The Canadian Labour Congress Attacks The Civil Rights Of
Union Members Who Are Firearms Owners

Of particular interest to firearms owners who are also union members is that the Canadian Labour Congress was and is a strong supporter of both Wendy Cukier's Coalition For Gun Control and for the Firearms Act.

In fact, the CLC's attack on firearms owners who are union members goes beyond what the Firearms Act lays out - the CLC calls for a total ban on permitting ownership of either  semiautomatic firearms of any kind or on handguns.  The measures in the Firearms Act that attack union members who are firearms owners - measures that would have the CLC screaming in rage if similar rage were directed at union activities - are contrary to many of the most basic principles of the labour movement.  Yet the CLC enthusiastically endorses these measures as long as they are applied to union and non-union firearms owners alike.

Would the CLC endorse "inspections" of workers' homes or even lockers at work to "enhance worker safety", even when there is no suggestion of negligence or an offense taking place under WCB or any other regulations?  Obviously not.  Yet they see no problem with union members who are firearms owners having their homes "inspected" under those provisions of the Firearms Act - and having "inspectors" examine the contents of their computer hard drives and other storage media in the process.  They see no problem with union members who are subjected to one of these "inspections" being compelled to answer questions put to them and being obligated to assist in the search for incriminatory evidence.

Yes, this is the same Canadian Labour Congress who loudly carries on about justice and civil rights, busily at work on behalf of union members who are firearms owners.

The CLC's website can be seen here.

The CLC's support for Wendy Cukier and the Coalition For Gun Control can be seen here.

The CLC 's formal presentation to Members of Parliament, urging the government to pass the Firearms Act can be seen here.

And below is the recorded text of the CLC's testimony to the Committee examining the (at that time) proposed Firearms Act, explaining why they wanted the Firearms Act applied and enforced against their members who own firearms.  Dick Martin of the CLC is speaking to the MP's and answering their questions as he represents YOU:


[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

 Wednesday, May 17, 1995

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The Chair (Warren Allmand): I call the meeting to order. The committee will continue its examination of Bill C-68, An Act respecting firearms and other weapons.

Tonight we will hear from the Canadian Labour Congress. They will be our 67th witness group. They are represented here this evening by Dick Martin, their secretary-treasurer, and Murray Randall, the senior researcher in their social and economic policy department.

Gentlemen, we have your brief. We ask witnesses to limit opening remarks to approximately fifteen minutes. Your brief is very brief, so there's no doubt you can read it in fifteen minutes, if you wish. I understand you also have a video you want to show us.

I give you the floor, Mr. Martin. You can make your introductory remarks and show us your video at the appropriate time.

Mr. Dick Martin (Secretary-Treasurer, Canadian Labour Congress): Thank you very much, Mr. Allmand.

I think I will go through the brief - as you said, it's a brief brief - and then proceed to give our little show and answer questions.

   (...cut for brevity. Read the written submission that was presented here)

Mr. Martin: I think that explains it all. Michael Miller is also a gun owner and a hunter, but as you can see from this video, he certainly strongly supports this resolution that was passed, to which we refer in the brief.

The Chair: Thank you. We will now proceed to the questioning.


Mr. Langlois (Bellechasse): I thank you for your presentation.

On page 2 of your brief, at the end of the first long paragraph, you provide the reasons for your support of Bill C-68. You want a balance between the public's interest in a safe, peaceful and caring society and untethered gun ownership. A little earlier in the same paragraph you refer to your 1994 convention where, if I understand correctly, it was decided to call for a ban on the ownership or possession of hand guns except for law enforcement and military personnel.

Thus, a member of a shooting club could not own a hand gun.

How do you reconcile your desire for a balance between untethered gun ownership and a wish for safety and a total ban on hand guns except in the case of law enforcement or military personnel?


Mr. Martin: By identifying these resolutions to you, our delegation said to go further than what this bill is proposing. We have come to the conclusion that, in terms of a balance between both of them, we are certainly meeting a majority of our members' demands in a resolution and at the same we're recognizing the right of gun owners to have guns and use them in a responsible manner. That's why we're supporting the legislation. Our resolutions are much tougher than what this bill is calling for, but we think, in terms of moderation, this is an appropriate bill to be putting through to achieve the objectives our membership really want.

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Mr. Langlois: You say that the third reason and not the least is that you believe Bill C-68 keeps the faith in memory of the 14 victims at the Montreal Polytechnique and will help lower the number of this sort of crime.

The Canadian Police Association and the witnesses who have come before this committee have for the most part, if not all, shown that, even if the law had been in effect, it would not have prevented such criminal acts as in the case of the Polytechnique and similar ones as in the case of Lépine and Fabrikant.

I would like more detail on the relationship you see, which runs contrary to what the majority says, but what is interesting, between the adoption of Bill C-68 and the lowered risk of violence such as we saw at the École Polytechnique and that committed by Mr. Fabrikant.


Mr. Martin: We are not proposing that either of those terrible tragedies would have been prevented by this bill. What we are proposing, though, is that indeed, in the Polytechnique, with such a bill a lot fewer people would have been killed. For example, this bill wouldn't have stopped him from going into the school, but it hopefully would have stopped him from killing so many people, because it is banning a high magazine count in the amount of bullets that can be held - assault weapons, automatic, semi-automatic. So we aren't saying nobody would have been killed. Likely, less would have been killed.


Mr. Langlois: On page 3 of your brief, you refer to section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom (Note: Martin stated “”life, liberty and security of the person”  provides constitutional support for the regulation of weapons”).  I am not so much concerned about your reference, but, rather, the way you use the charter. It could have a boomerang effect. You propose a very narrow  interpretation of the Charter. On the other hand, some of your affiliates and your unions are before the courts to promote a liberal interpretation, not of section 7, but on the section of the Charter concerning the freedom of association. They claim the freedom of association includes the right to unionize.

This is where I see a danger. You are promoting a very narrow interpretation of section 7, and you may well be told one day: ``Be careful; you called for an extremely conservative approach in you submission and you have a double standard depending on your cause at the time.'' I simply wanted to draw your attention to the possibility of a problem.

Yesterday the Bloc Québécois submitted the amendments it is proposing to Bill C-68. Among other things, it proposes that increases in the registration fees for weapons be limited to the increase in the Consumer Price Index in order to reassure people that the government will not use the registration fees as a tax in disguise, which may start at $10 and rise quickly to $20, $50 or $100. We want to reassure people. Are you in favour of a legislation to limit the government's power to regulate registration charges arbitrarily?


Mr. Martin: About the Bloc amendment, my first question would be whether you are saying you would agree with the $60 fee for five years, $12 a year - but then cap it such that it can't go above the CPI after that. 

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Mr. Langlois: The Bloc is proposing that the government not be able to increase the fees no more than the increase in the consumer price index. In principle, the amendment suggests that we might agree with fees at this point.


Mr. Martin: That hasn't been proposed to us, but I don't see why we would be opposed to something like that. All we're saying is that we agree in order to recapture some of the costs, because some of the criticism has been that it's an expensive piece of legislation that's going to cost the taxpayers a lot of money. Presumably the fees would recapture some of that and save it for the taxpayers.

Outside of that, we do not mean to make the registration costs prohibitive to the people who want to own guns. It's simply trying to recapture costs. 

It shouldn't be a penalty for owning guns. That's the point. 

In answer to you, I don't see a problem with that.


Mr. Langlois: In the present bill, you have no doubt seen that clauses 91 and 92 proposed under Part III of the Criminal Code provide for extremely severe criminal punishment for people possessing firearms without a license or authorization to do so. They would be liable to emprisonment of up to 10 years.

In the amendments it submitted today, the official Opposition is proposing to decriminalize possession of firearms without a license or authorization, in the case of guns or rifles, but not in the case of automatic weapons or restricted weapons, so that possession would be a simple offense, which would not result in a criminal record. An offender would be subject to a fine, but not to a prison term.

Do you not agree that making a person a criminal simply because he or she has an unlicensed firearm is far too drastic a measure and that it would be better to make people more aware than into criminals?


Mr. Martin: The answer is no. We believe you must leave it in the Criminal Code in order to really make it operative. If it is not in the Criminal Code, then it really becomes an option to register or not register and it will not be taken very seriously.

If I could make a comparison - and I am not a lawyer, so I can be taken up on it - as I understand it, marijuana is under the Criminal Code and now if you are caught with a very small amount you usually get an absolute discharge on the first offence. However, the penalties for possession can be very severe. The fact of the matter is that a great amount of discretion is allowed for a judge, the police, and the system to throw the book at the person or not. Generally speaking, it is not thrown.

An analogy used all the time is that Granny used a shotgun out back to go after skunks. She didn't have it registered and she's going to go to jail for ten years, or something absurd. I have faith that the justice system is not going to send Granny to jail for ten years for using the unregistered shotgun on a skunk.

Consequently, I think there's enough leeway in both areas to ensure that this type of action will not be taken by the courts.

As well, there is an appeal system. If some judge is absolutely ridiculous about placing a conviction such as that, then there's an appeal system that it seems to me is usually going to work to the benefit of the person convicted.

I think you would lose all of the essence of this bill by decriminalizing it with respect to registration.

Mr. Ramsay (Crowfoot): Welcome to Ottawa, gentlemen, and thank you for your presentation.

May I ask you if you support this bill in all its aspects?

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Mr. Martin: I would say that generally we support it. I won't get down to every specific of it, because I don't pretend to be a lawyer, knowing every aspect of it, but in all the generalities of it, including the one we just discussed, the answer is that we support the legislation.

Mr. Ramsay: I have difficulty with witnesses who appear before the committee in support of the bill - with your generalization of support - when they do not have an understanding of the potential ramifications of all aspects of the bill. To me it's a little like buying a pig in a poke.

Now, I know you fellows from the CLC don't do that. You don't buy pigs in a poke. Yet at the same time, if you don't know what's in this bill and you give it your support, then what you're doing is giving support to the ramifications of something you don't understand. I don't want to put you on the spot or be unfair with you, but I want you to understand my point, that there are some very serious things in this bill.

We've heard from witnesses who have described the ramifications, both economic and otherwise, that will occur to them as a result of this bill when and if it becomes law in its present state. Of course we're hoping there will be significant amendments to this bill.

You referred to the group that appeared before us just this afternoon. They pointed out some of the encroachments this bill might pose to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Mr. Martin: I would not say we don't know about the bill. We've obviously had people read through it, study it, and see if it meets the objectives.

In response to Mr. Langlois on those specific items he asked about, we said we had positions we had put forward. I don't know who was before you today, but certainly if you see on page 4 -

 Mr. Ramsay: The Canadian Bar Association.

Mr. Martin: - the Canadian Bar Association, and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association - you'll see we didn't make a comment about individual privacy and civil rights. We said we want to make sure the bill sufficiently protects these liberties, and it would also be reasonable to modify the penalties for failing to register a firearm, if that is the case.

Mr. Ramsay, what we're doing is referring a general opinion to this committee for your deliberation and putting our views forward on things like that. As I said, we're not down to specifics. I don't pretend to be a legal beagle before you.

Mr. Ramsay: I appreciate that, because there are aspects of this bill I know absolutely nothing about; and I'll tell you why. Under the definition clause, clause 2, which deals with the definition, it defines the word ``prescribed.''. If you look at page 3, ``prescribed'' means, in the case of a form or the information to be included on a form, prescribed by the federal minister, and in any other case prescribed by the regulations. In this bill there are 75 places where the word ``prescribed'' appears, which means regulations will be made in 75 areas of this bill; regulations we have no idea about. They're not before us.

So I share with all witnesses who have appeared before this committee that same kind of feeling, that I do not know what this bill is eventually going to look like. If I support this bill, I am, in a sense and to a certain degree, supporting a pig in a poke, because the minister has enormous powers to pass regulations that are not as yet described for this committee. We may be able to get some direction from the justice minister when he appears before us on Friday.

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Now I would like to go to another area.

Mr. Martin: May I respond to that first? I understand your concern. I don't find it terribly unusual. I can't recall 75 places where regulations were going to be developed, but our expertise has been basically in labour legislation, occupational health and safety legislation, and the regulatory development there.

We'd have no objections if, for example, a parliamentary review process were put in place to develop the regulations before they are set. I think that would be ultimately reasonable if you're concerned with a tremendous amount of ministerial power. It would seem to be an appropriate way to have it out in the open in terms of a review process to establish the regulations so that everybody knows what's on the table and what's being considered.

Mr. Ramsay: We may not have that. We may pass this bill and the regulations and Orders in Council and so forth will come afterwards.

Mr. Martin: Usually that's the way it operates.

Mr. Ramsay: Yes. We don't really know. With so many areas in this bill where regulations are going to follow, we really don't completely know what this bill is all about.

I want to move on to another area. I have about two or three minutes left, according to my watch.

In your brief you refer to this as a gun control bill, but I submit to you with respect that this bill will not control rifles and shotguns; it will only register them. Inasmuch as we have heard witnesses, including the justice minister, indicate that the registration of rifles and shotguns will be an inducement to the owners to safeguard them, we have seen no empirical evidence to support that. All I have heard is speculation.

In addition to that, it has been suggested that a firearm, a rifle or a shotgun, that's locked up will be a deterrent to someone who loses their sense of responsibility through a fit of rage, drunkenness, or despair in the case of suicides and wants to use that firearm against themselves or someone else in the home.

We have had the attorneys general from the three prairie provinces and the justice ministers from the two territories appear before this committee. If my memory is correct, almost all of them indicated that they did not see the linkage between the registration of rifles and shotguns and the enhanced safety of society, which we all seek.

Could you tell me how you think the registration of rifles and shotguns is going to reduce the criminal use of those firearms?

Mr. Martin: Well, it's certainly my perception that, as you said, in a fit of rage or drunkenness, the less accessible the weapon is, the better the chance it won't get used. That's certainly the linkage I make between the two.

Generally speaking, it's my understanding that when a shotgun or a rifle is close by in the house - and that's usually where the murder of a wife takes place - it's going to be helpful to have some type of mechanism or closet under lock and key that's harder to get at. That's the linkage I make between them.

On registration, in terms of the prevention of violence, it seems to me the important aspect there, aside from my answer to you, is that the police will know, especially when they're called in to a domestic dispute, in which a lot of police die, that there are weapons in that house and what those weapons are.

Presumably they can then operate in a different way.

So it seems to me you do two things. There's a good chance it's going to protect the lives of the individuals inside better - I would agree with you there's no guarantee, but it seems to me to be a much better chance - and second of all it helps the police in a domestic dispute, including saving the lives of officers.

The Chair: You've reached the end of your time, but I'm sure you'll have another opportunity.

Mr. Gallaway for ten minutes.

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Mr. Gallaway (Sarnia - Lambton): Welcome, Mr. Martin, to this evening's session.

I was quite taken with your brief, because I appreciate that you are not lawyers and you're not here to engage in a debate on the minute legal nuances of this bill. Certainly we've heard from a number of medical doctors who came on behalf of responsible gun owners and who were quite willing to express legal opinions. We've also heard from legal authorities who wanted to express medical opinions. So it's very nice to hear from you, who talk about Canadian values; values in this country.

I grew up in a home where my father worked in a factory. I'm quite aware of the work of the UAW, as it was in those days; now the CAW. I think we have to look at this in terms of the trends in the country. I'm certainly aware of the work of the union movement in what you mentioned as being the occupational health and safety field. I'm aware that in the occupational health and safety field, legislation has certainly grown. The legislative burden, if I can call it that, has grown - well, from certain perspectives the number of laws in that regard has grown considerably over the past forty, fifty, or sixty years. For some that represents a development they don't care for, from a certain vested interest. One can certainly understand that for some people there's a cost associated with that. Yet I know your member organizations have persisted.

I wonder if you could tell us just how many people you represent.

Mr. Martin: In the Canadian Labour Congress, 2.4 million.

Mr. Gallaway: And we did see that very moving video. Was there opposition to the passage of this resolution?

Mr. Martin: Very minimal. Quite frankly, I was surprised. I thought because we have delegates from across the country and from the north - obviously a great number of them are hunters, and although we never did a survey, I suspect certainly gun owners and some gun collectors. But there was very little opposition.

Mr. Gallaway: But there was some, I take it?

Mr. Martin: To tell you the truth, I can't even remember the speeches in opposition to it. So the answer is there may not have been. If there were, they were so minimal it didn't register.

Mr. Gallaway: You have an open convention. I'm going to ask you this: Do you in any way control the speakers' list whenever a resolution is put to the general assembly?

Mr. Martin: I wish we could, but the answer is no. I might say it isn't from lack of trying, sometimes, maybe, but the answer is our conventions are about the most democratic trade union conventions in the whole world. Just come and see one and you'll believe me.

Mr. Gallaway: Okay.

How many people would have been in attendance?

Mr. Martin: At the first convention, in 1990, there were about 2,300. In 1994 there were 2,257 delegates.

Mr. Gallaway: About the 2.4 million you represent, you cover all ten provinces and two territories?

Mr. Martin: Correct.

Mr. Gallaway: I know your organization is consulted by government on a number of matters, and I'm aware of your very prominent place in driving the occupational health and safety agenda in this country. Certainly if one compares our record here with that of the United States, you have a lot to be very proud of.

Let me ask you this, then. Were you ever consulted, for example, by Mr. Romanow in Saskatchewan? Did he ever talk to you or your organization about this?

Mr. Martin: About gun control?

Mr. Gallaway: Yes.

Mr. Martin: No.

Mr. Gallaway: Do you know if Mr. Romanow or his attorney general - ? Did the Government of Alberta consult with you?

Mr. Martin: No. They certainly don't consult with us on much. The answer is no.

Mr. Gallaway: Well, let me ask you an open-ended - did anyone from a government department, to your knowledge, consult with your organization at some time?

Mr. Martin: No provincial government, to the best of my knowledge, consulted with us. I'm pretty sure about that.

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Mr. Gallaway: When we look at the whole business of occupational health and safety as an example, is there in your opinion, or has there been, to your knowledge, historically, a burden of proof put on a piece of legislation? In other words, if a piece of legislation is proposed - I'm trying to think of an example of that, but I'm sorry, I can't - have legislators said to you, ``We want some sort of a cost-benefit analysis or study done? We want absolute proof that if this legislation is enacted, we must find a payback on this - or that we must see a result tomorrow'', for example?

Mr. Martin: It's interesting. Actually, the answer is yes. Certainly that demand is made of us by government and by employers many times, but a standard debate goes on in terms of occupational health and safety that you have to have a body count in order to prove it. It's something like the old argument that you won't straighten out the highway until you have 15 people dead at that curve.

We argue that we should be taking preventative measures, not sacrificing lives before legislation is imposed. In this regard, this is exactly the case: we have a body count and it's time to put it in.

So using the answer that we are always giving: never mind any further studies or proof; let's do something about it. That's our position. We have the body count. It continues to rise. It continues onward, and let's do something about it.

As for how we can do that, we think this is a good step. Occupational health and safety are always trying to put an onerous amount of responsibility on us to prove that this is a dangerous chemical or a dangerous situation, but we say, ``No - let's save people before they die''.

Mr. Gallaway: So your emphasis is on prevention as opposed to after-the-fact punishment.

Mr. Martin: Absolutely.

Mr. Gallaway: Do you believe, then, that this bill is a representation of what we would call Canadian values, whatever that may mean?

Mr. Martin: I understand your question. I strongly support it from the viewpoint that I, in my job, happen to be able to travel a great deal in the United States and other parts and I have a lot of colleagues in the United States. It's absolutely appalling how the weapons issue has got so far in front of them. I really don't know how they will ever catch up, even if they have the political will in any administration.

There are so many weapons around the place now. I know colleagues who carry guns and sisters who carry guns in purses. It's absurd.

As I've said before, there are forks in the road and this is a critical time in our history to take the action to differentiate ourselves substantially from what's happened in the United States, where I don't know if it will ever get under control.

I think we can have the best of all worlds. We can still have guns. We can still do target shooting. We can still be hunters, but we don't have to kill each other.

Mr. Gallaway: What do you think about the degree of opposition to this bill? We're aware of the national polls, which have been carried out by a number of arm's-length firms, yet we continue to hear from various politicians from the west and other parts of Canada that they in fact represent the majority.

What do you think about this? It's a very vocal opposition, but, as a person who deals with a large number of people, what's your idea of their relative strength?

Mr. Martin: I think they're very good at running around the top of the mountain blowing trumpets. You'd think there was an army out there, but I don't think it's very large.

I do think there are people - and I think that somehow or other they have to be reached - who are really concerned. They're hunters. They're legitimate gun owners who haven't read the legislation but have listened to their various clubs or political leaders and are misinformed in saying that you're going to have your guns seized or that you'll have to go down to the police station and obtain your gun before you can go target-practising or go hunting - and that this is the next step toward having the seizure of all guns. You get into the extreme.

I think it's a good explanation of exactly what we understand in the bill, which is that there would be very little opposition. As I said, I'm an occasional hunter. I have guns. I'm not frightened of the bill. I have friends who have guns and who are hunters who are not frightened of the bill. I don't see anything onerous in it. I don't particularly want to pay $60, but I understand the rationale for that. I don't have anything to hide. I take care of them now.

So basically, what is the big deal? It comes down to understanding that I do not want - we made reference to this in here - more police intervention in my house, obviously, because they didn't like me in the last strike or something. We're very careful about the civil liberties aspect of it. Outside of that, it's not an encroachment at all on civil liberties, as far as we see.

Mr. Gallaway: Would you not also acknowledge that under certain occupational health and safety legislation, for example, there would appear to be widespread inspection powers for government officials to come in and examine workplaces?

Mr. Martin: We certainly advocate it. There is legislation for one to go into workplaces unannounced, do an immediate inspection, make immediate orders, and in fact make charges and proceed to obtain convictions. Yes, once again, it's correct, in terms of analogy, for workplace inspectors to have that power.


Mr. Langlois: On the last page of your brief, at least in the French version, on the page preceeding the signatures, when you talk about the advantages that could result from the bill, you say that it could help reduce illegal gun trafficking. I find it a little hard to follow your argument, because if firearms acquisition is made more difficult, guns become legally accessible to fewer people, which will have the opposite effect, which is to increase gun trafficking.


Mr. Martin: It's not our intention to necessarily cut it down, but the fact is that there are a number of people in the country who should not own weapons.

They have problems.

You're saying that if they can't get them legally, they'll obtain them illegally. Hopefully, under this bill, there will be a lot more power to intervene and intercept illegal weapons.

But again, as we said in our brief, we don't think this is necessarily a panacea. We'd be foolish to think it was going to stop smuggling, but we think it's going to have an effect on smuggling and the purchase of illegal arms, especially coming across the border.

So the answer is no, I don't think it's going to increase the amount of illegal guns.


Mr. Langlois: I simply wanted to indicate that they already are smuggling rings for cigarettes and drugs, and that because they are already in place, they can smuggle anything. That is what worries me. Would you be in favour of including in the bill a sunset clause or a clause providing for a mandatory review of the bill after a trial period which could be three or five years?


Mr. Martin: I think a review of legislation is always helpful, but not within an unreasonable period. I don't know. I think three years is a bit short in order to get the bill up and running. But as for a five-year period, why not?

We agreed before that the Canadian Environmental Protection Act should be reviewed every five years. That is an exceedingly important act that governs the environment of the country, so we don't see any problem with reviewing something like this.


Mr. Langlois: I cannot resist asking you this last question. On the one hand, the Canadian Labour Congress passed a resolution in favour of gun control.

On the other hand, the congress supports the New Democratic Party. Yet, the New Democratic Party is fighting Bill C-68. Which of those two resolutions is most important to you?

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Mr. Martin: The New Democratic Party doesn't run us. We reserve the right to disagree, and obviously in this case we disagree with the caucus of the New Democratic Party in the House of Commons. That's about all I can say. They have made a decision to go their way on this and we've made a decision to go this way on this. We think it's a very important piece of legislation, affecting the social climate and the general safety of this country.

Mr. DeVillers (Simcoe North): Thank you, Mr. Martin and Mr. Randall, for your very clear and well-prepared brief.

I have just one point I would like to clarify, on page 4, in the fourth paragraph. First you say you share the concerns of the Canadian Bar Association and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Then you say it may also be reasonable to modify the penalties for failing - especially inadvertently - to register a firearm. Yet in answer to Mr. Langlois's question you said you don't favour decriminalization of failing to register, as I understood it, pretty much in any situation. What would you be contemplating by these modifications to the penalties?

Mr. Martin: You can certainly still leave it in the Criminal Code, but you can modify the Criminal Code about penalties that apply to doing something like that. We're saying to keep it in the Criminal Code, but if it looks like it is very onerous and coming down heavily on somebody, especially inadvertently having a weapon, the penalty can be rather meek, at least for a first offence.

So we're saying keep it in the Criminal Code, but if you think it's in the interest of civil liberties and such, modify it.

Mr. DeVillers: One of the concerns expressed by some of the gun owners is the stigma of a criminal record being attached for inadvertently failing to comply with, or through negligence not complying with, the requirements to register.

You may know there are two clauses in the bill, one dealing with inadvertently failing to register and one dealing with wilfully failing to register. How do you feel the bill would be weakened if the inadvertently failing to register clause, dealing with shotguns and rifles, not with prohibited or restricted weapons, were put in the firearms act and made strictly a summary conviction offence, so there wouldn't be the stigma of a criminal record attached to those types of offences? How do you feel that would weaken the bill or the registration system?

Mr. Martin: The problem becomes one of a decision over whether or not it was inadvertent. Then you really set up a two-tier system, with one saying we believe you were purposely ignoring the bill and not registering or you are in possession of illegal weapons - as opposed to the person who is supposedly inadvertently carrying it. What we're trying to do is to leave a little discretion here for a judge, the crown attorney, and the police.

Mr. DeVillers: We have that already with the two clauses that are there. Clauses 91 and 92 make that distinction about ``wilful''. So there's already that area where the prosecutors and the investigators would be exercising that discretion, whether an offence was wilful or not.

Mr. Martin: Was it inadvertently once, inadvertently twice, inadvertently three times?

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Mr. DeVillers: It could be up to the investigating officers and the prosecutors to make those determinations, but - 

Mr. Martin: I believe there's enough discretion, going back once again and asking, why not leave it in the Criminal Code? It is my understanding that there is enough discretion there to consider it to be not very serious the first time if everybody is convinced that it really was inadvertent.

Mr. DeVillers: But if it attaches the stigma of a criminal record and affects the person who inadvertently failed to register it, I want -

Mr. Martin: If I was going to get into a debate, I think there are a number of other items in the Criminal Code that should come out of it. To be blunt about it, not many people take it too seriously in some charges under the Criminal Code that are still there and end up with absolute discharges from the courts.

Once again, I was doing an analogy in terms of simple possession of marijuana. You can get a criminal record by that, but most of the time the judges simply toss it out of the courts when it's the first offence involving a small amount. But it is under the Criminal Code. As far as I know, it doesn't do very much to the person. 

Mr. DeVillers: Strictly, the argument is also made that more compliance may be obtained by having people less hostile towards the act, because I think therearen't the resources in the police forces to carry on the investigations of every home, residence, barn, and building in the country. What do you think of that argument?

Mr. Martin: That's a political decision, but as I understand the bill, you're giving it enough time. Enough time is going to be given for it to become operative. If I'm correct, it will be in the year 2003. So that is an eight-year period. If you're a gun owner and you don't understand that you have to register your gun in that eight years, then you're surely living far out in the woods and not reading the papers very much, not knowing that you should be doing that.

Most gun owners are maybe not really active in terms of hunting. I would certainly agree that perhaps there are some, farmers who are keeping the shotgun behind the door for a fox or a skunk or something else. At the same time, eight years, if that's it, is an awfully long time.

To overcome the hostility, I think there is going to be a vast majority of people who are gun owners who maybe are simply going to complain, but who are going to say, ``Well, that's where it's at. That's the law'', and then register. Very few are going to practise civil disobedience and so on, because the fact is that most gun owners and hunters are law-abiding citizens and abide by the laws whether they agree with them or not.

Mr. Breitkreuz (Yorkton - Melville): You said you were not a lawyer and you didn't have expertise in the details of this bill, but apparently you represent the workers of Canada, so you would have expertise in another area. I'd like to ask you about the expertise you have in that area.

In your research, I'm sure one of the first things you asked yourself is what impact this will have on jobs and employment in Canada. I don't find it addressed in here. What would you have to say in that regard?

Mr. Martin: In terms of any dampening of jobs in Canada, the impact would be very negligible. I don't foresee that arms manufacturers are going to shut down because of the bill.

I read a letter from a Texas conservationist operation that said if you pass the bill it's going to have a big effect on tourism. I'd like to see how many Texans come to Canada to go hunting. As well, if they do come to Canada to go hunting, they bring their supervans with American gasoline, American groceries, and American beer in them and leave very little behind. So it's just too bad they're not going to come to Canada.

So the answer is that there would be a negligible effect upon the workers, not just our members.

Mr. Breitkreuz: Obviously you are out of touch with some of the evidence that has been given before this committee. I thought you might be aware of what firearms manufacturers have told us, that they are going to be put at risk. The outfitters who have appeared and have submitted briefs have told us this will have a huge impact and is already having an impact on their industry. Hunting and related activities by Canadians will be severely impacted upon.

You have shooting clubs that will be declining in membership. And you tell me this won't impact upon jobs in Canada?

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Mr. Martin: I would expect a firearms manufacturer to say that. They would be rather silly not to say it. They're obviously putting pressure on the committee and the government to say something like that. I don't expect them to say anything different from that.

Look at the track record in the United States of the National Rifle Association. It's probably the most successful lobby group for keeping weapons out in the open - I should say ``closed'' - in the United States for the sole purpose of selling more guns.

The arms manufacturers here intend on selling more guns, so they're against any restrictive legislation such as this. They think it will deter the purchase of guns. We're saying it's not going to deter the purchase of guns by law-abiding hunters.

It's an absurd statement, quite frankly. I don't think they can produce any evidence that would demonstrate that.

Mr. Breitkreuz: Sir, what studies have you done to support your position? I find it very interesting that you are coming out with a statement here that's completely contrary to what obviously will take place.

Let me ask you another question. What effect does joblessness or increased unemployment have on society? Unemployment will no doubt increase because of this bill. All of these people have come before the committee. 

That should have been the crux of your presentation, but you in no way have addressed it. I'm wondering why it would be so and what effect there would be if there is increased unemployment.

Mr. Martin: First, I think the evidence is incumbent upon the arms manufacturers to prove this, not on me.

Mr. Breitkreuz: What about these other areas, like joblessness?

Mr. Martin: We have no evidence from anybody who has any veracity at all to prove there's going to be joblessness. So this ``It's horrible that we're going to have all these outfitters and arms manufacturers out of business'' - I'll bet you it will be so negligible that it wouldn't be worth talking about.

A question was asked by one of the members about whether we would be agreeable to having a review in three or five years. I'd say we should go ahead and have the review in five years. I'll bet you there won't be any damage to jobs.

Sure, we are very concerned about jobs. In fact, most of our briefs are all about jobs all the time. Obviously, if we thought it was going to have a substantial effect upon the jobs of our members or Canadian workers, we'd take it pretty seriously, but we're not taking it seriously.

Mr. Breitkreuz: That's very interesting. You made one statement on page 4 that I find also very interesting, that if it saves one life, then it will be worth it.

What about the alternative? What if it costs lives? What if it ties up the police behind their desks in order to register guns, rather than being out on the street? What if it gives criminals information they would not have previously had, and puts people at risk? What if it gives a large segment of the population a very negative attitude toward the law because they don't see this as a useful law? What if it throws people out of work? You didn't answer that question. What if unemployment increases? What effect does that have on crime?

Mr. Martin: Let me go to your last statement on unemployment. Certainly I don't think the Canadian economy is going to rise and fall on the passage of a gun control bill. There are a lot of other economic reasons, starting off with the privatization of certain organizations, that will have a drastic effect upon jobs.

Certainly government lay-offs have a terrible effect upon jobs. I would respectfully submit that if you're really concerned about jobs, you should speak out on the 40,000 public sector workers who are about to be displaced from the federal government or at the provincial level.

I would say to you that the jobs that'll be lost by this would be so negligible - I'll repeat it once again - that it won't count for anything. This is a pure scaremongering tactic by arms manufacturers, gun shop owners and some, not all, clubs.

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So we have a distinctive disagreement about the effect -

Mr. Breitkreuz: You didn't answer my question: what if it costs lives?

Mr. Martin: We don't believe it will cost lives; we believe it will save lives.

Obviously, we wouldn't be here supporting it if we thought it was going to cost lives. Goodness gracious, you might disagree with us, but we're not crazy.

The Chair: Mr. Martin, some have come before this committee who were asked by some members of the committee for empirical evidence for an absolute link between the proposed registration system and public safety, as if public safety was a static situation. For instance, either you have public safety or you don't have public safety. There were no shades of gray or varying degrees of public safety. They asked for empirical evidence to draw that link.

I was in Parliament when our government brought in the breathalyzer. I can remember all the same arguments. The breathalyzer was an undue infringement on our civil rights. It was violating the right to remain silent in that you were testifying against yourself.

It was always asked that one should demonstrate that by bringing in this terrible thing, which was a violation of civil liberties, there was going to be an absolute link between that and public safety on the highways. There would be less drunken driving.

Of course, many of us argued that we couldn't demonstrate that if you bring it in, the rate of drunken driving will go down from exactly this percentage to exactly that percentage. But many of us who supported bringing it in - there was a lot of opposition at the time - were convinced that it would reduce drunkenness on the highway, but we couldn't say by what percentage.

It seems to me that this is a similar type of thing. Many of us believe that registration will enhance public safety, but if somebody wonders whether the number of homicides goes from this to that, we can't say.

You say we should have a review in five years, and we'll be able to demonstrate that sort of thing. With any new measure put before Parliament, it's very difficult to show an absolute link between the measure and the level of public safety. You have a certain amount of evidence by which you can do it. 

By the way, the breathalyzer has proved, with other things I think, to have accomplished quite a bit.

This is the fourth debate on gun control on which I've participated in Parliament. I introduced a bill in 1976. That was when we introduced the firearms acquisition certificate for the first time. People said that, if we brought that in, it would destroy hunting, ruin the sport, and take away their guns, which were all the same arguments.

I only have the figures for Ontario. In Ontario in 1976, which was the year we brought in the bill, 587,434 hunting licences were issued. The year after the bill, in 1977, there were 598,929 hunting licences. In 1979, there were 551,000, which was a slight decline. Then it went up in 1980 to 589,127. 

If you follow the hunting licences issued in Canada, the three bills that were equally opposed by the same lobby groups opposing this bill - used the same scare tactics, yet hunting licences, for the most part, have nevertheless increased in almost all provinces with the increase in population.

I'm wondering if you would mind commenting on both of those examples. It is an example that you cannot absolutely prove links by giving empirical evidence that it's going to be absolutely reduced from this level to that level. 

I'm wondering if you would mind commenting on both those examples. They are examples where you cannot absolutely prove links. This question, ``Give us empirical evidence that it's going to be absolutely reduced from this level to that, or that level to this'' - I mean, I presume it's the same thing with your safety legislation. You couldn't give absolute figures in advance as to the rate of injuries before and after the measure you propose. Is that right or wrong?

Mr. Martin: I guess the best way to turn it on its ear, to the opponents of proposed legislation like this, is to prove that it won't do what it says. They can't do that, either.

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Once again, the best analogy in my experience is occupational health and safety legislation. You're correct that in terms of dealing with it, the arguments go on endlessly sometimes if you create the mandatory co-committees required under legislation. As for giving absolute evidence that this is going to bring down workplace accidents or workplace occupational disease, we couldn't do that. 

It was only by putting forward arguments that we thought had a lot of common sense - I might say that, eventually, many employers accepted these - that the co-committees could work in a cooperative manner to improve occupational health and safety in the workplace. After years of it, all kinds of evidence shows that this is, in fact, bringing down occupational accidents and diseases.

I'll use the seat belt legislation as another example in terms of the provinces. There was vociferous opposition to it. I think it's pretty clear already that it's reduced highway fatalities.

It's a public safety issue; you don't kill somebody else because you're not wearing a seat belt, but at least you don't kill yourself and have further injuries.

I went through a motorcycle helmet debate in Manitoba. It was absolutely wild. I think the evidence is pretty well in, because now they're passing legislation on having bicycle helmets.

I guess you have to expect opposition. I think some of it is because people are really concerned about an attack on their civil liberties. Others are doing it for vested interests, such as to not have more costs imposed on them. 

I don't believe the government can provide any empirical evidence that this legislation's going to set it here or here, but in terms of general common sense, I think it's going to improve the safety of Canadian citizens.


Mr. Langlois: Mr. DeVillers raised a question about criminalization I had mentioned at the start. I'd like to come back on this rather basic question.

If we adopt this bill as is, it is guaranteed that there will be more criminals in Canada for the simple reason that we are going to create new offences. Is it really necessary to criminalize and give a criminal record with all its attendant consequences to somebody who by negiglence or inadvertence has in his house a rifle or a shotgun that was bought ten or 20 years ago? 

To me, it's not worth to possess a firearm - I'm not talking about restricted firearms but about shotguns, rifles, hunting weapons - without any bad intention, innocently, than to drive a car with a suspended licence, which is not a criminal offence. Don't you think it's somewhat extraordinary, disproportionate to punish somebody who, for all practical purposes, will have infringed a regulation and not a substantive criminal provision? Could you explain that in more details because you haven't really convinced me. I share most of the arguments put forward by Mr. DeVillers.


  Mr. Martin: I don't want to be repetitive, but I think there are probably enough lawyers sitting around this table to correct me if I'm wrong.

You can get an absolute discharge if you've been charged with a criminal offence. Say you go before a judge. Your firearm has been in the closet for 10 years, and you forgot about it. If the judge believes that, you'll get an absolute discharge. You don't get a criminal record.

I believe most judges - I don't think I'm terribly naive - on a simple, first-time offence like that won't throw the book at the person. Obviously, no crime or incident was involved. Somehow or other, the gun showed up, and he's charged.

So the answer is that you don't have to have a criminal record, even though it's under the Criminal Code.

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Mr. Langlois: Then, Mr. Martin, we have a problem. According to the Criminal Records Act, chapter C-47 on the Statutes of Canada, any conviction for a non offence under a federal statute brings a criminal record. When we talk about innocent or indadvertent posession of a weapon without the required licence or authorization, do you still think that the commission of this specific offence should always translate into a criminal record because the judge cannot order that this conviction not be registered in a criminal record?

The judge may impose a light fine and grant an absolute discharge, but an absolute discharge according to the Criminal Records Act is a conviction which must be erased after being granted a pardon. Knowing that, do you still maintain that it should be a criminal offence under the Criminal Code and the Criminal Records Act?


Mr. Martin: I'm not aware that they would have a police record if a judge were to make absolute discharge and strike it from the record. However, the answer is that if you are right, I would still say to you that if you change it - I'm being repetitive because I can't give you any further answers - you set up a two-tier system.

The problem I have is ``inadvertent''. What is inadvertent? You really have to leave it to the discretion of the crown prosecutor, the police, and the judge. But if you put ``inadvertent'' into some type of less meaningful thing, then you're gutting much of the intent of the registration.

That's the problem that the committee members really have to take very seriously. That's the problem you have. I think it makes it a lot less operable and does not meet the objectives of what I believe the legislation is put in place for.


Mr. Langlois: Your position is quite clear, Mr. Martin, and I won't ask you any more questions on that.

I will still have a last question. You don't want a two-tir judicial system, a system that would be different for certain people. There is a provision of the Act that concerns me very much. This provision allows the governor in council, that is the Government of Canada, the executive, to prescribe, without consulting Parliament, conditions under which the Act or its regulations will apply to a native people of Canada and to adopt that provision to that application. Thus, for all practical purposes, the governor in council is authorized to adopt a statute, without having to consult Parliament, for a special group of the Canadian society.

I know that the native people question - chief Erasmus came here to say quite clearly - the authority of the federal Parliament. Unless you share that point of view, that is that the federal Parliament of Canada has no power over the native people, are you in favour of a legislative provision that would authorize the governor in council to declare that statute not applicable to part of the population or would you rather wish this this statute would apply to all citizens of Canada, without any exception?


Mr. Martin: I don't think we should be giving Order in Council or cabinet the power to necessarily exempt any group. You're quite right; we're fairly positive on not exempting or putting in a two-tier system for ``inadvertent''. On the other hand, I do think there has to be some really close examination of native culture, native rights, and native needs.

I'm giving you a very general answer, but what I'm saying is I don't think their claim should be just totally ignored and thrown out.

I do think that some special considerations in terms of understanding what their needs are have to be considered.

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At the same time, I might say that in northern areas and certainly in native areas, they have as serious a problem as anybody with gun homicides and woundings and such. So the answer is to proceed very judiciously but with an open mind.

The Chair: Mrs. Barnes.

Mrs. Barnes (London West): Welcome, gentlemen. I appreciated reading your brief, and I'll tell you why. It was in simple language. I've gone through 60-odd briefs, and this one was clear and easy to understand. It proved to me that you had read what evidence was out there for you to read; otherwise you wouldn't have been able to come up with the numbers you came up with in your brief. I recognized the numbers from the reading we've had to do as we sit around this table here. So I appreciate that.

When we're talking about empirical data, when the first piece of firearms legislation was brought before the committee of that time, they didn't even have what we have today. I note that on page 2 of your brief, when you talk about the comparison of the 18 western countries, that's empirical data we did have that was collated after some of our gun control legislation in this country. I recognize that study. So it's not as though we're operating in a total vacuum here.

I think what you brought up about the seat belt legislation is very relevant. There wasn't a lot of empirical data when people decided to pass laws enforcing seat belts. Yet after the fact we now can gather the effect from that foresight of the legislators who had to sit around those tables and enforce that legislation.

There isn't a lot that I disagree with in your brief. Regarding your resolution to ban handguns, I believe, at least with the target shooters I've seen in my riding, they have a right to enjoy their hobby as long as they do it in a safe and regulated manner. I think the controls that are in place, now accentuated by controls that are fair under this legislation, will allow people who enjoy that type of recreational sport and those who become very proficient at it to go forward and progress into the higher levels of competition, of which we are very proud.

I just want to go over one more time some of the statements I've heard tonight and some of the statements you gave in answer to questions.

In response to a Bloc question I think you said you didn't see anything wrong with reviewing this in five years' time. By my reading of the legislation, it will be about 2003 before this legislation is implemented and I'd hate to be sitting around the table in five years dealing with it before we've even gotten this one in force.

Do you want to just clarify your point there?

Mr. Martin: You make a good point. If my arithmetic is correct, it's eight years before it comes in. However, I still think eight years is probably a rather long time. It seems to me that you probably should have a very good idea, in a five-year period of time, of whether you're on the right track.

I'm not suggesting that you have a full parliamentary committee with 67 briefs coming in. It can be a limited parliamentary committee that does a review.

I think it should always be open. In terms of developing and reviewing legislation it should be transparent. It would give you a good idea if you were on the right track. I was not talking about an onerous month-after-month committee. But in another five years it could once again have a review.

On the other hand, let's face it; you would expect, and the government usually does do, a bit of tracking on how successful or unsuccessful their legislation is, especially controversial legislation like this. You may very well find that some fine tuning could be done that would enhance the legislation in a five-year period, to make sure it's going to meet the objectives it should.

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When I say fine tuning, I'm not advocating a wholesale overturn of the thing and starting all over again, but I think there has to be monitoring of it.

Mrs. Barnes: I think my time is up. Thank you. 

The Chair: Yes, your time is up. 

Mr. Epp.

Mr. Epp (Elk Island): I want to thank you for being here, gentlemen. I also want to tell you that I'm a substitute on this committee, so if I don't appear fully awake it's because it's already been a 16-hour day.

The Chair: That's nothing compared with this committee.

Mr. Epp: I know that.

All of my questions are on your report. First of all, on page 2 you indicate that ``Rifles and shotguns are the weapons most commonly used by husbands who kill their wives'' and ``There are over 5 million rifles and shotguns in Canada; their ownership is not known to police.''

I want you to simply tell me whether or not you are aware of the statistics on how many handguns there are in Canada, how many rifles and shotguns there are, and whether the number of murders or accidental deaths is in proportion to the number of those particular weapons.

Mr. Martin: As I understand it, something in the order of 40% of homicides in the home are done with rifles and shotguns. That seems awfully high to me, and it's because they're not registered or locked up. They're accessible, and that's another question here.

Mr. Epp: I remember reading somewhere not long ago that the number of deaths by guns, either handguns or rifles or shotguns, is actually proportionately higher for handguns than for rifles and shotguns. Those are statistics I remember. I don't remember the exact numbers, but I remember it struck me. The reason it struck me was that right now, rifles and shotguns are not required to be registered but handguns are required to be registered, and it seems to have no effect in reducing their use in this type of death or injury. I have very limited time, so perhaps I'll just accept your answer that you don't have those statistics. I think we'd better be really honest here and say that registration is not really effective in reducing that kind of death. If a guy is going to get mad at his wife and if the gun is there, unless you're going to confiscate it, the registration of it doesn't prevent him from using it.

Mr. Martin: The answer in the statistics we've seen on it is that in fact registration of the handguns probably has helped in having fewer handgun murders. I don't have it here, but I believe a greater proportion of murders are in fact committed with shotguns and rifles.

Mr. Epp: Yes, but not in proportion to the number of weapons that are there. That's what I'm saying. I think that is the reasonable statistic. It's just an empirical question mark on whether or not the registration will have any effect.

Mr. Martin: One of the major points is to be pretty tough on the issues of handguns so that we're not going to have more murders with them. 

Mr. Epp: Okay, I want to come to that in just a few milliseconds.

Before I do that, on page 5 are the arguments in favour of this legislation.

You have listed a number of them: ``to enforce safe storage requirements'' and so on. One is ``to reduce the illegal trade in rifles and shotguns''. I'd like to know what illegal trade in rifles and shotguns you're talking about, since at the present time you can trade them freely. What illegal trade are you talking about there?

Mr. Martin: We're talking about ones that are smuggled in and traded, or stolen ones.

Mr. Epp: If they're smuggled in and traded now, when registration is not required, do you suppose the registration requirement will actually reduce the amount of smuggling, or will it increase it? Stop to think, now.

Mr. Martin: Yes, I know. I gave as an answer that we believe it's going to reduce the amount of smuggling.

Mr. Epp: On what basis? Why would that be? If I can bring in a weapon without having to register it and without it being illegal, if I'm now smuggling them in, why would I stop smuggling them in if I'm required to register them?

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Mr. Martin: First of all, it's going to be tougher, because police will know which weapons are legal and which ones are not, which ones are registered and which ones are not. They can follow them. Consequently it will be tougher to smuggle them in.

Of course you're not going to register them, but it will be tougher to smuggle them in simply because there will be a lot more monitoring of which weapons are registered and which ones are legal or illegal.

Mr. Epp: Your logic escapes me. 

The Chair: Mr. Epp, you say you haven't been to the committee, but the statistics we have from Stats Canada say 53% of crimes with guns in Canada are with long guns and 17% are with handguns. We don't have figures on the ratio between total handguns available and crimes with handguns, and we certainly don't have it with long guns, because there's no registration of long guns. We don't know how many long guns there are; there are only estimates. 

Mr. Epp: I don't mean to debate you, Mr. Chairman, but in terms of the proportion, there are estimates of how many guns there are. When you're talking about registering them, you're saying there are so many guns out there that are going to be registered. So those estimates are there.

Based on the best estimate numbers, according to this article I read - and I don't remember the numbers, unfortunately - the number of deaths caused by handguns is proportionately higher than the number of guns versus the number of rifles and shotguns out there.

The Chair: We all interpret these things in different ways; that's part of a democracy. I respect your argument, but I would argue that registration is the reason we have fewer handguns. You're entitled to your interpretation.

Mr. Martin: It's always been my belief that it's already pretty tough to get a handgun, and consequently there are fewer of them. People aren't going to go through the hassle of having a handgun and keeping it for target practice. 

Mr. Epp: With all of the restrictions and the registration required on handguns, it's surprising we have any murders with them at all, if it's an effective deterrent.

Mr. Martin: The question is how many murders would there be without the registration?

Mr. Gallaway: To follow Mr. Epp's line of reasoning, if we were to look at jurisdictions that have health and safety laws that were frozen in 1934 and compare them with today's laws, where do you think you would find the lower rate of workplace accidents?

Mr. Martin: Where would I find a lower rate? No place.

Mr. Gallaway: Let me rephrase that. 

If there were no occupational health and safety regulations - I'm going to make the assumption that maybe there are some very rudimentary ones in certain jurisdictions, perhaps in the United States. We certainly know in the famous free trade zone of Mexico that occupational health and safety rules are virtually non-existent.

Mr. Martin: Right.

Mr. Gallaway: Where do you assume the higher workplace accidents occur, in those jurisdictions in Mexico or the southern United States or in good old Ontario, where there is a rather rigorous regime?

Mr. Martin: In Mexico. 

Mr. Gallaway: I think that's obvious.

By way of analogy, do you not think also that if we want to compare the rate of crime or accidents or whatever we want to consider, we need to compare it with a jurisdiction where there is no control - that we need a control group?

Mr. Martin: I'm not totally sure that always proves anything, but I think it would be interesting.

In looking over statistical data, we looked at what has happened in western Europe, where there are controls. We refer to it in our brief. Controls are obviously a deterrent to homicides, suicides and woundings in most of the western European countries.

Mr. Gallaway: Would you agree with me, then, that in the United States, where there's generally unfettered passage of handguns and there is no system of registration, whether it was created in 1934 or not, that the rate of all types of crimes involving handguns is much higher?

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Mr. Martin: Oh, absolutely. It's astounding. It's mind-boggling. It's a world tragedy in some cases when you look at the statistical data, never mind on handguns, but on guns, period.

Mr. Gallaway: At the same time, if we go back to the other analogy of Mexico or the southern states, where there are virtually no laws with respect to worker health and safety, we know, or we assume - and I think there's all kinds of data that would suggest - that the workplace accident level is much higher if we compare it to Canada's. Notwithstanding, we still have accidents in the workplace in Canada.

Mr. Martin: Yes, that's correct.

Mr. Gallaway: If we examine worker's compensation -

Mr. Martin: Oh, yes. We certainly haven't solved the accident and safety health problem in Canada, but we think we're making some headway and improving. It's certainly improved since the 1930s.

Even with a lack of laws, I think we have a much safer society with respect to guns right now than does the United States. But the problem is that it seems to be getting tougher to protect our system in terms of the safety and security of the individual and society.

I'm quite amazed at how many crimes and shootings are taking place with guns and I dwell on how short a period of time it has taken. As I recall, fifteen years ago there just wasn't that type of thing. There weren't as many. There was some of this type of thing, but I don't recall anything like what happened here in Ottawa a couple of weeks ago, with a husband shooting his wife like that, and then there's another murder and another murder and it goes on, all with guns.

Mr. Gallaway: Those are all my questions.

The Chair: We have a few minutes left.

Somebody whispered in my ear that it's 2-1 for Toronto over Chicago in the second period, and somebody wanted to know whether we could turn on that big TV set.

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

Mr. Martin: Now we're getting down to serious business.

The Chair: Mr. Epp, you have the final round. 

Mr. Epp: Thank you, I appreciate that. 

I would like to ask you something with respect to the resolution you passed, because I'm very interested in it. By the way, I was a union member for many years, so I'm familiar with union conventions and things like that. I was a forced member of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, meaning that I didn't have the option of getting out. I would like to ask you something with respect to your convention and this particular resolution to ban handguns. Do you or the members you represent have any problems at all with banning a piece of hardware or something that was legally obtained or purchased, retroactively making it illegal?

A similar situation would be if I have a motorbike and the Alberta government says those are very dangerous. We have so many of these young kids being killed on motorbikes, so we're going to make them illegal. Therefore, bingo, you can no longer have one.

I know it's a little different with handguns, but do you have any problem with that?

The Chair: Excuse me, Mr. Epp. You can go on, but we explored that very question at the beginning of the meeting tonight. It's on the record. I think I was the one who started this whole question about confiscation without - 

Mr. Epp: I don't remember it.

The Chair: You can go through it again, then.

Mr. Martin: I'll give you a short answer. If you got an AK-47 legally five years ago, I would be in favour of confiscating it from you because I don't think anybody should be walking around with AK-47s.

Mr. Epp: With or without compensation?

Mr. Martin: Perhaps with compensation. I can understand an argument for compensation, but you should not have the weapon.

Mr. Epp: Okay. Is it your view that we should ultimately also confiscate rifles and shotguns?

Mr. Martin: No, absolutely not. We haven't said anywhere in our brief that we want to confiscate anybody's hunting gun within the parameters we have described. We are supportive of sports hunting within reasonable and legal bounds.

Mr. Epp: Okay, that answers my question. Thank you.

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  The Chair: When the question was asked earlier, Mr. Epp, it was - It's only the guns that will be grandfathered that could be confiscated, which means guns that would move from restricted to prohibited class.

We want to thank the members of the Canadian Labour Congress for their appearance. As I think was said earlier, it's interesting to have an organization that represents so many people, urban and rural, with many hunters.

It's very helpful to have a brief in ordinary, simple language based on the consensus within your large organization. We've had that from other groups on the other side, and now we have it from this side.

Before we adjourn, I want to remind the committee members that we'll start at 9 a.m. tomorrow. Tomorrow we have the members of Parliament coming for five-minute blocks, one after the other. They've been scheduled. They expect us to listen to their points of view, so I hope we have a quorum here at all times. There are about forty of them, and they'll be finished around 12:30 p.m.

Then we'll have to deal with a resolution put by Mr. Langlois requesting the return of the Assembly of First Nations before the committee. We'll deal with that at the end of the meeting tomorrow.

Tomorrow afternoon we'll have the experts and officials back before the committee again, and on Friday morning we'll have the last witness, the minister, to answer all the questions that have piled up over the last three or four weeks with respect to this bill.

The meeting is adjourned.

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