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

4:15 p.m.

Blackstrap
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Minister of State (Western Economic Diversification)

Mr. Speaker, I would like the member to clarify that the Internet bill before the House does not snoop into the private lives of people. It is there to prevent particularly pedophiles and those who are suspect to police. There is quite a difference between the two and I would like her to clarify that.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, indeed, I will clarify. This bill will provide access to our geographic location without a warrant. To me, that treats law-abiding citizens like criminals, plain and simple.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, every time I rise in this House to support or oppose a bill, it is usually with great joy. Today, however, it is with great sadness that I am obliged to rise here today to tell the Conservative government that of course I oppose this bill.

I would like to begin by thanking the groups and individuals in my riding who took the time to write to me, asking me to stand up to the Conservative government and oppose this bill.

I would like to take a few moments to read some excerpts from the emails I received from my constituents, whose emails show that they oppose this bill and explain how afraid they are that this bill will pass.

A group from Montreal, the Association québécoise Plaidoyer-Victimes, wrote the following: “Rifles and shotguns in the wrong hands are just as deadly as handguns. Strict controls are essential for all firearms. Registration holds firearms owners accountable for their firearms. It reduces the chance that their weapons will be diverted into the hands of individuals without permits, and helps curb illegal trafficking. Gun control works. Health and safety experts have shown that stronger gun laws have reduced gun-related death rates.”

Approximately 400 of my constituents wrote to me about this bill. Of those 400 people, there were perhaps seven who supported the government and 393 who supported the opposition. Many people wrote letters asking me to continue to fight the elimination of the firearms registry.

Here is an excerpt from a letter demonstrating the fear of which I spoke. “This sends a clear message to street gangs that they can buy a shotgun as easily as they can buy a package of cigarettes at the corner store. Then, they saw off the barrel and the butt to get a concealable weapon that is classified as restricted. Although the government is saying that it wants to maintain the prohibited weapons registry, it is leaving the door wide open for wrongdoers to make their own prohibited weapons without any constraints. It is complete nonsense to tell the public that the fact that a permit will still be required to purchase a restricted weapon will help to ensure their safety.”

Another individual wrote, “As soon as long guns no longer need to be registered in the name of a specific person, as is now required by this registry, anyone will be able to buy a firearm and then transform it into a restricted weapon. The police will no longer be able to find out who purchased and sold these weapons.”

Yet another individual wrote, “Abolishing the registry will give wrongdoers a new way to easily obtain very deadly, restricted weapons. We can thus expect an increase in crime and an increase in the cost of the justice and prison systems, which will exceed the cost of maintaining the current system.”

Finally, another one of my constituents wrote:

“It is for the general protection of the public and the public in general through the normal taxation provisions shall pay the cost of the supervision of the shooting range when it is required. The regular police forces will provide the service at very little cost. This will not deal with illegal arms trafficking, but it will help in many other cases of shootings and will narrow the field of inquiry in cases where an unregistered gun might have been used”.

This shows that my constituents are afraid. They are very afraid of what will happen in our country this evening, in a few hours. In my riding in particular, there is a high rate of crime. In Lachine, many murders are committed using firearms, sometimes long guns. I am sad to see that the government is not addressing victims' needs for protection.

Every time we ask questions in this regard, the government always responds that it is in favour of safety. The Conservatives all have that word tattooed on their foreheads. Whether they are talking about planes or prisons, safety is always mentioned. The government has introduced a bill that violates people's privacy on the Internet in the name of safety. In this case, they are proposing a bill that will make the people in my riding less safe.

Currently, the long gun registry is used about 17,000 times a day, yet the government says that it is useless. I do not understand its logic. Many suicides involve long guns. The registry can be a big help in dealing with such cases. When I was in university, I was part of an organization in my riding that people could call if they were contemplating suicide. We helped people. We started by asking callers if they knew when they were going to commit suicide. Then we asked them if they know how they were going to do it. About half the time—if I remember correctly, because I do not have the statistics here—people said that they were going to use a gun, often a long gun.

After finding out the how, the where and the when, if the caller planned to use a firearm, we checked the registry to find out if he or she owned a firearm. Knowing the caller possessed a firearm was very helpful to the intervention. As soon as we knew the how, where and when, we intervened. I know for a fact that police officers were very glad to know if the person whose home they were entering owned a firearm. Their lives could be in danger. The information helped officers plan their response.

I apologize. I am emotional because I have dealt with this in my life.

One of the government's arguments is that the quality of the information in the registry is poor. I was a teacher, and when a student handed in a bad test, I did not tell him or her to toss it, but to redo it. That makes perfect sense to me. The current registry may not be top quality, but it can be improved. The NDP proposed a number of changes to improve the registry so that all Canadians can benefit from the safety it affords. We wanted to make sure that the people for whom the registry is a problem were included in the process. Among other things, we proposed decriminalizing the failure to register a firearm for a first offence and issuing a ticket instead. That makes perfect sense.

When the registry was created in 1995, it was not perfect. We realize that now. It is our duty to improve it, not destroy it. We have also proposed that the bill indicate that long gun owners would not have to pay registration costs.

I hear the Conservatives saying that it is too costly for farmers and for those who use long guns in their leisure activities. So we have suggested a solution.

We also propose that disclosing information about the owners of firearms be prohibited, except for the purpose of protecting the public, or when ordered by a court or by law. We also propose creating a legal guarantee to protect aboriginal treaty rights. Those who represent aboriginal constituencies and are using this argument should have considered our amendments.

I have a lot more to say. I know I will not convince any government members to vote against their party today, but I will ask them two things, which will help me sleep better tonight. As we know, Quebec has asked the government to transfer the data. I hope the government will consider that. We know it will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars if the Quebec government decides to seek an injunction against the federal government. I therefore ask the government to at least save that money, since we are talking about budget cuts.

Furthermore, the hon. member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound told us yesterday that he plans to celebrate tonight. I really hope he changes his mind and foregoes the celebration.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Before we move on to questions and comments, it is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, Foreign Investment; the hon. member for Mount Royal, Justice.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Vancouver Quadra.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the NDP member on her very interesting speech. I have a question on the position of women in this debate. The victims at École Polytechnique were young women. It is mostly men who own guns, but it is primarily women who are the victims of violent crimes involving guns. Policies such as the change to the old age security program will affect primarily elderly women, women who do not have a lot of means.

Does the hon. member think there is a pattern, namely that women are not seen as equally important in the eyes of Conservative members, and that this is part of the challenge?

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her excellent question. I actually did want to speak about the case of women in my speech, but I got carried away and did not have time to do so. This will give me an opportunity to remind the Conservatives that one in three women who die at the hands of their husbands are shot, and 88% of them are shot with legally owned rifles and shotguns. Since the introduction of the registry, spousal homicides are down 50%. This bill really does hurt women.

To echo what the hon. member was saying, I am extremely disappointed to see how this government tends to treat women. Through the introduction of several bills, I hope that this will improve in the future.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

February 15th, 2012 / 4:30 p.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo
B.C.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I had to get up in response to the last question. I am a woman and a mother. My children grew up in a rural area. In that rural area, one day the farmer next door used his long gun rifle to protect our children from a cougar that was stalking them. Many years later, farmers, hunters and sports shooters still feel so angry, degraded and criminalized over legislation that has done nothing.

I would ask the member to look at what the legislation has done. This is not an issue about women. This is an issue about criminalizing law-abiding people and farmers, who in my case protected my children from cougars.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, it seems that the member opposite did not hear the statistics I just mentioned. I will repeat them: one in three women who die at the hands of their husbands are shot, and 98% of them are shot with legally owned rifles and shotguns.

The member opposite is saying that her neighbours have weapons to defend their children from cougars. We are not asking her neighbours to give up their weapons. We are asking them to register those weapons. I do not see how this contradicts what I was saying at all.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, in listening to this debate, there seems to be an awful lot of contradictions.

On the one hand, I hear the government advocate for financial prudence and responsibility, yet it is willing to take $1 billion worth of data and throw it in the garbage.

I have heard the government talk a lot about respect for provincial jurisdictions, yet it takes an action that would prohibit the provinces from building their own database for long guns if they choose to do so.

I have heard the government talk about the gun registry being useless because criminals would not register their guns, yet it advocates for the Firearms Act provision for the certificate process that requires people to get a licence to get a gun. I do not understand why the government thinks criminals would do that, yet it seems to hold on to that part of the process.

Does my hon. friend have any comments on whether she sees any contradictions in the position of the government on this bill?

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question. There have been many contradictions in what we have been hearing for a long time. On one hand, the government is spending money on commemorations and all sorts of other things and, on the other, one of the main arguments it is presenting here is that we need to save money.

As I said earlier in my speech, if the provinces were to get an injunction against this government, it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Today, I would like to prevent that from happening.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is my please to rise to speak to Bill C-19, getting rid of the wasteful and useless long gun registry. I am proud to split my time with the member for Portage—Lisgar, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety. I thank her the yeoman's effort she has put in toward getting rid of the long gun registry. In the last Parliament, her private member's bill to end the long gun registry nearly passed, but lost by two votes. In my time in Parliament since 2004, that was the closest, until today, that we ever came to getting rid of the long gun registry.

I have to thank the Minister of Public Safety for bringing forward this bill and for listening to firearms' owners right across the country and to ranchers, farmers, hunters and sports people who enjoy the outdoors and target shooting. He listened and was able to put that all together in a comprehensive bill that would ensure we would get rid of the registry and the data and, more important, it would take away the incredible onus on responsible Canadians having to register their long guns.

We cannot talk on this bill without thanking the MP for Yorkton—Melville who has been fighting this since 1995 in the House of Commons. He has been an incredible spokesperson on behalf of wildlife organizations and firearms owners across the country, always getting the details, the data and the real statistics on how useless the long gun registry has been and how it has made law-abiding citizens into criminals.

I have listened to the debate. My friend from Winnipeg North stood and made a number of accusations. I want to address some of those in my speech today.

I have been fighting Bill C-68 since 1995. When I was with the Manitoba Cattle Producers Association, I presented to the Senate committee on Bill C-68 when it was travelling across Manitoba. I told the majority Liberal senators at that time that this was going to be a discriminatory bill against rural Canadians. Individuals involved in the agriculture industry use firearms, long guns in particular, as a tool in controlling predators, or varmints that they did not want around the yard, like rabid skunks and raccoons, and for putting animals down humanely if they are ill or injured. For the times that we do our own butchering on the farm, we need to have those long guns. Many of us in the agriculture industry are also outdoors people. We love hunting and fishing and when we go out hunting, we need to have our firearms.

Because of the way Bill C-68 was brought in, it automatically labelled people who owned firearms and did not register them as a criminals. The member for Winnipeg North said that nobody was ever arrested based upon the fact that they never registered their firearms. However, we know the bill was specific. If they did not register, they were criminals. Luckily, the western provinces instructed their police forces, mainly the RCMP at that time, not to enforce the firearms registry for those who did not register their long guns. For the most part, that was upheld.

I know of two cases in Alberta alone where firearms owners were arrested and their guns confiscated because they failed to re-register their firearms. Also a friend of mine, Bruce Montague, who was in Kenora, is a gunsmith, a gun collector and goes out to gun shows. He was arrested after a gun show in northwestern Ontario and went to jail. He kept fighting it because he knew it was wrong that he should be treated as a criminal for legally owning firearms even though he never registered them. I agree with him. They were there as part of his collection and his craft. They were never meant for criminal use. Yet he was treated as a criminal, fined under the legislation and put in jail. That is just wrong in too many ways.

We hear all these exclamations that because of the gun registry, we have seen a reduction in gun-related crimes. We know for a fact that gun-related crimes, gun-related accidents and suicides that happen with firearms and long guns in particular, have been on the decline since the 1970s.

We know for a fact that the massive reduction in accidental shootings dates from the previous Conservative government, when Kim Campbell, the Minister of Justice, brought in the first bill to introduce the firearms acquisition certificates and required safe storage and handling and that firearms owners take firearms safety courses. These shootings could have been by kids playing with guns that had not been locked up or stored properly, or as a result of people not having been properly trained and shootings happening accidentally on hunting excursions. Since then there has been a real difference in the number of accidents, the number of suicides and the number of crimes committed with long guns. That is because firearms owners have been getting the proper training. They have been storing and locking up and handling their handguns properly. That is an educational measure that has nothing to do with the long gun registry itself.

We will be continuing with the licensing requirement for gun owners. That has not changed in the last 20 to 25 years. That will stay in place. To be a licensed firearms owner, a person must have taken a firearm safety course. I took my hunting safety course back in 1977 when I was 13 or 14 years old. It was because of that training that I properly handle my firearms and properly store them under lock and key.

I never registered any of my firearms. I refused to do so as my act of civil disobedience. Thanks to the Province of Manitoba, I was never treated as a criminal per se, but as I have explained times in and outside this House, I have refused to register my long guns.

Let us really be clear about the statistics. There have been a lot of numbers thrown around. In 2003 in Vancouver, one of the hotbeds of gun crime, over 97% of the firearms collected on the streets that entire year were not registered. Criminals do not register their firearms. We have stated that over and over again. We know that criminals use handguns. Handguns, under the current legislation, will still be registered and have been since 1925. That will not change.

Targeting law-abiding citizens like long gun owners is a waste of tax dollars, a waste of police time, and a waste of public service time administering a registry that does nothing to prevent any gun crimes.

Since the 1970s, the number of murders committed with guns, that is, the murder rate by long guns or any firearm for that matter, has been 1.9 murders per year per 100,000 people. If we compare that with the population of registered firearms owners, that number goes down to 0.38 murders per 100,000 people.

The most law-abiding people in this country are licensed firearms owners, so why are we making them look like criminals? Professor Gary Mauser looked at all murders since 1997. Less than 2% of them were committed by firearms owners, and out of those licensed firearms owners, only 1.2% of the murders were done with registered firearms. It comes down to the fact that it is not guns that kill people, but people who kill people, and we have to target them.

Just to summarize, the NDP and the Liberals have stated over and over again that they want the gun registry. If they ever have a chance to come back into power, they will bring back the gun registry.

I criticize the member for Western Arctic and the member for Churchill, who campaigned saying, “Vote for me. I will vote to get rid of the long gun registry”. Yet they reversed themselves at second reading and voted, along with their colleagues, to kill our bill to end the long gun registry once and for all.

I thank the members for Thunder Bay—Superior North and Thunder Bay—Rainy River for standing up against their party leadership and voting for their constituents, helping to ensure that we get rid of this long gun registry once and for all. They have been sanctioned and silenced, and their constituents do not have a voice in this House of Commons because of that NDP leadership. However, they deserve to be given all the accolades in the world for allowing the grassroots to speak to them and for carrying their voice back here into the House of Commons.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are deeply divided on this issue and my question is not going to bring us any closer together.

I feel like asking the member across the floor if we can put our time together, the time for my question and his answer, and have a moment of silence for the victims of the École Polytechnique, because of whom this registry was created, and as a show of support to the parents who did everything they could so their children's deaths would not be in vain.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, the victims who have died because of firearms definitely deserve all of our respect, and their families our sympathy and condolences.

I know that moments of silence are organized in consultation between House leaders, the whips, and the Chair. I do not know if it is appropriate for us to take that moment of silence right now. However, I think we should all be cognizant of the fact that when firearms are used illegally and with violence, it is something that all of us in this chamber completely denounce as abhorrent. We definitely want to make sure that those who have suffered at the hands of other people, not by firearms but by those who have decided to use firearms as a weapon to victimize, kill and murder others, know this.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Province of Quebec, as a government, has decided that it would like to have a gun registry. As the member knows, it is fairly expensive to create a gun registry. The province is looking to Ottawa to assist it in having that data bank, as opposed to having to re-create it, thereby saving millions of dollars and perhaps using those millions of dollars to invest in things such as community policing.

Does the member see the common sense in allowing the Province of Quebec to use the data that Ottawa has already invested in, as opposed to it re-creating the registry? It would be a matter of zipping it up in a file and giving it to the Quebec government so that it could actually save money and spend it instead on other crime-fighting initiatives.

Ending The Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, we were quite clear in our promise to Canadians, to firearms owners, that all of the data in the registry would be destroyed. There is no way, in my mind, that we should be passing the data on to any province, sharing it with any provincial jurisdiction so they could use it for whatever they desired. They have it within their own mandates to create those registries if they want. They have the power over personal property, and firearms are personal property.

The only reason we registered them here federally is that we tied them into the Criminal Code. Given that it was considered criminal not to register, I think every piece of data that we put together, every disc, every hard drive, every piece of paper, needs to be destroyed and never passed on to any other jurisdiction in this country.