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Results: 1 - 30 of 3988
View Daryl Kramp Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much.
Ms. Ablonczy, your time is up.
Before we suspend for a change of witnesses, I would just bring to the committee's attention a budget issue on Bill C-637. The chair would like a motion to pass today so that we can cover our witnesses under Bill C-637. I bring that to your attention. The chair will be looking for a motion on that before we adjourn today.
At this point, I would like to thank our witnesses for appearing here today. Certainly, your time was well spent.
We will now suspend for a change of witnesses.
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View Daryl Kramp Profile
CPC (ON)
Colleagues, welcome back. We now go to the second half of our meeting.
We have, from the Privy Council Office, Ms. Isabelle Mondou, assistant secretary to the cabinet and counsel to the Clerk of the Privy Council, and Mr. David Vigneault, assistant secretary to the cabinet, responsible for security and intelligence.
Welcome, both of you.
Before we go to opening remarks, just briefly, the chair mentioned that he would appreciate a motion for the budget for Bill C-637. Could I have a motion on the floor?
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View Gordon Brown Profile
CPC (ON)
View Gordon Brown Profile
2015-05-25 17:31
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We're going to call this meeting number 48 of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage back to order.
For this last half hour, pursuant to the order of reference of Wednesday, November 5, 2014, our topic is Bill C-597, An Act to amend the Holidays Act (Remembrance Day).
Mr. Dykstra.
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View Rick Dykstra Profile
CPC (ON)
View Rick Dykstra Profile
2015-05-25 17:32
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Thank you, Mr. Chair. If you allow me just a moment to clarify what we're prepared to do, it might expedite the process of voting on the bill.
I would move that that Bill C-597 be amended by deleting lines 12 to 14 of clause 1, which state, “on Remembrance Day, the Canadian flag on the Peace Tower shall be lowered to half-mast.” If that is agreed, we would be prepared to support the rest of the bill, on division.
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View Dan Harris Profile
NDP (ON)
View Dan Harris Profile
2015-05-25 17:33
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Thanks very much.
We would certainly support that amendment. It honours an agreement to eliminate that clause, which was made before the bill was brought forward for second reading. That's what helped us to get it fast-tracked through second reading.
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View Frank Valeriote Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Frank Valeriote Profile
2015-05-25 17:33
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The Liberals would support that recommendation as well, Mr. Chair.
(Amendment agreed to)
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View Gordon Brown Profile
CPC (ON)
View Gordon Brown Profile
2015-05-25 17:34
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If that's the case then we would have to deal with clause 1 first.
(Clause 1 as amended agreed to on division)
(Clause 2 agreed to on division)
The Chair: Shall the title carry?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
An hon. member: On division.
The Chair: Shall the bill as amended carry?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
An hon. member: On division.
The Chair: Shall the chair report the bill as amended to the House?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
An hon. member: On division.
The Chair: Shall the committee order a reprint of the bill as amended for the use of the House at report stage?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
An hon. member: On division.
The Chair: As there is no further business, the meeting is adjourned.
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View Daryl Kramp Profile
CPC (ON)
Good morning, colleagues and witnesses. Welcome to meeting number 70 of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.
Today, we are following up our study on Bill C-637. We have witnesses for the first hour and the second hour.
I would just notify the committee that we will be breaking in the second hour to go to committee business for a few minutes at the end so that we have a schedule to come back to on the 28th. Give some thought to that, knowing that this will be coming up.
In this first hour, we have with us, in person, Mr. Greg Farrant, manager of government affairs and policy at the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. By way of teleconference from Winfield, Alberta, we have Mr. Todd Brown from the Concerned Firearm Owners of Alberta. We will not have video, but we should have audio.
Mr. Brown, could we have a little word from you to make sure we are all live here?
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Todd Brown
View Todd Brown Profile
Todd Brown
2015-05-14 8:47
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Yes, we are all live.
I just want to make a quick correction. That is the Concerned Gun Owners of Alberta.
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Greg Farrant
View Greg Farrant Profile
Greg Farrant
2015-05-14 8:47
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Thank you very much.
Good morning, Mr. Chair, members of the committee, and Mr. Brown in absentia.
On behalf of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, the largest conservation-based organization in Ontario, our 100,000 members, supporters, and subscribers, and our 725 member clubs across the province thank you for the courtesy of inviting me to appear before the committee to speak to Bill C-637, an act to amend the Criminal Code (firearms storage and transportation).
I will attempt to keep my remarks as succinct as the bill is.
It's been clear from some of the discussion around this legislation and from some of the comments made in the House that there is confusion about what the legislation does or does not do and why it is necessary. Frankly speaking, I think some of that confusion is justified, given the diversity of legal judgments and opinions that exist in case law around this matter. As someone who deals with firearms-related matters on a regular basis, initially I too found the issue to be, as my father would have said, clear as mud.
I'm not a lawyer, nor do I pretend to be one. However, my job requires me to read a lot of case law related to firearms. Before my appearance today, I spent considerable time reviewing the arguments in cases such as R. v. McManus, R. v. Felawka, R. v. Formosa, R. v. Labrecque, and R. v. Dunn in order to gain a better understanding of why the bill is necessary and what it seeks to achieve.
What is clear from looking at those previous cases is that there is a wide discrepancy in how BB guns, pellet guns, paintball guns, and the like are treated in terms of licensing versus how they are treated in terms of storage and transportation under both the Firearms Act and the Criminal Code.
It seems to me that the original intent of Parliament was to treat these types of guns differently under the act, as evidenced by the fact that you do not require a licence to purchase, own, or use low-velocity BB guns. Consequently, I do not believe that it was Parliament's intention to make it a criminal offence to transport or store BB guns or pellet guns differently, but that is what appears to have occurred under the law, which has resulted in the inconsistency of application we are facing.
It has been suggested that R. v. Dunn changed the game. It did not. In fact, it is clear in reviewing a summation of the case law by a crown prosecutor attached to the guns and gangs task force, that if anything, Dunn emphasized the discrepancy. I noted a moment ago the difference between how BB guns and pellet guns are treated in terms of licensing as opposed to how they are treated in terms of storage and transportation. Before this, no one contemplated the criminalization for storage or handling of an air gun until the Firearms Act, which is why we are here and why the bill is necessary.
Quite simply, Mr. Sopuck's bill seeks to create a mere exception so that lower velocity air guns will be treated the same under the Firearms Act for storage and transportation as they are for licensing. It deems that lower velocity air guns are not firearms for the purposes of those sections of the act and creates an exemption for individual storing or transporting of lower velocity air guns from the careless use offence under section 86 of the Criminal Code.
To achieve that, the bill would add a new subsection to subsection 84(3) of the Criminal Code to address the above. At the same time, the bill would exclude from subsection 86(2) of the Criminal Code the careless use, storage, and use requirements with respect to lower velocity air guns.
Currently this subsection creates an offence for contravention of storage and transportation regulations under the Firearms Act, despite the fact that paragraph 84(3)(d) of the Criminal Code already exempts lower velocity air guns from the provisions of the Firearms Act and its regulations, including those related to storage and transportation. In our view, this ambiguity needs to be addressed.
During debate there was concern expressed that the provisions of this bill would weaken the law regarding the storage and transportation of air guns and thus increase the risk to public safety. If we felt this to be true, I would not be sitting before you today. If we were dealing with issues around the transportation and storage of firearms that discharge a projectile, using powder and an ignition source, this story would be different. Instead, we are talking about lower velocity air guns that use compressed air from a canister or a CO2 cartridge.
In essence, the issue at hand is that through cases like Dunn, which changed nothing, the courts have highlighted a discrepancy between the previous definition of a firearm and what the courts now consider to be one. This bill clarifies that lower velocity BB and pellet guns are not, in fact, firearms and reinforces the law as it was before Dunn.
I am of an age and a cohort who grew up in a time when low-velocity BB guns and pellet guns were the norm. They were the first gun you had as a youth for plinking at cans on a fence or shooting at paper targets with friends. In my case, and in the case of millions of Canadians, they were a part of growing up and an introduction to a lifetime involvement with firearms. Our parents counselled us about the proper use of these guns and tolerated, in my case in particular, no nonsense if you were caught being careless with them. At the same time, there was never a thought that they posed a risk to the public safety requiring them to be locked in cabinets and transported like high-powered firearms or that a failure to do so should be subject to a Criminal Code charge.
Let me be clear: the OFAH takes the issue of firearm safety very seriously. We deliver the Ontario hunter education program on behalf of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, which has taught over 250,000 students in the last decade.
Most of our instructors, which number about 302 currently, also deliver the Canadian firearms safety course. We work closely with the Ontario Chief Firearms Officer and the OPP on campaigns and messaging about safe use, safe storage, and safe transportation of firearms. I have provided the clerk with an example of that, which the committee can deal with as they see fit.
There is no question that, like any gun, low-velocity BB guns and pellet guns should be used responsibly. However, in our view, they do not require regulation in terms of storage and transportation as other firearms do, and owners of these guns should not be subject to Criminal Code charges associated with storage and transportation of them, which is why we support this bill and commend Mr. Sopuck for coming forward to address an inconsistency that exists in the law.
Thank you once again, Mr. Chair and members of the committee, for affording me this opportunity.
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Todd Brown
View Todd Brown Profile
Todd Brown
2015-05-14 8:54
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Thank you very much.
Thank you to the committee for giving me this opportunity to speak to Bill C-637.
I'll give you just a little background. My name is Todd Brown. I have been doing in-depth research on the Firearms Act. I have written over a dozen articles and reviews on current and proposed gun legislation. I have maintained a gun group, which is the Concerned Gun Owners of Alberta, for several years. I am the executive director for FIRE, the Firearms Institute for Rational Education. I have been a firearms instructor and hunter training instructor for over 10 years. I'm in a position to listen to and discuss issues with gun owners as well as to inform them regarding gun legislation.
I will be short and concise as I wish to make only two points.
Bill C-637 would cover the oversight in the regulations that put innocent people, businesses, and kids at risk of criminal charges for the use and sale of BB, pellet, and paintball guns. Unless that changes, the legal door will be open to charge store owners for displaying legal merchandise and kids for using or storing BB or paintball guns.
While I support Bill C-637 in principle, I would respectfully suggest that to further simplify the legislation, the following change be implemented to replace the addition suggested by this bill. The change is that section 84 of the Criminal Code be amended by replacing subsection (3) with the following: “(3) For the purposes of sections 86, 91 to 95, 99 to 101, 103 to 107 and 117.03 of this act and the provisions of the Firearms Act, the following weapons are deemed not to be firearms”.
As you see, all that needs to be done is to add section 86 to the list of sections that section 84 of the Criminal Code will affect.
My second point is that in my time as a firearms instructor, I have also wondered why my teaching kit of disabled guns was still subject to the regulations of safe storage and transportation when they do not meet the definition of a firearm. No teaching guns are capable of discharging a projectile in any manner and as such should be deemed not to be firearms. An addition to subsection 84(3) of this nature would be well received by all instructors across Canada since it would make it easier to transport and store teaching tools while decreasing the amount of paperwork, which should not apply to a disabled firearm. A disabled firearm is no more than a fancy paperweight, and this change would have no negative effects on public safety.
In conclusion, those items that do not meet the definition of a firearm should not be subject to the same legal sanctions as those that do meet the definition of a firearm.
I thank the committee for their time and their consideration of my comments.
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View Roxanne James Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you to both witnesses for being able to provide some comments on this bill.
I'm going to start with Mr. Farrant.
You talked a bit about not being a lawyer and so on, but you have read over many of the decisions related to gun ownership and so forth, so you're very familiar with the court case, the reason behind it, that has brought this legislation to this committee.
I know that you're supporting this legislation. What would happen if we didn't bring forward this type of legislation? What if Mr. Sopuck hadn't decided to clarify this grey area, and we simply ignored previous court decisions that have created this kind of discrepancy? What do you think could happen as a result?
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Greg Farrant
View Greg Farrant Profile
Greg Farrant
2015-05-14 8:58
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I think my colleague out west, Mr. Brown, has outlined what could potentially happen. Do I think there are going to be a spate of charges against 12-year-olds for inappropriately storing or transporting a BB gun or a paintball gun or a pellet gun under the current law? No. Is that potential there? Yes, and not just for children, but for adults as well.
There are millions of these guns in the country that are used by all sorts of people for recreational purposes, as I said, whether it's plinking cans on a fence post or shooting at targets. A lot of kids are introduced to them at a younger age. Technically under the law, all those people would be subject to charges under the Criminal Code if this is not amended. It's pretty cut and dried in that context because there is a discrepancy in the law.
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View Roxanne James Profile
CPC (ON)
When we talk about this bill, we talk about BB guns, pellet guns, and paintball guns. Are there any other firearms that would fall into this category of low velocity, as you described it, versus what is required to be licensed for other firearms?
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Greg Farrant
View Greg Farrant Profile
Greg Farrant
2015-05-14 8:59
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Again, I'm not aware of that. It doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Certainly this is different from high-velocity guns that exceed certain standards in muzzle velocity, which are subject to storage and transportation restrictions under the law because of their velocity. I'm not aware of other examples. Mr. Brown may be able to comment on that, but generally speaking, we're talking about BB guns, pellet guns, paintball guns, and the like.
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View Roxanne James Profile
CPC (ON)
We heard from Mr. Sopuck, the mover of this private member's bill, on Tuesday. He talked at great length with regard to the outdoor community and the use of these types of low-velocity firearms. I don't even call them firearms. With respect to that community, do you agree it would be in support of this type of legislation?
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Greg Farrant
View Greg Farrant Profile
Greg Farrant
2015-05-14 9:00
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I do. For instance, the OFAH has a very large heritage hunting and fishing centre next door to our head office in Peterborough that was opened several years ago. There is a rifle range and an archery range in the basement. We use low-velocity air guns on the rifle range. These are used by classes of children from primary school up to high school when they're visiting the centre on a regular basis.
If this law's not passed, this would affect a lot of people even in the way we carry out our business at the heritage centre.
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View Roxanne James Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much.
Mr. Brown, thank you very much for your opening remarks. You mentioned very briefly about cleaning up the regulations with respect to Bill C-637. You talked about the impact it would have on businesses, and you said kids. When we've been talking about this bill, our focus has been more on the user community as opposed to those who sell or distribute these types of guns.
I'm wondering if you could expand on how you think that might have an impact on businesses that might sell these types of firearms, these types of things that outdoor communities use. What businesses are we talking about?
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Todd Brown
View Todd Brown Profile
Todd Brown
2015-05-14 9:02
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The businesses would be outdoor stores and stores that specifically deal with paintball guns. Canadian Tire sells BB guns and whatnot. Right now, they're not subject to the same laws that a regular rifle would be subject to. The businesses would have to come up with the facilities to be able to lock everything up. Some of these stores would also have to put in all sorts of stuff for the paperwork that would need to be done, to deal with the regulations, and for the handling of them as well.
Right now, with the BB guns, you can go into Canadian Tire or Walmart, or wherever, and you can buy one without too much difficulty. If all of a sudden they have to start coming up with the facilities to store these things, and then they have to check on licences, and that sort of thing, it seems a little overboard on something that's of a low velocity. Basically it's a teaching tool to bring kids and other people into the general knowledge of what firearms are all about.
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View Roxanne James Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you.
It's interesting that you mentioned Canadian Tire and Walmart, because I think those are two stores that probably everyone on this committee has been to, and probably most Canadians across this country are familiar with those two larger retail stores.
Going back to the reason this bill was brought forward, which was with respect to the grey area, or the discrepancies, the courts have recently highlighted with respect to the safe storage and transportation, I'll ask you the same question. What do you think the result would be if we didn't move forward with this type of legislation? I know you have presented an alternative method to achieve the same desired result, but with respect to the impact if we do nothing at this point, what could happen?
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Todd Brown
View Todd Brown Profile
Todd Brown
2015-05-14 9:04
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I think my colleague who is sitting with you there today put it very eloquently: businesses, kids, and adults will be open to charges they may not even be aware that they could be charged with.
This is something that's buried in the legislation. Not everybody is aware of it until they get charged with it. This kind of thing would come as a distinct surprise to anybody using one. They would be quite upset, I would think, to think something as innocuous as a BB gun or a pellet gun, or enjoying their hobby as paintballer, would be affected by the same kind of storage regulations. I'm not saying it would happen, but the opportunity for abuse by law enforcement is there, and I think that door should be closed.
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View Rosane Doré Lefebvre Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I would also like to thank Mr. Farrant and Mr. Brown for joining us today to discuss Bill C-637.
My first questions will be about a concern of mine, a concern shared by a number of police officers with whom I have discussed the bill. It deals with the impact it could have on their work.
It is sometimes very difficult to distinguish an air gun from a regular gun. I have several air guns myself, including one that looks very much like a rifle equipped with a big telescope. From a distance, someone unfamiliar with rifles could well think it was a regular one.
I have discussed the change the bill proposes in this regard with a number of police officers. It is one of their concerns. It will certainly make their work more difficult because they will now have to distinguish between an air gun and a regular firearm. In their opinion, that could make their working conditions more dangerous, depending on the confrontations that might arise and the situations that police services may have to deal with.
My first question goes to Mr. Farrant.
Have you discussed this with any police officers? Do you understand their concern and, specifically, what do you think about it?
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Greg Farrant
View Greg Farrant Profile
Greg Farrant
2015-05-14 9:07
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Thank you very much for the question. I appreciate it.
I have not discussed it with police officers; however, we did have a meeting last week with the Chief Firearms Officer of Ontario at her offices to discuss a number of issues. This was one that was on the table and there was no particular concern expressed on the part of the CFO, who is also an OPP superintendent on the force currently. There was certainly nothing expressed in concern with that.
I appreciate what you're saying, but if this change is made, police officers still have the ability to stop someone and to check a firearm. This is not about replica firearms. We're talking about a firearm that already is exempt under one section of law and not exempt under another section of law, which is confusing, quite frankly.
When you have the Criminal Code say one thing and the Firearms Act say another thing, there's no consistency there for firearms owners or for police or for anyone. Mr. Brown has indicated that there may be charges inadvertently laid in the current circumstances.
We certainly appreciate the fact that police officers have a difficult job to do. I don't think that this bill does anything to cause any further increase in public safety issues or threats to police officers. They still have the right to stop and check firearms, etc., as they would with any firearm.
But we live in a very litigious society right now and I can certainly see if the law is not changed more litigation being brought forward against people who are possessing these air guns, the low-velocity ones we're talking about, who could be subject to litigation because of the confusion in the law. We've seen a number of cases where that has been true.
I think there is a concern there to try to clear up.... Any time you can clear up the law and make it more definitive and more succinct, I think it's a good thing.
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Todd Brown
View Todd Brown Profile
Todd Brown
2015-05-14 9:09
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I can add a little bit.
If there is a problem with the police distinguishing the two and the pellet gun's being used in the commission of a crime, it is already covered under the definition of a weapon in the Criminal Code and they can lay charges as such. However, for the general use of these tools, there won't be any more problems than there have been in the past.
I might ask you the question, what did police forces do 20 years ago with pellet guns? Usually they would go up to the individual, identify what was being used and how it was being used, and that was generally the end of it. Without these kinds of changes put into place, the possibility for criminal charges being laid, because the police forces aren't sure of what the regulations actually are, are still there.
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View Rosane Doré Lefebvre Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you very much.
Mr. Farrant, in your presentation and your reply to my first question, you talked about people who might face, or who currently do face, criminal charges under the current act.
Have many members of your organization ever faced criminal charges under the current act, that is, before the changes proposed in Bill C-637? Has that ever happened to any of your members? If so, could you give us an approximate idea of the number of people it has happened to?
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Greg Farrant
View Greg Farrant Profile
Greg Farrant
2015-05-14 9:11
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Candidly, no, I'm not aware that any of our members have been charged under this section of the Criminal Code, but we do have 100,000 members across the province and I'm not always aware of what's happening to each individual member at any given time.
There has been significant case law with other people being charged.
The number of cases that I read was at least up to a dozen, and even the courts themselves were confused and they came up with different interpretations. Is the firearm a weapon? Is it not a weapon? When is it a firearm and when is not a firearm? When is it a weapon and when is it not a weapon? The courts themselves have had some difficulty in addressing how to dispose with these particular cases.
When you read the case law there have been dissenting opinions and most of those cases go right up to the Supreme Court. Clearly even the judiciary has some trouble in terms of definitions and in terms of establishing exactly what is and isn't correct under the law as it's written right now, which is why we feel this bill would clarify that and clear that up, and hopefully if there are charges laid it would be much easier to deal with in that respect for the courts.
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View Rick Norlock Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and through you, thank you to the witnesses for appearing today.
Thank you for mentioning the need to make firearms regulations more simple so that the average person who owns a firearm, or even a pellet gun, or a BB gun, can rationalize its use. I'll be asking another witness a different question, based on my grandkids, but let's get around to some of the testimony that was given and to some of the questions asked at our last meeting.
You mentioned in your opening statement that the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters delivers a hunters safety course on behalf of the Province of Ontario. I guess it would be more appropriate, and you can correct me if I'm wrong, to say that it's in collaboration with the Province of Ontario, based on a curriculum that you both have agreed to. You also mentioned that you give the firearms safety course in conjunction with the federal regulations.
Would it be correct to say, with regard to the 100,000-odd members of your organization, that you speak on their behalf, and that the credibility of your voice would be representative of most hunting and fishing organizations throughout Canada, with whom you converse on a regular basis, from coast to coast to coast? In your opinion, would you say that most would be agreeable not only to this bill but to the opinions you've expressed here?
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Greg Farrant
View Greg Farrant Profile
Greg Farrant
2015-05-14 9:14
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Mr. Norlock, yes to all your questions. We work very closely with our affiliates across the country, in every province and every territory, from coast to coast to coast. I sit on several panels and committees with many of them on issues related to firearms and other issues. We talk about these issues among ourselves on a regular basis. So yes, I think I can safely say that my views would represent those of our affiliates across the country.
I also can speak with confidence, I believe, in saying that I represent the views of all our members. At OFAH our slogan, if you will, is: the voice of anglers and hunters. We speak frequently for our members on issues related to firearms and other issues that are before this committee and before Parliament. So yes, I do so with great confidence.
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View Rick Norlock Profile
CPC (ON)
Would you say that one of the primary responsibilities you would take on as an organization, and your members accept wholly, is that you are conservationists first, because you want to conserve our fish species and you want to conserve the game animals that we hunt? I say “we” because I am a member. I am an avid hunter. I'm also a member of Safari Club International.
Would you not agree that conservation is the number one issue that we deal with, and that your members, in addition to conservation, simply want to be able to engage in angling and hunting, and want those laws that govern those two activities so that they can understand and properly teach their children and other people proper fishing and hunting responsibilities?
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