House of Commons Hansard #74 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was registry.

Topics

Motions in Amendment
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have great respect for my hon. colleague, but being a comedian is not one of her greatest strengths so she should stick to her talking points. She is probably feeling a little touchy because she did come into my riding with the express job of having me lose my job and I certainly won by a large majority. I would like to thank her because the gun registry certainly helped with all those dumb little attack ads the Conservatives mailed into my riding with those really badly drawn pictures. If those guys are going to do attack ads, they have to hire some credible people.

The question is about suicide and homicide deaths. They have been lying in this House all day.

Motions in Amendment
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Motions in Amendment
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Since 1991 homicide deaths have dropped 65—

Motions in Amendment
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Order. Before I go to the point of order which I presume deals with this, I would like to remind the member that there are certain words that are unparliamentary and he should refrain from using them.

The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.

Motions in Amendment
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have such immense respect for you and I will certainly respect your sage advice as always.

Once again, the Conservatives are playing with the lives of people. Since 1991 deaths by homicide have dropped 65% and suicides by 41%. Those are verifiable facts but they have been making things up because they want to make it seem that this is an issue that has nothing to do with life and death. Canadians know it does because we are dealing with firearms.

Motions in Amendment
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the government is getting rid of the registry and is saying to the Province of Quebec, which would like to have a gun registry, that it will not share the data. As a result, the Province of Quebec has a choice. It could go to court to fight for its ability to use the registry, or it could recreate the registry. Chances are it will have to recreate the registry, or ultimately give up on it. There is no doubt that Quebec's population as a whole and the Government of Quebec want a registry.

Does the member believe that the Government of Canada should allow the registry to be transferred over to the Province of Quebec? This way the Province of Quebec would not have to spend the money necessary to recreate the registry. It would be able to invest that money in community policing and things of that nature.

Motions in Amendment
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I come from a rural area where people had such a bad experience with how the registry was developed. I have heard it said again and again that it should never have cost $1 billion. We could have spent $1 billion on a whole manner of other more useful functions than a computer system that took so long to get off the ground.

That being said, when I talk to people in Timmins—James Bay, I say that the Conservatives' solution is to take that billion dollars' worth of records and have a bonfire. People say that is really stupid, and it is. To take a billion dollars' worth of records and say, “What a waste of money” and then to show us what a waste of money it is they are going to set fire to all this data that is being used by the police and could be used by the provinces.

That is the fundamental difference between good policy and Conservative policy. If we have paid for that data and we are using it, we should maintain that data because it is important for public safety.

Motions in Amendment
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today to express my support for Bill C-19, the ending the long gun registry act.

I would like to start off by commending my hon. colleague from Portage—Lisgar for all her good work on this file, and especially my hon. colleague from Yorkton—Melville, who has worked so hard on this file for so many years. I would also like to thank the Minister of Public Safety for introducing the legislation and moving us all a step closer to fulfilling one of our long-standing commitments to Canadians.

I am proud to be part of a government that actually follows through on its commitments to Canadians. Our government promised Canadians that we would waste no time in the 41st Parliament before introducing legislation that would repeal the wasteful long gun registry. Today we are delivering on that commitment to Canadians.

Our government is working hard to ensure the safety of our streets and communities. Law enforcement knows this, Canadians know this, and criminals know this. When it comes to the issue of gun crime, this is a government that believes in having effective measures to deal with the issue. We need to ensure that appropriate measures are in place to target those offenders who commit gun crimes and threaten our communities. At the same time we must ensure that millions of law-abiding Canadians are not being needlessly burdened.

As it exists today, the ineffective long gun registry unfairly equates law-abiding gun owners to common criminals. Simply put, the long gun registry targets rural Canadians, farmers and duck hunters as criminals.

Although I have never personally owned a gun, I grew up hunting small game and game birds with my father, brother and uncles. The first long gun I used was an old Cooey single shot .22. Pop guns and the odd rabbit and squirrel felt the impact of my limited prowess. Those were fun and carefree days, but I remember the very serious attention that my mentors instilled in me with regard to safe handling, safe storage and responsibility when handling firearms. The vast majority of gun owners today are the same kind of people and deserve to be treated with respect. I am standing here today as a member of a government that is standing up for these Canadians. It is unacceptable to treat these salt of the earth people as criminals, and we are going to take action. Bill C-19 would put an end to this ineffective and wasteful long gun registry once and for all.

Permit me to highlight the merits of the bill before the House.

This legislation would remove the need to register non-restricted firearms, such as shotguns and rifles. This is good news for farmers and hunters. These folks use long guns as a tool to earn their living, whether through hunting game or protecting their livestock. This is not to say that Bill C-19 would do away with gun control entirely as some would disingenuously suggest.

Let me re-emphasize that Bill C-19 would retain licensing requirements for all gun owners while doing away with the need for honest, law-abiding citizens to register their rifles or shotguns. All of the common-sense regulations regarding training, safe handling and storage would be unchanged.

Bill C-19 also includes a provision for the destruction of all records related to the registration of non-restricted firearms that are currently held in the Canadian firearms registry and under the control of the chief firearms officers. This provision would ensure that for the millions of Canadians who have registered their non-restricted firearms, their private information would not be distributed to other entities.

What we seem to have difficulty getting across to members across the floor is that the data is the registry and the registry is the data. We cannot eliminate the long gun registry without eliminating the data.

Let me be as clear as possible for those listening at home. The government will not allow for the creation of a long gun registry by the back door. This government has heard loud and clear from Canadians who own non-restricted firearms. They want the long gun registry eliminated. They want to ensure that their private information is not distributed to other entities.

Let me pause for a moment to address the issue of the registry data being destroyed. This has certainly been a subject, as I have mentioned, of much discussion in the media, in this House, and in coffee shops across the country. The Minister of Public Safety was very clear about this in his appearance at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. I would like to repeat here what he said so plainly about that issue. He said:

The registry is the data; without the data there is no registry. So when our government and our party made the very clear commitment that we would scrap the long-gun registry, that we would end it, implicit in that, indeed explicit, is that we would be destroying the information that's been collected under the authority of that legislation. There's simply no other answer to that.

Let us move on from that discussion to refocus on the task at hand.

The fact is that law-abiding firearms owners across the country welcome this legislation. These owners understand that being held accountable for their actions by requiring them to take responsible measures to protect their fellow Canadians is reasonable. They also understand that being burdened with unnecessary registration and regulations is not reasonable.

Canadians from coast to coast to coast understand the need to ensure that our country has a system of gun control that is both effective and efficient. That is why our government has invested $7 million annually to strengthen the front-end screening of first-time firearms licence applicants, with a view to keeping firearms out of the hands of people who should not have them. We must ensure there are gun control measures to keep firearms out of the hands of those who threaten our safety and that of our communities.

Measures taken in the area of firearms control should enhance public safety on our streets and communities by preventing firearms from falling into the hands of offenders and setting tough consequences if they do. This is what Canadians expect and this is what our government is doing. Our government is determined to get tough on those who commit crimes, the individuals who use firearms for criminal purposes. That is the most important part of effective gun control.

In my city of Edmonton, as in many others, authorities have been dealing with disturbing levels of violence. The issue is not the availability of guns, and especially not long guns. The issues are more related to the people who are committing these violent acts. I would encourage all hon. members of the House to ask Canadians, particularly those in remote and rural areas of this country, how penalizing law-abiding Canadians on a farm or in the woods would help reduce gun crimes in our urban centres such as Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver. Quite simply, it does not.

What members will hear overwhelmingly from Canadians is that now is the time for effective gun control. Now is the time to make sure our resources go toward effective programming that helps prevent crime and to stop penalizing honest, hard-working and law-abiding Canadians. Now is the time for all members of the House to listen to Canadians and eliminate this wasteful and ineffective long gun registry once and for all. That is exactly what our government will do.

Motions in Amendment
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Paulina Ayala Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, as I read the bill, I felt I had to point out that Quebec is working to prevent suicide. This is National Suicide Prevention Week. A study by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec estimates that 2,100 lives have been saved since the firearms registry was implemented.

On average, one in three women who died at the hands of their husbands were shot. Rifles and shotguns are the weapons most often used in suicides, particularly involving youth. This figure has decreased by 64% over the past nine years. There is no evidence to indicate that other methods of committing suicide have replaced the use of firearms. Ten of the 13 police officers who were killed in the past 10 years were killed with long guns.

By insisting that this bill be passed, what message is the hon. member sending to the families who are living with the grief of a murdered loved one, to those who are thinking about suicide and to the police officers who have lost members of their force?

Motions in Amendment
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, the simple fact is that our government is looking after the interests of families. We are looking after the interests of all Canadians.

New Democrats like to quote statistics to the effect that suicide and firearm deaths have come down since 1991 because of the gun registry. What they neglect to say is that for the 20 years before that, those deaths had been coming down as well. It was simply a continuation of what had already been happening 20 years before the long gun registry was put in place. The long gun registry had zero additional impact on that trend.

As with everything, it depends on what one looks at. If one wants to look at a certain amount of data, one will get the answer one wants. If one wants to look at all of the data, one might get an entirely different answer, but we prefer to look at all of the data to get the true answer.

Motions in Amendment
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member cited data showing that the registry has had no impact. Is he aware that those same studies show that licensing has no impact? Either the government's position is contradictory or the evidence is contradictory. Which is it? Is the government just cherry-picking the evidence or is the evidence no good?

Motions in Amendment
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

The simple fact remains, Mr. Speaker, that since the early 1970s, gun deaths from suicide, murder or violence have been decreasing. The opposition wants to hang the credit for that on the gun registry. That is simply not true. We can have a discussion about registration and other things, if the member wishes, but to say that the decrease since 1991 is due to the effect of the gun registry is simply false.

Motions in Amendment
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Portage—Lisgar
Manitoba

Conservative

Candice Bergen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, it almost seems like the Liberals are negating the whole process of licensing. Although it is not a perfect system, it is a very good system to red flag people who may be in danger of hurting individuals and should never have a gun. That is what we on this side believe is effective gun control, not perfect gun control but effective gun control.

I wonder if my hon. colleague could comment on what the licensing process does in stopping people from getting a gun, as opposed to registration, which does nothing to keep guns out of individuals' hands.

Motions in Amendment
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question.

It comes back to what we have been talking about. It is not the object but the people handling the object. I deal a lot with K Division of the RCMP in Edmonton. I deal a lot with the Edmonton Police Service. I go on ride-alongs with them and we discuss these kinds of issues. They tell me that there are about 150 people or so in Edmonton, whom, if they could take them off the streets, the crime rate in Edmonton would go down by about 50%.

It is not the object, it is the people behind it. That is what a good registration system will do: it will identify the people who are at risk of being violent offenders and do something about them instead of chasing farmers and duck hunters. That is simply not the answer.

Motions in Amendment
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I agree that linking statistics to the efficacy of the long gun registry alone is very difficult, as the registry was implemented at the same time as many other changes to firearms licensing and storage, handling, transport et cetera. It is very difficult to establish a causal relationship, I grant that.

However, a study by Institut national de santé publique du Québec estimates that 2,100 lives have been saved by the registry. We do know that on average one in three women killed by their husbands is shot, 88% of them with legally owned rifles and shotguns. Since the introduction of the registry, gun-related spousal homicides are down 50%. Rifles and shotguns are used most often in suicides, particularly involving youth. Those have decreased 64%.

While we cannot make a direct claim about causation, there is a correlation. I am just wondering if my hon. friend has any evidence or data showing that the registry has not helped in reducing those, if he wants to make claim there is no evidence that the registry has assisted.