House of Commons Hansard #81 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was registry.

Topics

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I compliment the member for his excellent speech on this subject, a matter in which he has been engaged for many years and which he knows very well.

We talked about the wasteful, ineffective long gun registry. I want to ask about errors in the registry, which has been an issue for both his constituents and mine. We have spent, I understand, $590 million on a computer program to set up this registry. I have heard other members quote $700,000, but it was a tremendous amount of money just on the computer systems.

I wonder if it costs more to set up a program that makes errors, because as diligent as they are, they can make an error in their address, their house address or their phone number. If it is an improperly registered weapon, they can then be banned them from carrying, transporting, buying or selling it. He also mentioned a member who failed to be re-register, because the registry had actually not notified people when their registration was due. That might also have been a problem for his constituents, as it was for mine.

Would the member comment on that?

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, yes, I have had the same number of complaints. People were not properly notified and then found out that their firearms were not registered. Then they were hassled by the registry itself, with phone calls, and treated quite rudely because they had not re-registered in time.

When we talk about the errors that were made, I know of people who were able to register glue guns, soldering guns, and those types of things, just to show how foolish the registry really was. For the older firearms that did not have registration numbers on them, the registry would even send out a little sticker. Those stickers did not stay on a rifle very well and would fall off and get lost. It makes one wonder how they could possibly use something so silly to permanently mark a firearm.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

February 15th, 2012 / 4:50 p.m.

Portage—Lisgar
Manitoba

Conservative

Candice Bergen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to be the final Conservative member of Parliament to speak in favour of ending the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry.

I am also very pleased to work on behalf of law-abiding firearms owners in this country who use firearms for legitimate purposes. They are not criminals. They have never been criminals. They contribute so much to our country. They love this land. I am honoured to stand here on their behalf and to work hard for these good Canadians.

We have been discussing this important issue for 17 years and I am pleased to report that the end is finally in sight. In a very short time we will vote for the very last time on the future of this wasteful and ineffective measure, and it has been wasteful and ineffective on all counts.

CBC has reported it cost over $2 billion to implement the long gun registry. Every individual, every party, every group, no matter what side of the debate they are on, acknowledges that $2 billion is far too much money. It has been a waste of money. Members should think of what we could have done with $2 billion in terms of helping young people, helping individuals and young people who might be involved in gang activity, putting more police on the street, helping victims of violence. All of us could suggest a positive contribution in terms of helping our country to reduce violence with $2 billion. However, setting up a long gun registry which targets law-abiding Canadians and makes them criminals has been a complete waste.

Throughout this entire time and even while studying the file before I became a member of Parliament, there has never been one example, there has not been one instance, there has been absolutely no proof that the long gun registry has done anything to reduce violence or to stop a single gun crime. That is why the long gun registry must go. That is why it will go.

I would like to thank the member for Yorkton—Melville. He truly is the elder statesman on this issue. Even before ordinary Canadians had caught on to the systemic problem that is the long gun registry, he was fighting to have it abolished.

One of the issues that gets people in my riding very upset, and rightly so, is the long gun registry. All of us have heard loud and clear from our constituents on this issue. When the majority of us on this side of the House go back to our ridings, we are asked questions all the time. I just did a series of town hall meetings throughout my riding. The questions that came up all the time were: when are we going to get rid of the long gun registry and when is it going to end. Finally we can say that the end is near. The final vote will happen in the House tonight.

Frankly, the Liberal introduction of this nonsensical policy is the reason that many of us are here today.

In the last Parliament I introduced a private member's bill to end the long gun registry that only targets law-abiding hunters, farmers and sports shooters. At that time we came within a hair's breadth of ending the long gun registry with Bill C-391. We were all disappointed to see it defeated.

Unfortunately, some individuals on the other side of the House broke faith with their constituents. They told their constituents they would vote to end the long gun registry but they did not. Instead, they voted in the interests of their party bosses.

However, every cloud has a silver lining. We decided that we might have lost a battle but we were determined that we would not lose the war. We made an effort to get out and talk to Canadians. We knew that we needed a majority government. We needed a mandate from Canadians in order to end the wasteful long gun registry, and that is exactly what we received.

Listening to Michael Ignatieff's demands that all Liberals vote to keep on criminalizing law-abiding gun owners meant that we exchanged Liberal Larry Bagnell for the Conservative member for Yukon. It meant that we exchanged Liberal Anthony Rota for the Conservative member for Nipissing—Timiskaming. It meant that we exchanged Liberal Mark Holland for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, the Conservative MP for Ajax—Pickering. They were great trades.

It was not only the Liberals who lost. Listening to the big union bosses in the backroom of the NDP did not work out so well for some of those members either.

The good people of Sault Ste. Marie made what some would call an MP upgrade from Tony Martin to the Conservative member for Sault Ste. Marie.

I would encourage members on the other side to remember this: It was not only the Conservatives who campaigned to end the long gun registry during the most recent election. Many NDP candidates from rural and remote parts of Canada made the same promise.

For example, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, who has his eye on the big chair in the front row, said:

I have always said that when there was a clear opportunity to vote to scrap the long-gun registry I would do just that.

Someone who wants to be leader of the opposition needs to be honest and straightforward with Canadians, so I encourage the member to stand by his words when he votes tonight. The member will have a clear opportunity in a few short minutes.

Also, just a few short months ago in the most recent election, the member for Western Arctic stood in a church in downtown Yellowknife and in an all candidates debate told everyone, “Vote for me. Vote for the Conservatives. It's the same. We will both vote to end the long gun registry”.

I hope the member stands by his words tonight. He is right. The Conservatives will vote to end the long gun registry. As some of his colleagues on the other side found out last year, Canadians do have a long memory when it comes to broken promises. Canadians will not forget the promises that unfortunately were broken by their MPs.

Let us look at the facts. Whether it has been in coffee shops, in hockey arenas, over kitchen tables, or in the House of Commons, the debate on this issue has been going on for years and every side has been heard. Myths have been perpetuated, such as that the police use the long gun registry 17,000 times a day. That is beyond ridiculous. That myth has been corrected. We have heard time and time again in testimony that front-line officers do not use the registry. They cannot count on the data. It is a useless system. They know they cannot depend on it. They would rather see resources go to help them do their job.

Another myth is that the long gun registry is gun control and it stops crime and domestic violence. That myth is very disturbing to me. The long gun registry has nothing to do with gun control because it has no way of actually stopping individuals from acquiring firearms. Because of that, it cannot stop or intervene in domestic violence.

We need to speak honestly about gun crime, how people get guns, and why they should not have guns. We need to make sure we have laws that actually keep guns out of the hands of people who are dangerous. It is a myth which throughout the debate we have been able to straighten out.

We have discussed every angle of the long gun registry. Thankfully, everyone has had a chance to be heard. Canadians know where they stand on this issue. We believe it is behind us, their government. We believe this because every single Conservative candidate from downtown Vancouver to northern Manitoba, to the suburbs of Toronto, to the Maritimes stood and told Canadians that he or she believed the time had come to end the useless long gun registry. Because of that, Canadians gave us the strong mandate to keep our promises. That is exactly what we said we would do and that is exactly what we will do.

I encourage all members today to think about the wishes of their constituents. I encourage them to think about rural Canadians and those who live in remote parts of this country, Canadians who use their firearms every day as tools to do their work, whether that be on their farms or to hunt for food. As my colleagues have pointed out, these are law-abiding Canadians who are less likely to commit a crime with a gun than the rest of us who do not own firearms.

I encourage members to think about all of these people and the facts, and vote in support of ending the long gun registry once and for all. I look forward to this bill going to the other place and being passed into law as soon as possible.

It has been an honour and a privilege to stand up for the people of Portage—Lisgar, for law-abiding long gun owners in this country, and for the Conservative colleagues with whom I work.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Élaine Michaud Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, like most of my colleagues, I am very disappointed to have to ask a question on this issue, which is so crucial not only to Quebeckers, but also to many Canadians.

A little earlier, my hon. colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine gave a speech advocating maintaining the registry, with improvements of course. In that speech, she mentioned the importance of the firearms registry to professionals who work in suicide prevention. Representatives from Arc-en-ciel de Saint-Raymond-de-Portneuf, an organization in my riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, told me they share the same concerns.

I would like to hear what my colleague across the floor has to say to that organization, and to police forces, police chiefs and other front-line workers. How can she justify scrapping the gun registry when so many front-line workers, like those working in suicide prevention, believe that the registry is crucial to their work and that it helps them?

That said, I hope we can avoid the usual propaganda.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, that is an important question. All of us are very concerned with suicide rates in Canada. We want to do everything we can to reduce suicide. However, we heard at committee that organizations that work to prevent suicide have absolutely no access to the registry at all.

Where we can receive input and where we can strengthen our gun control program in Canada is in the licensing process. If individuals are at risk, whether it is from mental illness, depression or other factors that come into play that cause people to take such desperate actions, we want to make sure they do not have access to firearms or other things they could use to commit suicide.

I do want to correct something for my hon. colleague. Only the police have access to the registry. We heard testimony that the social agencies do not have access. Paramedics do not have access to the registry. Emergency physicians do not have access to the registry. I just wanted to clarify that for my hon. colleague.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, seeing as the number of women killed by their intimate partners in any given year is seven times greater if there is a gun in the house, is there something the member would like to say to the families of the victims who have died at the hands of long guns?

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, all of us are concerned with violence of any kind. Specifically when women are killed by the men they trust the most, all of us, whether we are mothers or daughters, are extremely concerned.

What we differ on is how we actually make some effective changes. When it comes to how women are killed in Canada, the majority of times it is with knives. Women are also beaten or strangled. About 9% of women are killed with guns, including hand guns. Any way that women or men are hurt or murdered in this country is wrong.

In terms of guns, what we need to do is look at our licensing process. Maybe there are ways to strengthen it.

We also need to help families. We need to help men and women who are struggling with issues in their families. We need to have safe places for women to go. This is a huge issue that has everything to do with helping families, but counting guns does nothing to stop family violence.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague very much for all the hard work she has done in this Parliament and the past Parliament on this issue.

I would also like to thank my colleague from Yorkton—Melville, and my predecessor, Dale Johnson, the former member of Parliament for Wetaskiwin who for years campaigned and fought long and hard on this issue.

I want to thank all the constituents in my riding of Wetaskiwin who supported me on this particular issue. There is not one issue on which I get more questions. The question I am asked is when will we see the end of the wasteful, ineffective long gun registry.

I would like to give my hon. colleague every opportunity to thank all the organizations, police forces and so on, across this country, the common sense law-abiding citizens whose sensibilities have been offended for so long by this registry. If there is anybody she would like to thank, I would like to give her the opportunity to do so.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate the opportunity.

There are individuals and hunting groups throughout Canada. I was actually in Saskatchewan on the weekend speaking to anglers and hunters. Police officers have come forward. Police chiefs like Rick Hanson of the Calgary Police Service, one of the biggest cities in Canada, stood with us and stood against the long gun registry. I certainly want to thank those people. There have been many individuals and groups that have been working for a very long time on this issue. Many of them gave up hope. They did not know if we would actually see an end to this registry.

I am thankful, as is my colleague, to our constituents and the many groups and individuals who worked so hard and stood with us, especially those front-line police officers who came to committee. We really needed them and we appreciate what they did.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Before we resume debate with the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, I need to let him know that I will need to interrupt him at 5:15 p.m. as this is the end of the government orders.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will get right to it, if we can avoid the petulant heckling for a minute. The member has now gone away.

We have the opportunity to talk about making law that works for Canadians and the fulfilling of a mandate. That is what politics is about.

I have a long-standing record of voting for previous iterations of bills that were introduced by the Conservative Party to abolish the long gun registry. What changed here is fundamentally important—

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I want to point out to the member that it is not the practice, and it is contrary to the Standing Orders, to identify somebody's absence or presence here in the House.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

As the member probably knows, avoid any references to the absence or presence of members.

The hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think the danger presented here right now is that of a government that has become drunk on its own majority power. It is refusing to listen to the reason that has been presented to it time and time again.

I will give the government three sources. The opposition moved amendments throughout this process that would ensure the protection of law-abiding Canadians and gun owners, even through the passage of the bill. Police forces in this country have lobbied long and hard, as have victim groups, for the government to listen to reason. I actually had a moment of belief, of hope over experience with the government, that it would find its way to a path of reasonableness and allow the amendments that were necessary in the bill. These are amendments and ideas that the government used to believe in a short time ago.

If the Conservatives will not listen to police groups, victim groups or opposition parties, perhaps they will listen to their own legislation, their own government. In 2006, there was an amendment that was key in the previous bill. It said:

... that this measure would help ensure that guns did not get into the hands of individuals who should not have them, such as convicted criminals, and assist investigators in identifying the owners of stolen firearms or in conducting criminal investigations.

What was this amendment about? It was about the licensing and verification of a gun when it gets transferred from one owner to a new owner. This was an element that the parliamentary secretary for public safety had in her bill short months ago. Why did the government take that out when, by its own reasoning, there is a need to verify when a gun is transferred from one person to another?

As any gun owner would tell us, one used to have to verify whether the person one was giving the gun to was lawfully entitled to own a gun, that the person was not in a criminal gang, had no previous criminal record and no record of mental history. That is why one would have had to phone the chief firearms inspector. That was in the bill. That was the bill I voted for. That is the bill my constituents wanted me to vote for.

However, this is a fundamental change without reason from the government. There has not been a single ounce of evidence as to why the government would make such a fundamental switch. This is something that protects gun owners and the public. When a gun is transferred from one owner to another, there must be some verification process that goes on to make sure that the person who newly owns the gun is legally entitled to own it. That was all it did. Yet there is not a Conservative member who said here in the House, at committee or publicly, why this important condition was stripped out.

The Conservatives have also said that they had a mandate to destroy the records. Of course they did not. A mandate comes from a set of promises made during an election. There was no promise to do such a thing.

The list in world history of governments that have knowingly destroyed records is a very short list. Governments that have gone forward and destroyed public records encapsulate the worst of western democratic and non-democratic societies. I do not know why the government wants to put itself on that list.

In fact, in order to destroy these records the Conservatives have to change Canadian law to do it. The law of Canada says that the destruction of public records is against the virtues and values of this country. That is a good virtue. It is a good value.

When we moved amendments at committee to restore things that had existed in Bill C-391, the bill that had been presented and supported assiduously by this member, the government refused every single amendment, yet did not offer a reason. It did not offer examples or cause.

I will quote from the bill that was moved by the parliamentary secretary who just spoke. In paragraph 23(1)(c):

In the case of a transfer to an individual, the transferor verifies the validity of the transferee's Firearms Licence with the Canada Firearms Centre, and obtains a reference number for the inquiry.

That was in Bill C-391. It was an important condition because it protected the gun owner and it protected society. That is why it was there. How do we know that? The Conservative government said that was why it was there. Why take that provision out? Why take the protection out? It makes no sense.

On classification, under the bill we looked through the records as to what guns would be reclassified: a .50 calibre sniper rifle that can kill at two and a half kilometres. It is not the hunting weapon that my constituents use. They do not hunt with .50 calibre weapons. They do not shoot their target from two and a half kilometres.

The gun that is now going to be put into public use, again with a transfer from one individual to another without any certification at all, is a weapon that has recorded the longest shot kill in human history. Another weapon has been classified by the manufacturer as an urban assault weapon that can be modified into a 30-clip engagement weapon. These are not things that farmers and hunters use. These are not the things that my constituents have been asking for.

New Democrats pleaded with the government. We moved amendments that were based on the government's own legislation. We said this was the time to get it right. We knew this was going to happen. Conservatives have a majority, I congratulate them, but they need to get it right. They should not put gun owners and citizens at risk because they are not willing to listen to the experts and abide by their own legislation that was good enough to vote on eight months ago. Now, suddenly, there is a change of heart without reason and I worry.

I am concerned that in its efforts, speed and expediency to pass this bill in its present form without any changes, not a period or comma, the government will cause harm. It will cause harm to the law-abiding citizens of this country, police officers who serve us so proudly and gun owners right across this land. It is a shame.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

It being 5:15 p.m., pursuant to order made Tuesday, February 7, 2012, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the third reading stage of the bill now before the House.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?