Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs

Issue 39 - Evidence


OTTAWA, Wednesday, December 4, 1996

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs met this day at 3:16 p.m. to give consideration to the Regulations pursuant to Section 118 of the Firearms Act.

Senator Sharon Carstairs (Chair) in the Chair.

[English]

The Chair: Honourable senators, we are beginning our consideration this afternoon of the regulations pursuant to section 118 of the Firearms Act. We welcome this group of witnesses from the Department of Justice.

We will go through the regulations and, when we get to discussions of policy issues, I would remind senators that policy issues are not made by the three gentlemen sitting before us today. They are, indeed, made by the minister and cabinet. Therefore, there is a limited point of view and position which they can give us with respect to the philosophy and policy. They can explain to us in some detail just what those regulations will mean and how they will impact Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Mr. Rick Mosley, Assistant Deputy Minister, Criminal and Social Policy Sector; Department of Justice: We are pleased to be here today to speak to the 11 sets of proposed firearms regulations which have been referred to you for review. They are the supporting regulations required for the implementation of the enhanced firearms control scheme established by Bill C-68.

The regulation-making authority is in section 117 of the Firearms Act which received Royal Assent on December 5, 1995. Pursuant to section 118 of the act, they have been tabled in both Houses of Parliament for review by this committee and the justice committee in the other place.

Since December 5, 1995, the Department of Justice has conducted extensive consultations with those parties who are involved in the implementation of the new scheme and the groups that will be most directly affected by it. These proposed regulations are the product of those consultations.

After review by this committee and the committee in the other place, changes may be made and the regulations will subsequently be brought into force at the same time as the new scheme is implemented. That implementation, as announced by the Minister of Justice on November 27, will take place in early 1998.

The minister also announced that the licensing and registration components will begin together. The licensing system will replace the existing firearms acquisition certificate system. Current owners of firearms will have until January 1, 2001, to obtain a licence. Registration of rifles and shotguns will begin sooner than had been previously planned for individuals. Owners will be able to licence themselves and register their firearms at the same time, making the process more convenient for them. All firearms must be registered by January 1, 2003.

The proposed regulations now before you cover a wide range of issues. They deal with the licensing of individuals and businesses; the purchase of ammunition without a licence during the transitional period; the storage, display, transportation and handling of firearms by individuals and businesses; authorization and handling of firearms by individuals and businesses; authorization to transport restricted and prohibited firearms and to carry handguns on a person for limited purposes; the export and import of firearms and other regulated items by businesses; the transfer of firearms and other items to individuals, businesses and the Crown; the records kept by the chief firearms officer and the registrar; the adaptation of certain provisions of the act in the regulations for application to aboriginal people who engage in traditional hunting practices; and, finally, the fees for firearms documents.

I will not attempt to describe the content of the proposed regulations in detail, however, I propose to briefly discuss some of the highlights of the package and then proceed to your questions.

With respect to the licence regulations, these provide for the detailed eligibility requirements for obtaining different kinds of licences and the procedures for applying for these licences. They cover both individual and business licences.

There are five different kinds of licences for individuals: the standard possession and acquisition licence for firearms; the possession-only licence available to current firearms owners; possession licences for minors; the non-residents' 60-day borrowing licence which does not apply to those non-residents who bring in their own firearms and who go through a different process; and the licences to acquire crossbows only.

The application for a possession-only licence for firearms must be first submitted by January 1, 2001, and may be renewed every five years thereafter. It will involve a relatively simple application process with a photo requirement. A standard possession and acquisition licence application may be submitted at any time. The application process will be similar to the existing FAC, or firearms acquisition certificate, process. It will require a photo, two references and a 28-day waiting period. This type of licence will also involve the notification of current and former spouses and common law partners.

All businesses, including museums and such associations as legions will require a licence. The regulations set out the application requirements and other relevant matters.

These include criteria for identifying museums, the prescribed purposes for which businesses may be authorized to possess prohibited firearms and other prohibited items, and certain mandatory licence conditions. The regulations also set out the manner in which notices of refusal or revocation will be given to individuals and businesses.

With respect to the storage, display, transportation and handling regulations, the requirements which will apply to individuals are the same as those which apply under the current regulations' status quo under the former government's Bill C-17.

There are some additional provisions dealing with prohibited firearms and antiques. All firearms must be stored unloaded. In the case of rifles and shotguns, we have retained the current optional alternatives of a secure locking device or storage in a locked container or the removal of the bolt or bolt-carrier.

With respect to businesses, the regulations bring together principles now contained in several different sets of existing regulations which cover the operations of firearms businesses.

The new regulations will establish a comprehensive scheme governing the manner in which all firearms and other regulated items must be safely stored, displayed, transported and handled. The new provisions have been developed in consultation with a range of firearms businesses and are designed to be both effective and practical in terms of normal business operations.

Regarding authorizations to transport, these regulations add the details required to implement sections 17 to 20 of the Firearms Act. They deal with the issuance, refusal and revocation of authorization to transport handguns and other restricted firearms as well as prohibited handguns and long guns. These authorizations will replace the current general carry permits. The storage, display, transportation and handling regulations will also apply to the manner in which these firearms must be transported.

The regulations will allow any number of restricted or prohibited firearms to be included on a single authorization so long as the details of the firearms and the permitted purposes for transporting them are set out. They must be transported by a direct route, but this requirement should be applied with appropriate flexibility.

Authorizations may be revoked if an individual's licence is revoked or expires or the person's physical or mental state deteriorates to the point where safety is endangered.

Respecting authorizations to carry handguns on the person, the current law provides for the granting of permits in limited circumstances that allow for the carrying of handguns on the individual's person. The authorized purposes include the protection of life, although those are very rarely granted in this country, and use in certain occupations. The present law, however, provides no detailed regulatory rules. These proposed regulations will set out in some detail the circumstances in which authorizations to carry will be issued, refused or revoked.

These regulations also set out the circumstances in which protection of life authorizations will be granted as well as the authorized occupations or professions. The occupational categories include armoured car personnel, wilderness workers who require handguns for predator control and licensed trappers.

Armoured car personnel will have to complete specialized training in firearms proficiency and the use of force. The regulations also provide for such matters as the approval of the particular firearms appropriate for each purpose, the carrying of these firearms in holsters, and the wearing of uniforms by armoured car personnel.

With regard to the firearms fees regulations, the authority for this is set out in paragraph 117(p), (q) and (r) of the Firearms Act. The act provides broad authority to set fees and to waive or reduce them for licences, registrations, authorizations, transfers, importations and confirmations by customs officers of documents under the act. Authority is also provided for customs to set charges for storing goods which are detained or for the disposing of goods.

The fees were set using two key criteria. With regard to the first criterion, cost recovery, the revenues from the user fees are used to offset the recoverable cost components of the firearms program.

To assess these costs, a business process engineering study was undertaken to determine the activities and the processes necessary to developing the Canadian firearms registration system. A subsequent activity-based costing exercise was also undertaken to cost out these activities.

The direct transaction costs were combined with the indirect program costs to derive the fee structure in light of our estimated volumetrics for the various transactions which will take place.

These processes were worked out with our federal and provincial partners. Work is still under way in reviewing and modifying the outputs from those processes.

The second criterion was policy considerations. There are policy concerns which must be met in setting fee structure so as not to harm the law-abiding firearms owner or business and to promote compliance with the licensing and registration system.

For example, the proposed fees for licensing and registration during the implementation period are graduated. There are no fees for authorizations to transport restricted or prohibited handguns which will assist those in the recreational shooting community; no confirmation fees for customs activities in authorizations to import or export; and no registration fees for businesses or museums. Museum licence fees are reduced.

With regard to the highlights of the fees, the possession-only licence will range in the first five-year period from $10 to $60 at the conclusion of that cycle. The possession and acquisition licence will be $60 for non-restricted firearms and $80 for restricted or prohibited firearms.

With regard to registration of existing firearms stock, it will be $10 for all firearms done at one time, rising to $18 in the last year of implementation. Registration of new acquisitions will be $25.

Finally, the aboriginal adaptation regulations are required under the act to adapt the statute and the regulations to respect aboriginal and treaty rights to hunt as affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

The existence of this constitutionally protected right to hunt and to use firearms for the purpose of engaging in traditional hunting practices means that the firearms legislation must be adapted in certain respects as it applies to aboriginal people who engage in these practices. It should be noted that not all aboriginal people are covered by these adaptations but only those that engage in hunting for food or ceremonial purposes. Even these people are not in any way exempt from the legislation. All of the provisions of the act and the regulations still apply subject only to adaptations that somewhat modify the licence application process and provide for some minor differences in such matters as lending and storage.

These regulations do not deal with fees but the fees regulation would require aboriginal people to pay the normal fees. Aboriginal communities will be involved in confirming that individual applicants do indeed participate in the traditional hunting practices of the community with a distinctive aboriginal culture.

That, Madam Chair, concludes my overview. We would be pleased to respond to any questions.

Senator Beaudoin: My question is of a preliminary nature. We have the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs; we also have the Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations. Usually we are dealing with legislation or measures of that nature. I would like to know exactly what we must to do with these regulations.

The first principle of administrative law is that the regulations should comply with the act; they should be within the act and authorized by the act. This is the major principle or starting point when we examine regulations made under a statute. Obviously, this statute is of great importance. It is a bit technical but, still, it is a very important statute.

Is it correct that this committee can make recommendations or agree or disagree, but that the power of the committee lies only in making recommendations because any changes are left to the Governor in Council? They may take into account what this committee says or they may disregard it; it is up to them. We still have the power to say whether or not a rule or a by-law or a regulation is within the act or outside it. Is that the general context of the work of this committee, in your opinion?

Mr. Mosley: This is a somewhat unusual procedure. To my knowledge, the only other statute which requires the tabling of regulations before they are made is the Official Languages Act. There may be others but it is certainly not a procedure that is followed on a routine basis.

This particular procedure stems from a concern that arose with Bill C-17 as it was proceeding through the last Parliament, at which time there were concerns expressed that the regulations made under that legislation would be made in secret and without the benefit of review by Parliament. That act was amended. Actually, it was between the first legislation tabled by the former government and Bill C-17 itself that the procedure was put into the statute.

It is now set out in section 118 of the Firearms Act which requires the Minister of Justice to have each proposed regulation laid before each house of Parliament on the same day. Under subsection (3), the regulations are then referred by that house to an appropriate committee of the house. A decision was made by the Senate to refer the regulations to this committee. The committee may conduct inquiries or public hearings with respect to the proposed regulations and report its findings to the house. It is in the nature of an advisory process.

Following the report from this committee and the report in the other place, the regulations will then be made by the government, presumably taking into account the findings from this committee and the other committee before the regulations are finalized.

Senator Beaudoin: It is quite right that we have only two committees like this, the official languages and the legal affairs committees. This does not preclude the fact that when these regulations are adopted by the Governor in Council, the regulations will become law. They may still come before the Special Joint Committee on the Scrutiny of Regulations. Is that the case?

Mr. Mosley: Yes.

Senator Beaudoin: I would like to know the exact scope of our work here.

The Chair: Perhaps I can give a little bit of background. Certainly this is part of the legislation. Referral to this committee, Senator Beaudoin, was first proposed to me by Senator Lynch-Staunton. Because we had spent so much time studying the bill, it was appropriate that we also examine the regulations to see if any of our concerns with respect to the bill had been less than adequately addressed by the regulations. Then we could make recommendations before the 30th sitting day of either house.

Senator Beaudoin: The delegated powers to the Governor in Council are rather large. There is also another aspect of this legislation. The aboriginal people are, I would say, in a special case under this legislation, although this has only been given to me a few minutes ago. Does this include the question of the aboriginal people as well?

Mr. Mosley: Very much so. There is, in fact, a whole section on adaptation of the regulations and the act to aboriginal peoples.

The Chair: Senator Beaudoin, to answer your question, it is a section which begins, "Aboriginal Peoples of Canada Adaptations Regulations." It is at the end of the report.

Senator Beaudoin: When the statute was adopted, we had a long debate on this matter.

Mr. Mosley: Perhaps I could ask whether the committee has had the benefit of the material that was prepared for release by the Minister of Justice on November 27.

The Chair: Yes, Mr. Mosley, we have all received that material. It has been made available to us.

Senator Milne: I am a bit confused about this. The fee for a possession-only licence will be $10 at first, to get people to sign up. The fee goes up to $60 after 2003. That is for a five-year period only. What will be the fee after five years when they have to renew this possession licence; or do they have to renew this licence?

Mr. Mosley: I should clarify that it would be in the third year. In the first year, it is $10. It will then go to $45 and then to $60. The fee for cycles beyond the first cycle has not been set.

Senator Milne: I am concerned about needing to go back to gun owners and rile them up again every five years to renew all these fees and licences and what have you. Once they have a possession-only licence, why would that not last until they get rid of that firearm? Why will we constantly go back to them?

Mr. Mosley: That decision was made when the act was before Parliament; the licence will last for five years.

Part of the reason for that decision was simply that, every five years, another opportunity would arise to examine whether the continued possession of firearms by that individual was appropriate.

Circumstances can change. Concerns about public safety were addressed by providing that it would last for only five years. That is an issue which was decided when the act was passed. It is not to be decided in the context of these regulations.

The Chair: Senator Milne, it is not to be confused with the registration which is a one-time only thing.

Senator Milne: I am confused. This is what I thought it was going to be, a one-time-only fee.

Would you then please explain the difference to me between registration and possession?

Mr. Mosley: There are two parts to this system. The licensing of individuals and the registration of their firearms. Both must be observed. The individual receives a personal licence to possess firearms, or a licence to possess and acquire if they wish to obtain further firearms.

The registration attaches to the firearm itself. If they have a rifle, for example, to keep it within their possession will require a licence and the rifle itself will have to be registered.

Senator Milne: The registration then lasts forever?

Mr. Mosley: If they keep that rifle and do not transfer it, it remains the same. There is no further fee.

If they choose to transfer it to another party, then it must be registered again in the name of that other party.

Senator Ghitter: I want to understand the process which you have now set up. If I am in Alberta and I want to apply, I will send the application to the chief firearms inspector to be processed?

Mr. Mosley: There is a chief firearms officer for each province and territory but the idea is that the application will be sent to a central site for processing. The licences will be issued in the name of the chief firearms officer for that province or territory.

The authority to issue a licence is vested under the act with the chief firearms officer. To automate the process to the greatest extent possible, the person in Alberta will be sending the application form to a central site for processing.

Senator Ghitter: So the application is sent to New Brunswick. Within the context of some of these applications, though, as a new applicant, one must give information with respect to one's spouse, common-law wife, past-wife -- whoever must give consent. That must be referred back from New Brunswick to Alberta in order to do further investigation? How does that work?

Mr. Mosley: That will be done only if there is a need for secondary screening. If the spouse signs the application, there would likely be no requirement to notify that spouse of the application. Presumably, the spouse knows, having signed the document. This is aimed primarily at couples who are estranged, separated.

The applicant is asked to provide information about the former spouse or common-law partner with whom he or she has lived within the past two years. In that case, the notification will issue from the central site. My colleague, Mr. Bartlett, can give a few more particulars about that.

Mr. William Bartlett, Legal Counsel, Canadian Firearms Centre, Department of Justice: To clarify, senator, the purpose of the notification is not to obtain the consent of the spouse or partner. The basis upon which a licence can be refused under the act is a matter of safety concerns. The purpose of the notification requirement is to ensure that the current or former spouse is aware that the application is being made. Then he or she, if they have concerns about their own safety or that of anyone else in the family, can then make those concerns known to the firearms officers before a licence is issued. It is not a question of consent, per se.

The process will be that the applicant will supply the information as to their current and any former spouses and partners within the past two years. If the spouses or partners have signed the application form, as Mr. Mosley has noted, that indicates that they are aware of the application and that is what we are concerned about.

If they have not signed it and if information is available to contact them, a notification will be sent out in some form. There are a variety of ways in which notification could be sent. In some cases, it could be a personal visit. It could be a telephone call. It could be by mail. It is simply a matter of bringing to their notice that an application has been made.

In the case of former spouses where the applicant is not aware of the whereabouts of the spouse, the matter will be sent to the local level for what we refer to as a secondary investigation. The powers given under the act will be used to ensure that the applicant does not pose a safety risk whether of domestic violence or any other kind of violence.

Senator Ghitter: I am still confused, Mr. Bartlett. You mentioned two years, yet when I look at regulation 4, it talks in terms of giving notice of the application to each current or former spouse or common-law partner. Does that mean that, in every application, the applicant must trace back any of these relationships, no matter what number of years; if he does not get the signature -- or am I missing the two years somewhere?

Mr. Bartlett: The reference is to spouses and common-law partners identified by the applicant under section 3(1)(d). The applicant is required to advise them of any spouse or partner with whom they are cohabiting or have cohabited for the two years preceding the date of application.

The reference is in section 3(1)(d) of these regulations. That is the requirement for the applicant to submit the information. The notification is then made in accordance with that information.

Senator Ghitter: Presume that there is no consent given, but the advice is rendered in the application. It has not been signed by the common-law partner. New Brunswick gets this form. What do they do with it?

Mr. Mosley: I should point out there has been no announcement that this will be done in New Brunswick. There have been some press reports to that effect. The central processing site decision remains to be made.

Senator Ghitter: Whoever gets it, what do they do with it, Mr. Bartlett?

Mr. Bartlett: Where the spouse or partner has not signed the application form, it is a question of ensuring that they are aware that the application has been made. If the applicant has supplied information that allows them to be notified, then notification will be done either by the central processing site or, where appropriate, at the local level.

That kind of administrative process remains to be worked out. Exactly how the notification will be delivered in particular circumstances is not yet set. In some cases, it could be done from the central processing site and in other cases at the local level. The methods are matters to be worked out with the chief firearms officers and the various parties to the licensing system.

Senator Ghitter: In your cost analysis for this program, which I understand you have in the works now, have you estimated the cost involved to accomplish those types of inspections?

Mr. Bartlett: There have been some estimates.

I should point out that whatever estimates we may have made internally are subject to subsequent processes. There will be tenders issued to the private sector. There will be further discussions with the provinces on aspects of this. We are really not in a position to provide information about what those costs estimates may be.

Senator Ghitter: We received cost estimates a year ago. Have these numbers changed?

Mr. Mosley: That was a framework of the overall cost estimates for implementation and development of the design. However, these are global figures as opposed to a breakdown of individual elements in the process.

Senator Ghitter: Do I take it then that the numbers have changed since Mr. Rock provided estimates to the Commons committee and said that the $85 million total would be broken down?

Mr. Mosley: We are not in a position to provide more current numbers. Those are the figures that were presented to Parliament by Minister Rock.

We have not yet concluded the tendering process. We need contracts in hand and agreements with the provinces as to the financial arrangements under which they will receive transfers from the government. We need some actual, empirical data. Until such time, we will not be in a position to provide numbers different from those which were presented to this committee last spring.

Senator Ghitter: As I understood Mr. Rock's testimony, he was suggesting that there were no costs within that $85 million number covering that which Mr. Bartlett and I were discussing, that additional investigation work. It was merely covered the processing of applications. Is that your understanding?

Mr. Mosley: There have been some changes since the spring of 1995. The consultation process in particular, in relation to concerns about screening, has resulted in some different assumptions being drawn about how this will work.

I think many people have concluded that the recent multiple murder in Vernon, British Columbia, has demonstrated some gaps in the existing screening process, particularly with regard to the acquisition of restricted weapons. We, too, have drawn some conclusions from that incident. The spousal notification requirement, for example, which is now in these regulations, is a direct result of that consultation process and those concerns.

Some elements of the program as outlined in the regulations are different from the picture presented last year. There may well be some additional costs associated with those elements.

Senator Ghitter: You must have some preliminary estimates to give some indication at this point in time, do you not?

Mr. Mosley: I am not in a position to share those estimates. They are really guesstimates based on the limited amount of information that we have and on projections. It is not hard information by any stretch of the imagination.

Again, it would put us in a difficult position when we begin to tender for portions of the program to be built by the private sector. In a sense, it is proprietary information, Senator Ghitter, that we wish not to share with those who will be seeking part of the business.

Senator Ghitter: Is it is your intention to move the investigative work out to the private sector wherever such work is contemplated to check out the spousal circumstances that we have discussed?

Mr. Mosley: No. Do not misunderstand me. When it comes down to investigation, the work will be done by law enforcement personnel. However, we will have agreements with those provinces which are remaining within the administration of the program and we may also have agreements with municipal police forces to deliver those services under contract with the federal government. Again, those areas remain to be negotiated.

Senator Ghitter: Were those numbers included in the original $85 million we heard about a year ago, or is this all in addition to that?

Mr. Mosley: There have been some changes in the conception of how the work would be done. The business process engineering exercise to which I referred, for example, which we have been doing intensively since the legislation received Royal Assent has outlined in considerable detail the various steps that we will need to go through in each part of this -- the licensing, registration and so on. We have done that work with representatives from the provinces and with the municipal policing representatives to ensure that we both have a good understanding of the nature of the work that needs to be done.

On the costing side, that information has not been shared with all of our partners in this enterprise.

Senator Ghitter: Your partners are the taxpayers of the country.

Senator Pearson: My question is in respect of possession of licences for minors. I notice that, in the regulation, in fact, there is no lower age.

I remember we had this discussion two or three times, particularly with aboriginal representatives who wanted to teach their children how to use guns responsibly and that made sense to me. Has that been deliberately left that way so there is no lower end? It simply states that one must have a photograph and then have it signed by the parent.

Mr. Bartlett: The regulations simply add some administrative detail to what is already in the act. The act provides in section 8(2) that licences are available to minors who hunt or trap as a way of life for the purposes of sustenance at any age; no age is set. Where below the age of 18, sustenance minor licences are available.

Under section 8(3) of the act, between the ages and 12 and 18, licences are available in accordance with the conditions for other minors to engage in hunting, instruction, competitions and so on.

The one place that the regulations deal with the question of age is in the aboriginal adaptation regulations. The act is adapted for aboriginal minors who are learning how to hunt or engaging in ceremonial events where firearms are involved. They are not yet involved in sustenance hunting. They may be at some point, however. At this point they are being brought into the hunting culture. They will have access to those licences below the age of 12.

The Chair: I have questions in a variety of areas. You mentioned the fact that a spouse would have to sign a licence requirement.

Mr. Mosley: It is not compulsory or mandatory. The spouse may sign the application.

The Chair: The regulations with respect to notification of former spouses and estranged spouses are very good. I still have a concern, and perhaps it is not addressable, about a woman who is living in a home where there are weapons and she is terrorized, yet she remains living in the residence.

How will you go about notifying her of her right to inform if she is indeed terrified of the weapons that are located in her home?

Mr. Mosley: That is one reason that we emphasize that this is not a question of consent. The purpose is simply to ensure that the spouse is aware.

Certainly the packaging of the application form will be carefully done so that the spouse is simply being asked to sign in acknowledgement that they are aware that the application is being made. Those forms are not yet designed.

In the material provided will be information regarding safety concerns, telling anyone involved in the application process, including people named references, how to give out information to the firearms officers. There will be a toll-free 1-800 line where people can find out how to get information to the right people. There will be a communications programs mounted to ensure that Canadians generally, and applicants and their spouses particularly, are aware of how the licensing process works and, in particular, how to make information available to the firearms officers if there are safety concerns by a spouse in a domestic situation or by any other person who becomes aware of the application and who has any kind of concern.

The Chair: My other question deals specifically with the aboriginal regulations. On page 6 of the aboriginal regulations, there is specific reference to hunting and to the storage of arms and the location in a remote wilderness area. I spent some time in the north, as you know, speaking with aboriginal people about the gun control bill. They indicated to me that when they are out on a hunt, staying in a tent in an area where there may be polar bears, they would not unload their guns. Perhaps that is wise. This regulation seems to require that they would do so.

I would also suggest that there will not be any firearms officer out there in the wilderness checking if someone has unloaded his gun. Why is that section included?

Mr. Bartlett: That provision is aimed solely at circumstances where firearms are being stored. In the main storage, display, transportation and handling regulations for individuals in section 2(3), there are a number of specific circumstances set out in which the storage requirements would not apply. The aboriginal regulations are simply adapting these regulations. One of those circumstances would be where firearms are being used to control predators or other animals. Certainly, where people are in circumstances where firearms are required for predator control, they would not, under these regulations, be deemed to be storing them.

The Chair: I would suggest, however, that the aboriginal people are probably going to examine these regulations and not the overriding regulations. Perhaps some note should be made in those regulations to that effect.

Mr. Bartlett: In a number of cases, we will be producing fairly extensive guidelines showing how the aboriginal adaptation regulations fit in with the sections of the act and the licence and storage regulations. The adaptation approach is forced on us, I am afraid, by the enabling power that we have. It does create that problem. Certainly, we will be producing materials for aboriginal people and others who want to understand how these regulations work, to show those interactions.

Senator Gigantès: What form will this information take? Could it be on video tape? Will it be in native languages? Above all, can we be assured it will not be written in "officialese"?

Mr. Bartlett: I will try to ensure that I do not write it. It will be produced by people whose expertise is in writing communication materials to advise people who are affected by the act and the regulations about the rules and how they are intended to work. I am not sure if that kind of information would be in video form but it will certainly be in written form. Where possible, it will be translated into aboriginal languages and it will be produced so as to be understandable by them.

Mr. Mosley: Perhaps I can give you an illustration. One of the consultation documents which served as a basis for discussion with aboriginal communities was made available in Inuktitut, Cree, Ojibway and Oji-Cree. Any material that is directed at the aboriginal communities will be made available in their languages in addition to English and French.

Senator Gigantès: Like many other people, I am often traumatized by instruction manuals produced in either of the two official languages which I can use. I still do not understand what a particular company wants me to do with my VCR. I have never learned to program it so that it can tape something three days hence. It is written in impenetrable jargon.

I am wondering and worrying if this will be the case and just what we will be asking the aboriginal people to understand. There is potential here for them to get into trouble with the law.

Mr. Mosley: It is not just aboriginal people. There will be many Canadians who will have difficulty with the text of the regulations as they are made. That is a challenge of which we are aware. We will devote a considerable amount of resources to overcome that challenge and to make information available in a form which people can understand.

Senator Milne: In your answer to Senator Ghitter, Mr. Mosley, you seemed to assume that everybody who fills out this form will fill it out honestly and truthfully. What if the person who fills it in just leaves the space for the spouse blank? Will there be any sort of follow-up to see if this person does have a spouse? Will the authorities just assume there is no spouse?

Mr. Mosley: I will turn this over to my colleague.

Mr. Michel Plouffe, Senior Project Manager, Canadian Firearms Centre, Department of Justice: Senator, when the forms are submitted, the fundamental assumption is that they are effectively filled in correctly by the applicant. We are not assuming any subterfuge on the part of the applicant. We will process the form as filled out. If there is a reference to a spouse, we will do the check-up on that. If there is no reference, there will be a notification of the issuance of the licences to the CPFO office; that is, the chief firearms officer.

If by chance there is other knowledge available locally, there would be some consideration then taken by the local officer for dealing with that particular issue and the applicant.

Senator Milne: That is a pretty tenuous consideration, that the chief firearms officer would have knowledge of everybody's family.

Mr. Plouffe: I appreciate that. However, we also will be making the assumption that they are submitting an application in good order and in good faith.

Mr. Bartlett: Senator Milne, when an acquisition licence is being requested, one requirements is for two persons who have known the applicant for at least three years to sign the application form verifying that, to the best of their knowledge and belief, the information submitted is true.

When these references sign the form, they are presumably aware of whether the applicant has a spouse or partner. That is an additional backup to the information submitted by the applicant. The form itself will have instructions as to how to fill it out and what information must be on that form.

There may also be something on the form warning applicants that it is an offence under the Firearms Act to make a false statement when obtaining a licence. To omit information about a spouse would be a false statement when procuring a licence.

Senator Milne: That sets my mind a little more at ease.

I am a bit concerned about section 15 of the regulations which provides that a CFO shall consider revoking a licence if he becomes aware that a licence holder has been involved in an act of domestic violence.

What will be the threshold there? How will you define an act of domestic violence? Is it the fact that someone says that they have been violent? Is it the fact that the police have been called, that they have been charged, or that they have actually been convicted? Somewhere along the line, there must be a threshold.

Mr. Bartlett: It certainly does not require a charge as such, or a conviction. In most cases, the source of the information will be the police. When domestic violence takes place and the police are called or it otherwise comes to the notice of the police, a current report ends up on the police database. That will be the primary source of this information.

Information can also come to the notice of the chief firearms officer in other ways. Transition houses and groups like that may well take it upon themselves to advise firearms officers when they are aware that domestic violence is taking place. The source of the information could be varied, but it will be primarily police reports. It certainly does not require a charge or conviction.

The intent is a consideration of revocation when there is an act of domestic violence, and that is a fairly broad category. It does not mean simply that someone has said violence has taken place. That information must be investigated and verified and confirmed in some fashion so that the firearms officer knows he is acting on the basis of proper information.

Senator Milne: When restricted firearms are stored in a home, they must be inoperable by means of a locking device or by removing the bolt or whatever. The same requirement is not repeated when the restricted firearm is displayed in a place other than a dwelling house. Should this be added to the section?

Mr. Bartlett: The requirements for display are somewhat different but, nonetheless, I think adequate to ensure that the firearms are adequately secured. There are requirements that they be attached to a structure and a variety of requirements that replace the locking requirement which is applicable to the storage situation. There are other requirements that are applicable to the display situation to achieve the same objective.

Senator Ghitter: I wish to return to the issue of costs in order to develop it a bit further.

I understand that a few of the provinces will not participate in your program. How many provinces fall into that category?

Mr. Mosley: At present, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and the Northwest Territories are in that category.

Senator Ghitter: By stating that they will not participate in the program, does that mean that the costs they would have otherwise assumed would now be paid by the federal government?

Mr. Mosley: That assumption is based on the belief that the province would assume the costs. The program is almost entirely paid for by the federal government through transfers to the provinces and, of course, the costs that are incurred at the federal level directly. We manage an existing transfer program, for example, which pays for the office of the chief firearms officer in each jurisdiction and pays an amount for every firearms acquisition certificate issued and for every business licence issued. Every year, under the terms of agreements that have been negotiated with each jurisdiction, we pay them for the administration of the program.

Under the change in circumstances that was announced on September 26, it is our expectation that the Attorney General of Canada will name the chief firearms officer for each of those jurisdictions. The administration will be done by that officer, and it will be run without the involvement of the province or territory, as the case may be. There will be transfers. If, for example, it is done by the RCMP within those provinces, there would be a transfer from the funds administered by the Department of Justice to the RCMP for the purpose of running the office and the other duties with which they will be involved.

Senator Ghitter: Has the fact that some jurisdictions will not be participating added to your budgetary expenditure and, if so, by how much?

Mr. Mosley: We expect there will be some marginal increases in the costs of the administration in the program. We have done some work on that to get a sense of what it might be.

Senator Ghitter: Mr. Rock said a year ago that there would be some $17.9 million which would be allocated to the provinces to help them defray their expenses. Is that still your number?

Mr. Mosley: I am not in a position to answer that question, Senator Ghitter. As I mentioned earlier, we will be in negotiations with the provinces on that very point, and I cannot tell you at this time what the ultimate figure will be.

Senator Ghitter: Again, we really do not know what this system will cost. You cannot give us any indication as to the costs we are facing here?

Mr. Mosley: Minister Rock indicated the figures for the set-up, the design, and construction of the system. Our estimates are that we are still within the figures that were presented to Parliament last year.

Senator Ghitter: And you do not know the rest of the costs?

Mr. Mosley: Those costs relate more to the ongoing administration of the program as opposed to the design and development and start-up. We expect the processing costs may be somewhat more expensive. That depends on arrangements that we make with the RCMP if they are to administer the program in those jurisdictions.

The chief firearms officer may be more costly in a particular province than that officer would be today, and the cost at the local level may be higher. Those are issues that remain under discussion and those discussions have not yet reached a conclusion.

Senator Gigantès: Perhaps I understood you. I had the impression that if the provinces participated, the federal government would give them the money to defray the cost of their participation.

Mr. Mosley: That is correct.

Senator Gigantès: If the provinces do not participate and the federal government does the work by itself, then it will spend the same amount of money, approximately, running the program which the provinces do not want to run? Am I wrong in that regard?

Mr. Mosley: The costs would be approximately the same. However, as I said to Senator Ghitter, I am not sure that the costs for administration within a particular province will be identical if the work is run by that province or that jurisdiction. We will, of course, by 1998-99, have a much better idea of what the costs will be because we will have concluded our arrangements for the delivery of the program and settled on a figure to be transferred internally to the federal agency which will administer the program.

Senator Gigantès: I am a little confused on this. Let us take province "X" and not compare it to other provinces. If province "X" participates, you will give to Province "X", "Y" dollars. If province "X" does not participate, the federal government will spend "Y" dollars directly, with some small differences. Is this what you said?

Mr. Mosley: That is more or less correct. Each of the provinces is different. Over the years, provinces have adopted different mechanisms for the administration of the existing program. For example, in the province of Quebec, it is semi-centralized through, I think, six regional offices of the Sûreté du Québec. All of the applications for firearms acquisition certificates go into each of those offices. There are different set ups in other provinces.

For those provinces remaining in the program, the amount you have referred to as "Y" will be arrived at through negotiations with them as to what is a suitable amount for their jurisdiction. Much of that is based on the volume of transactions. If they have "X" transactions, there will be an amount of money related to that volume. If we are dealing with a federal agency, we will go through similar discussions with that federal agency to arrive at the amount to be transferred internally to the agency from the resources allocated to the Department of Justice for the program. The amounts may vary. At this point in time, I cannot give you a specific projection.

Senator Ghitter: I am a little confused now with respect to enforcement. There is an enforcement cost that relates to this issue. For example, let us say the City of Winnipeg with their local police force is in the position of enforcing your regulations under this act. Do you compensate the City of Winnipeg for their police costs?

Mr. Mosley: It depends upon the nature of the role they are playing. If it is enforcement in the sense of a crime having been committed under the provisions that relate to Bill C-68 in the Criminal Code, then, no, they would not be compensated. That falls within the normal administration of criminal justice by the province and is internal to the province. We are not involved in that. They would not be compensated.

If there are administrative costs in relation to the Firearms Act, then, yes, we will probably have an arrangement with the City of Winnipeg whereby they would be compensated for those services.

Senator Ghitter: Does that mean that you will have to enter into arrangements with every municipality that has their own police force to have some contractual arrangement with them?

Mr. Mosley: No. It means that in the provinces where the province is not administering the program, we may end up entering into arrangements with the municipal forces. There are not that many in the western provinces. The major cities have them. If we cannot arrive at a suitable arrangement, we may enter into a contract with the RCMP. The RCMP are contracted by the provinces to deliver police services. There is no reason why we cannot also enter into an agreement with them to deliver services in relation to the administration of the act.

Senator Ghitter: Have you estimated the costs that will relate to the enforcement aspects of this legislation? Do you have any cost estimates in that respect?

Mr. Mosley: Do you mean in terms of the enforcement side?

Senator Ghitter: I mean administratively, enforcement, checking people out and all those things.

Mr. Mosley: We have a reasonable sense of what the costs will be on the administrative side. We have not estimated the costs on the enforcement side.

Senator Ghitter: Can you give me an indication as to the costs on the administration side that you say you have?

Mr. Mosley: Forgive me, senator, but we are in a situation whereby we will be negotiating agreements with provinces and possibly municipalities for the administration of the program. In those circumstances, I do not think it is appropriate for me to give you an estimate of costs. It may be completely off base. Again, cost will be the subject of negotiation. I cannot give you a figure and say what it will be.

Senator Ghitter: Madam Chair, I do not want to speak for the taxpayers of the country who have been observant and concerned about the costs of this program. I guess this does not relate to the regulations; however, it seems we are not getting much of an answer with respect to the costs. I find that a little disconcerting. Perhaps this is not the place to bring up that point.

Senator Gigantès: Madam Chair, I must say I have sympathy for Senator Ghitter on this point. We are part of the legislative process of Canada. We are not being given information about the money. One of our main purposes is to know how much will be spent.

Senator Beaudoin: I am very interested in this debate. I am surprised about one thing that has not been raised so far. In our country, criminal procedure comes under federal authority. That is clear-cut. The administration of justice, civil and criminal, falls under the jurisdiction of the provinces. In Quebec and Ontario, we have our own police forces. We pay for those services. You pay in Toronto and we pay in Montreal, Quebec City, et cetera. Some of the other provinces have a different system. I do not think Ottawa is paying for administration of the Criminal Code.

Why do you make a difference between this case and the Criminal Code, saying that this act is valid because it comes under the federal criminal law power? I am surprised that we are talking about the question of money in terms of the administration of justice, which falls under provincial jurisdiction. Do I understand that you will have to reimburse some provinces? What about Quebec and Ontario who are also spending a lot of money?

Mr. Mosley: Do not misunderstood me, senator. Quebec and Ontario will be reimbursed. There will be a financial agreement, as there is now, with both those provinces.

Your points are very good. It is somewhat anomalous for the federal government to be paying provinces for the administration of this program. That was a decision made back in 1977-78 when the modern era firearms control program was adopted and put into place. We have had financial agreements with the jurisdictions since that time.

One example of legislation which is supported under the criminal law power is the Narcotic Control Act. The Supreme Court of Canada in the Hauser decision, which was rendered almost 20 years ago, declared that the base for that legislation was the criminal law power. We enforce the Narcotic Control Act through much of the country. It is also enforced by the province of Quebec and, to a limited degree, in New Brunswick. However, we pay for those prosecutions, notwithstanding the fact that one could argue --

Senator Beaudoin: Just a minute, please. The Supreme Court said clearly in the Hauser case that the Narcotic Control Act comes under the residual power of the Parliament of Canada. They have the right to prosecute. They have to pay for the prosecution. That is because it is not the administration of justice. It is administered by the federal authority under one power in section 91. That is the residual power. They do that for any province.

Your answer is very interesting, too. You say that if you pay for the other provinces in terms of this firearms legislation, you will do the same thing for Quebec and Ontario. That is fair enough.

However, we have make some distinction here. In the case of narcotic controls, obviously, it comes under peace, order and good government, and not the criminal law power, in which case, of course, they have to pay for it.

Senator Gigantès: "They" meaning who?

Senator Beaudoin: The federal government. In the Hauser case, the court stated that it comes under the federal authority.

I am not convinced; yet that this goes outside criminal law and criminal procedure. I think this act is valid because it comes under the criminal law and criminal procedure.

The Chair: For the purposes of clarification, the entire act does not come under the Criminal Code, does it?

Senator Beaudoin: Do you mean the Criminal Code proper? I do not mean the Criminal Code that is sold in a special book, but under the criminal law power of the Government of Canada.

This is why, in practice, a lawyer may pretend that the provinces should pay for that but the idea will not be popular, I am sure.

That is not my question. Rather, it is the following: You say to me that Ottawa will pay for any province. Fair enough. If that is the case, I have no other preoccupation.

My other question is regarding aboriginals. Section 2(3) reads as follows:

For greater certainty, nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from any existing aboriginal or treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

That is very good; I agree with that. Even if it were not there, we would still have to respect the rights of aboriginals because they protected are in the Constitution. The Constitution is more important than the bill; the bill must comply with the Constitution.

Does this mean, in practice, that when you drafted the regulations applicable to the aboriginal nations or people, you have taken care of this? I assume so, because you are experts in law. Am I to understand that nothing in those regulations is contradicting to any extent the treaty rights of aboriginal people? They will ask you that question, I am sure, but I will take the lead on this.

Mr. Bartlett: The purpose of the aboriginal regulations is to help to ensure that the overall scheme of the act and the regulations does not infringe aboriginal treaty rights, or infringes them as little as possible, ensuring that any infringement would be justifiable in the view of the court.

It will be the Supreme Court of Canada, I assume, which will tell us whether or not the overall scheme does stay within the constitutional bounds. Certainly one of the purposes of those regulations is to help ensure that that is the case.

Senator Beaudoin: I agree with the interpretation rule. That is a good section. However, am I to understand that, when you drafted those regulations, you had in mind all the time the treaty rights awarded to the aboriginal nations by the Constitution of Canada? I am presuming so, but I want to ask that for the purposes of the record.

Mr. Bartlett: Very much so. The purpose of those regulations is to deal with the fact that aboriginal people have specific rights under section 35 of the Constitution Act and to ensure that the act and the regulations do not infringe those rights.

The Chair: To return for a moment to Senator Beaudoin's first question, I would request some clarification. The original act passed, entitled Bill C-68, had two parts. One was a Firearms Act which dealt specifically with the kinds of rules and regulations that we are discussing today. The other part, however, was a significant amendment to the Criminal Code.

From what I understand, those parts that are now in the Criminal Code will continue to be administered by the provinces. However, there are also the aspects with respect to the Firearms Act. We already had a Firearms Act, and it is now in a different form. If we talk about firearms acquisition certificates, if we talk about the legislation in 1978, if we talk about legislation passed under the previous administration, many of those things were paid for by the federal government to the provinces. Is that not correct?

Mr. Mosley: Both aspects of Bill C-68 -- the Firearms Act as well as those amendments to the Criminal Code -- are based on the criminal law power.

Most of the provinces will be involved directly in both aspects as well. They will be administering the Firearms Act and they will be continuing to enforce the Criminal Code provisions as they always have. Our expectation is that those provinces that opt out of the administration of the licensing and registration systems of Bill C-68 will continue to enforce the Criminal Code. We have had no indication to the contrary. In fact, discussions with provincial officials have led to the conclusion that there is no reason to believe that they will not enforce the Criminal Code, as they do for the entire document.

The question of whether elements of Firearms Act are enforced by peace officers within a province that has opted out is an issue which remains to be discussed. There may be municipal police agencies within a province that are prepared to enforce those elements of the Firearms Act. Any peace officer, in the province of Ontario, for example, is entitled to lay a charge regarding a contravention of a federal or provincial statute. The question as to who may have carriage of the action will have to be addressed.

Ontario is staying in. The three prairie provinces have indicated they do not wish to be part of the administration of the Firearms Act. However, we would expect that municipal forces in those provinces would continue to be involved in the enforcement of that act, whoever is doing the purely administrative side of the arrangement.

Senator Beaudoin: How can a province opt out unless it is provided for in the act?

Mr. Mosley: There is no clear, express authority to opt out, but the power to appoint a chief firearms officer is discretionary, so by choosing not to appoint a chief firearms officer, the responsibility then rests on the Attorney General of Canada.

Senator Beaudoin: That is a problem. The provinces have the duty to administer justice in their own province, according to the division of powers. That is not just something I say; it is in the Constitution. How can they opt out of the administration of a statute duly adopted by the Parliament of Canada under section 91, unless you authorize them to do that by the act? I have a little concern with that. I would like to think more about it and come back to this.

It is strange, because it is the law of the land.

Senator Gigantès: Does the act authorize them to opt out?

Senator Beaudoin: I saw in the newspaper that some provinces may challenge the authority of some sections of that statute, but to me, it is quite another subject. I do not know if they are right or wrong. I would like to think a little more about it, but let us suppose they are right. They are still bound by the act until the Supreme Court of Canada says that it is ultra vires or unconstitutional. It is the law of the land until it is declared to be offending the Constitution.

I do not want to prolong the debate.

Mr. Mosley: I am by no means a constitutional scholar as is the honourable senator. I would refer him to the decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada in the mid-1980s known as the CN Transport and Wetmore decisions. They relate very much to the point you are raising. You may want to have a look at those decisions.

It is my understanding that the province is not compelled to administer the Firearms Act, in part because of the discretionary aspect of the appointment of the chief firearms officer. Generally, in relation to federal legislation, the power that is vested in them with regard to the administration of justice does not carry with it a commensurate obligation to administer federal legislation.

Senator Beaudoin: I agree that the attorney general of each province has a certain discretion. As to how far they may go, I must take under advisement.

Senator Doyle: I wanted to come back for just a moment to the negotiations that Senator Ghitter was asking about. How many sets of negotiations are you talking about? Or are you talking about separate negotiations?

Mr. Mosley: At times, I feel we are in a constant state of negotiation in relation to this program. I am not sure of the number of municipalities in the three western provinces that would have their own police forces. The situation is not quite the same, Senator Doyle, as it is in Ontario or Quebec. In Ontario and Quebec, virtually every municipality has its own force. The smaller ones may contract with the Ontario Provincial Police.

In the western provinces, only the major urban centres have their own police forces. Most of the policing is, in fact, done by the RCMP. We could get you that information and try to break it down in terms of the actual number that we may have to manage.

We will be negotiating with each of the provinces and territories in relation to the level of involvement that they have in the program. The three prairie provinces have said that they will not participate in the administration. Yukon said that as well and has now come back in. They are remaining within the constitutional challenge, but they will administer the program. The Northwest Territories is opting out.

We will give some thought to try to giving you an answer to that question, but I cannot provide it at this point in time.

Senator Doyle: You said that you sometimes feel you are in constant negotiation; that brings to mind another question. Are these negotiations for a long term? Do they reopen if one municipality or one province is unhappy with the way things are going or if you are unhappy with the way the act is producing revenue or whatever it is supposed to produce? Are the negotiations constant or do they reopen?

Mr. Mosley: We are involved in constant discussions with the jurisdictions, with our federal partners and the other departments that will be involved in the administration of the program. We are involved with discussions with other outside agencies, and, of course, the private sector interests which may respond to requests for proposals that will emerge.

With each province or territory, we will ultimately arrive at a signed agreement as to the amount of the transfers to be made to them. We will arrive at a signed agreement with the RCMP in those other jurisdictions. I expect we will also arrive at agreements at some point over the course of the next year with whatever municipal level of government we need to have such agreements.

Senator Ghitter: Do you have any agreements signed now?

Mr. Mosley: There are existing financial agreements.

Senator Ghitter: Are there new ones with respect to the new legislation?

Mr. Mosley: No.

Senator Ghitter: You have been in business a year now and you have no agreements signed.

Senator Milne: The regulations have just come out. They have not been passed yet.

Senator Ghitter: Is it necessary to have the regulations in place before you enter into any agreements?

Mr. Mosley: The regulations are necessary to implement the legislation. In our discussions with the provinces, they are interested in seeing the ultimate form of these regulations as they are made. The understanding is that we would not conclude an agreement until such time as we had finished that process, as well as any other process in which we are currently involved which may impact on the cost of services to be provided.

Senator Gigantès: This is not the ultimate form, then, is it?

Mr. Mosley: No. These are proposed regulations. They will be finalized only after this period of parliamentary review is completed.

Senator Doyle: Is there some kind of standardization of agreement so that one party will not feel that he does not want to keep his agreement because the next party got a better one?

Mr. Mosley: We will have a framework of agreements. There will be common information shared. Jurisdictions will share information between themselves. I do not think we will find ourselves in that particular position, but I expect there will be some variation between the agreements.

Senator Gigantès: Does this mean that you cannot give us any figures until you have reached this ultimate set of regulations because the agreements may differ? Your reason for not giving us figures is that you have no agreements. You have no agreements on what are the ultimate regulations and you need the ultimate regulations in order to cost them, is that it?

Mr. Mosley: We do not have agreements with the jurisdictions. We do not have finalized agreements within the federal government. We do not have contracts with the companies which will be building various portions of the system. Those are major factors in determining the ultimate cost.

There are other factors, such as the take-up rate, for example. Until we know how many people actually come forward in 1998, we will not be able to say how much the cost of operating the system will be in that year.

Senator Ghitter: I am still receiving letters from hunters and tourist operators who want to know the situation relating to clients who come from the United States and bring their gun into the country. What steps do they need to go through? Can you take me through this so I can attempt to explain the situation?

Mr. Bartlett: The sections of the act which deal with importation and exportation of firearms by individuals are the provisions which will govern the bringing in of firearms by non-residents for the purposes of hunting, target-shooting, et cetera.

There will be some additional regulatory provisions to fill in the details of that process; however, they are not part of this current package. Most of the provinces are in the statute.

The licence regulations do deal with one form of licence which will affect non-residents who come into Canada and borrow a firearm.

Under the act, if they bring in their own firearms, they must declare them at the border. The declaration must be confirmed, and that confirmed declaration serves as a licence and a registration certificate for a period of 60 days. Those people do not need a licence, as such.

For those who want to borrow firearms in Canada, there is a provision in the act which allows them to have a possession licence. That licence allows them to borrow but not acquire firearms. That is addressed in the regulations. They will have to apply in advance; they will need a sponsor of some sort, depending on the purpose, whether they plan to hunt with an outfitter or with a Canadian resident or to participate in a historical re-enactment. There are several purposes set out in the regulations and there are corresponding sponsors.

Most of those who do come to hunt and use firearms for sporting purposes will be bringing their own firearms and that is not in these regulations.

Senator Ghitter: It was my understanding that the regulations would streamline the situation, so they would not be an impediment to tourists coming into our country to hunt. When should we expect to see those regulations?

Mr. Bartlett: There will be a package of regulations some time next year. They will deal with a variety of issues, import and export by individuals, registration certificates, shooting clubs and ranges. There are number of areas in which we are still engaged in consultation.

Senator Ghitter: From the point of view of shooting competitions, again, those regulations are still forthcoming?

Mr. Bartlett: Yes.

Senator Ghitter: There are additional regulations which are still in the works?

Mr. Bartlett: Yes.

Senator Ghitter: What do we tell the people who are asking us questions now? Do we just tell them to wait for the new regulations? When will this come into effect?

Mr. Bartlett: As the minister announced, the scheme will come into effect in early 1998. Perhaps everything will come into effect at the same time, licensing, regulations and border controls. Perhaps all of it will come into force as a package.

There are communications materials on the provisions of the act in regard to bringing in your own firearms. We could certainly make those available to you when you have questions.

We are consulting with people on the details of how this will be handled at the border. Those who are consulted will provide us with information on how to make the process as smooth as possible. There will be administrative processes on top of the regulations, again seeking to provide as streamlined a process as possible.

Senator Ghitter: Madam Chair, we talked earlier about costs. I am coming back to that again and to Senator Gigantès' comment that we will not know until the regulations and the contracts are in place.

However, are not these regulations, yet to be prepared, just as important to the provinces? Do they not need to know, as well, about the assumption of responsibilities and the costs flowing from those? How can you then negotiate with the provinces if all the regulations are not in place?

Mr. Bartlett: Most of the issues of concern to the provinces are in this package of regulations. The operation of the system will be done by federal registrar. The importation and exportation will be dealt with by the customs and excise people. The provinces will have some concern on the approval of shooting clubs and ranges, but those should not have major cost implications.

Senator Ghitter: We know the provinces have concerns about the impact on their tourist industries and for the delineation of everyone's responsibilities because they have come to us many times with their concerns.

Why is it taking so long to get these regulations? It has been a year. I remember a month ago that a set of regulations came out, were immediately withdrawn and not released. Now we have further regulations. Why is it taking so long?

Mr. Bartlett: It is a very long consultation process with a very wide group of people who are either involved in the administration or affected by it.

We want to ensure that the regulations in each case are effective to achieve the objectives of the act. We also want them to be the least onerous possible for those who must enforce them and/or abide by them. It is a very long process to consult repeatedly with this wider group of people and then to draft regulations.

The package that was tabled in the spring has been enlarged significantly. There are still some matters on which we are consulting.

Senator Gigantès: Are there provisions to ensure that, under the guise of participating in a shooting contest, we do not have some of the militia maniacs from the south coming to train some of our own less mentally stable people and to cause disturbances in the country when they should not be here?

Mr. Bartlett: There are certainly screening processes that are available at the border. In some cases, there are links to American criminal intelligence databases. We have our own CPIC system which has some of that type of information.

There will be a variety of checks for those who enter Canada for shooting competitions. For example, whenever we are dealing with restricted firearms, handguns, an authorization is required to transport it inside the country. There will be that aspect of monitoring.

Customs officers do have the power and there will be processes in place to screen people through databases as they cross the border with firearms. Certainly, the kind of person you are talking about would likely show up in that kind of database.

The Chair: Thank you for the information you have provided today. It was a good first start on the regulations.

Honourable senators, we will have 13 days if the House of Commons sits on December 13. That is the plan at the present time.

The House of Commons returns on February 3. I do not know yet when the Senate will return. March 5 then would be the last day that we are empowered to study these regulations. The 30 days includes a sitting of either house.

I plan to have a session before the Senate comes, particularly if we come back significantly after the House of Commons. I will make it as close to when we come back as possible so that you can plan on no sessions in January.

The committee adjourned.