Bill C-71 was never intended to take on gangs, that is another issue

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, I am disappointed, because I found the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner so reasonable in his approach when we were at committee working on clause by clause. However, I find the ramped-up partisan rhetoric on this bill to be really dispiriting.

This bill was never intended to take on gangs. Gang violence is another issue. It is related, but it is not the same thing. We have talked at committee about my own experience. It happens that a member of my family is very involved in this and is actually a prosecuting lawyer within the B.C. task force on organized crime and dealing with gang crime.

This is about tightening up the restrictions on who can own a firearm. This is a fact. It is not an invented thing at this hour of debate. It is clear that this bill extends the background check from five years to a lifetime. I think the hon. member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner sees the sense in that. It is really important that we actually look at a history of violence, even if it goes back more than five years, that we look at the risks to intimate partners if someone has ever had access to a gun or made a threat that falls short of what is currently in the act.

He is right. What is in the current firearms act covers a lot of things, but it does not cover when an intimate partner has had to get a restraining order against someone who has threatened his or her life. Therefore, I ask the hon. member to be honourable and to admit that this bill has benefits for public safety.

Glen Motz – Member for Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner

Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the hon. member’s accuracy at committee as we were going through amendments.

The reality is that currently, before Bill C-71 came along, criminal record checks and background checks for people applying for a licence did not go back five years. We heard from those who actually do these checks that they go back over the lifetime of the individual when they apply for a PAL. The suggestion that they only go back five years is mistaken.

Is there a need to improve the inability of people to access firearms who have a record or mental health issues? Absolutely. It was the Conservative Party that was the first to bring in prohibitions, the removal of licences, and the removal of firearms from those who are convicted or accused of domestic violence.

I appreciate the hon. member’s question. The current legislation is void. There are some steps to be made. I think, however, that this bill does not do it, as required by Canadians, for public safety.