Madam Speaker, as always, it is an honour and a privilege to be able to enter into debate on the important issues that are facing Canadians.
It is interesting. I have been listening closely to the debate that has transpired over the course of today. Contrary to the government's justification for moving closure, the only three hours and 26 or 24 minutes of debate that has taken place on a previous day on what is a significant piece of legislation that impacts millions of Canadians, millions of law-abiding firearms owners, failed to actually address the lofty submissions that the government has tried to make clear.
I am proud to be a member of Parliament who represents a large rural area. I have spoken to numerous constituents over the last number of days and weeks since the most recent iteration of the Liberals' attack on law-abiding firearms' owners and it fails to address the real problems that are leading to a significant increase in violent crime in our streets and a troubling and alarming increase in crime in rural areas. It fails on both those fronts.
I have spoken with many constituents, young, old, professionals, those who have grown up using firearms and those who came to use them later in life. Notably, two stuck out from my calls over the past couple of weeks. One was a retired school principal and his wife, who came into the hobby of sport shooting. They called and asked me to reach out to them to discuss Bill C-21. They pleaded with me to try to bring some sense to the debate that is taking place regarding firearms in this country, to which I promised that I would try. Unfortunately, it seems that politics and rhetoric have blinded those on Canada's left to actually having a constructive dialogue.
I spoke yesterday with a 24-year-old man who is very concerned about how this would impact his ability to participate in his favourite hobby. He is a young, budding electrician, just finishing up his time at a polytechnic in Alberta, who is excited to get to work and start being able to invest in his hobby, yet the Liberals are taking away those opportunities.
Here we are again. Time and time again, when the Liberals dive in the polls, we can expect this sort of legislation to come forward. We see the importation of wedge issues into discourse within our country. We have seen it time and time again, certainly over the course of the time I have been elected. As I look back over my involvement in politics, this is the exact way the Liberals approach these issues.
Whether it be firearms, the issue of abortion or vaccines, an issue that was not controversial up until our Prime Minister decided to run an election campaign on it, that sort of wedge politics does not actually result in good public policy, and we see that being the case here today.
I did want to share a couple of statements that I think, hopefully, the governing Liberals would take seriously: “The long-gun registry, as it was, was a failure and I'm not going to resuscitate that”. Do we know who said that? It was the Prime Minister.
He went on to say, “I grew up with long guns, rifles and shotguns”. The Prime Minister said that, and then, going on, he said, “Yes, the RCMP guarding me had handguns and I got to play with them every now and then”, adding that the RCMP were very responsible around him and his siblings.
The now Prime Minister, then individual who was running to be Prime Minister of the country, went on to say:
I was raised with an appreciation and an understanding of how important in rural areas and right across the country gun ownership is as a part of the culture of Canada. I do not feel that there's any huge contradiction between keeping our cities safe from gun violence and gangs, and allowing this important facet of Canadian identity which is having a gun.
“Having a firearm is 'an important facet of Canadian identity'.” That was said by the then leader of the Liberal Party when he was running for office and needed some rural votes to build a coalition that obviously was calculated at the time to be successful. He did win the 2015 election, but how things have changed since that point in time. I can only come to the conclusion that it is a flip-flop, like many issues on which the Prime Minister takes a position. When things change, in terms of the political benefit or strategy of the day, that position in many cases takes a 180°. We see a backdoor gun registry: It is not a government-administered centralized gun registry, as we have seen in the past, but we have seen the Liberals implement that.
I have heard some of my colleagues talk today about some of the challenges when it comes to indigenous peoples, the reality of the indigenous way of life and the importance of firearms ownership that the Liberals may be taking away from them. I am a rural member of Parliament and a firearms owner. Having gone through the significant process, I will take a brief moment to say that all members of Parliament in this place, whether they own guns or not, should take the time and put in the effort to get their possession and acquisition licences. I suggest they would be very pleased with the fact that we have a strong suite of rules and structures that ensure there is safe firearms ownership in this country. I find the lack of understanding with regard to that very troubling, when it comes to making public policy and the legislation we have before us.
We have a significant issue when it comes to rising crime rates. There is no question. Conservatives even endeavoured to split this bill. We brought forward a motion to see parts of this bill go forward, but the Liberals said no because it did not fit their political narrative. We see a significant issue when it comes to illegal guns. We see a significant issue when it comes to mental health. We see a significant issue when it comes to rural crime and the challenges with law enforcement in many areas of our country. Bill C-21 does not address those things. It is pure and simple: It does not.
It is unfortunate that while there are several million gun owners in this country, there are many people who have not had the opportunity to understand that firearms, in many cases, are tools. This would be no more evident than when I had a dialogue with the then minister of public safety in the last Parliament. We had a discussion in the aftermath of a very tragic circumstance. I will get to some recent revelations about that in just a moment. Firearms can be used as weapons, as can anything else used with the intent to harm. A firearm is also a tool. It is something that any rural individual who has farmed, ranched, hunted or whatever the case may be has used as either a weapon or a tool. I would suggest the Liberals should be very cognizant of that reality in this place.
I would simply highlight that the allegations made today in a published article related to the shootings in the Maritimes cannot be understated. The Liberals seem to dismiss how serious the possibility of political interference in an investigation is. As I read this article just prior to question period, I was astounded by how it appears there was blatant political interference in what was an absolutely tragic circumstance. It is something that should never have happened. The fact that the government, at least according to the allegations, would go to those lengths to try to leverage a tragedy such as that for its political benefit speaks to how all Canadians and all legislators in this place should be very hesitant about passing a bill when they are willing to go to those lengths to deceive Canadians.