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Speech in Senate Chamber: Senator Cools speaks to her inquiry on the sixteenth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (Bill C-68, An act respecting firearms and other weapons, with amendments).

Hon. Anne C. Cools rose pursuant to notice of November 23, 1995:

That she will call the attention of the Senate to the speech that she had intended to give on Wednesday, 22nd November, 1995, during debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Beaudoin, seconded by the Honourable Senator Grimard, for the adoption of the sixteenth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (Bill C-68, An act respecting firearms and other weapons, with amendments) presented in the Senate on Monday, 20th November, 1995; the speech which she was unable to give due to time limitations imposed by the Senate Order concluding debate by 5:15 p.m. and votes at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, 22nd November, 1995.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before Senator Cools proceeds with this inquiry, I should like to put a statement on the record.

I am somewhat troubled by the terms used by the honourable senator in stating her inquiry. The notice makes it explicitly clear that the speech which the senator intends to make was originally to be given as part of the debate on the consideration of the report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs respecting Bill C-68. By order of the Senate, debate on this report and the third reading of the bill concluded last Wednesday, and the matter has been decided by a vote of the Senate.

My reservations about the terms of this inquiry stem mainly from the long established practice mentioned in Beauchesne's 6th Edition, at citations 479, 480(1) and (2). The citations make it clear that:

479. A Member may not speak against or reflect upon any determination of the House, unless intending to conclude with a motion for rescinding it.

Then 480(1) says, in part:

. . . Members . . . cannot revive a debate already concluded . . .

nor should they refer to debates of the current session -

. . . even if such reference is relevant, as it tends to reopen matters already decided.

At the same time, I do not wish to unduly restrict the senator from raising a matter which is important to her. I would suggest, therefore, if the senator is agreeable, that she reconsider her notice of inquiry, and rephrase it in more general terms so as to minimize any specific reference to the proceedings on Bill C-68.

Senator Cools: Honourable senators, I would be happy to rephrase the inquiry. However, it was my clear understanding that inquiries request no conclusion of the Senate; they are largely instruments of exchange. Perhaps His Honour can suggest for me a better articulation?

The Hon. the Speaker: I am afraid I could not do that now, but I would be prepared to discuss the matter with the honourable senator outside of the Chamber.

The facts are that even an inquiry would be resuming debate on an issue which has already been settled, and that is against the rules.

Senator Cools: In any event, as I said before, if it is the wish of the chamber that I rearticulate the inquiry, I will do that.

Senator Kinsella: Let us hear your speech.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable Senator Cools, if you are asking leave of the Senate to proceed in this way, of course, any senator can do that. That is not for me to decide.

Are you asking for leave to proceed with the order as it is structured?

Senator Cools: Yes.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Cools: Honourable senators, as I was about to say, the intention of my inquiry today is to call attention to what I had intended to say last week.

Honourable senators, spousal violence is an age-old problem. Men and women connected by sexual relationships, upon the breakdown of those relationships, are known to inflict hurt on each other. Some even kill one another. Folk music is dotted with examples. The famous folk song "Frankie and Johnny" relates an experience of lovers and of lethal violence.

Frankie and Johnny were lovers,
Oh, Lordy, how they could love.
They swore to be true to each other...

Johnny went by, 'bout an hour ago,
With a girl named Nellie Blye...

Frankie got out at South Clark Street,
Looked in a window so high
Saw her Johnny man a-lovin' up
That high brown Nellie Blye...

But Frankie took aim with her pistol
And the gun went root-a-toot-toot.
He was her man, but he done her wrong.

She, Frankie, shot Johnny dead.

Honourable senators, the Minister of Justice, the Honourable Allan Rock, holds that spousal and domestic violence is a major reason for this initiative, Bill C-68. Mr. Rock told the Ontario Women's Liberal Commission on April 12, 1995:

There are women who are at risk in their homes and police didn't have the information or the tools to protect them.

On other occasions, he has maintained that the firearms issue is a women's issue. The Honourable Sheila Finestone, Secretary of State for the Status of Women, agreed. In a news release of December 6, 1994, Mrs. Finestone stated:

Firearms control is a life-and-death issue for women in Canada.

Feminist groups repeatedly told the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs that women live in a constant state of threat and fear of death inflicted by men with firearms in their homes, and that children live in a constant state of threat and fear of death inflicted by men with firearms in their homes.

Honourable senators, domestic violence is insufficiently understood. We are just now beginning to gain some comprehension of the terrible tragedy of spousal violence. Comprehension is also required of feminine aggression.

Family violence is deeply troubling. My life's work has been in the area of spousal and family violence. In many relationships, there are tangles of pathologies, coercive patterns and numerous dynamics which reinforce one another.

Many gender feminists interchange the term "domestic violence" with "domestic homicide." This is not a true picture. Most spousal violence will never reach the state of spousal killing. The essential element that must be present if spousal conflict is to become spousal homicide is murderous intent. I have seen several relationships where murderous intent was present. Often, couples do not recognize its presence, and have no insight into its workings. Murderous intent is the key element. When present, there is a probability that the situation could escalate to spousal killing, but spousal abuse has no escalating spectrum. A spousal slap does not inevitably become a spousal homicide.

Common spousal abuse is a different social problem from spousal homicide. Spousal homicide remains a largely misunderstood and tragic social program. Some bold initiatives are required to probe the darkness that lurks in violence, sexual interaction and impulses to hurt and to kill.

Honourable senators, I am disquieted that much testimony before the Senate committee was either incorrect, inadequate, misstated, manipulated, exaggerated or loaded as a gender issue. Some confounded the issues. Their techniques include playing with percentages and combining the unrelated, and are obvious to those knowledgeable in the field.

Honourable senators, various feminist groups appeared before the committee to support Bill C-68. Ms Arlene Chapman of the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters insisted that:

Almost half of the women killed by their husbands are shot.

Ms Jill Hightower of the B.C. Institute on Family Violence stated that:

Front-line transition house staff report that women are frequently threatened by their partners, and many of these threats involve firearms.

Ms Virginia Fisher of the Provincial Association of Transition Houses Saskatchewan said that " . . . 46 per cent of women killed by their husbands are killed with guns" and that, "There are 50,000 women living in households with guns who feel their lives to be in danger."

When asked about the number of women served by them who have been killed by husbands using firearms, they declined to give numbers, stating such reasons as, "I do not have that figure off the top of my head" or "We do not have funding to do follow-up work on what happens to women after they leave the shelter." These individuals never supply hard, precise or accurate data to support their assertions because supporting data does not exist.

Further, most of these individuals know little about spousal homicide. Spousal homicide is a terrible occurrence, the understanding and treatment of which eludes most agencies and helping professionals. Moreover, the data collection mechanism at many shelters is indeed questionable, since many shelters view data collection and research compilation as male-dominated preoccupations. Many gender feminists are resistant to scientific inquiry and investigation. Moreover, imagination and fantasy have resulted in profit and lucrativeness, rather than reason.

Some gender feminists told the Senate committee that children are at risk of abuse with firearms in the home. I note that among the numerous witnesses before the committee, there was not one witness from child protection agencies or children's aid societies. I spoke to child protection agency officials in Toronto. Metro Toronto's Children's Aid Society, the largest children's aid society in Canada, informed me that they have no concern that children in Metro Toronto are at risk of abuse with firearms in the home. I spoke to executive director Bruce Rivers. If children were at risk, child protection agencies would have been active in appearing before the Senate committee.

I also observed that not a single witness appeared from community crime prevention agencies in Toronto, and I also note that not one witness was black. The illicit use of firearms by certain black criminals in Toronto is commanding attention and intervention.

The frolics and caprices with data and statistics were revealed when one particular witness, Dr. Katherine Leonard, gave testimony stretching credulity and scientific inquiry. On conclusion of her testimony, another witness, Dr. Judith Ross, herself a psychologist and a target shooter, overheard Dr. Leonard say to someone, "How did you like the science fiction?" Dr. Ross, on September 27, 1995, wrote to me as follows:

I find it appalling and disgraceful that a witness at a Senate committee would knowingly present material that was a fiction cloaked in a pretence of scientific validity.

I read Dr. Leonard's testimony. I pondered about the reliance on such testimony by any minister of the Crown.

Honourable senators, certain gender feminists insist that firearms are a gender issue; that firearms are a vehicle for male violence and aggression. Central to the belief system of radical gender feminism is the maxim that firearms constitute the phallic symbol of male violence, and are symbols of the patriarchal society. In a patriarchal and heterosexist society, the allowance of guns is a sign of misogyny.

Honourable senators, this is patriarchal nonsense; it is patriarchal rubbish, and supports the notion that women should live in fear and trembling, not only of men but of men's instruments - guns. Needless to say, they view heterosexuality as an oppressive state for women.

Gender feminist theory is an example of intellectual fraudulence and is a theory based on philogyny, tribadism and misandry. This theory currently stalks the social and political life of this country. It is predatory, and seeks to dominate and terrorize. It is a personality disorder in the body politic of this nation.

During the Senate committee hearings on Bill C-68, the Manitoba Attorney General, the Honourable Rosemary Vodrey, testified. I asked her:

I should just like to know how many wives were killed by husbands in your province last year by firearms, and how many children in your province alone?

She replied:

I can just tell you women on homicides by firearms. I gather the figure is zero.

Ms Vodrey gave more detail. She said:

The statistics I have are for 1994, and they relate to deaths due to domestic violence: Three by stabbing; three by strangulation; two by beating; one by asphyxiation; none by firearms.

Honourable senators, it is no simple task to identify the actual and precise number of women killed by spouses using firearms. I have studied this question using Statistics Canada's published data on homicides. In 1994, the actual number of women killed with firearms by conjugal intimates was 23. I repeat: The precise number of women killed by spouses using firearms was 23.

Statistics Canada defines "conjugal intimates" as including spouses - legal, common-law, separated, divorced - boyfriends, extramarital lovers or estranged lovers. Neither feminist groups nor the Minister of Justice have placed the number of 23 on the table in this debate. I am unsympathetic to the act of toying with or exaggerating the true numbers.

Please be clear that Minister Vodrey's answer that no woman in her province had been killed by the use of a firearm in a conjugal-intimate relationship in 1994 surprised the committee.

In 1994, the actual number of children under the age of 12 years killed with firearms by a parent was two. The favoured weapon of murder in Canada is bare hands and feet - the human body. For example, in 1994, 27 babies under 12 months of age were killed, most with bare hands. In 1994, the total number of homicides was 596, of which 196 were by the use of firearms. Of these 196 with firearms, 157 of the victims were men and 39 were women. Consistently, more men are killed with firearms than women; in fact, four times as many. The tragedy of domestic homicide is too horrific to be trivialized by numerical manipulation.

Honourable senators, in the murders of three teenaged girls in Toronto, Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo used their hands, the favoured weapon of murder. The brutal absurdity of this discussion was made manifest at the Homolka trial. The Crown and the judge significantly forgave Ms Homolka in relation to two murders, and totally forgave her in relation to her sister's murder, and gave her a 12-year sentence. As part of her 12-year sentence for killing with her hands, Mr. Justice Kovacs imposed an order prohibiting Homolka from possessing a firearm.

Honourable senators, time does not permit me to speak to the extraordinary measures of this bill. Millions of men and women in this country come from cultural backgrounds of hunting, target practice, marksmanship and precision shooting. This heritage of marksmanship is a Canadian phenomenon. Young people learned to shoot from their parents as part of their heritage. Canada's World War I hero, Billy Bishop, learned to shoot as a boy in Owen Sound, Ontario, with a rifle given to him for Christmas by his father. It is a similar situation for young women. Linda Thom, at age 8, learned to shoot with her father. She won a gold medal in the 1984 Olympic Games. In gun sports, men and women compete as equals. There is even a group of women shooters called the "Gun Grannies."

Canada's heritage of marksmanship and mastery of the instruments of force is legendary. In 1914 and in 1939, the Canadian military met its responsibility. The marksmanship training of many Canadians by various rifle and gun associations assisted Canada's wartime efforts. A proud example is the Dominion of Canada Rifle Association, founded in 1868, which has trained generations of Canadians in the responsible use and care of firearms. Canadians consistently win international competitions.

Those who engage in the recreational and economic use of firearms are persons who are law-abiding citizens, who abhor the illegal and illicit use of firearms. They see that crime and the illegal use of firearms bedevils Canada's big cities, especially Toronto. In Toronto, aggressive and successful initiatives are required in the area of crime prevention, including initiatives in law enforcement, criminal judicial processes, plea bargaining, sentencing and, most important, in race relations, to solve Toronto's enormous crime problems.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable Senator Cools, I am sorry to interrupt, but your time has expired.

Senator Cools: Honourable senators, I need exactly one minute or so to complete my remarks. I would be happy to have leave to continue.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Cools: These law-abiding citizens feel violated when they are likened to criminals because of the mere possession of their firearms or, worse, they are criminalized. Moreover, they resist the persistent invasiveness of governments into their lives. In fact, they view the government's initiative, Bill C-68, as creating a thought process which some will promote as the new Canadian morality: to wit, firearms are inherently evil and so are their owners.

I note how conveniently this concept falls into the gender feminists' maxim that men are harmful to women, and that all firearms are symptomatic of this harmfulness and should be discouraged and, ultimately, destroyed. Legitimate gun owners believe that when firearms are outlawed by governments, only outlaws will have firearms.

Honourable senators, gender feminist theory based on the innate evil of men and the innate virtue of women is seriously flawed. Social policy based on flawed theory is flawed social policy. Legislation based on flawed social policy is flawed legislation.

The Minister of Justice as a minister of the Crown is no ordinary minister. This minister has a duty to be less worldly and less obviously political than other ministers. The Minister of Justice also has a duty to find accommodation among disparate interests.

Honourable senators, I am a senator from Ontario, the former Upper Canada. In the early 1800s in Upper Canada, there was something that was locally known as "stump law." Stump law was legislation passed by the then Tory government as a compound of arrogance and force. Liberal reformer members like Dr. William Baldwin were brutalized by the use of such legislative power. Bill C-68 is reminiscent of old Upper Canadian stump law.

I hope my Inuit colleagues, Senators Willie Adams and Charlie Watt, are not too damaged. I hope my support of their just cause has brought them a measure of comfort.

The proposition that Bill C-68 addresses the problem of domestic violence, that it is a bill to protect women, is not supported by the information put before the Senate. The premise and foundation for Bill C-68, we are told, is the good of women. Those who attempt to demonstrate this do so insufficiently. In fact, the research points in a different direction.

Honourable senators, I reject the premise that firearms ownership and use is a women's issue. This bill is begging for amendment. Since my side will accept no amendments, I am prepared to support the amendments to Bill C-68 as put forward in the committee's report, and by Senator Sparrow.

Honourable senators, that was the speech I had prepared and was quite ready, willing and able to deliver last week. I thank you for your indulgence, and for the opportunity to have made my speech. For myself, I would have found it somewhat discomfiting and a little disquieting not to have had the opportunity to give my speech, to the extent that I had put time and trouble into composing it.

I should also like to say, honourable senators, that I look forward to an opportunity when I can rise and speak uninterrupted in the Senate. It seems to be a very difficult proposition for me to do so in this chamber.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, if no other senator wishes to speak, this inquiry is considered debated.