Evidence of meeting #11 for Public Safety and National Security in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was registry.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

But now you're saying that no information—

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

Wait, wait, wait. That was playing games.

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

You're saying that no information is better than imperfect information.

I think that describes the ideology of this government on many issues, Mr. Chair—

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Kevin Sorenson

Mr. Scarpaleggia, your time is almost up. You have a little time left; you have a choice of whether you want to use it or allow the minister—

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Now, I would like to say that—

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Kevin Sorenson

—but we can't have two people speaking at the same time.

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

The minister must know that the demographics of gun ownership are changing. We all know that farmers need to have guns to run their farms, to kill gophers and animals that are impeding the growth of their crops. No one has any problems with rural hunters passing on time-honoured traditions to their children. But the demographics of gun ownership are changing. People now are not necessarily rural. They're urban people buying knock-offs of weapons they see in video games and in movies such as Call of Duty.

How much do we know about that new demographic?

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Kevin Sorenson

Very quickly—

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

What I can say is that this bill has nothing to do with the classification of firearms.

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Kevin Sorenson

Thank you very much. Our time is up.

I'll just remind committee members to bring your questions through the chair, and likewise, we'll bring the answers through the chair back to the member.

We'll now move to Madame Boivin.

You have five minutes.

November 15th, 2011 / 11:35 a.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I am sure that those listening to us, especially the victims, feel some sadness. And today I am thinking about the victims. Mr. Minister, you have reminded us that the gun registry was created under the Liberal government at a very high price, and I agree. As a result, police forces and hunters have been divided. Perhaps because the Conservative government has been relentlessly opposed to this registry for years now, even before being elected, the victims, the Conservative government, hunters, police forces and other groups are unfortunately working against each other instead of working together as they would normally do.

Why is that? You are saying that it is to provide more safety. That is what the government has been telling us all along. But instead, it has managed to pit victims, hunters and police officers against each other. The victims want to feel safe and confident, and they thought they would get that with the registry. The hunters did not want to pay the fees for a registry and they felt they were being criminalized, although I don't think anyone intended to criminalize them. And the police officers have a tough job on a daily basis and their lives are on the line.

Here we are with a tool that may appear to be a lame duck to some. We could work on improving it and removing the irritants. Let us remember what the Conservatives keep saying. They say that we are using law-abiding hunters and citizens of Canada and that we want to criminalize them.

But if we made improvements to this, we would get all police associations on the same side. I understand that there could be views to the contrary.

Sir, you are the Minister of Public Safety. Your top priority should be public safety and communicating this feeling of safety to Canadians.

I have a a bit of trouble when I get emails, as we all do, from Ms. Thibeault, one of the survivors of the École Polytechnique massacre. She is making a heartfelt appeal to us. She is asking us to keep the long gun registry and to make sure that victims will not have to go through what those women have needlessly experienced.

Mr. Minister, I am looking at the types of weapons that are going to be excluded from the registry. When we are talking about non-restricted firearms, such as a Ruger Mini-14, a Steyr HS.50 M1 and a L115A3, we are talking about long range sniper rifles. We are not talking about shotguns that people use to hunt deer or moose. We are talking about rifles that can have rather dangerous consequences.

Previous bills have always included a provision for licence verification when firearms are transferred. Bill C-19 does not include any obligation of verification, which means that the person transferring the gun must simply have no reason to believe that the person they are giving it to is not authorized to have it. But verification is optional, Mr. Minister.

How can we go back to our ridings and tell people that we are feeling any safer by passing Bill C-19?

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Kevin Sorenson

Thank you.

Thank you, Ms. Boivin.

Mr. Minister.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

Thank you.

I think the problem the member illustrates is her concern that people feel they are safe. We're not only concerned about their feeling safe, but are also actually concerned about them being safe. That I think is the distinction between the NDP and my government. We actually take measures that increase public safety, that will result in people feeling safe, and we do not simply say we're going to do something that is ineffective, that is wasteful in terms of money, because we think you might feel safe. It's irresponsible to go down that road.

There are many more cost-effective measures that we can take to ensure that crime is reduced, and we are taking those. I mentioned some of those in my speech and opening remarks, and we are committed to doing that, including in Bill C-10.

Again, the member talks about the issue of the classification. This has nothing to do with the classification of firearms; this has to do with the registry of non-restricted firearms. If the member has a concern about classification, about whether a firearm should be restricted or prohibited rather than unrestricted, that's another issue. She should address that in legislation or a motion, or elsewhere. Again, this has nothing to do with the classification.

You see, Mr. Chair, the NDP is trying to confuse the issues of registration, licensing, classification, and to jumble all of that up to make people feel safe.

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

I would like to ask you another question.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Kevin Sorenson

Let him....