September 28, 2017

LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

The Speaker

I have the honour, pursuant to subsection 39(1) of the Access to Information Act, to lay upon the table a special report to Parliament entitled “Failing to Strike the Right Balance for Transparency - Recommendations to improve Bill C-58: An Act to Amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to Make Consequential Amendments to Other Acts”.

This report is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Access to Information
Permalink
CPC

James Bezan

Conservative

Mr. James Bezan (Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present two petitions today. The first is e-petition 1088, with more than 1,080 signatures, dealing with the comments of the Minister of National Defence about being the architect of Operation Medusa and calling for his resignation.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Minister of National Defence
Permalink
CPC

James Bezan

Conservative

Mr. James Bezan (Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, the second is e-petition 909, with more than 57,700 signatures, asking for an amendment to the Constitution Act of 1982 to ensure that the rights and freedoms of this country are respected.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Constitution Act, 1982
Permalink
GP

Elizabeth May

Green Party

Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP)

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present two petitions today. The first petition is from constituents throughout Saanich—Gulf Islands who are calling for a national waste reduction strategy. The petitioners note that there have been collaborative efforts, going back to reports by Environment Canada and Ontario municipalities for extended producer responsibility programs. The petitioners call upon the government to collaborate with the provinces on the development and implementation of a comprehensive national strategy to reduce solid waste and garbage, and to promote recycling in Canada.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Waste Reduction
Permalink
GP

Elizabeth May

Green Party

Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP)

Mr. Speaker, the second petition relates to an issue the House has dealt with the efforts through previous private members' bills, including one of my own, to deal with the trade in shark fin. The petitioners recognize that shark finning is not allowed in Canadian waters. However, they point out that the House could ban the possession, trade, and distribution for the sale of shark fin, to aid the protection of increasingly endangered species of sharks around the world.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Shark Finning
Permalink
LIB

Kevin Lamoureux

Liberal

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand at this time.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
Permalink
LIB
?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
Permalink

The House resumed from September 21 consideration of the motion that Bill C-47, An Act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code (amendments permitting the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty and other amendments), be read the second time and referred to a committee.


LIB

Francis Drouin

Liberal

Mr. Francis Drouin (Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my esteemed colleague from Kitchener Centre.

During the course of the first day of debate on Bill C-47, certain members of this House chose to focus their sights on unfounded concerns with respect to the legitimate use of firearms by law-abiding, licensed firearm owners in Canada. Today, I intend to set the record straight.

It was clear during that debate that there was a deep-seated misunderstanding of the objectives of Canada's accession to the Arms Trade Treaty. It is therefore my intent to address and allay these concerns by factually outlining the intent of the ATT and of this legislation.

I will be absolutely crystal clear on this point. Canada's accession to the Arms Trade Treaty will have no effect on law-abiding Canadian firearm owners, whether they be shooting trap or skeet, hunting upland birds and big game, or keeping their farm animals safe from coyotes. The Arms Trade Treaty is about preventing the proliferation of conventional arms to people or places where lives could be put at risk, where our national security or that of our allies would be undermined, or where we might expect serious violations of human rights or international humanitarian law to occur.

Some of our colleagues suggested in the previous day's debate that the treaty and Bill C-47 do not have a carve-out or other protections for legitimate and law-abiding gun owners. On this subject, let me be equally clear.

The Arms Trade Treaty preamble recognizes very clearly the “legitimate trade and lawful ownership, and use of certain conventional arms for recreational, cultural, historical, and sporting activities, where such trade, ownership and use are permitted or protected by law”. This language sets the context for the ATT and makes it clear that the ATT is not intending to challenge or prevent legitimate trade and ownership of conventional arms when permitted by domestic law.

The ATT also reaffirms “the sovereign right of any State to regulate and control conventional arms exclusively within its territory, pursuant to its own legal or constitutional system”. This is why in this bill there is not a single proposed amendment to the Firearms Act, which is the act responsible for possession, manufacturing, and transfer of firearms in Canada.

I will again reiterate that the rights of law-abiding Canadian firearm owners are not and will not be affected by Canada's accession to the Arms Trade Treaty, full stop. The rights of law-abiding Canadian firearms owners are permitted and protected in Canadian law and regulation, and this will not change.

It is incorrect to say that the Arms Trade Treaty does not recognize the lawful use of firearms subject to relevant national laws. Moreover, we have concrete evidence that there has been no effect on firearm owners in Canada due to the ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty in other jurisdictions, such as Europe, for example. If a Canadian wishes to import a Benelli shotgun from Italy or a Walther target pistol from Germany, the process remains straightforward. First, the individual importing the firearm into Canada must be at least 18 and hold a valid possession and acquisition licence for a non-restricted or restricted firearm. Second, the firearm must be declared to Canadian customs and the appropriate duties and taxes paid. This is the current process, and it will not change after Canada's accession to the ATT.

I would also point out that there is no requirement to seek import authorization in advance for non-restricted or restricted firearms or firearm parts. This would not change with Bill C-47. The Arms Trade Treaty has been enforced in Germany and Italy since December 2014, and those countries still have no issues with exporting firearms to law-abiding Canadian firearm owners.

Canada's accession to the ATT would also not affect the ability of law-abiding Canadians to travel overseas with their firearms. Whether they are travelling to the U.K. for a shooting competition or France to hunt pheasants in Brittany, the temporary export process is very straightforward and would not change with the implementation of Bill C-47.

Those Canadians would be required to comply with local laws, but if the U.K. or French government wished to verify an individual's permit, we can already provide that assurance without compromising personal information. If people are planning a hunting trip in the United States, the process is even simpler, as long as they comply with the relevant local U.S. laws.

The last issue I wish to address is the concerns expressed by some of our hon. colleagues with respect to the record-keeping provisions in Bill C-47. My colleagues have suggested that article 12 of the Arms Trade Treaty introduces new obligations on Canada to collect information and to provide such information to the Arms Trade Treaty secretariat.

This is not accurate. Article 12 speaks solely to what a country should include in its national record-keeping. In this regard, Canada's existing system of export record-keeping meets the Arms Trade Treaty obligations. No change is needed and no change will be made.

The record-keeping requirements of the Export and Import Permits Act predates the Arms Trade Treaty by decades. Exporters have been required to keep all relevant records to demonstrate that they are in compliance with the act, since 1947. The time limitation of six years plus the current year has been on the books since 2006. Canadian exporters are already very familiar with these requirements, and it is incorrect to characterize these requirements as being new.

The existing record keeping-requirements of the Export and Import Permits Act are familiar to all Canadians involved in the legitimate trade of arms. The slight amendment to add “organization” is related specifically to obligations with respect to brokering only.

There will be no requirement to register or retain information with regard to the purchase of a foreign-made weapon, if purchased in Canada. Once legally imported into Canada, no information will be retained for the purpose of the bill. The Arms Trade Treaty does not apply to domestic trade in arms.

In addition, there is no requirement in article 12 of the Arms Trade Treaty to share national records with other member states or with the Arms Trade Treaty secretariat.

The Arms Trade Treaty reporting requirements are contained in article 13 of the ATT, and these annual reporting requirements are not new either. Article 13 of the treaty clearly states that the data that is reported to the Arms Trade Treaty secretariat can reflect the same data as what was listed in annual reports to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms for the specific items covered by the Arms Trade Treaty.

Canada has been filing these reports to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms for 15 years, since 2002. Again, this is nothing new and it is a long-standing national obligation to report that data in aggregate form. No confidential personal or business information is contained in those reports.

The Arms Trade Treaty is about seeking to ensure that weapons exported from Canada or sales brokered in Canada or by Canadians do not accidentally fuel conflict or contribute to violations of international law. The ATT itself is intended to contribute to international peace and prevent human suffering. Canadians expect their government to show global leadership in this regard.

The ATT and this legislation are not about a long-gun registry. Our accession to the ATT will not change the rights and responsibilities of recreational and sporting gun owners in Canada, and Bill C-47 will not create any new obligations on gun owners in Canada. Canadians who export or import firearms will continue to operate exactly as they do now.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Export and Import Permits Act
Permalink
CPC

Garnett Genuis

Conservative

Mr. Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, this is a sensitive issue in my colleague's riding because there are many law-abiding, responsible gun owners living in Glengarry—Prescott—Russell.

The member says that nothing is wrong, that there is nothing to see here as a problem, but the major firearms organizations that represent firearms owners in Canada do have major concerns. At first blush, who should we believe, those organizations or the member?

He said we already have a strong system of arms control and this new legislation would not involve any new obligations for anybody. That effectively is what he said. If that is true, then why in the world are we even moving forward with this? Why would we not accept the existing system? What is the point if all of these things already exist anyway?

Could my colleague tell me, first, why we should not listen to firearms organizations, and second, if what he says is true, what is the point?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Export and Import Permits Act
Permalink
LIB

Francis Drouin

Liberal

Mr. Francis Drouin

Mr. Speaker, the only thing that has changed with Bill C-47 is the fearmongering on the other side and the emails sent to their party members so they can fundraise on this particular issue. There will be no amendments to the Firearms Act with Bill C-47.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Export and Import Permits Act
Permalink
NDP

Robert Aubin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Robert Aubin (Trois-Rivières, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his presentation this morning. I have to say that I was more concerned about what went unsaid, so I would like him to comment on the U.S. exemption.

What are his thoughts on the fact that Canada will be able to slip things in through the back door that the bill will not allow in through the front door?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Export and Import Permits Act
Permalink
LIB

Francis Drouin

Liberal

Mr. Francis Drouin

Mr. Speaker, Canada has always had a good relationship with the United States. The United States is not a high-risk country. We have a very good relationship with them. I think this treaty will enable Canada to work with the international community. We must take care not to lump the United States in with other high-risk countries. They are two different things. We must not compare apples and oranges.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Export and Import Permits Act
Permalink
CPC

Ziad Aboultaif

Conservative

Mr. Ziad Aboultaif (Edmonton Manning, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, Canada already has a responsible internal system to monitor and control the export of military equipment that meets or exceeds this UN treaty. Could the member opposite name three areas where he sees that the UN treaty exceeds in any way what we have in our system in Canada?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Export and Import Permits Act
Permalink
LIB

Francis Drouin

Liberal

Mr. Francis Drouin

Mr. Speaker, the Arms Trade Treaty was about Canada participating with the international community. I understand that some of the members on the other side are causing some fearmongering with their communities, and with rural communities especially. However, I want to reassure them that this has nothing to do with law-abiding gun owners in Canada. I do not know how many times I can repeat it. We are not amending the Firearms Act. They can repeat it as much as they want on the other side, but I challenge him to show me where Bill C-47 amends the Firearms Act.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Export and Import Permits Act
Permalink
LIB

Matt DeCourcey

Liberal

Mr. Matt DeCourcey (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, who is from a rural community not far from Ottawa. I know is proud to represent his rural Franco-Ontarian community.

I also know he did extensive research that shows that this bill will not affect people in his community, as the Conservatives like to repeat over and over again.

Could he explain in French, for his Franco-Ontarian community, how this treaty and Canada have helped make the world a more peaceful place, and confirm that this will not lead to the situation the Conservatives are describing?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Export and Import Permits Act
Permalink
LIB

Francis Drouin

Liberal

Mr. Francis Drouin (Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. It is indeed important to emphasize that Bill C-47 will not affect gun owners.

It is also important to note that the Conservatives are once again trying to strike fear into our communities. This is nothing new, and we are used to it. They have been using this tactic for years.

Let me reassure my constituents in Glengarry—Prescott—Russell that this will not affect them at all. They will be able to do things just as they have done for the past 15 years.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Export and Import Permits Act
Permalink
LIB

Raj Saini

Liberal

Mr. Raj Saini (Kitchener Centre, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to an export control system that is rigorous, transparent, and predictable. We believe that regulating the international arms trade is essential for the protection of people and human rights. I am proud to live in a Canada that already has, by international standards, an export control regime that stringently promotes transparency and protects human rights through an assessment process.

Our existing system of export controls already meets or exceeds all but two of the 28 articles in the Arms Trade Treaty. Through this legislation, both to enhance transparency and to fully comply with the treaty, legislative amendments are being proposed to the Export and Import Permits Act and to one section of the Criminal Code.

In my view, Bill C-47 is not merely about formalizing existing practices and making policy tweaks. Rather, acceding to the Arms Trade Treaty is of normative value to Canada. It makes a statement to the world.

During the election campaign, we promised Canadians we would re-engage with the world and contribute to development, mediation, conflict prevention, and post-conflict reconstruction efforts. In the words of our foreign minister, “Peace and prosperity are every person's birthright.” Unregulated arms transfers hinder social and economic development. They intensify regional instability and prolong conflict, and ultimately, they contribute to violations of international humanitarian law and to human rights abuses.

We are once again aligning ourselves with our closest partners and allies in NATO and the G7. We are advancing Canada's engagement in the responsible trade of conventional arms in a manner that reflects our broader international security and development policies. The global Arms Trade Treaty aligns perfectly with Canada's broader international development policies.

The ATT is feminist. It is a vital component of international efforts to reduce gender-based violence, and it supports Canada's international efforts with respect to global health. The Arms Trade Treaty will reduce the risk that the trade of arms at the international level will be used to commit genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

Nations that are party to the treaty will be required to establish import and export controls on a variety of weapons, including tanks, missiles, small arms, and light weapons, something Canada already has in place. This will keep weapons out of the hands of terrorists and those who seek to do harm to Canada and its allies.

This treaty specifically recognizes the right to use conventional arms for cultural or recreational use and the rights of states to trade in conventional arms for political, commercial, or security purposes. We are the only member of NATO, and the only one of the G7 countries, that has not signed or ratified the ATT. We cannot and will not fail to act.

Given my background as a pharmacist, I am going to examine this treaty through a slightly different lens than many of my colleagues. The International Committee of the Red Cross, the World Health Organization, and other public health institutions and NGOs have all prioritized the global Arms Trade Treaty as a public health imperative. While health-focused groups may not be what first come to mind when we think of stakeholders focused on global arms, a poorly regulated arms trade fuels conflict, which in turn has devastating effects on global health.

Reducing the poorly regulated control of arms contributes to the prevention of the misuse of arms, reducing deaths and injuries as a result. Moreover, improving arms control allows for states to redirect resources currently spent on arms management, security, and defence toward the development of social services and public infrastructure. Not only will the ATT reduce the direct consequences associated with the illicit arms trade, it will help with a wide variety of secondary challenges associated with the spread of illegal arms.

Conflict spawns a myriad of other problems: health challenges, not just from injuries sustained in combat but from diseases that spring up from the unsanitary conditions that arise in war zones, diseases like cholera, dysentery, and malaria; gender-based violence and rape, which so often become used as weapons of war; and the displacement and destruction of entire communities that are forced to flee for their lives. Children are pulled out of school, losing out on their best chance to get an education. In times of war, children miss their opportunity to break the cycle of poverty. They are robbed of the chance to create a better future for themselves and their communities. These are the issues we are trying to address with this treaty.

I am not naive enough to think that one treaty will magically solve all these problems, but we have an obligation to use every opportunity to take every chance we have to take concrete and meaningful action towards tackling these issues.

Let me remind everyone that this year is the 20th anniversary of the Ottawa Treaty, a landmark international agreement to reduce some of the most devastating weapons of war, weapons that continue to kill and injure people of all ages each and every year.

I would like to take a brief moment to salute the hard work of groups like MAG and the HALO Trust, which work diligently in the field each and every day to finally rid the world of this scourge.

The ATT represents another giant step in the right direction in combatting the use of weapons for illegal and often evil means. The ATT is transformational. The inclusion of civil society in the drafting of this treaty was directly responsible for the content of the treaty and the specific language contained within it. This is the first international treaty that explicitly acknowledges the "social, economic and humanitarian consequences of the illicit and unregulated trade in conventional arms”. It is also notable that this treaty lists “reducing human suffering” as its primary goal.

Let me provide a concrete example of what can happen when weapon are in the wrong hands. I am paraphrasing a story told to delegates at the United Nations. A boy in the DRC was shot in the face by diamond thieves. He needed to go to Nairobi to receive treatment, and his successful treatment and rehabilitation came to a total cost of about $6,000 U.S. Had he not been shot, that $6,000 could have paid for one year of primary school education for 100 children. It could have provided full immunization for 250 children. It could have provided a family of six with 10 years' worth of staple meals.

Make no mistake, this is what we are talking about when we are discussing the ATT. This is what we are trying hard to prevent. This is not the time for Canada to remain on the sidelines and let others lead. This is exactly the sort of treaty that speaks to the heart of who we are as Canadians as a people, and I am proud to support this bill.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Export and Import Permits Act
Permalink
CPC

Bob Zimmer

Conservative

Mr. Bob Zimmer (Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I actually have Bill C-47 in front of me. The Liberals keep talking about how they are not establishing a new firearms registry, but this is exactly what the bill does, and that is exactly the reason we did not ratify this particular agreement when we were in government. I had a private member's bill that challenged us not to sign on to the ATT because of that requirement to keep records.

Does the hon. member understand that the ATT requires organizations in Canada, such as firearms' dealers, to actually retain records for up to seven years? Does he understand that?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Export and Import Permits Act
Permalink

September 28, 2017