understand that PROC just did a briefing on security risks for members of Parliament, and the entire thing was in camera, because of course it's about the safety of MPs, and because that is the committee that deals with those issues.
I really need you to know how seriously I take this or take the concept of the safety and security of individual members of Parliament being threatened or feeling threatened. Since being elected in 2015, I have received personal and direct threats to my safety and security. On two separate occasions, I and the three female staff members in my constituency office in Two Hills have also faced direct and personal threats to our personal security and safety.
In one incident, the RCMP was called to our constituency office. The office was put on lockdown, and that individual was removed from the office property. He showed up at the office; he was screaming and swearing, and said he no longer identified as Canadian and was not subject to their laws, and there was no place in this world for elected officials or their staff. In the second incident, a man had begun on the phone by screaming at my 19-year-old female staffer. He was then transferred to her manager, another woman, whom he proceeded to swear at, and he told her he hoped that she would be raped and that she would die. We reported that incident to the Sergeant-at-Arms to be dealt with, and we do have a very close relationship with the RCMP detachment, which happens to be two blocks from my constituency office.
I'm also aware that another member of this committee—and I'll let him speak for himself, if he wishes—a Conservative colleague of ours who sits with us here, has also faced personal threats. Those personal threats resulted in the laying of charges and the conviction of the individual who was making threats.
If this motion is prompted by a perception or an interpretation—and all of that is legitimate, because we are all thinking, considerate, rational people who all have the equal right to perceive and to debate and to interpret the way comments are made—then I do hope that those complaints have been made to the proper authorities. But I would also say that it would necessitate that this committee have this discussion in camera and that we must be extremely careful not to be seen to be politically influencing or interfering with what ought to be—by now, I hope, if this is the motivation—an actual current and ongoing legal investigation.
If, on the other hand, this is an attempt to have the public safety and national security committee function as a tool to be a judge and jury of individual Canadians or organizations, and to wield the special privilege, scope, status and power of members of Parliament and a parliamentary committee against individual Canadians or organizations about comments that may or may not be considered in their full context, then of course I have no desire to get into that.
Also, of course, in the motion we're debating right now, there are key comments missing. That's why the motion starts with an ellipsis. There's also, right in the middle of the motion and the quoted comments, even a sentence that's missing.
My view would be that I think Conservatives certainly don't believe that a parliamentary committee ought to be used as a judge and jury and a condemnation of comments made by individual Canadians or organizations, comments that may or may not be taken out of context and that may not be fully considered in context right here in the case of this motion, where perceptions and interpretations can legitimately differ and can legitimately be debated by fair-minded, honest, good-willed people. Personally, I believe that if the committee were to take such an action, there are real, important issues relating to fairness and serious power imbalances if this were to become a tactic of parliamentary committees as a matter of course, which I would find concerning.
Again, I must reiterate that if a member believes comments have been made that constitute a threat to personal and/or public safety, then those should be reported to authorities—in fact, I hope they have already been, if that is the interpretation—and committees should not influence that process.
Either way, I would move that we continue this conversation in camera, for all the reasons I've just outlined.
I, too, believe it is critical for us as a committee to move on with a very important initiative by our colleague Richard Bragdon on legislation to prevent recidivism of offenders, to protect the public safety of all Canadians and victims of crime and to reduce repeat offences, about which I know all members on this committee, across all parties, are seriously concerned.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Just as a point of procedure, it was reported by Ms. Damoff and me to the appropriate authorities, so it is before them at this point, and it's their decision as to how, where and when it's dealt with.
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2021-02-22 16:53
Thank you very much for that clarification, Chair.
I suppose my next question, then, would be, has either the Sergeant-at-Arms or the police, if the committee has been elevated with them, suggested this course of action insofar as the argument is being made that this may or may not constitute a threat to public or private safety? Obviously, we need to know that, if this committee has been advised in this way to undertake this discussion. If that hasn't been their advice, then I would suggest that very answer, especially if we also learn that a complaint has been made to the police, is very much the reason why this committee should continue that discussion in camera.
Of course, we all know that as members of Parliament, or members of an extremely powerful parliamentary committee with extraordinary scope, we would never want to be seen to be attempting to influence, wag the dog, intervene, comment on, opine on or contribute to an ongoing official investigation in any way. I know that we would all be concerned about not wanting to give that appearance.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
I think there may be a conflation of several ideas there. I take your position to be that you would prefer to defer this discussion to another appropriate moment. I will treat it as a motion to be dealt with prior to Ms. Damoff's motion, but before that, I want to hear from Mr. Harris, and now I see that Ms. Damoff's hand is up.
I'll deal with Mr. Harris first and then Ms. Damoff. If there are no other intervenors, I'll call Mrs. Stubbs' motion, and depending on the outcome of that motion, we'll deal with the subsequent motion.
Jack, go ahead.
View Jack Harris Profile
Thank you, Chair.
I just note that my colleague Don Davies is here, and I have a call for me to appear on an interview on another computer. I think I'll leave the discussion to Mr. Davies, who has been briefed on what is taking place.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Ms. Damoff, go ahead.
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Chair.
Perhaps we can double-check with the clerk, but I think my motion takes precedence over Mrs. Stubbs'.
As you said yourself, there are a number of things being conflated here. The entire video is available online if people want to watch it, but the statements made by the National Firearms Association specifically reference the committee of public safety and talk about constructing guillotines.
They laughed about it. They have refused to make any kind of statement subsequent to that. As I said previously, given what happened in the United States and what has happened in Canada when organizations make inflammatory comments like the National Firearms Association did last week, I think it is incumbent on this committee to condemn their statements. It's time to stop accepting this kind of rhetoric, and vague threats and suggestions to their membership that guillotines start to be constructed. It's time that we as a committee take a stand.
The Committee on Public Safety was mentioned by them. This has absolutely nothing to do with what the Parliamentary Protective Service is or is not doing. That is absolutely separate from this discussion.
I think we need to take a stand. We need to shut down this kind of language, this way of talking and thinking that it's okay to talk about building guillotines and laughing about those kinds of comments in a public forum. I think we as a committee need to condemn this kind of language, and that's the reason I brought this motion forward. I really hope that other members of the committee will support it.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
Unless the clerk contradicts me, I take the view that the motion to defer by Mrs. Stubbs does take precedence over the main motion.
I want to make sure. Am I on solid ground, Mr. Clerk?
Mark D'Amore
View Mark D'Amore Profile
Mark D'Amore
2021-02-22 16:57
Yes, you are.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
With that, I'm going to treat it as a motion for deferral, for want of a better term.
Is it the will of the committee to defer this motion?
If we want to go on a voice vote, that's fine. If we want to have a roll call vote, that's up to members.
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