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

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will cite two sources. The first one would be the people from the Association québécoise de prévention du suicide. They spoke in French, but I imagine that the hon. member was listening to the interpretation. They said very clearly that the registry had an impact. Directors of Quebec's public health said that making it more difficult to access long guns had an impact. Statistics show that long guns had been used in most suicides. The registry makes it more difficult to access long guns.

As I said at the beginning of my speech, it is rather odd that these statistics have dropped since the creation of the registry. That is what the Association québécoise de prévention du suicide said in committee. I encourage the hon. member to consult the blues. It was extremely important, especially with Suicide Prevention Week coming up. Suicide is a scourge in Quebec, a big problem.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Gatineau for her speech. I have a lot of questions to ask her. When I was elected in 1997, I voted against Bill C-68 to eliminate the firearms registry. I am from a rural area and I changed my position. I did not do a one-eighty but a complete three-sixty. For the people of my riding who are watching at home, I sincerely believe that the registry has saved lives. The registry costs $2 million a year. The money that is going to be used to commemorate the War of 1812 could be used to maintain the registry for the next 35 years. All we have to do is not bother with that celebration; the war was fought in 1812. Let us forget those misfortunes and invest this money where it is needed.

The Commissioner of Firearms is the only person the Conservative government fired because he was not bilingual. It appointed unilingual judges to the Supreme Court and a unilingual Auditor General, but the Commissioner of Firearms, who supported the registry, was let go on the pretext that he was not bilingual.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I always love the enthusiasm demonstrated by the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst, who is a strong supporter of francophones everywhere and of bilingualism.

The Conservatives are using the cost argument to abolish the firearms registry. We are not talking about the initial cost of $2 billion to create the registry. We are talking about an amount between $2 million and $4 million. On the eve of a new budget that will involve millions of dollars in expenditures, if the Conservatives truly believed in public safety, if they respected those who survived the horror of the Polytechnique and Dawson College massacres among others and if they respected the police officers who want to keep the registry, they could find the money to do so. There are some dissenting voices, and I recognize their right to oppose the registry for their own reasons; however, in matters of public safety, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is the third time I have risen to debate this bill.

Before getting to the heart of my speech, I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to three women, two of whom I have known since the 1990s. I am talking about Wendy Cukier and Heidi Rathjen, who, in the 1990s, spearheaded the movement to create a long gun registry. At the time, I was a political assistant to a member of the House, Clifford Lincoln, my predecessor. I did a lot of work with these two women, who obviously have continued the battle. However, their efforts are now taking a turn and are focused on protecting the gains we have made in the past 15 years or so.

The third woman I would like to pay tribute to is Suzanne Laplante-Edward, who also fought for the creation of the registry and who continues to fight to maintain it. Ms. Laplante-Edward, as we know, is the mother of Anne-Marie Edward, who was a victim of the massacre at École Polytechnique. I have gotten to know Ms. Edward in the past two or three years through the fight against the government's efforts to take this important public safety tool away from us.

I also have the honour of representing Ms. Edward in the House of Commons because she is one of my constituents. Ms. Edward is an iron lady in the best sense. She has a lovely personality, a tremendous heart and a strong social conscience, and she is as tenacious as a bulldog. I salute her work.

I want Ms. Laplante-Edward, Ms. Cukier and Ms. Rathjen to know that their efforts have not been in vain. Naturally, they must be discouraged to see the fruit of their labour destroyed. Still, like so many people across the country, I truly believe that, during its time, this registry no doubt saved lives that would have been lost to suicide or murder. Yes, lives were saved. Once again, I want to honour the work of these three women, but I should also point out that many others were part of this movement and made major contributions.

I would like to tackle what I would call the myths perpetuated by those seeking to dismantle the gun registry, or perhaps I should say, the false arguments advanced by some. The first myth, the first false argument, is that the long gun issue is relevant only to people living in rural parts of Canada and that the gun problem in urban areas is mostly about handguns.

Presenting the issue like that is cunning and very effective in terms of communications. I mentioned that the government had about 1,500 communications professionals on its payroll. That is very clever in terms of communications, but it is still a false dichotomy.

The government has been very shrewd in presenting this issue in very simplistic black and white terms, namely that the problem of guns in cities is a problem of handguns and that when we talk about long guns, we are talking about rural populations who need the long guns either to protect their agricultural operations or to pursue their traditional culture of hunting, as the hon. member across the way mentioned before. However, as I mentioned in my speech on second reading, this is a false dichotomy because more and more urban dwellers are buying long guns and replicas of guns they see in movies and video games. In fact, in the metropolis of Toronto alone, not a rural region but the great metropolis of Toronto, there are 287,000 non-restricted firearms registered. To say it is just a rural versus urban issue is a false argument.

The second myth or false argument is that all of these inquiries to the gun registry, some estimated to be as high as 17,000 per day, are a function of routine or perfunctory inquiries, for example, of a driver of a car who is receiving a parking ticket. In other words, all of these queries are said to be automatic and secondary to the rather routine and mundane primary queries. However, that is not what the committee heard from Mr. Mario Harel, chief of police of the Gatineau police service and vice-president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, who told the committee:

There is truth to the fact that a number of these are what has been referred to as “auto-queries”. However these cases are rare, which we believe is an endorsement of the fact that law enforcement views this information as a valuable tool, a bit of information that, when combined with other information, assists in assessing a situation an officer may face.

The third myth or false argument is the idea that the registry has not been proven to save lives. There was a study presented to the committee by Étienne Blais, Ph.D., and Marie-Pier Gagné, M.Sc., and Isabelle Linteau showing that the registry does save lives. Let us put that aside for a moment, because we can get into a battle of studies and the hon. member for Yukon will bring up Dr. Gary Mauser's study and others. We can get into these battles between studies, but let us look at this from a logical, practical or common sense point of view. I know the party opposite likes to focus on practical, common sense arguments.

It is very hard to prove that the registry saves a life. Theoretically, it makes sense. Practically, it is very hard to prove. For example, it is impossible to prove that I made it to Ottawa via the highway today and remained alive because of the 100 kilometre an hour speed limit, which, by the way, I respect. It is very hard to prove that is why I am here speaking to the House today. In fact, there will be no headline tomorrow saying that the life of the member for Lac-Saint-Louis was saved because of the 100 kilometre per hour speed limit. I will not be a statistic, but we know that this speed limit saves lives. It is something that makes sense and it is very hard to prove that someone is alive because of either this speed limit or the registry.

A fourth myth or false argument is the idea that people are still killed with long guns even though we have a registry. I would stress that there is no policy instrument that can fully prevent that which it aims to prevent. It can only control that which is socially undesirable.

This is what I would call an ironclad law of public policy. Public policy is almost always based on the findings and recommendations of social science which itself by definition comes with associated margins of error.

I can boldly predict based on this ironclad law of public policy that dog bites will continue into the foreseeable future even by dogs that have been registered with city hall. I can put my money on that. I will also predict that car theft will continue into the future even though cars are registered with the province.

Unfortunately, it is clear to all of us that gun crimes will not disappear even should the registry by some miracle survive. There will be, unfortunately, future gun crimes, some of which will be quite heinous. It is unfortunate and this will happen even if the registry were to survive.

It is interesting that members opposite will say that registering guns just does not work because criminals do not register guns. I can see that point. Criminals do not register their guns. Therefore, that means criminals do not register their handguns. The only people registering handguns would be law-abiding citizens, as the members across the way like to invoke. As I said in my speech at second reading, the people in my riding who are gun owners are sterling citizens. They are the most active volunteers, conscientious and responsible, but that is not the point.

The point I am trying to make with respect to the handgun registry is that if the Conservatives were logical, they would say that registries do not work because criminals do not register firearms; therefore, they are getting rid of the long gun registry and they are getting rid of the handgun registry. Thankfully, they are not getting rid of the handgun registry. That points out the fundamental contradiction in their thinking on gun control.

The fifth myth or false argument is that the registry is wasteful and useless. I have heard that many times. We hear that from the Minister of Public Safety on a continual basis. We have evidence from the police, including the RCMP. If the government does not buy the RCMP's evidence, then there is a problem between the government and the RCMP. There is a lack of faith in the RCMP by the government. There is concrete evidence that the registry helps with police investigations.

I will quote Mr. Mario Harel, the chief of the Gatineau police service and vice-president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, who said that the elimination of the gun registry will add significant costs to their investigations, costs which will be downloaded to police services and lead to crucial delays in gaining investigative information.

The word “downloading” seems to come up a lot with the government. It downloads costs of the prison agenda and all kinds of other things to the provinces. Here is an example where again the government will be downloading costs, in this case to provincial and municipal police forces.

One does not have to take Mr. Harel's word for it. One just has to listen to what Matt Torigian, the chief of Waterloo Regional Police, has said about the long gun registry's usefulness in police investigations. He has given a couple of concrete examples. One is real and the other is more hypothetical, but based on typical cases that the police are involved with. He said:

We came across a crime scene recently with a man who was obviously deceased by gunshot and a long gun was at the scene. Because of the registry, we were able to trace the weapon to the person who had just sold it to the man who was deceased. We determined it was a suicide and the investigation stopped there.

We know from this example that if there had been no registry the police would have thought that maybe it was a crime and would have had to open up an investigation. Many hours of valuable police time would have been wasted looking for a perpetrator of a crime that was really a suicide.

Another example given by Chief Torigian is more hypothetical but no doubt commonplace. Say a group of thieves break into a farmhouse near Montreal and steal a shotgun. They saw it off to conceal it better under their clothes. They drive to Windsor, Ontario, where in the course of committing a bank robbery they drop the gun and flee the scene. Because of the registry, the police find out that the gun is owned by a Montreal man, a victim of theft. This might give the force a lot more leads to go on. For example, there might be witnesses to the break-in in Montreal. The registry would thus allow coordination of efforts between police departments in order to efficiently resolve the case and move on to something else.

There is more anecdotal evidence. The following example is from the 2010 RCMP firearms report, the one that was ready a while back but was only released on January 19 after the committee had finished its hearings on the bill:

A large municipal police force contacted CFP NWEST for assistance in recovering obliterated serial numbers on two firearms seized in a robbery and kidnapping investigation. After the serial number of one of the guns was restored, NWEST used the CFP’s Registry database to determine that the gun was registered to one of the suspects and had not been reported lost or stolen.

In another example the registry helped police link a grandfather's gun to his grandson who had perpetrated a gun crime. Again, I quote from the RCMP report:

CFP NWEST was asked to assist in a shooting investigation. They confirmed, through the Canadian Firearms Information System, the firearm was one of seven registered to the same individual, and it had not been reported lost, missing or stolen.

RCMP investigators met with the registered owner who was able to account for only four of his seven firearms. The subject was interviewed in order to establish a possible link between him and the shooting suspects.

As a result of the interview, the owner's grandson was identified as one of the accused in the shooting, and all seven firearms were accounted for in the follow-up interview of the accused. Numerous firearms-related charges were laid in relation to this incident.

The police caught the grandson. If the police had not caught the grandson by using the registry, the grandson might still be wandering around with a gun. Who knows what might have happened.

This is another point I would like to make about those who want to dismantle the registry. They will not admit to possibilities, and this is a fundamental error when it comes to social science. It is all about probabilities and possibilities.

Dr. Gary Mauser made a fine presentation at committee. It was quite rigorous and he was a very agreeable witness. This is not an attack on Dr. Mauser. After I gave him some examples of how it was plausible the registry might have saved lives, I asked him, in his opinion, in the 10 years the registry has existed is it not possible that one life may have been saved. I was not even asking Dr. Mauser was one life saved; I was asking him if it is not possible in this universe of probabilities that one life may have been saved. His answer was a categorical, “It's impossible”.

This is what we are dealing with. We are not dealing with open-minded thinking on this issue. We are dealing with categorical statements that actually are nonsensical when we really think about it. Ending the registry would be a mistake.

The Liberal Party in the last election campaign was quite cognizant of the fact that some legitimate law-abiding firearms owners feel criminalized by the system, that first-time failure to register not be a criminal offence, thereby compromising with one of the points the government is making. There was some movement on the issue. It would have solved the problem and it could have kept the registry. People would not have felt criminalized and Canada would be safer.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ryan Leef Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I have spoken to this bill a number of times. I would say to my hon. colleague that I certainly have never separated rural and urban Canadians' concerns around the long gun registry nor rural and urban Canadians' use of long guns. In fact, we are well aware that both rural and urban Canadians utilize long guns.

A good portion of what the member is saying makes sense, but I will tell him what the people in my riding and I have a hard time with. We never hear concerns that this legislation that has been brought in has criminalized Canadians. It is not for want or need of registering these long guns. A lot of times it boils down to errors made in the system which cause registrants, law-abiding Canadian citizens, to be not necessarily targeted but subjected to these crazy search and seizure provisions and criminal sanctions because of it. We are making Canadians into criminals because of paper errors. Nobody thinks that is an effective use of government legislation, Canadian taxpayer dollars, or police resources and time.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I sit with the hon. member on the public safety committee. I would say that he has approached this serious topic with a very serious mindset. I was not suggesting that he has used this false dichotomy about rural versus urban. That is the communications strategy of the government. I would urge the hon. member to listen to some of the comments made by his colleagues, including the Minister of Public Safety, who are always invoking farmers and hunters, as if members on this side of the House somehow do not appreciate farmers and hunters. This is part of the government's communications strategy.

In terms of criminalizing, I understand that someone would feel criminalized, which is why we proposed decriminalizing the first-time failure to register. That was an appropriate common-sense very Canadian kind of compromise. However, a gun is a very dangerous thing. Let us not fool ourselves. The Supreme Court has said that gun ownership should be seriously regulated in this country.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member raised a lot of cogent points in his presentation, an important one being the issue of costs.

When I met with the former chief of police of Edmonton and the head of the gun registry, they advised me that when the gun registry was originally established it was not being run in an efficient way, but once it was transferred over to the RCMP and local police departments to deliver, the costs plummetted. This talk of billions of dollars is a complete falsehood and should be corrected. I appreciate the hon. member raising that.

One matter that has concerned me is that it has taken the government six years to get serious about bringing forward the bill to dispose of the so-called long gun registry, which does not even exist. What troubles me is that in a six-year time span, criminal law provisions were not being enforced. It troubles me that that perhaps is sending the wrong message to those who might break serious laws like the Criminal Code.

I wonder if the member would like to speak to that. Perhaps that is why the list is insufficient.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, certainly that would contribute to the errors. I have no proof of this, but there was talk in the early 2000s that some people may have been sabotaging the registry by filling out the forms improperly and causing gum ups in the system.

One thing I take away from the constant refrain of the government is that gun owners are law abiding. I take that as a fact. I take the government at its word on that. One of the consequences of arguing that is to say that because they are law abiding, they will register. If there are few homicides committed with registered guns, maybe it proves that indeed our gun owners are law abiding and register and take their responsibility to store their weapons seriously. Maybe that is why a smaller number than we would expect of guns used in the commission of crimes are in fact registered.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, when Canadians wake up after the bill has gone through the Senate, they will find out that they still need an acquisition and possession card. The only call I get in my office is about an individual going past 30 days. If they have gone past 30 days, they need to pass the test. If they fail the test, they lose their gun. The only thing the bill would do is remove the numbers in the computer. We would still have the same law.

Am I right in saying that some Canadians will wake up in a month or two from now and find out that a letter came in the mail and they had to re-register their acquisition or possession card recall and, if they do not do it, they will lose their gun? If they have guns at home with no acquisition and possession card, they are doing something against the law and they will be charged under the Criminal Code. I do not believe that part has been removed.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

That is an excellent point, Mr. Speaker, because the process of filling out forms for a firearms acquisition certificate is much more complex than for registering one's weapon.

The interesting thing is that almost everyone who came to committee to argue against the registry also said that we needed to get rid of firearms licensing. I asked some witnesses point blank if they thought we should get rid of firearms licensing as well and they said yes.

In fact, the statistical evidence that was presented at committee was with the regression lines. We always forget that within the regression lines are margins of error and within those margins of error are human lives. However, the people who came with the regression analysis said that this proves the registry does not save lives and it also proves that gun licensing does not save lives.

Why does the government stop halfway if it is really logical in its public policy-making? Thank God it has not but if it were logical it would.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, throughout the debate today there have been some comments made by government members that the gun registry will not stop gang violence. No, it will not stop gang violence. I do not think it was ever believed that it could stop gang violence. However, it has had an impact on suicides. My colleague from Yukon argued that there was no testimony given. I did not sit on the committee but I sat in on a great number of witness presentations, and I am positive that the Canadian Mental Health Association attributed a decrease of 300 suicides annually because of the registry.

An individual tells his doctor that he has lost his job, lost his wife and is in debt up to his ears, that he has a gun at home and something will happen. That was the testimony we heard. The police are alerted and they take the gun out of that situation. The witnesses attributed a decrease of 300 suicides annually because of that.

Another statistic that has stood out is that, over the past decade, 71% of spousal homicides involved rifles or shotguns. As of 2009, the rate of homicides with rifles and shotguns has decreased by 62% from 1989.

How would Canadians be safer with the cancellation of the gun registry?

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, they are not safer. The fact remains that the people on the ground, the people who work with suicide prevention and women's shelters, know from experience that the registry helps prevent suicide and it minimizes the ability of someone with a firearm to intimidate a spouse.

We heard examples of people who keep their guns in the front vestibule closet just to intimidate a spouse. These are the people whose guns should be taken away because they are not being properly stored. However, how would we know if they have guns to begin with if we do not have the registry?

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Prince George--Peace River.

It is a privilege to contribute to this debate and to speak in support of Bill C-19, the ending the long-gun registry act.

My riding of Okanagan--Coquihalla is a very diverse one. There are large urban cities, such as Penticton and West Kelowna, resource communities like Merritt and Okanagan Falls, and many rural regions, such as Logan Lake, Meadow Valley, Faulder and Willowbrook. For rural residents, this is an issue of great importance to them. It is one that I hear about weekly, and sometimes even daily. They ask me when the government will fulfill its commitment to end the long gun registry and why has it taken so long. I expect that I am not the only member of the House to get these kinds of questions.

I believe it is important to share with the House the frustration that I hear from the rural residents in my riding. They are law-abiding citizens and they are taxpayers, and yet they are forced to comply with a system created out of Ottawa that does nothing but inconvenience the lifestyle they work hard to enjoy.

Everyone in the House knows that criminals do not register their guns. It is often a repeated point in this debate but it is the truth. However, more important, we need to recognize that there are times when a registered gun is used to take a life. Recently, in my riding, a family lost a loved one as a result of domestic violence. Did the registered gun stop the alleged murderer from pulling the trigger? Sadly, it did not. For those people in society who are capable of taking a life, the fact that a gun may or may not be registered means nothing to them. The simple fact of the matter is that the long gun registry has not stopped crime, nor is it saving lives.

I have also listened to the opposition arguments in favour of the long gun registry. The opposition suggests that its greatest contribution is that it provides law enforcement with a record of where guns are, and not just where they are but what kinds of guns they are.

Those who followed the committee hearings for Bill C-391 last year will know that members heard testimony from numerous respected and experienced police officers. Those experienced officers told us that the information provided by the long gun registry was not reliable. I have met with many front-line officers who have made it very clear that they cannot rely on the registry to confirm if a gun may or may not be at that address. In fact, if officers were to rely solely on the long gun registry, they would be putting their life and the life of their colleagues at risk.

We also know that there are long guns that have never been registered and those that have not been registered properly, and situations where model numbers or catalogue numbers were used instead of serial numbers.

The long gun registry has been in place for over a decade. What are the results? The registry has not stopped crime, nor has it saved lives. Millions of dollars were spent on the registry and what are the results for the taxpayers? We have a database that front-line officers tell us that they cannot depend on.

I understand that most members of the opposition choose to ignore how this registry has adversely impacted many taxpayers in rural Canada. However, I will recognize the opposition members for Thunder Bay—Rainy River and Thunder Bay—Superior North who have to date respected the wishes of their constituents.

This has been a difficult issue for many members of the opposition who come from rural ridings. It does not need to be difficult. Admitting that the long gun registry has been a failure is not an opinion, it is a fact. Rural Canadians know it and residents in my riding, who live in communities like Merritt, Logan Lake and Okanagan Falls, know it as well.

One of the challenges that many communities in my region are facing is an overpopulation of deer. On the surface it may not seem like a problem, however, deer destroy small gardens and can be aggressive to small animals and even adults. They also present a real danger to motorists. The reality is that fewer people are hunting these days, in part because of the burden and costs of dealing with issues like the long gun registry. In my riding, many residents have told me that they feel the quality of life in rural Canada is threatened. That is why I believe it is important we take action on their issue.

On May 2 of last year, Canadians made it clear that they were supporting a platform that would put an end to the wasteful spending of tax dollars on failed programs like the long gun registry. Therefore, let us instead work together on more effective gun control, like the requirement for people to have a licence before they can buy a rifle or a shotgun. We also need to ensure that before people get a licence they need to pass the Canadian firearms safety course. We also need to ensure that before people get a licence to own a rifle or a shotgun they must pass a background check. A background check involves things like a criminal record check and ensures that people are not under a court order prohibiting them from possessing a firearm.

I am proud to say that our government is now investing $7 million a year to make the screening process for people applying for a firearm's licence stronger. Bill C-19 would not change any of those requirements. In fact, no one would be able to buy a firearm of any kind without passing the Canadian firearms safety course, the background check and without having a proper licence.

I support the bill because it would eliminate a law that places an unnecessary burden on law-abiding Canadians. The bill would also free up resources that could be better spent on anti-crime initiatives to help make our streets safer.

We need to be honest with ourselves about the real gun problem in Canada. It is not just the legally acquired shotguns and rifles in the hands of our farmers and hunters that is the problem. While we continue to penalize them, it may seem like a solution to some members opposite, but doing so does not stop crime. A failed registry and a flawed database is not an answer.

Between 2005 and 2009, police in Canada recovered 253 firearms that had been used in the commission of a homicide. Some of those guns were registered, most were not. However, we need recognize that the registry failed 253 times to prevent crime, much as it failed in my riding last year. As a result, I cannot support a process that requires law-abiding, tax paying citizens to continue to dump money into a system that offers no tangible results.

Does it really makes sense to the opposition to continue to penalize rural taxpayers who often legally purchase a rifle for the protection of livestock or hunting game with family and friends? The long gun registry continues to penalize these citizens and yet it does nothing to address any of the real problems. We do have some real problems, such as the flow of illicit firearms being smuggled into Canada, and the firearms that are used as a commodity for criminal purposes.

I am convinced that we all want to reduce crime, especially gun crime, but the long gun registry is a failure and it is time we respect rural Canadians and admit it. That is why I speak in support Bill C-19. We need to invest in programs that are effective and eliminate those that do nothing.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

February 13th, 2012 / 1:40 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I heard the member's colleague from the Conservative Party this morning saying that registering a car does not save a life. However, in a hit and run situation it would be a way to find out who did it. That is what registries are all about.

I do not believe that if we put a registration number into the computer that it will stop a crazed person from killing somebody. I do not think anybody could argue that. However, we may find the person who did the crime. Also, if we knew that an unstable person had a gun and may commit a crime, we could take the gun away.

While the Conservative government says that the gun registry does not save lives but that it will register special guns and short guns, honestly, what is the difference? It is just the registration of guns and, even if the gun is registered, it does not stop somebody from using it to kill.

Why is there a difference between the two? Is it just that the government needs votes and that it convinced the hunters and farmers to vote for it? It has paid for good advertising but has it done this for votes and not out of real concern?

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member had a number of questions that are fair.

I think that provinces do what they do in order to serve the people. If a province decides that it wants to put together a car registry because it is in society's best interest that is certainly fine.

The thrust of my speech was that we have a case where most long guns are purchased and used for legitimate activities, such as hunting and looking after livestock in rural areas. We all know there is a process for restricted firearms, such as handguns, and we try, as best we can, to ensure that those guns are only put into the hands of people who need them for legitimate reasons and not criminal activity.

I would reiterate my support for continued gun control in those areas because those are the areas that we can make progress on fighting crime, not on penalizing those people in rural areas.