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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-71 at report stage.
In my opinion, Bill C-71 is like a bad play. Let me explain. First, with regard to parliamentary work, the government shut down debate at second reading. What is more, the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security asked that it be allowed a sufficient number of meetings and witnesses, but the number of meetings was cut short. From the start, the government did not want to debate Bill C-71; it just wanted to impose the bill on us.
This bill was introduced for marketing purposes. We saw the government doing just that. The Liberals told themselves that they would introduce a bill on firearms to win votes and to get the Conservatives all worked up and drive them crazy. Well, we decided not to get all worked up. We have been smart about this. We looked at what was happening and we saw that it was not working.
Ultimately, Liberals in rural ridings are only hurting themselves. Those people are not fools. Canadians are not fools. Law-abiding Canadians can see that this bill plays politics by targeting the wrong people. It targets hunters and sport shooters while giving street gangs and real criminals a free pass. The Liberals tried to impress, but they ended up shooting themselves in the foot, no pun intended.
This also marks the return of a version of the gun registry, which was abolished a few years back. The Liberals resurrected a very insidious approach, in the form of reference numbers and records that gun retailers have to keep. When a retailer closes, the government takes possession of that information. Reference numbers are kept forever. The Liberals say there is no registry, they swear they are telling the truth, but all the elements are there. In a moment, I am going to talk about the amendments we proposed to fix these problems. All our amendments were rejected.
In order for us, the members of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, to do our job properly, we asked for at least seven meetings. We conducted an analysis and examined what had been done by the minister's much-vaunted committee. Incidentally, the Liberals provided a long list of witnesses they said they had consulted, yet those people said they had never been consulted, despite appearing on the list. That is another problem the minister needs to consider.
We, the members of the committee, determined we needed seven meetings to do our job properly. The Conservatives had a list of 21 witnesses representing a variety of perspectives, from firearms advocates to civil rights defenders. There was a little bit of everything. We wanted to do a good job, but the Liberals cut the number of meetings down to four and limited us to seven witnesses. We had to make some tough choices. The Liberals raced through the study of the bill. We were hoping to get things done so everyone would be happy, but it did not work. The government was in a mad rush to get it over with, because constituents in rural Liberal ridings were getting on their case, and rightly so.
The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness created a committee to discuss guns and street gangs. As I said at the beginning of my speech, all the focus is on hunting weapons instead of street gangs. I do not know what happened between the minister's consultations and the tabling of Bill C-71, but the bill contains absolutely no mention of street gangs. This has yet to be cleared up. It is a mystery worthy of Sherlock Holmes. Maybe one day we will find a solution.
When the minister introduced the bill, he wanted to scare people. He spoke about the serious problem of the rise in crimes committed with firearms in Canada. What he did not say was that the Liberals were using 2013 as their reference year. In the past 10 years, 2013 was the year with the fewest crimes in Canada. He spoke about a surge in crime, but the crime rate was returning to its usual levels. They used the 2013 statistics to indicate that there was an surge in gun crimes and that something had to be done about it. However, crimes are not committed by hunters and sport shooters, but by street gangs. Nevertheless, there is nothing about that.
The other serious problem, as I pointed out at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, concerns first nations. As much as the Liberal government cares about all issues that affect first nations, it did not consult them and is now to some extent ignoring the problem. In committee, a representative from Saskatchewan told us that first nations would not abide by Bill C-71, first, because it is unconstitutional, and second, because guns are traditionally handed down from generation to generation. Canada's first nations are saying that Bill C-71 does not apply to them and that they will go to court to have it declared unconstitutional if the government tries to impose it.
What are we to do, then? The Liberals introduced a bill that does not address the issue of street gangs and that indigenous people are going to disregard. The only ones left are the hunters and sport shooters, who will once more be subject to stricter gun controls, which are already the strictest in the world.
The first nations issue is not a partisan matter, but it is very troubling. When we return in the fall, we need to clarify that, because the fact that indigenous peoples are not concerned about Bill C-71 and are not following the rules is problematic. We cannot have one type of security for one group of individuals and another type for other groups. We must all be on equal footing.
Our committee meetings to ask witnesses questions were limited, but we still did our work. We brought forward 45 amendments to Bill C-71. We took our work seriously. I will list a few of them, so that Canadians can see that they were reasonable.
First of all, we addressed the issue of firearms classification. It is currently the government that determines which firearms are restricted or prohibited, but Bill C-71 puts that entirely in the hands of the RCMP. We proposed an amendment that would give the minister the authority to change the classification of firearms based on recommendations from the manufacturer and the RCMP. Thus, we are proposing that the RCMP and the manufacturers still do their jobs, but that the government retain the power to make certain decisions to prevent the RCMP from making all the decisions, without the government being able to intervene.
Then, there are the chief firearms officers, who will be able to visit the premises of firearms retailers and check their records without a warrant. The government can therefore enter into the place of business of law-abiding retailers with no particular reason other than they sell arms. I believe this needs justification and a warrant.
Now, I want to talk about the date. Today is June 18, and on June 30, a list of 20 prohibited firearms will come into force, even though the bill is still being debated in the House. The firearms that will be prohibited are currently restricted. We are not even at third reading, and the Senate has not yet studied it. We asked the government not to set a fixed date and to implement the act once the bill passes, but the government rejected this legitimate amendment.
As for the list of firearms, the RCMP will now decide which firearms are prohibited, but the bill lists the firearms that will be prohibited. The government lists the firearms in the bill, even though it says that the RCMP will draw that list sometime in the future. This makes no sense. We proposed another amendment to fix this.
Lastly, I want to talk about the reference number that will be required for a transaction. This number will be retained and recorded. This government is therefore creating a registry, no matter what it claims.
No matter what the government said, it is bringing back some form of registry through the backdoor.
View David Anderson Profile
CPC (SK)
View David Anderson Profile
2018-06-18 23:49 [p.21227]
Mr. Speaker, I have a number of questions I want to ask tonight to kind of wrap this up.
One of the main questions, as I sat here and listened tonight, is that I fail to understand why the Liberals do not even seem to know the basics of what this proposed law is about. I heard a number of things this evening that are concerning. They do not seem to know what the past requirements were for background checks. I heard a number of people talking about that. They do not seem to understand that they have been adequate in the past. There has been a good system in place for doing background checks, and it has worked well for Canadians. They do not seem to know that firearms owners have to be registered and be licensed themselves in order to own a firearm. Earlier we heard someone ask why we treat guns differently than some other things. Well, the reality with firearms is that one actually needs to be registered. One has to take the course and get the certification.
I was really concerned a little earlier about why the Liberals approach firearms owners in the way that they do. When the member for Oakville North—Burlington said that all gun owners are law-abiding until they are not, I wondered what she meant by that. There is some sort of attitude of superiority that the Liberals come with in regard to firearms owners, and we have seen this for 25 years. We saw it with Bill C-68 and the fact that they would never back down on that legislation. It cost them dozens of ridings across this country. Several elections later, they have come back with another piece of legislation. I think we are beginning to see both in Ontario, and with the results in Quebec tonight, that the attitude the Liberals have is starting to irritate Canadians. I think we are going to see a response to that, and an even better response from our perspective, in the next federal election.
Also, I do not think the Liberals understand that there is no right to firearms ownership in this country. I think everyone needs to be reminded of that. The only reason that we can own firearms is because the government gives us permission. When I talk to my friends with the Canadian Wildlife Federation on those kinds of things, they say that we need to help Canadians understand that. We do not have a right to own firearms. If we do not get licensed, we are criminals. They resent that, but they will accept the fact that we need to have a licensing regime in place.
Another concern is that I am wondering why those Liberals who have firearms owners in their ridings do not seem to be willing to listen to them. I want to point out that at the committee, the leader of the opposition in the Yukon legislature was not allowed to speak. I am told that there was not a single northern Canadian who was able to testify on how the bill would impact their way of life. I want to read a little from his briefing, which said, “unlike the provinces, Yukon only has one Member of Parliament. This leads to situations where the input of Northerners is often an afterthought and not taken into account. This is the case with this piece of firearms legislation..”.
I can tell members that there are others. I have another notice on this situation from members of the Yukon Fish and Game Association, who are very concerned that they cannot track down their MP and talk to him about this issue. This is a member who has been around on this issue before. He should be standing up for his constituents. Why is it that the Liberals in the rural ridings, the ones whose constituents depend on having access to firearms for much of their livelihood, are not speaking out?
As my colleague mentioned earlier, we heard about a few of the ridings where there was concern about this, but these Liberals need to speak out. We are getting to the end of the proposed legislation, and it is basically the re-establishment of a semi long-gun registry, where every transaction that takes place at a gun store is going to be recorded for 20 years. The firearm, serial number, the name of the person who bought it, along with their PAL number, will be recorded. That certainly has all the makings and all the components of a firearms registry, and we do not hear anything from the other side.
Another concern is why the Liberals always need to manipulate things on this file. I can go on about this for a long time. I found it very interesting that the public safety minister from Regina has appointed a number of people to the firearms advisory committee who are clearly against firearms in any way, shape, or form. It is interesting that one of them was appointed and ended up being in the vice-chair position. She was a lobbyist. She said she would step down from her lobbying activities. The agreement she signed said that she is not to “engage in lobbying activities or work as a registered lobbyist on behalf of an entity making submissions or representations to the Government of Canada on issues relating to the mandate of this committee”. However, 10 months after signing that, this person submitted a legislative demand to the Government of Canada under the letterhead of that organization, and with her signature on it.
I would go through it if I had more time, but many of the bill's provisions happen to be exactly as she has laid them out. Is she actually doing the government's bidding, or is the government doing the lobbyists' bidding, who have said they are not going to lobby the government and then turn around and do it?
I can give members another example in which the government has felt some sort of necessity to manipulate every piece of data it can on this issue. That is around the issue of statistics. As Mark Twain said, “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.” With the Liberal government, that is certainly more true than almost anything else we can say about it.
It was mentioned earlier that 2013 had one of the lowest rates ever for firearms crimes. It is interesting that even CBC recognized that the Liberals are playing games with this situation. It writes, “2013 saw Canada's lowest rate of criminal homicides in 50 years, and the lowest rate of fatal shootings ever recorded by Statistics Canada” and “every year since 1966 has been worse than 2013.” The Liberals use a year in which the stats are lower than they have ever been, and then use that to set their base, and compare it to today. Today is still below the 30-year average, but the Liberals' news releases completely mislead Canadians. When the government has to resort to that kind of manipulation and misinformation, we can see that it is not very comfortable with the legislation that it is bringing in.
The article goes on to say that the “homicide rate in 2018 will be similar to or lower than it was...in 2008...or in 1998”, and well below 1988 and 1978, and similar to what it was in 1968. We certainly did not get that from the Liberal press release we saw.
There are a number of other important issues we need to touch on. A member across the way was speaking tonight about the Assembly of First Nations. I wanted to ask him a question. The AFN has said that it was not consulted before Bill C-71 came forward. The AFN also said that the bill violates first nations treaty rights, and that it is going to launch a constitutional challenge. It is interesting to note that we have heard nothing about that, and there has been no response to it from the government. The Liberals claims to want to work with these communities, but when it comes to their legislation, they are very happy to set these communities aside, and ignore what they have to say about it and just go on.
We have heard comment tonight about Bill C-75 and Bill C-71 playing off each other. Bill C-75 has all kinds of penalties that are basically being written off for serious crimes. For things like terrorism, we are reducing the charges. Imagine there being a summary conviction for terrorism activity. The punishment for genocide is being reduced in Bill C-75. The penalties for organized criminal activity, municipal corruption, and so on are being reduced in Bill C-75, and Bill C-71 is making the lives of honest gun owners even more complicated and bureaucratic than ever. Why is the government doing that? Why are the Liberals ganging up on Canadian citizens, while they are happy to leave all of these other gangs to go through life the way they want?
There is another issue around mental health. We heard a member earlier tonight talk about how proud she was of her amendment. I am sure she had good intentions when she put it forward, but we are not just criminalizing activity anymore; we are criminalizing possible intent. She mentioned that CFOs will make the distinctions. How are the CFOs going to decide if someone is suicidal or not? What CFO wants to take on the responsibility for the entire province in trying to find every person with a mental health issue? It was pointed out earlier that there are police and veterans who have PTSD who want some help for their mental health issues. Are they going to come forward? Why would they do that with a bill like this when those kinds of things come into play in their lives and in their careers, and with a tool they use every day in their occupation?
We can be very proud of the record we have. We brought in a number of pieces of legislation, which have been criticized tonight. In terms of youth violence, we brought in the youth justice fund. The guns, gangs, and drugs component of the youth justice fund was launched to focus on the rehabilitation of youth. We created the youth gang prevention fund. We are very proud of that. We supported a national crime prevention strategy, and there is the northern and aboriginal crime prevention fund. We passed bills that dealt with organized crime and the protection of the justice system. We were always trying to protect the victims, while making sure criminals were the ones who paid the price for their crimes.
This bill is a long way from that. Why an entire bill that is supposed to deal with gun violence and gangs does not mention either of those things, and targets normal, law-abiding citizens, I will never understand.
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