House of Commons Hansard #79 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was guns.

Topics

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, we hear in every government presentation that the legislation is designed to make rural gun owners criminals for non-compliance.

Would the Conservatives share one simple statistic with the House, with Canadians and with anyone following this debate. How many Canadians have been convicted of non-compliance with the gun registry? How many criminals have we made?

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think the member is suggesting that somehow, through my speech, I was alleging that it was punishing rural Canadians.

I think that rather than saying that it criminalizes, I would much rather say that it puts a burden that is not reasonable. That is, a system run by government that puts a burden without giving a reasonable public good, such as really preventing crime. I think we need to continue to look at all laws and ensure that the individuals have to do their part but no more than can be justified.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond to the point just made by the member opposite. Perhaps the member can provide us with some comments.

I have had a number of constituents in my riding office over the last number of years who have come in, World War II veterans, for example, who have had their firearms confiscated for no reason other than forgetting to renew their registration. They had been registered. I have seen these people come into my office absolutely stricken, feeling that they were treated like criminals by a registry that was created by the former Liberal government.

Has the member heard of any of these people coming in, talking about how they were treated by officials who subjected them to these laws?

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, yes, I do receive quite a lot of complaints. People feel that if they are responsible, they have complied with all the safety requirements and they get the licence, they should not be subject to a very burdensome process.

However, by the same token, every time the RCMP gets called out to look into these cases, that is RCMP time that should be spent looking for real criminals.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and participate in the debate on the ending of the long-gun registry act. My constituents have consistently told me to abolish the long gun registry. As we finally approach that goal, I am proud to support the repeal and the destruction of the registry.

Our Conservative government places a high priority on the safety and security of Canadians. However, we also place a high value on their freedom and ability to enjoy that safety. We have been working hard on initiatives and legislation to that end. Repealing the long gun registry is one of those efforts.

Supporters of the long gun registry often hold up the legislation as a key tool for keeping Canadians safe. In reality, it is nothing more than a costly database of information about law-abiding Canadians. It is essentially incapable of preventing any crime from occurring. I have yet to see a single piece of evidence that this has stopped a single crime or saved a single life. It is wasteful and it does not achieve its goals. It is time to get rid of it so we can focus on issues that will actually have a practical impact on the safety and security of Canadians.

The long gun registry has been expensive. This is an indisputable fact. The CBC, not known for its Conservative bias, has estimated a total cost of over $2 billion over the 17 years of the registry. Let me remind members that the former Liberal justice minister, Allan Rock promised it would not cost a cent more than $2 million. That is a hefty price to pay for a an inferior product, as we can all agree. The $2 billion could have gone a long way in other safety initiatives, including preventive action or rehabilitative programs.

Across this country, Canadians are working hard to provide for their families. They do not throw money away on items or services that are not beneficial or practical for them or for their families. It is time that we follow their lead and do away with the needless spending on the registry.

The long gun registry does a fine job of collecting the names of those using their long guns for sport and protecting their livestock. It does an awful job at stopping illegal activity, using guns that were never legally purchased or registered in the first place. That is because the people listed in the registry are individuals who have acquired and wish to use their long guns in legal ways.

They have followed their government's requirements. They comply because they wish to abide by the law. These people are not the ones committing gun crimes in Canada. This is the key reason that the long gun registry is an ineffective piece of legislation.

This is not a surprise to me, yet I suspect it will come as one to the opposition. Most criminal activity naturally operates outside of the law, hence its criminality. Guns used in crime are generally not legally purchased or registered. More often than not, they have been brought into Canada for criminal use and for that reason are never registered. This renders the registry useless in both tracking down criminals and protecting Canadians from harm.

The majority of Canadians have had enough of the long gun registry. I know that our government knows that. If my colleagues across the aisle were honest with themselves, they would be well aware of it, too. In fact, there are ridings all over Canada clamouring for this change regardless of the political party of the member they have elected to represent them.

I would like to focus on one riding in particular. The member for Western Arctic travelled across the Northwest Territories. He told all who would listen that he would stand up for northern values and vote to end the long gun registry. He even stood in a debate and said, “Vote for me, vote for the Conservatives. It is the same thing. We both will vote to end the long gun registry.”

Well, it is clear that the electoral promises of that member do not mean a whole lot.

To all reasonable people, this bill should be a win, win situation. It would lessen the constraints on our fellow Canadians and allow hunters, farmers and sports shooters to continue their lawful activity in peace.

Having discussed the costly nature of the registry, the ineffective structure of the registry and the Canada-wide request to repeal the registry, the conclusion of this debate should be obvious to all. It is essential that the long gun registry come to an end, and that it happen soon.

We are looking forward to the day that law-abiding Canadians can relax and know that their information has been completely destroyed. That is why Bill C-19 also includes a provision to destroy all data collected by the registry in the last 17 years. This aspect is extremely important, as it is necessary to protect innocent citizens from ever being targeted by their government again.

Canadians gave their support for the abolition of the registry last May. Our government stands by our promise to remove it from the federal level forever.

This is not a new issue in the House of Commons. Throughout the debate the word “ideology” has been bandied about quite a bit. At the end of the day, this war of words leads us nowhere.

Let us ignore ideology for a moment and summarize the simple facts. The long gun registry has never stopped a single crime or saved a single life. Billions of dollars have been spent. Members of Parliament on both sides of the aisle have heard from Canadians that they want the registry to be gone. Now is the time to do what we came here to do and serve Canadians by abolishing the long gun registry once and for all.

I and our Conservative government made a promise to the Canadian people that the long gun registry would be repealed and all data related to it would be destroyed. We stand firmly behind that promise and are dedicated to seeing that through. I encourage all members, especially those from rural and remote ridings, including those across the way, to stand up and speak for their constituents and vote in favour of ending the long gun registry once and for all.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the government member who just spoke. Since the May 2 election, it has become clear that the current government really wants to increase public safety, considering the bills it has introduced, for instance. Wanting to destroy the information that already exists in the registry would appear to run counter to that, since destroying the data will not bring back the money that has already been invested in creating the registry.

Why does the government want to throw away billions of dollars' worth of information that Canadian taxpayers have already paid for, when the provinces and police forces are telling us that the registry helps enhance public safety?

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member across the way brought up one of the most misunderstood facts about the registry. She brought up questions about licensing. That is one thing this government would not change. It would be just as hard to purchase a weapon now as it has been in the past. That all has to do with licensing of firearms as opposed to the registration of law-abiding farmers and gun owners. It is an apples and oranges argument. We would not change licensing, it would be just as difficult as it was before. We would continue to provide safety for Canadians.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell the member opposite that I did not appreciate his comment about the opposition members being honest with themselves. I would like him to know that during the election campaign in 1995, the people of my riding wanted to know how I planned to vote on the bill, which had not yet been introduced. I promised to vote in favour of it. I received a standing ovation and I have always voted in favour of it. That is what the majority of my constituents in Ottawa—Vanier want. Yet that member has the gall to say that we need to be honest with ourselves. His comment is unacceptable.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, there are over 300 members in the House. Not everybody is going to agree with the opposition or with our party. My statement was to encourage the ones who have heard loud and clear from their constituents to remove the registry. For me, I heard it loud and clear. I know some of the opposition members heard it loud and clear, and those members who heard that need to be honest with themselves, to remember the vote Wednesday night and vote with their constituents as opposed to other forces that would have them do otherwise.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I want to remind this House and inform the Speaker once again that the Conservative caucus has 13 members of police forces and law enforcement agencies from across the country. That side of the House has absolutely none.

So when members across the way mislead Canadians about how police officers feel, I as a police officer have to stand up and correct that. Police officers in this House have all voted in favour of abolishing this registry. It is a complete waste of money.

The Liberals said it would cost $2 million and it cost $2 billion. What would happen in private business if that kind of exaggerated misinformation went on?

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, as a business model, $2 million versus $2 billion simply would not suffice. That decision would be made, not 17 years from that decision, but probably within 1 or 2 years. Obviously it is not something we can afford.

I would like to speak about the police. I was on the legislative committee that heard some statements about the effectiveness of the registry. We heard an example where one officer had been shot because she had relied on the information of the registry and it was not true. She went up to a door and anticipated that there was no gun behind it. The registry said there was no gun. However, there was and she paid the price for that with her life. The registry simply does not work.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to comment on what the Minister of Public Safety said when we were debating closure on Bill C-19.

He said that the House has been debating the gun registry for 17 years, or almost as long as some members have been alive. I believe that I am one of those members to whom that comment could apply. Nevertheless, it is interesting. I am the oldest of three sons, and my mother always told me that just because someone speaks up more often does not necessarily mean that they are right. That applies here. Just because it has been 17 years does not automatically justify closure or the government's current position.

I object to the idea that we are not qualified to speak to the bill and share the people's ideas if we have never been police officers. In the end, as MPs, we may not necessarily be representative of the various segments of the population that we represent. We stand up for seniors even though we are not seniors, we stand up for youth even though we may not be young, and we stand up for retirees even though we are not retired. The fact that there are 13 former or active police officers in the Conservative caucus is not adequate justification for diminishing the words and testimony of other police officers and police associations.

I would like to come back to a quote that is very relevant to this debate. After Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, the work he did with regard to the economy was the subject of great criticism. For example, the unemployment rate was not dropping. This is relevant to this debate because President Obama spoke to the media and said that prevention is never applauded because it is invisible and very difficult to measure. In that context, President Obama was talking about the fact that the United States did not experience another recession. To him, that meant success. However, we cannot talk about something that did not happen. I think that the same logic applies to this debate.

We cannot talk about all the deaths and all the problems that have been prevented because of the firearms registry for that very reason—they were prevented. They never happened. It is very important to keep this in mind when reading quotes. The hon. member for Gatineau made the same comment, and another member who spoke earlier made a similar comment when he spoke about the police officer who was unfortunately the victim of a crime and who was shot despite the registry's existence. I believe that happened in Laval. We heard about it during testimony given before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

Regardless of the measures we put in place, whether they be tax measures or economic measures, regardless of the work that a government can do, the system will never be perfect. So, to give an example where the result was tragic and did not meet the expectations we have of the system in place, once again, does not constitute a legitimate rationale in this case.

I will continue my comments a little bit later.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The hon. member will have six minutes remaining when the House returns to this matter.

Pink in the Rink
Statements By Members

February 13th, 2012 / 2 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the Owen Sound Attack and the Canadian Cancer Society for teaming up and hosting the inaugural and very successful Pink in the Rink event on Saturday night at the Harry Lumley arena in Owen Sound.

The rink was a sea of pink. Fans were decked out in pink T-shirts and waved pink rally towels. The goal of the event was to raise awareness and money for lifesaving breast cancer research, as well as to support local patients who utilize the programs and services offered by the Canadian Cancer Society.

The hockey game featured the OHL champion Owen Sound Attack against the visiting Peterborough Petes. Real men can wear pink and the home team sported new pink jerseys in honour of loved ones who had lost their courageous battle to breast cancer and in celebration of those who are still with us.

To top off the night, a sold-out crowd of fans saw the Owen Sound Attack soundly beat the Peterborough Petes 12:0 in arguably their best game of the season. What an exciting and memorable evening. Job well done.

Small and Medium-Sized Businesses in Terrebonne—Blainville
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to acknowledge the essential role that the small and medium-sized businesses of Terrebonne, Blainville and Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines are playing in my riding's economic recovery. These businesses share our Quebec values and are deeply rooted in my community. They have worked hard since 2008 to provide more jobs for families in the region.

I would like to thank a number of business associations, including AGAB, CCITB, SODET, the Terrebonne chamber of commerce, CORDEV SADP, CLDEM, and the businesswomen's association. These organizations create a vital network of small and medium-sized businesses. Through them, I have had the opportunity to speak with the people who are helping my community flourish despite tough economic times.

I know that the owners of small and medium-sized businesses support the NDP's pro-small business platform. They agree that it is important to cut small business taxes, and they know that the Conservatives' poorly conceived plan, which helps only large corporations, undermines their competitiveness and fails to recognize their critical role in the economic recovery.