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SECD - Standing Committee

National Security, Defence and Veterans Affairs



OTTAWA, Monday, December 4, 2023

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security, Defence and Veterans Affairs met with videoconference this day at 5 p.m. [ET] to study Bill C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms).

Senator Tony Dean (Chair) in the chair.


The Chair: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security, Defence and Veterans Affairs.

I am Tony Dean, representing Ontario, the chair of the committee. I am joined today by my fellow committee members who I will invite to introduce themselves, beginning with our deputy chair.


Senator Dagenais: Jean-Guy Dagenais from Quebec.


Senator Oh: Victor Oh, Ontario.

Senator Plett: Senator Don Plett, Manitoba.


Senator Carignan: Claude Carignan from Quebec.


Senator M. Deacon: Marty Deacon, Ontario. Hello.

Senator Harder: Peter Harder, Ontario. Hello.

Senator LaBoucane-Benson: Patti LaBoucane-Benson, Treaty 6 territory, Alberta.

Senator Boehm: Peter Boehm, Ontario.

Senator Cardozo: Andrew Cardozo, Ontario.

Senator Dasko: Donna Dasko, Ontario.

Senator Yussuff: Hassan Yussuff, Ontario.

Senator Kutcher: Stan Kutcher, Nova Scotia.

The Chair: Thank you, colleagues. Also with us today is Ericka Dupont, our committee clerk, who supports us so well every week.

Colleagues, we will pick up where we left off on our clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms).

You will recall that, at the Wednesday meeting, we stood carrying the bill until today. We will now move through the final decisions that are required and finalize the observations proposed by committee members. It is my hope that we can move through these items efficiently today. Before I say more, I thank you all for your flexibility as we tried to sort out the final meeting time for this evening. It was helpful. If there are no objections, we will begin with the first item of business, which is to move the bill.

Shall Bill C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms) carry, colleagues?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

The Chair: On division? Recorded vote, please, madam clerk.

Ericka Dupont, Clerk of the Committee: The Honourable Senator Dean?

Senator Dean: Yay.

Ms. Dupont: The Honourable Senator Boehm?

Senator Boehm: Yay.

Ms. Dupont: The Honourable Senator Cardozo?

Senator Cardozo: Yay.

Ms. Dupont: Honourable Senator Carignan, P.C.?

Senator Carignan: No.

Ms. Dupont: The Honourable Senator Dagenais?

Senator Dagenais: No.

Ms. Dupont: The Honourable Senator Dasko?

Senator Dasko: Yes.

Ms. Dupont: The Honourable Senator Deacon?

Senator M. Deacon: Yay.

Ms. Dupont: The Honourable Senator Harder?

Senator Harder: Yes.

Ms. Dupont: The Honourable Senator Kutcher?

Senator Kutcher: Yes.

Ms. Dupont: The Honourable Senator LaBoucane-Benson?

Senator LaBoucane-Benson: Yes.

Ms. Dupont: The Honourable Senator Oh?

Senator Oh: No.

Ms. Dupont: The Honourable Senator Yussuff?

Senator Yussuff: Yes.

Ms. Dupont: The Honourable Senator Plett?

Senator Plett: No.

Ms. Dupont: Yes, 9; no, 4.

The Chair: Thank you, madam clerk. Accordingly, colleagues, the bill is carried. Thank you for your participation as we have been through the consideration of the bill.

Does the committee now wish to proceed in camera to discuss the observations appended to the report? Agreed?

Senator Plett: Is there a reason why this is done in camera?

The Chair: It does not need to be done in camera. It is at the discretion of the committee. If you want to do it —

Senator Plett: I would prefer that it be done in an open meeting.

The Chair: Any objections? Okay. Away we go then, and no need to read the in camera script. We will proceed with the discussion.

You have in front of you the observations that were distributed earlier, including an additional one from Senator Cardozo. I believe the way we will proceed is to recognize the validity of each other’s observations, not to debate or comment on them unless we feel it is absolutely necessary. In a way, this is a way of — I might use the term — proceeding by division. Each senator’s or groups of senators’ observations will be marked together with either their group name or just the names of the individuals proposing the observation.

That being said, are there any comments, regardless of that, on any of the observations? All right.

Senator Plett: May I ask a question?

The Chair: Yes.

Senator Plett: First of all, I agree with the proposal. You had suggested that earlier.

At the end of those observations, I support what you said about who would be presenting them, but would we also be able to voice our objection in the report as well, or only that you would list the names of the senators who had supported it?

The Chair: That is a decision for the committee. My thinking was that we would table the observations as we have received them. They would be identified as coming from either individuals or a group, or both in some cases, and that we would not begin the process of commenting on one another’s observations or we could be here for a very long time, Senator Plett.

Senator Plett: I fully support that. That was not my question.

If a group is the ISG senators, maybe at the end of the day it will be individual names and then that would solve the problem. If it would be ISG senators, that would not necessarily mean that CSG or PSG would be opposed. If you are listing the individual names, that takes care of the problem because anybody whose name is not on there would obviously be seen as not supporting that observation.

The Chair: Fair enough. I believe that is the proposal.

Senator Plett: I am fine with that.

The Chair: The clerk is asking me again whether or not we would want to indicate any degree of support or not for each observation, or whether we let them stand as they are, all having equal weight. I was presuming the latter.

Ms. Dupont: If I may? Senators, thank you. I am asking, in preparing the report, when we go to writing the observations, would you like it to show as observations from Senator Cardozo, observations from Senators Plett, Carignan, Boisvenu?

The Chair: Yes.

Ms. Dupont: Thank you.

Senator Plett: That is correct. In the case of, let’s say Senator Cardozo, if Senator Boehm, Dasko and Yussuff support that, then their names would be there as well, I assume, or the rest of them. If my name isn’t there, that in itself would indicate that I do not support it. The reason I am saying that, madam clerk, is because if we do it as a group, I do not think that it necessarily indicates that. If we do it by individual names, that would indicate that, especially if the report itself would list the names of the senators who are on the committee.

The Chair: We will go through each observation and test which senators are supportive of each observation. All right? Good. Senator Kutcher, is that okay?

Senator Kutcher: Agreeable.

The Chair: Let’s start with Senator Dasko’s. We will do a raising of hands. Raise hands then, those who are supportive of the Senator Dasko’s observation.

Ms. Dupont: I have Senator Dasko, Senator Dean, Senator Kutcher, Senator Yussuff, Senator Cardozo, Senator Boehm, Senator Harder and Senator Deacon.

The Chair: Thank you.

We will now move to Senator Dean. Those in favour?

Ms. Dupont: Senator Dean, Senator Deacon (Ontario), Senator Harder, Senator Boehm, Senator Cardozo, Senator Dasko, Senator Yussuff, Senator Kutcher and Senator Dagenais.

The Chair: Senator Kutcher’s observations?

Ms. Dupont: Senator Dean, Senator Deacon (Ontario), Senator Harder, Senator Boehm, Senator Cardozo, Senator Dasko, Senator Yussuff, Senator Kutcher and Senator Dagenais.

The Chair: Senator Yussuff.

Ms. Dupont: Senator Dean, Senator Dagenais, Senator Deacon (Ontario), Senator Harder, Senator Boehm, Senator Cardozo, Senator Dasko, Senator Yussuff and Senator Kutcher.

The Chair: That was with respect to sports shooting.

Senator Yussuff’s second observation.

Ms. Dupont: Senator Dean, Senator Dagenais, Senator Deacon (Ontario), Senator Harder, Senator Boehm, Senator Cardozo, Senator Dasko, Senator Yussuff and Senator Kutcher.

The Chair: Senator Yussuff’s third observation dealing with family heirloom handgun transfers.

Ms. Dupont: Senator Dean, Senator Dagenais, Senator Deacon (Ontario), Senator Harder, Senator Boehm, Senator Cardozo, Senator Dasko, Senator Yussuff and Senator Kutcher.

The Chair: Next, Senator Cardozo.

Ms. Dupont: Senator Dean, Senator Dagenais, Senator Deacon, Senator Harder, Senator Cardozo, Senator Dasko, Senator Yussuff and Senator Kutcher.

The Chair: We now move to Conservative senators’ observations.

Senator Plett: Which one are we at now? Ours?

The Chair: We are at the Conservatives’, yes.

Ms. Dupont: We have Senator Plett, Senator Oh and Senator Carignan.

The Chair: We are done. Thank you, colleagues, for that and for helping us to choose a method of endorsement.

You also have in front of you proposed introductory language to the observations that has been prepared by our analysts, Anne-Marie and Ariel, one page, translated, just recording the number of witnesses and the mix of witnesses and officials that we heard from. Is there agreement to the observations being preceded by this statement?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Great. Thank you, colleagues.

Is it agreed that the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure be empowered to approve the final version of the observations being appended to the report, in both official languages, taking into consideration today’s discussion and with any necessary editorial, grammatical or translation changes as required? Agreed or not?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Thank you. That is agreed.

Is it agreed that I report this bill, with observations, to the Senate?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Colleagues, this brings us to the end of our work on Bill C-21 at this committee and to the end of our meeting today.

I want to thank members around the table for your cooperation, collaboration and participation this evening and throughout the course of this study. It has not been an easy one. It has required us to sort through some issues and challenges. We have done that together, and everyone has played their part in doing that. In that respect, I could not have had a better group of colleagues to work with. I thank you for all of the effort that you have put into this.

In a broader sense, this is the end of a year of achievement for us. We spent a year studying national security and defence in the Arctic. It opened our eyes to the realities of defence security and infrastructure in the North and is still attracting attention. We learned a lot. This committee contributed a lot to understanding and discussions of work in the North and has elicited some responses from the government.

We moved on to Bill C-21. This has been a long haul. Again, I think that there has been a spirit of cooperation throughout.

I want to thank my steering committee colleagues — Senators Dagenais, Boisvenu and Anderson — for their hard work and collaboration, which sometimes has involved seven days a week.

I am nothing but proud to work with the members of this committee, who are collaborative, thoughtful and bring a great deal of judgment and care to the work that we do, including the way that we treat one another at this committee.

I thank Ericka Dupont, our clerk, who is steadfast and has supported me and all of us, again, through this tough year and through this very challenging study.

I now turn to Ann-Marie Therrien-Tremblay and Ariel Shapiro. I will call you our quiet but steadfast backbone and spine in terms of the work that you do for us, including the work that you have turned around on the observations and the support that you have provided to us, and the massive amount of work that went into the Arctic study, which could not have been done without you. It is a privilege to work with you.

At the same time, I thank our translators, those who deal with our technology and audio issues, our pages, and all of the others in this room, including our staff, who are the workhorses who keep us going and make a remarkably strong and important contribution to the Senate, to this committee and everything that we do. Thank you to staff in the room.

I understand that Senator Plett and Senator Yussuff would like to say a few words.

Senator Plett: Thank you, chair. You did a good job of thanking everyone.

I want to take a minute, chair, on behalf of the Conservative caucus, to thank you. You made this committee work. You have been cooperative with us in some of the requests that we had. I appreciate that. We certainly have not and probably will not agree on the bill, and that will be evidenced later in the Senate Chamber as we discuss this further.

I have not been a regular member of this committee for some time. I used to be. I always enjoyed it. As the ex officio member in our caucus and having been here for the last number of weeks, even though it has been hard because of our differences of opinion, you ran very good meetings. I personally appreciate that and thank you for that.

The Chair: Thank you very much. That means a lot to me, Senator Plett.

Senator Yussuff: I would like to express my sincere thanks for the way in which you have managed us. When we started, I did not know if we were going to get through the number of witnesses we had before us. Much of that happened because of the cooperation from you and the guidance from steering. From my reading of historic proceedings regarding gun bills, they have never been easy when coming to committee, but we worked well in the context of all of the witnesses we had to get through within the time frame we had.

I thank you for your leadership. Thanks to steering for their work. Equally, I thank my friend again because I know this would not have been possible without the collaboration in finding common ground to move the bill forward. My sincere thanks, and I look forward to the debate in the Senate.

Senator M. Deacon: I want to provide a point of clarification, if I could. There will be questions asked as we move forward. I am happy that this is going to the Senate for a very important next step. We had observations presented last week. As I understand them today, they are more specific, with names attached to the observations we did last week. Then we had observations presented today from the Conservatives group. I would say that there is probably content in the observations from last week that Conservatives can live with, and there is content in the Conservative ones that we can live with. When this is presented to be moved forward, it will be presented as observations in two distinct groupings? Would that be the correct language? Okay. I think that’s a fair question. When we have third reading, we will be asked what we said about X and how we responded to Y. I want to ensure I am clear on that.

Thank you very much again for making a tough process efficient.

The Chair: Thank you, everyone.

Our work is done. I thank our sponsor and our critic. I thank our leadership colleagues who have joined us: Senator Plett, Senator LaBoucane-Benson and Senator Gold, who has been here as well.

We now move on. We look forward to the work in the chamber. With that, I wish you the best of safe and happy holidays. We will be seeing one another plenty before then.

(The committee adjourned.)

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