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Results: 1 - 15 of 97
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2019-06-19 16:15 [p.29403]
Mr. Speaker, the second petition holds 550 signatures of petitioners who are calling on the House of Commons to scrap Bill C-71, the firearms legislation that would do nothing to provide the resources to front-line police forces to tackle the true source of firearms violence, gangs and organized criminal enterprises, and instead targets law-abiding gun owners.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2018-09-20 10:17 [p.21571]
moved that Bill C-71, an act to amend certain acts and regulations in relation to firearms, be read the third time and passed.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to open third reading debate in the House today on Bill C-71, an important piece of legislation in support of public safety and the ability of law enforcement to investigate gun crimes, while at the same time being reasonable and respectful toward law-abiding firearms owners and businesses.
Following years of declining crime rates in Canada, a number of critical statistics concerning firearms pivoted in 2013 to show a significant increase over subsequent years. In 2013, there were 211 attempted murders involving guns; in 2016, there were 290. In 2013, there were 134 gun homicides; in 2016, there were 223. For armed robbery, the numbers jumped from 2,096 in 2013 to 2,870 in 2016. According to the most recent data from Statistics Canada that became available just this summer, between 2013 and 2017 overall offences involving guns increased by 44%. It is this troubling trend that Bill C-71 would help to address, hand in hand with our investment of $327 million over five years, rising to $100 million every year thereafter, to intensify our battle against guns and gangs.
That new funding will be aimed at three key goals: first, increasing the capacity and the effectiveness of the Canada Border Services Agency to interdict gun smuggling at the border; second, bolstering the work of the RCMP to identify and take down illegal weapons trafficking operations; and third, to support provinces, municipalities and local law enforcement in their efforts to disrupt gangs, prosecute offenders, prevent young people from being drawn into gangs in the first place and to help them exit that destructive lifestyle. This initiative has been very well received by our provincial and municipal counterparts and many stakeholders, like those from all across the country who attended our guns and gangs summit last spring in Ottawa. Discussions are well advanced on how to make the best use of the new federal dollars. The new Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction will be rolling out the details in the weeks ahead.
In the meantime, we continue to advance Bill C-71. The public safety committee of the House studied this bill very carefully, and during its consideration it accepted amendments from all of the major parties. I would like to extend my thanks to the committee members who, as always, conducted a very thorough study of the subject matter and sent the bill back to the House in improved form.
During the last election, the Liberal Party ran on very specific campaign promises relating to firearms. Bill C-71 deals with those promises that require legislative change. They were as follows: first, repeal the changes made by Bill C-42 that allowed restricted and prohibited weapons to be freely transported without a permit; second, put decision-making about weapons restrictions back into the hands of police and not politicians; third, require enhanced background checks for everyone seeking to purchase a handgun or other restricted firearm; fourth, require purchasers of firearms to show a licence when they buy a gun and require all sellers of firearms to confirm that the licence is in fact valid before completing the sale; and finally, require firearms vendors to keep records of all firearms inventories and sales to assist police in investigating firearms trafficking and other gun crimes. We are delivering on each of these promises to make our communities safer and to support law enforcement while not targeting law-abiding firearms owners.
First, on the issue of enhanced background checks, currently when deciding whether to issue a possession and acquisition licence, a PAL, the law requires the chief firearms officer of a province or territory to consider the past five years of an applicant's history to determine if their past activities or behaviours indicate a public safety risk.
Bill C-71 proposes to eliminate that five-year limitation. That idea stems from a private member's bill introduced by former Conservative cabinet minister James Moore in 2003. Upon tabling his private member's bill, Mr. Moore told this chamber the following:
Currently the Firearms Act says that if in the past five years a person has committed a violent crime and has been convicted of a violent crime or of threatening to commit a violent crime, that person cannot apply to own a firearm for five years.
My private member's bill does not say after five years: it says if a person has ever committed a violent crime in their life never does that person get to own a gun. If a person has ever beat his wife or ever committed rape or ever committed murder and is released from jail, never in his life does that person get to own a gun....
Those are the words of the hon. James Moore.
Mr. Moore's bill obviously did not pass, because today the Firearms Act still says five years. Bill C-71, however, will remove that time limitation, as well as expand the kinds of things that the CFO can consider when deciding whether to issue a licence or not. There are, for example, explicit references in the law to gender-based violence. Thanks to amendments made by the committee, which were adopted unanimously, the CFO would also be able to consider an applicant's online behaviour as well. There appears to be broad and multipartisan support for these measures on background checks.
For indigenous hunters who engage in the traditional practices of hunting, the aboriginal peoples of Canada adaptations regulations will continue to apply. The regulations allow an applicant to ask an elder or community leader for a recommendation to go to the provincial chief firearms officer to confirm the importance to the applicant of their engaging in traditional hunting practices, which are, of course, a section 35 treaty right. Therefore, we can see the legal framework here attempting to make sure that the appropriate indigenous considerations are taken fully into account.
Secondly, on the issue of transporting firearms, specifically restricted and prohibited firearms, before former bill C-42 made changes to the Firearms Act in 2015, the owner of a restricted or prohibited weapon was required to get an authorization to transport it, what is known as an ATT, every time the owner took that firearm anywhere. The Harper government loosened that restriction by attaching an automatic authorization to transport to every possession and acquisition licence for the purpose of transporting the firearm home from a store or to an approved shooting range or to a port of entry or a gunsmith or a gun show. Because the ATT was automatic and applied to numerous different destinations, it became virtually impossible for police to detect the transportation of restricted or prohibited weapons for illegal purposes.
Bill C-71 seeks to narrow and clarify the scope of the ATT rules. An ATT would continue to be included automatically with a PAL licence to transport restricted or prohibited weapons to a certified shooting range, but beyond that, a separate ATT would be required. This would assist law enforcement without impacting gun owners in any major way. In addition, we will work to ensure that the firearms centre is properly staffed to issue ATTs as required, and we will provide an electronic portal where firearms owners can apply online and get their ATTs in a matter of just a few minutes. If people need to go to a gunsmith after they have been at firing ranges, they would also be able to get an ATT on their smart phones. Therefore, the objective here is to make sure that the service is efficient.
Third, on the classification practices, it is of course up to Parliament, up to the House of Commons and the Senate, as a matter of law, to determine how firearms are classified. For years Parliament has identified and defined three categories: non-restricted, restricted, and prohibited. Parliament is always free to change those categories if it sees fit. It can change the characteristics that apply to each of the three categories. That is Parliament's sovereign right.
Administratively, after the definitions have been set in law by Parliament, it should be firearms experts who make the technical determination as to which firearm fits into which category. That is a factual, technical function, and it should not be politicized. Bill C-71 makes that point very clear. It grandfathers those individuals who may be adversely affected by the previous government's decisions to allow the cabinet to contradict the experts and assign a lower category to a particular firearm, contrary to the definitions in the Criminal Code.
Let me turn next to the question of licence verification. Currently in Canada, if people want to buy ammunition for a non-restricted firearm, they must show the vendor a valid firearms licence. It might surprise many people to know that they do not currently have to show a valid firearms licence for purchasing a non-restricted firearm.
Mr. David Anderson: Tell the truth, Ralph, you'll feel better. What kind of rubbish is that. You know better than that.
Hon. Ralph Goodale: This formerly mandatory practice was changed—
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2018-09-20 10:30 [p.21573]
Madam Speaker, the practice was changed by the previous Conservative government in 2012. Actually the law was changed so that this became a voluntary provision. The law now says the vendor simply has to have “no reason to believe that the transferee is not authorized to acquire and possess that kind of firearm.” In other words, they do not have to ask. They can ask, but they do not have to ask.
Of course, vendors have that option, and all the reputable ones that I know actually ask the question to determine that the licence is still valid. Most businesses probably behave in that way. It is just common sense. However, if someone without a PAL is looking to get a shotgun, for example, that person is more likely to try to buy it from a vendor known not to run the licence check.
Bill C-71 would make it an offence not to verify the licence. This is not only important to stop those who have never had a licence from acquiring a non-restricted firearm. If a gun shop is dealing with a regular customer, the sales clerk might be tempted not to check the licence that he or she has probably seen many times before on previous transactions. However, if that customer had recently lost their PAL due to a court order, the sales clerk would have no way to know that unless he or she actually checked its validity with the registrar. Customer service will be important so that verification can be done in a quick and efficient manner.
On firearms record-keeping, Bill C-71 proposes to make record-keeping of non-restricted firearms a requirement for all businesses. With proper authorization, police will then be able to better trace the origins of firearms found at crime scenes. This was a requirement for businesses from 1979 until 2005. It is also a standard requirement across virtually all of the United States. It is simply a good business practice commonly applied already by major retailers like Cabela's, Canadian Tire and many others.
Some people have suggested that this will amount to a new long-gun registry. Of course, for such an argument to be logical, it would also mean that Canada first had a long-gun registry back in 1979. Obviously, that would be nonsense. To make this point crystal clear, the Conservatives moved an amendment in the committee, which reads as follows: “For greater certainty, nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to permit or require the registration of non-restricted firearms.” That amendment was supported unanimously by all members of the public safety committee, who were in total agreement that nothing in Bill C-71 remotely resembles a long-gun registry. That point is now beyond all doubt.
In addition to meeting our platform commitments, we are currently reviewing other options to ensure that firearms do not fall into the wrong hands. For example, we are examining the regulations relating to the safe storage of firearms, especially after hours on commercial premises. Firearms theft from such premises have been steadily rising, and we should try to prevent that trend from getting worse.
We are examining firearms advertising regulations to see if they are appropriate to prohibit the glorification of violence and anti-personnel kinds of paramilitary conduct. We are examining the issue of whether there should be some flagging system with respect to large transactions or bolt sales that may trigger questions on the part of police forces. We are also examining the possibility of enabling medical professionals to flag when they feel a patient may pose a significant risk to the safety of themselves or others.
I would point out that in 2012, Quebec passed what is known as Anastasia's law, which banned firearms in places like schools and relieved physicians of their usual obligations with respect to doctor-patient confidentiality when they felt that someone under their care who owned a firearm might be a danger to themselves or to others. It is a concept that other provinces may wish to examine, and it will be discussed at federal, provincial and territorial meetings this fall.
I will be working with the new Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction on these supplementary measures as well. As members know, the new minister has also been mandated to lead an examination of a ban on handguns and assault weapons in Canada, while not impeding the lawful use of firearms by Canadians. That consultation will be going forward this fall.
When taken together, this strategy represents a responsible firearms package that will help make our communities safer. It will help police forces investigate the illegal use of firearms. At the same time, these measures taken together will not overburden legitimate firearms owners in exercising their legitimate rights.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2018-09-20 10:37 [p.21574]
Madam Speaker, the source of the issue the hon. gentleman refers to is section 35 of the Constitution of Canada.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2018-09-20 10:39 [p.21574]
Madam Speaker, I note that the hon. gentleman raised issues similar to this at the committee level, and there were in fact amendments made to ensure that we were accommodating the very point he is raising now.
It is incumbent upon the government and the administrators of the program to monitor customer service very carefully to make sure that the services are being delivered in an efficient and timely way, so that those who are simply pursuing their legitimate and proper rights under the law can do so without being inconvenienced. That is certainly our objective.
In subsequent days, if they identify difficulties with the administration, or service levels or standards that are not sufficient, I encourage members of Parliament to draw that to the attention of the government, and we will do our level best to make sure the service levels are proper.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2018-09-20 10:40 [p.21574]
Madam Speaker, my concerns are around the whole question of timeliness and cost for this program as well. The member for Regina—Wascana indicated that there will now be a requirement that ATTs be requested. They have a number of different circumstances in which that would be the case, yet he says this will not be impeding lawful gun owners. The number of additional steps they need to take is impeding them. This is what is so irritating. It does not change any of the crime scenarios that we are facing in Canada.
If all of these extra processes are going to be put in place and done in a timely manner, will the minister tell the law-abiding gun owners of Canada what it is going to cost them to call in or use that service over and over again? It is going to cost them money to have that bureaucracy set up. What is it going to cost Canadians and law-abiding gun owners to get their ATTs?
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2018-09-20 10:41 [p.21574]
Madam Speaker, the provisions in Bill C-71 are modest and reasonable, and they do not entail a significant new cost. In fact, the hon. member is referring to provisions related not to all firearms but only prohibited and restricted weapons. It is just those two categories, not all firearms.
As well, the ATT will continue to be automatic, attached to the PAL. Whenever the transportation is to a certified gun range, that includes 95% of the transportation activity. Therefore, the amount of change here from the perspective of the firearm owner is very small.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2018-09-20 10:43 [p.21574]
Madam Speaker, that input and feedback from rural Canadians and from members of Parliament who represent rural Canadians, was extremely important. The very definition of the platform commitment from three years ago was to accomplish objectives related to public safety without imposing unreasonable burdens upon legitimate firearms owners.
One of the significant demonstrations of that is the very point I made in referring to the previous question, where a restricted or a prohibited weapon is being transported to a shooting range. This accounts for 95% of the transportation activity, and that authorization will continue to be included in the PAL itself. There will be no incremental change or burden with respect to firearms owners.
That is one illustration among several where the views and concerns of rural Canadians, hunters, farmers, fishermen and so forth have been taken into account.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2018-09-20 10:44 [p.21575]
Madam Speaker, to my knowledge, there is not. When it comes to service delivery in the verification of a licence, for example, it is extremely important that the firearms program be able to respond to questions in a quick, efficient and timely manner.
I would encourage all members of Parliament, if they discover circumstances in which their constituents are not receiving that timely service in an efficient way, to draw that to the attention of the government. We will do our very best to make sure that the standards are improving.
View David Anderson Profile
CPC (SK)
View David Anderson Profile
2018-09-20 10:45 [p.21575]
Madam Speaker, maybe my memory is just too good but I remember early in my political career that the minister led the government's attack on Prairie farmers when they tried to sell their own grain, which led to them serving time in jail.
I am just wondering if it is a coincidence that the minister has been put in charge of this attack on legitimate firearms owners. Is he going to use those same tactics of using multiple government departments and agencies against legitimate firearms owners the way that he did against farmers in western Canada?
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2018-09-20 10:46 [p.21575]
Madam Speaker, the hon. gentleman was wrong when he raised that issue 20 years ago and he remains wrong today.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2018-09-20 11:09 [p.21578]
Madam Speaker, my colleague made an excellent presentation on this very serious issue.
Hugh Nielsen from the Lower Mainland Métis Association said that Bill C-71 “will hit the rural farmer who has to use a firearm. It will hit the first nations who are trying to make a living in remote areas with that firearm, which is a tool for survival. It will hit the ordinary target shooter, but I do not see anybody from the gangs in Abbotsford or Surrey coming through our courses to take the PAL”, which is the personal acquisition licence.
Could the member elaborate on why the Liberals are refusing to target criminals and what a Conservative government would do differently?
View Kevin Waugh Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2018-09-20 12:32 [p.21590]
Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner on his distinguished 35-year career in the Medicine Hat police department. He has seen a lot on the streets not only in Medicine Hat but certainly in Alberta and the whole country. I saw that first hand when the member came to my riding a couple of weeks ago. He is very respected in the police community nationwide. We had a meeting in Saskatoon with a number of police officers and they spoke glowingly about the member, who now represents Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner.
I want to thank him for his work on this file and I want to thank him for a number of reasons. First, I would like to thank him for having consultations not only in Alberta and Saskatchewan but also for when he visited Saskatoon—Grasswood. He has been going coast to coast talking to citizens in this country about Bill C-71.
While he was in Saskatoon, we held a very successful town hall. I would like to know what message he heard from my constituents and what feedback he would like to share in the House of Commons today.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2018-09-20 12:49 [p.21592]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank our colleague for her speech today, especially the part where she described a number of scenarios where people's lives were taken.
Any senseless gun violence is a terrible thing, as everyone in this House agrees. However, the unfortunate thing here is that this legislation is completely weak in dealing with that particular issue. We keep hearing the terms “gangs” and “crime with guns” coming from the mouths of the members here, but this legislation does nothing to deal with that. It is like taking a fly swatter to kill an elephant, and this elephant is huge in our society.
Therefore, we have deep concern on this side of the floor about dealing with gang violence and gun violence, which brings me to this point: If the member and her colleagues are truly concerned about this, why then are they prepared to remove penalties for serious crimes with Bill C-75, such as participating in an organized crime, or getting material benefits from human trafficking, or abducting a person under the age of 14?
These are serious crimes, often using guns and gangs, yet that members on that side of the floor appear prepared to remove serious penalties to the point where they could be as low as a fine. How can this be a reasonable behaviour when they are prepared to basically penalize law-abiding gun owners with more red tape?
Some of the smaller issues in this bill are good, but the majority of the bill is useless and would do nothing but create more bureaucracy in the form of a registry. It would do nothing about these issues, which they are prepared to turn a blind eye to.
View Kelly Block Profile
CPC (SK)
View Kelly Block Profile
2018-09-20 13:25 [p.21597]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-71,, an act to amend certain acts and regulations in relation to firearms.
I have many concerns with this piece of legislation, but as there is limited time, I would like to focus my remarks today on what I consider to be a shocking oversight. I believe that all of us in this place would agree that it must be the highest priority of a government to protect the lives and safety of its constituents, of the people they are serving. Of all our duties, this is the most profound.
In order to protect our citizens, to put effective solutions in place, it is vitally important that we understand the problem. In this case, it is to recognize who is committing the violent crimes within Canada. I believe there is a simple answer to that question, and it is gangs.
In 2016, one of every two firearms-related homicides was committed by organized crime, yet nowhere in this bill are the words “gang” or “organized crime” mentioned. At best, this is an unintentional oversight. At its worst, it is intentional. After all, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness himself spoke about this issue earlier this year, saying on March 18:
Criminal gun and gang violence is a grave threat to the safety of our communities. While overall crime rates in Canada are much lower than decades ago, homicides, gun crime and gang activity have all been steadily increasing. Gun homicides have almost doubled over the past four years—and more than half are linked to gangs.
Before continuing, I want to address one point about this statement. Statistics can provide a good basis for solid policy, but only if they are seen within their proper context. I believe the minister did not provide that proper context. The minister chose to use a particular timeline in the quote above, namely “four years”. As was made clear by his office, the year he is referencing is actually 2013.
Why is that significant? The minister claimed that gun homicides have almost doubled over the past four years. That statement is very misleading when placed in context. The year 2013 happened to have had the lowest number of firearms homicide ever recorded by Statistics Canada. The next closest year on record, 1998, had 13% more homicides.
The Liberals chose 2013 as the base year to make it appear as if gun homicides were growing at a shocking rate. Now the Liberals are using these statistics to justify punishing highly vetted, law-abiding gun owners by painting a picture of Canada as the wild west. However, an unbiased look at the numbers reveals a different story. If there is to be any comparison to the wild west, it would have to refer to our ongoing struggle with gang violence.
In 2016, gang members committed 114 firearms homicides compared with 134 total homicides in 2013, the year referenced by the minister. That is a shocking statistic, no matter how it is viewed. The minister noted that gang-related firearm homicides made up half of all firearms homicides in 2016. This is significantly above average and is a cause for concern.
How is it that after recognizing the central role of organized crime in firearms murders on March 8, the minister introduced a bill just days later that ignores organized crime?
Further, not only have the Liberals failed to meaningfully address gang violence in this bill, but in this bill's companion piece, Bill C-75, they are weakening the laws currently in place to combat gang violence. Bill C-75 amends the Criminal Code to lessen the sentences for serious and even violent crimes to as little as a fine. Among those crimes is participation in organized criminal activity, in other words, joining a gang.
What is the justification for lowering the legal penalties for gang members while punishing legal firearms owners? I cannot think of one. However, time and time again the Liberals have gone after legal firearms owners rather than the criminals who use firearms.
Gang members or other criminals are not going to be deterred by a law that further restricts legal firearms owners. They will only respond to laws that hold serious consequences for their illegal activities. The government had two opportunities to address the significant problem of gang violence, a problem the minister is very aware of, yet has failed to do so. The government has failed by weakening the punishment for gang activities, and again by not making changes to our firearms laws that would target gangs.
Not only does Bill C-71 do nothing to address gang violence, but it misses the mark on rural crime as well. My riding of Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek is a large and mostly rural riding. I have heard numerous concerns from constituents about the growing issue of rural crime. This place recognized the severity of that issue and passed unanimously the motion brought by my colleague from Lakeland, Motion No. 167. That motion will result in a committee study of rural crime. Every Liberal member who was present voted for the motion, including the Prime Minister. Surely that must mean the government understands there are unique problems faced by rural Canadians, yet nothing in this bill addresses rural crime.
Instead, Bill C-71 targets law-abiding firearms owners by, among other things, breaking the Liberals' election promise and reintroducing the wasteful and divisive long-gun registry through the backdoor. In this bill, the Liberals have introduced a backdoor registry by requiring firearms retailers to keep a registry of every firearm they sell for 20 years and by requiring private transfers to be verified by the registrar of firearms. This should come as no shock, but registrars keep registries. Firearms retailers would now be required to act as registrars themselves. They would be responsible for the cost of maintaining this information and for the security of that information. The private and personal information of millions of Canadians must by law be kept by a business for 20 years. These registries would be accessible by law enforcement and must be turned over to the government if the retailer goes out of business.
It is a registry by any other name, but the Liberals will now continue to refuse to use the term “registry” because they know how upset Canadians were about the last Liberal long-gun registry. They think that by not naming it and obscuring its location, Canadians will not notice. They are wrong. I have heard from hundreds of constituents who are frustrated that the Liberals have broken their campaign promise and reintroduced the firearms registry. They feel betrayed by the current government. They are disgusted that the Liberals would try to hide their broken promise behind technicalities and muddied language. They deserve better than to be treated like criminals.
In closing, I believe that we as parliamentarians have the responsibility to create laws that protect our citizens; that reflect real-world, objective data; that treat law-abiding Canadians fairly; and that address the concerns of Canadians regarding crime and gang violence. This bill does not meet any of those requirements. For this reason, I cannot and will not support Bill C-71.
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