House of Commons Hansard #41 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

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, many individuals, such as members of the NRA, often try to take advantage by using misinformation in order to espouse a specific side.

We need to treat issues of this nature fairly. When police officers and members of police chief associations, emergency response teams, paramedics, ambulance attendants, firefighters and first-time responders from across the country say that there is great value to the gun registry, at the very least we need to listen and respect that.

Part of respecting that is to ensure there are actual facts brought to the debate. Facts have been lacking and I would encourage that we look at what is the most responsible thing to do in this debate.

I have risen in regard to the cost factor for the province of Quebec. I have raised that because it speaks volumes in terms of to what degree the government has chosen to sabotage and completely kill the gun registry. Whether it is good or bad is truly irrelevant to the government. It has chosen to kill it at any cost.

I believe the Quebec example is a great example to use in terms of how the government sometimes fails to recognize common sense. I will explain.

The government has said that it wants nothing to do with the gun registry and is killing it. The registry has a database. The Conservatives say how much they believe it costs. In reality, we know it is substantially less. However, the data bank is there and is in place. They want to destroy the data bank. They want to hit the delete button. They want the shredders working overtime to ensure there is nothing out there to show there is a gun that is registered in Canada. They are determined to do that.

The province of Quebec is saying that the government should wait. People in the province believe that having a gun registry makes sense. They want to listen to what members of our law enforcement agencies and many different advocates, such as women's groups and other groups, are saying. They are saying that it has true value. In fact, it is one of the many tools that law enforcement officers can access. They recognize its value and they want to have it. Therefore, they contacted the government and asked to have the information in that data bank, which makes sense.

The government came up with some lame excuse. It said that it could not provide the data bank due to privacy. Prior to that it said that it did not care if it were provincially or federally administered it wanted nothing to do with it. Therefore, the Conservatives are prepared to waste tens of millions of dollars. They would rather have the province of Quebec re-establish the data bank at a substantial cost. By forcing Quebec to do that, the government is causing it to use valuable tax dollars that could be spent on community policing, an outreach office, capital infrastructure programs to have youth more involved in positive activities or a litany of other initiatives.

Whether one is for or against the gun registry, anyone looking at that would say that is plain dumb and a stupid policy of the government.

The government should be looking at what it is saying. When it talks about building federal-provincial relationships, how can it sit at the table and say that it does not want to give provinces the information in the data bank and that they have to create their own, causing the provincial government to spend tens of millions of dollars when it is in fact not necessary?

The bottom line is the gun registry has had a lot of proponents over the years. If the government is going to do something with it, as we continue to go through the debate, in a very limited way I must say, it should at least respect the facts and stop trying to feed misinformation which we know is just not true. It does not add to the debate. If anything, it adds to the anger and resentment that government cannot be honest.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member opposite. He stressed the importance of basing a decision on fact. I admit that in this place it really is rare when there is a lot of fact in debate. If the member actually believes this decision should be based on fact, there is one fact, and that is there is no evidence that one life has been saved because of the long gun registry being in place. That is a fact.

Beyond that, I admit there is not a lot of fact and much of it is perspective. For example, with regard to the Wheat Board debate, there are farmers who believe the monopoly will help to protect them. It is not necessarily based on fact but perspective.

The member should pay attention to what happened to more than a dozen MPs in the last election, who lost because they did not support getting rid of the long gun registry. I would encourage the member to consider that as he goes ahead with this debate. Members do not necessarily base a position on whether they will be re-elected or not, but the reason—

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

I am sure other hon. members may have questions and we have to get to them.

The hon. member for Winnipeg North.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would welcome a debate based on facts. It would be nice to hear the government provide the rationale, not the ideological reason, for why it wants to get rid of it. It has been said that there were several hundred suicides. There were presentations in committee with regard to the value of the gun registry and the impact it had on the number of suicides that could have taken place.

I do not want to claim to be an expert, because I am far from it, but I listen to what people have to say and respect the need to make good decisions based on facts. I do not believe the government has made a good decision based on facts in this case.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, we keep hearing from the government side that MPs in the opposition were defeated because of the gun registry. I predicted, after the last vote on the gun registry, that the Conservatives would lose a lot of Quebec MPs, especially women MPs. In the House today there are no more Conservative women MPs from Quebec.

Could the hon. member for Winnipeg North comment on the fact that there are less Conservative Quebec MPs and that the numbers went up for MPs who supported the gun registry in the last election? Could he explain that to me?

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is an interesting observation about the province of Quebec. I would suggest that there is a wide variety of reasons why people choose to vote for the Conservatives, the Liberals or New Democrats. For a number of reasons, all sorts of factors, the numbers came in the way they did. Did the gun registry play a role? I suspect it might have played a role in some constituencies and in others not as much. At the end of the day, I look at it this way. As opposed to basing a decision strictly on electoral success, we should base decisions on what makes sense and fact.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, if the members across the way wants to talk about evidence, I sat in on the hearings and there was only one person, the police chief from Calgary, who said that maybe this should be a provincial responsibility and that there should be no cost. That was the only thing we heard against the gun registry. Every other group, whether police chiefs, police association of Canada, mental health experts, one after another said that it served a purpose. They all supported the gun registry.

Does he believe the government is doing a great disservice when its says that this will not stop gangland gun offences. No one said it would, but it would stop domestics, it would have an impact on suicide, it—

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Winnipeg North, a 30 second response only please.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague has raised an excellent issue. At the end of the day, Canadians want to see a government that will be tough on the causes of crime. We want to prevent crimes from happening. The gun registry has been something on which the government has long been too focused. If it really wants to do Canadians a service, it should listen to what the stakeholders actually have to say and start to take action so we can prevent some of these crimes from taking place in the first place.

There are so many other things we could be doing and I suggest the government would do well by listening to my colleague.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo
B.C.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to stand and add my voice to the debate on this important piece of legislation, the ending of the long-gun registry act.

Today we are speaking on behalf of Canadians in rural and remote parts of our country who have been unfairly targeted for the simple and legal act of owning a long gun. I want to talk to that issue briefly.

I grew up in a city and probably would not have understood this issue, but in my mid-twenties I moved to a rural community, and my understanding became much more robust. I hit a deer on the road, and a hunter was able to put the deer down. My children played, but there were cougars in the area, and we came to count on these tools. I also came to appreciate how important this issue was for the farmers and hunters.

Who are these Canadians? They are our friends and family members. They are responsible, law-abiding individuals who use rifles and shotguns to legally hunt for sport or sustenance or both. They are athletes who participate in sharpshooting events, such as biathlons and skeet shooting, and who are internationally recognized for their impressive conditioning and skills. They are hard-working farmers protecting their livestock and their livelihood in the same manner as those who worked to settle in the west did for generations before us. For many of these individuals, their rifles and shotguns are simply the everyday tools of their trade.

Each of these firearm owners has had to undergo proper steps to obtain a firearm licence before acquiring their gun. The wasteful and ineffective long gun registry simply adds another layer of red tape to this process. It also carries with it the uncomfortable stigma that makes these long gun owners feel like criminals. In fact, it is putting more burden onto legal long gun owners while having zero impact on criminals.

Are we really to believe that violent criminals are going to register their long guns and firearms? It is not likely. Therefore, we are left to draw the obvious conclusion: the long gun registry is a waste of time and money.

I will take a moment to say that our government is not against investing in effective measures that take the bite out of crime. It is entirely the opposite. For example, we are proud of our efforts to augment and strengthen our police forces. We have committed $400 million for the police officer recruitment fund to assist provinces and territories in hiring additional officers and in addressing their unique public safety priorities and policing needs. This is a significant federal contribution to policing costs over a five-year period, and it is helping the provinces and territories in their efforts to recruit new police officers and make their communities safer. In this way, since just 2009, our government has contributed to the addition of over 1,800 police officers across Canada.

We are also investing in policing through other partnerships with the provinces and territories and the first nations policing program. To help encourage new recruits, our government has also provided crucial funding for RCMP cadet allowances and for improvement to infrastructure at the RCMP training academy, depot division. These are all worthy investments in our front-line law enforcement.

Another key piece on reducing crime, and another area worthy of investment, is our effort to prevent crime before it happens. This includes supporting community-based crime prevention programs that help at-risk youth make smart choices and avoid criminal activities. Last year alone, our government funded 160 community-based crime prevention programs through the national crime prevention strategy, which had an impact on the lives of nearly 10,000 youth at risk.

We are proud that the next phase of Canada's economic action plan includes $7.5 million annually towards the youth gang prevention fund. These are investments that are making a tangible difference in the lives of at-risk youth. We are proud to support efforts to steer them in the right direction. Every youth who decides to go to school instead of joining a gang has taken a positive step in the direction of success instead of violence and guns.

We make no apologies for these investments because we know that the cost of crime to victims and to society is far higher. According to the Department of Justice, the cost of crime, including everything from property damage to the emotional impact on families and victims, totals nearly $100 billion every year. In the face of this statistic, we stand firmly behind our decision to invest in effective crime prevention and appropriate reforms to law and justice sectors.

What we will not do is allow our scarce resources to continue to be funnelled into an ineffective long gun registry. We will not focus our efforts on laws that are not having an impact on reducing gun crime.

We know that most homicides committed in Canada do not involve rifles or shotguns. We know that in 2006 alone, three times as many homicide victims were killed with handguns than with rifles or shotguns. In 2009, we saw that two-thirds of homicides committed with a firearm were carried out with handguns, not rifles or shotguns.

It is obvious that the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry is not worth the billions of dollars already spent on it. It is nothing more than a bureaucratic database with questionable benefits. In a time of a fragile economic recovery, that money could be diverted to more effective programs that prevent gun crime and protect our police officers. That money could better be utilized in our efforts to strengthen our border enforcement and crack down on illegal smuggling of firearms across the U.S. border, which is where most of the firearms that are illegally smuggled into Canada come from. To those who argue that ending the long gun registry will weaken our gun control legislation, I reply that it does nothing of the kind; rather, it will free up resources to reinvest in programs that actually work.

We will also ensure that all data currently contained in the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry is destroyed. We will not stand for the creation of backdoor registries.

Equally as important as what the bill will do is what it will not do: it will not remove the requirements for Canadians to have a licence in order to use long guns; it will not undo the requirement to pass a background check and complete a safety training course. In addition, Bill C-19 will not make changes to the current requirement for owners of restricted and prohibited firearms to register these firearms through the Canadian firearms program.

These are reasonable and fair measures. I therefore call on all hon. members to support the speedy passage of Bill C-19.

Insurance Industry
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Braid Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, today members of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association are in Ottawa to meet with parliamentarians to discuss critical issues such as pensions and health care. These issues impact the lives of all Canadians.

In my riding Equitable Life, Sun Life, Manulife and FaithLife Financial are major employers and boost our local economy. They are also strong and dynamic partners that give back to the community through volunteer and public service contributions.

Across Canada the insurance industry plays a vital role in our economy and our society, providing financial protection and security to over 26 million Canadians. They also provide leadership on social issues, demonstrating a commitment to enhancing the well-being of families and communities.

The Canadian life and health insurance industry is a solid and successful partner in our strong financial system, and I thank it for contributing to our prosperity.

Benoit Simard
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Claude Patry Jonquière—Alma, QC

Mr. Speaker, I had the honour to officially present the Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation insignia to a very courageous man, Corporal Benoit Simard.

The unit commendation is awarded in recognition of an extraordinary deed or activity performed in extremely hazardous circumstances. The 1st Battalion Royal 22e Régiment Battle Group, of which Corporal Simard was a member, received this commendation for opening the airport in the besieged city of Sarajevo in July 1992. Surrounded by warring parties, with fire coming from all directions, the members of the battle group were able to help flights bringing humanitarian assistance land so that essential aid could be distributed to the people of Sarajevo affected by the war.

The battle group's extraordinary efforts also contributed to promoting the United Nations as a vital force in maintaining peace and security throughout the world.

I am both pleased and proud to pay tribute today to the bravery of Corporal Benoit Simard.

Firearms Registry
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, over 17 years ago the government of the day was promoting gun control in the form of Bill C-68.

After receiving a challenge from my constituents to look at the facts, I realized that the legislation did nothing to stop crime and protect Canadians.

To date, the long gun registry has cost taxpayers over $1 billion. This money could have been, and should have been, used to crack down on real criminals, not law-abiding Canadians. The long gun registry unfairly targets farmers, hunters and sport shooters, not criminals.

I am very proud to be part of a government that, after working for so long on this important issue, is making good on its commitment to end the long gun registry. Bill C-19 would reward those law-abiding citizens who have been patient and supportive. This legislation is a step in the right direction as we bring a bit more common sense to our laws.

We thank the thousands of Canadians who took the time to share their stories and their opinions that the registry should be scrapped. It has been a long haul, but in the end they have made a difference. Bill C-19 is proof of that.

Food Banks
Statements by Members

November 1st, 2011 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, Food Banks Canada released its annual hunger count today. It is clear that the economic recovery has left far too many Canadians behind. Food bank usage has gone up 26% since 2008. Each month, 851,000 people use a food bank. Of those, 322,000 are kids.

Even people with jobs are having difficulty. One in five working families uses a food bank.

In my own province of Prince Edward Island, poverty and food bank usage are also on the rise.

We can do better. We need to invest in affordable housing so that Canadians do not have to decide between paying the rent and feeding their families. We need to modernize employment insurance to better support older workers who have lost permanent jobs. We can no longer pretend that all is well. We need a national poverty reduction strategy, as suggested by both the Senate and a House study last year. We need government to show some leadership, because so far, we have seen little.

Association of Consulting Engineering Companies
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, members of Parliament on both sides of the House, today I rise to greet the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies of Canada, which is here today in Ottawa for the annual Parliament Hill Day and Awards Gala. It will be presenting awards for the best engineering projects in Canada over the past year to some outstanding engineers.

Whether it is a bridge or a building, if people have been on it or in it, it is probably designed by one of the finest engineers in world. These are Canadian engineers. Tonight they will be honouring the best of the best.

It is absolutely wonderful that we in Canada have some of the best professional engineers in the entire country. Those in the past built this country. Those today are building this country. What they are asking is that all parliamentarians work together to improve the infrastructure fund past 2014 so that these engineers can do what they do best--that is, build the best country in the entire world.