Updated June 2021
What's the status of Bill C-21?
The last stage completed was the first reading. The second reading is currently ongoing. You can read more about the official status of the bill here: https://www.parl.ca/LegisInfo/BillDetails.aspx?Language=E&billId=11102978
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
So what does second reading mean?
Here’s a link to very fulsome information about the parliamentary process to pass a bill: https://www.ourcommons.ca/About/ProcedureAndPractice3rdEdition/ch_16_5-e.html
We can provide some very basic information about the current process that C-21 is undergoing. The next stage for C-21 to complete will be the Second Reading. During the Second Reading, the bill may have motions proposed to delay consideration of it, amendments may be proposed, and it may be voted to the next stage in the legislative process - the Committee stage. Bill C-21 has not yet been referred to Committee.
What happens during the Second Reading stage?
During the Second Reading stage, Members of Parliament will debate the main purposes or principles of the bill. Amendments may be proposed and voted on. All Members of Parliament (MPs) have an opportunity to make a speech about the bill. According to comments by the Speaker of the House during the sitting on April 23, 2021, there is a long list of MPs who wish to speak to Bill C-21. These speeches and the following questions to the MP that made the speech are time-constrained, but they are allotted up to 20 minutes to speak about the bill, with 10 minutes to answer questions or comments about their speech. The House schedule generally cannot accommodate all MPs to speak on a particular bill in a single sitting, so typically bills are debated during Second Reading across a number of sittings. After the debate, the bill may be voted on to determine if it will be sent to the next stage of the parliamentary process, or if it will not be passed at all.
How far along is the Second Reading stage?
There have so far been 2 sittings (on February 26, 2021 and on April 23, 2021) for the Second Reading. As of May 11, 2021, the next sitting in which Bill C-21 will be debated is not scheduled. The sittings for which a bill is debated is determined by the Government. You can see here what’s scheduled: https://www.ourcommons.ca/en/parliamentary-business/. The schedule is updated on a daily basis. You can also see what bills are expected to be debated in the House of Commons here: https://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/house/latest/projected-business
What happens if Bill C-21 gets referred to Committee?
Bill C-21, if referred to Committee at the end of the Second Reading, will then be reviewed by the SECU Committee (the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security). The SECU Committee will review the bill provision by provision, recommend amendments, call witnesses to speak on the impacts of the bill, and will report to the House of Commons about what they found during their review with any amendments for further consideration. Following that review, the bill will be voted on again by the House of Commons (and all MPs), and may either be voted to the next stages (the Report Stage) or may not be passed. Even if it is voted to the Report Stage (and beyond), the bill is not yet passed. A bill does not become law until much further along the legislative process, to include review by the Senate.
What are the odds that Bill C-21 passes?
Currently, there are less than 30 (business) days remaining in the Parliamentary Session. After June 23, 2021, Parliament goes on summer break, and all parliamentary business stops (bills, committees, etc.) until the fall. It is anticipated an election will be called in the summer or in early fall.
When an election is called, if C-21 hasn’t yet passed, then it will simply cease to exist, and has “died on the Order Paper”. That means that if the Government wishes to pass the same bill, then it must be reintroduced, and the process is begun all over again.
This isn’t to say that it’s impossible it could be pushed through, though at this point it is unlikely that there is the time to accomplish a fast-track of Bill C-21. Regardless, we must all continue to act in the best interests of airsoft in case C-21 moves through the remaining stages quickly.
So does that mean airsoft is safe? Unfortunately, Bill C-21 can continue once Parliament starts again in September, 2021.
It’s also possible that an election will be called, which also ceases all parliamentary business. If an election is called and we see a Liberal majority win the election, then it's possible that another Bill C-21 is proposed. With a majority government, making a new bill and pushing it through to become law would be much easier.
It's vital that you continue to reach out to your MPs that airsoft deserves to be preserved, and protected from future legislation.
Bill C-21 represents a shot across the bow for the airsoft industry. It was unlikely that it would have passed given the timing of its introduction and the controversial nature of the topic, but it provides an insight into what the current governing party thinks about airsoft, and how future Liberal governments may view airsoft.
Bill C-21 is just the first battle for airsoft in Canada.
What can I do?
Here are 5 things that you can do to help save airsoft in Canada:
Continue to write your MPs! Let them know that you support airsoft businesses in Canada, and that it’s a safe hobby with no negative impact on public safety. We’ve got a handy guide for writing your MP: https://www.savingairsoft.ca/post/remind-your-mp-that-you-need-answers
Support your favourite airsoft businesses! Since COVID-19 restrictions, airsoft businesses have been hurting. Since the introduction of Bill C-21, they’ve been hit even harder. Support them, and show that you believe airsoft will survive, by shopping at their stores.
Talk with your friends and family about your hobby. Let them know that it’s not something weird or dangerous, and that it’s harmless. People may not be aware that Bill C-21 will not improve public safety by banning airsoft, and you can help people who may not be aware of what airsoft is to understand why we love it so much. Remember the 3 Rs - be Respectful, Relatable, Reasonable. We have resources here that can help with discussions, or you can share the articles at this link: https://www.savingairsoft.ca/blog.
Fill out the Great Canadian Airsoft Census! Airsoft in Canada is putting together information about the Canadian airsofting demographic which can better inform decisions by politicians - https://questionnaire.simplesondage.com/f/s.aspx?s=AA7B7812-5963-48D9-A0C6-1E5AA02CD08E&lang=EN&fbclid=IwAR1dXtei-DrUKlYPzAxnLxN8qcDfqzrEBI6-bDFgfsj15rfj8NkJvZNfDaw
Get out and play some airsoft. If we all stop playing airsoft, then the sport will simply fizzle away anyway. Make sure that you’re following local restrictions due to COVID-19, and remember the 3 Rs - Respectful, Relatable, Reasonable.