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

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member for Vancouver Kingsway talked about the need for first responders to know whether or not a gun is on site. He said that the licensing system in and of itself does not let them know how many guns are there, but the registry would let them know. In fact, it should be called a gun tracking system, not a registry system.

Does the member think that a police officer or a first responder should go in assuming there is a weapon? Would there be more value in going in knowing there may be a weapon? Could he talk about the value of knowing as opposed to having to assume?

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is an astute question. A key moment for me in making up my mind on this issue occurred when I was talking to police officers at an annual Canadian Police Association event on the Hill. I asked officers that very question. They told me that when they go to a house at 11:30 at night and it is dark, they will assume there are guns around. However, if they do not know, they are going to presume that there is one there and they will go around the back yard on high alert. If they see a shadow, if they see a cat move, they will not take any chances; their guns will be drawn. However, if they know there are no guns there, they will go in a little differently. They are always on alert but they will not go in on the same level of alert.

I hear catcalls from non-police officers on the government side. That is not what I said; it is what police officers told me. I take a lot more seriously what our men and women who are protecting us on the streets every day say.

The vast majority of police on the streets will tell us that they want the gun registry. It helps them do their job. It helps keep them safe. I will stand up for keeping police officers safe even if the Conservative government will not when it puts ideology above the safety of police officers.

Bill C-19--Notice of time allocation motion
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I must advise that an agreement has not been reached under the provisions of Standing Orders 78(1) or 78(2) concerning the proceedings at report stage and third reading of Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act.

Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the Crown will propose, at the next sitting, a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at those stages. My plan is to allot one further day of debate at report stage and two days for third reading.

Report Stage
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am definitely honoured to speak to Bill C-19, the ending the long gun registry act.

We are delivering on our government's commitment to scrap the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry once and for all. We have been clear and straightforward with Canadians. It is no secret that we have consistently opposed the long gun registry. For going on 17 years we have said that we are going to scrap it. I am truly excited to say that this is finally coming to fruition.

Last May Canadians gave our government a strong mandate to carry out their priorities. That means jobs. That means economic growth. That means a fair immigration system. That means safe streets and communities. That also means ending the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry.

Every member on this side of the House and every candidate who stood under the banner of the Conservative Party of Canada has stood shoulder to shoulder with law-abiding farmers, hunters and sports shooters all across this great land.

Our government believes that the requirement to register long guns has needlessly and unfairly targeted law-abiding Canadians. This may seem like a simple statement, but it is worth repeating. Criminals are predisposed to breaking the law and going against society. I say it is simple, but it is very clear that the NDP, the Liberals and all those who support the long gun registry do not understand this simple truism. If people are predisposed to breaking the law, why on earth would anyone think they would comply with needless, complicated paperwork? The answer is simple and clear to all reasonable people. It does not happen. Criminals do not register their guns.

I am confident when I stand here to assure everyone that the government has carefully examined all sides of the argument. I can unequivocally state that the long gun registry has been nothing but wasteful and totally ineffective.

Bill C-68 was introduced by Allan Rock and the Liberals in 1995 in the wake of the tragedy that took place at École Polytechnique. The horrific events that unfolded on December 6, 1989 are truly unbearable not only for the victims but also for Canadians as a whole. Let me state that the long gun registry did not, could not and would not have prevented Marc Lépine from taking the lives of those innocent women. There is no evidence that the long gun registry has ever stopped a single crime or saved a single life.

According to our state broadcaster, the CBC, since the long gun registry was created, it has cost Canadians in excess of $2 billion. That is money that should have been used to crack down on real crime and real criminals, not law-abiding farmers, hunters and sports shooters.

The majority of homicides committed in Canada did not even involve long guns. Statistics show that rifles and shotguns are not the problem. In reality, they are not the weapon of choice for criminals. The weapons used in crimes are primarily handguns which will continue to be registered. They are also usually illegally smuggled across the border or stolen and are not being caught by the registry.

Our government does believe that the right gun control laws do save lives, and our government will continue to take action to make our streets and communities safer.

Bill C-19 would continue the strict system of controlling restricted and prohibited firearms. Firearm owners who wish to acquire a firearm or ammunition would still require a valid licence. That would mean they must maintain a clean criminal record, pass a firearms safety course, as well as comply with all firearms safe storage and transportation requirements.

What Bill C-19 would specifically do is repeal the requirement for licensed firearms owners to register their non-restricted firearms. It is simple and it is practical.

All reasonable people agree that there is no need to continue a regime that has had no discernible effect in accomplishing its goal. This bill would also delete all the records of law-abiding long gun owners in the registry, as well as records under the control of chief firearms officers.

Some have criticized this portion of the bill. I would like to discuss why it is fundamental to fully scrap the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry. By force of the Criminal Code, the strongest power available to any government, data on law-abiding firearms owners has been collected over the last several years. By eliminating the registry, we would be returning some sanity to Canadian firearm laws. We could focus our efforts on real measures that have real results.

The question remains: What would happen to the data that was collected during the unfortunate period when the government decided to turn on its citizens and needlessly infringe on their privacy? To members on this side, the answer is very clear. In order to fully scrap the long gun registry, one must eliminate it in all its forms. Future gun owners would not be required to register their property. Current gun owners should be afforded the same protection of their privacy. Upon royal assent, the data would be destroyed.

To draw an analogy to illustrate this point, I would like to reference comments made by the Minister of Public Safety. He said that ending the long gun registry but keeping the data is akin to a farmer saying that he will sell his farm to someone so long as he gets to keep the land.

I have had the good fortune of campaigning in the riding of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry for the last five elections. The good people of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry decided to elect me four of those times. During those campaigns, not once did a person tell me that he or she would not vote for me because I supported the long gun registry. On the other hand, literally hundreds of people stopped me when I was campaigning and asked where I stood on the long gun registry. I told them that I supported the abolition of the long gun registry and they said I had their votes.

I heard some comments earlier about police officers. I can tell the House that police officers in uniform stopped me when I was campaigning and asked me that very question. When they heard that I supported the abolition of the long gun registry, they said they would vote for me and support me. As a matter of fact, in the last few elections off-duty police officers distributed lawn signs for me because I was in favour of abolishing the long gun registry.

Last May, when Canadians went to the polls, they made their choice loud and clear. They voted for a strong, stable majority Conservative government that will deliver on its promises. I would like those Canadians to join me today in saying our government has delivered. I am delighted that we will finally scrap the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry once and for all.

Report Stage
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is hard to get my head around this bill in some ways. I understand the Conservatives campaigned on getting rid of the long gun registry. What confuses me is this additional clause to destroy all the data that is associated with the registry.

I come from an academic background. Simon Fraser University is one of the best criminology schools in all of Canada. I am sure it could use this data to help police solve crimes. I would like to know if there will be any exemptions to allow academic researchers to access the registry as long as all the names are kept anonymous.

Report Stage
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, we cannot eliminate the gun registry without destroying the data. With all due respect, I wonder how that question could originate on the NDP side.

With all due respect, many New Democrats lost the last election over flipping on the gun registry. I find it a little bizarre that members of the NDP are questioning the government going ahead with eliminating the gun registry. Canadians want to eliminate the gun registry. How much clearer can that be? They voted the Conservative government into a majority position partly for that very reason. What is it going to take for members of the official opposition to get it? Canadians do not want this wasteful and ineffective long gun registry.

Report Stage
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, first I want to comment on the government House leader. He walked into the chamber and declared that he does not have the ability to negotiate with the House leaders of the opposition parties. Once again, he gave notice of time allocation, which is another form of closure, preventing members from having debate and asking questions on important legislation.

This is indeed important legislation. The Province of Quebec sees value in the gun registry. It says that if Ottawa wants to cancel the gun registry, it still wants to go ahead and have a gun registry for that province.

What does the member think his constituents would say if the Prime Minister said we could give the data bank to Quebec, but instead, we are getting rid of it? The Conservatives would spend millions of dollars to get rid of the data bank. Yet the Province of Quebec would have to spend millions more dollars to regenerate that same data bank. The taxpayers in his riding say that is a waste of tax dollars.

Does he not see the waste of tax dollars? Does he not see that money could be better spent providing more community police officers in the province of Quebec?

Report Stage
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

February 6th, 2012 / 6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is wonderful. I cannot believe this, coming from a member of a party that wasted $2 billion of taxpayers' money on a totally ineffective gun registry. It is unbelievable that he would ask that question. I have an answer for him. The people in my riding are telling me we cannot get rid of the gun registry without destroying the data and to please ensure the data is destroyed.

Report Stage
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to try to clarify for the hon. member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry that there is a reason there is an exemption in this piece of legislation. It is so unusual to require that data be destroyed. We could indeed end the registry. No one would update it. It would not be used for purposes. The registry would be over, but the data would remain in place for archives and research of sociologists.

The archives of the Government of Canada are full of information from regimes that are no longer being used. The information is available for research. I really find it troubling that this key point is so hard to communicate.

Report Stage
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, we know that the truth of the matter is the data is totally ineffective. Police officers have told me. These are the police officers who put my signs on their lawns and on other people's lawns. They tell me the information is totally incorrect. It is not reliable.

Why would one want to keep information that is totally useless, wasteful and way too costly?

Report Stage
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, over two decades ago, on December 6, 1989, 14 women died in the Montreal massacre. Their murders devastated our country and changed the lives of students at school, women around the country, and all Canadians and their families.

We went to vigils, we walked the street in take back the night marches, and we said, “Never again”. Their senseless deaths triggered the Canadian movement towards stronger gun control. In 1995 the Firearms Act was passed. The law is recognized by the victims' families as a monument to their memory.

The government claims to stand up for crime prevention, victims and police officers. However, victims are asking in whose interest is loosening gun control in Canada. Chief William Blair, past president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police said that this is about public safety. He said:

The registry has made Canada a safer country. The registry has saved lives. We lose it at our peril.

Police officers put their lives on the line for Canada each day. Canadians should know that of the last 18 police officers killed, 14 of them, or 78%, were killed by long guns. Police across Canada use the gun registry more than 17,000 times per day. They say it helps them evaluate a potential safety threat when they pull a vehicle over or are called to a residence. They also say it helps support police investigations. The registry can help determine if the gun was stolen, illegally imported, acquired or manufactured.

The Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, the government's own ombudsman for victims of crime, police forces across this country and the Coalition for Gun Control, an organization that includes families whose daughters were murdered in Montreal in 1989, have all called upon the government to keep the long gun registry.

According to an Ipsos Reid poll published in the National Post last year, two-thirds of Canadians support the registry.

The YWCA says that “dismantling the long gun registry puts women's lives at risk“.

The Canadian Women's Foundation reports:

We are particularly disturbed that there appears to be no recognition of the strong link between long guns and violence against women.

When a woman is murdered by her partner with a gun, almost 75% of the time she is killed with a long gun not a hand gun. The link is so strong that the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs has called long guns the weapons of choice when it comes to domestic violence. Too many women in rural and remote communities are intimidated and controlled by partners wielding shotguns and rifles. With the registry gone, these weapons will be impossible to track, placing women at increased risk.

Violence against women is a $4 billion tragedy in Canada. Every year 100,000 women and children leave their homes, fleeing violence and abuse. Almost 20,000 women go to 31 YWCA shelters across Canada looking for safety.

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women requires that countries party to the convention take all appropriate steps to end violence. Why, then, would Canada destroy the long gun registry which protects women and girls, particularly with Canada leading the global effort for an international day of the girl?

Why is the government refusing to listen to the voice of experts, to the voice of Canadians? The government claims to be interested in public safety, yet is rejecting an initiative that police agencies say is vital to their work and to protecting victims. This is impossibly disturbing.

Sue O'Sullivan, Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, has said most victims' groups want the registry maintained. She said:

Our position on this matter is clear, Canada must do all it can to prevent further tragedies from happening, including using the tools we have to help keep communities safe, like the long-gun registry.

Why is the government refusing to listen to evidence?

Since the introduction of stricter gun laws in 1991, there has been a 65% reduction in homicides by long guns. From 1995 when the registry became law to 2010 there was a 41% reduction in homicides by long guns.

While the government rejects the notion that it is ending the long gun registry based on ideology rather than facts, government action a few months ago contradicts this. Recently the Minister of Public Safety tabled a list of the experts serving on his firearms advisory committee, in response to a written question by a Liberal MP. The minister's advisory committee includes several people who appeared before a parliamentary committee last fall to support government legislation to scrap the long gun registry. The minister's advisory committee did not disclose its membership to the MPs on the parliamentary committee.

We need evidence-based policies, not biased policies. It is pure bias to have a witness on a parliamentary committee supposedly appearing as an individual with a personal point of view but who is actually an appointee of the government there to bolster the government's position.

The government wants to get rid of the long gun registry. It claims that it is ineffective at reducing crime, although evidence shows that is absolutely false. Also, the government claims that it is wasteful. Let us look at the evidence.

We acknowledge that it did cost more than $1 billion to set up the registry in 1995. However, today, the best estimate is that it costs a mere $4 million to operate. In stark contrast, the total annual cost of firearm related injuries in Canada was $6.6 billion. Gun violence alone, which includes suicide, has been calculated at costing over $100 billion in the United States. In Canada, the cost of gunshot wounds per survivor admitted to hospital is $435,000. Economic studies show that preventive interventions to stop interpersonal violence save more than they cost, in some cases by several orders of magnitude.

We repeatedly hear from the government that it is committed to ensuring that hard-earned taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. If that is the case, why will the government not keep the long gun registry that saves lives and reduces economic costs?

Finally, the government is failing to hear the voices of provinces and police agencies who are asking that they be able to continue to consult the database. Our leader has said that the data collected over the last 16 years must be preserved so that provinces can salvage this important policing tool. The government claims it cannot help because the Privacy Act forbids collecting data for one purpose and then transferring it to be used for another purpose.

The government is not only ignoring evidence now but also actually destroying data. The government has said that it would be of no assistance to provinces that want to set up their registries. The Minister of Public Safety has said:

We've made it very clear we will not participate in the recreation of the long-gun registry and therefore the records that have been created under that long gun registry will be destroyed.

In closing, I do not support the bill, which will destroy the long gun registry and its data; jeopardize the health of Canadians, particularly that of women; and cost society billions. What is at stake is not a piece of paper or a requirement that people might have. What is at stake is people's lives.

Report Stage
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, having been involved in police work for over 20 years, I can say there were times when I was faced with some compromising situations. However, one of the things I did hear in the member's speech was that 17 police officers had died by a long gun since the registry has been in place.

My question is this: why did it not save their lives and why did it put their lives in so much peril? What could she suggest to make any difference?

Report Stage
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question and his work in policing.

My perspective is from having worked for many years with young people at university. I taught women's health and I worked at shelters. Every year when I talked about violence against women, my students would come up to me at the end of the class and tell their stories. I had one student who was not only threatened by one man but also by two other men with a weapon. The reality is that at the YWCA, women have told us that the guns used in the north predominantly for hunting, that is long guns, are also used to intimidate, subdue and control women. We hear this over and over again in small communities without the RCMP and in large communities with the RCMP.

Women do not want these guns to be unregistered. They do not feel safe expressing this opinion other than in whispers to people who may be able to voice these unpopular opinions and who may be heard. From the shelters in my riding, they want me to express the position of women.

Report Stage
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

6:35 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, throughout the day, we have heard a lot about the so-called strong mandate of the government to get rid of the long gun registry. Of course, the Conservatives only have a small majority in the House, but 65% of Canadians, I understand, want to keep the long gun registry. They believe it performs a valuable public service.

Does the member agree with that statement? Or does he agree with the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry who very excitedly, a few minutes ago, was saying that people want to get rid of the registry and that they elected them and so the government should get rid of it? Or should the Conservatives listen to the will and the voices of lots of Canadians other than those who continue to write them letters and cheer them on?

Report Stage
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question. The Ipsos Reid poll shows that 66% of Canadians want this registry. As members of Parliament, our job is to reflect the voices of Canadians. We hear from the experts and from Canadians and they want the registry, whether they are emergency physicians or police chiefs.

Most of the women who are murdered are killed by their husbands, partners or ex-partners. Many are killed in rages, when the man has reached for his hunting gun.

Since the introduction of stricter gun laws in 1991, there has been a 65% reduction in homicides by long guns. From 1995 to 2010, there was a 41% reduction in homicides by long guns. The number of women killed with shotguns has fallen every year. The Transition House Association of Nova Scotia states:

The long-gun registry has made a significant difference in the safety of women in Canada since its inception in 1995. The rate of spousal homicide by gun has gone down by 69 per cent and we attribute most of that to the impact of the gun registry.