Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-21, the NDP-Liberals' most recent attempt to scapegoat law-abiding firearms owners and to trick the average Canadian into believing they are trying to improve public safety while doing absolutely no such thing.
If we looks at the balance of the government's agenda on public safety and justice, we see that Liberals seem content to undermine both of these departments and the essential institutions that support them. This is being done in order to virtue signal and play petty politics to the detriment of our entire society.
While this is deeply disappointing, it is hardly surprising. The government is light on substantive policy solutions and heavy on press conferences and so-called alternative facts.
Today additional details came to light about interference by the government and the Prime Minister in the investigation of the tragic mass murders in Nova Scotia in an attempt to create a narrative that would fit their political agenda. This is important, because it speaks to the foundation on which substantial parts of the Liberals' firearms policy rests, including parts of Bill C-21, the bill we are currently debating.
The Halifax Examiner reported yesterday that “RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki 'made a promise' to [the] Public Safety Minister...[at the time] and the Prime Minister’s Office to leverage the mass murders of April 18/19, 2020 to get a gun control law passed.”
To be clear, that former public safety minister is now the current Minister of Emergency Preparedness.
The article makes it clear that the commissioner was being pressured by the Prime Minister's Office and the current Minister of Emergency Preparedness to ensure that information was released that would help them politically, to the detriment of the ongoing investigation and potentially placing it in jeopardy.
As the Minister of Emergency Preparedness is a former police chief, we would expect better from him. However, maybe this is how he has always operated. This is a pattern of behaviour with this Prime Minister: He puts himself first, the Liberal Party second, his donors and insider friends third, and then if there is time and the chance for a really good photo op, he might try to do something that actually helps a few Canadians.
This is an example of the first two. The Prime Minister was willing to interfere with the ongoing police investigation in order to try to leverage a political edge. This used to be unimaginable, but given the Prime Minister's SNC-Lavalin track record, it is totally in line with his character. The way someone does one thing is the way that person does everything.
I want to read part of this article, because it is important and deserves to be heard in this place. Nova Scotia Superintendent Darren Campbell wrote about a meeting he had with Commissioner Lucki, stating:
The Commissioner was obviously upset. She did not raise her voice but her choice of words was indicative of her overall dissatisfaction with our work. The Commissioner accused us (me) of disrespecting her by not following her instructions. I was and remain confused over this. The Commissioner said she told Comms to tell us at H Division to include specific info about the firearms used by [the killer]….However I said we couldn’t because to do so would jeopardize ongoing efforts to advance the U.S. side of the case as well as the Canadian components of the investigation. Those are facts and I stand by them.
Those are the words of Superintendent Campbell.
I will add that every police officer carries with them an evidence notebook. I, as a former law enforcement officer back in the 1990s, still have today my evidence notebooks in case I need to recall facts about events that happened while I was on duty.
The article continues:
Campbell noted that Lucki went on at length and said she was “sad and disappointed” that he had not provided these details to the media. Campbell continued:
The Commissioner said she had promised the Minister of Public Safety and the Prime Minister’s Office that the RCMP (we) would release this information. I tried to explain there was no intent to disrespect anyone however we could not release this information at this time. The Commissioner then said that we didn’t understand, that this was tied to pending gun control legislation that would make officers and the public safer. She was very upset and at one point Deputy Commissioner (Brian) Brennan tried to get things calmed down but that had little effect. Some in the room were reduced to tears and emotional over this belittling reprimand.
The article makes it clear that this was not the only way that the government interfered with this investigation and the release of information, by pressuring the commissioner to break agreed-upon protocols.
The article also attributes a quote to Lia Scanlan, communications director for the RCMP, that says, “The commissioner releases a body count that we don’t even have. She went out and did that. It was all political pressure. That is 100% the minister and the Prime Minister. And we have a Commissioner that does not push back.”
Those are the words of RCMP communications director Scanlan. It is deeply concerning that the commissioner would not push back against the government on this request, but it is completely and totally unacceptable that she should ever have had to. I can only surmise that she is all too familiar with what happens to women who speak truth to power to the Prime Minister and his underlings.
This is the foundation on which Bill C-21 was constructed: political pressure and interference with the RCMP, misinformation about the perpetrators of gun violence and naked political opportunism. The bill was also announced on the heels of an American tragedy, deliberately importing American political discourse into domestic Canadian policies. The Prime Minister seems to be confused about the impact of Canadian legislation on American society, of which there is virtually none.
Unless he is announcing his plan to run for president of the United States, he should start trying to address the issues that Canadians face, not American issues here in Canada.
The firearms regimes in our two countries, Canada and the United States, are completely different. It has been made clear that the mass murderer from Texas would not be able to get a gun in Canada. In most U.S. states, a 21-year-old American with no convictions could purchase a firearm and, in pretty much every state, carry it. In about half of them, they could carry concealed with limited regulations. That is not the reality in Canada.
I am a law-abiding firearms owner. In Canada, people need to take a firearms safety course, apply for a licence and submit to a background check, not only on the initial application but on every reapplication every five years, in which the RCMP can contact former conjugal partners. Then, they wait for that information to come back for a few months, and maybe then can go and purchase a firearm and abide by stringent safe storage and transport laws. That is the reality in Canada. Every day, my ability to continue to own or possess firearms is checked against the Canadian Police Information Centre’s database to ensure that I am still legally and lawfully able to.
If only the government of the day would spend that much time following up on people who are prohibited from possessing or acquiring firearms, spend that much time policing our borders and making sure that the people on our borders had the tools and equipment that they needed, and spend that much time in this chamber actually focused on criminals who commit crimes: they shoot guns in our urban centres, in our communities and in our rural areas and have no respect for the law and no respect for human life.
That is not the case with the 2.1 million law-abiding Canadian firearms owners. In fact, the data clearly says the opposite. If we are going to be harmed by somebody in the country with a firearm, the vast majority of that harm is coming from somebody who is not licensed to have the firearm in the first place.
Every gun in this country is illegal unless it is in the possession of somebody licensed to have it. We have the best firearms laws in the world, and I will put that up against the record of any other country.
It is shameful that the government is importing U.S. politics into Canada to sell misinformation to the voters of this country and disenfranchise law-abiding Canadian citizens.