House of Commons Hansard #39 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was firearms.

Topics

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, the answer to the question is absolutely not.

My constituents and people across Canada want to see the information destroyed and deleted. As it is, with the passage of time, even within days of receiving the information at the Firearms Centre, the information is outdated. This is what police officers tell us. This bill is what our constituents want.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am from Halifax and the Halifax chief of police, Frank Beazley, has talked a couple of times, including as recently as two days ago, about why it is important to keep the registry, how he and his police force use it in Halifax.

I find this very perplexing. The Conservatives purport to be the champions of law and order. They purport to be the champions of the police. They purport to be the champions of the victims. However, we have a situation where victims groups and police organizations want to keep the gun registry. If we are really concerned about law and order, why are the Conservatives not keeping their promise to get more boots on the ground? Really, that is what it is about.

When are the Conservatives actually going to keep their promises to police officers about getting those boots on the ground and keeping the registry?

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, once we are no longer spending money on the maintenance of the long gun registry, that will free up some money in the budget to allocate to things such as getting more front-line police officers. That is something we will talk about once the budgetary money is freed up.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is really an honour to follow my colleague, the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, an MP who has fought long and hard to get rid of Bill C-68. The people in the riding she represents have appreciated that to the extent where they have elected her on five consecutive occasions. They have worked with her and have been of enormous assistance particularly in the fight against Bill C-68 and the efforts to scrap it.

I am pleased to add my voice to those who support C-19, the ending of the long-gun registry bill. It is long overdue. As many of my hon. colleagues have observed, this is not a new issue; we have been discussing this for many years.

I have to mention that some of us who are still in Parliament remember that fateful day, December 5, 1995, when the then minister of justice, Allan Rock, because of a Liberal majority was able to get Bill C-68 passed, despite the mountains of evidence that simply registering a firearm would not stop criminals from using firearms in a violent fashion, to rob somebody or to intimidate somebody. There was no evidence that would stop that at all.

Instead, with the passing of that bill, Mr. Rock turned millions of law-abiding firearm owners in this country into what the Liberal government determined to be criminals, despite the fact that the firearm owners had observed every firearm safety law that there was. They had shown their competence to own and use a firearm. They had licences. Despite all that, the Liberal government said that it did not trust them. The fact that they had used their firearms peacefully for many years, and some for many decades, was irrelevant. The Liberal government said that it did not trust them to be competent and experienced, and to obey the law.

The Liberals decided to make people register their firearms and put their names on a list that would give the government and the police authorities all kinds of unconstitutional powers to monitor and check on them. Notwithstanding that these people had never committed a crime in their lives and that they were law-abiding people with families, people who used their guns to hunt or for sport shooting; notwithstanding the mountains of evidence that they were competent and capable of using a firearm, the Liberals did not trust them.

The Liberals told people that by passing Bill C-68. On that fateful day, December 5, 1995, I was joined by my colleague from Yorkton—Melville, who has been a champion of getting rid of the long gun registry. I was in the company of the member for Calgary—Nose Hill, who is the current Minister of State of Foreign Affairs for the Americas and Consular Affairs. I was joined by the member for Vancouver Island North, who is the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. I was joined by the member for Vegreville—Wainwright. Indeed, I was joined by the member for Calgary Southwest, who of course is now the Prime Minister of Canada and leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Our leader promised that we would put an end to the gun registry, and now we are keeping that promise.

In particular, this is an issue of great importance to my riding of Cariboo—Prince George. It is a fairly rural riding with about four areas that we would call cities and towns. There is a lot of rural area.

There are many farmers, outdoor enthusiasts, forestry workers, miners, and many people who spend their time making a living in remote areas of my riding. These are folks who grew up using long guns and who use them sometimes in their day-to-day lives for work and recreation. It goes with the territory of the riding of Cariboo--Prince George. In short, long guns have been in use for many decades in my riding and they are used in a lawful fashion by law-abiding citizens.

Of course, every part of the country has people who use firearms for criminal intent, but they do not much care whether the firearm they are using is registered or not. As a matter of fact, they spend a lot of time looking to purchase or acquire smuggled illegal firearms that come from all parts of the world into Canada through criminal organizations. They do not really care much about the long gun registry and they are going to commit their criminal offences with firearms anyway.

The use of long guns has been a fairly normal part of life in Cariboo--Prince George for hunting, outdoor activity, sport shooting, and on the shooting range. What else is normal is that in my riding office since 1995, we have literally received thousands of cards, letters and phone calls from concerned constituents who want to know when we are going to get rid of the long gun registry that the Liberals put in. It started one day after December 5, 1995. We were charged with the responsibility of getting rid of the long gun registry. It has been a long fight. I have to admit sometimes it seemed like it was just a dream, but we are here with a strong, stable, majority Conservative government, and a Prime Minister who made this promise that we would get rid of the long gun registry. He is keeping his promise. This bill, Bill C-19, is going to do exactly that.

Our Prime Minister made that promise. The member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke made that promise. I made that promise. The member for Yorkton—Melville, my colleague from Vegreville—Wainwright, my colleague from Vancouver Island North, my colleague from Calgary—Nose Hill all made that promise. Led by our Prime Minister, we are keeping that promise today, which is more than we can say for some of the NDP members who made that promise to their constituents and had no intention of keeping it.

The people who have been calling us and asking for our help to get rid of the long gun registry are good people who care passionately about this issue. These are not criminals who are calling us, because after all, criminals do not care whether the firearm they are using in a criminal activity is registered or not.

As a matter of fact, I believe that the criminal elements in this country are responsible for bringing in illegal firearms. In December 1995 they were cheering on the then minister of justice, Mr. Rock, because all of a sudden, their market became pretty darn good for criminals who wanted to acquire firearms. I do not doubt that the price went up considerably when Bill C-68 was brought in.

We have been dealing with that criminal element by bringing in a multitude of anti-crime bills, and we are going to keep doing that. We are going to show the criminal element in this country that they cannot commit crimes under a Conservative government and get away with it. We will put them in jail. We will give them meaningful sentences that fit the crime that they commit.

When Bill C-19 passes, we will have fulfilled our promise to law-abiding firearm owners that we do not consider them to be criminals as the Liberals did and the NDP do. We are going to recognize they are law-abiding citizens capable of owning long guns without having onerous legislation like Bill C-68 breathing down their necks every single moment of their lives.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I must point out the contradiction in the conclusion made by my colleague in his speech.

Under the copyright bill, people who break the electronic lock protecting works could be sent to prison or a penitentiary for up to five years. In the meantime, the government wants to be kind and avoid treating gun owners like criminals. That is honourable. We have made proposals to smooth out the process and to avoid having gun owners who have not registered their firearms be systematically threatened with prison terms.

How can my colleague live with that contradiction?

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is missing the point. The fact is that people in this country who want to legally acquire a firearm must get the appropriate licence, the acquisition permits and must show that they are confident and stable enough to own a firearm. The whole point of it is to ensure that no one who is not competent, does not know the safety rules and does not abide by the law ever owns a firearm. Registration is an extension of some sort that the Liberals introduced in 1995 thinking that would accomplish this. They were looking at the back end rather than the front end.

We have always said that unstable people should not have firearms, that people with criminal backgrounds should not have firearms and that people who do not abide by the law should not have firearms. We have always said that good, upstanding citizens who have a good reason to own a firearm should have a firearm. Once all of this has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt through the licensing process and the acquisition process, then that person should be able to own a firearm.

The registry is what it is. It turned into a bureaucratic, incredibly expensive nest egg. It cost about $2 billion in the first few years after it was implemented and after the then minister of justice told us in the House that it would cost, and I believe the number he used was about $300,000 or $400,000. He also said that it would be self-sustaining by the fees. That turned out to be outlandish, which is why we are opposed to it.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Parm Gill Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have been getting a lot of positive feedback in my riding since we introduced the bill. My constituents are very concerned and they would like to see this registry abolished as soon as possible.

I am wondering if the member could tell us how much money taxpayers can expect to save on an annual basis moving forward once we abolish this registry.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I said, when Bill C-68 was introduced, the minister of justice at the time said that it would cost Canadians about $200,000 to $400,000. Even if he had said that it would cost $2 million, it would not have matter. However, It actually cost well over $2 billion and is now costing us somewhere around $2 million to $4 million a year and is not doing anything more than it did back in 1995 when it was first introduced.

All of the money that we would be able to save by getting rid of the long gun registry through Bill C-19 would go into our anti-crime fight, which is where it should be. Instead of chasing farmers, target shooters and sportsmen and spending time checking out whether they are still law-abiding, all of our resources should be put toward counteracting crime in this country and going after the people who commit crimes.

I am really proud of our Prime Minister and my colleagues who have had to fight against the registry for so many years. Bill C-19 will do the job.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I would like to inform the House that at this point in the debate the time allotted for speeches will switch to 10 minutes for speeches and 5 minutes for questions and comments.

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

NDP

Guy Caron Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-19, which would abolish the long gun registry. I am pleased because this is the first time I have the opportunity to speak to this issue, which has been discussed for a long time now. There have not been many debates, but we have had some. The issue has been coming up since at least 2006.

The riding of Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques is half rural and half urban. So I can understand both aspects of the debate. The urban part is Rimouski, which has 45,000 inhabitants. The other half of my riding is much more rural. I have spoken with a number of my constituents who are interested in and affected by this debate. I asked them questions about the registry. They replied with arguments for both sides of the issue, which is not surprising.

I spoke with hunters, collectors and long gun owners about this issue. They are concerned about the registry, with respect to some points brought up by the government. They said that the registry cost too much in the beginning, that it criminalizes gun owners and makes them feel guilty, among other similar arguments. I understand that.

However, I spoke with other people, people who work at a shelter for battered women in Rimouski-Neigette called La Débrouille. There, I heard another perfectly valid argument that the registry saves lives and that police officers in the riding use it in domestic violence incidents.

I would like to talk about these various factors and how to reconcile them. To the hunters, gun collectors and other people I speak to about the registry, I tell them that the NDP has made an effort to reconcile the various positions and to eliminate the sticking points of the bill that have been raised, without eliminating the registry itself. Often, they do not know what those sticking points are, but they include criminalization for a first offence for not registering one's firearm, the fact that it does not recognize traditional aboriginal rights and so on. When I talk to people about what was actually in the bill that my colleague from northern Ontario introduced last year, I tell them that we could keep the registry and eliminate those sticking points. They usually reply that this would be a good way of addressing their complaints, their concerns.

I believe that it is our duty as members, as representatives of our constituents, to get away from polarizing debates like this one, in which things are very black and white and we are forced to take a position either for or against. Instead, I think we must try to find a middle ground between the two sides. Honestly, as long as I have been in this House, I have never seen that happen. I have seen many polarizing positions. In the case of Bill C-19 or that of the long gun registry in general, the government has been having a field day with this issue. It was pretty easy to do from a financial perspective, which is too bad.

When I mention this position of conciliation to firearm owners, they understand and they are willing to comply. I would have liked the Conservative members to do the same thing in their ridings, instead of trying to antagonize the situation and polarize people further, which is what they have been doing for the past five or six years.

To those wanting to keep the registry, I submit as an example the situation of the shelter called La Débrouille in Rimouski-Neigette. This shelter says—and this might be news to the hon. members opposite—that when an abused woman stays at a shelter, she can choose to file a complaint against her attacker, her spouse. If she chooses to do so, the police consult the registry to see whether there are any firearms in the family home. If there are, the police can, depending on the situation, get a search warrant and remove the firearms. We are talking about a situation in which a woman is abused, where her life is definitely at risk.

The signs are clear: that woman's life is in danger. In Rimouski-Neigette, which constitutes half my riding—one of the 308 ridings in Canada—the registry is consulted at least once a day by the shelter for abused women, for this type of situation alone. Yes, the registry is useful. Yes, the registry can prevent crime.

I would also like to point out that the statistics do not lie in this case, either: 88% of the spousal homicides committed with a firearm in Canada are committed with a rifle or a shotgun. These are ordinary firearms. That is not to say that hunters or people who own firearms and rifles are potential killers or murderers, but given the number of firearms, it is clear that these firearms are more likely to be used in cases of domestic abuse.

The police have to verify whether there is a firearm, as has been mentioned in a number of debates. The police presume, when they intervene in a case of domestic violence, that there is a firearm in the home being investigated. Knowing human nature and what might be going through the mind of the police officer who has to intervene in all sorts of situations, his intervention will be much more effective if he knows that there is a firearm rather than if he simply presumes there is.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

11 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member will have three minutes to finish his speech after question period. We will now move on to statements by members.

Greek Community
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today as a proud Canadian of Hellenic descent. It was on this day, on October 28, 1940, that the Greek people stood up for freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law by loudly professing a resounding oxi, no, to the fascists that were enacting the brutality all over Europe.

For a small nation of just over 7.2 million people at the time, this was a difficult decision, for the world knew all too well the onslaught and massacre that was to follow. This courageous stance by the Greek people resulted in the loss of 805,000 lives or 11.5% of the country's population.

Today Canadians from coast to coast to coast stand with the Greek community and with all veterans in remembrance of all those who sacrificed so much for the rights and freedoms that we all enjoy.

Yamaska Immigration Services
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Réjean Genest Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to talk about the exemplary work of Solidarité ethnique régionale de la Yamaska, or SERY, a non-profit organization in my riding.

SERY's mission is to welcome immigrants and help them integrate into society, and to promote intercultural ties while respecting the values of the host community. Newcomers receive assistance from staff for the first five years. Acceptance and respect for cultural diversity are the team's strengths. SERY's motto is to never judge someone without walking five kilometres in their shoes.

This week, SERY put on its annual show featuring performances by newcomers. There were over 800 people in the audience. On behalf of the people of Shefford and all the members in the House, I congratulate SERY on its success.

Snowbirds
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, on October 21, I watched pilots and technicians work as a team to bring the 41st season of the Snowbirds to a close. The Snowbirds are the famed Canadian icon that thrills audiences across North America every year with their aerial ballet. Representing the skill, professionalism and teamwork of the Canadian Forces, the Snowbirds are an inspiration to Canadians.

This past season was themed “Our Canadian Heroes”, to recognize the sacrifices made by members of the Canadian Forces and their families. Members of the Canadian Forces are often deployed to harsh conditions away from their loved ones. Their sacrifices cannot be measured, but we must do our best to recognize and appreciate their commitment.

I encourage people to check out a Snowbirds show as they pass through their hometowns next year.

Religious Freedom
Statements by Members

October 28th, 2011 / 11 a.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party of Canada continues to stand up for the rights of religious minorities and for the universal right to religious freedom for all faiths.

Last night, the Liberal Party of Canada once again stood up to tell the government and the world that the atrocities facing Coptic Christians in Egypt could not be allowed to continue. Through the tireless work of the Liberal MP for Scarborough—Agincourt, along with others in the Liberal caucus and party, including the distinguished member for Mount Royal, the issue of the persecution of Christians has been raised repeatedly by our members on the floor of the House of Commons.

The Coptic Christian faith in Canada is a robust and positive force in Canadian society and Canadian neighbourhoods. In the home of the Coptic faith in Egypt, Coptic Christians have preached peace for centuries, yet they have been persecuted and murdered for their faith and seemingly all but abandoned by those with a duty to protect.

Let us never forget that Coptic Christians are among the original Egyptians who now willingly share their land for one Egypt. Coptic Christianity is one of the oldest religions in all of Egypt, which persevered by the faith of its members and by—