‘Huge Rush’ on Bill C-71 Could Make It Law by Fall, MP Motz Says

TheGunBlog.ca — The Canadian government has put a “huge rush” on Bill C-71 to ban more guns and further restrict hunters and sport shooters, said Glen Motz, an opposition MP and Deputy Shadow Minister for Public Safety. He said the proposed law could be adopted as early as the fall.

Highlights of Q&A With Glen Motz

  • Is Bill C-71 a done deal? Probable, but can be blocked or amended.
  • How to oppose? Short, personal e-mails to MPs.
  • Timing: June or next year possible, fall more likely.
  • C-71 isn’t about public safety, it regulates law-abiding gun owners.
  • Full Q&A below.

Bill C-71 has passed two out of three readings in the House of Commons since the Liberal government proposed the law on March 20. Next it goes for review to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, of which Motz is a member for the Conservative Party, before returning to the House. It also needs to be screened by the Senate and a Senate committee that has the power to request amendments.

Motz, a former Alberta police officer of 35 years, said his committee chair is already inviting amendments to the bill, suggesting it could be up for review soon after parliament returns from break on April 16.

Fast Track?

“That tells me there is a huge rush on it,” Motz told TheGunBlog.ca by telephone on March 29. “I would suspect that the government will push hard to get that bill before committee and back to the House so it can go to the Senate. Could it be fast-tracked? Probably. I would think it’s a fall thing at the earliest.”

The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has a majority of seats in the House of Commons and he could require all his party members to vote in favour. Political analysts also consider that most senators support the Liberals.

Scott Bardsley, a spokesman for the Ministry of Public Safety, which officially proposed Bill C-71, wouldn’t comment on timing or strategy when contacted March 29. He said the government respects the will of parliament and follows the parliamentary process and schedule.

Full Q&A

Following is TheGunBlog.ca’s full interview with Motz. He was elected for the first time in October 2015 after 35 years working as a police officer in Medicine Hat, Alberta, near the border with Saskatchewan.

Motz spoke by telephone on March 29. This interview was edited for clarity.

C-71 Prospects & Timing

Is Bill C-71 a done deal?

Some people thought [the small-business tax bill of 2017] was a done deal. But there was so much backlash and such an outcry that the Liberals backed down.

I would suggest that it’s not out of the question that the Liberals might entertain some amendments to the proposed legislation if there is significant enough pushback from law-abiding Canadian gun owners who are the base. They need to read it themselves, they need to understand it, they need to get engaged. Like them, I have concerns.

They demonstrated that when there is enough pressure, they acquiesce.

Will they withdraw the bill? No. Could they make amendments? They might consider it.

Will it come to our committee? Yes.

I welcome the opportunity to let the Prime Minister know, to let Minister Goodale know, if you wanted to phone Mark Holland …

I would encourage [gun owners] to get on the bandwagon and make it very, very clear: those are the MPs who I think should hear very clearly the disdain and concerns around this bill.

What power do you have in committee to amend or delay the bill?

We are in a minority, we are in opposition.

Some of the amendments that I’m sure we’ll be proposing, my colleagues and I aren’t proposing these amendments because we want to be miserable. We’ll be proposing these amendments because we’re hearing from people across the country.

We are keeping in mind public safety. Keeping in mind balancing public safety and law-abiding gun owners, and not putting extra burden on them.

I’m optimistic that we can propose things at this stage.

If the Liberals want to follow a party line because of what their bosses are saying, I’m sure the polls will show it in 2019.

What’s your sense of the timing? One article I read said it could be passed by June.

It’ll come to committee. I’ve heard rumours that it could come to committee as early as April. We return mid-April until mid-June for all but one week. It’s going to be a heavy schedule. I would suspect that the government will push hard to get that bill before committee and back to the House so it can go to the Senate.

The committee chair is already calling for amendments on this bill. That tells me there is a huge rush on it. People who have ideas or suggestions on amendments need to make their concerns known.

Could it be fast-tracked? Probably. I would think it’s a fall thing at the earliest.

What are the next steps?

After second reading, it will come to the committee to study.

If the Liberals receive enough pressure from the public, they may be amicable to considering some amendments.

It’s important for people to make their voices known, and soon.

[Editor’s note: He names the members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.]

I would make sure those people hear loud and clearly from gun owners your concerns.

Registry, Not Safety

How does this bill promote public safety?

If we’re going to introduce a public-safety bill, where are the public-safety measures inside the bill? There are none. Zero. We’re going to have to deal with that.

That’s the concern I have. What precipitated this bill? I don’t know. Where there huge concerns in this country? Gang and gun violence has accelerated in this country, and we need to address that. But have you read this bill? There’s no mention of gangs, there’s no mention of violence, there’s no mention of smuggling. There’s no mention of some of the issues that are plaguing this country.

[In parliament yesterday,] I called it a regulatory bill. It’s not a public-safety bill. We’re told it’s a public-safety bill, but what does it do for public safety? It sets more rules for law-abiding firearm owners.

But criminals don’t follow rules. Gangs and guns, they don’t follow the rules.

Criminals do not register a gun when they buy it. They do not submit to police scrutiny. This legislation is really to control those who are law-abiding citizens already.

“Registrar” or “registry” shows up 27 times [in the text of the bill]. “Gangs” or “criminals” show up zero. Is that a regulatory law or a public-safety law?

How founded are concerns that this bill creates a registry?

Anytime the Liberals keep telling us, the public, that something isn’t true, we have reasons to take it very, very carefully.

When it mentions “Registrar” so many times, I think most Canadians would agree that a Registrar keeps a registry.

Then there are transport rules. I have to phone the Chief Firearms Officer for permission to take my gun to a gunsmith.

Can I say if you own firearms?

I don’t own any firearms. I grew up on a ranch and on a farm.

I don’t have an FAC or PAL any longer, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t care about this. I still go to the range once in a while.

One of the measures in the bill is enhanced background checks.

It seems logical and that it’s a good idea. What evidence does the government have that this would improve public safety? A PAL must be reviewed every five years. The police check criminal records on a daily basis.

Are there Canadians who shouldn’t receive firearms? What reasonable limits will be placed on it? What mental-health issues will make someone ineligible to possess firearms? What about recovery? If a battle veteran has responded with PTSD, how will the Chief Firearms Officer respond? Will a hunter have their licence removed because of an incident that happened 25 years ago?

RCMP: Unelected, Unaccountable?

How concerned are you about the RCMP classifying firearms?

I know that even when I was still in policing, and I’m hearing it now, there are a lot of people concerned about the RCMP’s ability to just up and change regulation, and overnight they can criminalize people. There are those that feel they are not accountable and that they can just do this on their own. They’re unelected and they’re unaccountable. These are comments from what people have told me.

I have great confidence in our RCMP and our law enforcement and first responders across the country. I really do. But sometimes they’re put in a bad spot and have to make some difficult decisions.

Parliamentarians should be responsible. If they make a bad decision, they won’t be there any longer. What consequences are there for the RCMP if they make a bad decision?

Again, I’m just sharing concerns that I hear.

This bill does not address the concerns that all Canadians have had.

Crime, Violence

How significant is violent crime?

People don’t feel safe in their ridings. Police are sometimes hours away. Rural crime rates in Canada have increased 41 percent in recent years, and this bill does nothing to address that.

Some of the fears that people have in these communities, it’s scary.

Many people in those communities feel they need to use guns to protect themselves and protect their families.

The criminal element has moved from the cities into our communities because of the diminished police presence.

Nobody wins when law-abiding citizens defend themselves against violent criminals in this way.

Does this do anything to address those concerns? No it doesn’t.

What’s the connection between lawful firearm owners and crime?

Lawful firearm owners were rarely and are rarely involved in any gun violence.

Less than 2 percent of all those accused of committing a crime or murder with a firearm are licence holders.

John Tory, the mayor of Toronto, recently noted that only 2 percent of homicide victims were not connected to a gang. Where are gangs getting their guns from? Are they smuggling…?

We need to get CBSA … There’s all this money that the federal government said they’re going to put in. $100 million a year. That sounds fantastic, let’s get it out there.

Instead of punishing law-abiding gun owners who obey the law, let’s give police more powers to go after the criminals.

Let’s enforce our border rules.

Let’s give CBSA the means to enforce this.

Let’s stop focusing on law-abiding gun-owning Canadians and let’s focus on criminals. That isn’t happening. the bill doesn’t address that. The bill is a regulatory bill, it is not a public-safety bill.

I’ve been told that what is being referred to as a “gang” is no longer a group with a certain look or base of operations, that it could be any group of people who know each other.

The whole concept of how gangs function has been fluid over the past 10-15 years. Social media, the way people connect to each other, all those things have made gang affiliation and membership a moving target.

If you drive around the city and you think you’re going to identify them by what they wear, that’s not how it works anymore.

Response From MPs, Voters

What’s the mood among rural MPs?

I don’t know anybody in our rural caucus who thinks this is a good idea.

I think some of our Liberal MPs need some encouragement from our constituents to do the right thing.

How are voters responding?

My office office staff has said that we have received around 1,500 letters already in the last view days. We have an online survey on my Facebook. So far, 99 percent of the 1,500 or 2,000 people who have responded in the past few days are not supportive. One percent have said they support it.

Writing to Your MP

How effective are letter-writing campaigns?

I basically discount form letters. If I get a form letter from a constituent, I’ll look at it.

I want someone to use their own thoughts. They can use the ideas from a form letter. But it’s more important for someone to take some effort to tell their MP how they feel, not just hitting Forward.

It’s about saying, “Hey, I’m a gun owner,” or “I’m a collector, or “I’m a hunter”, or “I’m a sports shooter,” and say, “This section of this act is going to hurt me.”

What you’re doing is giving a foundation to someone who may not have time to review the entire act.

Do handwritten letters carry more weight than printed or e-mailed letters?

No. Emails are the correspondence of choice. However we receive a letter is how we respond.

What matters is for the person to share what they feel, share their experience, share what they really think, versus just hitting Forward.

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