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View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Mr. Speaker, families who lost loved ones in the worst mass shooting in Canadian history want answers. That a government would compromise this investigation is unacceptable. Nova Scotians have suffered enough. There are very serious allegations of interference in the RCMP's investigation for the Liberals' political gain.
Yesterday the minister questioned the accuracy of these allegations, but the integrity of the claims is supported by a former RCMP commissioner.
Will the minister be transparent in explaining what role the PMO played in this investigation?
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Mr. Speaker, there are very disturbing allegations that the government directed interference in an ongoing police investigation. Nova Scotians have suffered and they deserve answers. The idea that any government would compromise an investigation for its own political gain is insulting for families of the victims. Any interference from the Prime Minister's Office is completely unacceptable and breaks Canadians' trust in our institutions.
Will the government launch a full investigation into these disturbing allegations to give Canadians the answers they need?
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and present a petition wherein the petitioners are calling upon the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada to enact just transition legislation. They want to see this legislation reduce emissions by at least 60% below 2005 levels by the year 2030, wind down the fossil fuel industry, related infrastructure and fossil fuel subsidies, and transition to a decarbonized economy. They want to see it create good, green jobs and drive inclusive workforce development. They also want to see it protect and strengthen human rights and worker rights, and respect indigenous rights, sovereignty and knowledge. Finally, they want the legislation to be paid for by increasing taxes on the wealthiest and corporations, and financing through a public national bank.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition where the signatories call upon the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada to enact just transition legislation.
They want this legislation to produce a plan that reduces emissions by at least 60% below 2005 levels by 2030. They want it to create new public economic institutions that expand public ownership of services and utilities across the economy to implement the transition. They want it to create good, green jobs and drive inclusive workforce development. They want it to protect and strengthen human rights and worker rights, and respect indigenous rights, sovereignty and knowledge. Finally, they want it to pay for the transition by increasing taxes on the wealthiest and corporations, and financing through a public national bank.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to present a petition to the House where the citizens who have signed it are calling upon the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada to enact just transition legislation.
They want this legislation to reduce emissions by at least 60% below 2005 levels by the year 2030. They want it to create new public economic institutions that expand public ownership of services and utilities across the economy. They want it to create good, green jobs and drive inclusive workforce development and, finally, they want this transition to be paid for by increasing taxes on the wealthiest and corporations and financing through a public national bank.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to stand and speak to Bill C-5 at report stage. I would like to start by thanking all members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for the work they did in reviewing this bill and reporting it back to the House. As a former member of that committee, I know it is no easy task. I used to be a member, back in 2017. The bills that come before the justice committee are usually quite serious in nature. They demand a certain amount of responsibility to take up the task and make sure that the amendments we are making to the Criminal Code have in fact been vetted and that all of the implications of their passage are fully understood.
This being Bill C-5, my remarks today, of course, are going to concentrate on two themes. One is on the question of mandatory minimums and whether they still serve any kind of useful purpose in our criminal justice system. The second theme is on the incredible harm that is a result of Canada's current federal drug policy, and not only the harm that is meted out to people who are arrested and have criminal records that they have to deal with for the rest of their lives, but also the lack of action in tackling the root causes of the opioid crisis that I have heard members from every political party and every region in Canada speak so passionately about.
Bill C-5, like any piece of legislation, is not going to solve those problems by itself and I would argue that much more needs to be done. This is one small step on the path that we need to take, but it is nonetheless a step forward. That is why I will be supporting this bill and ensuring that the Senate receives it so that it can one day make its way to the Governor General's desk and be signed into law.
It is important to set up the context, especially when we are speaking about mandatory minimums. I do not need to argue about the harms that they cause our society. It has been well documented by many, including none other than the Correctional Investigator. The statistics are there, for indigenous, Black and racialized Canadians, on their share of the population in Canada and their extreme overrepresentation in our criminal justice system.
What is more is that there is simply no credible evidence that mandatory minimums work in any way to deter crime. That is a fact. I have had to sit in this place through question period after question period, listening to colleagues from the Conservative Party talk and deliberately misstate what is going on with this piece of legislation. The Conservatives are trying to weave a story for Canadians and trying to infect them with fear that with the passage of Bill C-5, somehow every person who is charged with a serious criminal offence is suddenly going to be placed on house arrest or released on the streets. Nothing could be further from the truth. What it speaks to is a distrust, among members of that party, in judges having the ability to make the right decisions for the cases that come before them. Mandatory minimums are a blunt instrument of justice. They do not allow a judge to take in the circumstances of a case and to look at the circumstances of the individual who has been charged with a crime.
Furthermore, in all of the arguments I have heard from Conservatives on this bill, the part they leave out is that even though these sections in the Criminal Code are being amended, the maximum penalties are still in force. While the mandatory minimum penalties are being taken away, many of these serious offences carry prison terms of up to 10 years and of up to 14 years. There is no doubt in my mind that if a repeat offender has committed very serious criminal acts under the sections of the Criminal Code covered by Bill C-5, that person will receive jail time.
A judge's solemn responsibility to society is public safety and ensuring there is justice for the victims of crime. Judges are always balancing society's best interests when a case comes before them. We have to trust them in that process. There is a reason that our legislative branch is separate from the judicial branch.
We have to trust in these men and women who are so very learned in law and who can appreciate all of the fine differences in each case that comes before them. We have to trust that they will always make the right decision. There are ways we can hold our judges to account. There are courts of appeal, and we can continue going up the judicial ladder until we reach the Supreme Court of Canada. I cannot accept the arguments that are being made against mandatory minimums in this place, because they are being made in bad faith.
I want to turn to the main part I really want to hammer out here, which is the important amendments that are being made to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
I was very honoured to stand in this place with my friend, colleague and neighbour, the member for Courtenay—Alberni, and vote in favour of his bill, Bill C-216. It would have essentially decriminalized personal possession. It would have set up a process of expungement. It would have set our country forward on a path of setting up a national strategy to deal with the opioids crisis.
Unfortunately, there were only a few members who were brave enough to stand up for that bold, game-changing policy and trying to put this country on a path forward. Even though we lost that battle, I think that vote and the conversation we had have been important milestones for this country's evolving laws toward drug policy. I am certain that in the years ahead we are going to see some fundamental reform in this area.
The main thing Bill C-5 would do with respect to our drug laws is set up a declaration of principles. We are at report stage now, but important work was done at committee. I have to take a moment to recognize the amazing and incredible work of my colleague and neighbour to the south, the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke. His knowledge of law, his expertise in that area and the diligent and hard work he has done at committee resulted in some very substantive amendments to Bill C-5. One of them in particular, although it is not going to be called expungement, is expungement by a different name.
One of the main harms we have had to people who have have criminal records for personal possession amounts is that those records follow them throughout life. They can affect one's ability to get into certain lines of work, affect one's ability to rent a home and very severely affect one's ability to travel. The amendments that were made by the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke and accepted by a majority of the committee are essentially going to make sure that Bill C-5 would ensure that after two years those records are sequestered from the main records of that person, and no longer will anyone be able to find those records and hold them against that person.
It is important, and it is certainly not as bold of a step as we would have wanted, but I think it goes to show that this small caucus of New Democrats has been able to make monumental reform to a pretty important government justice bill. I think this is going to leave a lasting mark for people who have been negatively affected by this.
I will conclude by saying that when it comes to mandatory minimums, it is important for us to remember that the Criminal Code is a massive piece of legislation. There are already sections within the Criminal Code, specifically section 718.2, the sentencing principles, that allow a judge to increase or decrease a sentence based on aggravating factors. The sentences that are spelled out in the Criminal Code for the specific sections of Bill C-5, in fact, could be lengthened, if there were aggravating factors. If a crime was committed against a person with a disability or if racial hatred and bias were involved in a crime, judges could take that into account.
I could say much more, but 10 minutes goes by very quickly. I will end by saying that Bill C-5 is a small step. We did our job to make it better. I will be pleased to vote in favour of this bill to send it to the Senate and hopefully into law in the very near future.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Again, Madam Speaker, this is an example of the Conservatives completely ignoring what I just said.
Of course I will acknowledge it is a serious crime, but what my hon. colleague failed to mention is that a judge would have the ability to look at the case before him or her, look at the defendant involved, look at the circumstances of the case, and if it is warranted, levy a hefty prison term against that individual.
I have a counter-question for the member. Why does he and his party have so little faith in the judges? Why do those members not just come clean and say that to Canadians point blank?
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, in my speech, I referenced the statistics, which are there for everyone to see, but I will go even further.
There could be unique circumstances where charges have been levied against an individual who may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, mixed up with the wrong crowd, and the judge would have no choice on a guilty verdict. The judge may say, “I can see that the circumstances in which you find yourself are markedly different from the people I usually see before me, but my hands are tied and because of this mandatory minimum sentencing provision in the Criminal Code, I have to give you a three-year sentence.” It completely binds the hands of the judge.
Justice is not black and white. As much as the Conservatives want to see that it is, it is not black and white. Judges need to have the ability to make sure that the sentence is appropriate to the person before them.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, on the last part, I agree that this is a fundamental reason that Bill C-5 needs to pass, but I will expand on it.
The problem with the Liberals voting down Bill C-216 is that while there may be a jurisdiction like British Columbia which is very open to reaching agreements with the federal government, there will be other jurisdictions like Alberta that refuse to do that. While the agreement with British Columbia is a great thing, what about all the Canadians in other provinces who do not have progressive premiers? They have to wait for the law to be changed and they are out of luck. That is the problem. That is why it is shameful that the Liberals voted against Bill C-216.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, I know the minister is approaching this issue from a very personal position, and I appreciate that, but I think we have to be very clear. I think the minister would agree with me that Bill C-21 by itself is not going to solve the very complex problem of gun crime. It is going to require a whole host of measures working together.
At the public safety committee, our first study in this Parliament was on gun and gang violence, and witness after witness was correlating the rise in gun crime with the drug trade. The government, just a few short weeks ago, did vote against Bill C-216, which would have decriminalized personal possession, set up a national strategy and set up expungement. I do not want to get into a debate about that, but I think the onus is now on the Government of Canada to explain what its next steps will be to address the incredibly high profit margins that exist in the drug trade that are driving the violence in big cities like Toronto and Vancouver.
It is the highly addictive nature of fentanyl and carfentanil and the massive profit margins that are leading to gangs competing with one another for that turf. That is driving a lot of the gun violence. In the absence of supporting Bill C-216, can the minister tell us what the next steps are to address that very specific problem?
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, I enjoy working with my colleague on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. She is quite right that we have a good working relationship.
I have two questions. The first one is that through a technical reading of the bill—because she did talk about lawful gun owners—my understanding of Bill C-21 is that if it becomes law, current owners of handguns could still legally use them. People could still go to a range to fire handguns under the supervision of an RPAL holder, especially if the range owns a collection of handguns. I am just wondering if she can clarify whether that is her understanding of the bill as well.
My second question is about this being a very complex problem. She quoted a lot of police officers. Let me also quote from Staff Sergeant Michael Rowe of the Vancouver Police Department, who also appeared before the public safety committee. He identified straw purchases and the diversion of legally owned handguns as also being big problems.
Therefore, two things can be true here: We can have a problem from gun smuggling, but there is also a problem from the illegal diversion of legally owned handguns. If we ignore that and focus only on the smuggling problem, we are doing a disservice to public safety. Would she not admit that domestic diversion is also a problem, as was clearly identified by Staff Sergeant Michael Rowe of the Vancouver Police Department?
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, I enjoy serving with my colleague on the public safety committee.
During the course of her speech, she very much highlighted the problems with smuggling and Canada sharing a border with the United States, which is the largest gun manufacturer in the world. We know that gun smugglers are finding creative ways to get them into Canada. There was a story last month about criminals using a drone to bring handguns into Canada.
Therefore, it is going to require a set of policies. We have to work with our U.S. partners to tackle the supply, but I want to know about the demand side. Those guns are coming into Canada because there is a demand for them. I just wonder if the member can inform the House on some of the policies she thinks would be best to tackle the demand side of the gun equation here in Canada.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be joining colleagues from all parties in this debate tonight on Bill C-21.
I want to acknowledge the time I have enjoyed as the NDP's public safety critic. It is a big responsibility. There are many different departments to keep track of. I also want to say in deference to previous speakers that I have enjoyed working with the minister on a number of issues and with my Conservative and Bloc colleagues. I will echo previous comments tonight that we do enjoy a good working relationship. If we look at previous Parliaments, that might seem a bit odd for the public safety committee because we do deal with some fairly explosive issues where there is not always a lot of agreement to be found.
I come at this debate tonight as a representative of a rural riding. My riding of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford is about 4,700 square kilometres in size. A lot of the constituents whom I represent are responsible firearms owners. They enjoy going to the range. They enjoy using firearms for hunting and other recreational activities.
However, it has to be stated, and this is a key difference between Canada and our southern neighbours, that owning a firearm in Canada is a privilege. By far the vast majority of firearms owners in Canada respect that privilege. They use their firearms in a very safe and respectful manner. Gun safety and the careful operation and storage of guns have always been paramount to the constituents that I have spoken to.
Indeed, I do have a lot of friends who are firearms owners. I grew up with firearms. My father has several that he inherited from his childhood. I have enjoyed spending time at various ranges throughout my riding. A few years ago, I was a guest at the Victoria fish and game club. Under the careful supervision of someone with a restricted possession and authorization licence, I was shown how to safely use a handgun at the range. There a lot of people who do enjoy the target shooting aspect of it.
I have seen a lot of debate on firearms before and during my time in Parliament and it is a pretty explosive issue. It can be very often used as a wedge in our political system. I want to find a way to talk about the legislation before us in a respectful way, one that lowers the temperature and where we can depolarize the debate while maybe seeking to make some parts of the bill better at committee.
I am trying to walk the line between the Liberals and the Conservatives. The Liberals sometimes have a tendency to put forward a bill, hold it up as a shiny trophy, and say it is going to fix the problem. The Conservatives on the other side tend to have a knee-jerk reaction to firearms legislation and their default position is to oppose. This is an issue where we have to walk the line between those two, where we recognize that legislation is important. We cannot simply say no for the sake of saying no, but we also have to realize that legislation by itself is not going to solve a problem as complex as gun violence. It has to be part and parcel of a whole range of things.
Bill C-21 in this Parliament does share the same number as the previous firearms legislation in the 43rd Parliament, which was also Bill C-21. That bill, however, never advanced past second reading. Unfortunately, it was allowed to die on the Order Paper when we had, in my view, the unnecessary election of 2021. There was a lot of hullabaloo about the introduction of that bill, but not a lot of effort was put forward by the government to advance it in any meaningful way.
Here we are again. We are in the 44th Parliament. We are in June. We have been at this for quite some time and we are only now just getting to the first round of second reading debate on the bill.
There is an important human element to this debate. Many lives have been lost in Canada to rising gun crime and we have to acknowledge that many communities are feeling unsafe.
Canadians want their government to act to prevent tragedies, not just respond to them. That is the proactive piece of the puzzle here, not just reacting to the bad news we often see. We need to demonstrate that follow-through and commitment to addressing firearms violence. That is where I think Bill C-21 comes into play. Not only is the smuggling of illegal firearms a big problem in Canada, but there is also a very real issue with the domestic diversion of legal firearms and the way they can find their way into the hands of criminals.
I am proud to be a member of a party that has supported the goal of getting military-style assault weapons off the streets. I support the plans for a mandatory buyback. That is a significant improvement over the voluntary buyback that was proposed in the previous Parliament, because we want to find a way of making sure that these weapons are forever off of our streets and do not pose a danger. Back in 2008, Jack Layton, our leader at the time, was the first political leader in Canada to propose giving municipalities the power to ban handguns within their jurisdictions.
I think whatever side of the spectrum we fall on with respect to this debate, we can all agree it is time for the government to get serious about tackling gun crime. We have different ideas on how that is to be achieved, but I think we agree on the same basic premise.
I want to give a nod to the public safety committee. The great report that we tabled earlier this year has been referenced in a few speeches tonight. That report was the result of 50 witnesses over seven meetings. We had numerous representatives from different police services across Canada, criminal defence lawyers, community organizations and also important government bodies like Statistics Canada. I want to acknowledge the Bloc Québécois for bringing forward that motion for a study. It resulted in 34 recommendations. We are awaiting a government response. I know that takes time, but I am looking forward to reading the government's response to those solid recommendations.
We had a number of recommendations. We realized that Statistics Canada needs additional resources. It has reported that there are gaps in its reporting. There are limitations in its knowledge about the firearms that are used in crimes. We need more information and details about particular firearms, their exact type, who owns them, how they are stored, whether the owners are licensed, and so on.
There was also a recommendation about increasing funding to the Canadian criminal intelligence service to enable comprehensive intelligence sharing across all police services so we can improve their effectiveness in tracing firearms. There was a recognition that smuggling is a significant contributor to gun and gang violence in Canada and that more resources must be allocated to combatting it. Also, the Government of Canada, as part of its prohibition on firearms, should implement a mandatory buyback program. That was a recommendation in the report that was supported by committee members.
In addition, I also think that because the report also illustrated the context in which we operate, this problem is not going to be solved by legislation, funding or a shift in policies alone. It is a multi-faceted issue that is going to require reflection, a comprehensive set of solutions, including data collection and research, prevention and intervention, coordination and collaboration between all levels of government, law enforcement and civil society actors.
We know the statistics have not been favourable. That has been mentioned by a few of my colleagues. We know that the rates of firearms-related violent crimes started an upward climb in 2014, with the largest documented increase between 2014 and 2015. Between 2019 and 2020 there were notable increases, including in southern rural British Columbia, the northern part of Ontario, rural Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Nova Scotia. This is the important part: Handguns were the most serious weapon present in most firearm-related violent crimes between 2009 and 2014, and also between 2015 and 2020.
I now want to focus on the smuggling, which we know is a major problem. It is a consequence of our sharing a border with the United States. The problem, and this goes to the data collection, is that we do not have an accurate figure. It might even be impossible to ever get an accurate figure, because for every successful interdiction, there are so many that will get through. It is simply impossible to extrapolate what the full problem is in that regard.
In this conversation about firearms and the root causes of gun and gang violence, we have to know that there are so many different factors at play here. This is far from a black and white issue. During our committee study, we learned from great testimony from witnesses that things like poverty, inequality, racism, mental illness, social isolation, substance abuse, extremist ideologies, education and health, are all factors which in some way contribute to the phenomenon of gun violence and how bad it can be in some communities.
There is also a very strong correlation between the drug trade in Canada and firearms violence. I think this is important. This House has recently been seized with the issue of Canada's drug laws. We have seen reference to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in another government bill, Bill C-5, which sets out a declaration of principles.
The member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke was able to successfully amend that to make sure that criminal records for simple possession will be sequestered after two years. That is an important amendment. The member for Courtenay—Alberni, my friend and neighbour to the north, has his very important private member's bill, Bill C-216.
Almost every single police agency that was before our committee spoke of the interwoven nature of the drug trade and the gun trade. The simple fact is that there are obscene amounts of money that can be made in the drug trade. The introduction of fentanyl and carfentanil has completely changed the profitability game. Every single witness who was talking on this subject said that gang members involved in the drug trade feel the need to have guns on their person to protect their turf and their trade because of the competitive nature of it.
One of the most successful ways we can tackle gun problems in Canada is to enact bold, progressive policies to deal with the demand side, to deal with people's addictions and to make sure we are not harming the people who are out there being nabbed by police for simple possession. Instead, we should be trying to make sure that we are relieving them of the criminal stigma of substance use. We should be drying up that demand so that gangs are not competing for that turf. That is a big scourge for many of our big cities in Canada, and until we see bold policy to deal with this, I fear that years from now we are still going to be having the same conversation about gun violence in Canada.
Let us now turn to some of the main features of Bill C-21. By far, the one that has garnered the most attention is the handgun freeze. It is essentially going to prevent the chief firearms officer from approving the transfer of handguns to individuals. It will effectively ban the buying, selling, transferring and importing of handguns to anyone other than certain businesses and exempted individuals.
To be clear, my technical reading of the bill is that if Bill C-21 were to receive royal assent tomorrow, anyone who is a current RPAL holder and owns a handgun will still be able to lawfully use that handgun just as they did today and yesterday. That will have no change.
It will impact people who are seeking to buy new handguns, but again, exemptions are carved out, for example, if someone can demonstrate that they need a handgun for their line of work. I know foresters who will not travel out into the bush in grizzly country unless they are carrying a handgun. That will be considered an exempted individual.
If someone is a professional target shooter and belongs to an Olympic-qualified organization, we might look at amending that and broadening the scope. The person would still be allowed to use a handgun, and so on.
I acknowledge that smuggling is a huge problem, but we have also had witnesses talk about the problem of the domestic diversion of legal weapons and people using their licences for straw purchases. I think, if we were to completely ignore that side of the equation, we would be doing a disservice to Canadians and to the whole question of public safety on this issue.
The other big aspect of Bill C-21 is the red flag and yellow flag regime, which would basically allow anyone to bypass the police and go directly to a provincial court judge to request the immediate removal of weapons from an individual who they believe is going to pose a danger to themselves or to others. I will note that, in the way Bill C-21 is written, there is an improvement to this aspect of the previous bill, because it would allow a judge to protect the privacy of an individual applying for that emergency prohibition. The judge could also have the option of holding hearings in private and sealing court documents. That is an important improvement to the previous version of the bill.
However, we know organizations such as PolySeSouvient still have problems with how this section is written. I believe that at committee we are going to have to take a deeper dive into whether this can be improved upon.
We also know that members of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians were not fans of the previous red flag law. They said:
...placing the onus on a family member of a depressed person, a demented parent, or the perpetrator of domestic violence to go through the court system is a largely unworkable and unwelcome hindrance to getting guns temporarily out of the home of those in crisis.
Others said that the current version of Bill C-21 was “a big, evidence-based step towards reducing gun injury and death in Canada,” so kudos to the government for getting that from physicians who deal with gunshot wounds on a regular basis. They still want to see the particular details of the new red flag law and how it is actually going to work. Of course, the yellow flag law would allow the chief firearms officer to temporarily suspend and review an individual firearms licence while that eligibility is determined.
I want to end on airsoft. In my riding of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, there is a massive airsoft community and people love this sport. I had previously only participated in paintball, so I know the fun and the thrill of it, and people who engage in airsoft as a sport love what they do. It is a great outdoor recreational activity, and these people are concerned by the provisions in this bill that are targeting replica models.
We have to find a way to have members of the airsoft community come before our committee. I think we have to have a conversation with the government on how we can find a workable solution so that people are not unfairly targeted for participating in a sport they enjoy. I think there is a middle ground in there somewhere. I acknowledge the concern that law enforcement has with replica airsoft rifles. At a distance, it is not easy to tell whether it is a replica or the real thing, and we certainly did hear at committee that some people had been successful at converting airsoft guns into fully functioning firearms, so that is a very real concern out there.
I know I am in my final minute, so I will just conclude with this: The firearms debate is never a black and white issue, and I know there are a variety of opinions on this topic, but I am going to try to thread the needle. At this point in the debate, I am going to signal my support for getting this bill to committee, because I do not want to just throw it out at this stage. I believe it deserves a closer look, and I believe all members, including my Conservative colleagues, deserve to have the opportunity to focus on the particular sections of the bill, bring forward their witnesses and have an adult conversation about the direction we want to take our country in and what we ultimately want to see out of this.
With that, I will conclude. I appreciate this opportunity, and I look forward to questions from my colleagues.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, he mentioned the model AR-15. It is a firearm that has become synonymous with some of the most brutal mass shootings imaginable in the United States. We have to be careful. Canada and the United States are two very different countries when it comes to our firearms laws, but I would agree that certain models of firearms have no place in our society.
I am not talking about non-restricted firearms, or the people who are out there hunting and shooting with their bolt-action rifles or shotguns. I am talking about those ones that can cause death as quickly as one can pull a trigger.
With Bill C-21, though, the debate is not on the way a firearm looks but its functionality. We have had this debate at the public safety committee. It is something that is still unresolved because there are models of firearms out there, semi-automatic rifles, that have the same capacity and same function as firearms that were banned by the OIC, but they are still legal.
We need to have a conversation about where we are drawing the line and how we are actually going to define what a prohibited firearm is. That is a conversation that we still owe to Canadians.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, I agree with my hon. colleague. I do not have the statistics in front of me, but I can assure my colleague that I have seen them. I was reading them in preparation for the speech. The issue, though, is when it comes to legal firearms, handguns or long guns that have been stolen. The discrepancy is with the ones that were reported missing and ones that were reported stolen versus the ones that were recovered. Yes, handguns especially have been registered and they are in the system, but there is a discrepancy between the ones that were reported stolen and the ones that were actually recovered. We know that some of those legal firearms are still out on the street. They could potentially be used to commit crimes and they may never be recovered. I think that is the discrepancy I was referring to.
He is absolutely right. We do not know what we do not know. If we are going to have an adult conversation about this, the Government of Canada needs to give Statistics Canada the proper resources so that we can paint a picture, not only for the citizens of Canada, but for the law enforcement that does that important job for us every single day.
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