Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
That, Madam Chair, concludes my overview. We would be pleased to respond to any
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
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
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
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
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
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
Would you then please explain the difference to me between registration and
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Senator Milne: The regulations have just come out. They have not been passed
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.