Hon. Pierre J. Dalphond: Government Representative, following several months of interesting deliberations in committee and in the Senate, Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms, passed on May 28, 2019, by a vote of 55 to 33. Under this legislation, enhanced background checks are required for firearms licence applicants, and vendors of non-restricted firearms must keep records and verify the purchaser’s licence. Here we are, nearly two years later, and these provisions, which the government described as key to improving public safety, are still not in force. Can you tell us, Senator Gold, when the government plans to bring these measures into force?
Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question and for raising this important aspect of the bill. I don’t have an answer for you today, but I will make every effort to get the answer for you as soon as possible.
Hon. Pierre J. Dalphond: Honourable senators, yesterday the government introduced Bill C-21, which has been met with some criticism from both those who are in favour of more restrictions on guns and from those who are in favour of fewer restrictions.
I would like to address the criticisms raised by Senator Dagenais, which I’m not sure he is using to support his point, that PolySeSouvient, la Fédération québécoise des municipalités, the Mayor of Toronto and the families of the Danforth shooting victims are all asking for a complete ban on handguns across the country in order to ensure uniformity and better protection for Canadians. Is the government willing to consider these criticisms and to adjust this bill accordingly?
Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question, senator. The government is certainly aware of these criticisms. The government has been consulting with mayors, police departments and stakeholders in the development of this project. As the senator knows well and as I stated in my previous response, these are challenging issues for a country this large and diverse. This government is always open to suggestions for improvements of the laws. As I said, I fully expect that these issues will be raised, both in the other place and here, when the bill proceeds through the legislative process.