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432-00565 (Justice)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons

WHEREAS

  • Smuggled firearms make up a significant portion of the firearms used in crime across the country.
  • Criminals caught in knowing possession of smuggled firearms are a threat to public safety but often receive light sentences and are quick to obtain bail.
  • Bill C-238 would increase sentences for those caught in knowing possession of a smuggled weapon and make it more difficult for those charged to be released on bail.

We, the undersigned citizens and residents of Canada call upon the House of Commons to:

  • Support and vote to pass Bill C-238 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (possession of unlawfully imported firearms).
  • Support more action being taken to stop the flow of illegal firearms over the border.

Response by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): JOËL LIGHTBOUND, M.P.

Our government is committed to ensuring that our border remains open to legitimate trade and travel while closed to those who seek to traffic or smuggle weapons or drugs.

 

Following significant cuts by the previous Conservative government to our security agencies, in the last Parliament our government announced an investment of $327M to combat gun and gang violence, with $86M to prevent cross-border smuggling of illegal firearms. Of this, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is being provided an extra $51.5 million to enhance screening, detection and training around firearms smuggling and $34.5 million for the RCMP’s Integrated Criminal Firearms Initiative to enhance intelligence gathering, technology and investigations.

 

Upon the introduction of new legislation that will strengthen gun control at our borders, we announced additional anti-smuggling investments for the RCMP worth $42.4 million over 5 years, with $6.1 million ongoing. At the same time, for the CBSA we announced enhanced intelligence and investigative capacity of 21.8 million over 5 years, and $3.3 million ongoing for AI threat detection: $1.7 million over 5 years.

 

We welcome the opportunity to discuss ways to prevent cross-border firearms smuggling, considering during C-71 study at SECU, Conservative MPs proposed amendments that proposed there be no punishment for “false statements to procure licences” and “false statements to procure customs confirmations”— meaning, importing or trafficking. https://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/SECU/meeting-161/evidence

 

At every point in the travel continuum, the government undertakes activities to prevent the smuggling of illicit firearms. Pre-border, the Government works closely with domestic and international law enforcement agencies to identify and disrupt criminal networks involved in smuggling or facilitating the smuggling of illicit firearms, through intelligence sharing and operations. The CBSA’s National Targeting Center also uses intelligence, information and other indicators to conduct pre-arrival risk assessments on goods and people entering the country to identify high-risk shipments or travelers.

 

If firearms are smuggled into Canada, the CBSA works closely with its law enforcement partners to identify smuggling routes and individuals involved, and lay the appropriate criminal charges after a thorough criminal investigation. Where a foreign national may be involved, the CBSA can also remove the individual from the country as such criminal involvement would likely deem the individual as inadmissible to Canada. From January 1, 2014 to September 6, 2020, the CBSA seized 4263 undeclared firearms at the border.

 

Just recently, we announced that we will be re-establishing the Cross-Border Crime Forum with the U.S. while exploring the creation of a cross-border task force which to address gun smuggling and trafficking.

 

To fight the criminal act of gun smuggling and trafficking at our border, under C-21 we will increase the maximum prison sentence to highlight how serious this offense is. Additionally, we will increase sharing of data between the RCMP and local law enforcement agencies to better prosecute trafficking offences, and will table an annual report for greater transparency and accountability.

 

We welcome the support of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police who “wholeheartedly endorse all efforts to strengthen border controls and impose stronger penalties to combat firearms smuggling and trafficking”.

 

Response by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable David Lametti

The Government of Canada is committed to addressing gun crime and strengthening measures to enhance public safety. Reducing firearms smuggling into Canada is a key part of the Government’s fight to reduce access to illegal firearms. Smuggled firearms make their way into the hands of criminals and are often used to commit serious offences tied to organized crime, such as drug trafficking.

On February 16, the Government introduced Bill C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms). The proposed reforms are an important component of the Government’s broader approach to combat firearms violence and includes amendments to increase the maximum penalties of imprisonment for firearms trafficking and smuggling and related offences from 10 to 14 years imprisonment.

The Government is also implementing effective measures with respect to strengthening firearm regulations and gun and gang initiatives that prioritize public safety. In the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, the Government committed $250 million over five years to directly support municipalities and Indigenous communities to help protect Canadians from gun violence and support anti-gang programming and prevention programs for at-risk youth.

Presented to the House of Commons
Bob Saroya (Markham—Unionville)
February 25, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00565)
Government response tabled
April 12, 2021
Photo - Bob Saroya
Markham—Unionville
Conservative Caucus
Ontario

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