Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs

Issue 3 - Evidence for November 27, 2002


OTTAWA, Wednesday, November 27, 2002

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, to which was referred Bill C-10, to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms Act, met this day at 3:45 p.m. to give consideration to the bill.

Senator Gérald-A. Beaudoin (Deputy Chairman) in the Chair.

[English]

The Deputy Chairman: There are two aspects of Bill C-10 that we must consider, the procedural aspect and the substantive aspect.

We received an order of the Senate to split Bill C-10, and as such we adopted a unanimous motion to that effect the other day. The experts on our side and on the House of Commons side have worked together, and you have before you a working copy, and I insist that it is only a copy, of Bills C-10A and C-10B. From a purely legal point of view, we considered this as being a study of a bill that will be divided if the House of Commons agrees to it. We will explain the mechanism of that later on.

We are creating a precedent in this committee. We have two precedents for splitting of a bill, in 1988 and 1941, but those two precedents are not exactly the situation we are now dealing with. We will have to innovate and create a precedent. In my opinion, it is quite possible, but we will have to go strictly — which is not a bad thing in the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

Senator Stratton: Today we received the drafts of the two portions of the bill, C-10A and C-10B; however, we have not had the opportunity to review them. What is more important than that is the consideration of what takes place procedurally as we move through this. In other words, what takes place and what can and should happen with these two bills now, which are House of Commons bills that have not been approved by the House of Commons? They are in draft form.

Do we send these bills back to the Senate for approval now that we have received them, so that we can proceed? After having done that, what does the Senate do with these bills? Do these bills then go to the House of Commons for approval?

I should like to know more about the process, to ensure that whatever we do here would withstand a constitutional challenge. We have the right to know that. We need to know that; otherwise, our work is out the window.

The Deputy Chairman: You will not be surprised that I want to follow the Constitution. We discussed that, because already there are four people on the Senate side and on the Commons side that have met and discussed this. There were three or four steering committee meetings on those two questions.

I will refer to the two parts of the bill as ``documents,'' because legally speaking the bill is not split at the moment. We all agree with that.

We have the right, indeed, the obligation, comply with the Senate and split the bill. However, since we are going in the direction of a split bill — and I repeat that the bill is not split yet, legally speaking — we are obliged to send those two documents to the House of Commons. Bill C-10 originated there, and it originated as a money bills, at least part of it. We have the authorization of the Governor General to do so. We may have to discuss that in due time, but the problem is solvable.

Having said that, if you wish, I am ready to receive a motion to refer these two documents to the Senate, and thereafter the Senate will refer them to the House of Commons. It is clear-cut.

The Senate has adjourned for today, so the matter will not be deal with there today. However, if honourable senators wish to adopt a motion at this time, that is all right with me. I want to be as clear as possible that I am willing to proceed that way. Following that, we will continue to hear witnesses. Tomorrow we will proceed to make comments on all clauses — and I say ``comments'' for the moment because this is not a clause-by-clause study. The bill before us is unique.

We have informed the House that the Senate will return the two documents to the House of Commons as soon as possible. In that way, the privileges will be respected.

Constitutionally, I do not see why we cannot start today with the witnesses and send those two documents as soon as possible to the Senate first and from the Senate to the House of Commons

Senator Stratton: If the Senate so decides.

The Deputy Chairman: Yes. We are only a committee of the Senate, although an important one.

Senator Corbin: On a point of order, we had agreed last week to hear witnesses, not to talk about process. We are talking about process right now. We are anticipating future potential events. I think we must abide by the contents of the notice of meeting.

Senator Cools: Absolutely. If we get technical, we will never settle this.

The Deputy Chairman: I agree that we are starting to deal with the process, but the point raised by Senator Stratton is a point of information. The information was given, in my opinion. It seems to be clear-cut. If another honourable senator has a question, I would be pleased to answer it.

Senator Bryden: The position that you are taking as chair at the moment is in addition to the position that you took last week. We have the bill in front of us, and it is Bill C-10. That is the bill that we are studying. The direction of the Senate was that we should split the bill.

If I remember correctly, you indicated, wearing your constitutional lawyer hat, was that we could proceed to treat the Bill C-10A as a split bill, without going back to the Senate. This is the first I have heard that we first must go back to the Senate. You had indicated that the Senate would accept or reject the splitting but that we could proceed on the firearms part of the bill, not only hear witnesses but also do clause-by-clause consideration.

I am trying to recall what you said and what we all agreed to. We agreed that we would then report back to the Senate that we have carried out the instructions of the Senate, that we have split the bill and are reporting on Bill C- 10A, and we are proceeding with Bill C-10B, the other part of the split.

The Senate at that stage has the opportunity to accept that we have done this properly. If they do, then we continue with the other part of the bill. The 10A part would go to third reading. The report at second reading would be accepted, and we would act as we normally do and then go to third reading.

The Senate then sends that bill to the House of Commons and asks for their concurrence in what we, the Senate, have done with the bill. The Commons either concurs, or it does not. If it concurs, then we have completed our job with Bill C-10A, and they proceed to do what they need to do with it.

It is my understanding that that is based on the precedent of the 1988 situation, with the exception that when the Senate sent the split bill, the first part, over to the House of Commons, they did not ask for concurrence, which is a technical issue.

I found out by doing some research that the Conservative side, which was the government — I do not know which at that time — at the end of the debate at third reading in the Senate made an amendment that said, ``We do not have to ask for concurrence.'' That was the technicality on which to someone's benefit the Speaker was able to say, ``This is not properly before us,'' in order to prolong the debate.

There may be some poetic licence in what I am saying. I am paraphrasing. What was proposed here last week and accepted, at least by the majority, was that which was proposed in large part. We agreed that we would follow the procedure as outlined, and you indicated that if the concurrence was done properly, it would be a constitutionally and parliamentary correct procedure.

I cannot understand why, at this stage, anyone is coming in to say, ``No, we need to send the bill back.''

There is a reason why we are doing what we are doing. There are people who will be in violation of the Firearms Act at the end of this month because the grandfathering protections that they had for some of the weapons they possess will have run out. There are important time frames. That was one of the purposes of going through the process of splitting the bill. To try to put the entire bill through in this month with the problems seemed impossible.

The person who spoke on it last and moved it to committee, Senator Adams, basically agreed to make the motion that we deal with the firearms bill so that it could be addressed before the end of the year without question. That would leave time for those people who are concerned about the cruelty of animals portion of the bill to bring in witnesses from wherever in order to give a full hearing to that.

I believe that that is a fair statement of what we decided to do. I hope that we are not simply attempting to delay. I do not think that possibly can be true. However, I do know that I accepted Senator Beaudoin's virtually expert opinion that what we were proposing to do the last time we were here was legitimate, constitutional and good parliamentary practice, for which there is precedence. Any small flaw could be removed.

Am I correct, Mr. Chairman?

The Deputy Chairman: We are very close, Senator Bryden. I attempted to set aside what was wrong in the two preceding bills. That is why we say perhaps we are overdoing it. The House of Commons is ready to send us two parchments.

Senator Cools: We have no knowledge of that.

The Deputy Chairman: I might tell you what it is.

Senator Cools: You cannot indicate that.

Senator St. Germain: Keeping secrets!

The Deputy Chairman: It is not a secret at all. I told you that experts in the Senate and in the House of Commons have already met over the weekend on this. We want to be sure that no privilege of the House of Commons has been breached. Everything that I have said today I believe, and I will believe it tomorrow. There is no doubt about that. The question of Senator Stratton is one of information.

What we have said here so far on both sides is something that is strongly in favour of the fact that the procedure that we are following is not against the Constitution or the lex parliamenti, which is a very important factor in this. When a precedent in parliamentary law is created, it is something that is new. I hope that we will all agree on this. That is why I did not change anything about this afternoon's meeting, vis-à-vis witnesses, because I want to hear them today. I want to continue to hear from them tomorrow and to examine the legislation that is before us.

If it is the desire of honourable senators to settle the question of sending the two documents to the House of Commons, I am ready to do that.

Senator Bryden: For clarification, the whole purpose of what we are doing is to ensure that the firearms bill becomes law before Christmas. Is everyone satisfied? It will be out of our hands once it is reported to the House of Commons.

Senator Nolin: That is exactly the point we are trying to make.

Senator Bryden: Do we have any idea when we will be able to do a clause-by-clause consideration in time to put this proposition back to the House of Commons in order that they can act on it, bearing in mind that what we are doing is what the government would like to do? Can it then be in place by the end of December so there is no illegality?

The Deputy Chairman: It is possible.

Senator Bryden: Remembering that they may have to use the rules of the House of Commons — closure — to make that happen; there must be enough time to be able to do that. It was my understanding that that is why we are attempting to complete this.

I wish to make it clear that if the process that we had agreed on last week is not used, and therefore we are not able to do clause-by-clause consideration tomorrow, there is a very good possibility that what that decision means — going back to the House of Commons — is that there is a very good possibility that we cannot meet their timetable. Then this committee will have caused some people who thought they were not going to be acting illegally to be acting illegally on January 1.

Senator Andreychuk: Some of what Senator Bryden said is correct. However, I wish to remind Senator Bryden that when we came here last time, what we were not sure of was how to proceed. We were given an order that said that we should split a bill. I thought this committee agreed that the committee has no authority to legally split the bill, that we could facilitate the work of the Senate by having working copies of splitting the bill, and that that is exactly what we ordered the legal staff to do, that is, is to produce two working copies.

An examination of the committee minutes would reveal that that is what we agreed to do. We undertook to do that.

We removed clause-by-clause consideration, because we said we could not do a clause-by-clause consideration on working drafts, that what we could do is comment on a clause-by-clause consideration, as we did in Bill C-36. We had this conundrum of the legality — that only the Senate could split the bill and turn it back to the House of Commons. The House of Commons would then have to do what it has to do.

I do disagree with Senator Beaudoin about the House of Commons passing it. The house is an independent chamber, and it will do what it feels it must. We hope the House of Commons will pass it. We hope that there will be some kind of resolution. Then the bill will have to return for clause-by-clause consideration. Whether that will be a first study, second study, third study and a clause-by-clause consideration in a committee of the whole or in this committee is yet to be seen. I am not sure that we can circumvent that process.

We decided to do what we could — that is, to study the bill as a working bill and look at it clause by clause, as we did with Bill C-36. If there was any difference of opinion, my understanding was that this committee could have studied the gun registry matter and reported back, and then continue on with the study of the animal portion of the bill.

Now we are being told by the experts that somehow or another we must get the bill to the House of Commons, and that if we report on half of our reference the entire reference fails. That then puts the animal cruelty portion of the bill into jeopardy.

On this side, we are trying to facilitate the government agenda, and I hope that is on the record. Therefore, we suggested that perhaps what we could do is refer the split bill back so that they could get on to the business on the floor of the Senate while we study the bill. In essence, that study would be a pre-study. This committee would proceed with the hearing of witnesses and waste no time while the Senate and the House of Commons do their job. This committee will then have done all its homework and be in a position to receive the bill.

If honourable senators do not want to do that, that is fine with me. We will then proceed according to what we said last time, which is this: If we cannot report back the two working copies for the Senate to work on today, to better facilitate them, then let us see how we can get a portion later on.

Then, if we are told we cannot split the bill, the animal cruelty part of it will fail. I do not believe that it will be this side of the chamber that will have the bill fail. We are trying to ensure that we do not lose either part of the bill, and that we do it according to the letter of the law.

I do not see why we could not refer these to the Senate immediately, tomorrow, so that they can get on dealing with what they need to do while we undertake to do a pre-study of the bill.

The Deputy Chairman: I would certainly agree with that. It is because we do not want to lose the power of the committee. There are two theses here. If we report, some experts say we will lose everything.

Senator Bryden: Who says that?

The Deputy Chairman: Some experts.

Hon. Senators: Which experts?

The Deputy Chairman: Gary O'Brien, from the Senate. He will be here tomorrow, if honourable senators wish to hear from him. We want to be very careful.

It has always been my intention to refer the bill at the end, and to refer everything at the end, and the two documents at the end. This has always been my intention. However, there are those who say, no, you have to do that right away and send it to the House of Commons as soon as possible. If we do that, we will do that by an interim report. However, what happens after the interim report? Do we have the right to continue?

I want the right to continue our study of the bill and that is why we have acted that way. We are not far away, even if there is a motion today and even if we send the two documents to the Senate and it is accepted. That is what I said, Senator Andreychuk. Of course, it is the business of the Senate to send it to the House of Commons, and everyone agrees with that. However, even that will not begin today; even if we adopt the resolution today, it will not be sent to the Senate today because the Senate is not sitting.

I would suggest that we hear from the witnesses, so that perhaps we can finish tomorrow. Let us be optimistic.

Senator Bryden: When you say finish, do you mean clause-by-clause and ready to report.

The Deputy Chairman: That is possible.

Senator Cools: How can we do clause-by-clause when we do not have the bill before us?

Senator Nolin: We have before us only Bill C-10. That is the only bill before us. We have been asked to split the bill, and we have done that.

The Deputy Chairman: We did it.

Senator Nolin: Let us assume that we will study portion A of the bill, which concerns the gun registry, and that we will do clause-by-clause consideration of it. Why do clause-by-clause, possibly to amend that portion of the bill? Will we be able to amend the bill effectively? I am not sure about that.

The Deputy Chairman: When we split the bill, we amend the bill, of course. That is quite an amendment — splitting the bill. This is clear-cut in law. We have to remember that we are a delegated power. The Senate has the final word on all, but we are there to help the Senate by doing our job. If we hear all the witnesses and do clause-by-clause consideration and make our comments on each clause of the bill, then we have done a tremendous job.

Senator Nolin: Senator Beaudoin, I do not have a problem commenting, as you say, on clause-by-clause consideration, but what about amendments?

The Deputy Chairman: They become amendments when they are brought to the Senate and the Senate accepts the amendment.

Senator Cools: No, no.

The Deputy Chairman: It is in the report.

Senator Cools: Chairman, we have before us an interesting problem because we have two different perceptions of the actual decision that was taken by this committee last Thursday. Perhaps the first thing we must do is to clarify what the decision actually was. My distinct recollection is that your proposal is what Senator Sparrow and I said last week and that the committee rejected.

Last Thursday, Senator Sparrow and I adopted the position that our reference was to divide the bill and then to send our product, whatever we called it, back to the Senate. From there, it was up to the Senate to determine how to proceed. That was the position of Senator Sparrow and myself, and it was rejected by the committee.

Senator Adams: It did not pass the committee.

Senator Cools: Yes, that position was rejected. The committee accepted what Senator Bryden described. Therefore, a decision was taken.

The Deputy Chairman: Yes.

Senator Nolin: Therefore, we cannot amend the bill.

The Deputy Chairman: No, no. I never said that. We may amend the bill tomorrow.

Senator Cools: You now come along with a proposal that purports to overturn the decision of the committee from last Thursday.

The Deputy Chairman: No.

Senator Cools: If you overturn the decision, you cannot simply adopt a new posture. Senator Bryden's description fits what the committee decided. What you were proposing is what the committee rejected last week.

The Deputy Chairman: I did not reject anything. Senator Cools, I will read the last paragraph of what we have adopted:

That the Law Clerk of the Senate be instructed to prepare a working copy of both bills for consideration of the committee during clause-by-clause examination, renumbering all the clauses and making any necessary editorial changes.

That has been done. We have followed the motion that was adopted. I know the motion; I moved it.

Senator Cools: That is not the dispute, now. We are not disputing the motion, because we all agree that the motion was adopted. However, we are disputing the previous discussion where we reached agreement on how we would proceed once the division had happened. That is the issue. There is no disagreement about the substance of the motion.

The Deputy Chairman: The fact is that some people were not here last week. The previous week, we were in recess. Thus, there may be some outstanding questions or proposals. My first duty is to examine the substantive part of the bill, then to divide the bill, to hear witnesses and, tomorrow, to consider clause-by-clause. If there are amendments, we will consider them tomorrow, and that is the end of it.

Senator Cools: You are withdrawing your proposal.

Senator St. Germain: I have a simple question, if I may, unless I am not supposed to ask a question. Simply, how can the Senate create Bills C-10A and 10B? How do they not become S bills?

The Deputy Chairman: We propose to the Senate, and the Senate makes a decision and sends a message to the House of Commons. It is only when the two Houses agree that everything comes to a final result. That is our parliamentary system. We are working on a document made by the law clerks from a bill that is unique, Bill C-10. Bill C-10 will be divided only in the end, legally speaking. For the moment, we will work on the substantive question and on the amendments tomorrow. The two documents will be returned at the proper time, with the report of tomorrow night or another day.

Senator Stratton: My understanding of what we have before us comes down to this: Are the so-called working copies of Bill C-10A and Bill C-10B bills or drafts of bills?

The Deputy Chairman: Legally speaking, we have only one bill — Bill C-10.

Senator Stratton: I appreciate that.

The Deputy Chairman: The work of the law clerk is to split what we were ordered to split. There is no amendment thus far, but there may be one tomorrow. We have to proceed with that.

It is my impression that we know pretty well what direction we will go. It is clear-cut, to me.

Senator Stratton: Is this simply for reference? What is this document that you are saying we have?

The Deputy Chairman: It is a working document of one bill that is before us. At the end of our work, in two to four days, it will be two bills.

Senator Stratton: How can it be two bills if it is a House of Commons bill? How can we, the Senate, split a House of Commons bill? I thought the plan was that this would be a pre-study, and that these were drafts of bills that would be referred back with recommendations to the House of Commons. Is that not true?

The Deputy Chairman: Well, it is true that it is only one bill until the end. Once we have proposed the two bills and once the Senate accepts our report, we will send it to the other House. It is only then that the bill will be deemed to be a bill of both Houses. It is what you call, in law, juridical or legal fiction.

Senator Andreychuk: May I ask a supplementary question to that? I was under the assumption last time, although I will not speak for anyone else, that we could go through these legal fictions, report to the chamber, and report both bills in some way. I thought we were splitting the bills here in order to have a progress report on the first half to report to the chamber. The chamber would then somehow report it to the House of Commons and we would not lose jurisdiction over the other half. However, because of your legal or clerical interpretations, if we report then we lose our reference. My concern is that we may do it and find out that this second legal interpretation, which is not the one we were getting last week that we acted on, happens to be right. We will be in the position of having done our duty on the gun registration, but we will lose the animal cruelty. It will not be part of Bill C-10 any more and we will have lost jurisdiction. I do not want to be in the position of losing that part of the bill, because that part is just as important to me as the other one.

The Deputy Chairman: Senator Andreychuk, I agree with that, but someone brought to my attention paragraph 783 of Beauchesne, fifth edition:

There is no authority that a committee of the House, when considering a bill, should report anything to the House except the bill itself.

I was told that if you made an interim report, you lose the power to continue the study. I am scandalized by that, but it is not me who has made that law. We may make an interim report, but I want to be sure that we will continue to study the two bills.

Senator Bryden: I will take one more cut on why we do not lose the bill. We made the working division for convenience; that is why it was done. We could have studied the gun control and the Criminal Code aspects relating to gun control and used the same document. The point was made that it would be nice to have them separate, because then there would not be the confusion, going back and forth. That is why it was done.

If we had not done that, in fact, had continued to work with Bill C-10, I presume it would possible for us to report back to the Senate that we are proposing the amendment of Bill C-10, in that the Senate ``tree off'' these sections of Bill C-10, and we propose a designation of Bill C-10A.

We propose that it be designated Bill C-10A and that the committee will continue to consider the balance of the bill and report it when it is finished as Bill C-10B. The only difference I can see is that we decided, for the convenience of trying to work with the provisions, that we would have all of the gun control in one and the other in the other. If we have the right to amend the bill, which is what we are doing, what we are doing is reporting those amendments to the house and telling the house we have not finished the other amendments. The Senate either accepts that or does not, and if it concurs, it then goes over to the House of Commons. I believe that is what you were saying yesterday.

The Deputy Chairman: I do not deny that I said that, but I learned since that time that if we make an interim report we could lose the power to continue. I do not like it, but the law is the law. However, if honourable senators are ready to make an interim report for the first portion and continue with the cruelty to animals for the second portion, we should do it. Why not? Nobody would object to that here around this table.

Senator Nolin: I am objecting to the validity of doing that, but if the majority wants to do it, someone must tell us what is legal and what is not legal. Of course, it is not this group that will tell me, so let us do it.

We will not be able to properly amend a portion of a bill and report a portion of a bill. I want to be on the report saying that. That being said, we can do whatever we want.

The Deputy Chairman: Are you saying that if we do only a portion we lose all powers?

Senator Nolin: No, I am not saying that. I am saying that we cannot report a portion of a bill and pretend we will maintain or keep the other portion of the bill.

Senator Smith: First, let me applaud your efforts to make progress here. I really welcome that. I think everyone is speaking in good faith here. I believe that, but I think we need to stop spinning our wheels and try to move on. I do not know that we have to make a decision right away on the questions that have been raised because you said that when we do the clause-by-clause consideration tomorrow we will have an appropriate authority here who will have considered this. We will hear the opinion and take whatever action we deem appropriate.

In the meantime, no stakeholder is prejudiced if we proceed to hear these witnesses now. They have come here in good faith and I think we should hear them. We will have to do that in any event, so we might as well get on with hearing these witnesses.

These other matters can be dealt with tomorrow when we have the person you referred to earlier here, who is studying this question of interim reports.

The Deputy Chairman: I am ready to postpone the procedure aspect of this until tomorrow morning and to hear from our witnesses now.

Senator Smith: I would encourage you to do that and support you in any way I can.

The Deputy Chairman: However, I should like to hear from those who disagree why they disagree on this. Someone said I want to be quite sure, legally speaking. Well, legally speaking, I am satisfied that we are going in the right direction, but it is only at the very end that everything will become finished.

Senator Corbin: Senator Smith took the words out of my mouth. We have been at this for 45 minutes. I did signal at the beginning that we have an order of the day properly circulated. Our business today is to hear witnesses, not to anticipate the contents of our report or anticipate the actions or will of either House. We are not there yet.

Mr. Chairman, I appeal to you to get on with today's business with the hearing of the witnesses.

The Deputy Chairman: If that is the sentiment of the assembly, the rest of the procedural questions will be postponed until tomorrow. Today, we will hear witnesses. Is that agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Watt: If we are finished with that part, I have another issue that I want to bring forward. If everyone is in agreement, I should like to table some papers.

Senator Cools: Just move a motion.

Senator Corbin: Just table them.

The Deputy Chairman: Table them.

Senator Watt: I move the documents. I want to talk about them briefly before I table them.

I know we are not dealing with Bill C-68 per se, but we are dealing with it indirectly through Bill C-10A, if it is submitted, that is.

Honourable senators, I heard today that yesterday in the Nunavut court of justice the move was made by Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, Attorney General of Canada and the Government of Nunavut as interveners. I would like to make this information available to this committee because it has some bearing on what we are dealing with here. I will also attach the news release because it explains why our grievances exist in detail rather than going into the entire bill.

The Deputy Chairman: The discussion is postponed until later on your proposition.

Senator Watt: Yes.

The Deputy Chairman: Table it. Is it agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Bryden: If it is tomorrow, can we have copies distributed to the members of the committee?

Senator St. Germain: Why not all senators present?

The Deputy Chairman: I would certainly not object to that.

Now that we have dealt, to a great extent, with the question of procedure, the rest will be dealt with tomorrow. We will start with this afternoon's meeting.

This meeting is on Bill C-10. We already know that we passed a motion.

This afternoon we have three panels of witnesses. The first consists of officials from the Department of Justice, from the Canadian Firearms Centre. We invite Mr. Webster and Ms. Roussel to begin their five minute presentation, please.

Mr. Gary Webster, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Firearms Centre, Department of Justice Canada: We are here today to speak to the Bill C-10A portion that you have just discussed. We are presenting within Bill C-10A portion amendments to Bill C-68 in the form of Bill C-10A, which are largely administrative in nature and are designed to simplify and make more accessible the systems that have been developed for purposes of meeting the requirements under the law, both Bill C-68 in its fullest extent and the amendments as proposed within Bill C-10A.

These amendments make it easier for Canadians to comply with the requirements of the legislation of the Firearms Act, and it streamlines the administrative processes in order that that can happen. The bill makes a series of administrative amendments creating a position of commissioner of firearms to oversee the administration of the firearms program, making the register rather than the chief firearms officers responsible for certain transfers, extends the term of certain licences and clarifies weapons that are exempt from the application of certain provisions.

It deals also with Criminal Code amendments of an administrative nature with respect to commissioner of firearms that I mentioned. It deals with issues related to the classification and the status of air guns. It deals with certain provisions with respect to judicial interim release and certain technical amendments, all being within the Criminal Code amendments.

Under the Firearms Act amendments, the bill deals specifically with certain definitions that are outlined in that document. Within those definitions, it also stipulates new responsibilities or changed responsibilities to the various organizations and functions that are performed by various providers within the system of the legislation as well as within the business of gun ownership in the country.

The bill deals with restricted firearms safety course and the requirement that that imposes upon people who own firearms and wish to use them. It also deals to some extent with the roles, responsibilities and requirements of employees who work for either manufacturers or companies involved in the sale or repair of firearms.

As one of the senators mentioned earlier, it also deals with certain grandfathering provisions with respect to the section in the act that deals with handguns that are now in the possession of both individuals and dealers in the country and the disposition of those firearms as of December 31, 2002.

The bill deals as well with transfers and the method by which transfers of firearms ownership are made within the legislation and within the law across the country. It deals as well at some length with importation and exportation of firearms — an important provision of the legislation to ensure that the movement of legal guns across the border are in compliance with simplified processes. As well, provisions are included to ensure that police are given more opportunity to act in relation to issues related to the smuggling of firearms.

The bill also deals with applications for and the issuance of licences, registration certificates and authorization. It offers the opportunity of simplifying processes for the future that will ultimately reduce costs and provide an easier access to the system by law-biding gun owners across the country. It also deals with issues related to the duration of licences and authorization so that in the future, renewal of licences will be undertaken in a manner that is more simplified, and by virtue of that, reduce cost to the taxpayer. There are also issues related to the notices of revocation that deal specifically with the creation of the commissioner of firearms and the registrar within a new reporting relationship outside of the Solicitor General, RCMP.

The bill deals as well with exemptions for individuals who are on official business coming into the country who, by virtue of their responsibilities are required to carry restricted firearms. There are provisions within Bill C-10A to ensure that that can happen in a way consistent with the requirements of the individual.

There are also some delegations from chief firearms officers down to firearms officers so that the undertaking of day-to-day business is facilitated and can happen in a much more reasonable and time considered way.

That outlines the basis of Bill C-10 as we are proposing it. I expect that the questions will primarily be focused on the various provisions of the Bill C-10 amendments themselves.

Senator Baker: I would appreciate pointed answers, if I could get them. Perhaps you could explain after my turn which of those provisions in these changes now are actually needed by December 31 because most of the things you spoke about are already in effect.

What is needed in this bill that is required by December 31? Interesting question, but I do not want to ask you that.

Senator Nolin: You should.

Senator Baker: No, there are things more important than that. I understand that there are more than 1 million guns that are not registered and that you are not providing the opportunity for them to be registered by limiting the numbers of people operating the telephones at headquarters. Could you give a short answer to that?

Mr. Webster: I will endeavour to give a short answer to that.

Currently we are receiving an average of 4,700 calls a day at our call centre. There is an average wait time as of today of 18 minutes. There are 72 people covering our telephones seven days a week for 16 hours a day.

Senator Baker: At that rate, you will not get to everyone who wants to get through to you.

Mr. Webster: We will be soon adding telephony to our system, which will allow people to leave messages. If all they seek are forms, they will be able to leave a message and someone will send the forms out as quickly as possible.

Senator Baker: When someone calls your number they are told, ``I am sorry, due to the extreme number of calls you will have to call back.''

I understand that you did a survey the latter part of this summer and discovered there were 1.4 million or 1.6 million guns not registered. We have Canadians trying to register their guns by this deadline of December 31. You do not have 24-hour telephone service. I wonder why. You have 4 hours of service on the weekends, noon to four or something like that. Is that correct?

It is possible that as after December 31 perhaps 1 million Canadians become criminals and liable to prison sentences if discovered?

Mr. Webster: I will provide the actual data, as we understand it. We have 2.1 million gun owners that have complied with the system as a result of the requirement to submit applications for licences. Out of those 2.1 million that applied for licences, we have issued now almost 1.89 million licences. Many licences are not issued for a number of reasons.

Of that 1.89 million, approximately 1.2 million have complied and registered. We have applications from those Canadians. The difference there is, as you stated, is not quite one million, but there are a number of Canadians out there that still have not made application. In the last two to three weeks we have seen a substantial increase in the number of applications that is are being received. We do have the processing capability to process those applications as they come in.

I should inform honourable senators that in addition to that, we offered or sent direct mail to all of the people that had licensed themselves in the country and had received a licence through that process. All of those licensed individuals in turn received a direct mail to their residence advising them, sometime between last fall and early spring, that they had an opportunity to register their firearms without charge within a fee waiver period to facilitate their registration and at the same time to allow us to see an extended period of registration, which kept costs down.

Senator Baker: I know that. Everyone knows that. However, are you telling the committee that you know the names of everyone who has guns now and are not registered?

Mr. Webster: The 1.8 million people who received direct mail outs received a second mail out after the summer when we realized that they had not made application within the time frame they were provided to register without any charge.

Senator Baker: Do you know everyone who has guns now that are not registered? That is the question.

Mr. Webster: We know of the 1.8 million people who have licensed themselves. We simply need only to look at who has not replied, and yes, you can tell.

Senator Baker: No, you do not know. Your survey says that you do not know.

Mr. Webster: If you are referring there to individuals who have not previously licensed, I have to agree with you.

Senator Baker: That is right. How many would you estimate that to be?

Mr. Webster: If you take the survey to which you referred earlier, and I used the number of 2.1 million in total. We have 1.2 million already in the system, and we are seeing a significant spike developing for registrations. They are starting to come in now.

Senator Baker: They are in the system, but they will not meet the requirements of the legislation if they are not processed by January 1, 2003.

Mr. Webster: That is probably true. The government is looking at possible options so they can deal with that.

Senator Baker: What are the options? Here is a Senate committee trying to do something that the House of Commons did not do. We are trying to fix the serious problem of 1 million Canadians who will become criminals under the law on January 1, 2003.

Since you mentioned that the government or the minister is looking options, could you tell the committee succinctly exactly what is under consideration, and if it will be done?

Mr. Webster: I cannot refer what is under consideration until processes are followed.

Senator Baker: You said that something is under consideration?

Mr. Webster: There are options being considered. That is as much that I would be able to say until the minister and the government make certain decisions.

Senator Baker: One final thing. Of course you have a rush on now. The deadline is coming December 31. They do not want to be thrown in jail. Of course, you have a rush on.

Mr. Webster: That is right.

Senator Baker: You must consider extending those hours for those telephones. There is no excuse for that.

Mr. Webster: As I said, there are 72 people covering 16 hours a day, seven days a week.

Senator Baker: Sixteen hours a day is not good enough. It should be 24 hours a day if people are to become criminals in mass numbers.

My next question is on behalf of the people in the North about whom Senator Watt and Senator Adams have been concerned. How does someone register their gun if they did not have a licence, which means that they became a criminal on January 1, 2001? All of a sudden, they have to register their guns December 31, 2002. They went and followed the safety course. The only way that they can register is on computer.

You can register by putting in your numbers and registering your guns by the Internet. The Internet asks you for your licence number. They do not have a licence, they have a permit.

Mr. Webster: Correct.

Senator Baker: They ask for eight numbers. You put in six numbers if you live in Nunavut or Newfoundland. There are only six digit numbers. They cannot put in eight numbers, and they cannot put in their restricted permit for guns, whatever you call it.

They cannot register. Those are very people who need to be able to register. When they pick up the phone every single day for the last three months, they have been told to call back at another time because we are overloaded.

These people are law abiding and do not want to be criminals on December 31. What can they do? There are hundreds of thousands of them. What can they do to register their guns?

Senator Stratton: Go to jail!

Senator Baker: It is a serious question. What can they do? They cannot register on the Internet because they do not have the eight numbers of a licence or a POL. They cannot phone. When they phone to ask a question, they cannot get through.

They are going through this mental strife now today. Hundreds of thousands of people across Canada are sweating because they must meet the law on December 31.

How can they escape this worry and meet the requirements of the legislation by registering their guns prior to December 31?

Mr. Webster: If they do not have a licence they have to apply for the licence. The law is very clear on that point.

Senator Baker: They have done the courses for the licence. They have a permit that is good for 90 days if you live in Nunavut or northern Labrador.

There are hundreds of thousands of people in that position and they will be criminals. I am asking you is how can they not become criminals. How can they register their guns? Are you going to do something to allow them to register their guns? They are trying to register them today but they cannot.

Mr. Webster: As I mentioned, if people are in possession of firearms as of December 31 and they have not complied with the law by having a licence to own firearms, the law is clear.

Senator Baker: How can we amend that? Do we have to amend the bill? Do we have to amend the section? This is a question for a lawyer.

Ms. Kathleen Roussel, Counsel, Legal Services, Canadian Firearms Centre Department of Justice: What would be required is an amendment to certain sections in the Criminal Code that are not in Bill C-10. Essentially, the amendment could not be done before this committee.

Senator Baker: Could you ask her further on that? She said we could not amend the bill.

The Deputy Chairman: What do you mean?

Senator Andreychuk: It is not an amendment.

Senator St. Germain: It is not in the bill.

The Deputy Chairman: If it is related to the bill, then it is before the committee.

Senator Cools: We can amend it.

Ms. Roussel: The offence provisions of the Criminal Code dealing with the possession of firearms, in my view are not related to the contents of Bill C-10. They are intrinsic to Bill C-68, the original Firearms Act, however there is nothing in Bill C-10 that is directly linked to that.

The Deputy Chairman: You may do anything with an amendment. That is a good start.

Senator Andreychuk: I want to follow-up on Senator Baker's point. You are telling us that you have received an estimate that 1.2 million people have neither licensed nor registered?

Mr. Webster: No. I said that 1.8 million people have licensed and of that 1.8 million, just over 1.2 million have now followed-up with registration. Between now and the end of December, we have the difference. We are now receiving applications in increased numbers on a weekly basis from Canadians attempting to comply by the end of the year.

Senator Andreychuk: How large is this pool of those people?

Mr. Webster: There are about 600,000 people.

Senator Andreychuk: I am trying to figure out who are these people are that should be registering. There are those who have not licensed but are trying get licensed and registered. There are 600,000 people in that pool.

You used the term ``law abiding'' citizens. Have you made an estimate of how many people have firearms out there that are not in the process of either licensing or registering?

Mr. Webster: Unfortunately, until we have an indication of that, on the licensing side, —

Senator Andreychuk: How many would that be?

Mr. Webster: The numbers I used were taken from a survey conducted by an outside organization. The numbers, essentially, are 2.1 million. They had forecast higher numbers, but after they factored out certain things, the number became 2.1 million. We have licensed 1.8 million of those.

Over and above that 2.1 million, the survey estimated somewhere in the range of 2.3 million. Considering the senator's question, if you go by the survey, you are looking at a potential 200,000 people who did not come into the system.

There are a number of rational explanations for that. One is that a number of people who owned firearms prior to the legislation had decided that, because of the processes and the rigor, they no longer wanted to possess those firearms. A certain number, perhaps, decided to dispose of their firearms at that time.

Another group of individuals probably decided that they simply did not want to participate in any of this activity. That was the rationale used and we use the 2.1 million derived from the survey. They are not all licensed because, between the 1.8 and the 2.1, there are a number of people who have been refused licences and a number of people who are still under investigation. A detailed and significant investigative process is required for a person to actually receive a licence.

That is a result of the spirit of Bill C-68, which said that we want to absolutely know that, when people are licensed to possess firearms and have registered guns, they meet a basic line of understanding of the use of those firearms and that there is a capacity in those individuals to understand the responsibility that they have. Those investigations are time-consuming and a number still in the system are at the tertiary investigation phase. They have to be seen fully through to the end of the investigation for the right decisions to be made as to whether they should possess firearms.

We are dealing with the 1.8 million that have been licensed and over 1.2 million of those people who possess licences have made application. We are now receiving, on a weekly basis, a very substantial number. I expect the numbers will spike as we move closer to the end of December.

Senator Andreychuk: When Bill C-68 came before us, we talked about licensing and registering. It was a given that we were not talking about those people who have no intention of licensing or registering but do have firearms in Canada.

Mr. Webster: That is right.

Senator Andreychuk: We have absolutely no idea what that group is.

Mr. Webster: We have an idea around the numbers that I was giving you earlier in terms of the survey that was done.

Senator Andreychuk: I am referring to those people who do not want to comply with the law but are Canadian citizens or residents living here and have firearms. They do not come into these statistics at all, do they?

Mr. Webster: Not the ones that I have just given you. We undertook to have a survey because there are so many different estimates. Members of the gun community have estimates of their own; there is series of notions that people have about how many guns there are in the country in the possession of dealers or of individuals. We undertook the survey to try to come down to the best estimate to date. It was not only undertaken independently from us but it also confirmed through a public policy organization that the methodology and everything around it used was, within certain percentage points that are standard, a valid estimate of the number of firearms.

At the end of the day, this law is no different than any other law. If people choose not to abide the law, they make their own personal decisions. Any results from that, vis-à-vis the law in terms of fines, apply at that time.

Senator Andreychuk: Senator Baker is talking about people who want to comply with the law, in one form or another. We are not reaching those who have the firearms but are not intending to come in. We have no protection or security from that in this proposed legislation.

Senator Stratton: Perhaps this is not an appropriate question because you deal with the technicalities or the legal aspects of the bill. I am primarily concerned about costs. Are you the appropriate person to ask about that or should I ask the minister?

Mr. Webster: You can ask me and we will see if I am the appropriate person.

Senator Stratton: I want to go to evidence given yesterday at the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. Mr. Richard J. Neville, Deputy Comptroller General, Branch of the Treasury Board Secretariat, has appeared before that committee on several occasions. The chair of the committee asked, ``Is it fair to ask whether, at the official level, you are concerned about the growth of spending in that area?'' Mr. Neville replied:

Honourable senators, that is a valid question. From the Treasury Board Secretariat perspective, we are very concerned about this file.

Senator Comeau was also at that meeting and did a summary of the costs to date, taking us up to 2004-05. In his summary, Senator Comeau said, ``That would bring us up to $985 million by March 2005, if I am correct.'' Mr. Neville went on to say that that is about right.

Is that about right?

Mr. Webster: I can only assume the figures are correct if they were done by a representative from the Treasury Board.

Senator Stratton: Could you tell us if that number is accurate?

Mr. Webster: As I understand, they reconstructed the numbers. Mr. Neville has rounded off to the $688 million that has been the cumulative total since 1995-96. I think he also said that for this year — because that would not include this current budget year — that there has been a further $110 million allotted, I believe.

Senator Nolin: It is $113.5 million.

Mr. Webster: I think he used $110 million. He added those two figures together and then, further to that, he added other numbers that represented costs of other federal departments. I cannot speak to the costs of those other federal departments. He is with the Treasury Board. He would see things that I would not have seen to this point.

I am just trying to reconstruct his $810 million. He then went on to add to that the forecasts that come out of our own departmental estimates, which are public documents, $95 million for next year and $80 million the final year.

Senator Stratton: Your figures are $95 million next year, and $80 million for 2004-05.

Mr. Webster: The only part I cannot relate to is the $11 million or $12 million he quotes with respect to other federal departments.

Senator Stratton: When you were talking of $985 million by March 2005, you are not sure of the additional cost from other departments that may be included. Have you included in these figures the cost of your amendments to Bill C-68 or Bill C-10A, in these numbers?

Mr. Webster: What the additional costs would be of Bill C-10 to those numbers? They are in the sense that this is fiscal year 2002-03. The costs began to decline in 2001-02 and they are declining again this year. They are also declining, as you can see, in the public Main Estimates numbers over the next two years.

Senator Stratton: My fundamental point is that you have additional costs here because you are going to have to hire a commissioner and have an office for that.

Mr. Webster: The costs I was referring to in those two outer years reflect the fact.

Senator Stratton: Those numbers are in here.

Having been involved with this from day one when Allan Rock, who was the minister responsible at that time, made a solemn promise to this chamber that the costs would be $85 million, less rebates, taking the cost down to $5 million. As you recall, he made that statement. Would you agree?

Mr. Webster: I was not there when that statement was made.

Senator Cools: We were.

Mr. Webster: I am not giving you direct knowledge but rather knowledge that I have that, in 1994 or 1995 when those statements were being made, that the $85 million at that time was essentially for the development of the technology around the system. It would not have included annual costs that you would always have to foresee into the future with respect to delivering a program.

Senator Stratton: That was supposed to be paid for out of licensing fees. He assured us it would cost no more than $5 million. We are now standing at $985 million. How can we sit around this table and accept that this is the final number for the cost of gun control? Surely to goodness, the government has no credibility whatsoever with the final cost that will be attributed to this legislation.

It is ludicrous to think that we are sitting at $985 million. Does that include the cost of every other potential financial stakeholder? Does that include the cost of provincial governments?

Mr. Webster: Yes, it does.

Senator Stratton: Does it include every provincial government across the country?

Mr. Webster: It includes those provincial governments with which we have agreements. In the provinces where we do not have agreements we deliver the program directly.

Senator Stratton: Those costs are in.

Mr. Webster: Correct.

Senator Stratton: Do you feel that the $985 million is the end?

Mr. Webster: Technically, it cannot be the end, because you have an annual operating cost for as long as the legislation is there in terms of how long you are delivering the program.

Senator Stratton: How much is that cost?

Mr. Webster: As you yourself pointed earlier in terms of how the costs are decreasing to $80 million in two years, for two years now and as we move into those two years, we will continue to reduce costs to a level that I cannot yet forecast. There will be an average annual cost of the program. It depends on whether Bill C-10 is approved and the regulations following are made.

Once that all occurs, we will be positioned to implement the actual processes and procedures that will be necessary to fully realize potential cost savings of Bill C-10. Until that time, I cannot tell you exactly on an annual basis yet what that actual cost will be.

Senator Stratton: Is there no one that can tell the Canadian public that this will not cost another $50 million or $100 million or $200 million?

Mr. Webster: I would only say the changes to the costs so far are largely the result of considerable consultation with Canadians in general, the gun community, the Coalition for Gun control, police organizations and many others. It was also the result of a substantial number of recommendations made by the House committee with respect to Bill C-68. As a result of those recommendations — a considerable number of them in fact having been accepted by the government — changes to how the program would actually be implemented were undertaken. Costs increased as a result.

I can only anticipate that as the Senate reviews this, as it goes back to the House, and as we gain more experience post-implementation, we will continue to try to ensure that costs continue to decline. I think I would be misleading to give the committee an actual number. I ask you to consider the fact that you are seeing estimates that show very substantial reductions in what the annual costs would be.

Senator Stratton: I look at it and say $985 million. The last year of your projection was $80 million for 2004-2005. That does not leave me with much confidence that costs will diminish substantially beyond that.

Mr. Webster: Your comfort should come from the fact that those numbers in reality are substantially reduced from what the annual operating costs were three years ago.

Senator Stratton: You will not win me over on this one because the costs are staggering.

Senator Sparrow: We are not taking into consideration cost recovery.

Senator Stratton: Yes, right.

Are you someone to ask about statistics with respect to how people die with respect to guns?

Mr. Webster: Again, I will just ask you to ask me the question.

Senator Stratton: I will leave that for the second round.

Senator Bryden: Can you briefly indicate, without having to go to the sections, what are the time-sensitive things that are in the bill?

Ms. Roussel: There are two. One is major and one is minor. With respect to the former, in Bill C-10 most business licence terms will be extended from the present one year to either three or five years depending on the type of business. There is a provision in Bill C-10 to load-level those business renewals over the three and five year periods. However, that ability only exists in the bill until January 1, 2003. That is a fairly minor one.

The more time-sensitive point is with respect to prohibited handguns that are held now by individuals who lawfully acquired them between February 14, 1995, when the Firearms Act was tabled, and December 1, 1998, when it came into effect.

There are provisions in Bill C-10 that will grandfather the handguns to those individuals. It is time sensitive because their present certificates, which were issued under the old law, expire at the end of the year. They need to reregister the handguns before that happens.

Senator Bryden: How many people are involved?

Ms. Roussel: There are roughly 21,000 of those handguns, 18,000 of them are in business inventories and the other 3,100 are with individuals. There would be fewer individuals because some of them have more than one of those handguns. There are roughly 3,000 individuals and a number of businesses.

Senator Bryden: How many for business?

Ms. Roussel: I do not know the number of businesses.

Senator Bryden: They would have more.

Ms. Roussel: They have 18,000 of those handguns with 3,100 in the hands of individuals.

Senator Bryden: You think an average of 10 per —

Ms. Roussel: No the majority of the people would only have one or two handguns. You are looking roughly at 2,500 to 3,000 people.

Senator Bryden: If we cannot get this through, what happens to those people? If we cannot get it passed before the deadline because there are some machinations have to go on besides those we go through. It has to go back to the House of Commons.

If someone has applied to register a gun, a long gun let us say, and they have not received their registration by the first of January, is there not a waiver that is in place that allows that since the person has applied, he or she would not be thrown in jail?

Ms. Roussel: I am a former defence lawyer and I can tell you that you would have an excellent defence to any charge. You are in possession of a firearm having made every effort to comply with the law. It would be very unusual for charges to even be laid in those circumstances.

There are amnesty powers in the Criminal Code that the government may or may not decide to use. It is too early to give you any information about whether that would be the case. We may be able to answer it at a later time during the committee's deliberations.

Senator Bryden: If those amnesty powers apply, could they be applied to this grandfather clause if necessary?

Ms. Roussel: There is an amnesty presently for those handguns. They do allow individuals to continue to possess them even though they do not, at law, have a right to be licensed and register them. The amnesty provisions cannot provide grandfathering rights. They do not exist in the act.

Senator Bryden: ``Grandfathering'' means I can pass them to my grandson?

Ms. Roussel: There is a clause like that. However, ``grandfathering'' means essentially that you have the right to possess something that is prohibited because you acquired it legally when it was not prohibited.

Senator Bryden: If the only holdout ends up being this bill ultimately, or the provisions dealing with that, get passed on March 15, 2003 instead of the December 15, 2002, an amnesty could cover the period of time until that occurred, if it is decided to use an amnesty?

Ms. Roussel: An amnesty could allow those individuals to keep possessing the firearms but will not give them the grandfathering. The way in which the grandfathering clause works in bill C-10 is that you have to continuously be the holder of registration certificate for one of these handguns from December 1, 1998 forward. If their certificates expire at the end of this year, they will never meet the Bill C-10 grandfathering provision because they would not continuously be the holder. That is the real crux of the December 31 issue is.

Senator Bryden: They would have to reapply to possess.

Ms. Roussel: We would either have to go back and amend the Firearms Act again, or they would have to somehow legally otherwise dispose of the firearms because they would not be eligible to keep them.

Senator Bryden: You referred to a survey that established the number of people that you do not have in your system. You have 600,000 who have not registered that are in your system. You know who they are because they already have licences. As a result of this survey, my calculation is that approximately 200,000 people have not undertaken any of those processes.

Is it also the case that when that survey was done, there was a high percentage of people who refused to answer?

Mr. Webster: As I said earlier, senator, the way these surveys actually work is that there may be several thousand phone calls made, the same as any survey. There could be several thousand phone calls made where people say they do not want to participate or contribute to a particular survey.

The numbers to which I refer are those people who actually participated in the actual survey itself. The methodology and the results of that survey have been confirmed by those outside of the organization that actually conducted the audit. They confirmed that the survey was credible and followed all of the guidelines you would normally follow in those situations.

Many people did refuse to answer, but that occurs in any survey. The results reflected those people who would participate.

Senator Bryden: I know something about surveys and people who either refuse to answer or say they do not know. If you have a 45 per cent undecided, you are in trouble.

Mr. Webster: I do not know that we had a 45 per cent.

Senator Bryden: I think it was 38 per cent.

Mr. Webster: I do not know that that is the case either.

Senator Bryden: I have a suspicion that of the 38 per cent who did not want to participate in the survey, there may be a significant number of those people who had neither acquisition certificates nor had taken the course. Added to your 200,000 that we know are outside the system, because of the survey, there may be more than 200,000 that are part of the group refusing to answer.

Mr. Webster: I would not argue with you in terms of methodologies. I am trying to settle the issue as much as I can by referring it to the group that did undertake it. We received the assurance that irrespective of the fact that people chose not to participate in the survey, the results that were provided were in fact within the usual percentage points. We have accepted the results of that survey based on that assurance. They were confirmed as credible results, and we have no reason to doubt those results.

Senator Bryden: Sometimes the registration is extremely efficient. When I registered my guns, I got registrations back twice sometimes on some guns.

Senator Stratton: You do not want to hear my story.

Senator Cools: I was following the exchange between Mr. Webster and Senator Stratton, and I assume that the witness would be very aware that the National Finance Committee has been raising the issue of the ballooning costs of this initiative. No one has answered us. Not once has the minister responded. Not once have we heard from the department. It is a ballooning cost in the face of a great silence from the department.

Whenever a government or anyone sets out to create a measure, it seems to me that outcomes should be measured at some time. Could you tell me if you would describe the administration of Bill C-68 as a success? Could you describe it as a measure that has attained its objectives and purposes as those objectives and purposes were told to us? Do you have an opinion on that?

Mr. Webster: To date, the reality is that the licensing segment of the program was completed January 1, 2001. We are still waiting for the completion of the registration part of the program. Until such time as we have the licensing and registration components working together — which was always the intent — and until we are able to continue to build the required relationship with policing organizations all across the country, and until we have had an opportunity to have some time pass after January 1, 2003, it is difficult to say what the final proven benefits will be.

We have heard from the police community, and you will be hearing from some representatives this evening as well. The chiefs of police reported that, when before the House of Commons committee, they saw the combination of licensing and registration as paramount and as an important tool in the undertaking of their police business. We have, since December 1, 1998, refused or revoked 7,000 licences. That is a fairly significant number because those licences were held by people who now do not lawfully carry or have lawful access to firearms.

Senator Cools: I do not think you quite understand what I mean by ``measure outcome and success of the initiative.'' We were told very clearly that the need for Bill C-68 — the objective of Bill C-68 — was to reduce crime and to protect women. These were the objectives at the time of the initiative. I would expect and hope that someone could give us a measure of the crime that has been reduced and the women who have been protected.

I am referring to a scientific way of measuring whether this $1 billion initiative is doing what it was supposed to. You are responding to me as though the objective of the whole thing was to licence and register guns for the sake of doing so. However, that was not the original objective. We were told that this initiative was needed — that millions of Canadians would have to be burdened with this load of licensing and registering — because of public safety, and particularly the safety of women. I remember 1995 very well. I am certain you remember as well. I never bought into that nonsense, so I want to know how much crime has been reduced.

Senator Sparrow: Cost benefit analysis.

Senator Cools: I also want to about the women who have been protected by this $1-billion bill.

Mr. Webster: As the fill has not come fully in to force, it would be difficult to give a complete assessment. I heard someone mention cost benefit analysis. It would be difficult to undertake that in a meaningful way.

You will be hearing from a witness later this evening, Ms. Wendy Cukier, President of the Coalition for Gun Control. We work closely not only with the coalition but also with the gun community. You can look at the 2000 census reports to see, to some degree, the numbers with respect to reduction of the use of firearms in the commission of robberies, domestic disputes, et cetera. Those numbers are there. The best answer would come from those who look at this on a daily basis. The coalition's interest is on that point that you raised.

Senator Cools: I have difficulty with that response. We are senators and government comes to us to ask for billions of dollars and we vote on appropriations. We are simply trying to find out what government is doing with the money. There is no association, however worthy, that could ever fulfill that role. I would submit to you, Mr. Webster that your perspective needs a little bit of amendment.

Mr. Webster: I would remind you that I am an official, and so I cannot really comment, from a government point of view, on whether the policy is working. That is for the government to decide. I can only provide you with the information that I have.

Senator Cools: I accept that.

Mr. Webster: I am trying to be forthright with you in saying that in my opinion, it is premature to make such an assessment, given the information that we have. I have referred you to another witness who may be able to provide some insight into that by virtue of the work that is undertaken by her organization. That should help.

Senator Cools: I was looking for the kinds of studies and analyses that your department might bring forward. I would hope that these decisions are made on a scientific basis and are not just pulled out of the air.

Mr. Webster: From a departmental — official — point of view, I would want to know that the legislation has come into force and that there is some evidence with respect to the effect of the coming into force before I would comment about whether the program is working and meeting the objectives.

Senator Cools: For example, in Bill C-10A, clause 15, to amend sections 17 and 18 of the Firearms Act, states:

Subject to sections 19 and 20, a prohibited firearm or restricted firearm, the holder of the registration certificate for which is an individual, may be possessed only at the dwelling-house of the individual, as recorded in the Canadian Firearms Registry, or at a place authorized by a chief firearms officer.

Therefore, that means that if a person wants to lend a firearm to another person, the firearm has to be kept at the dwelling of the lender as recorded at that address as recorded. I think it means that.

Ms. Roussel: Section 17 deals only with prohibited and restricted firearms and not ordinary long guns. The issue is that when someone has one of those firearms registered, they are to be kept at their residence, unless they are authorized to do otherwise by an authorization to transport or by the chief firearms officer. If they want to lend the firearm, they would get authority for that by the borrower obtaining an authorization to keep it at their own home.

Senator Cools: How does such a clause fight crime, especially if you are dealing with old collector guns and so on? Such a clause, to me, does not fight any crime in Toronto's inner city. That speaks to legitimate gun owners only. This proposed legislation and Bill C-68 are chock-a-block full of such clauses that do not fight crime but place an enormous burden on ordinary people.

Mr. Webster: Again, that may be a question for police witnesses who may be available. It is like anything else, you need to know what you are dealing with. If you do not have a sense of what is in the inventory or what kinds of guns you are dealing with in the country, it is difficult. People have said — rightly — that criminals do not register guns. For the police to undertake the kinds of investigations they do, they need to track guns, they need to know who owns them legally when they are found, for example at the scene of crime. The police need to understand who the legitimate gun- owner base in the country is.

If a gun has been stolen, the proposed legislation would allow police to undertake the necessary investigations in a way that they previously would not have been able to do. If police arrive at a scene — again, I am precluding what police representatives might say — police themselves will eventually rely substantially on databases with respect to possession of guns so that, when there is an incident and they are called to a particular location, they do have some sense of what potentially could be at that site.

It does not have to be a criminal activity specifically in front of you. It can start as an innocent activity, a regular Canadian applying for and getting a licence, then buying and possessing a gun that can quickly find its way into the hands of individuals that should not have it.

Senator Cools: I am informed that the administration of Bill C-68 has necessitated the issuance of about 30 to 50 Orders in Council. Is that correct? What were those Orders in Council used to authorize?

Mr. Webster: I do not know.

Ms. Roussel: Obviously, there are a number of regulations under the Firearms Act. There are also some regulations made under Part III of the Criminal Code. There have been amendments to some of the regulations, for example, public agents' firearms regulations. There have been deferrals of the coming into force of certain sections and each time, the regulation was amended. There are few Orders in Council per se, other than the actual amnesty. Most of the powers in both Part III in the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act are regulation making, as opposed to Order in Council without oversight.

Senator Cools: Chairman, I think it would be useful if we could find about the use of Orders in Council and what the Orders in Council have been used for. Perhaps we could have those put before the committee. That would be very interesting. Orders in Council are powerful instruments.

The Deputy Chairman: That is not related to the point that is before us.

Ms. Roussel: I am not objecting. Anything that is a regulation would be public, obviously. The only issue is the referral to 30 to 50. I am not clear on what that refers to. I am not sure what I am being asked to produce.

Certainly, we can produce any amendments that were made to Firearms Act regulations, the amnesty orders and the Criminal Code regulations. I am not certain whether that could be done before tomorrow morning, however, because some of the files are archived in terms of some of the non-substantive regulations.

Senator Cools: My understanding is that most of these Orders in Councils have been issued since March 1998. They should not be too far away.

Ms. Roussel: That would refer to Firearms Act regulations, which are accessible.

Senator Cools: I think the committee should look at them.

The Deputy Chairman: Are you finished, Senator Cools?

Senator Cools: Yes, but put me down for the second round.

Senator St. Germain: Thank you for appearing before us, Mr. Webster and Ms. Roussel. As Senator Bryden said, I have two licences on one gun. That does not make sense. Why is it that when I applied for a possession and acquisition licence, a PAL, I was never asked whether I owned a restricted gun or whether I was buying one? Yet, I received a letter from you in July stating — if I understand the letter correctly — that I either have to go out and buy a restricted gun to maintain a PAL. If I had a possession-only licence, a POL, I would have had to have some type of firearm.

The former minister Allan Rock — and Wendy Cukier as well — always said that this would be like a driver's licence. If I have a driver's licence, I do not have to drive just because I have a driver's licence. If I want a class ``A'' licence to drive a semi-trailer, I do not have to drive one to obtain that licence. Why is it that gun registration requires that you own a gun? Why can you not just apply for a licence? I applied. I was told that I have to have a licence because I do own guns. That is my first question.

As far as registering these guns, I called the centre and I was told that I had to wait 60 some minutes if I expected a response from this phone number at the bottom, here. As Senator Baker pointed out, this is ludicrous. This is out of control. You talk about government out of control and total craziness, I do not know what epitomizes it more than waiting 60 minutes to talk on the phone. You told Senator Baker that you feel comfortable with the number of people you have answering phones. I happen to have my licence. I received the PAL. For those who have not, however, they will all become criminals and this is out of control financially. I do not think you can disagree with that. Senator Stratton said $85 million was the figure we were given. I rode herd on this issue through the whole process. We are now at $985 million.

Do you know how many guns I have to register?

Mr. Webster: Right at this moment?

Senator St. Germain: Yes. Do you know how many guns I have to register?

Mr. Webster: No, I do not.

Senator St. Germain: That means you do not know how many guns or registrations will come in before the end of the year. You do not know how many my son has, either.

Mr. Webster: No. That is why we are doing the registration so we do know.

Senator St. Germain: So you do know. How will you be able to handle this?

Mr. Webster: I do not know right now, but I will know through the registration.

Senator St. Germain: You have told these people that you have some sort of financial projections in your mind. You do not even know what you are dealing with. How can you sit there and tell this Senate committee — or anyone — this whole thing? Wendy Cukier was, to me, a lobbyist for Allan Rock. Anything that you say that she will tell us could possibly be as distorted as some of us would like to distort it the other way.

The fact remains: How can you, in all integrity, tell us what these costs will be, based on that?

Mr. Webster: That would be helpful, so that I can remember what I have to say.

First, no, I cannot tell you how many guns you have. That is the purpose of the gun registration program. I will never be able to be able to say to anyone, for example, you have 10 guns and only chose to register five. I can never determine that, unless an event happens or something happens and it comes to people's knowledge that you have not registered all your guns.

The reality is, until the registration program is complete, we do not know. That is why the government went ahead with the Bill C-68 legislation. They were starting from a position of not knowing what was going on in the country. There were fairly horrific events that happened in this country that prompted the government to move on their legislation.

The legislation and the regulations that followed essentially follow that track. To come to your question of why one has to have a gun to have a licence? It is precisely for that reason. The situation needs to be understood. The government decided at that time that the situation needed to be understood much better than it was about where the guns were in this country. It decided that it would go through the system that you now have to work through as a gun owner. You have a licence because you have guns. It is different. It is absolutely different.

Senator St. Germain: We were told it would be the same as a driver's licence. Did they lie to us?

Mr. Webster: I cannot comment on that.

Senator St. Germain: You remember that, I am sure.

Mr. Webster: Again, in the time you were referring to, I was not part of the situation to know exactly what people were saying.

The point is that the full benefit of the registration and licensing system is only realized through the integration of those two major elements: To provide police with information and to understand better where the guns in Canada are. To comply with the spirit of Bill C-68, you need a license to have a gun and you need a gun to have a license. There would be no real point when you are dealing with things like firearms to issue firearms licences to people who do not have guns. That would not immediately assist the policing community to know that someone just has a licence without knowing whether in fact they have guns.

Senator St. Germain: What would be wrong with that? It is no different than a guy having a driver's licence and does not drive.

Mr. Webster: It is different in that a car is not a gun at the end of the day.

Senator St. Germain: No, it is more dangerous. It kills more people.

Mr. Webster: What does?

Senator St. Germain: Cars.

Mr. Webster: I will not get into debate with you on that. I am trying to answer your questions in line with the spirit of the legislation.

Senator St. Germain: I am from British Columbia, originally from St. Boniface. One of the worst murder scenes is in British Columbia right now. We have many of our young women in the east end of Vancouver. Some of us argued that the $900 million we are projecting by 2005 for gun registration is wasteful. None of these women were killed with guns.

I am thoroughly convinced that these women died simply because under-funded police forces are unable to maintain continuity on investigations. I was a police officer for five years of my life. I know what I am talking about. I think this is the biggest red herring. I do not expect you to comment on this, but you might if you want.

Mr. Webster: I do not think I want to do so.

Senator St. Germain: These things are directly attributable to the misappropriation of funds. I believe that this is the biggest boondoggle the country has ever seen.

I predict that your costs will be way over this because you do not realize how many guns there are out there. They will not hit until this month. Apparently even those that have been registered have to be re-reregistered, is that correct?

Mr. Webster: Guns that were registered in the old RWR as restricted weapons?

Senator St. Germain: No. This is a certificate for a rifle that I bought for hunting, and this is an RCMP centennial musket commemorative gun. Do they have to be re-registered?

Ms. Roussel: Re-registration only applies to restricted and prohibited firearms that were registered under the old law. It will not apply to anything that you have acquired since December 1, 1998. For the two certificates that you have, you do not need to re-register.

Senator St. Germain: I wish to go back to what Senator Baker said. He is right on the money. This man knows what he is talking about. If there is an articulate senator — and I hate to praise a Liberal — he is one of the best.

[Translation]

Senator Nolin: My questions concern section 97 and matters that relate to the exemption program. The Firearms Act, as it stands today, states that a provincial minister may grant exemptions. Subsection 1 of section 97 describes the scope of the minister's power regarding exemptions. Those of you who have the original Bill C-10 can refer back to section 52. I am referring to section 51 for others who hold the working copy of Bill C-10A.

In subsection 1, you are asking us to modify the scope of section 97 in order to grant a power of exemption to the Governor in Council for all classes of non-residents. In paragraph 2, you are asking us to grant this power to the federal Minister of Justice for all classes of non-residents.

Can you explain how you envision this exemption power to work if it is granted to the Governor in Council in some instances, to the Minister of Justice in other instances while applicable to non-residents in all cases?

Ms. Roussel: First of all, section 97 of the Firearms Act has previously been modified by Bill C-36 and what you have in front of you, has already been adopted by that bill. The provisions of Bill C-36 have been in force since last December. The Governor in Council and the Minister of Justice have yet to grant an exemption.

The original goal of Bill C-15, as it was first formulated, was to grant exemptions only when necessary, and more specifically in cases where it is impossible to conform to the provisions of the Firearms Act regarding imports by non- residents.

Certain peace U.S. peace officers, for instance, need to travel through Canada in order to get to their work place. There are two workplaces which they cannot go to without going through Canada: Point Roberts in British Columbia and Northwest Angle in Manitoba. It is for these cases that the exemptions had been proposed.

The minister could grant an exemption by order in council to a non-resident. For instance, if Canada was to host the Olympic Games and if a participating country wanted to take part in a competition with a prohibited firearm, it would be impossible to import it under the current provisions of the Firearms Act.

Such an order in council would also require the approval of the Governor in Council. Provisions for air marshals have been added to Bill C-36 but no exemption has been granted yet.

Senator Nolin: I want to bring to your attention two sentences with seemingly the same meaning but that are worded differently. Paragraph 1 of Section 97 reads:

— may exempt all classes of non-residents.

The second paragraph reads:

— any non-resident from any provision.

The difference lies in the use of the word `classes' and I would like to understand what is meant here.

Ms. Roussel: The number of air marshals for instance is several thousand employees. If we were to grant an exemption, we would do it by describing classes of air marshals of a given jurisdiction coming to Canada, rather than by naming 3,000 air marshals one by one.

The Minister can grant individual exemptions. Senator Nolin could be granted an exemption as ``Senator Nolin, non-resident'' for instance. It would be different than granting exemptions to ``all senators member of the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.''

Senator Nolin: That is the rationale for using the word ``classes''?

Ms. Roussel: Yes.

Senator Nolin: If we are referring to a group of individuals, it is a Governor-in-Council decree and are we referring to subsection 1?

Ms. Rousell: Yes.

Senator Nolin: And in the case of an individual?

Ms. Roussel: We would use paragraph 2.

Are you familiar with Section 117(l)(i) of the Firearms Act that concerns the power to regulate almost anything about fire arms. It contains a list of people involved with law enforcement including peace officers, custom agents, et cetera.

Would it not make sense to narrow further the scope of your proposed amendment of section 97? My objective is to limit the discretionary power granted to the Minister. Personally, I have a difficult time granting a discretionary power unless it clearly states the scope and the reasons for using it.

You gave us relevant examples in favor of giving the minister and the Governor in Council the right to grant exemptions. Should there not be also additional elements in the bill that limit the scope? I am thinking in particular about a time limit. The provincial minister can grant up to a one year exemption while the federal Minister does not have a time limit. Why not include the concept of a time limit?

Ms. Roussel: Actually, the federal minister may only grant an exemption for a year. If you refer back to the end of section 97(2), it stipulates a maximum of one year.

Senator Nolin: Why not do it for a larger class of non-resident?

Ms. Roussel: When we deal with a class, it has to be specified by order in council. When the idea of exemptions was explored — and I was present — it was really to solve the geographic issue with American peace officers. It is obvious that they will eventually get an exemption. If the Governor in Council may grant an exemption, then he may revoke it as well, if necessary.

Senator Nolin: What controls do you plan to implement to ensure that the beneficiaries of exemptions will use them according to the way they are intended to be used?

Ms. Roussel: We must ensure that those who are granted exemptions respect the conditions that apply. For example, if we get back to the case of air marshals, these people must have a certain interaction with Transport Canada. It would be possible to include, as part of the exemption, a requirements that they submit regularly a report to Transport Canada. In the case of U.S.peace officers, those reports could be submitted to the RCMP or to the police agency of the jurisdiction they are crossing. Subsection (5) allows such requirements. It is very important since a U.S. peace officer would not need to carry a firearm in Canada. The obvious requirement would be to have the firearm locked in the trunk of his car and not be accessible while in transit in Canada.

The vice-chairman: You are referring to air marshals, right.

Ms. Roussel: Yes, to ``air marshals.''

[English]

Senator Watt: Welcome, Mr. Webster. We finally meet in a more official capacity. I will try my best to focus on the practical matters that concern me, especially when we are facing a deadline for all the rifles to be registered.

If I recall correctly, you responded to one of the senators that one has to obtain a firearms acquisition permit before you register your rifle. I do understand that.

There have been a certain number of people — I cannot tell you exactly how many but I am in touch with them on a daily basis — in my community and adjacent communities in Nunavik, who have had problems. That is, law-abiding citizens have applied, not only once, but several times — in some cases three times — and paid several times. I was one of the people who took the course along with those people waiting for a permit, but I got my permit. They also passed. The forms were then sent to the registry office. In this case, it goes to the firearms officer in Quebec. It did help to use that route.

I did not want to wait around for a long period and be treated the same as other people, so I started to put pressure on our firearms officer. Immediately, I got a response. I have been trying to do the same thing for the other people. There is no response. In some cases, those applications, from what I was told, were lost. They do not know where they are. How will you know that those were legitimately lost and the people had applied?

The fact is that the applications are nowhere to be found. I know for a fact that some have gone through the process, but they are waiting for a response. The deadline is coming close.

How do you deal with that situation? They are trying to be law-abiding citizens and went through the process. The deadline is approaching and they have applied and have tried to pay, but they have had no response.

Let me raise another issue. It is hard for an Inuk person, especially the elderly, unilingual person who has no way of communicating or understanding other than their mother tongue. The firearms officer for Nunavuk was removed. They are in the process of hiring another person who will have to be trained. Only then will he be there to help people fill out the forms and answer questions, and so on. The fact is that the deadline is coming up. That is a problem.

Can you cover those areas for now? I will then have other questions after you give me the answers on these. It is a real problem.

Mr. Webster: With respect to your first issue in terms of lost applications, we have not been made aware of any situation where there actually are lost applications. For all MPs, senators or anyone else representing a constituency, we have asked that any specific instances where something has not occurred that should occur or where there is something may be lost, they communicate that to us, and we will act on it immediately. We need to be notified of those who say that they have applied but their applications have been lost.

Senator Watt: You have tried your best to accommodate those people.

Mr. Webster: In terms of the general explanation you are seeking, we have undertaken with respect to the Aboriginal adaptation regulations to create opportunities that provide support for Aboriginal communities with respect to issues such as language. It could be an isolation issue or the role that elders play in decision-making within their own Aboriginal communities. Those adaptation regulations were there initially to ensure that the special considerations that should be provided were provided.

That precipitated a substantial outreach program for all Aboriginal communities across the country that requested assistance because of language, isolation or cultural issues. We went into many communities, beginning with the licensing campaign and continuing through the registration campaign, to ensure that every opportunity was provided to Aboriginal Canadians in those locations to comply with the law.

We have been working with Metis organizations across the country and with the Assembly of First Nations. We have also been working with the groups that the honourable senator represents in an effort to try to reflect those concerns and reflect those interests wherever possible.

We have always had, and continue to have, the law as it stands by which we must work. We have attempted to reach some level of understanding to assist in every way possible in the licensing and registration in Aboriginal communities under agreements that respected the overall import of the law, to which you were referring earlier when you say it was good to meet again.

As bureaucrats and officials simply implementing the legislation, we are not in a position to vary away from the law, except to provide whatever services we could to any Canadian — in this case particularly with Aboriginal Canadians. We are presently, and have for some time been, working with AFN to look at how we might hire Aboriginal individuals from within communities that would be much better able to work in concert with Aboriginal Canadians who are trying to comply with the law.

While it certainly is far from perfect, and there are issues that are yet to be resolved, there have been significant efforts made on both sides to come to some better arrangement to ensure everyone's interests are protected.

Senator Watt: Mr. Webster, every time I come to Ottawa when I talk to a person who represents the authorities like you, for example, I hear this loud and clear. In practice, where is it? Have you actually seen with your own eyes, evidence that they are up there in place to assist the people? I certainly have not seen it.

Mr. Webster: You are talking about Nunavut in particular?

Senator Watt: What is happening is token. Every time I come to Ottawa and I talk to the people who have responsibility with regard to the firearm issues, they say exactly the same thing: ``It is all taken care of, everything is in place.'' That is not the case. I mentioned earlier what has happened in Iqaluit. The firearms officer there was removed. Mr. Webster, you cannot paint the picture that all is fine and dandy up there.

Mr. Webster: I did not say everything was perfect. I said it was not perfect, in fact.

Senator Watt: This business about adaptation programs and negotiating with your department for the firearm officers, as far as I am concerned, is not getting anywhere. I thought we were starting to make some headway but a year ago the legal negotiations broke down.

Mr. Webster: There were good reasons why the negotiations broke down because of the issues I mentioned earlier.

Senator Watt: You might see these as good reasons. However, in my eyes ``the practical realities of the north'' is not a good reason.

Mr. Webster: I do not think we need to disagree on this point.

Senator Watt: Why not, this is a disagreement.

Mr. Webster: I do not disagree with you that everything is not perfect. I did say that the laws are very clear. We attempted to, and continue to attempt to, work with Aboriginal communities by using the provisions of the adaptation regulation when that is what the Aboriginal community wants to do, so that there are opportunities to comply with the law in the way the law is stated. It is not possible, unfortunately, for us to move outside the law to do things that the law will not allow us to do.

We were trying to, and continue to try to, work out arrangement with Aboriginal communities that at least provide them with services that improve the accessibility by Aboriginal Canadians to this system. Under the law, that is presently all that we can do until the law changes.

The specifics of where we differ on that relate, obviously, to the matters of the licensing and cost of licensing. The law is clear right now with respect to the requirements for all Canadians. We have been reasonably successful with respect to where communities have wanted to work with us, as has yours. Within the legislation, we were able to work out arrangements that were satisfactory, perhaps not to all. Obviously you are an example where that was not possible. However, in some communities, we were able to work out arrangements that allowed the Aboriginal people in those communities to feel confident that they were complying with the full letter of the law.

Senator Watt: What happens if they cannot? I understand perfectly well that you have the responsibility to uphold the law. However, do you have any solutions to the problem that confront us with now? The deadline is coming up. If your answer is that the law is the law and, therefore, everyone will become a criminal, I will take that.

Mr. Webster: That is not what I was saying.

Senator Watt: I would have no business talking to you in that case. What are you saying?

Mr. Webster: I was saying that the law is quite clear with respect to the obligations of people who own guns, with respect to licensing and registration. We can work with Aboriginal communities by virtue of the outreach programs and the Aboriginal adaptations that allow us to work with those Aboriginal communities in very different ways from what we would be doing in downtown Toronto.

Senator Watt: Downtown Toronto is very different from the North.

Mr. Webster: That is precisely the point I am making. Through the avenues that were available to officials, through the legislation we have made every effort to engage ourselves with Aboriginal communities with positive results. However, when we get to that point where we start having to think outside the law, as public officials, there is a limit to how far we can go, unfortunately.

Other senators have raised this issue previously. This is what Bill C-68 says. For better or for worse, as officials, we have to implement the law. We were using Aboriginal adaptations —

Senator Watt: There is no such thing as ``Aboriginal adaptations

Mr. Webster: — using the outreach program.

Senator Watt: It does not exist.

Mr. Webster: I cannot argue with that. From our perspective, whenever there has been an interest expressed, we have gone in within the law to try to do what could be done in the interests of the Aboriginal community. I cannot get off that track because that is what we have done.

Senator Watt: I understand you clearly. You are saying that, ``I am sorry, but I have a job to do but the law is the law, and the law remains the law.'' I understand that.

Mr. Webster: I think that might be a little unfair.

Senator Watt: Mr. Webster, my point is that I represent people who are at the point now where they will become criminals because of the process — the permits and the registrations do not seem to be kicking in. Many people would like to be law-abiding citizens, but unfortunately they will become criminals through no fault of their own. That is the issue.

On top of that, we are penalizing people in the North. For example, you talked about the numbers of people that have already complied with the law. There are a certain number of people who have been rejected. They were rejected because they have a criminal record, but those people have families to feed. What assistance will the system provide to those people who will be totally outlawed for the rest of their lives, including their families? People are going hungry. Those are the problems I am faced with.

How can I get my message across to you people? One size does not fit all. When this bill was introduced, in early 1995, I immediately went to Allan Rock and said: ``The best thing to do for us is to work on this together. We know you are trying to develop a safety mechanism. Let's come up with a two-tiered system.'' His reply was this: ``I understand you very clearly. It is doable, but it is not on the plate.'' In other words, it is not on the agenda.

Senator Adams and I represent these people. This is your job.

Senator Cools: A lot of people would like to forget how they voted on that bill.

Senator Watt: You talked about jobs. In the indirect amendment that is being made to Bill C-68, through Bill C- 10A, we have heard about how non-residents are exempt in order for them to do their jobs; is that not what you said?

Ms. Roussel: I said ``in some cases.''

Senator Watt: Yes. What do you consider hunting to be? What to you consider bringing bread and butter to their families to be? What do you call that? Is that a job or is that just a sport? What is it? What do you consider that? People out there are hunting; is that not a job? They have no other way of making an income. You can easily go to the corner store to buy groceries. Our money is our rifle. We go into the country, to bring bread and butter to our families, to feed our families. That is the difference here. That difference is not being recognized.

You are denying our right to life, which is under the Constitution.

Ms. Roussel: I wish to point out that certainly I agree with the importance of sustenance hunting. However, sustenance hunting is recognized in terms of fee waivers for sustenance hunters who apply for a licence and registration.

Senator Joyal: I should like to make a comment on the points raised by Senator Watt. This will be of interest to Senator Adams as well.

In regard to the condition in which Aboriginal people exercise their rights to fishing and hunting, the Supreme Court in many instances has recognized that that is an ancestral right. We have accepted amendments around this table. The last time it was with respect to the Young Offenders Act, whereby we argued that the special social conditions, the historical conditions in which the Aboriginal people have lived in Canada, deserve recognition in the Criminal Code, at least at sentence. The Supreme Court accepted that in a case that I am sure our witnesses know well.

When we adopt legislation that questions those fundamental constitutional rights — I say constitutional because now they have been recognized by the Supreme Court — we must ask ourselves about the impact of that legislation on Aboriginal people.

I do not wish to put words in the mouth of Senator Watt in regard to an interpretation of the act. I am not in a position today to sustain a conclusion on this. However, there is no question in my mind that this must be viewed in that context.

If I understand the document that Senator Watt has tabled today, there is litigation before the courts that questions that very aspect of the issue of firearms in relation to Aboriginal people. That is the first point I wish to make.

Second, and I say this with the greatest respect for our witnesses, I am always intrigued when a representative from Justice Canada appears before us and says: ``This bill is technical. Don't worry too much; we are just changing little things here and there.''

That argument was put forward in the Senate chamber when Bill C-10 was introduced. The bill was supposed to contain only technical amendments, increasing the penalty here or there. When we start to look into the provisions of the bill, we come to different conclusions.

I understand that what is technical for one might be complex for another. I agree with that. However, in looking at this bill, we see the establishment of the position of commissioner of firearms, exercising all the powers of the minister, more or less. That to me is not a technicality. There are implications when a minister responsible to Parliament delegates the exercise of his prerogative or responsibility according to the legislation to a public servant. This bothers me. It is not a good argument to get a bill passed quickly.

Mr. Webster, I say that with the greatest respect for you and your complex job.

This is my question: The bill deals with the complexity of the Firearms Act and the Criminal Code. I will read the Royal Recommendation of the original bill, which is the scope within which we may amend the legislation, according to our usual procedure:

Her Excellency the Governor General recommends to the House of Commons the appropriation of public revenue under the circumstances, in the manner and for the purposes set out in a measure entitled, ``An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms Act.''

If we were asked to consider an amendment of the nature that Senator Baker discussed — which is essentially an extension of the registration period for a certain, limited amount of time. Section 117 of the act is dealt with in clause 54 of the bill. Since this is referred to in Criminal Code, at first reading, I am of the opinion, contrary to what our witness has said, that we would be within our responsibility under the bill — under the Royal Recommendation — since we are not adding financial responsibility to the purse. However, we would not be doing that by extending the implementation of some clauses of the bill for a later period than the one that was originally contemplated and legislated in Bill C-68.

The overall thrust of this bill, according to the witness, is that we are essentially grandfathering. What are we doing? We are recognizing, ``droits acquis'' — acquired rights. With this bill, we are extending the D-day of the period. We are doing something under the importance of the impact of the grandfathering clause. We could decide to add an amendment to the bill that would recognize the problem described by Senator Baker. Senator Baker has said that there are Canadians of good faith who have tried repeatedly to register their firearms but because of the high volume of demand have been unable to get the proper processing of their requests. Senator Baker's comments are certainly not beyond the intention of this bill — to grandfather.

Senator Cools: Or beyond the scope of the bill.

Senator Joyal: Again, I do not claim to be completely right, but also I am not completely wrong. The Royal Recommendation is the mandate that we have. Money bills are a sensitive issue. We would certainly not be increasing the responsibility of the treasury over an amendment that would add responsibility to the Department of Justice in respect of firearms.

The Deputy Chairman: Did you say that it would not?

Senator Joyal: It is not, in my opinion. I am not introducing an amendment, or paving the way for an amendment. However, we must consider the problem raised by Senator Baker, other problems raised by Senator Bryden and the problem raised by Senator Watt, in terms of the special circumstances of Aboriginal people. I am not sure that we are disenfranchised in addressing that issue on the basis of time because that is what we are talking about.

[Translation]

Senator Nolin: If we push this reasoning further, then we will need to let the House of Commons know that we had to make by with what they provided us with. If they agree with what we did, will the Royal Recommendation in the original Bill be the same? To go along with your argument the answer must be yes. Should it not be a second Royal Recommendation?

In another words, these are the reasons that Bill C-10A exists but it will be a new Bill C-10A that will feature a new Royal Recommendation.

Senator Joyal: Technically, yes.

Senator Nolin: And by amending it in Bill C-10A, we address your issues while introducing the amendment that addresses the issues of Senators Baker and Watt.

[English]

Senator Nolin: A new Royal Recommendation with a new Bill C-10A, approved in the House of Commons, would solve that preoccupation raised by Senator Joyal.

The Deputy Chairman: Not necessarily.

Senator Joyal: I wish to remind honourable senators that the issue of the Royal Recommendation can always be settled by a minister of the Crown standing up in the chamber and tabling the recommendation.

Senator Nolin: They will have to do that.

Senator Joyal: Do you remember the famous Bill C-20?

Senator Nolin: Which Parliament?

Senator Joyal: It dealt with the Department of Justice.

Senator Nolin: We agree...

Senator Joyal: My only contention today is that this Royal Recommendation, in my opinion, allows us to introduce an amendment that would extend the implementation of the objective of the Firearms Act for a limited period of time, according to —

The Deputy Chairman: I cannot agree more on this.

Senator Joyal: Our witness said no to that previous question. It is fair to have that discussion with the representatives of the department.

The Deputy Chairman: Thank you for raising the point. There is no doubt in my mind that we may extend the time period. I have no doubt about that because a Royal Recommendation is something that is very general. We are told that we cannot spend more than is designated in the Commons bill, but that is not true. We may spend more. The only qualification is that the Constitution states that it must originate in the House of Commons. I agree with you, Senator Nolin.

Senator Nolin: It is not a privilege but it is a right under the Constitution.

The Deputy Chairman: Yes, but it is a lex parliamenti. It is different. We may say that we have the right in the Senate to deal with the monetary question. However, it must be authorized and it must originate in the House of Commons. I agree with you, Senator Nolin.

Senator Joyal: Perhaps our witness, Ms. Roussel, in particular, would like to comment on this.

Ms. Roussel: I am obviously not here to offer the Senate legal advice. It is not a question I have researched. Certainly, the Senate can make recommendations to the House. If you like, I can certainly tell you what section would require amendment to achieve that.

Senator Cools: Wonderful, tell me.

Ms. Roussel: Subsection 98(3) of the Criminal Code.

Senator Joyal: We have here tonight a representative of the Department of Justice. The first point I raised in respect of Aboriginals and their Constitutional rights related to hunting and fishing and their need for arms. As you say to some people, ``You can fish but you cannot use a rod.''

This is an important issue. It is part of the debate about the ancestral rights of the Aboriginal people. That is the way it looks to me at first sight. As much as I am sympathetic to the effort that Mr. Webster described to us, that they tried within the act to do their utmost to meet the needs of the Aboriginal people, I would humbly submit that they are in a special category of firearms owners in Canada.

The Deputy Chairman: There is no doubt, because of section 35.

Senator Joyal: Absolutely.

Ms. Roussel: There is also a non-derogation clause in the Firearms Act.

The Deputy Chairman: That is an interesting point. Is there a clause like that?

Ms. Roussel: Yes.

Senator St. Germain: Does it not say anything in the Constitution?

The Deputy Chairman: It must.

Senator Joyal: It should be read into the record.

Senator Watt: Section 2(3), under Aboriginal and treaty rights states, 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.

The Deputy Chairman: That is clear-cut.

Senator Watt: I do not want to take jump into someone else's time, but, if I may, I would like to ask this question: Is the Government of Canada acting illegally in applying this gun law to the Aboriginal people?

Senator Nolin: State exactly the document from which you are reading, to ensure that the record reflects it.

Ms. Roussel: It is in section 2.

Senator Watt: This is part of the Constitution, paragraph 2.

The Deputy Chairman: It is not in the Constitution.

Senator Watt: It is in Bill C-68.

The Deputy Chairman: Bill C-68 is not the Constitution.

Senator Maheu: No, but it refers to it.

Senator Nolin: There is one Constitution.

Senator Cools: Let the record show that he is reading from the Firearms Act.

Senator Watt: This is part of Bill C-68.

Senator Joyal: We have representative from the Minister of Justice, who has the responsibility to implement this act. Perhaps Ms. Roussel could give us the exact location and where in our statute that exists.

Ms. Roussel: It is at subsection (3) of section 2 of the Firearms Act.

If I may make a further point, while I think that certainly Senators Watt and Joyal make points that are worthy of debate, one of the issues on which we would be limited here is that they are before the courts at this time. There are three lawsuits in the Federal Court dealing particularly with whether this Act does apply to Aboriginal peoples. Certainly, as representatives of the department, I do not think that we can debate the issue.

Senator Maheu: You cannot comment.

Senator Cools: No, they can comment here.

The Deputy Chairman: We do not consider in the Senate or in a committee of the Senate that, because the case is before the court, we cannot deal with it. We may deal with it.

Senator Cools: That is right.

The Deputy Chairman: In constitutional law, it is clear-cut.

Senator Joyal: On a point of order, with the utmost respect I have for our witnesses, there are three famous cases in the court dealing with marriage that did not prevent the Minister of Justice from tabling a white paper on marriage and asking the House of Commons to study that issue.

Senator Cools: That is right.

Senator Joyal: You might not be in a position to take a stand on this, but that is the case.

The Deputy Chairman: That confirms what I said.

Ms. Roussel: I am not saying that. The members of the committee can certainly examine the issue, but as an official of the department I certainly cannot provide a position.

The Deputy Chairman: You have a good point. Thank you for that. However, coming from this Senate committee, it is completely legal.

Senator Andreychuk: I cannot refrain any further. Having sat through all of those debates and having in fact voted against Bill C-68 on the Aboriginal issue and not having receiving my colleagues' support on that, I would encourage all of you to go back and read what we did at that time. Committee members raised it, and Senator Watt was there, so he will know, that section 35 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms had not been complied with in Bill C-68 and the government had unilaterally determined that the Firearms Act could be applied to Aboriginals, in spite of section 35. The Aboriginal groups who appeared before us indicated that they had not been consulted.

We had quite an informal debate concerning how one interprets section 35. Is it the prerogative of the Crown to determine whether section 35 applies in this instance — in other words, the registration? The government said that, having done its own assessments, they came to the conclusion that registering firearms was not an infringement on the rights of the Aboriginals. We disagreed with that in the committee, to a certain extent. I did and I know some other members did.

We then went one step further. Given that, we asked them, do you not have a duty to consult? We had some case law and some experts come and say that when the government is assessing Aboriginal rights it should consult with the Aboriginals. Some officials told us that they had consulted with the Aboriginals. We discovered that the kind of consultation that took place was a generic letter, something to this effect: ``We will be making further amendments to gun control. Can you give us your advice?'' That was hardly specific enough for the Aboriginal community to reply. In fact, one person said, ``I do not reply to those because I never know what I am replying to and how it will be used against me.''

It was at that point that Minister Rock indicated that, perhaps, the consultations were not adequate but that he could overcome that impediment — and he agreed that it was an impediment — by consulting during the regulations and that he could satisfy the needs. We asked: How can you hunt and fish and have inherent rights for that if you cannot sufficiently use the firearms that you have traditionally used to maintain a traditional way of hunting and fishing? We were told that officials would be instructed to negotiate and consult with Aboriginals at regulation time, to take into account and satisfy their needs. Perhaps it was not the best method, but Minister Rock said that that was the best he could do at that point.

On that basis, he went ahead with it and the majority bought it. I did not. I thought it was not the way to deal with section 35 and Aboriginal rights. What is being proven to me, now, is that there was not consultation in the regulations process, because they keep breaking down when the Aboriginals have a different point of view than the government. The government cannot satisfy the aspects of how the Aboriginals see their inherent rights through regulations. What was happening in Bill C-68 and what we signalled would be a problem in dealing with the Aboriginal community and their rights has come to pass.

How do we perfect it now? I do not think it is a question of regulation and extension of time. It has been a fundamental flaw in Bill C-68 from day one. I do not know how many people share that view, but I felt so strongly that it overpowered my need to have gun control legislation. I thought Aboriginal rights were more important.

I would encourage senators who were not there at the time to read the minutes of those committee meetings and to read some of the speeches that were made in the Senate.

Senator Joyal: I am not saying that we can solve the constitutional issue of the Aboriginal people of Canada in reference to their ancestral right to own traditional fishing and hunting equipment. I am certainly not saying that, through extending the time for three months. That is not my point.

I wanted first to make a comment on the basis of what Senator Watt raised in relation to the implementation of the Firearms Act within the context of the objective of the Act.

My second point is in relation to the point raised by Senators Bryden and Baker in relation to Canadians who have in good faith tried to register and for the technical reasons that because one can only do so much in 24 hours, and not more, the department faces a backlog. I am not imputing motives on the part of the department that it is not doing its job right. We are faced with a situation that seems to be real, that is recognized as much by senators as by our witnesses, that people will be breaking the law by the simple fact that they will not have the paper in their hands by January 1.

I understand the points raised by Ms. Roussel. There is no intention in the fact that the law will be broken. The mere fact that an individual does not have the paper by January 1 is the problem. People are placed in the position of having to defend themselves. This is serious. This is a criminal offence.

We understand that there is a practical problem here that is not only caused by the ill will or bad intention of the government, nor by the citizens. We are placing an additional onus on the citizens by imposing a date. I believe it is our job as legislators to be realistic. We want the laws to be observed. We do not want people to break the law. I do not want to say that I know that a certain number of Canadians will be in breach of the law by January 1 but that that does not matter. That would be the worst thing we could do in that context.

I am grateful to our witnesses for agreeing to have this type of discussion today. This is a serious issue. It is serious not only in terms of what this is, but also in terms of the data bank.

I have looked into the relevant section of the Firearms Act. I hold the form that outlines the information that ordinary Canadians must provide to get the permit. We are asked to provide information about how we live with our spouse or our common law partner, private information. There is a big databank there. Bills C-36 and C-16, the old Bill C-55, ask us to create a mega databank. That databank will connect with other databanks, and eventually the government will know how many times we have a dispute with our spouse.

These are right-to-privacy issues. I we cannot solve all of these problems this evening, or in 24 hours, because we are under a time frame. However, Canadians want to live in a free and open democratic society.

I return to my first point, that we were told that this is a technical bill. I am sorry, but it depends on you point of view, if you view these matters as technical.

These matters are part of the reflections that our witnesses have brought to us. In terms of people's rights, when we are asked to solve the problem of those who will be grandfathered, we cannot ignore the condition under which other groups, under the same legislation, find themselves.

Senator St. Germain: Does your organization have the physical capability to provide what Senators Baker and Watt related to us as a problem? Do you have the physical capabilities, if everything were ideal, could you get it done, or is it an impossibility to deal with these things before the deadline?

Mr. Webster: The deadline to register, as it stands right now is midnight, December 31. Technically speaking, one minute after midnight, if a person's registration has not been completed, that individual will be operating outside the law.

I did not say this earlier, but the government is currently looking at options to process those applications made before midnight on December 31, for those applications to be processed.

Senator Adams: Senator Watt, the chairman and I tried to do our best on behalf of Aboriginals with respect to lobbying Minister Rock regarding the proposed provisions of Bill C-68. We reminded him that we do not live in cities such as Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver, but that, in fact, we represent and know the hunters in our communities. When Mr. Rock appeared as a witness before our committee on Bill C-68, we asked him whether he recognized that Aboriginal people live off the land. He told us, and it is on the record, that we are all Canadians — we are all the same.

Following Bill C-68, hunters in our communities were required to register their weapons with the RCMP. However, because of the number of rifles in our communities, the task became too much for the RCMP and that process died. The RCMP told the Department of Justice that they were overworked and that they did not have the time to ask people to come forward and register their guns.

After passage of Bill C-68, Minister Rock appointed 14 people whose job it was to try to straighten out the problems associated with the registration of firearms in Aboriginal Communities. He told us that they would simplify the registration process. He followed the progress of those 14 people for two years. None of the problems was resolved.

We requested that the Department of Justice translate the registration documents so that they could be read and understood by the people in our communities. Those translated documents were to be sent to every post office in the North. The Minister of Justice agreed to do that, but it never happened.

The people in the communities tried to do their best. The RCMP decided that the elders could sign the registration forms but, even with help from the members of the communities, the RCMP decided that they did not have the capacity to take responsibility for that job.

Then the Department of Justice decided to appoint a firearms officer in Ottawa who opened up a head office in Edmonton. He chose not to move to Iqaluit — perhaps it was too cold there — so the head office in Edmonton services Nunavut.

As Senator Watt mentioned earlier, that firearm officer was charged with an offence. I wrote letters to try to find out what this man had been charged with by the RCMP. I do know that he was fired even before the charges went to court.

Senator Watt: He was fired even before the charges against him were proved.

Senator Adams: Many people in our communities do not speak English, but they were given a telephone number that they could call to apply to register their firearms. They were told that the registration had to take place in Regina, Saskatchewan. Obviously, Inuit cannot go to Regina to register their weapons.

I wrote letters asking when that Inuk would be replaced. He was fired last May, and I just heard that an Inuk from Rankin Inlet was hired at the beginning of this month. We have been waiting for the appointment of an Inuk firearms registration officer for seven months.

As Senator Watt said, the firearms registration officer started off at the head office in Edmonton, and then the office was moved to New Brunswick. As a result, many registration forms were lost, so people from the North had to reapply. That is why we are concerned about the deadline.

I understand that the court case will start around December 18.

Senator Watt: It was filed yesterday.

Senator Adams: I understand that that about 70 per cent of the 30,000 Nunavimmiut registered their guns in Nunavut. It takes about six months for the licences to be sent out to the people in the communities.

A couple of years ago, Minister Anne McLellan hired 200 students across Canada, some of them in Nunavut and from Nunavik, to assist with the registration of firearms, but the system has never worked well.

That is what is happening with respect to the passage of Bill C-68. We tried to do our best to help the people.

Now the government wants us to pass Bill C-10A, the provisions of which will come into effect on December 31. It will be almost impossible for all of the people to apply and to get their registration certificates by that date. It will take six months, and we have less than four weeks.

We may have to find someone local to help with firearms registration instruction. Almost everyone in our communities understands how guns work. They know all of the models and so on. However, they do not like those kinds of jobs, because they do not want to tell their own people how to handle a gun.

Senator Baker: It is embarrassing.

Senator Adams: Yes. You have to find someone, a firearms officer from outside of the community, to instruct the people in the community. That is the difficulty we ran into with Bill C-68.

Senator Baker: Briefly, first, I found myself agreeing with the legal representative with the minister's office, Ms. Roussel, as far as the established method, as outlined in Beauchesne's or Erskine May or in any of the authorities, on the fact that you cannot go outside of the scope. I understand what she is talking about. You cannot negative something; you cannot introduce new information. I perfectly understand that.

We must be careful when we criticize her. I have a great deal of respect for her knowledge in law after she told me that one of the authors that she had to read over and over in law school was none other than Senator Beaudoin.

Ms. Roussel: I finally have a face to go with the book, so I am happy.

Senator Baker: First, was the survey you have been quoting, referring to the 2.2 million gun owners, done in 2001?

Mr. Webster: That was November 2001.

Senator Baker: Was there one in 2002?

Mr. Webster: No.

Senator Baker: You have a portion of a survey there that was done in 2001.

Mr. Webster: The survey referring to the number of gun owners was 2001.

Senator Baker: You did not do one in 2002.

Mr. Webster: We surveyed number of guns in 2002.

Senator Baker: Did the estimated number of guns change?

Mr. Webster: No. The two surveys were different. We got a number of guns in the 2002 survey.

Senator Baker: Did the number of guns increase from the survey done in 2001?

Mr. Webster: In 2001, we surveyed how may people own guns.

Senator Baker: The survey on the number of guns was done this year?

Mr. Webster: That is correct.

Senator Baker: Not in 2001? It was done in the later part of this summer.

Mr. Webster: As I said, the survey on the number of guns was done this year. The survey on the number of gun owners was done last year.

Senator Baker: Please correct me if I am wrong, as I am not sure of this. A gun owner had to have a licence as of January 1, 2001. All gun owners who had guns in their homes and did not have a licence must now do a course that lasts a day or two in order to get a permit to be issued a licence. They get a temporary permit. Do you understand what I am talking about?

Mr. Webster: If you are talking about now, that is not the case.

Senator Baker: I am sorry, but in Newfoundland it is the case. Are we different from the rest of Canada?

Mr. Webster: No, you are not.

Some Hon. Senators: Yes, you are.

Mr. Webster: I could try to clarify.

Senator Baker: As a matter of interest, two weeks ago I took the course, for the heck of it. It lasted two days, Saturday and Sunday. I was issued a white permit, good for 60 days. It is a temporary permit, the same as everyone else is being issued. I spoke to a lot of people there, who complained that they cannot register their guns via the Internet. They cannot get through to the telephone number either.

Your survey shows that the guns not registered are predominantly rural in Quebec, Atlantic Canada and Western Canada. Rural Canadians make up the most of these people. It is not people from Ottawa, Montreal or Toronto.

If there were an amnesty, or if an amendment were put in to stretch the period for three or six months, would this cover the people who did not get their licence on January 1, 2001? If the deadline were stretched for the registration of guns, would these people be off the hook?

Mr. Webster: I would go back one step, to when we were speaking about our ability to process those people who will register by the end of this year. Given the statements that we made earlier about the options under consideration, those people will clearly be covered.

Senator Nolin: In Bill C-10, clauses 54 and 55 deal with the authority to do new regulations. The old Bill C-15 was in the House of Commons for almost a year and a half. I am sure you already have started working on the text of those new regulations. Could we have those?

Ms. Roussel: There is very little text. We have provided drafting instructions to the regulatory drafters. I do not know what the practice is with respect to parliamentary committees.

Senator Nolin: We are allowed to have everything you have.

Ms. Roussel: I can certainly produce it.

Senator Nolin: Please.

Ms. Roussel: It is on my computer.

I should point out that it is a working document; it is not complete.

Senator Nolin: You are asking us for the authority to make those regulations. As such, we are entitled to ask you what you have in mind in the regulations.

Ms. Roussel: Certainly. I just want you to keep mind when you get them that it is a working document, and not necessarily final.

Senator Andreychuk: If I understood your answer to Senator Baker, if you get any one of those options that the minister is considering then perhaps some people will be able to comply. However, you are not at liberty to tell us these options. The only way we will be able to find out is to ask the minister.

Have you received any indication of when these options will be chosen? We are almost at December 1? When is the minister likely to choose an option?

Ms. Roussel: We will be in a position to give more information to this committee tomorrow.

Senator Andreychuk: You said that you were supposed to be culturally sensitive to the Aboriginal situation in your attempt at interpreting the regulations and during the implementation of Bill C-68 as it then was. Were you ever given instructions to consult with the Aboriginal community on the entire bill, to see how you could be least intrusive into Aboriginal rights?

Mr. Webster: I personally did not receive those kinds of instructions. If you are thinking back to when those instructions may have been given, I was not there so I would not have been able to receive them.

Senator Andreychuk: Was anything passed on to you?

Mr. Webster: Nothing was passed on to me, but that does not mean that it did not happen.

Senator Nolin: When were you appointed?

Mr. Webster: July 3, 2001.

Senator St. Germain: Senator Baker was issued a white permit. We are dealing with a Criminal Code offence. You are the head of the firearms registry, sir. You are not aware of these permits being issued.

I think that it should be on the record that you are not aware of this happening. You said earlier, sir, that this was not the method. These temporary permits are being issued. I believe that something is wrong, to the extent that people could be acting on these in good faith and be subject to the Criminal Code.

Mr. Webster: Are we talking about a registration permit?

Senator Baker: What does an individual get on completion of the course?

Mr. Webster: A certificate is issued for completing the course.

Senator Baker: An individual is issued a temporary permit. Then, in 60 or 90 days, a permit arrives in the mail. We are talking about a licence.

Mr. Webster: With respect, I think that we are talking about two different things. We are talking about the training program versus the registration program.

Senator Baker: An individual has to have completed the safety program to get a licence.

Mr. Webster: The certificate that an individual gets on completing the course is not an automatic registration. It is still necessary to register.

Senator Baker: You need it in order to get a licence.

Mr. Webster: That is correct.

Senator Baker: That is our point.

Mr. Webster: I hear that point.

The Deputy Chairman: Excuse me, but I have end this meeting. Ms. Roussel, Mr. Webster, thank you very much for your patience.

We will not adjourn entirely. We will continue with the second panel.

Ms. Roussel: Do you need Mr. Webster and I to come back before tomorrow morning?

The Deputy Chairman: No, because we must put an end to this at some point.

Ms. Roussel: We appreciate that.

The Deputy Chairman: There are some limits.

Ms. Wendy Cukier, President, Coalition for Gun Control: Dave Griffin from the Canadian Police Association has a plane to catch, so I will defer to him.

Mr. David Griffin, Executive Officer, Canadian Police Association: The Canadian Police Association represents 28,000 front-line police personnel from across Canada. We have members of the RCMP, the railway police, and members of the First Nations police as well.

Over the past six years, the Canadian Police Association has supported the federal government's gun control program. This support has been subject to several re-evaluations, most recently at our National Assembly held in March of 2001. At that assembly our delegates voted once again to support the registration of all firearms.

The licensing of firearms owners and the registering or firearms are important methods of reducing the misuse of, and illegal trade in, firearms. By rigorously screening and licensing firearms owners we reduce the risk for those who pose a threat to themselves or others. There is evidence that the system has been effective in preventing people who should not have guns from getting them. Effective screening is essential to continued success and while we support improvements to make screening more efficient, public safety must remain a priority. The licensing of firearms owners also discourages casual gun ownership. Owning a firearm is a big responsibility and licensing is a reasonable requirement. While we do not penalize responsible firearm owners, licensing and registration encourages people to get rid of unwanted, unused and unnecessary firearms. Indeed, in December 2000, many police agencies across Canada received tens of thousands of turned in firearms from people who chose to surrender them as opposed to seeking a licence for them.

Registration increases the accountability of firearms owners by linking the firearm to the owner. This encourages owners to abide by safe storage laws and compels them to report firearm thefts where storage may have been a contributing factor. Safe storage of firearms reduces firearms on the black market from break-ins, reduces unauthorized use of firearms, reduces ``heat of the moment'' use of firearms, and reduces accidents, particularly accidents that involve children. Registration provides law enforcement with valuable information that helps in the enforcement of firearm prohibition orders and supports police investigations. The registry is accessed thousands of times each day by police from across the country. We have seen a number of concrete examples of police investigations that have been aided by access to the information contained in the registry.

While police will never rely entirely on information contained in the registry, it is helpful to know if guns are likely to be present when approaching a volatile situation, for example, in responding to a domestic violence call. The officer, in assessing threat and risk, will weigh this information carefully.

Registration facilitates proof of possession of stolen and smuggled firearms, and therefore, aids in prosecutions. In the past, it was difficult to prove possession of illegal rifles and shotguns. Registration provides better information to assist in investigation of thefts and other firearms occurrences. Recovered firearms can be tracked to the registered owner using firearms registration information. Registration is critical to enforcing licensing and without it there is nothing to prevent a licensed gun owner from selling an unregistered weapon to an unlicensed individual.

Illegal guns begin as legal guns. Registration helps to prevent the transition from legal to illegal ownership, and assists in identifying where the transition to illegal ownership began. We have been encouraged by the steps proposed by Canadian Firearms Centre leadership, and adopted by the Minister of Justice to streamline the licensing and registration process in order to achieve greater compliance by law-abiding Canadians. To date approximately, 80 per cent of firearms owners have obtained licences and more than two-thirds have registered their firearms.

Ease of application, simplified forms, electronic processing capacity, quicker processing, and greater cost- effectiveness utilizing current and evolving technologies are part of the proposals contained in Bill C-10. Further, compliance with the legislative time frames established in Bill C-68, measures to accommodate reasonable concessions to law-abiding gun owners, for example the grand fathering of prohibited handguns; and most important, focusing attention and resources on ensuring continuous ineligibility for those individuals who present a risk to public safety, are also proposals contained within Bill C-10. We are generally supportive of these proposals.

In order to achieve the stated public safety objectives of the legislation in a manner that ensures a high level of compliance, the Canadian Police Association has advocated that the consequences of simple non-compliance with the administrative requirements of the program, such as failing to notify the centre of a change of address, should be treated in a remedial regulatory manner and not be normally subject to criminal sanctions and/or licence revocation.

We believe that registration fees should be waived to facilitate optimum compliance in the most efficient, cost- effective manner possible.

We also have submitted that the Government of Canada must place greater emphasis on strengthening the security of, and enforcement at, our nations' borders to significantly reduce the illegal entry of firearms and other contraband into Canada. Last year, our association passed a resolution prior to September 11, reiterating our concern that the safety of our citizens remains a priority in discussions of border controls. While we understand the importance of the movement of goods and people to support economic objectives, it is also critical that Canada remain vigilant regarding the threat posed by guns smuggled across the borders to the safety of Canadians. Canada has done a good job of bringing its gun laws into line with other industrialized countries. However, we are vulnerable to weapons imported from countries such as the United States because of their lack of effective gun control.

The Government of Canada and its provincial and territorial counterparts must adopt a tougher stance in addressing the sentencing of persons convicted of any crimes involving firearms, including a zero tolerance adherence to the mandatory minimum sentencing provisions of existing legislation and the expansion of the application and terms of the mandatory minimum provisions.

The Government of Canada should continue to dedicate resources to coordinated enforcement efforts.

National Weapons Enforcement Support Team, NWEST, has been beneficial to Canada's gun control program. The objectives of NWEST are to strengthen Canadian law enforcement's capacity to address the smuggling and trafficking of illegal weapons; strengthen Canada's expertise in criminal intelligence gathering with respect to the illegal movement of firearms; and to strengthen Canada's capability to trace illegal weapons.

As many of you know, Canada is now a source country for drugs in the United States. A 1999 study by Criminal Intelligence Service Canada revealed that, firearms are increasingly being traded for drugs in the U.S. Then they are smuggled into Canada for resale. Saturday night specials are brought into Canada illegally and often find their way into the hands of street criminals. Assault rifles and fully automatic shotguns are smuggled into Canada for sale to militia groups, organized crime groups and outlaw motorcycle gangs.

NWEST plays a crucial part in assisting police in enforcing the Firearms Act. Their role has been to increase public safety with respect to firearms. Just a few months ago, NWEST members assisted police in Western Canada in executing a public safety warrant when an individual made threats to a school principal and to several local business employees. The individual lived directly across from the school, and there was concern that he would follow through with his threats. A search warrant allowed police to find a number of shotguns and rifles that were unsafely stored in a closet in the individual's home. All the firearms were seized and NWEST members assisted police in having the individual prohibited from owning firearms and the guns disposed of.

Also in Western Canada, NWEST supported the police when an individual involved in divorce proceedings threatened to kill those involved in the proceedings. NWEST supported the police investigation and determined that the suspect had recently received a firearms licence and had three handguns registered to him. The investigation led to an arrest and the seizure of the guns.

In Atlantic Canada NWEST assisted police when two firearms were seized during an investigation of possible child abuse. The suspect was licensed and had a registered firearm. Two firearm charges were laid and a firearms prohibition is being sought.

In another incident, police in Atlantic Canada found a rifle in the wall of a residence. They suspect that the weapon was used in an unsolved homicide in 1987; NWEST is assisting in the examination of that firearm.

I also have a case with me from Winnipeg that was recently reported in the media. There was a seizure of a prohibited firearm in Winnipeg and a check of the registry confirmed that the gun was registered to a Winnipeg area gun collector. Search warrants were subsequently executed and it was discovered that, although the collector had a number of legally registered guns, he also had a number of firearms that were prohibited and restricted. Two machine guns are missing, and the police are concerned that they have fallen into the wrong hands. The Winnipeg Sun article says that one of the missing weapons is an Israeli-made Uzi 9 mm that was made popular in Arnold Schwartzneger's 1984 blockbuster The Terminator. The other machine gun is a compact American-made Ingram 9 mm. Police are going through the close to 400 weapons in the collection. That process will take several weeks. So far, they have discovered five unregistered handguns, and they are also checking for the weapons that are outright illegal. They are worried that the collector has lost track of several more weapons and that they may have fallen into the hands of criminals. While conducting an unrelated investigation, police came across a sub-machine gun that was also registered to this individual, and when they raided his residence, they seized close to 400 weapons including rocket launchers, bazookas and seven live grenades.

Senator Cools: The Firearms Act will not help that situation.

Mr. Griffin: It helped in that case. These are just a few examples of the support that Canada's firearms program is providing to Canada's police services. In conclusion, we do not consider the Canadian Firearms Program to be a panacea that will address all of the needs of law enforcement. We do, however, consider the licensing and registration of firearms to be a valuable tool to front-line police officers and, therefore, we support, in principle, the amendments contained in Bill C-10.

Ms. Wendy Cukier, President, Coalition for Gun Control: For the record, my paid employment is as a professor at Ryerson University. I am a volunteer with the Coalition for Gun Control, which is an alliance of 350 organizations, including the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the Canadian Public Health Association and a wide range of community groups.

The nature of the discussion has gone in such a direction that I would like to take a couple of moments to emphasize one or two points before I speak to our specific issues with respect to this legislation. It is important to remember that this particular bill is aimed at making amendments that are designed to accommodate gun owners. They are designed to accommodate the gun owners who have handguns that were prohibited; they are designed to extend the licensing renewal period; and they are designed to streamline and make more efficient the process of owning a gun. From the perspective of the Coalition for Gun Control and from the point of view of public safety, the only measures contained in this proposed legislation that really push the envelope, are those aimed at bringing Canada in line with its international obligations of import and export control, which will allow Canada to ratify the OAS Agreement and the UN firearms protocol.

It is important to understand that this bill is actually not directed at satisfying anything that we have asked for; it is intended to make things easier for gun owners in this country.

When we started in 1989, rifle and shotgun deaths from suicides, homicides and accidents averaged roughly 1,400 people annually. At that time the public health community was instrumental developing legislation concerning the screening process. Tomorrow, I will provide the clerk with a copy of a letter that 18 physicians and leading various health organizations have sent to the Minister of Justice. Among these authors is the Executive Director of the Canadian Public Health Association and Dr. Richard Schabas, former Chief Medical Officer of Health in Ontario, who asked the provincial government not to cut back on the water screening processes. In the letter, they say:

While many seem to have forgotten the key objectives of the law, we, as health professionals, cannot accept a compromise to the health and safety of the public. We know there has been pressure to bear to streamline to cut costs in the program, but surely the recent experience in Walkerton, Ontario, has taught us some lessons about what may occur when we lose sight of public health and safety objectives. It is true, one cannot easily measure prevention, but we can certainly measure the effects of ignoring it.

I want to remind the committee that the costs of gun violence in this country are estimated at $6.6 billion. The investment in strengthening gun control in Canada, from our perspective, has certainly been worthwhile. The pre-1991 system cost $30 million per year. At that time, we did not know who owned guns; only one-third of gun owners had FACs; and the rate of gun violence was considerably higher than it is today.

The start-up costs were much higher than was expected. However, the annual cost of the $60 million to $80 million a year must be put in that context. We must compare the figures to other preventive programs.

The Province of Quebec spent $125 million last year inoculating people against meningitis, because 67 people became ill. The Government of Canada will invest $400 million in widening a stretch of road in New Brunswick where approximately 50 people were killed over five years. Over the same period, almost 5,000 Canadians were killed with guns. The discussions about costs need to be put into that context.

Since we were before the committee last, the Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the constitutionality of the law and the link between licensing and registration. The United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Commission came forth with a resolution saying that countries that have not done so should licence gun owners and register guns. More recently, the UN Human Rights Commission said that countries that fail to protect their citizens from gun violence with effective legislation might be in violation of their responsibilities under international human rights and humanitarian law. Those are just a few things that have happened since I have been here.

While I agree with Mr. Webster that the impact of the law cannot really be assessed until it has been implemented, I have included at the end of our brief some of the recent data on gun-related deaths and violence in this country. That data shows clearly that approximately 300 fewer gun related deaths occur each year than when we began our coalition. Our documents also show that the rate of murders with long guns, those most often used within the context of domestic violence, has declined by two-thirds.

We have said publicly that we are prepared to accept and support the amendments contained in Bill C-10. However, make no mistake about it: These amendments are not designed for us.

We have three particular concerns to which I wish to draw the attention of honourable senators. We have concerns about the notion that people may be able to apply for licences and licence renewals on the Internet. The screening process was designed to be rigorous and is intended to have the signature of references on the forms; that cannot be done on the Internet. We have no objection to forms being downloaded from the Internet. We have no objection to registration or authorizations to transfer being done on the Internet, but one needs to be careful about changes that might have unintended consequences.

We suggested that we recognize that almost 2 million gun owners were licensed in a one-year period, even though the financial and implementation plans had those people being licensed over a three-year period. There was opposition from the provinces, the constitutional challenge, and so it was delayed. As a result, 2 million people had to be licensed between January 2000 and the end of this year. That drove up the costs, and it has also created this bulge when they will then have to renew those licences in five years. We are not thrilled with the solution that suggests that people may go for up to nine years without renewal. We have suggested that the department think about ways that it can smooth the bulge, using other incentives like reduced licensing fees.

The third factor may be a matter for the lawyers, but we have some concerns about proposed section 65(3) and the wording contained therein. We understand and we have never objected to the grandfathering of the prohibited handguns. It is important to remember that there are four kinds of prohibited weapons in Canada: Fully automatic weapons, which were prohibited in 1977; convertible semi-automatic weapons, which were, in 1991; military assault weapons that were prohibited Order in Council, in 1993; and additional military assault weapons prohibited by Allan Rock in 1995.

The proposed amendment suggests:

An authorization to transport a prohibited weapon, except for an automatic firearm or a restricted firearm for use in target practice or a target shooting competition

We suggest that the intention is not to relax the controls on military assault weapons. I do not think anyone believes that we should relax the controls on military assault weapons and allow people to target shoot with them except under the exceptional circumstances that were allowed in the initial legislation.

We think that the wording should be clarified to say:

An authorization to transport a restricted firearm or a prohibited handgun referred to in subsection 12(6.1)

Is more appropriate. The way it is currently worded will allow the transport of non-fully automatic military assault weapons for target practice, which was never intended in the original law.

Mr. Steve Torino, President, User Group on Firearms: Honourable senators, thank you for inviting the minister's user group on firearms to present their point of view on Bill C-10 and to answer any questions that you may have.

The Minister of Justice established the user group in December 1995, after Bill C-68 received Royal Assent. The members are representatives of the firearms community and the regular administrators of the legislation. The group is composed of hunters, target shooters, collectors, range operators, businesses, safety instructors, wildlife representatives, outfitters and law enforcement officials.

As consultative advisers to the Minister of Justice, the user group is mandated to provide independent, non- governmental advice to the Minister of Justice and immediate and practical feedback on the development and implementation of the Firearms Act.

The necessity of this type of ministerial advisory body has been advocated in earlier parliamentary committee reports relating to the development and implementation of further changes to our firearm laws and its regulations. Any changes in the system are only likely to be effective if they enjoy the respect and cooperation of responsible firearms owners, users and administrators.

The user group fully supports the proposed changes affecting the firearm legislation portion of this bill. Several of the changes in this bill relate to our recommendations, all of which I understand have gone public.

The major issues that were covered by Mr. Webster and Mr. Griffin include the problems of immediate confiscation attached to the handgun issue of proposed subsection 12(6) and sections 67 to 71, the streamlining of the firearm licensing and transfer process.

Some persons believe that this bill is a concession to firearms owners. Others believe that correcting inequalities, cost cutting and improved efficiency are the main benefits. While it is believed that it is a gateway opening to find an equitable position within a heightened culture of safety, the amendments in this bill are an excellent start in addressing all major issues that have been of concern for many years.

We continue to encourage the government to sustain this initiative by making further positive changes to this legislation for the benefit of everyone affected.

Some major issues of concern were raised with the House Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs and were explained at that time. Addressing such concerns is essential to maximize compliance with the legislation. I have listed four points here: The fear of confiscation associated with registration stemming from the reclassification of specific firearms from 1992 to 1995 under Bill C-17 and Bill C-68, and the fear of similar actions with registered or re-registered firearms sometime in the future.

Second, potential escalating future costs and the balancing of public safety with program costs. Budgetary restructuring should allocate more operating funds to areas of public safety such as licensing, continuous eligibility, et cetera, and reallocate funds from redundant overlapping administrative procedures and combine deferred transfer fees and low cost initiatives to have a significant effect on the underground market.

Third, the necessity of reliable and ongoing communications about Bill C-10, and others reaching all firearm owners is a necessity to counter outdated and conflicting information from various sources. The penalty for ignorance is a possible criminal offence.

Fourth, the recognition of the safe and legal possession of firearms as a legitimate activity is at the foundation of everything related to firearm legislation and must emanate from the powers that regulate this activity.

There are other issues of importance that require urgent attention, an example of which is the regulator amendments package indispensable to the functioning of this bill. If there are other delays in passing this bill, regulatory amendments, further legislative improvements and cost savings cannot occur. There is a strong probability of a great number of firearms being unregistered and unable to be registered in 2003, since there is presently no legal means for their owners, licensed or otherwise, to register them at that time or dispose of them to licensed owners. This situation will transpire in some five weeks and requires urgent attention.

Turning to the subject of budgetary reorganization, current financial restraint does not hinder program efficiency and safety concerns associated with items such as licence application verification and transfer fees. This will help to minimize the present grey and black markets. The end of the year will see the expiration of more than 900,000 registration certificates issued to individuals under the former act. Many owners are still unaware of, or do not understand these consequences. No certificate issued under the former act shows an expiry date. Legal ownership is supported in the owner's mind by a non-expired C-306 certificate, thereby leading to this confusion.

There are many other areas of the firearms program that should be examined and addressed in future legislative and regulatory amendments, a list of which is currently with the Department of Justice.

We strongly encourage the government to continue in the direction of improving the legislation by making further necessary changes that have been recommended.

Senator St. Germain: Mr. Griffin, as you know, there is a shortage of funds in the policing community. Ms. Cukier said that this program would cost a few million dollars and we are now close to spending $1 billion.

In British Columbia we have Clifford Robert Olson and a situation on the downtown eastside. I do not want to jeopardize any cases, but it has been said that if there is one woman, there are possibly 150 buried on that farm. I do not know how many women have been murdered from the downtown eastside. That happened because police officers were not able to maintain continuity on the investigation because of lack of adequate funding.

When we put forth our arguments we said that the registration might have some value, but it will cost $1 billion and we felt that the money would be better spent on the street. Today, we have lost all of these women. As far as I know, not one of those women was shot with a gun. Yet you come here, sir, and say that two-thirds of the guns have been registered. How do you know that?

Mr. Webster does not know how many guns there are yet here you are making an emphatic statement defending this huge expenditure to the taxpayers. You have given us figures that run from $80 million to possibly $985 million, and, yet, you do not know how many guns there are to be registered. The total could well exceed $1 billion. How do you rationalize that? How do you justify that figure of two-thirds? You stated that 85 per cent of the people have registered for licences. Do you know that? Two-thirds have registered their guns; I have not registered mine.

Mr. Griffin: Senator, I anticipated some of your questions, so I have some notes that I made in preparation. The figure of two-thirds is taken from the centre's Web site. They report on a bi-weekly or monthly basis the number of registrations coming in; the number of surveys that Mr. Webster spoke to; the number of licensed firearms owners and the surveys that were done there.

To try to get a context of the $80 million figure, with due respect, I do not see any linkage with the Vancouver case. The Vancouver Police Department does not receive funding from the federal government for police services.

Senator St. Germain: The RCMP covers Port Coquitlam, sir.

Mr. Griffin: It is a leap for us to suggest that if we did not have the firearms program, the government would have given the police additional funding.

Senator St. Germain: They should have.

Mr. Griffin: From our perspective, I tried to get some context of what $80 million means to a federal program. The Canada Customs and Revenue Agency has a budget of $3.3 billion. Out of that, they spend $230 million a year to maintain their information technology system across Canada. On top of that, any new IT projects are layered on top of that money. An official in that department estimated that amount. This figure sounds like a significant amount of money, but on a federal comparison, it is not inconsistent with the cost of administering other federal programs.

The steady state supposition says that once all the implementation has occurred and people are in the system, the firearms program will cost less annually than the current costs.

Would police officers like to see changes? We appear before the committee on a fairly regular basis talking about the things we would like to see. Over the last 20 years, we have seen tremendous changes in our laws and court decisions that have changed the way police officers have to conduct investigations. We accept those changes living in a free and democratic society. What we have never seen is an evaluation of the impact of those changes on the investigations that those police officers conduct.

When we see changes that require police officers to spend six months preparing an affidavit to obtain a wiretap order when that used to be done overnight, we do not see additional funding to fund those things. Funding is a concern of the police community. However, when I hear the statistics that 300 less people are dead per year, you will have to weigh all of that information.

My main point is that, on a national scale, $80 million to $100 million is not inconsistent with the cost of other federal government programs.

Senator St. Germain: Why should we believe you when you say that maintaining the program will cost considerably less in the future? How you can make that statement in the face of the fact the figure for the program started at $50 million, ended up at $80 million and is now at $1 billion. One would have to live in a world that does not relate to business or anything else to make statements like that and stick your neck out like you have.

I was a cop for five years. I worked on the 100-block East Hastings. I know what policing is all about. I am not saying I was the greatest, but I was there. At least I experienced it. I know what I am talking about. I do not wish to jeopardize this case at all, but I know some of the details and part of the problem related to our national police force being impacted by budgetary concerns.

We are out there harassing grandmothers with .22 rifles in Humboldt, Saskatchewan. That is what scares me.

We listened to Ms. Cukier in her presentation and she was quite aggressive and forthright. She was not a shrinking violet when she was before us. Everything that was told to us in regard to finances was totally false. I do not believe that they were misrepresenting the situation, but the information has proven to be false.

It concerns me when you make these emphatic statements. I believe that the public has a right to know the truth. As it stands, in many regions of this country, the public is scandalized.

My other point relates to our Aboriginal peoples. We told Ms. Cukier that it is easier to get a license if a person is a university professor, or a cop in Vancouver. Those people do not live off the land. Many Aboriginal people subsist with guns, and they will be castigated into the realm of criminals just to maintain subsistence.

Senator Cools: I wish to raise a small point of order that is not particularly profound or detailed. I believe the witnesses are labouring under a misunderstanding that Parliament or senators want to be stingy or overly frugal with money.

The issue is that Parliament has been misled in the estimates and projections as to what the cost would be of the firearms legislation. If we had been asked for $1 billion, then that is the amount that we would have voted on. It is not that Parliament does not want to spend money on good causes. The concern being raised by Senator Stratton and myself is that it is very important that when a minister brings an initiative before Parliament and gives an estimate of the cost, that number be accurate and reasonable.

Senator Robichaud: That has nothing to do with the witnesses.

Senator Cools: It does. They are responding to what was being said all along.

Senator St. Germain: They are justifying the costs.

Senator Cools: With due respect, the previous witnesses were asked many questions about the estimates that were before us a few days ago, and they spent a fair amount of time answering those questions. They are now responding to some of that in terms of costs.

The point is we do not mind. If Allan Rock had asked for $1 billion, people may have voted to give him $1 billion. Maybe. However, he asked for $60 million, and then the figure went to $80 million. When that bill passed in both chambers, the majority of the people believed that the cost was going to be in the vicinity of $85 million. That is the issue that members have been trying to clarify. It is not that they are stingy.

Senator St. Germain: There are just so many dollars to go around.

Mr. Griffin: I wish to comment on the business decision. Following extensive consultation with both the police and gun communities, this bill was brought forward 18 months or so ago. We were involved in consultations with respect to the checks and balances that would be contained in the bill, and the issue of costs was discussed at that time.

If the CEO of a private corporation went to his board of directors 18 months ago and suggested that money could be saved by making certain changes, those changes would have been made 18 months ago. The fact is that they are running a hybrid system where they are incurring double costs for many of these items. Therefore, passing this bill is actually a step in the right direction to address the cost concerns.

With respect to the Aboriginal communities, we do have a vice-president that represents First Nations police officers in Canada. I certainly do not profess to speak for the Aboriginal people that are affected by this legislation. There were consultations not only with the First Nations police chiefs and the First Nations police associations, but also representatives from First Nations communities prior to the licensing deadline of January 1, 2001. I cannot report on how successful the consultations were, but I know the then-director of the Canadian Firearms Centre tried to address some of the concerns at that time.

The police we were involved, because we had enforcement concerns relating to the January 1, deadline. We had to deal people who no longer had licences.

Senator Joyal: Mr. Griffin you mentioned that two-thirds of the firearms have been registered. I understand you were in the room when honourable senators heard from the representative from the Department of Justice Senator Bryden and Senator Baker discussed the problems that we face in some regions of this country. The Aboriginal people have described their practical problems, and Senator Adams has been precise in explaining the difficulty that the Aboriginal peoples have faced.

What do you suggest needs to be done to meet the situation? You are a police officer. By January 1, 2003 the firearms law will be in place. You will be faced with the reality that many people will not have the registration and will be in violation of the Criminal Code.

Senator Baker went for training and received the documentation attesting to that fact. The problem is that even though he received the document there is a good chance that that he will be breaching the law before he receives the registration.

What do you suggest we need to do today? As Ms. Cukier mentioned, we are trying to make the law credible.

Mr. Griffin: Honourable senator, that is a good question. We learned some valuable lessons during the license deadline of January 1, 2001. At that time we tried to be consistent with people who in good faith had tried to follow the system. There were gun owners who had applied for their license on December 1, who were investigated and found without documentation to prove that they had indeed, applied for the license. We tried to accommodate those individuals and as I recall, temporary permits were issued.

Honourable senators ask the officials for the specific details. However, there was information given to the police concerning the obligations, the temporary mechanisms, and the choices the officers had in terms of discretion.

Officers had the authority to seize the firearm if the proper documentation was not present. The gun owner then had the opportunity to present the proof of application and their temporary permit.

From our perspective, in 2001 the licensing aspect was more regimented and more focused on certain public safety issues than the registering of firearms to those licensed firearms owners today.

We expect, that same type of logic to be applied to this situation. We will have a process of verification that will assist us in ascertaining whether an individual has applied for the license or not.

Senator Joyal: How would you react to the suggestion that the deadline be extended by three months — especially to deal with the people who are operating in good faith? There are people who have already started the process but because of an administrative backlog, they are in breach of the law. Would it not be safer to assure those people a way such that they know that they are setting the record straight according to the law? They will not have to worry that a police officer may let them go because they are good citizens or have a nice look. However, if you happen to be someone with a different look, you may be in trouble. We cannot ignore the context of the country and the world at this time.

Mr. Griffin: I do not profess to be an expert in human behaviour, but one risk with an extension is that we simply delay the same problem. If you were to provide me with an extension to file my income tax for 90 days, I would probably still be filing it one day before the day the tax return has to be filed.

Senator Cools: That is a new problem.

Senator Joyal: That is not what I am saying. I agree that if you say to some taxpayers, ``You will get up to the end of July to file your return,'' They will wait until July 30.

This is not the same. These people have already started the process. They are already in the mill. They have demonstrated good faith — that they are law abiding. It is not because of a bad decision as we have heard from our witnesses earlier this evening.

It is due to the ``Christmas syndrome,'' as I call it. There is a period of time where everyone wants to meet the same day and the same time. There are a lot of people, and we cannot serve everyone. The description that you have heard in this room of people trying to get the line, and so on, is real. It is it not something that we have created for the purpose of this bill.

Mr. Griffin: We anticipated a much larger concern at the licensing phase than the registration phase. Through the temporary measures that were introduced by the firearms centre at the time of the licensing deadline — January 1, 2001 — that was accomplished with little problem. It did not require legislative change. They were able to do that, as I recall, through either the regulatory powers or an Order in Council.

I am not sure exactly of the technical aspects, however, from what I heard from Mr. Webster and in other discussions, the willingness is there — recognizing there will always be that ``bubble'' at the end of the process — to enable people to do this in a law-abiding fashion and not be penalized as a result of an administrative problem. The police do not want to deal with that either.

Senator Joyal: Exactly. It is a question of the best use of the police forces available.

This afternoon Ms. Roussel said that if we want to extend the deadline for 90 days, we would have to address subsection 98(3) of the Criminal Code. I understand that if there would have been an administrative way of doing it through simple regulations — for example, it would be within the discretion of the Governor in Council. That would be easier to do than amend the legislation. We know what it means to amend the legislation.

However, our witness this afternoon told us that if we were to amend the legislation, we would have to amend subsection 98(3). She is on the record as having said that. I am not inventing that answer.

I am trying to pay credit to your comment about the licensing aspect. We are now faced with a registration deadline that very soon. The process is supposed to be completed shortly. You still have time for the licensing, but there is a registration ``D-day'' in subsection 98(3) of the Criminal Code. We are talking about a final deadline, not a deadline along the way. I tried to reconcile that with what you suggested.

Mr. Griffin: I do not profess to have the knowledge in the law. As I understood an amendment would effectively be an extension of the deadline.

Senator Joyal: Yes, the last deadline.

Mr. Griffin: It would not be some kind of amnesty or temporary discretionary action to allow people to get their applications in perhaps slightly afterwards without changing the law.

To be honest, when I was listening to that discussion, I was trying to envision whether an amendment of that nature in the Senate would actually be able to be passed through both the Senate and the House of Commons before the end of the year.

Senator Joyal: Yes, it would be easy.

The Deputy Chairman: We never know, Senator Joyal.

Mr. Griffin: Would we solve one problem and create another problem for the gun owners who are hoping to be legal?

Senator Joyal: This bill cannot be adopted now according to the decision that the Senate took last week to split the bill. By definition, it will have to go back to the House of Commons. It is not as if we would be making an amendment to a bill that remains Bill C-10 the way it is. It must go back to the House of Commons. The process is there as such.

That amendment would maintain the objective of the bill. In my opinion, it would address the people who are already in the process. It would prevent the kind of ludicrous situations that could arise for both police officers and for people who are involved in the process.

Senator Watt: Are you a police officer?

Mr. Griffin: No, I should clarify. I am a former police officer. I now work for the police service.

Senator Watt: Mr. Joyal spoke about the law-abiding citizens who are trying their best to obey the law. They have applied and they are still waiting. In some cases they feel that their application has been lost. It is important for me to get some advice from you as a former police officer.

I know that ignorance of the law is not an excuse. I learned that a long time ago. However, we do have people who are totally ignorant of laws. Although they are ignorant of laws, they are still trying their best to abide by the law and respect the law. People are falling through the cracks. One such group is the elderly, perhaps because the system is not there for them. How do you deal with those people if they were to become criminals despite the fact that they are trying their best to obey the law?

As Senator Adams mentioned earlier, the firearms officer who was available to assist these people has been removed. They are in the process of hiring a new person. The person who is hired will have to be trained. Meanwhile, the fact is that the deadline is coming closer and closer. How do we deal with that?

Mr. Griffin: I must be honest, senator, there is a difficulty in making that link. If individuals have already obtained a licence, then they would know what their obligations are to register. Unless their address has changed, they would have received several packages of information from the firearms centre. If they have not licensed their firearm as of January 1, 2001, then, technically, they are already breaking the law if they possess a firearm.

Senator Watt: Yes, they are. However, those documents are supposed to be made available in a way that the people can understand in order that they have all the necessary information. They are not translated. I am talking about people who are unilingual and who only speak Inuktitut, for example. Should we forget about them?

Mr. Griffin: No. I do not think I am the best person to speak to this issue. However, I know from my colleague who represents First Nations officers and who has dealt with their concerns within their communities, and from our consultations with the firearms centre that there have been different programs, as Mr. Webster said, that fall into this category. It would be ignorant of me to think that those programs have reached out to every person.

However, I believe there is a legitimate interest there to try to facilitate compliance in every situation and not jump to the conclusion that just because someone does not have the licence that that it is either an act of civil disobedience or that they have intentionally broken the law.

Police officers, as we have said, have a lot on their plate. They are not looking to prosecute people for that type of offence, if in fact they are satisfied that there is a communication problem or some other problem in those instances. There must be more done to ensure that every Canadian who has a firearm knows about that law.

Senator Watt: Are you aware that in some remote communities, hunting the only meaningful job that most people have that allows them to put bread and butter on their tables for their families? Those people have no other way of making ends meet. Do you not think that we should try to find some solution, by way of addressing that issue? It is critical. We are affecting not only the elderly people and those who are eligible to have a gun and a licence, but we are affecting the families and the children. How will they be fed?

Senator St. Germain: We brought this up five years ago.

Mr. Griffin: In order to purchase ammunition they require a licence.

Senator Watt: They do not even sell ammunition anymore. We are already affecting the lives of people. Merchants refuse to carry ammunition because they are afraid they will be charged. In many cases, people in the communities have no ammunition. We are slowly going back to the traditional ways with spears and so on because that is the only way we can feed our people.

Senator Joyal: That is cruelty to animals.

Senator Watt: If you look at Bill C-10, we would be ``double criminals'' because we would be breaking the law relating to cruelty to animals. Where will it end?

My right to my way of life is being attacked under the Constitution. Our people in the North are very different. You cannot look at making laws from Ottawa, Toronto or Vancouver and expect that one cloth will fit all. It does not. You are affecting a lot of people right across the board right now.

I cannot say anymore than that. I am trying to find some suggestion from you as a former police officer. What can I do if I cannot make an amendment to the bill?

Senator Cools: First, I should like to apologize to the witnesses for waiting. I admire people who are patient and giving of their time in a voluntary way. I wanted to say that because we have been sitting here since about 3:30 and you people were expected to be on at 4:30. I would like to thank you for that.

I should like to add to what Senator Watt has said. The measures in the bill are not working up North. However, they are not working in the cities either. I refer to Bill C-68. If you have followed the news in Toronto over the past year — particularly in the last few months — murder rates among young Blacks are skyrocketing. From what I can see, this bill has not inhibited any of that particular illicit gun use and crime.

I have three questions. The first one will be directed to Mr. Torino and anyone who feels so inclined may answer.

I notice, Mr. Torino, that you are from the minister's User Group on Firearms.

Mr. Torino: That is correct.

Senator Cools: From that I understand that your business is to provide the minister with input, support or advice or something?

Mr. Torino: That is correct.

Senator Cools: I am curious about the process of giving the Minister of Justice input, advice and whatever else he may need. Can you tell us, for example, when last you met with the minister and how often you meet with the minister to provide such input?

Mr. Torino: We met with Minister McLellan in November of last year. We have not met with the current minister as of yet. The general process is to provide a series of recommendations based on meetings that we have been having.

Senator Cools: Let me back up. You have not met with Minister Cauchon; is that right?

Mr. Torino: That is correct.

Senator Cools: Last year, you had a meeting with Minister McLellan, is that right?

Mr. Torino: Our last meeting with Minister McLellan was November 15 of last year.

Senator Cools: It was about a year ago that you met with the minister?

Mr. Torino: That is correct.

Senator Cools: You sort of blindsided me a bit. With whom do you meet and how often?

Mr. Torino: Usually, we meet with officials from the Canadian Firearms Centre — Gary Webster and his staff. We have been meeting with the minister about twice a year. We met with Minister Rock. Minister Rock came to almost every meeting we had. We were meeting with Minister McLellan twice a year. We have not met with Minister Cauchon, nor have we had a user group meeting since last November.

Senator Cools: I guess you cannot tell me very much about providing any input to the minister. For a moment or two, I was curious about the minister and the dialogue that he might have been having with users of firearms. I am a little blindsided and surprised.

Mr. Torino: I can touch upon the process, if you would like.

Senator Cools: Yes, please.

Mr. Torino: The process is to provide a series of written recommendations emanating directly from the group rather than from staff of the Canadian Firearms Centre. These recommendations are based on work done at various meetings that we have. Usually, meetings are held every two months or sooner, depending on how much work is required. The recommendations are sent directly to the minister and copies are sent to Canadian Firearms Centre officials.

Senator Cools: I am curious. I find this a bit staggering. The people at the firearms centre can meet with anyone anytime they want; they just organize meetings and they have dozens of them. As a matter of fact, I would describe them as an active political group. They are more political than we are here. If in point of fact you are meeting with them why do you have to be described as a minister's group?

Mr. Torino: Minister Rock appointed us in 1995, right after Bill C-68 received Royal Assent. We were to provide input on the implementation of the whole program and give immediate feedback to the minister's office and to the Canadian Firearms Centre. We were to meet with the minister on an occasional basis, upon the minister's request or upon our request to meet with the minister.

Senator Cools: This is interesting because other people, obviously, have difficulty meeting with Minister Cauchon. Since this has come up, I am hoping that Minister Cauchon will oblige us and meet with us in the next few days to talk to us about this bill, because we have not talked to Minister Cauchon about this bill as of yet. I hope we will succeed in that.

That was my first question. I was curious about the process that was followed. One of the witnesses, in their presentation, referred to the use of Orders in Council to prohibit particular firearms. I had asked a question to the previous witnesses who are the departmental officials, about the number of such Orders in Council that were being used. One of the witnesses referred to two Orders in Council.

Could you tell us about the use of Orders in Council by the minister in such ways? That seems to be quite a mystery. We should do a study, some committee one day, on the use of Orders in Council.

My next question concerns the reduction of crime and public safety. I think Mr. Griffin said something to the effect that murders are down by 300 per annum. Could any of you tell us about the number of homicides per annum in Canada and, of the total number of homicides in Canada, the number of those homicides by firearms? How many of those are of men and women and, where women are victims, how many are committed by spouses? In other words, killing women by firearms. I am looking for absolute numbers if anyone has them.

Senator St. Germain: A quick question. Are you a volunteer, sir?

Mr. Torino: Yes I am, senator.

Senator St. Germain: Totally?

Mr. Torino: Yes. Our expenses are covered. I am a licensed firearms dealer. I own a gun club; I am president of a gun collectors club, et cetera.

Senator Cools: It is because of that that I am asking those questions, because people like yourself have a lot of experience and knowledge about firearms. That is what I was interested in.

Mr. Griffin: I believe I mentioned the Orders in Council. I think it was in response to Senator Joyal's questions. I said I was not sure how we accommodated the deadline issues with licensing, whether it was by Order in Council or the regulatory format. I think that is where I mentioned it.

Senator Cools: No, in remarks right here in the last half hour, one of the three of you referred to the use of Orders in Council to prohibit weapons, which was different. No Order in Council could extend the debate.

Ms. Cukier: I said that. Kim Campbell's legislation, which as you know was passed in 1991, included a clause that allowed military assault weapons to be banned by Order in Council. The legislation was quite explicit to address concerns that hunters had, for example, that someone would turn around and ban .22s. The language used was ``firearms not reasonably used in hunting.'' The reason the process of Order in Council was used is because of the previous experience, and this is true in all countries. If you say, ``This is an M16 and we will prohibit it,'' and you write down in your legislation the M16 is prohibited, the next year the manufacturer will produce something similar and call it something else.

The notion was to ensure flexibility and to allow the government to respond to changes by the manufacturers. Having spent time at the United Nations, I can show you all kinds of examples where this has taken place: a manufacturer invents one, changes something else and calls it something different. In 1993, Kim Campbell banned, through Order in Council based on the same criteria, a number of military assault weapons. Mr. Rock used the same process in 1995.

The change in the legislation that occurred with Minister Rock from what was in place with former Minister Campbell was, rather than saying ``firearms which are not commonly used in hunting,'' as I believe was the case under Campbell, it became ``firearms which are not reasonably used in hunting.'' That was to address the fact that a Member of Parliament said that he needed his military assault weapon with large capacity magazines to shoot the rabbits in his orchards because he was not a good shot. I will not mention any names or say which side of the house he sat on.

There was a desire to address the notion that things might be in use that it was not reasonable to use. I think most people would agree that if you cannot shoot straight and need an AK-47 to shoot rabbits, perhaps there is something wrong. That is the notion. It was specifically intended to reassure people that they would not turn around tomorrow and say the Cooey rifle is out.

Senator Cools: I am informed that, between March 1998 and now, the department has issued more than 30 Orders in Council. I am curious about why they are using it. I thought, perhaps, you were referring to that but I think you were talking about something else. I think you are speaking about specific authority in firearms.

Come back to homicides, especially of women, we were told that a major reason for this initiative was to protect women from all those terrible men out there who are about to murder every single woman that they saw. Most people here know what I think about that approach of genderizing aggression. My experience in life is that women are pretty aggressive.

Can anyone shed some light on that? I think many of us are now beginning to forget the atmosphere between about 1992 and 1994 with the different ribbons. Every day, every group of people were wearing different ribbons for violence against women, and on and on. We sat in Parliament and in the Senate and Minister Rock and the Secretary of State for Status of Women told us again and again that the firearms bill was a women's issue and it was a gender issue. It was a lot of nonsense; not only are people beginning not only to forget the rhetoric of the day, they are beginning to distance themselves from it. However, the fact of the matter is this is what we were told as to one of the major reasons for this initiative.

I want to look at the data, if someone would provide it to me. I would like to know about the trends — if we could describe it that way — in homicides of women by firearms.

Ms. Cukier: Look at the last page of the brief. I do not have absolute numbers, but I have included the firearm female homicide rate. It is the lowest it has been in 30 years.

Senator Cools: What are you looking at?

Ms. Cukier: It is the last page of my brief. It was provided in French and English, but for some reason was not distributed. I apologize; I thought you all had it. Firearm female homicide rate is the fifth column from the side.

Senator Cools: I am not on the same page as you.

Ms. Cukier: It is in the table, the second last page. Firearm homicide rate is the lowest it has been in 30 years and the rate for women has declined more significantly than for men. It is 0.19.

Senator Cools: I like to work in absolute numbers, because oftentimes you hear descriptions of 50 per cent of something and then you discover the absolute number is two or three. I am looking for absolute numbers. When I look at the number of homicides, for example from 1974 to 2001, the numbers are not varying that much. For example, looking at your data, it says ``Year 2001, number of homicides 554.''

Senator Cools: In 1994, the total number was 596. There is a difference. It is not statistically important. If you look back up to 1985, it was 704.

Ms. Cukier: That is why you have to do regression analysis and look at averages over the decade.

Senator Cools: We do. I am speaking of the year since the firearms bill.

Ms. Cukier: The rates are a much better indication, because those consider population. There are two things I would like to draw your attention to. One is not just the decline in the female homicide rate, which you will agree if you compare the decade of the 1980s to the 1990s, we have seen significant change and that is in part, with due respect, due to Kim Campbell's legislation, which was the first step in improving the screening for FACs.

The other thing that you need to look at — particularly because you are raising questions about the legislation that focused on rifles and shotguns — is the shotgun and rifle homicide rate, where the decline is very dramatic. It is a two- third decline in the past decade, again in part owing to Kim Campbell's legislation. Allan Rock's legislation reinforces that trend.

With respect to the violence against women issue, I would refer you to the major women's organization in the country that supported the legislation. It is also worth noting that, at the international level, through the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations, and the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on violence against women, the issue of small arms and firearms control is increasingly becoming an issue. That is not because more women are killed than men. That is absolutely not true. More men are killed than women. However, most of the owners and users of firearms are men. That is why the Chief Justice of the Alberta Court of Appeal, when the Alberta Court of Appeal upheld the constitutionality of the law, reinforced the notion that there was a gender dimension to this.

Senator Cools: You can continue with that approach. Let us come back to actual numbers the year that Bill C-68 was passed. Data from the year prior to that, 1994, indicate that 23 women were killed by firearms owned by spouses or intimates. It is about the same.

Ms. Cukier: No. It would have been, if you look at the rate —

Senator Cools: Perhaps you could pause and we could get someone to find the number.

Ms. Cukier: In 1994 it is 0.26 and in 2000 it is 0.19. Regardless of the numbers, the rates have come down.

Senator Cools: The fact of the matter is that in 1995 when this bill was before us, the absolute number of women killed by spouses by firearms, was never placed on the record by any single component of the bill. I discovered that it was quite an enormous challenge to ascertain the actual number.

Honourable senators may be interested, it is not a particularly important story, but during the study of Bill C-68 we had a meeting when many of the western ministers were before our committee. During that questioning back and forth with those ministers, some of them were surprised to discover that in their own provinces a firearm had killed not a single woman. Obviously, if it is 23 per annum, and there are 10 provinces, there will be some provinces without any.

I will not tell you the name of the minister. However, one of the ministers from one of the western provinces approached me afterward to discuss this matter. He told me that his understanding, based on the amount of noise and commotion about it, was that the number was in the thousands. He really believed that. He had never stopped to look at actual absolute numbers. That may shock you, coming from a minister. My mouth fell open.

We should understand, and the reality is, that murder is a tragic and terrible thing. We are not at all justifying that. The fact that we have to say that we are not justifying that is an indicator of current times.

However, the fact is that one has to admit that gender at that time in preventing those deaths could not have been a major cause for the legislation. That is all that my concern has been. It provided an excuse. You have to remember this was all couched and connected to that terrible Marc Lépine murder in Montreal. The whole package was tied together. Frankly, I think that is a pretty dismal way to treat such a tragedy. It bothered me terribly. Those families have gone through hell. We have not been helping them a lot when we try to pare it down to such a simplistic cause as gender. It behooves all legislators, parliamentarians and policy-makers to understand that aggression is a human characteristic, not a gender characteristic.

I know many of you have heard my song before, but I am willing to sing it at any time. I will tell you something: A lot of crimes by women go unpunished because policemen are looking for men and not for women as the perpetrators of crime. I just put that point out there.

If other reasons had been advanced for the legislation in Bill C-68, it would have been a different case. This was how that initiative was put forth to us. The consequences are coming through.

Ms. Cukier: If I may, there is no question women's groups supported it. However, the strong support came from policing and public health. You are absolutely right; often our perceptions of what the risks are are out of sync with what the risks actually are. That is why, for example, the fact that rates of people killed are higher in the west and in rural areas — and particularly in northern Canada — than in the big cities, is important. You raised the situation that currently exists in Toronto, where a lot of attention has been focused.

Senator Cools: Perhaps you could tell the committee about that. I have been following that with some dismay. Obviously, I was born in the Caribbean. These are Caribbean people. It is very disturbing.

Ms. Cukier: You raised the issue of numbers versus rates. It is important to note that in 2001 — and 2002 is expected to be the same — there were 33 murders with guns. In 1991, there were 38 murders.

Senator Cools: Continue and cite the number as to how many of those were black. It is huge.

Ms. Cukier: Obviously they do not report that. The point is simply that there is a perception that gun violence is out of control in Toronto when in fact, if you look at the rates and the data, it has come down.

If you speak with the police — a number of interviews with them have been published — they will tell you that probably half of the handguns they recover are smuggled in from the U.S. That is part of the reason why stronger laws there are important.

Half of the guns originate in Canada; they are stolen and sold illegally. It reinforces the importance of this law.

Senator Cools: When the minister comes before us, we can get an explanation.

The Deputy Chairman: We will not have the minister for tomorrow.

Senator Cools: We have not had the minister yet on the bill.

Senator Pearson: Yes, we have.

Senator Cools: No. We have not questioned the minister. This gets tiresome. We have not had a dialogue with the minister.

The Deputy Chairman: He appeared before us.

Senator Cools: He appeared here and then left so that we could attend to the business of figuring out how to go on.

Let me speak for myself then, quite frankly. I have not had the privilege of asking the Minister of Justice a single question about this bill. From what I can perceive and understand, no senator has. Maybe that may satisfy some senators, and that is okay with me.

However, it does not satisfy this senator. This is one senator who takes her work very seriously. Enough of these senators who do not care if we read the bill, if we get the bill or if we even study it! If you do not want to study it, that is fine. However, there are some of us who take this work very seriously.

Senator Robichaud: Order! Order!

Senator Cools: Yes. You be in order!

Senator Robichaud: Yes, I will be in order.

The minister came. Some people did not want him to speak when he did come.

Senator Cools: You are talking nonsense.

Senator Robichaud: Just like you sometimes.

Senator Cools: Excuse us, please. You have told us that you have had consultations with the Ministry of Justice concerning the production of these bills. All of the witnesses have had consultations. It seems to me we have a duty to do a decent job even though the pressure is on from the government to pass a bill that we have had for just a few days. Even when I disagree with people, I concede that people have to do a good job. That is all I am saying. It is tiresome. Sorry for that outburst.

Senator Adams: Ms. Cukier, do you have any statistics concerning hunting deaths or do your statistics just record homicides? You have noted that there are 1,500 gun related deaths each year.

Ms. Cukier: Appendix 3 records the total firearm deaths up to 1999. The breakdown of the figures includes: accidents, suicides and homicides.

Senator Adams: Do you have a breakdown for the different areas of Canada?

Ms. Cukier: The regional differences?

Senator Adams: Yes.

Ms. Cukier: I can show the regional breakdowns by number and rate and would be happy to provide the clerk with those figures.

Senator Adams: Have the police used Bill C-68 since it has been passed? Last weekend a couple was shot and killed with a stolen gun. The criminal was apprehended and the police discovered that the man had been in trouble before. That makes me wonder whether Bill C-68 is working.

Ms. Cukier: Where did this situation occur?

Senator Joyal: It happened in Gatineau last weekend.

Ms. Cukier: It is very important to emphasize that gun control is not a panacea. It will never prevent all gun deaths, any more than drunk driving legislation and spot checks and seat belts will prevent all motor vehicle accidents. The intention of the bill is to reduce the chances of someone being killed by guns. We have pretty good evidence that strengthening the control over guns does reduce gun deaths.

I do not know where that person got the gun. However, I do know, that in the case of six separate inquests since 1991, the inquest juries have recommended licensing and registration as tools to prevent future gun tragedies. I think the law responds to those situations.

Senator Adams: We do not have a hunting season up in the north. In this area the hunting season opened this month. Northern hunters hunt each weekend in order to provide food for the family and therefore, use their guns all year round. Here it is a little different. Hunters in this area and others only use their guns, during a hunting season that usually lasts one month.

I want to find out a little more about the different ways that guns cause accidents. I would like to know the difference between the northern statistics and the statistics in the south.

The Deputy Chairman: I am sorry, Senator Adams, but the witnesses have a flight to catch and must leave now.

Senator Adams: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will look forward to receiving the other information tomorrow.

Senator Joyal: Mr. Torino, you made your presentation in four points, and the last one point reviewed the regulatory package. The first point was about fear of confiscation, the second about budgetary restraints, the third was about communications issues, and the fourth was about the regulatory package. You suggested that it would help the implementation of the act if the regulatory package were made known and available. Would you please explain that to me?

Mr. Torino: Normally all regulatory or legislative changes are brought to our attention in advance. We do not get to see the actual wording of the legislation until after it is gone through and becomes public knowledge. However, the basic principles are reviewed with us before hand.

As Senator Cools mentioned, we have not had a meeting for over a year. We are waiting for the Senate to do something about Bill C-10. We are trying to get the Minister of Justice to explain some of the problems that we feel will hit the bricks January 1. We are concerned with unregistered firearms and the expiring registration certificates. We feel that the magnitude of this situation has to be expressed at the highest level to get some attention, because otherwise many people will be in a lot of trouble on January 1.

We have seen some of the principles behind some of the regulatory changes, but they relate directly back to the bill. If the bill does not go through, those changes cannot go through for a period of time. We are looking at two or three weeks before Parliament shuts down for the holidays. The chances of getting a regulatory package through are nil at this point. At least, that is my understanding.

Senator Joyal: Would it help you to address the issues and meet your objectives if you received a 90-day extension?

Mr. Torino: It would help, but it is a double-edged sword. If the bill does not go through because of an extension, we will have created all kinds of problems. In the context that the bill would go through, it would help tremendously, but counsel has told us that it is a double-edged sword situation.

Senator Joyal: I understand that.

Mr. Torino: Something has to be done about that because if there are, say, 300,000 firearms owners — the number is significant — at three firearms per firearm owner, which is what the last survey showed — 3.5 firearms per owner — we are looking at more than 2 to 3 million firearms that cannot be registered on time. These people will be in deep trouble criminally, according to the Criminal Code.

Senator Joyal: That is why I asked that question. From your presentation, we can see that it needs to be addressed; we cannot ignore it in realistic terms.

Mr. Torino: In looking around the table, I do not see too many copies of our presentation. I am not sure if they were mixed with some of the others.

Senator Joyal: I took notes from your own presentation.

Mr. Torino: It is important for all.

The Deputy Chairman: On behalf of the committee, I thank you for appearing before us today.

I would ask our next witness, Mr. Bernardo, to please proceed.

Mr. Tony Bernardo, Executive Director, Canadian Shooting Sports Association: First, let me thank you for allowing me to speak to Bill C-10 before the committee today.

The first issue involves the replacement of subsection 12(6) of the Firearms Act — dealt with under clause 14 of Bill C-10. Please bear in mind that the majority of this response to subsection 12(6) was to save the government the embarrassment of having to confiscate firearms on the eve of the registration. Somehow, between several years ago and now, the numbers put out by the Canadian Firearms Centre on this issue have changed. Originally, they reported 47,000 individuals owning 115,000 handguns. Now, they are saying that there are around 2,000 individuals. If there are only a couple of thousand, I can assure you they are all in my association because they call my office every day. We deal with these people daily, even hourly. There are a far greater number than 2,000. The original estimate of 47,000 individuals owning 115,000 guns is correct.

The government wants to change the date because when those firearms owners have their firearms confiscated, they will sue the authorities. Those firearms are legally owned, legally acquired, fully registered and safely stored. The Government of Canada cannot take people's property without compensating them for it. I think that is a given. That is certainly the case under the common law, in England and in Australia.

In England and in Australia, when firearms were confiscated the owners were compensated fair market value. Some firearms can be extraordinarily expensive, even though they may be small, for example, a small PPK, such as James Bond carried. That PPK marked with ``Nazi Postal Service'' is worth over $100,000. That is a lot of money to a family. When the Government of Canada takes an individual's PPK with no compensation, you can bet there will be a lawsuit.

However, what the government has done is postpone the confiscation. The government has not taken guns away, yet. It will take them away when the owner dies. I always believed that, in Canada, an individual's estate went to his or her next of kin, who could dispose of it as they saw fit. However, one cannot lawfully dispose of those firearms. They have to be surrendered for destruction, with no compensation.

We are dealing with this issue right this moment; this is not conjectural. In the last week, I have had six or so phone calls from widows who are holding the estates of their deceased husbands, estates that include prohibited firearms. These firearms must be registered by January 1; if not, these widows will be in possession of unregistered, prohibited firearms, and they could go to jail. The problem is that the husband is deceased. How do these widows reregister these firearms? It sounds like an interesting quandary.

The Canadian Firearms Centre, CFC, told me to go ahead and reregister these firearms in the dead husband's name. The CFC does not want to deal with it. This is what we have been doing for the last several weeks.

We heard Mr. Webster say that part of this proposed legislation was to make it easier to comply. Let us take a look at the clauses regarding air guns. We had a limited consultation with the CFC, which I will describe in more detail later. With respect to the proposed section on air guns, we recommended that they adopt the British standard, being twelve foot-pounds of energy for a rifle, six foot-pounds of energy for a handgun. It does not get much simpler than that. However, the CFC said that that would not work, that they would adopt two standards, a standard of velocity and a standard of energy, measured in joules, even though the industry standard is in foot-pounds.

We are now looking at something that even the manufacturers do not know how to give us. They will make it so that you have to exceed 500 feet per second and 5.7 joules of energy. How on earth would the average firearms owner know whether he exceeded 5.7 joules of energy? What is a joule? To most people, it is a ring or a broach. Unless an individual has a degree in physics and access to chronographs and various other pieces of equipment that the RCMP ballistics lab has, that person is out to lunch on this.

This happened because the RCMP ballistics lab took ordinary BB guns and put ultra-light-weight projectiles in them and fired them over the chronograph. Guess what? They travelled at more than 500 feet per second. They must be firearms; let us register them. That is how all of this happened.

The response to this simple situation was a complicated gobbledygook formula that a person needs a degree in physics to understand. I am sorry, Mr. Webster, but this does not make it easier to comply. We have a perfectly rational solution for this.

While we are on that topic, let us talk about consultation, because I have heard that come up over and over again. I have to tell you, and I am delighted to have this opportunity to say this to your face, you have been misled. You have been, may I say, lied to. From the beginning of this bill to the end of this bill, you have been fed such a pack of lies that I cannot begin to describe it. Allan Rock quoted $85 million over five years.

Senator Cools: That is what he said.

Mr. Bernardo: He also said that if it exceeded $115 million he would withdraw the bill. Well, he did not.

Let us talk about the effectiveness of this legislation. Perhaps we should get Julian Fantino to come in here and talk to you about its effectiveness, because he is having all kinds of problems in Toronto, where kids are shooting each other with handguns that have been registered since 1934. Funny enough, they do not pick up the felons go in to get their firearms licences.

This legislation affects ordinary people, and it affects dramatically. In Ontario alone, last year, there were 1,900 unsafe storage charges laid under the Firearms Act. Less than 400 of them stuck in court. You might think that that is great, 1,500 were acquitted, but it cost those people somewhere between $5,000 and $15,000 in legal fees to get acquitted. Tell me that the gun legislation has no impact. These are ordinary people. Our office deals with this kind of thing — and I know Mr. Hinter's office does also — on a daily basis. We employ three attorneys who work seven days a week on nothing but gun charges. We could bring them in here. They could keep you in this room for two weeks telling you one story after another. This is real and it is happening now and it is happening out there. No matter what the Department of Justice tells you, it is real.

Let me tell you about a meek and mild gunsmith in Whitby, Ontario, who was charged with 102 counts of unsafe storage, and they were all thrown out. The only thing he was convicted on was a mischief charge. It cost this individual four and a half years of his life and $175,000 in legal fees. Try to tell me that this gun legislation has no effect. This is pretty dramatic stuff.

One band-aid after another is being put on the gun problem. Nothing has been done to address the real problem; legislators have missed the mark completely. Did they mislead you about cost recovery? Do you know how much they will have to charge gun owners for a firearms licence to recover $1 billion? They lied to you about that, too, because there is no cost recovery. They are not even charging us to transfer firearms anymore. They are so desperate to get people to comply a person can transfer a gun for free.

It cost $18 to register every gun an individual has, and guns only have to ever be registered once — at least, so they tell us. Of course, the handguns deadline that is coming up is for re-registrations, because they put a fictitious expiry date on the certificates that people already had, and there is nothing on the certificate.

Left week, I had the privilege of being interviewed on CHOK radio in Sarnia, a small community radio station. The interviewer started off with this question: ``What is the mood of Canadian firearms owners?'' I answered, ``In a word, scared. They don't know what to do.'' Forty minutes into the show, the interviewer told me she was appalled by the lack of information out there. I have been invited back to that radio show, for two hours, to answer the questions of firearms owners. I should submit the bill to the Department of Justice because I seem to be doing their job for them.

If things are this bad in Sarnia, imagine what they are like in the more remote, rural areas — in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Even in Toronto, many of the firearms owners do not know what they have to do to comply. With all respect to Mr. Griffin, police discretion in this particular matter is like the Easter Bunny. There is no such thing. They hit you with every single charge they can think of, of course, because their raises are now based on number of charges laid, not number of convictions.

We have ordinary people being run through the system at a rate that is absolutely staggering. Our legal fund, which we have been working with for years, is almost exhausted. I am sure yours must be getting close to it, too. We cannot afford it. Our attorneys are going full tilt all the time.

We had a few meetings with officials on this, where we discussed important issues like forms. When we tried to discuss meat-and-potatoes issues with them, they told us they could do nothing about it. The only meaningful thing that came out of any of the consultations was Bill C-10, and even that is not right. It is just another band-aid on the problem.

Senator Cools asked about hard and fast numbers. I do not have them for this year, but I do have them for the previous year. I will fax the new ones to you tomorrow morning. The year before last, in Canada, 26 people killed their spouse by firearms. It does not break it down into male or female. These figures come from the Juristats. It is interesting to look at that number in relation to other crimes. For example, death by surgical misadventure, 7,000 people; women who murdered their own babies, 27. There were more women who murdered their own babies than there were cases of one spouse who killed the other with a firearm. It is interesting to put numbers like that into their proper perspective.

With respect to the number of firearms owners in Canada, our study shows conclusively, using the Government of Canada's numbers, somewhere between 5 million and 5.5 million in the country. We will make that study available to the committee. Everything is set out in a bibliography. Everything is resourced from the Canadian government and the numbers are pretty indisputable.

A few years ago, as a result of a telephone survey, they came up with the number of 3.3 million firearms owners. A couple of years later, another telephone survey was done, and the number turned out to be 2.1 million firearms owners. When I asked what happened to 1.2 million firearms owners, they said they dropped out of the sport.

They also said that the average firearms owner has 2.7 firearms. Doing quick math, that means 4 million guns. There are only 450 firearms retailers in this whole country. I phoned a few of them and asked if they got many used guns in last year. They said they received a few more than normal. I assumed they must have turned these firearms into the police so I did some quick math there. Four million guns is enough to bury every single police station in Canada to a depth of 32 feet in firearms. Where did the guns go? Well, either they did not exist in the first place or they still exist and they are out there.

The Deputy Chairman: Will you send what you fax to Senator Cools to the clerk also?

Mr. Bernardo: Yes.

Mr. James M. Hinter, National President, National Firearms Association: Honourable senators, thank you for making my job as an Albertan hard. Some people in my province talk about a triple-E Senate. Tonight I have seen the effective; as well, I have seen a lot of equality around the table. I will not worry about the first E. Let us move on.

The piece of the Firearms Act that I find the most distressing is that we keep reading about murders in Toronto. We have police spokesmen in Toronto saying that there is a definite link between gangs, drugs and guns. This is the first time I have been before the Senate, but the National Firearms Association was here before and we predicted that violence would go up. There is an increase in violence when you put in a gun law like this.

The reason for the increase in incidents of violence is that we have taken $1 billion, over 1,000 police, countless bureaucrats, countless hours of time and we have aimed it at the most law-abiding people in our society. I will ask a silly question. By a show of hands, how many firearms owners are around the table?

What happens as a firearm owner? I will walk you through the process for those of you who are not a firearm owner. I am relatively new to this, believe it or not. I got my FAC in 1998. I took the Canadian firearms restricted safety course. My marks were the same as those of Senator Baker, 100 and 100. I took this course and then went to the City of Calgary police department and had an interview. Someone looked at me directly in the eye and went over the questionnaires. I sent my licence application off through them and about 40 days later I got my firearms acquisition certificate. This is the old licence.

This allows me to purchase firearms. I belong to a gun club. In those days, I needed a permit to carry a restricted weapon. This is not to carry it in my belt. This was to carry the firearm in a locked case with a trigger lock with the ammunition locked between my house and the gun club. The only guns that I could carry between my house and the gun club would be restricted firearms in that condition, and they had to be registered.

For those of you who are not firearm owners, that is the old registration certificate. These were issued until December 1, 1998. This is for a Schmidt Hubert .22 calibre target pistol. I bought this one because it has now been deactivated. It is no longer a gun. It is the equivalent of a shoehorn holding a western holster together.

I also purchased a firearm in December of 1998 and got one of the new registration certificates. It is a nice durable, plastic piece. I would like to pass these around so you can look at them. I would pass around my old licence except it has a crack in it, and it might break.

When you look at that registration certificate I want you to put yourselves in the position of being a police officer. You have just pulled over Jim Hinter in a silver Jeep Cherokee. I am coming back from the shooting range in the West Edmonton Mall. There is a gun in the case with the trigger lock and the ammunition. The case is locked. It is on the seat beside me. This is a check stop and you ask me if I have anything to drink. I reply, ``Not alcohol, I do not drink alcohol.'' Would I tell him that I have firearms sitting on the seat beside me? Would I open up a can of worms? Would I be a problem?

That is what I go through as a law abiding Canadian. I have a stack of paper here. I have to have my gun club membership. I have two. I have to have my licence. I have to have registration certificates for my firearms; and then I need an authorization to transport so that I can take my firearms between the gun club and my house. Each one of these papers takes time to be filled in.

Now I must register my long arms. I have received one sheet of paper from the government thus far, this one. It has a bar code on the top, and it bears my name. To give you an idea of the knowledge of systems design that these people have, notice that they used light green paper. When you photocopy that all the boxes you need to fill in disappear so that I cannot properly complete that form.

On the day after Labour Day this year I started calling the Canadian Firearms Centre three times a day, trying to get the forms so that I could comply with the law. I have yet to get them.

I wrote a letter to the Minister of Justice. I sent it by registered mail on October 3, 2002. I sent it by e-mail and by fax. I am glad to come here now and find out that he really has not come in and talked too much to you, because when the minister was appointed to the position we sent him a letter congratulating him on appointment and asking for a meeting. I am yet to get so much as a ``see you'' letter back.

We now find out that the minister's group should be calling themselves ``Mr. Webster's group.'' Mr. Bernardo talks about consultation. We met with Mr. Webster and then Minister McLellan last November. Mr. Webster promised to get back to me in two weeks to continue our discussions. Today, he could not wait to run away from me after the meeting. You senators gave him a well-deserved ride — if he could ride a horse that way, he would have $50,000 in the stampede no problem at all. That is what we go through as law-abiding citizens.

The criminal does not take the firearms safety course. He does not take and apply for a licence. He does not register his firearms. He is an outlaw. He is out of the laws. We have directed all of our energy as a government at me, at Mr. Tomlinson, at Senator Baker, at Senator Sparrow, at Senator Adams — firearms owners. We are missing the target.

As a gun owner, if you miss the target by too much at the shooting range, the range officer will pull you off the line until you are good. Here we have talked about an extension at the end of the year. What amendment could we do? We should be talking about, senators, the original promises that were made to the Senate by the Minister of Justice in selling this bill. We were promised reductions in violence, reductions in spousal homicide and safer communities.

Occasionally, some of the supporters of this bill look at us in the National Firearms Association as gun owners and think that we want to live in unsafe communities — the Wild West. I have a cowboy hat. I love it. However, I do not live in the Wild West and I do not want to live in Gunsmoke because it was a TV show. It did not happen that way.

When you go back into the Wild West think of what you had. You had soldiers who had left the Civil War and moved west to get away from the violence that they had suffered. If you were some nut who decided to rough up a town, you were dealing with a bunch of trained people who knew how to use their firearms. Crime rates were nil.

In these times, we have police officers that we meet with on the streets. I make a point of walking up and talking to them — not the people working for their departments, not the bureaucracies, just cops on the street. Rural police officers already know the people who are a problem in their community. They know that if it is Friday, and it is payday that Joe down the way will probably get drunk again, and he will probably be a problem. They can probably predict within an hour or two when they will have to go out to his house.

As a community, we need to be looking at the original promises on this bill. This bill is not good enough for Canada — period. One billion dollars has been spent on this bill. You had the general contractor, Mr. Webster here today, and he could not justify why our $100,000 house costs $1 billion. That is 12 times the original promise, and they cannot answer the questions. That is shocking.

Can you imagine if you went home and you told your spouse, ``I went out with $100 for groceries and I spent $1,200.''? That is 12 times what you had promised to spend. What would happen? First, you would have much food go bad, just like what is happening in Canada.

There are fixes for this. They will not be found in Bill C-10, I am sorry to tell you. We heard today that the possibility of declaring an amnesty exists. Your job as senators is to go to the other House that has given you a bill that does not look like it has been well thought through, sadly. There was no real consultation with the firearms community. We have to figure out what is important in Canada and then develop a made-in-Canada firearms policy that protects the Aboriginals, protects traditional native hunting, protects the right of law-abiding Canadians to hunt, target shoot, do cowboy action shooting — to do the fun activities in firearms.

Actuaries tell us that firearm ownership and use, in terms of danger to our society, does not exist. We are having the first increase in our NFA liability insurance since it came in 10 years ago. I carry $5 million in liability insurance for my shooting activities. Last year, it cost $4.75. Next year, it will cost $5.95. The insurance company knows the shooting sports are a safe area to be. They are betting about $1 million to one on a $5 policy.

We have work to do and it is not being done by Bill C-10. It certainly is not being done by Bill C-68. You should be sending this bill back to the other House and telling them that you want an extension on any amnesty or a stop to registration.

Anyone who has ever gone hunting will tell you that when you are in the woods and you get lost, the first thing you do is stop. You do not get further lost. That is what Bill C-10 is. It is saying, ``Keep going. You will eventually get unlost.'' Anyone in the North will tell you if you keep going, you are dead.

People are dying in the streets of Toronto. Violence will increase in this country. Home invasions are up. It is not it is not what we want in our country.

Mr. David Tomlinson, Legal Committee Chairman, National Firearms Association: I would like to say that the National Firearms Association has concentrated on the legal effects of firearms control law for many years. Almost everyone who is touched by the firearms control law is being abused by it.

Let us say, for instance, that George Pinakiak in Tuktoyaktuk is charged because he did not know that he needed a firearms licence, he went out hunting and the local mountie picked him up and said, ``Where is your firearms registration and licence for this rifle?'' George replied, ``I do not have either. I bought my gun legally years ago. So what is the problem?'' George is in court, charged with a criminal offence, possession of a firearm without a licence.

At first, it looks like an open and shut case. However, if you refer that case to the National Firearms Association, we will brief George's lawyer on a Supreme Court of Canada ruling that said that ``where a statute offers a defence.'' If George is charged under section 91 of the Criminal Code, which offers the defence that he wouldn't be there if he had a licence. The problem is that some licences are available and some are not. If George is charged with possession of a sawed-off shotgun, he could not be convicted because there is no licence and there is no registration certificate available for a sawed-off shotgun. A criminal in the south will walk out of that charge and go home free.

For George, it depends. If the judge realizes that the law itself is defective in that it offers all kinds of defences — which the government does not offer — then he will use the Morgentaler decision as a precedent. He should, because it is a Supreme Court of Canada decision binding on every court in the land, He would strike down that law because it is a bad law.

On the other hand, he might use the B.C. motor vehicles case because that said that a law that has the potential to imprison a person who has done nothing wrong is a law that must be struck down. In that case, the precedent is much clearer because the individual did not have to qualify in being innocent. It was enough that the law was so defective that it could imprison a person who had done nothing wrong.

Let us look at section 91 of the Criminal Code. It will put you in prison if you are in possession of a firearm and you do not have a licence. That is an absolute liability offence. All the Crown has to prove is that you do not have a licence. Actually, the Crown does not even have to prove that. Section 117.11 of the Criminal Code makes it a reverse onus effect. We are paying $1 billion for this massive registration and licensing system, and when George is charged, George has to prove that he does have a licence and he does have a registration certificate. The government does not even have to look in its own files to prove that he does not. It is a reverse onus and that makes it far worse.

If George is out on the tundra today, and the reason he does not have a licence because his licence ran out last week and he did not notice, he is automatically criminalized by section 91 of the Criminal Code. However, there is no actus reus. He did not do anything; he simply failed to notice something, and that is not an act. He had no intention of violating the law; therefore, he has no mens rea. Criminal Code section 91 does not require the government to prove that George did anything or that George had any guilty intent whatever. We think we have a good shot at having section 91 of the Criminal Code struck down as being bad law and unconstitutional.

We have good, solid Supreme Court of Canada precedents that say Parliament cannot make a law of this type and that if Parliament does make a law of this type, it is the duty of every court in the land to strike it down the first time they see and recognize it for what it is. Section 91 of the Criminal Code is by no means the only area where we have this kind of thing.

You heard the bureaucrat tell you that they will revoke the registration certificate of everyone who has a possession- only licence and does not have a gun registered in his name by the end of December. On January 1, they will start revoking all these licences. Well, I do wish that the Department of Justice would hire a competent lawyer.

Let us take George Pinakiak again. Let us say he has a possession-only licence and he does not have a firearm. What did he buy when he bought a possession-only licence? He entered into a contract with the government where the government accepted his money, and he received a piece of paper from the government that certifies that he has the right to be in possession of a firearm for five years. This bureaucrat thinks he can revoke George's licence because George does not have a gun registered to him.

Section 33 of the Firearms Act says that anyone who has a legal firearm can loan it to George because George has a licence that authorizes him to be in possession of a firearm. For five years, George can go around the community borrowing firearms anytime he needs one. He bought that, but this bureaucrat says he will unilaterally abrogate a contract. He is acting in the name of the government. He is acting under the authority given to him by the Firearms Act, section 70, which says that he can revoke a licence for any good and sufficient reason. For example, he could revoke your licence because you are female or Black or Jewish, if in his mind, and solely in his mind, that is good and sufficient reason.

That is what you call ``overbreadth.'' Mr. Hogg, in his delightful book, Constitutional Law of Canada, says that overbreadth is reason enough to strike down the law. The first time Mr. Webster tries taking George's licence because George does not have a gun registered to him, he will be facing an NFA defence in a court of law that says he is acting under a statute that gives him too much power. It does not provide him with guidelines as to how he should behave and gives him uncontrolled power. George will keep his licence, and the bureaucrat will lose his power, if a decent judge presides over the case. This firearms control law is enormously vulnerable to anyone who understands and can interpret the law.

Soon there will be a case where a native will be charged with an offence under Bill C-68. That native will bring up the fact that the James Bay treaty is part and parcel of the Constitution of Canada. The treaty reads that if a bill has anything whatever to do with native hunting, it must first go before the James Bay Council. Allan Rock was too arrogant to bother with that; he did not put the bill before the James Bay Council. It is quite possible that the first prosecution of a native will wind up in front of the Supreme Court of Canada, and the Supreme Court of Canada will rule that Bill C-68 never existed. What a mess that will be: $1 billion spent on nothing.

We are not asking for much. We are quiet citizens. We behave ourselves and pursue our hobbies. However, I think we have a right to expect at least a minor degree of competence in the senior bureaucrats who run the firearms control system and in the parliamentarians who look at it and make decisions about the law.

We are asking for your help. You must recognize that this law is in danger. It will be terribly embarrassing to anyone who had anything to do with it if the law is struck down by the courts. Until today, prosecutions for having a firearm without a licence and most of the paperwork crimes have not been made because the police are reluctant to enforce this law. Crown prosecutors are reluctant to charge under this law, so there have been relatively few cases.

That situation will come to an end on January 1. On January 1, the invisible deemed licence and registration certificates will vanish. The situation will suddenly become crystal clear for police officers. If the individual does not have both a licence and a registration certificate the officer will lay charges. That is very simple and very clear. That is when the problems will begin.

Senator Watt: I do not think I will be able to ask any questions. I think you were here when I was questioning the firearms people. I highlighted the fact that Bill C-68 alone recognized the existence of Aboriginal rights under the Constitution. That is the point you made in regard to the James Bay Northern Quebec Agreement. I negotiated that. It is a very well worked out in terms of details. The Government of Canada definitely has an obligation to people who signed the James Bay Northern Quebec Agreement. We did not strike the deal as Aboriginals with the government. We struck the deal with the Crown. Therefore, the government is an administrator on behalf of the country. If they do not honour the constitutional commitment that has been made I agree with you that the bill will be struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada. I will be a shame after we have gone through so much expense, energy and hardship.

People are already suffering, not only the people who are old enough to carry the firearms, but their children as well. I do not know how people are surviving. I know that they are breaking the law, and they know it too, but the question is, what comes first? If your right to life is being affected, must you abide by that law?

Those are the questions that will be dealt with by the Supreme Court of Canada. I do agree with you that there are severe difficulties ahead for this bill.

You have highlighted the fact that we should do what we can to send it back to the House of Commons and tell them that it is not bulletproof. In other words, it could be challenged and struck down on its constitutionality. The James Bay Northern Quebec Agreement is entrenched in the Constitution. We worked hard on that treaty that we signed in 1975. Senator Joyal was instrumental in the signing of that treaty; he is aware of the consequences. The problem is that at times we are not heard. How can we be heard? Do we have to end up in the Supreme Court of Canada before something is done?

Mr. Tomlinson: This house is called the house of sober second thought. According to the Canadian Constitution, it is equal to the House of Commons. For many years, this house has been bluffed by the House of Commons. The other House has said that you cannot do anything because you are not elected. The Constitution does not say that.

We have seen a remarkable loss of leadership in the other House. We are like many other Canadians. We are looking to Ottawa in the hope that leadership will rise and come from somewhere, because at the moment we look at the government in the other House and we see nothing but stupidity, confusion, bad thinking, and incompetence.

In my eyes this is an opportunity for the Senate to shine and to say to the House what it was always supposed to say when things have gone wrong in the other place and they have produced something that is unconscionable, ``We deeply regret saying this, but we must kill this bill because you have your head up your rear end again.'' That may be putting it a trifle crudely, but this is basically what is going on.

If honourable senators wish to flip through our presentation, you will see further examples of the kind that I highlighted just in three areas. There are many other areas. For example, Mr. Bernardo said with the new law that if an airgun exceeds 500 feet per second and so on, then it is not a firearm. I am sorry, but that is not what the legislation says. That is what they say. However, if you analyze the tangled, twisted and incompetent English, they said ``or'' not ``and.'' As a result of the ``or,'' all of the airguns that are below the 4.6-joule limit are really firearms and are subject to all the firearms controls. As a result of the ``or,'' all of the guns which do not meet the velocity level, but which do meet the 4.6 jewel limit are also firearms. Instead of eliminating the airguns from the firearms control law, they have added all of the paintball guns as real firearms. A description of that is found in the first analysis in our presentation.

Honourable senators may hear that where it says ``or'' it actually means ``and,'' but no one can interpret the law except a judge in a court of criminal law. The final analysis is and always will be before the Supreme Court of Canada.

Our analysis may be wrong. I do not think it is, but if our analysis is wrong, the only body that can definitively tell us it is wrong is the Supreme Court of Canada. This is a major problem in the firearms control laws.

Mr. Bernardo: One must add to that that we are not only expected as firearms owners to understand it, we are expected to comply with the letter of the law. We cannot even figure out what the law is.

Mr. Tomlinson: Another major problem is Orders in Council. One can be charged with violating an Order in Council. Over 30 Orders in Council have been issued since 1998. Some provisions of the law have been changed six times by a series of Orders in Council. A beautiful example that we have found of what the results of that are is a copy of Regina v. Rusk. Mr. Rusk was charged in 1999 with storing his firearms illegally because he stored his guns with his ammunition. His lawyer argued that the guns were not actually with the ammunition, and that the ammunition was a short distance away. They bounced up and down, arguing about the language of regulation number 4. The entire case went through its full length. The judge eventually ruled in favour of the defence. To this day no one, the judge, the Crown or the defence lawyer, is aware that regulation 4 died in 1998, and was replaced by regulation 5 of a different set of regulations with a different title and different wording.

They spent all that time and money arguing about a case based on a regulation that did not exist. As I said, they have issued over 30 Orders in Council. There is no book of Orders in Council. The only way one can keep track of the Orders in Council is to subscribe to Part II of the Canada Gazette. Crown prosecutors do not do that; lawyers do not do that; and judges do not do that and. It is absolutely and utterly impossible for anyone in the entire legal system to be certain what the regulations are.

They put out a book of regulations in 1998, but those have since been modified. The book is now completely unreliable.

Senator Watt: We will never know what applies.

Senator Sparrow: I have a firearms registration certificate here, but there is no name on it. I guess it could belong to anyone. I have this certificate for possession only. If I do not have a gun registered in my name, they will call this back; is that what you said?

Mr. Tomlinson: That is what the bureaucrat said he would do and he has the power to do it. If he tries it, I will have his butt in court.

Senator Sparrow: Here is a firearms registration certificate that does not show my name on it. Maybe somewhere it shows the name in some record, somewhere.

If I have this, I must have a gun registered in my name. I run a farming operation in which I have family members, I have hired men on the farm, but we do not supply a gun to everyone. We need guns as part of the tools of our trade. The family members have a firearms possession certificate — there could be five or six people who have a firearm. If they do not actually own the gun that is represented by this, all of these may be called in.

Mr. Tomlinson: Yes.

Senator Sparrow: There will be no one on that farm of mine who can use that gun except for me; is that correct?

Mr. Tomlinson: That is right.

Senator Sparrow: That is my tool of the trade in my operation, the same or similar to what Senator Adams and Senator Watt have been saying. What do I do about this?

Mr. Tomlinson: You wait until the firearms licences of your family are revoked. Then you get in touch with the NFA. We brief your lawyer to get the law that allowed him to do it struck down.

Senator Sparrow: How much does that cost?

Mr. Tomlinson: There are two reasons that has not yet happened yet. First, they have not been charging people for having a firearm without a licence. Second, on January 1, they will start doing that and they will start picking up people entrapped in skeet clubs — wealthy people — and they will start charging them. We figure it is a good idea to let a wealthy man carry this case so that others will have a good precedent when they go to court.

Senator Sparrow: I went through this problem before with Bill C-68. When these problems are discussed, I find that too many senators laugh at that and say, ``Well, tough titty,'' you are caught in that. However, too many people are caught in this process. My family and I are caught in it. I know many in the agricultural community who are caught in that. They are caught in this process and there is nothing we can do about it. We talk about the costs and underwrite that as the previous witnesses did of the cost of $1 billion: It is only money.

This has nothing to do with it so please forgive me, Mr. Chairman, however, that $1 billion we have been asking for, for the western farmer that is not available has cost far more suicides in the communities than have been even touched by the gun controls that we are talking about here and the undue amount of money spent. That is not your problem, but I wanted to throw it in because of the previous witness's statement that it is only money, or all government departments cost money.

Mr. Hinter: When I come to Ottawa, I get to walk by a building named after a hero of mine, C.D. Howe. Out West, a lot of people are surprised to hear that one of my heroes is a Liberal. C.D. Howe used to ask questions about how things could be made to work. His friend on the other side of the House, Mr. Diefenbaker, pegged him with the statement, ``What is $1 million?'' That is something Mr. Howe never said.

When I walk by the C.D. Howe Building in downtown Ottawa, the words from C.D. Howe's biography haunt me. He would look at the building and ask, ``But does it work?'' If he looked at the Firearms Act, he would have to ask: ``Does it work?'' The answer would come crashing down on someone like Mr. Howe that it does not work.

Violence is horrid. This might ruin my whole reputation as the big bad president of the NFA, but I get upset when my tropical fish die. I do not like violence — no one does. For the most part, we are the calmest group of people you would ever meet in the country. You have a problem facing you.

Mr. Tomlinson: Let me tell you about a case that refers to your particular situation. Mr. Lamontagne went down to Florida to work, leaving behind in his house a rifle, a handgun and his wife. The police found out about the rifle and the handgun and they charged the wife with illegal storage because the firearms were not stored according to the regulations. Fortunately, the judge was sensible. The judge found Ms. Lamontagne innocent on the grounds that she had no mens rea. She had no intent to be in possession of the firearms and therefore the firearms had nothing to do with her. However, that woman had to pay $5,000 in legal fees. You can imagine what that is like for a woman in Newfoundland whose husband has had to emigrate to the United States to find work.

The abusiveness of this legislation is absolutely incredible. If you want to make Ottawa the most hated place in Canada, all you have to do is support it.

Mr. Bernardo: Mr. Chair, in regard to Senator Sparrow's problem, we saw this once earlier today with Senator Baker. Here we have a committee of the Senate dealing with justice issues, all intelligent people steeped in the law and in the legislation, yet two members of the committee do not get it on the simplest part of the law. They do not understand. Out there, millions of people with their ball caps on backwards and a tractor in the backyard really do not get it. This bill has to go back. We have to start over again with firearms legislation in Canada, right from square one.

Senator Adams: You mentioned the James Bay agreement. We had the Nunavut land claim agreement signed by Her Majesty the Queen and the Government of Canada. The agreement set out how to deal with land claims and hunting rights. You mentioned our friend George from Tuktoyaktuk whose gun registration expired and he was charged for hunting on the land. You said this should be similar to the James Bay agreement. Is that right?

Senator Watt: It is the thing.

Senator Adams: I just wanted to make sure that if we were to go to court about it we would have a chance to win.

Mr. Tomlinson: There is an advantage in fighting the firearms control law because it is regulatory law that is improperly embedded in the Criminal Code. Therefore, when someone is convicted of one of these paper crimes, he gets a criminal record for a firearms offence. Because he has a criminal record for a firearms offence he will no longer be able to take his vacations in the United States or work in the United States. He will no longer be in the top 10 when he is applying for a job because he has a criminal record. He will no longer be able to take any job that requires him to be bonded because he has a criminal record.

The consequences of this legislation, through some failure of paperwork, are enormous because this is not regulatory law; it is criminal law.

Senator Joyal: Mr. Tomlinson, it is quite obvious that you have become an expert on the interpretation of the Firearms Act. As you of course know there has been a decision of the Supreme Court, following litigation that was brought about the constitutionality of Bill C-68. In the context of what you just mentioned about what you perceive as being flaws in the legislation that could bring about the kind of situation that my colleague Senator Sparrow has been describing, can you tell us which points have been settled in the decision of the Supreme Court?

Mr. Tomlinson: Very little has been settled. The case was brought on the idea that the Parliament of Canada did not have the authority to write a firearms control law of this type. Unfortunately, one of the first things the lawyer in charge of the case said to the judges was, ``Of course, it is perfectly all right for the Parliament of Canada to write a firearms registration system for handguns, but it is totally wrong for them to do it for rifles and shotguns.'' The judge asked why, but the lawyer did not have an answer. It was all down hill from there.

What was settled in that was simply that the Parliament of Canada has the right to make criminal laws about firearms. That is all that was settled. There were no details about any particular provision. No one looked at the flaws in the legislation. No one looked at the conflicts with previous decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada. There was just one question: Can the Government of Canada write legislation of this type? The answer was yes. Once the Parliament of Canada has enacted legislation of that type, then it can be attacked in detail. In this country, class action lawsuits very rarely get anywhere. We are not like the Americans in that area. On the other hand, when the government attacks an individual citizen in a way that will attack his liberty and his capability of doing things that he needs to do for his livelihood, then the judges in the lower courts who are hearing these cases look at them much more critically, and they look at the law much more critically. It is a rather funny law.

I heard from a lawyer in Ontario whose client was a druggist who lived above his store in a tiny town in Ontario. He heard someone breaking in downstairs again so he went downstairs with his revolver, went into the store and found two men robbing the drug supplies. The two men ran out of the store. He went out of the store after them. They ran out one door, he went out the other, and they met on the far side of the building, where the two men were climbing into their van. He shot out both tires of the van, and they went rolling off down the road on two flat tires. He went in and called the RCMP.

The next morning, the RCMP came in and seized every firearm that he owned. Then they charged him with a whole series of charges. The lawyer said, ``I have a good, old judge down here who believes in justice, so I have no problems with most of the charges, but I have one charge I cannot figure out how to deal with.'' When the police asked the client for all of his firearms, he walked into the back room of the drug store, came out with a double-barrelled shotgun, cracked it open, took out two shells and handed it to them. They then charged him with illegal storage of a loaded gun. I said, ``Try this.'' He said, ``holy, cow.'' The judge said later on the he agreed with the defence attorney: The firearm in question was not in storage, and therefore a storage law does not apply to it. It was in use for personal defence.

That is my kind of judge.

Senator Joyal: The issue that you have raised in your presentation over a confiscation is a very important legal issue because it can happen, as you know in the implementation of other statutes. I am thinking particularly about the authority that is given to custom agents. If you are entering Canada, and you fail to make the right statement, a custom agent can seize your car. Technically, the car is not an illegal object, but they can seize the car and keep the car, go as far as to confiscate the car. This is good for many people. Some would say it is a living for many people.

What I tried to understand from your presentation is that the Firearms Act does not make a firearm illegal, per se. If you possess some drugs, for example, heroin or some other substances that are prohibited by the Narcotic Control Act, those drugs are illegal, per se. The way I read the act, firearms are not, per se, illegal.

Mr. Tomlinson: Some of them are and some of them are not.

Senator Joyal: Some of them. However we are talking about what average citizens, for example, members of your sporting clubs and various associations would have. I am not talking about arms that, as you said, of the army-type gun. In other words, you do not possess an AK47 to hunt rabbits. We understand that. That is common sense.

At which point, does the fact that you broke an administrative rule of procedure does the object in your possession become transformed into an illegal object and subject to confiscation without any kind of recourse.

Mr. Tomlinson: It is a two-step process. First, you commit a criminal offence with the firearm — which can be simply being in possession of the firearm. They charge you with the criminal offence. When the case is over, under one section of the Criminal Code, all firearms that were involved in the offence are forfeited to the Crown, and the judge has no alternative. He must order that all of those firearms are forfeited to the Crown.

Let us say you were out in the woods with a firearm and you do not have a firearms licence. They catch you. If you are convicted of that offence in the period between the time you were caught with the firearm and the time you go to court, they have probably gone to your house with a search warrant and seized every firearm you own. If you are a major firearms collector, that can amount to millions of dollars worth of firearms. Now all of those firearms are now related to the crime, therefore, all of them will be forfeited to the Crown. As I said, this is an abusive law.

Senator Joyal: I am trying to understand the principle of the Criminal Code whereby the penalty over an object is transformed into a class of object that you might have?

Mr. Tomlinson: The object itself is simply confiscated because you have done a criminal act with respect to firearms. The criminal act that you have done may be something regulatory. However, this is not regulatory law, it is criminal law. None of it is regulatory, and none of it is what you would think it is by looking at these pieces of paper.

For example, they should never have used the term ``Licence'' in this law. A licence is a document that gives permission. It is a criminal offence for Jim Hinter to be in possession of a firearm unless he has a licence. What the licence is doing, the government is giving Jim Hinter to commit that particular crime.

If the government can do that, what prevents the government from enacting something next year that will allow certain Canadians to commit the offences of rape, robbery and murder? We are already seeing this by the government talking about giving the police permission to commit crimes.

In my view, Parliament does not have that power. You can say this is a crime, and someone who commits this crime will be punished. Having said that, you cannot say that you will give certain individuals permission to commit this crime.

I discovered that in reading the Morgentaler decision. I was watching what the Supreme Court of Canada was doing, and it was like watching an elephant trying to tap dance. It is a criminal offence to have or do an abortion unless you have a therapeutic abortion certificate. The Supreme Court of Canada was dancing on that one frantically so that they did not say at any time that the therapeutic abortion certificate was a licence to commit that crime. Instead they said that it is a specifically tailored defence to a particular criminal charge, and then they struck down the law because it was so difficult to obtain as to be practically a losery. Personally, I think they struck down the law, at least in part, because the way the law was framed it was too close to a licence. They were issuing a licence to certain individuals to commit a criminal act.

Mr. Bernardo: Further to Mr. Tomlinson's comments on Ontario, it is quit common within the court system where, if you are charged with a minor firearms offence, the judge will drop the charge if you accept a forfeiture of your firearms. It is very common.

Mr. Tomlinson: We had a case recently where a man was charged with possession of a firearm without a licence. He was caught out on the hunting field. He wanted to fight the charge, if there was a defence. We told him our defence: ``That this law is unconstitutional. Here is how you defend this charge.'' He went to court and his lawyer showed the Crown prosecutor the defence that would be used. The Crown prosecutor dropped the charge. He was not even willing to fight the case in court to find out whether or not it was legal.

Senator Joyal: I want to add a comment about the Shirose Campbell case where the Supreme Court of Canada had been asked to rule on some offences that were committed by police agents in the context of an investigation. Last year we had a bill, the anti-gang legislation, which allowed individuals, in the course of an investigation to commit acts, which in some circumstances, would be deemed criminal according to the Criminal Code. Of course, we did make amendments to that bill to ensure there would be control over it.

The definition of how that could apply to the issuing of licences, as you know, there are extreme situations whereby the Supreme Court of Canada will accept such a context for legislation to recognize the purpose of the aim. The court has said that the objective does not justify the means. Police forces are not above the law. They have to be submitted to law all the time.

I am trying to understand, in the context of the Firearms Act, how the system of licensing at this point in time, changes the nature of the system of what is a licence traditionally.

Mr. Tomlinson: What the Supreme Court of Canada will do with it, I do not know. However, I regard it as the ``thin edge of the wedge'' when the government says, ``This is a crime and I will give you permission to commit the crime in exchange for your paying me for a document.'' That worries me. It worries me a great deal because what is the next thing that the government will licence? Black's Law Dictionary defines ``license,'' as a document that gives permission used in regulatory law to allow someone to do something that is regulated. Do we want crimes to be regulated?

Mr. Bernardo: Out of existence, I hope.

Senator Cools: These gentlemen know how highly I think of them, and that I support them in their quest and have for years.

I want to thank them for what I thought was excellent testimony and testimony that was given with a clarity of perspective that I find among people who interact with nature, are close to nature and understand the forces of nature. Perhaps it is a characteristic of people like that that they also have respect for instruments of force, which are what firearms are.

You two come from a part of the world — I do not know from where you come from Mr. Bernardo.

Mr. Bernardo: Toronto.

Senator Cools: I love Toronto, too, but I also really love Alberta. I am sure it is because I grew up in a plantation society and those wide-open spaces. Your testimony was excellent. I want to thank you for articulating so clearly as you did the great divide between government in Ottawa and ordinary Canadians.

I flagellate myself that I am not able to persuade my side of what I see and hear, whether it is on this issue or divorce. The plight of men, for example, in divorce cases. I wanted to thank you for articulating that so clearly.

In closing, I wish to say that it breaks my heart to see the treatment that so many Canadians are being subjected to because of the poor and ill-considered legislation that we are passing. Those bad laws keep coming every day, with more and more pressure to pass them faster and faster. To my mind, it is unconscionable.

We are in an era where few people know the historical roots of this particular bill and the issue of firearms. It broke my heart that the Liberal Party of Canada undertook to oversee the criminalization of firearms ownership and use because certain individuals wanted to create a culture where guns, in and of themselves, are bad and society should be rid of them totally. That broke my heart.

Liberalism had at the centre of its existence that firearms use was to be widely among the common people. The Tory point of view was that firearms should be secluded for the aristocrats only. It was the Liberal view that firearms should be available to ordinary people for use.

Many Canadians have firearms that have been in their families for generations. The whole notion of the use of firearms for food and security grew out of the historical fact that every able-bodied young boy of 15 or over was supposed to learn to use firearms to be called upon to defend the realm and to defend the family. Every wealthier person was expected to supply firearms and men to fight for the king as required. What has been happening in the last many years is truly a corruption of our history. As far as I am concerned, all instruments of force are to be respected and treated with enormous care and caution — especially human life because human life is so valuable. However, so are our rights, as Senator Watts said, our rights to live in accordance with the culture that we have been raised in. My culture, as you know, is very British.

I thank you for coming as far as you did. I thank you for your clarity of perspective. It is marvellous to listen to testimony that is not punctuated with jargon and political correctness and that is spoken from the heart and is spoken with conscience. I thank you for that, gentlemen.

Mr. Tomlinson: Thank you.

Mr. Hinter: Thank you.

The Deputy Chairman: On behalf of the whole committee I wish to thank you for your appearance.

The committee adjourned.