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View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
I call this meeting to order. Welcome, everyone.
Welcome to meeting 49 of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. We will start by acknowledging that we are meeting on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin people.
Today's meeting is taking place in a hybrid format pursuant to the House order of November 25, 2021. Members are attending in person in the room and remotely using the Zoom application.
Pursuant to the order of reference of Thursday, June 23, 2022, the committee resumes consideration of Bill C-21, an act to amend certain acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms). Today, the committee starts clause-by-clause consideration.
I'll now welcome the officials who are here with us this afternoon. They are available for questions regarding the bill but will not deliver any opening statements. We have, from the Department of Justice, Marianne Breese, counsel, Public Safety Canada legal services; Paula Clark, counsel, criminal law policy section; and Phaedra Glushek, counsel, criminal law policy section. From the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, we have Rachel Mainville-Dale, acting director general, firearms policy.
I thank you for joining us today.
I will now provide some guidance on the clause-by-clause consideration process for Bill C-21. Actually, I believe the clerk has distributed a document to everyone that gives the outline of how to proceed. We will start with clause 0.1, and we will go forward, but not backwards, typically, right?
Does anybody have any questions regarding the clause-by-clause consideration of this bill?
I'll recognize Raquel in just a minute.
We also have our legislative clerks here to guide us along our way, as well as our regular clerk, who is keeping an eye on us.
Ms. Dancho, go ahead, please.
View Raquel Dancho Profile
CPC (MB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I appreciated very much the one-pager you provided to us—I believe it was today—and I just wanted to confirm what a few things meant.
As you noted, a few of us are new to this process. This is, for example, the first time that I am doing clause-by-clause study for a bill, and I appreciated your mention that we will go through this process deliberately so that everyone understands what we're doing.
I did want to clarify a few things.
You mention in the second paragraph that “[t]he Chair may be called upon to rule amendments inadmissible if they go against the principle of the bill or beyond the scope of the bill”. You also go on to say “or if they offend the financial prerogative of the Crown”.
Can you provide a little more insight into what that might look like, particularly on “if they offend the financial prerogative of the Crown”? Is this saying that if there's any amendment or anything that brings in a financial component, it's out of order?
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
Actually, on that one in particular, I believe it's BQ-25 that requests that the Crown institute a “repurchase” plan, and that requires a charge against the treasury and it requires a royal recommendation. We, as a committee, aren't empowered to do that.
In general, if a change is not within the spirit and scope of the bill, it would be out of order as well. That will be determined on an amendment-by-amendment basis.
Okay? Are there any further questions?
Okay. Let's get into it.
The chair calls new clause 0.1. The first amendment we have there is G-1.
View Raquel Dancho Profile
CPC (MB)
I'm sorry. I have one more question.
Now that you've clarified that for me, for one of the amendments—or two of them, actually—I'm a bit concerned about their scope. In particular, I want to say G-4 and G-46. We feel that they're quite significant changes, which they are. That's factual.
Since G-4 is up quite soon—I think it's the fifth or sixth amendment that we would be going through, so I'm assuming we'd be getting there quite quickly—we're wondering, given the substantial change they're proposing, if the government is able to provide more information.
If we could perhaps park those amendments into next week, then we can revisit them once the government has provided more information, in particular on G-4, which in essence proposes a ban on nearly all semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, Mr. Chair—
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
I have a point of order, Chair.
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
Go ahead, Ms. Damoff.
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
G-4 hasn't even been moved yet. Should we not be going in order? Don't these have to be moved in order to be discussed?
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
Yes, when we get to G-4, it has to be ruled as admissible or not.
We can defer dealing with a specific clause of Bill C-21—we can stand it and then come back to it—but we can't do that, as I understand it, with amendments. Amendments change things in the order—
View Raquel Dancho Profile
CPC (MB)
I have a follow-up question.
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Sorry. I have a point of order, Chair.
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Raquel Dancho Profile
CPC (MB)
I have a follow-up question. Thank you.
What I'm asking, though, is that if it's moved, we can't park it until later. That's why I'm bringing this up now, before it is moved.
Again, that amendment would ban almost all semi-automatic shotguns and rifles—
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
I have a point of order again, Chair.
View Raquel Dancho Profile
CPC (MB)
—so we're asking if the government can provide a little more information so that we can better understand the impact of it before it is moved, and then we can talk about it in more detail.
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
It will be when that time comes.
Go ahead on your point of order.
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Chair, my understanding is that amendments are confidential until moved. We shouldn't even be having this conversation until they're moved. Each amendment is confidential. This is not a conversation we have before any amendment is moved on the floor. Is that not correct?
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
As to confidentiality, that's probably correct. However, I think we're kind in the throes of it anyway.
Go ahead, Ms. Dancho, and then Mr. Motz.
View Raquel Dancho Profile
CPC (MB)
There are a number of issues with a number of the clauses introduced. I believe I can speak about them if I'm not reading the entire amendment into the record right now. Can I not speak generally to what they're about before they're introduced?
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
We will deal with the amendments in order.
View Raquel Dancho Profile
CPC (MB)
Okay. Well, what I am asking is that amendment G-4 is going to require significant discussion. Rather than hold up all of the amendments that come after it, what I am proposing, if the committee agrees, is that if I can ask for the information we would like before we consider G-4, we can park it until, say, Tuesday of next week, when the government has a chance to give us all of the semi-automatic rifles and shotguns that would be banned by that amendment.
If they can provide that so that we can consider that more fully, so that we're not holding up all of the other amendments, because, again, it's a very substantial change—
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Raquel Dancho Profile
CPC (MB)
Again, we can get into that today and hold up all the other ones or we can get more information and have a more fully informed discussion.
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
I'll ask the legislative clerk to speak to that.
We can't defer an amendment like that, can we? Could you give me guidance on that?
Philippe Méla
View Philippe Méla Profile
Philippe Méla
2022-11-22 16:04
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
When debate has started on an amendment, you can certainly stand it and study it later, but you cannot stand just one amendment. You would have to stand the whole clause and all the amendments linked to that clause as well.
In your example, it would be the whole of clause 1 that would be studied at the end or whenever you felt you had the answers you needed.
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
Okay.
I'll go to Mr. Motz first. Go ahead.
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Chair.
In line with Ms. Dancho's comments, your statement in the document you've given on consideration for clause-by-clause study says the following:
In addition to having to be properly drafted in a legal sense, amendments must also be procedurally admissible. The Chair may be called upon to rule amendments inadmissible if they go against the principle of the bill or beyond the scope of the bill—both of which were adopted by the House when it agreed to the bill at second reading—or if they offend the financial prerogative of the Crown.
I would submit, Chair, that under the second reading of this particular bill, nothing in G-4 or the other one that was mentioned—it slips my mind at the moment—were ever talked about as being part of Bill C-21. As a result of that—
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
Let me finish. As a result of that, Chair, I would suggest that we need to then maybe hold up all of clause 1, if that's part of it, until we get a proper ruling on whether that's admissible moving forward and whether this is a different scope from what the bill actually laid out in Bill C-21 when it was presented to the House in the first place.
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
Right. We're not going to deal with G-4 until we get to G-4. We're going to take these amendments in order.
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
But based on what the clerk just said, sir, we can't take G-4 out of clause 1 unless we hold and suspend all of clause 1.
Did I understand you correctly, sir?
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
We can stand the clause whether or not we deal with amendments in partiality.
Mr. MacGregor, you have a point of order.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
NDP (BC)
We're not at clause 1 yet. We're still dealing with a new clause 0.1, so that's not yet—
An hon member: Yes, that's what I wanted to clarify. Let's let that go through.
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
Thank you.
As to process, then, it will be up to the chair to decide whether it's admissible or not. Of course, if the chair decides it's admissible and you disagree, you're able to challenge the chair, and then it goes to the committee for a vote.
View Raquel Dancho Profile
CPC (MB)
I have one last question, just so I'm clear.
To your point, if we were to go into clause 1 and we don't vote on the final clause, and then we move on to clauses 2 and 3, can we not come back to clause 1? Can we not talk about clause 1 at all until we're ready to talk about all of the amendments—just so I'm clear?
The Chair: Go ahead, Mr. Méla
Philippe Méla
View Philippe Méla Profile
Philippe Méla
2022-11-22 16:07
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Once the clause is adopted—all of the amendments have been dealt with and the clause is adopted, amended or not—the committee can always come back to that clause, but you would need unanimous consent to do that.
Now, if you want to stand a clause, which is to put the clause to a later time, you can also do that by unanimous consent or by moving a motion for that purpose.
View Raquel Dancho Profile
CPC (MB)
Okay. Just to be clear, if we have any issue with any amendment of any clause that we don't want to deal with right now and are proposing that we deal with it later, we'd have to deal with the whole clause and all of its amendments later.
I understand. Thank you.
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
Okay, shall we carry on?
We are at proposed new clause 0.1.
Under this clause, we have amendment G-1, which is in the name of Mr. Chiang.
View Paul Chiang Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I would like to move amendment G-1.
This amendment shows our intention on this committee to further amend the Criminal Code. It will simply include the text “Amendments to the Act”, which was not included in the original text of the bill.
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
Thank you.
Is there any discussion on this amendment?
View Raquel Dancho Profile
CPC (MB)
I'm not clear what this does. It seems fine, but is it a sort of semantics issue that it addresses?
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
Yes, I think it is just adds a heading to the bill.
Is there any further discussion?
(Amendment agreed to on division)
The Chair: We will go to amendment G-2.
This, I believe, is Mr. Noormohamed.
View Taleeb Noormohamed Profile
Lib. (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
This is a new coordinating clause to be added before line 4, page 1. The amendment creates the proposed clause 0.1.
The amendment updates section 2.1 of the Criminal Code to amend the further definitions of a firearm to include a “firearm part”. These are coordinating amendments that are needed based on the new definition of “firearm part” that we are adding to subsection 84(1) of the code in amendment G-4.
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
Thank you.
Go ahead, Ms. Dancho.
View Raquel Dancho Profile
CPC (MB)
I have a couple of concerns.
I guess I am asking for clarification first. The only thing differently....
The text is all underlined, so I'm assuming that the only new thing is “firearm part”. Is that the new singular part?
View Taleeb Noormohamed Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Raquel Dancho Profile
CPC (MB)
There are a number of amendments that have been provided that add that singular thing. For some reason, everything has been underlined in most of those amendments.
View Taleeb Noormohamed Profile
Lib. (BC)
I think it's that they're taking one section and putting the entire thing in, but—
View Raquel Dancho Profile
CPC (MB)
But “firearm part” is the only new part. Thank you for the clarification.
My question is this. I recognize that there's an amendment that defines what that means, but it has not been passed yet.
Mr. Taleeb Noormohamed: That's correct.
Ms. Raquel Dancho: I'm not necessarily opposed to adding this, but I don't feel that we have done substantial study on it. There's no definition as of right now, although it is proposed. Later it may be adopted. As of right now, there is no definition, and I don't know whether the definition that has yet to be adopted but is proposed in your amendments would be an accurate one. I'm not enough of a firearms expert to rule on that.
I'm not clear what the impact of this amendment will be, in particular if any incoming definition of “firearm part” is not fulsome or is too extensive. Is there a possibility that we may be criminalizing firearms owners who have gun holsters or gun cleaning tools or the like?
I'm not a firearms expert, but I am concerned about the broader implications of this and that we did not have extensive testimony at committee to make the case that this is needed or to help us define the best definition for “firearm part”.
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
Go ahead, Mr. Noormohamed.
View Taleeb Noormohamed Profile
Lib. (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
With reference to Ms. Dancho's comment, this really speaks to the testimony that we had, from a variety of different policing forces, related to ghost guns. This speaks to the elements that were discussed, including trigger assemblies, slides and barrels. This is not meant to deal with cleaning supplies and other such items.
I believe that clarification is there, but this speaks specifically to those elements that could be used to create a gun at home.
View Raquel Dancho Profile
CPC (MB)
Yes, I suspected that, so I appreciate that this is the rationale behind it. I think we're all concerned about ghost guns. At least I've made it clear that I would like to move forward with efforts to deal with that growing problem.
Again, I'm not sure. The definition hasn't been adopted. We can't exactly talk about it, because it's forthcoming, as has been mentioned. There is no definition right now. There's no guarantee that your definition is going to be adopted. My concern there, then, is that we may be putting something in that could be interpreted....
Perhaps the law clerks can answer. If we pass this and a definition is not adopted through this process, how would that be defined? Would that have to be defined in the courts? Would that be defined in regulations if the government's amendment includes the definition of “firearm part”?
I'll turn it over to you.
Phaedra Glushek
View Phaedra Glushek Profile
Phaedra Glushek
2022-11-22 16:13
This is a consequential amendment to other motions that will be before it. Proposed section 2.1 sets out words and expressions that when used for the purposes of the Criminal Code will have the same meaning as the definition in section 84. If the definition in section 84 is struck down, this would have no corresponding definition. It would be in this section without a corresponding definition.
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
Well, isn't that a little vague? Every other mention of a device here—ammunition, handgun, imitation firearm, import—has a definition around it in the definitions section. If we're going to say “a firearm part”, that could be anything that has no consequence to the use of a firearm, no ability to put public safety at risk, so don't you think we need something that shows what a “firearm part” really means?
Phaedra Glushek
View Phaedra Glushek Profile
Phaedra Glushek
2022-11-22 16:14
Yes, there is a definition, in section 2, of “firearm part”. There is a definition that correlates to the current offences and provisions dealing with firearms.
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
Mr. Noormohamed, go ahead.
View Taleeb Noormohamed Profile
Lib. (BC)
For further clarification on the point of concern, of course, the definition that Mr. Motz may be looking for is in amendment G-4, proposed subclause 1(1.3). It talks about what a firearm part specifically means. It means:
“firearm part” means a barrel for a firearm, a slide for a handgun and any other prescribed part, but does not include...a barrel for a firearm or a slide for a handgun if that barrel or slide is designed exclusively for use on a firearm that is deemed under subsection 84(3) not to be a firearm;
It's a very specific definition. It's there for folks to look at.
View Doug Shipley Profile
CPC (ON)
I have a point of order. I'm new to this too, so could you just slow down, Mr. Noormohamed? If you're going to give references, could you just take a second and tell us the number you're on? You just need to go a little slower and tell us where you're referencing it from. Thank you.
I barely got to the page in time.
View Glen Motz Profile
CPC (AB)
Well, I still have the floor.
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
We're all a little bit new to this. Some of us who have been around for a few years haven't done clause-by-clause consideration for several years now. We'll hopefully muddle through.
Ms. Dancho, go ahead, please.
View Raquel Dancho Profile
CPC (MB)
Just so I'm clear, your amendment G-2 mentions “firearm part”, which you're defining, as you've just read, in your amendment G-4, which is a forthcoming amendment, which I assume you will be moving. You've read the part on “firearm part”, which I'll conclude for you:
“firearm part” means a barrel for a firearm, a slide for a handgun and any other prescribed part, but does not include, unless otherwise prescribed, a barrel for a firearm or a slide for a handgun if that barrel or slide is designed exclusively for use on a firearm that is deemed under subsection 84(3) not to be a firearm;
Okay. That's understood, but what is subsection 84(3)? Can we be a bit more specific? It's saying it's for some guns but I think not for other guns. Can we just be a bit more clear?
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