House of Commons Hansard #75 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was registry.

Topics

Report Stage
Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

François Pilon Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague opposite said that he did not want to help the provinces create a new firearms registry because it was already too costly and ineffective. However, they are well aware that Quebec wants to do it anyway.

Given that they are so close to the people and they do not want people spending money, why do they not want to transfer the data to Quebec to ensure that we Quebeckers, who care about people, are able to create our own firearms registry?

Report Stage
Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, if the Province of Quebec wants to bring in its own firearms registry, that will probably be fine to the people of Quebec. Are they going to vote for the provincial government again when it wastes their money on a useless, ineffective firearm registry? I do not vote in Quebec. They do, and if they think that is a good way to spend money, then good for them.

This government is not going to provide any help to the Province of Quebec by giving it the data in our database. It is going to be destroyed because the registry is wasteful and has never been proven to be effective. We would not pass on bad information like that to the Province of Quebec.

Report Stage
Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to correct my colleague on the Conservative side. I have talked to many police officers. In fact, I worked at an institute that trained police officers. I have also talked to many chiefs across this country, the leaders of police forces across the country. Yet the Conservatives choose to ignore those very police officers who want to keep the gun registry.

Why are the Conservatives not listening to the leaders of this country who want to keep the gun registry?

Report Stage
Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, the answer is simple. We have talked to thousands of front-line police officers, the men and women who are on the job every day in patrol cars attending to calls for help. One would have to look long and hard in that group to find someone who supports this registry.

Report Stage
Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-19, an act to eliminate the long gun registry in Canada. Under Canadian federal law, the registry will cease to exist potentially after this week, that is, after the Senate has had its chance to deal with it, but it is pretty clear now that the Senate will deal with it in a very prompt fashion.

I represent a riding where firearms are very important, where firearms for many people represent a necessity for subsistence living, where firearms represent a cultural way of life, where firearms are used extensively and 99.9% of the time for the correct purposes, when hunting, trapping and carrying on an outdoor lifestyle.

When the gun registry was introduced years ago, there was very strong opposition to it, but there was strong opposition as well to the licensing provisions, to the educational provisions and to the safe storage provisions. There was a general feeling that gun owners, people who use their guns for legitimate purposes, were being hard done by. I agreed with that.

I agreed with the Fort McPherson elder who told me he did not want to become a criminal because he was continuing to do what he had done before. I agreed with that. We should not make criminals in Canada out of respectable citizens. We should do everything we can to avoid giving criminal records to Canadians for issues that are not that important, for issues that may be bureaucratic. For example, people may simply be unable to register a gun, unable to store it properly, all the different issues that surround the use of any kind of implement.

I was always in favour of getting the criminal charges out of the long gun registry. However, even in 2000 I said there is a value to any registry, whether we register dogs or cars or some other possession. Whatever we register has a value to the person registering it. That person has security in that his or her possession is filed in an appropriate fashion with an authority that can direct attention to that particular instrument, whether it be a car, a dog or a gun, whether it has been mislaid, has been stolen, or has been used by someone else in an inappropriate fashion. A registry is a useful tool for those people who want security with their possessions.

Over the last four months since my constituents have heard the argument about the data, the gun owners are starting to wake up to the fact that there is a reason they want their guns registered. There is a reason that a law-abiding citizen would like to know that his gun is identified in a legal registry, so that if it is stolen, if it is misplaced, if it is mishandled by someone else, that gun will not be put under his name, and that gun will be recognized for what it is. If that gun is sold to someone else, the legal gun owner has a way of tracking that record. People are coming to me with that issue.

I asked the government in June what it would do with the data. When the Conservatives proposed to take long guns out of the criminal registry, which is exactly what the government is doing, I asked what the government would do with the data it has collected which people have invested in giving to the government? That is what people do when they register their implements. They invest their time, their effort and their thoughts in putting it into a registry. What will the government provide for those people who want a registry?

Perhaps it will fall into the hands of the provinces, territories, municipalities, whatever government agency decides to provide a registry for guns. That makes sense. We have a great example of that. Quebec has said it wants to provide a registry and under the law there would be no criminality with a registry. There cannot be. The Criminal Code is driven by the federal government, this Parliament, not the Quebec legislature.

When the Quebec government establishes a registry in which its citizens can partake, it will have the opportunity to do what it wants with it. That is the way of this land. That is the way the law works. That is the way we take care of things in this land. Cars are registered with the provinces. Dogs are registered with municipalities. We have a process of registration at the provincial and territorial level. Since 2000 I have been an advocate of a provincial registry because there are more purposes to a registry than establishing criminality. There are many more purposes to a registry than that.

Safe storage is still covered under the existing Criminal Code. It will still be a criminal offence if people do not store their guns safely.

However, I am having trouble establishing what is considered ownership within the existing Criminal Code once the registry is removed. How do we determine what ownership is when we have removed the legal registry of guns? How do we determine which gun belongs to which person, and which person did not store the gun properly and should have a criminal record? If someone says that it is not his or her gun, will we say that because the gun is in that person's home, then that person must own the gun? Is that the way it is going to be? Did the Conservative government do any work on this legislation?

When the Conservatives started talking about the data, it was ministers of the government who said the information could not be shared because it would be against the Privacy Act. Does it go against the Privacy Act? Is that what the Privacy Commissioner said? The Privacy Commissioner said no and all of a sudden the government changed its tune and said now that it is ineffective, inefficient, does not work, is not correct and was not made up right. That is the direction the government took.

The government does not do legislation very well when it does not have the answers to start with. It is terrible in creating legislation. The government is not fit to legislate and that is the case with this bill. It has not looked at the issues. There is no document that shows how the Criminal Code will interact with other elements when the registry is removed. I ask government members to show me a document or any information that has been shared with members of Parliament on that issue.

I supported the bill introduced by the member for Portage—Lisgar. It was a blunt instrument but it was what my constituents wanted and it was not in the shape that this bill is in. This bill is a mess. The government has not done a good job with it. It is reacting. It is not doing it correctly. It has left out many important elements, which we have pointed out by way of many amendments and the government has chosen not to listen. This is a government that does not listen. It does not want to do things right. It does not want to do its homework. It is a government that acts emotionally and without regard for the due process of legislation. The government is not getting any more approbation from me on its legislation.

Report Stage
Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the member opposite, when the Liberals introduced the registry back in 1995, the basis of their argument was that the gun registry would save lives and stop the criminal use of firearms. That is what they told us.

We now have had 16 or 17 years of experience with this bill. The member wondered how we could introduce this bill. We have had 16 years of experience with this registry. We have seen the wasteful spending and how ineffective it is. We know there is not one credible piece of evidence or fact to show that the firearms registry has saved a life or cut the criminal use of firearms, not one. The opposition in all this debate has not been able to present one single fact.

Report Stage
Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, that was not the subject of my discourse. My discourse spoke to what is going to happen with the data and why the government has done what it has done. Provinces and territories can make up their own minds whether a registry would be effective for them. The government is involved in a federation, a co-operative federation. What we see here is an uncooperative government in a federation and that is a disgrace.

Report Stage
Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Ryan Leef Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, the member for Western Arctic has made it very clear where he stands on this issue despite what he knows to be the interests of his constituents. That is a question he will have to rectify with the great people of the Northwest Territories.

He talked about putting forward amendments that we were not ready to listen to. He needs to tell the people of the Northwest Territories that one of the amendments the NDP put forward was an amendment to change the short title of the bill to something that was absolutely ludicrous. It was just a mockery of what we are attempting to do here. If the member wants to stand behind that as a credible and legitimate amendment, I would like him to do that for his people.

He talked about not being able to track safe storage of guns. I will remind the member that there is far more to policing and investigation than just sitting behind a computer. Let us put police on the streets. Let us let them do good old-fashioned police work. Police officers do not want to be solving crimes sitting behind a computer. The member's desire to maintain this registry would create data-chasing police.

Report Stage
Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, with all humility to my colleague from a neighbouring territory with whom I very much sympathize on many issues, he brought forward the one example that is more about form than substance. I am not interested in the title of a bill. I am interested in the substance of the legislation that would destroy billions of dollars' worth of data which the provinces might want and his territory might want.

We put forward an amendment that would give a specific timeframe to the provinces to consider whether they wanted that data. That amendment was not accepted by the Conservative government because it is not interested in substance; it is interested in form. The Conservatives have used this issue of the gun registry for many years to raise funds, to harangue other MPs. That is what the Conservatives do. Is that legislation? Is that attention to detail for Canadians? No. That is the problem we have here in this House.

Report Stage
Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have been hearing from the Conservatives rhetoric that does not make sense at all. We have heard from chiefs of police and many others from across the country and they do not want to abolish the gun registry. I wonder if the member could comment on that.

Report Stage
Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, my position has always been that the registration of firearms should not be a criminal matter. That is correct. The police need tools. Gun owners need tools. A gun owner who loses his or her rifle and wants to indicate that he or she is not responsible for that rifle anymore can go to a registry and say that a rifle with a certain serial number has been stolen and is no longer in his or her possession. Without a registry, what can gun owners do? They are stuck with it.

Report Stage
Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity I have to share a few words on Bill C-19.

No other issue raises people’s blood pressure in my riding as much as the long gun registry does. This is an important issue in my riding, Tobique—Mactaquac.

I appreciate the opportunity to rise today. It is especially interesting to follow my colleague for Cariboo—Prince George. He has given us a nice history lesson on how we got to where we are today from 1995. Here we are 17 years later still dealing with this issue. Hopefully we will be done dealing with it very soon.

I also want to give a tremendous amount of credit to my colleague, the member for Yorkton—Melville, who has carried the lunch can on this for a number of years. He is a tremendous advocate on behalf of our heritage activities in the country.

I will focus my comments on three major areas based on information and feedback from my riding since I started running for office back in 2004. I have heard this in every election and on every weekend. It is about public safety, respect for our traditions and protecting taxpayer dollars.

It is important to put this into context and I will provide a little background on the riding of Tobique—Mactaquac.

To look at some of our western ridings, it is not one of the biggest, but it is somewhere around 17,000 square kilometres, so it is a fairly large riding for Atlantic Canada. It extends along the border with Maine in the U.S. It has a tremendous amount of traditional industries such as farming and forestry as well as tourism, which includes hunting and fishing. In this riding there are a lot of outfitters, guides and people who entertain sports and come in at various times during the year for hunting and fishing. This is an important aspect in my riding.

I did a poll a number of years ago and I received about 1,400 responses back. Of the constituents of Tobique—Mactaquac, over 90% said that we had to get rid of the long gun registry. I did another poll recently. Again, those numbers are staggering, still up over 90%.

I am not in denial of the challenges that violent gun crime presents to people. It is an issue. At the same time, I can point to two instances a couple of weeks ago of armed robberies in two small community stores in my riding. The people came in with a handgun. At the end of the day, people were scared and intimated. However, mandatory minimums for serious gun crimes are about that. This is what our legislation is intended to do. This is why we put those policies in place for, not a gun registry that unfairly targets the folks who are in our traditional industries.

On the other side, we have also invested in policing, helped communities with their policing and crime prevention strategies to help our youth understand that it is important they stay away from gangs. Also, our flagship representation and bill going through now, the safe streets and communities act, is very important in addressing some of those issues.

Bill C-19 is a pretty simple bill. First and foremost, the new legislation would remove the need to register non-restricted firearms such as rifles and shotguns. This provision is directed at all the farmers who need to protect their livestock, all the sportsmen and women who hunt wild game and all the other rural residents who use long guns to make a living. However, as it has been emphasized here a number of times, I do not think we want to forget that individuals will still need to have valid licences to possess a firearm.

We have had a number of people come to our offices to talk about the process used to obtain a licence, and it is onerous. There is a number of hours of training. Some people in my riding provide the training to those folks. They go through the background checks that are required to determine safety. The bill would preserve these public safety aspects, but it would strike a balance with what gun owners need. Owners of non-restricted and shotguns would no longer have to register these firearms. That is great news to all the long gun owners who have waited so long to see this registry eliminated.

At the same time, owners have talked to us about their personal information. I am pleased to say that clause 29 of the bill also includes the destruction of the records related to the registration of rifles and shotguns. Unless the data is destroyed, there is still a long gun registry and there is still the ability for someone to come down the road and recreate it. It is important for us to ensure that those records are gone.

The second point is about respect. I want to refer to a committee that I put together back in 2006 to talk about the long gun registry. It was interesting how the folks on that committee started it out as a long gun registry committee, but then decided they wanted it to be called a public safety committee. They wanted to address firearms legislation from the standpoint of the proper controls of licensing.

Some of the people on that committee were Mr. Cormier from Saint-André, who does training and gives the course to long gun owners; Mr. Kierstead, who is the coach of the national shooting team; Bill Ensor and Ray Dillon, sport guides in the region of my riding; a doctor who was a gun enthusiast; Mr. Ray Tibbits, a member of a local gun club, who respects and teaches our young kids in the proper use of firearms; and Mr. Dale Clark, former president of the New Brunswick Trappers and Fur Harvesters Federation. Those people had great input to where we could go with the bill.

I know I am getting to the top of the hour, but I will quickly note that the previous bill, Bill C-68, and the long gun registry did not respect our traditional pursuits and did not respect seniors, who were being harassed by the long gun registry, and other seniors who might have had their long guns handed down to them through the generations. They were being harassed by police forces and the long gun registry, which is just despicable.

Report Stage
Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Tobique—Mactaquac will have two minutes for his speech and five minutes for questions and comments when the House resumes debate on the motion.

Firearms Registry
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Ryan Leef Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to tell Yukon citizens that our government is on track to end the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry. After 17 years of debate and taxpayer dollars ballooning from a $2 million program to the excess of $2 billion, it is finally time to end the Liberal-led catastrophe and get back on the right track.

We will no longer punish the lawful for the actions of the lawless and we will no longer allow hysteria and hyperbole to trump reason, fact and empirical evidence.

The seven myths of the opposition are full of emotion but short on facts. I hope the member for Western Arctic remembers the wishes, the tradition and the culture of the great people of the Northwest Territories when he votes on this bill and that it provides him with the courage and the support to stand, as the members from Thunder Bay—Rainy River and Thunder Bay—Superior North did, to vote in favour of scrapping this ineffective law.

Canada-U.S Relations
Statements by Members

February 7th, 2012 / 2 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, SBC Firemaster Ltd. of Princeton is truly a Canadian success story. Since 1982, the company has been exporting firewood to the U.S. and has paid out in excess of $50 million in wages and salaries to Canadians.

Last year, Firemaster's dream turned into a nightmare. Without warning, shipments were stopped at the border. From one inspection per year over the past 26 years in a one month period of time last fall, Firemaster was subjected to 40 consecutive inspections and only 5 trucks were let through. Inspection fees went from $300 to $750 per truck, the major customer, Lowe's, was lost and 20 employees were laid off. The border is once again open, but the future remains uncertain.

Canadian businesses and workers need certainty to survive in the marketplace. I call upon the federal government to advise the U.S. authorities that this type of arbitrary action is not acceptable and is detrimental to a good working relationship between our two countries.