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Results: 1 - 8 of 8
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
View Jack Harris Profile
2021-02-26 10:26 [p.4594]
Madam Speaker, New Democrats have long been in support of banning assault rifles, making our cities safer, opposing smuggling and getting the government to actually do something about it.
However, we have a problem with the minister when he says that recreational use of firearms is okay. Whereas handguns are treated one way under this legislation, in allowing their use to continue except where restricted by municipalities, Airsoft rifles, which are used recreationally across the country by many organizations and groups and which cause no harm, are being treated the same as assault weapons.
Will the minister recognize that this is a totally different category, and try to find some way of allowing this to continue in recreational use? The banning of Airsoft rifles is putting them in the same category as prohibited weapons, and that is wrong.
View Bill Blair Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bill Blair Profile
2021-02-26 10:27 [p.4594]
Madam Speaker, that is a very important question.
First of all, handguns represent a very significant danger. It is why we restrict them. Just to be very clear, in this legislation we are imposing very strict national restrictions on handguns: on their storage, sale and use. Those restrictions would apply in every place. We have also listened to municipalities where people have said that they would like to do more. We are prepared to work with communities that want to do more to keep their citizens safe. It is a responsibility we all have.
With respect to the Airsoft rifles that the member references, there is no problem with those devices, except when they are designed to exactly replicate dangerous firearms so that they are indistinguishable from those firearms. We have listened to the law enforcement community, which has passed a number of resolutions. By the way, I consulted with the law enforcement community about why it wanted this done, and the representatives said that these devices have been used in crime.
In Winnipeg, for example, Chief Danny Smyth identified that 215 replica firearms were used to commit crimes in his city just last year. In his response to Bill C-21 he said, “We think you're on to something”.
I also spoke to the president of the CACP, who strongly supported it and expressed appreciation that the government finally listened to law enforcement to take effective action to remove devices that exactly replicate dangerous firearms. There really is no place for them in our society. They represent an unacceptable risk.
View Andréanne Larouche Profile
BQ (QC)
View Andréanne Larouche Profile
2021-02-26 10:29 [p.4595]
Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. minister for his explanation about his Bill C-21. I would like to ask him a question.
I had a chance to meet with members of a group called PolySeSouvient, who told me that they felt the bill was flawed. Lots of people are not happy about this.
My colleague said that some cities are prepared to deal with handguns. Other municipalities, however, do not want them at all.
A resolution was tabled in the National Assembly, and Quebec is ready to take charge of this issue. On the other hand, we are concerned about the whole firearms issue.
Given how dissatisfied people are with this bill, is the minister ready to go back to the drawing board and collaborate in committee with opposition parties to redraft this bill and see how it can be improved?
View Bill Blair Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bill Blair Profile
2021-02-26 10:30 [p.4595]
Madam Speaker, I will be very clear. A substantial amount in the bill deals with handguns. As I said it, it would impose additional restrictions and would give access to law enforcement to do a better job of keeping guns, which are being smuggled across the border, out of our country, to prevent their theft through stronger storage requirements and to assist law enforcement to detect and therefore deter and prosecute those who, through straw purchase, have purchased them legally and sell them illegally.
There are very strong measures in the bill that deal with handguns.
This government listened to the strong advocacy. It was deeply motivated by the tragedy of the École Polytechnique, when 14 women were gunned down because they were women. In that terrible crime, the killer used a Ruger Mini-14. In May, we prohibited that weapon. PolySeSouvient advocated for over nearly 30 years to have that weapon prohibited. We listened and we took action on that. We are now completing that prohibition to ensure those weapons can never be legally used in Canada again.
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2021-02-26 10:34 [p.4596]
Madam Speaker, the Conservatives have and will always support common-sense firearms regulations that keep Canadians and communities safe and respect their rights.
In Bill C-21, there are some things that the Conservatives have been calling for and can support. However, many things completely target the wrong people and the wrong groups, if the aim really is to improve and protect public safety. Also, crucial areas of concern are not addressed in the bill at all.
The Conservatives have always urged the Liberals to focus on and to target Canada's legislation and enforcement resources toward the primary source of most gun crime in Canada: illegally-smuggled firearms in the hands of gangs and criminals. That is why we support certain measures, like increasing the penalty for gun smuggling, something the Conservatives have advocated for years; authorizing disclosure to Canadian law enforcement agencies when there are reasonable grounds to suspect a firearms licence is used for straw purchasing; improving the ability of the CBSA to manage inadmissibility to Canada when foreign nationals commit offences upon entry into Canada, including firearms-related offences; and transferring the responsibility for transborder criminality from the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
The Conservatives are committed to actually strengthening and securing public safety through real action to tackle gun crime head-on. The Conservatives have always said that we would increase funding and coordination for border security to clamp down on illegal firearms smuggling, restore mandatory minimum sentences to keep violent gang members off the street and focus on gangs and criminals instead of making life more difficult for law-abiding firearms owners and retailers by ending automatic bail, revoking parole for gang members and new and tougher sentences for ordering or involvement in violent gang crime.
The Liberals do the opposite. They are big on rhetoric but short on real action. In fact, the day after the Liberals announced Bill C-21, they announced Bill C-22, which, incredibly, would eliminate mandatory minimums for unauthorized possession of a firearm, possession of a prohibited firearm, possession of a weapon obtained by crime, weapons trafficking, reckless discharge of a firearm, discharge of a firearm with intent to wound or endanger a person and robbery with a firearm; so reductions for all of those sentences. Bill C-22 would reduce sentences for a number of other horrible offences, including sexual assault, kidnapping, human trafficking, abduction of people under 14, motor vehicle theft and arson.
The Conservatives focus on outcomes and whether laws will achieve objectives. What Bill C-21 proves is that the Liberals, as always, are more concerned with appearances. They play fast and loose with the facts, make up words to scare and ignore the actual problem. With Bill C-21, they would effectively trade on Canadians' fear and safety for short-term political gain. The reality is that taking firearms away from law-abiding citizens does nothing to stop dangerous criminals and gangs who obtain their guns illegally and already do not follow laws, do not get licences and do not care about firearms classifications. This just continues the Liberal government's ongoing preoccupation with taking firearms off of regulated ranges, while leaving illegal guns on the streets in the hands of those gangs and criminals who will never comply.
In June 2019, the former Toronto police chief was asked about banning handguns in Canada. He said:
I believe that would be potentially a very expensive proposition but just as importantly, it would not in my opinion be perhaps the most effective measure in restricting the access that criminals would have to such weapons, because we’d still have a problem with them being smuggled across the border
Of course, the former Toronto police chief to whom I am referring is the current Minister of Public Safety.
Bill C-21 would create conditions on federal firearms licences to restrict handgun storage or transport within municipalities that have passed such bylaws. Again, the bylaws would be conditions on licences. Therefore, this proposed measure literally, specifically and only targets lawful Canadians who already have the paperwork and comply with the rules. This section would lead to yet another layer of confusing, overlapping regulations and a patchwork of rules for already law-abiding Canadians within and between communities, while violations could result in two years imprisonment or permanent licence revocations and would do nothing to crack down on illegal gun smuggling, trading and gang crimes with guns.
Many law enforcement officials have already said that this measure would not be effective, including the current RCMP commissioner, the former OPP commissioner, the police chief of Vancouver, the former president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, representatives of the Winnipeg and Halifax police services and police chiefs of Regina and Saskatoon. Provinces are already speaking out against Bill C-21: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba, whose premier said, “It's just not going to work.”
In 2019, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police did not support calls for a ban on handguns and the former president, Vancouver police chief, Adam Palmer said:
In every single case there are already offences for that. They’re already breaking the law and the criminal law in Canada addresses all of those circumstances...The firearms laws in Canada are actually very good right now. They’re very strict.
Former OPP commissioner Chris Lewis says:
This municipal handgun ban is ridiculous...It would only impact legal owners. The gangbangers are already possessing/carrying them in defiance of the Criminal Code and don’t fear police whose hands are tied and weak judicial systems.
Toronto Police Services president Mike McCormack says:
There's no way in my world or any world I know that this would have an impact on somebody who's going to go out and buy an illegal gun and use it to kill another person or shoot another person...
This is a classic Liberal smokescreen. There is absolutely no impact on the illicit use of illegal firearms in crime. Of course criminals and gangs do not carry licences or register their illegally obtained firearms and will not be deterred by municipal bylaws. They do not even care about the Criminal Code.
The fact that at least 80% of guns used in Canadian gun crimes are illegally smuggled in from the states shows that enabling towns and cities to demand handguns from licenced owners will have little to no impact on actual public safety.
In 2016, a father of four for two years, whose children were only six and five along with one-year-old twins, was enjoying a night out with friends in Toronto when he was shot and killed by a stray bullet. Now a mother of three, carrying the lifetime grief from the loss of her child, his mum, Evelyn Fox, advocates to support at-risk youth and prevent youth involvement in gang activity. She believes that banning handguns in Canada is “nonsense” because “street level wise, they'll get access to the handguns anyways.”. She says, “I also would like to know how it is that penalizing law-abiding gun owners with a gun ban is going to deter gun violence on our streets when 80%, if not more, is coming across the border?” She is right.
In Toronto, despite the new Liberal order in council prohibition of thousands of firearms, there were 462 shootings in 2020, an increase over 2018 when there was no prohibition order. The year 2019 was a record year.
Since 2014, shootings in Toronto have increased 161%. Obviously residents and family are worried about this reality, causing sleepless nights, untold heartbreak and anxiety about security, and whether kids can grow up carefree in peaceful neighbourhoods. How galling that Bill C-21 would do nothing to make it more safe, while the Liberals claim otherwise.
In 2019, Toronto's police chief, Mark Saunders, reported that most guns using crime were illegally smuggled in. He said, “When it comes to the handguns, I believe, 82 per cent...of the ‘crime guns’ in the city are coming from the United States.”
Peel Police Association President Adrian Woolley says, “There are a lot of guns out there and they are not legal ones from target shooters but illegal ones smuggled in from the United States.”
For the 2017-18 year, CBSA seized 751 illegal firearms at the U.S.-Canada border, 696 the next year and 753 for the year after that. The CBSA has already seized 166 firearms for the first quarter of this fiscal year. Canada's border agents should be commended for that good work and lawmakers should support their efforts to improve public safety by getting tougher on gun criminals and gun smugglers when they are caught. That is exactly what our Conservative colleague from Markham—Unionville tried to do when he proposed Bill C-238, which would have cracked down on gun smuggling, knowingly possessing illegally smuggled guns by increasing sentences and making it harder for gun runners to get out on bail. However, the Liberals and the NDP voted against that public safety legislation a week before the announcement of Bill C-21.
When asked why the government is not getting tougher on criminals, the Liberal default is to say that they implemented a prohibition on “military-style” assault rifles. First, the term “military-style” assault rifle is of course invented with no legal definition, but it does sound scary. The reality is that fully automatic fire rifles have been prohibited for use outside of the military since the 1970s. The Prime Minister said that he made a law so people could not purchase firearms without purchasing a licence, but that is false.
Along the spirit of making things up, just last Saturday, the member for York South—Weston told a crowd of gun crime victims and families that his Liberal government's gun grab included “AR-135” submachine guns, except they absolutely do not even exist.
Unfortunately, it is easy to see why lawful, well-intentioned urban and rural firearms owners, collectors, hunters, sport shooters, enthusiasts and retailers, people who enjoy this Canadian heritage, are skeptical of the Liberals, to say nothing of the radical shift in Bill C-21. It would create a one-sided guilty-until-proven innocent-ask questions later regime, focused on Canadians who already did a filing and have the licences under Canada's stringent regulations and vigorous vetting processes for prohibition orders and warrantless search and seizures.
That is ripe for abuse and conflicts while bogging down already backlogged courts and law enforcement resources when right now there are multiple overlapping systems to ensure that law enforcement can respond to urgent situations involving threats to personal and public safety, as they must. The new approach actually may even take longer and could easily have unintended consequences and deliver the opposite outcomes. This pattern of saying one thing and doing another, of literally making things up, of not having the evidence to support the legislation to show it will achieve stated outcomes should make every every single Canadian question and challenge the Liberals to prove that their laws will actually make a difference for public safety, and combat gun crimes, too.
That brings me to the framework for the voluntary confiscation program. A 2018 Public Safety Canada paper entitled “Reducing Violent Crime: A Dialogue on Handguns and Assault Weapons” explained why confiscating firearms from lawful licensed owners would be ineffective at reducing gun crime in Canada. The report states:
The vast majority of owners of handguns and of other firearms in Canada lawfully abide by requirements, and most gun crimes are not committed with legally-owned firearms....
In most cases, individuals own handguns either in the context of sport shooting activities or because those handguns form a part of a collection....
Any ban...would primarily affect legal firearms owners,...
The public safety minister recently said that the government does not know how many firearms will fall under the confiscation program, but claims it is in the range of 200,000 and says that at an average price of $1,300 per firearm, it will cost taxpayers in the range of $250 million to $260 million. Of course, experts say that the Liberals are way off and that this confiscation program could cost as much as $5 billion when all is said and done. The fact is that the Liberals do not have any structure in place because no private sector proponents have agreed to run the program after two public requests for bids. It really does say something when highly reputable major firms look at the government's purported analysis and cost assumptions and decide they will not touch it with a 10-foot pole.
The Liberals still have not been clear on how they will address retailers left holding the bag with inventory they cannot sell or return to manufacturers either. Phil Harnois, the owner of P&d Enterprises in Alberta, says that 40% of his annual sales were of firearms that are now banned and that thousands of dollars of inventory became worthless overnight. The president of the National Police Federation, Brian Sauvé, says that “the evidence is that illegal gun trafficking leads to criminals owning guns, which leads to crimes with firearms.... [W]e need to look at the source of the problem.” The vast majority of gun crime committed in Canada is by gangs and criminals using already illegal guns, most often illegally smuggled in. That needs to be reiterated because Bill C-21 clearly misses the mark.
Sylvia Jones, spokesperson for Ontario's solicitor general, agrees. She says that “As law enforcement experts routinely highlight, it has not been demonstrated that banning legal firearms and targeting law-abiding citizens would meaningfully address the problem of gun violence.” The Liberals have shown, of course, though, that they do not really believe that their list of banned firearms in the hands of licensed law-abiding firearms owners are a real threat either. Otherwise, why is there this confusing step of banning them, but allowing Canadians to keep them in their homes so long as the guns are registered with the government? It is very confounding.
However, what is clear is that Bill C-21 finds a way to create a boondoggle that will result in the creation of another long-gun registry because some of the now-prohibited firearms are long guns and it will cost taxpayers billions of dollars while delivering no concrete results to improve the public safety of Canadians suffering at the hands of gangs and criminals carrying out the vast majority of gun violence and crime in Canada.
Another measure that is glaring in its obvious irrelevance to improving public safety in Canada while also imposing major consequences on everyday people is the prohibition of the importation, exportation and sale of all non-regulated air guns that look like modern firearms. Here is the deal. The Liberals are actually imposing a ban on Airsoft and a partial ban on paintball. Any rational, common sense person can see that toy guns are not responsible for the shootings are causing death in Canadian cities. Criminals and gangs with illegal guns are tragically ending the lives of Canadians. This provision in Bill C-21 would end hundreds of livelihoods, legacies and jobs and outlaw an entirely harmless hobby enjoyed by more than 60,000 Canadians.
Airsoft in Canada says the Canadian Airsoft market is worth $100 million and over 260 businesses in Canada are linked to the paintball or Airsoft community. The Quebec Airsoft Federation estimates that the industry brings in over $10 million per year in Quebec alone. Distributors and retailers are uncertain about what to do with the current stock and stock on order because all of it would be rendered worthless immediately, with no option to offset losses because the bill would prohibit sales. It will not only impact businesses that directly sell hobby and competition practice guns, but also the retailers of protective equipment and accessories, as well as the clubs and owners of sports facilities that have focused their businesses largely or solely around these activities.
This whole industry would be devastated. Matt Wasilewicz, who owns Canadian Airsoft Imports, says that the ban “confirms our worst fears”. Frank Chong, who owns Toronto Airsoft, Canada's largest airsoft retailer, says “It looks like it's doomsday for us at this point". Ziming Wan of BlackBlitz Airsoft in Waterloo says that “We're basically all going to have to shut down.... It's the death of the sport, as we know it”. Joe Kimpson of Flag Raiders in Kitchener says “You'll see the demise of airsoft in Canada”.
Seventy-four per cent of these businesses expect to lose over half their revenue because of Bill C-21 and 47% of them expect to be out of business for good. There are approximately 3,000 employees working in those affected businesses. It is unconscionable that half of them would lose their jobs and not a single life be saved for it.
It is hard to see how the Liberals are materially protecting the well-being and safety of Canadians by banning toy guns, shuttering more businesses and killing 1,500 jobs while Canada's unemployment rate is already the highest in the G7.
Mark from Motium Manufacturing in Lakeland says, “I was given no notice, no warning, no consultation. The hard work I've put in for over 8 years has been erased and my customers wrongfully criminalized. Why aren't criminals being as negatively impacted as my small business?”
A petition called “Stop Bill C-21” is circulating in the hobby community and 30,000 Canadians have already signed it. That is because Canadians know what experts have been saying all along, which is also what the Conservatives have been saying. What is missing from these Liberals is any meaningful emphasis or major legal framework targeting the main source of gun crime in Canada.
It is good to see some measures to help the CBSA and a small increase in penalties for gun smuggling, but those aspects of Bill C-21 appear more like a footnote in what seems to be a broader strategy primarily concerned with targeting already law-abiding members of Canadian society. One would read this bill and assume that the main goal is to be a nuisance to the legal firearms community. It is not at all obvious that the aim of Bill C-21 is to improve public safety.
The tragedy is that for all the big words and tough talk from the Liberals, it is the very real victims of growing gun violence and Canadian citizens and their families who are forced to bear the brunt of these failed Liberal policies and experiments. What is worse is that the evidence is available for all of us to see. Experts, law enforcement and policy-makers all agree that concrete strategies and legislation must be directed at criminals and gangs and supports for at-risk youth.
Conservatives will always support a common-sense approach to firearms legislation with concrete outcomes that protect personal and public safety. Bill C-21 does not get to the bottom of addressing the major cause of gun crime in Canada and all MPs really owe it to the victims of violent crime in Canada, past and future, to get serious about gun smuggling, gangs and criminals.
As Evelyn Fox says, “I see the homicides happen and it’s almost like a retrigger for me to think that another mother has to go through this and another mother has to deal with the fact that they aren’t going to see their children again.” Because Bill C-21 will not actually make any difference to that, Conservatives will strongly oppose it, and if it passes, repeal Bill C-21.
View Bob Saroya Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bob Saroya Profile
2020-10-27 17:31 [p.1336]
moved that Bill C-238, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (possession of unlawfully imported firearms), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Madam Speaker, today, it is my pleasure to rise to introduce Bill C-238, an act to amend the Criminal Code, regarding the possession of unlawfully imported firearms. This bill would help make my community of Markham and communities across the country safer places to live. The bill would do that by increasing the mandatory minimum prison time for criminals in known possession of a smuggled gun. It would also make criminals charged with this crime less likely to be released on bail.
To understand the bill, members need to know how community safety in the GTA has changed over the years. That history is something I know very well.
Like many immigrants, I came to Canada and settled in Toronto as a young man. Back in the seventies, I lived in a rooming house in downtown Toronto with five other tenants and the landlady. My rent was $10 per week and no key was ever issued for the front door, since the door was always left open. There was no crime around my area, and no one was afraid to walk alone at any time of the night. However, over time, Toronto developed some problem areas.
Many years later, I owned several businesses, and some of them were in the most difficult part of town. I was always afraid for the safety of my staff and my customers. Police regularly came to download the security video from my business, since there were many crimes committed in the area.
This is one of the reasons I got involved with politics. I know what it is like to lose sleep over crime concerns. I want all Canadians to feel safe in their community. That is why I am always talking about safety and security.
As time went on, even the bad parts of Toronto felt safer. People worried less about their kids walking home at night and whether they remembered to lock their doors. I would proudly tell people that Toronto was one of the safest major cities in the world.
Over the past five years, that has changed. Gun crime has risen to new highs year after year. What once felt like a safe city no longer feels that way. Shootings are happening almost daily. Even with multiple lockdowns in Ontario this year, there were reports of nearly daily shootings, each more horrible than the last. It is easy to see this trend by following the news. In 2018, the headlines, day after day, were about horrific shootings. It was a record year for shooting deaths. In 2019, there were even more shootings. Things are not getting better.
Speaking to my constituents only confirmed what I believed about gun crime. When I go door to door, people tell me that they are afraid. I hear stories of gunshots close to parks where children play. The stories I heard last October, before COVID struck, are the same as what I am hearing now.
I will read some more recent headlines from our local paper. On June 21, it says, “York police investigate incident of gunshots fired at Markham residence”. On June 28, it says, “Man found dead behind wheel after shooting, crash in Markham”. On September 11, it says, “Police investigate several incidents of gunshots fired in Markham as 'possibly connected'”. On October 23, it says, “Second man arrested after shooting in Markham”.
The statistics published in the 2019 York Regional Police “Statistical Report” point to a growing problem in York Region. There are similar headlines from the rest of the GTA and across Canada. When I talk with MPs of all stripes, they are on the same page. I think it is very clear that the problem of gun crime is not getting better, and that needs to change.
Last year, I met with community leaders and law enforcement. I asked them what concrete steps the federal government needed to take to make the community safer. The thing I heard over and over at these meetings was that organized crime was behind the shootings, and the streets are flooded with guns smuggled from across the border. Mostly they are handguns because they are easy to smuggle, hide and carry. That should not be shocking news to anyone. Our farmers, hunters and sports shooters are not fuelling a crime wave. The shootings are gang-related, with innocent people getting caught in the crossfire.
The former head of the Toronto Police, my friend Chief Saunders, said last year, “Gun violence is getting worse, there is more access to firearms”. He also said that his sources show 82% of the guns picked up by police in Toronto are smuggled into the country.
Ontario’s Solicitor General, Sylvia Jones, has said that provincial numbers show that 84% of the guns used in crime are being smuggled into the country. She has said, “We need to actually crack down on that because that ultimately will keep our community safer.”
It makes sense. Canada shares the longest undefended border in the world with the United States, and in the United States it is very easy to purchase a gun. Smuggling guns is good business.
Let me quote directly from a CBC article. Superintendent Jason Crowley, with the Windsor police department, says that the appeal of smuggling guns is pure economics. He says, “You will see a gun, a firearm purchased in the States for potentially $200 to $300, and they'll go on the streets [in Canada] for $3,000.”
That is a return on investment that is hard to beat, but it gets worse. The industry is so profitable that criminals are even renting these guns. Why sell it for $3,000, when they can rent out the same gun for $2,000, multiple times?
I know that some members on the other side of the House may bring slightly different figures to this debate. However, I want to focus on the fact that smuggled guns are being used regularly in the GTA and across Canada. Many of the bullet wounds that send people to the hospital and the morgue come from smuggled guns.
The problem is deeper than just the guns. When the police catch the criminals using these guns, they end up right back on the street, sometimes within hours. While I know that some people may be concerned about criminals' rights, I want to be clear that criminals do not have the right to terrorize their community. When dangerous people are arrested for shootings and they return to the community within a day, there is a strong message to the community. That message is that people cannot depend on the justice system to keep them safe.
This is not an exaggeration. When I spoke to the police about this, they said it was a problem. Just having someone in jail for a couple of days can help them cool down and put a pause on the cycle of violence. They are not alone in this.
The Premier of Ontario has said, “somebody gets arrested on a Friday night and they get bail and are back out on Wednesday for retribution. That’s absolutely unacceptable”. Ontario municipal leaders, including the mayor of Toronto, are calling for tougher bail for those accused of gun-related offences and longer sentences for those convicted. There are too many stories of dangerous criminals receiving bail only to commit more crimes within hours.
My private member's bill would help tackle both smuggled guns and dangerous criminals on bail. As members may know, possession of an unauthorized firearm that was obtained in crime is covered by section 96 of the Criminal Code. The punishment is one to 10 years, or a summary conviction. That does not go far enough. My bill will distinguish known possession of a smuggled firearm as a more serious offence.
This offence would come with three to 14 years in prison on the first conviction and five to 14 on the second and subsequent convictions. This charge is comparable to the prison time for illegal firearm importing and exporting.
Possession of a smuggled firearm is a serious crime. That is why people charged with this new offence would face reverse onus bail, which requires criminals to tell a judge why they should be let back into the community on bail. This type of bail is already in the Criminal Code for multiple crimes such as hostage-taking, armed robbery or extortion with a firearm. This bill would make sure the punishment fits the crime of carrying around a smuggled gun.
I know there are some concerns with respect to my bill. Normally, with legislation on firearms, people are concerned about the unintended effects: that, instead of the law cracking down on criminals, it would be used to punish hunters who file paperwork a little too late. We have seen this before in the long-gun registry, which cost about a billion dollars but did not seem to make anyone safer. This bill would avoid that. It is only focused on weapons that are smuggled and on known possession.
I know other members will be concerned about mandatory minimums. They believe that taking the decision out of the hands of a judge is wrong and is a question of human rights. Some might consider three years in prison to be cruel and unusual punishment, especially for a first offence. I disagree. People in known possession of a smuggled gun have the gun for a reason. Even someone who hands off a smuggled gun is putting the safety of the community at risk. At worst, they are assisting with a shooting or a murder. I think members need to focus on how criminals are driving away jobs in our own communities. Some of these criminals may be able to turn their lives around, but that will not happen without serious consequences for their actions. Dangerous criminals learn nothing when we slap them on the wrist for terrible crimes. When they are in prison, I am happy to support programs that can give them a better future. Recent attempts by the Liberal government have not been able to get at the root of the problem. This bill strikes at the people who we know for a fact are criminals.
This bill is one of many steps that need to be taken to make my constituents, and millions of other Canadians, a bit safer. I urge all MPs to vote for this legislation and to continue to do the work needed to make Canada an even safer place to raise a family.
If members have any questions about the legislation, we can iron it out at committee.
View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam Vaughan Profile
2020-10-27 17:50 [p.1339]
Madam Speaker, when I saw this on the Order Paper and that it was up for discussion tonight, I literally ran from my office to be here. There is nothing that has taken more lives in my life than handguns. In fact, I have been to more funerals in my riding for children killed by illegal handguns than I have for members of my own family in my entire lifetime.
People only have to attend one of these funerals to have their lives changed forever. For those who have attended a sequence of them, one begins to understand that it is not the cliché that is being buried, it is a victim of so many things that have gone wrong that is being buried. The families who have to deal with gun violence in their communities are traumatized. Literally, the number of children suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders in the riding that I represent, in a couple of neighbourhoods, is exceptional.
I will never forget, after a machine gun was used to terrorize a community, seeing a grandmother pull the shrapnel out of a kid's bicycle that now had a flat tire and hand to me so I could give it to the police just in case they could find the individual who had used a submachine gun in a residential neighbourhood.
The most terrifying thing is that in some of our communities, it is not even the residents in the communities who are the targets, it is just the name of the community that is targeted. The media picks up on it and it further traumatizes and stigmatizes the young people who come from some of these neighbourhoods. At the end of the day, it is young people's lives that are being taken by illegal handguns and it is time for it to end, and to end as quickly as possible.
I thank the member opposite for stepping up. We do not normally see good, strong gun control legislation coming from the Conservatives, but in this case, as I said, I do not need a party to tell me how to vote. My residents have told me how to vote and I will be supporting this bill.
The issue, however, is more than just the smuggled guns. By the time a kid picks up a handgun to shoot or be shot, it is too late. So much of what we need to do as a country and, in particular, so much of what we need to do in the city I represent is to give young people better choices, because when those better choices are there, they make the better choice.
I have seen countless examples of young people who have been steered away from a life of trouble, have been taken away from the justice system, put into restorative systems and literally rehabilitated, to the point where they are leaders in bringing down the level of violence that threatens our communities. They have changed the way young people themselves approach the challenges that some of them face and have taken neighbourhoods that had shootings that were just too many to count and returned them to relative peace.
All it takes is people coming out of prison and recycling themselves into a society that does not give them any options except a life of crime sometimes and we end up with a revictimizing of the victims, a revictimizing of these young people and it starts all over again. There are neighbourhoods that are literally on five-year cycles because of the five-year mandatory minimum sentences.
We can almost predict which community, in five years' time, will have a major bust or sweep through it with guns and other elements of criminal activity involved. We know that everyone will be getting out of prison at about the same time, in about five years' time, and it will start all over again. That is why justice reform, changing the way we police this issue, stopping guns at the border and giving kids better choices are conversations I will never back away from. It also requires us to think differently about guns in this country.
I have a sister who ran a logging and tree-planting crew in the interior of B.C. and on Vancouver Island. I understand a shotgun is used as a tool to keep people, especially tree planters, safe in very remote communities. My family was a farming family back in Australia and I certainly understand that sometimes farmers require these tools in order to keep their crops safe or their livestock alive. I understand that and I have no intention of breaking into that.
I have been to the north with my colleague from the Northwest Territories. I have seen the way country food is harvested. I understand the role that hunting plays in sustaining communities from coast to coast to coast, in particular, indigenous communities, but there is no rational reason for anybody in this country to own a handgun. Handguns are made for one reason, and one reason only, and that is to kill people.
They may be needed in the armed forces and policing. Even then I still require convincing continually because I get nervous when I see handguns pulled in policing sometimes. I have been on the police service board, I have been to police funerals and I understand the need to defend people, and police officers have just as much right to go home safely after their shift as any other Canadian.
The culture around handguns is as much what we are trying to stop coming across the border as the politics of handguns and the handguns themselves.
We put this bill in a sequence of legislation that includes strong investments in public housing, strong investments in early learning and childcare, strong investments in youth diversion from the justice system, and strong investments in looking at different ways that sentencing can work to support the re-creation and rebirth of people who have made bad choices in their lives. When we invest in education and jobs, and particularly jobs in racialized communities, the temperature changes. The danger starts to disappear, but it is never entirely gone until the guns are gone.
I have huge problems with any attempt to relax the regulations around guns in this country. I will never back away, as I said, from this conversation. They can put my face on the sides of campaign buses and they can write the hateful letters and terrible emails that are sent when one speaks out against handguns and gun violence in this country. I do not care. I just do not care. I care too much about the people and families in my riding who have had to suffer from bad gun laws in this country for too long.
It is different in rural Canada. I get that, but in urban Canada there is no need, no reason, no requirement and no justification for owning a handgun. Whether it is lost, whether it is stolen or whether it is smuggled, when that gun goes off that bullet does not stop ricocheting in our communities. Families that lost a loved one 15 years ago still walk by corners in my riding and break down in tears. Families that lost a loved one to ricocheting bullets that went through windows, or bounced off bicycles, or went through air conditioners do not forget the sound of bullets entering a living room and do not feel safe in their homes anymore.
We have a responsibility as politicians. We have a responsibility as community leaders. We have a responsibility as neighbours to protect each other from this kind of violence. If this law takes 50 guns off the street, I will support it. If it takes 100 guns off, I will cheer. If it takes 1,000 guns out of our communities, I will be doing nothing other than giving my thanks to the hon. member for the leadership he is providing on this issue.
That being said, we also need to have a frank conversation about mandatory minimum sentences, because we know systemically how they are applied and who they are applied to, and who benefits from justice and who does not when it does not understand context. This is not a plea to be soft on criminals. If someone has picked up a gun and fired it, they are a criminal and will always be a criminal, in my view.
The real challenge, and the most important thing here, is to start to understand that we have an opportunity, a responsibility and a chance to take those bullets, and those handguns, away from our communities and make the lives of police officers safer, make the lives of clerks of the court system safer, make our communities safer, and make politicians safer as we see guns being used against politicians around the world. We have a mutual obligation to work together.
I know that there are people who have a relationship with their guns because they went hunting with their dad. I know that there are communities that need the long gun and the shotgun for food. I understand the arguments that come and the divide that exists between rural Canada and urban Canada, but I plead with people who come from rural ridings to understand that they have to help us stop burying kids in Toronto. We need everyone's help, and we cannot do it alone, with educational programs or background checks. We have to focus on handguns.
I recognize there are some people who like to trap shoot, just as there are some people who like to throw javelins, but someone cannot throw a javelin in downtown Toronto just because they want to. Someone cannot drive a snowmobile in the winter through downtown Toronto just because they want to. If someone has to have a gun and needs to pursue that hobby, please take it out of our cities. Take it away from crowded environments. Take it away from the nightclubs. Take it away from the back alleys. Take it away from a place where it will hurt somebody, because of the damage that guns have been doing, in particular with regard to who is being buried and which communities are being affected.
People are crying for laws on this. They are pleading with us for laws on this and their voices are being largely ignored in this Parliament. It has to end. It is for that reason that I will be voting for this motion, even with my concerns about the mandatory minimum sentences, because we have to get rid of handguns in this country and I will never back down from that position, ever.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Honourable Senators,
Members of the House of Commons,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Every day on our shared planet, millions face hardships that test the human spirit. Extreme weather, wildfires, poverty, conflicts, discrimination and inequalities. Rarely though, has all of humanity faced a single common insidious enemy. An invisible enemy that respects no borders, thrives anywhere, hits anyone.
To overcome a pandemic requires the work and resolve of every order of government, every community, and every one of us.
We don’t decide when hardship comes, but here in Canada, we have decided how we wanted to address it. We have adapted in remarkable ways.
We Canadians did our part. We changed our habits, postponed our plans, switched to teleworking or had to completely reinvent our work, all this, while caring for one another.
We owe an immense debt to those who served and still serve on the frontlines, to health care personnel and essential workers, women and men in uniform, volunteers and leaders, everywhere in the country.
There has been a lot of suffering and we all mourn those who have passed.
We trust science to lead the fight until a safe and effective vaccine becomes available. But until then, we must keep our guard up, using the tools that are available to us now – such as testing, treatments and physical distancing measures.
Like a reed in high winds, we might sway but we will not break. Because our roots are firmly in place, our goals clear, and because we have hope – the hope that lifts the soul on dark days and keeps us focused on the future.
Canadians have lived through uncertain times before and have always prevailed because determination, concern for others, courage, and common sense define our nation.
We must bring all those qualities to bear once again and continue to work for the common good, and for a better, safer and more just society.
This is who we are and what will see us through to brighter days.
Opening
For over 150 years, Parliamentarians have worked together to chart Canada’s path forward.
Your predecessors met when Confederation was only a few months old, setting the course for a young country. They stood united through Canada’s toughest days, leading the nation through wars and depression. And as they did, each Parliamentarian was called to meet their times.
Today, Canadians expect you to do the same. They expect you to work together on their behalf and meet this crucial moment.
Less than a year ago, we gathered here for a Throne Speech to open the 43rd Parliament. Since then, our realities have changed. And so must our approach.
This pandemic is the most serious public health crisis Canada has ever faced.
Over 9,000 Canadians have died in six months. For our neighbours in the United States, this figure is over 200,000. Globally, it’s nearly a million.
But these aren’t just numbers. These are friends and family. Neighbours and colleagues.
The pandemic is the story of parents who have died alone, without loved ones to hold their hand.
It is the story of kids who have gone months without seeing friends.
Of workers who have lost their jobs.
The last six months have laid bare fundamental gaps in our society, and in societies around the world. This pandemic has been hard for everyone. But for those who were already struggling, the burden has been even heavier.
For parents – and especially moms – who are facing impossible choices between kids and career.
For racialized Canadians and Indigenous Peoples who are confronted by systemic barriers.
For young people who are worried about what their future will hold.
For seniors who are isolated, frightened, and most at risk.
And for workers who, while earning the lowest wages in the most precarious sectors, have been on the frontlines of the pandemic.
We must address these challenges of today. But we also cannot forget about the tests of the future.
The world came into this pandemic facing the risks and consequences of climate change. A lesson that COVID-19 has taught us, is that we need to match challenges with decisiveness and determination.
On all of these fronts – health and the economy, equality and the environment – we must take bold action.
The Government will meet these challenges.
The Government’s approach will have four foundations.
The first foundation of this plan is to fight the pandemic and save lives.
The second foundation of the Government’s plan is supporting people and businesses through this crisis as long as it lasts, whatever it takes. Effectively dealing with the health crisis is the best thing we can do for the economy. Government action has already helped Canadians stay safe, and buffered the worst economic impacts.
The third foundation is to build back better to create a stronger, more resilient Canada. To do this, we must keep strengthening the middle class and helping people working hard to join it, and continue creating jobs and building long-term competitiveness with clean growth. We must also keep building safer communities for everyone.
The fourth and final foundation of this plan is to stand up for who we are as Canadians. We cannot forget what has made us a country that is welcoming. A country that celebrates two official languages. That achieves progress on gender equality, walks the road of reconciliation, and fights discrimination of every kind.
This is our generation’s crossroads.
Do we move Canada forward, or let people be left behind? Do we come out of this stronger, or paper over the cracks that the crisis has exposed?
This is the time to remember who we are as Canadians.
This is the opportunity to contain the global crisis and build back better, together.
Protecting Canadians from COVID-19
The first foundation of the Government’s approach is protecting Canadians from COVID-19.
This is priority number one.
It is the job of the federal government to look out for all Canadians and especially our most vulnerable. We need to work together. Beating this virus is a Team Canada effort.
Over the last six months, Canadians have stood united and strong. Their actions embody what has always been the purpose of the federal government: bringing Canadians together to achieve common goals.
Personal protective equipment has been shipped across the country. Members of the Canadian Forces were there in long-term care homes.
Close to 9 million Canadians were helped with the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and over 3.5 million jobs were supported by the wage subsidy.
The Government will continue to have people’s backs just like Canadians have each other’s backs.
Through the first wave, contact tracing and testing ramped up across the country. The surge this fall further reinforces what we already know – that we must do even more.
The federal government will be there to help the provinces increase their testing capacity. Canadians should not be waiting in line for hours to get a test.
At the same time, the Government is pursuing every technology and every option for faster tests for Canadians from coast to coast to coast. As soon as tests are approved for safe use in Canada, the Government will do everything it can to see them deployed. The Government will also create a federal Testing Assistance Response Team to quickly meet surge testing needs, including in remote and isolated communities.
Local public health authorities are the backbone of our nation’s efforts to stop outbreaks before they start. As members of the communities they protect, they know the devastating economic impact a lockdown order can have.
To prevent small clusters from becoming major outbreaks, communities may need to enact short-term closure orders. To make that decision easier for the public health authorities, and to help ease the impact that science- and evidence-based decisions can have on local businesses in the short term, the Government will work to target additional financial support directly to businesses which have to temporarily shut down as a result of a local public health decision.
This will ensure that decisions are made with the health of Canadians as the first priority.
The Government will also continue to work on what communities need more broadly.
The Government has already invested over $19 billion for a Safe Restart Agreement with provinces and territories, to support everything from the capacity of health care systems to securing PPE.
To address the challenges faced by provinces and territories as they reopen classrooms, the federal government invested $2 billion in the Safe Return to Class Fund, along with new funding for First Nations communities. This is money to keep kids – and staff – safe in the classroom, whether that’s by helping schools buy cleaning supplies or upgrade ventilation.
These commitments build on federal investments to support people who are most at risk and those who care for them, including with the federal wage top-up for personal support workers. People on the frontlines who have been looking after seniors do vital work and the Government will continue to have their backs.
At the same time, the Government will continue to support Canadians as they take action to keep each other safe.
Already, people are doing their part by wearing masks. That’s important, and we can build on that commitment. Working with private sector partners, the federal government created the COVID Alert app. Canadians living in Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, and Saskatchewan now have an extra tool to keep themselves and others safe. The Government hopes all the others will sign on so that people in all parts of the country can both do their part and be better protected.
The Government will also continue to work on getting Canadians the PPE they need.
This spring, the Government issued a call, and thousands of Canadian businesses and manufacturers responded. From shop floors to companies big and small, Canada’s dynamic businesses met the challenge as their workers stepped up.
And in less than six months, Canadians are now manufacturing almost all types of PPE. The Government will continue building that domestic capacity, while securing supply chains to keep Canadians safe and create jobs.
Canadians are pulling together, whether that’s with PPE manufacturing, through the COVID Alert app, or by wearing a mask. In the same way, Canadian researchers and scientists are pitching in to the Team Canada effort with their knowledge and expertise.
Vaccine efforts
In the long run, the best way to end this pandemic is with a safe and effective vaccine.
Canada’s vaccine strategy is all about ensuring that Canadians will be able to get a vaccine once it is ready.
There are many types of potential candidates. Canada is exploring the full range of options. The Government has already secured access to vaccine candidates and therapeutics, while investing in manufacturing here at home. And to get the vaccines out to Canadians once they’re ready, the Government has made further investments in our capacity for vaccine distribution.
From the Vaccine Task Force that provides the best advice on vaccine purchasing and roll-out, to the Immunity Task Force looking at how COVID-19 is affecting vulnerable populations, Canada’s top scientific minds are guiding the Government every step of the way.
Helping Canadians through the pandemic
The medical and scientific fight against this virus is crucial. And so are the livelihoods of every single Canadian, worker, and family.
So the second foundation of the Government’s approach is supporting Canadians through this crisis.
The economic impact of COVID-19 on Canadians has already been worse than the 2008 financial crisis. These consequences will not be short-lived.
This is not the time for austerity. Canada entered this crisis in the best fiscal position of its peers. And the Government is using that fiscal firepower, on things like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, so that Canadians, businesses, and our entire economy have the support needed to weather the storm.
Canadians should not have to choose between health and their job, just like Canadians should not have to take on debt that their government can better shoulder.
Creating jobs
People losing their jobs is perhaps the clearest consequence of the global economic shock that Canadians – like those in other countries – have faced.
The CERB helped people stay healthy at home while being able to keep food on the table.
The CEWS helped people keep their jobs, or be rehired if they had been laid off.
But there is still more to be done.
Unemployment is in the double digits, and underemployment is high.
Women, racialized Canadians, and young people have borne the brunt of job losses.
Canadians need good jobs they can rely on.
To help make that happen, the Government will launch a campaign to create over one million jobs, restoring employment to previous levels. This will be done by using a range of tools, including direct investments in the social sector and infrastructure, immediate training to quickly skill up workers, and incentives for employers to hire and retain workers.
One way the Government will create these jobs is by extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy right through to next summer. The Government will work with businesses and labour to ensure the program meets the needs of the health and economic situation as it evolves.
Another example of how the Government will create jobs is by significantly scaling up the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy, to provide more paid work experiences next year for young Canadians.
Now, more than ever, Canadians must work together – including by eliminating remaining barriers between provinces to full, free internal trade – to get the economy back up and running and Canadians back to work.
Supporting workers and their families
With the job losses that Canadians have faced, it became clear early on that many people would need help until they could find work once again. But existing income support systems were not designed to handle this unprecedented situation. That’s why the Government moved quickly to create the Canada Emergency Response Benefit as a temporary program to help millions of Canadians get through a very difficult time.
With the economic restart now well underway, CERB recipients should instead be supported by the Employment Insurance system. For people who would not traditionally qualify for EI, the Government will create the transitional Canada Recovery Benefit.
Over the coming months, the EI system will become the sole delivery mechanism for employment benefits, including for Canadians who did not qualify for EI before the pandemic. This pandemic has shown that Canada needs an EI system for the 21st century, including for the self-employed and those in the gig economy.
Women in the Economy
Women – and in particular low-income women – have been hit hardest by COVID-19. This crisis has been described as a She-cession.
Many women have bravely served on the frontlines of this crisis, in our communities or by shouldering the burden of unpaid care work at home.
We must not let the legacy of the pandemic be one of rolling back the clock on women’s participation in the workforce, nor one of backtracking on the social and political gains women and allies have fought so hard to secure.
The Government will create an Action Plan for Women in the Economy to help more women get back into the workforce and to ensure a feminist, intersectional response to this pandemic and recovery. This Plan will be guided by a task force of experts whose diverse voices will power a whole of government approach.
It has been nearly 50 years since the Royal Commission on the Status of Women outlined the necessity of child care services for women’s social and economic equality. We have long understood that Canada cannot succeed if half of the population is held back. Canadians need more accessible, affordable, inclusive, and high quality childcare.
Recognizing the urgency of this challenge, the Government will make a significant, long-term, sustained investment to create a Canada-wide early learning and childcare system.
The Government will build on previous investments, learn from the model that already exists in Quebec, and work with all provinces and territories to ensure that high-quality care is accessible to all.
There is broad consensus from all parts of society, including business and labour leaders, that the time is now.
The Government also remains committed to subsidizing before- and after-school program costs. With the way that this pandemic has affected parents and families, flexible care options for primary school children are more important than ever.
The Government will also accelerate the Women’s Entrepreneurship Strategy, which has already helped women across Canada grow their businesses.
Supporting businesses
As the Government invests in people, it will continue to support job-creating businesses.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of communities and the backbone of the economy. The Government introduced a range of supports for Canadian businesses, from help with payroll through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to assistance with expenses through interest-free loans.
COVID-19 has caused businesses across the country, both large and small, to rethink their approaches. Entrepreneurs and owners are looking at more digital options, more creative solutions, and more climate-friendly investments.
The Government will help businesses adapt for the future and thrive.
This fall, in addition to extending the wage subsidy, the Government will take further steps to bridge vulnerable businesses to the other side of the pandemic by:
Expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account to help businesses with fixed costs;
Improving the Business Credit Availability Program;
And introducing further support for industries that have been the hardest hit, including travel and tourism, hospitality, and cultural industries like the performing arts.
Fiscal sustainability
This COVID-19 emergency has had huge costs. But Canada would have had a deeper recession and a bigger long-term deficit if the Government had done less.
With interest rates so low, central banks can only do so much to help. There is a global consensus that governments must do more. Government can do so while also locking in the low cost of borrowing for decades to come. This Government will preserve Canada’s fiscal advantage and continue to be guided by values of sustainability and prudence.
There are two distinct needs.
The first is to help Canadians in the short term, to do whatever it takes, using whatever fiscal firepower is needed to support people and businesses during the pandemic. The best way to keep the economy strong is to keep Canadians healthy.
The second need is to build back better, with a sustainable approach for future generations. As the Government builds a plan for stimulus and recovery, this must be done responsibly.
In the longer term, the Government will focus on targeted investments to strengthen the middle class, build resiliency, and generate growth. The Government will also identify additional ways to tax extreme wealth inequality, including by concluding work to limit the stock option deduction for wealthy individuals at large, established corporations, and addressing corporate tax avoidance by digital giants.
Web giants are taking Canadians’ money while imposing their own priorities. Things must change, and will change. The Government will act to ensure their revenue is shared more fairly with our creators and media, and will also require them to contribute to the creation, production, and distribution of our stories, on screen, in lyrics, in music, and in writing.
This fall, the Government will release an update to Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. This will outline the Government’s economic and fiscal position, provide fiscal projections, and set out new measures to implement this Throne Speech.
This update will make clear that the strength of the middle class, and the wellbeing of all Canadians, remain Canada’s key measures of success.
Building back better – a resiliency agenda for the middle class
As we fight for every Canadian and defend everyone’s ability to succeed, we also need to focus on the future, and on building back better. This forms the third foundation of the Government’s approach.
Around the world, advanced economies are realizing that things should not go back to business as usual. COVID-19 has exposed the vulnerabilities in our societies.
The Government will create a resiliency agenda for the middle class and people working hard to join it.
This will include addressing the gaps in our social systems, investing in health care, and creating jobs. It will also include fighting climate change, and maintaining a commitment to fiscal sustainability and economic growth as the foundation of a strong and vibrant society.
Addressing gaps in our social systems
Central to this is recognizing that one of the greatest tragedies of this pandemic is the lives lost in long-term care homes. Elders deserve to be safe, respected, and live in dignity.
Although long-term care falls under provincial and territorial jurisdiction, the federal government will take any action it can to support seniors while working alongside the provinces and territories.
The Government will work with Parliament on Criminal Code amendments to explicitly penalize those who neglect seniors under their care, putting them in danger.
The Government will also:
Work with the provinces and territories to set new, national standards for long-term care so that seniors get the best support possible;
And take additional action to help people stay in their homes longer.
The Government remains committed to increasing Old Age Security once a senior turns 75, and boosting the Canada Pension Plan survivor’s benefit.
The Government will look at further targeted measures for personal support workers, who do an essential service helping the most vulnerable in our communities. Canada must better value their work and their contributions to our society.
COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Canadians with disabilities, and highlighted long-standing challenges. The Government will bring forward a Disability Inclusion Plan, which will have:
A new Canadian Disability Benefit modelled after the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors;
A robust employment strategy for Canadians with disabilities;
And a better process to determine eligibility for Government disability programs and benefits.
Over the last six months, it has become clearer than ever why Canadians need a resilient health care system.
The Government will ensure that everyone – including in rural and remote areas – has access to a family doctor or primary care team. COVID-19 has also shown that our system needs to be more flexible and able to reach people at home. The Government will continue to expand capacity to deliver virtual health care.
The Government will also continue to address the opioid epidemic tearing through communities, which is an ongoing and worsening public health crisis. Additionally, the Government will further increase access to mental health resources. All Canadians should have the care they need, when they need it. We will all be stronger for it.
The same goes for access to the medicine that keeps people healthy. Many Canadians who had drug plans through work lost this coverage when they were laid off because of the pandemic. So this is exactly the right moment to ramp up efforts to address that.
The Government remains committed to a national, universal pharmacare program and will accelerate steps to achieve this system including:
Through a rare-disease strategy to help Canadian families save money on high-cost drugs;
Establishing a national formulary to keep drug prices low;
And working with provinces and territories willing to move forward without delay.
In addition to good health infrastructure, Canadians also need strong, safe communities to call home.
The Government has banned assault-style firearms. The Government will also continue implementing firearms policy commitments, including:
Giving municipalities the ability to further restrict or ban handguns;
And strengthening measures to control the flow of illegal guns into Canada.
Women’s safety must be the foundation on which all progress is built. The Government will accelerate investments in shelters and transition housing, and continue to advance with a National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence.
To keep building strong communities, over the next two years the Government will also invest in all types of infrastructure, including public transit, energy efficient retrofits, clean energy, rural broadband, and affordable housing, particularly for Indigenous Peoples and northern communities.
In the last six months, many more people have worked from home, done classes from the kitchen table, shopped online, and accessed government services remotely. So it has become more important than ever that all Canadians have access to the internet.
The Government will accelerate the connectivity timelines and ambitions of the Universal Broadband Fund to ensure that all Canadians, no matter where they live, have access to high-speed internet.
And to further link our communities together, the Government will work with partners to support regional routes for airlines. It is essential that Canadians have access to reliable and affordable regional air services. This is an issue of equity, of jobs, and of economic development. The Government will work to support this.
Strong communities are places where everyone has a safe, affordable home.
No one should be without a place to stay during a pandemic, or for that matter, a Canadian winter.
This week, the Government invested more than $1 billion for people experiencing homelessness, including for this fall.
In 2017, the Government announced that it would reduce chronic homelessness by 50 percent. The Government has already helped more than a million people get a safe and affordable place to call home. Given the progress that has been made, and our commitment to do more, the Government is now focused on entirely eliminating chronic homelessness in Canada.
At the same time, the Government will also make substantial investments in housing for Canadians.
The Government will add to the historic National Housing Strategy announced in 2017 by increasing investments to rapid housing in the short term, and partnering with not-for-profits and co-ops in the mid- to long-term. For the middle class, the Government will also move forward with enhancements to the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, including in Canada’s largest cities, so families can afford to buy their first home.
Housing is something everyone deserves, and it’s also a key driver of the economy. Construction projects create jobs, and having a home is critical so people can contribute to their communities.
Just like everyone deserves a home, everyone deserves to be able to put nutritious food on the table.
The pandemic has made that harder for Canadians. The Government will continue to work with partners – including directly with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation partners – to address food insecurity in Canada. The Government will also strengthen local food supply chains here in Canada.
The Canadian and migrant workers who produce, harvest, and process our food – from people picking fruit to packing seafood – have done an outstanding job getting good food on people’s plates. They deserve the Government’s full support and protection.
The Government will also ensure that those in Canada’s supply managed sectors receive full and fair compensation for recent trade agreements. Farmers keep our families fed, and we will continue to help them succeed and grow.
A stronger workforce
This pandemic has revealed gaps in health, housing, and food supply. And it has also laid bare inequalities Canadians face in the workforce.
We have an opportunity to not just support Canadians, but grow their potential. Working with the provinces and territories, the Government will make the largest investment in Canadian history in training for workers. This will include by:
Supporting Canadians as they build new skills in growing sectors;
Helping workers receive education and accreditation;
And strengthening workers’ futures, by connecting them to employers and good jobs, in order to grow and strengthen the middle class.
From researchers developing vaccines, to entrepreneurs building online stores, this pandemic has reminded us of the power of the knowledge economy, and how vital it is for our future.
Canadians are leading, and they should have government services that keep up.
The Government will make generational investments in updating outdated IT systems to modernize the way that Government serves Canadians, from the elderly to the young, from people looking for work to those living with a disability. The Government will also work to introduce free, automatic tax filing for simple returns to ensure citizens receive the benefits they need.
Government must remain agile, and ready for what lies ahead.
Taking action on extreme risks from climate change
Climate action will be a cornerstone of our plan to support and create a million jobs across the country.
This is where the world is going. Global consumers and investors are demanding and rewarding climate action.
Canadians have the determination and ingenuity to rise to this challenge and global market opportunity.
We can create good jobs today and a globally competitive economy not just next year, but in 2030, 2040, and beyond.
Canadians also know climate change threatens our health, way of life, and planet. They want climate action now, and that is what the Government will continue to deliver.
The Government will immediately bring forward a plan to exceed Canada’s 2030 climate goal. The Government will also legislate Canada’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
As part of its plan, the Government will:
Create thousands of jobs retrofitting homes and buildings, cutting energy costs for Canadian families and businesses;
Invest in reducing the impact of climate-related disasters, like floods and wildfires, to make communities safer and more resilient;
Help deliver more transit and active transit options;
And make zero-emissions vehicles more affordable while investing in more charging stations across the country.
A good example of adapting to a carbon-neutral future is building zero-emissions vehicles and batteries. Canada has the resources – from nickel to copper – needed for these clean technologies. This – combined with Canadian expertise – is Canada’s competitive edge.
The Government will launch a new fund to attract investments in making zero-emissions products and cut the corporate tax rate in half for these companies to create jobs and make Canada a world leader in clean technology. The Government will ensure Canada is the most competitive jurisdiction in the world for clean technology companies.
Additionally, the Government will:
Transform how we power our economy and communities by moving forward with the Clean Power Fund, including with projects like the Atlantic Loop that will connect surplus clean power to regions transitioning away from coal;
And support investments in renewable energy and next-generation clean energy and technology solutions.
Canada cannot reach net zero without the know-how of the energy sector, and the innovative ideas of all Canadians, including people in places like British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Government will:
Support manufacturing, natural resource, and energy sectors as they work to transform to meet a net zero future, creating good-paying and long-lasting jobs;
And recognize farmers, foresters, and ranchers as key partners in the fight against climate change, supporting their efforts to reduce emissions and build resilience.
The Government will continue its policy of putting a price on pollution, while putting that money back in the pockets of Canadians. It cannot be free to pollute.
This pandemic has reminded Canadians of the importance of nature. The Government will work with municipalities as part of a new commitment to expand urban parks, so that everyone has access to green space. This will be done while protecting a quarter of Canada’s land and a quarter of Canada’s oceans in five years, and using nature-based solutions to fight climate change, including by planting two billion trees.
The Government will ban harmful single-use plastics next year and ensure more plastic is recycled. And the Government will also modernize Canada’s Environmental Protection Act.
When the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration was closed by a previous government, Canada lost an important tool to manage its waters. The Government will create a new Canada Water Agency to keep our water safe, clean, and well-managed. The Government will also identify opportunities to build more resilient water and irrigation infrastructure.
At the same time, the Government will look at continuing to grow Canada’s ocean economy to create opportunities for fishers and coastal communities, while advancing reconciliation and conservation objectives. Investing in the Blue Economy will help Canada prosper.
The Canada we’re fighting for
This is a fight for Canadians today and Canada tomorrow. So we must never forget the values that make us who we are. The fourth and final foundation of the Government’s approach is defending Canadian values and ensuring they are lived experiences for everyone.
Canada is a place where we take care of each other. This has helped Canada weather the pandemic better than many other countries.
Canada must continue to stand up for the values that define this country, whether that’s welcoming newcomers, celebrating with pride the contributions of LGBTQ2 communities, or embracing two official languages. There is work still to be done, including on the road of reconciliation, and in addressing systemic racism.
Reconciliation
Throughout the pandemic, the Government has made it a priority to support Indigenous communities, which has helped contain the spread of COVID-19 and kept people safe. That is something the Government will continue to do.
The Government will walk the shared path of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, and remain focused on implementing the commitments made in 2019. However, the pandemic has shown that we need to keep moving forward even faster on a number of fronts including by:
Expediting work to co-develop distinctions-based Indigenous health legislation with First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation, and a distinctions-based mental health and wellness strategy;
Accelerating work on the National Action Plan in response to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ Calls for Justice, as well as implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action;
And continuing to close the infrastructure gap in Indigenous communities, working on a distinctions-basis with First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation to accelerate the government’s 10-year commitment.
The Government will also:
Make additional resiliency investments to meet the clean drinking water commitment in First Nations communities;
And support additional capacity-building for First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation.
The Government will move forward to introduce legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples before the end of this year.
Addressing systemic racism
For too many Canadians, systemic racism is a lived reality. We know that racism did not take a pause during the pandemic. On the contrary, COVID-19 has hit racialized Canadians especially hard.
Many people – especially Indigenous people, and Black and racialized Canadians – have raised their voices and stood up to demand change.
They are telling us we must do more. The Government agrees.
The Government pledged to address systemic racism, and committed to do so in a way informed by the lived experiences of racialized communities and Indigenous Peoples.
The Government has invested in economic empowerment through the Black Entrepreneurship Program, while working to close the gaps in services for Indigenous communities. Important steps were taken with the release of Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy for 2019-2022, the creation of an anti-racism secretariat, and the appointment of the first-ever Minister focused specifically on diversity and inclusion. This is all good, but much more needs to be done for permanent, transformative change to take shape.
The Government will redouble its efforts by:
Taking action on online hate;
Going further on economic empowerment for specific communities, and increasing diversity on procurement;
Building a whole-of-federal-government approach around better collection of disaggregated data;
Implementing an action plan to increase representation in hiring and appointments, and leadership development within the Public Service;
And taking new steps to support the artistic and economic contributions of Black Canadian culture and heritage.
Progress must also be made throughout the policing and justice systems. All Canadians must have the confidence that the justice system is there to protect them, not to harm them. Black Canadians and Indigenous Peoples are overrepresented in the criminal justice system. That has to change.
The Government will take steps to ensure that the strong hand of criminal justice is used where it is needed to keep people safe, but not where it would be discriminatory or counterproductive.
The Government will:
Introduce legislation and make investments that take action to address the systemic inequities in all phases of the criminal justice system, from diversion to sentencing, from rehabilitation to records;
Move forward on enhanced civilian oversight of our law enforcement agencies, including the RCMP;
Modernize training for police and law enforcement, including addressing standards around the use of force;
Move forward on RCMP reforms, with a shift toward community-led policing;
And accelerate work to co-develop a legislative framework for First Nations policing as an essential service.
Protecting two official languages
Our two official languages are woven into the fabric of our country.
The defence of the rights of Francophones outside Quebec, and the defence of the rights of the Anglophone minority within Quebec, is a priority for the Government.
The Government of Canada must also recognize that the situation of French is unique. There are almost 8 million Francophones in Canada within a region of over 360 million inhabitants who are almost exclusively Anglophone. The Government therefore has the responsibility to protect and promote French not only outside of Quebec, but also within Quebec.
In this vein, 51 years after the passage of the Official Languages Act, the Government is committed to strengthening this legislation among other things, taking into consideration the unique reality of French.
A welcoming Canada
Immigration remains a driver of Canada’s economic growth.
With other countries rejecting global talent that could help their economy, Canada has an opportunity as we recover to become the world’s top destination for talent, capital, and jobs. When people choose Canada, help build Canada, and make sacrifices in support of Canada, we should make it easier for them to formally become Canadian.
Earlier this year, the Government announced measures to grant permanent residency to people who, although not Canadian citizens, had cared for the most vulnerable in long-term care homes and other medical facilities.
The Government will continue to bring in newcomers and support family reunification. We know that there is an economic and human advantage to having families together.
As part of both the short-term economic recovery and a long-term plan for growth, the Government will leverage the advantage we have on immigration to keep Canada competitive on the world stage.
Canada in the world
We must take action on all of these priorities at home. But we must also address the world in which we live.
COVID-19 has accelerated the existing trends toward a more fragmented global order. It remains in Canada’s interest to create and maintain bilateral and multilateral relationships to advance peace and economic prosperity.
The Government will invest more in international development while supporting developing countries on their economic recoveries and resilience. Canada will also support work to ensure that people around the world have access to a vaccine. We cannot eliminate this pandemic in Canada unless we end it everywhere.
The Government will also continue to stand up for human rights and the rule of law. It is unacceptable that any citizen be arbitrarily detained. Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor must be brought home. This is something for which all Canadians stand united.
The Government will continue to fight for free trade, including by leading the Ottawa Group to reform the World Trade Organization.
Our likeminded allies and partners are investing to make sure their societies emerge stronger. This Government’s plan does that as well.
Conclusion
Taken together, this is an ambitious plan for an unprecedented reality. The course of events will determine what needs to be done when.
But throughout, protecting and supporting Canadians will stay the top priority.
And the core values that have driven the Government since day one remain the same.
In 2015, Canadians asked their government to deliver real change on everything from middle class jobs to climate change. In 2019, the people chose a Parliament that would keep moving forward on these shared goals. And in 2020, Canadians expect nothing less.
It is no small task to build a stronger, more resilient country.
It will take hard work. It will require a commitment to finding common ground.
Parliamentarians, Canadians have placed a trust in you to guide this country forward. They have placed their faith in you to work together to meet whatever challenges we face.
Remember that we are here today because of the generations of Canadians who came before us. We are here because of the women and men – our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents – who had the courage to reach for a better future.
Today, it is our turn. Our moment to build a stronger and more resilient Canada for everyone.
Members of the House of Commons, you will be asked to appropriate the funds to carry out the services and expenditures authorized by Parliament.
Members of the Senate and Members of the House of Commons, may you be equal to the profound trust bestowed on you by Canadians, and may Divine Providence guide you in all your duties.
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