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

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, as Montrealers and Quebeckers, we were and still are affected by the tragedy at École Polytechnique, which could have been prevented if the registry had existed at the time. Police associations are telling us that it is effective, that they need it, that it is useful and that they use it. The Government of Quebec wants to take over from this irresponsible Conservative government by setting up a Quebec registry, but this government refuses to transfer the data that Quebec taxpayers paid for.

What does the hon. member think about the Conservative government wanting to destroy the data and prevent the provinces that want to from maintaining this useful tool that the Conservatives have destroyed?

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, it is rare that I am at a loss for words, but when I think about the question that was posed to me, I am at a loss for words because I cannot think of any logical or common sense reason that the Conservatives could have for wanting to destroy the data. I cannot. To me that just seems punitive.

When I mentioned the massacre in Montreal, it still sends cold chills down my spine. I can remember where I was when that happened. Here we are today saying that the very kind of weapon that was used on that day can now be on our streets in an unrestricted manner.

Once again, there is no reason to punish Quebec or any of the provinces, or to put our officers in jeopardy, never mind the citizens of Canada.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Madam Speaker, I just cannot sit by and listen to some of the misinformation the member is spreading. For example, the $4 million that it costs per year is a completely bogus number.

My colleague from Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar asked a very good question that was not answered: If we had the kind of money that was spent on the gun registry and used it to actually improve public safety, what could we do? I will answer that question for her because she may not know that for half a billion dollars, we could have put 5,600 more police on the streets of our country. If we wanted to take guns off the streets, that is what we would do, because over 90% of the firearms in Toronto are illegal firearms. They are unregistered handguns, and it is against the law to hold--

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

The hon. member for Newton--North Delta.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, once again let me stress that the cost was outrageous at the beginning but has stabilized at $4 million.

My question back to the member is this. Is he willing to spend $19 billion to provide extra policing and other tools to the police to fight crime rather than building prisons?

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

February 7th, 2012 / 3:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Souris—Moose Mountain.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to Bill C-19, the ending the long-gun registry act. This is something that western Canadians, people in Saskatchewan, people in my constituency have been waiting a long time for. There has been a history of opposition by the members opposite to the passage of such a bill.

The member who previously spoke asked why we were pressing so much with the bill when it deals with farmers, duck hunters and those who belong to wildlife clubs and who do not wish to have to register their guns or be criminalized if they do not. My question is: Why has there been such opposition to removing this class of people from the provisions and the requirements to register under the Firearms Act?

Much talk has been heard from people who believe that if the long gun registry were repealed, we would lose control of firearms safety regulations altogether. It has been said that if we get rid of the registry we will be endangering the lives of police and those who are vulnerable to domestic violence. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The registry does not make police entrances to difficult situations any safer or less difficult. The police must always take an abundance of precaution when they go into any situation, and whether a firearm is registered or not is something they will take into account. They will go into a situation using the utmost care.

Our government has always committed itself to keeping our citizens and our communities safe. We have said from day one that the most important responsibility for government is to keep its citizens safe and to do what it can to ensure that is the case. Our commitment has been to work hard to protect Canadians, and this was clear in our first Speech from the Throne, which said:

—our safe streets and healthy communities are increasingly under threat of gun, gang and drug violence.

This Government will tackle crime. It will propose changes to the Criminal Code to provide tougher sentences for violent and repeat offenders, particularly those involved in weapons-related crimes. It will help prevent crime by putting more police on the street and improving the security of our borders.

Those are practical, very basic steps that can ensure the safety of our communities and our streets. If we are going to spend money and get value for that money, we will target the most effective areas to ensure success.

Since our government was first elected we have worked hard to follow through on our pledge to make our streets and communities safer by repairing a system that was completely out of touch with the priorities of Canadians.

Offenders who engaged in serious and repeat victimization of society's most vulnerable were walking away from their convictions with merely a slap on the wrist. Our front-line police officers were not receiving the resources they needed to do their job and support for crime prevention was under-funded. Nonsensical and ineffective policies like the long gun registry were enacted to foster an aura of public safety rather than the taking of real action.

We have taken a firm and reasonable approach to creating safer and stronger communities. Our government is proud of what we have accomplished so far. Our track record is quite impressive when one looks at the series of legislation that has been put before the House, and in fact has passed the House into the other House as well.

We have taken decisive action to crack down on crime, to strengthen the rights of victims and to give police the tools they need to do their job.

We make no apologies for getting tough on serious criminals by ensuring they serve sentences that reflect the severity of their crimes.

We do not apologize for taking a stand against crime and focusing on helping victims of crime. It was surely a time to refocus on victims and some of the things they are interested in, giving them a say, giving them a part in our justice system, to ensure that those who commit the crime receive the appropriate sentence and punishment.

In May, Canadians gave us a strong mandate to move forward with our tough law and order agenda. We are doing what we promised.

In June, we introduced legislation to crack down on human smuggling. In September, we introduced comprehensive legislation to make our streets and communities safer. With this current legislation, we are moving ahead with one of our longstanding electoral commitments, that is, to abolish the long gun registry.

It has been difficult responding to constituents who have been asking since I have been in this House in 2004, through 2006, 2008 and 2011, “When will the ineffective and wasteful long gun registry be eliminated?” They have asked us to do that and we are finally coming to a place where that may happen.

It seems that some members of the opposition think we are too tough on criminals. If that were true, would we be introducing legislation to abolish the long gun registry if it were indeed effective?

Eliminating the long gun registry would not make our streets unsafe because, quite frankly, it never impacted the safety of our streets in one way or another. There is not a shred of evidence that the long gun registry has stopped a single crime or saved a single life.

What we do know, however, is that the rules and regulations currently in place for licensing firearms are effective and reasonable. For this reason, Bill C-19 would not change the current licensing regime.

What it would do is to get rid of an unnecessary and heavy-handed system that unfairly paints hunters and farmers as criminals. We should not criminalize the failure to register firearms and criminally sanction those who use their firearm for legitimate purposes. Once passed, the legislation would repeal the requirement for the long gun owners to register their hunting rifles and shotguns.

As I mentioned, firearm owners would still require a valid licence to purchase or possess firearms. They would be required to undergo background checks, pass a firearm safety training course, and comply with firearm safe storage and transportation requirements. Those are the kinds of things the public has an interest in and that we would enforce. Those are the kinds of things that would produce some results.

However, the registration produced no results, cost a lot of money, and took aim at farmers, hunters, and other wildlife-interested persons.

Bill C-19 would also require that individuals be in the possession of valid firearms licence when a firearm is purchased.

Finally, the proposed legislation would allow the destruction of all records currently held in the Canadian firearms registry and under the control of the chief firearms officers.

Many have felt that registry should never have been in place. In order to rectify that, the registry needs to be done away with. That would mean that its data must be destroyed. This would ensure that the privacy rights of individuals would not be breached by their information being accessed by another organization or government body.

Let me state with the utmost clarity that our government would not allow for the creation of a long gun registry through the backdoor.

It is common knowledge that we have desired to abolish this wasteful and ineffective measure. It has been part of the policy of the Conservative Party of Canada since its inception in 2003. It was the policy of both legacy parties. It is not news to anyone that the party, and now the government, has proposed that we proceed with the elimination of the registry.

In fact, my colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety introduced a bill that came very close to passing in the last Parliament. Yet, thanks to a number of members from the New Democratic Party, the bill did not pass. Fortunately, many of these members I speak of were reminded, on May 2, that they must stand up for their constituents.

As I mentioned, we have taken a number of steps that will be effective. We have taken a number of steps that will achieve results. However, we will do away, once and for all, with the ineffective and wasteful long gun registry. It is a measure that constituents from my riding of Souris—Moose Mountain have desired for a very long time. It is a measure that is long overdue.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Madam Speaker, in fact, I heard the hon. member say in his speech that our communities are in constant danger because of the resurgence of firearms and street gangs. I am sorry, but what the member is telling us is that the weapons owned by members of street gangs are not registered weapons. So that is not relevant. It is really just an argument to try to justify an extreme right-wing Conservative policy.

Second, the hon. member was talking about the crime rate among street gangs. We know full well that the crime rate in Canada has been on the downturn for several years. Once again, this argument does not hold water.

Third, I would agree with the hon. member and say that we do have rules in our society, but we should not have to get rid of the ones that the Conservatives' little friends are unhappy with and do not want to follow. This is yet another argument that does not hold water.

Fourth—

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Order, please. The hon. member for Souris—Moose Mountain.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Madam Speaker, it is quite interesting that the member would be so passionate, but I would ask her and the members of her party why they were not so concerned with hunters, farmers and ordinary Canadians who were charged criminally for not registering firearms that they used for lawful purposes. It is not farmers or hunters who are the ones we should go after. They are not the problem on the streets. Criminals are the problem.

We should target our funds in taking care of the real criminals who do not bother to register firearms and who are the problem, not in keeping track of how many firearms a farmer in Souris—Moose Mountain or in Saskatchewan owns. We should target money to ensure they are criminalized. We should go after them with all our resources. We should not be using our resources, to the tune of millions of dollars, going after innocent people who are not committing crimes. They are the backbone of our country. We should be going after the criminals.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Denis Blanchette Louis-Hébert, QC

Madam Speaker, we could say a lot of things about the hon. members speech, but I would like to focus on something very simple. We know that there are many supporters of open government on the government benches. The term “open government” means that the government shares information. I do not understand, since this involves the money of the same taxpayers, how the government can say that it wants to share information, yet it does not want to share this particular information.

Since it is the same taxpayers who are paying, would it not make sense for the same users to continue to have access to the same information, or is the government simply trying to ensure that there will never be a provincial registry?

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Madam Speaker, the registry consisted primarily of collecting data on people who were not criminals, who were required under the force of law and threat of criminal sanctions to count their firearms and register them in the central registry, against their objection. We are saying that those who have registered under that pretense, when they ought not to have been placed in that position in the first place, will no longer have that information there.

It is one of the greatest reliefs of my constituents. It is not the fact that we would eliminate the forward-going actions, but the fact that their records would not be available to anyone. They should not have been available to anyone in the first place. If we are to eliminate the registry, we need to get rid of the data so no one else can try to do the same thing to them or to others. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the data are completely done away with.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, it is with the support and respect of the people of my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke that I rise today once again to speak in support of this legislation, which will finally scrap the long gun registry.

I am pleased to confirm to the House that scrapping the Liberal long gun registry is the number one topic of discussion when I am out and about on the various public engagements I am invited to attend.

My constituents followed the progress of this legislation very closely. They are disgusted by the cynical, manipulative ploys of the opposition. My constituents assure me they will never in their lifetime support those parties with their not so hidden agenda to reintroduce the registry.

In my riding, demonstrations against the Liberal long gun registry were not occupied by young people being manipulated by radicals funded by foreign interests. These demonstrations were held by middle-aged firearm owners whose first reflex is to respect the laws of the land, whose parents and their parents before them built this great nation.

The political alienation of rural Canadians by the Liberals was a far greater loss than the $1 billion-plus that have been wasted on an experiment in social engineering. It was an experiment that backfired on the Liberal Party and helped reduce it to the fringe status in Canadian politics it enjoys today. The creation by the Liberals of a new criminal class, rural firearm owners, was the ultimate triumph of the negative political politics, which thoughtful Canadians rejected in the same way they rejected the Liberal long gun registry.

This may be the worst and most enduring product of the gun registry culture war. When it comes to the gun issue, my constituents all know my stand. I am against it and I will never quite fighting until it is gone.

Until now, however, I have only made reference to it as the Liberal long gun registry, which means registering all serial numbers on guns owned by law-abiding citizens, but there was much more.

As we all know, brave Canadians have sacrificed their lives in two world wars and many conflicts, the most recent in Afghanistan, to ensure that we have a free and democratic society, as well as the rule book that lays out how society will be run. The rule book is the Constitution of Canada. However, when Liberal minister, Allan Rock, brought in Bill C-68, the original legislation, using deception and flawed RCMP data, his Liberal Party failed to tell the public that hidden in his so-called “gun bill” were 11 unconstitutional sections that denied the rights and freedoms guaranteed to us by our Constitution.

Some argue that these intentional rights and freedoms violations gave the registry the same legal authority as the War Measures Act. When the War Measures Act is invoked, all civil rights and freedoms are suspended. However, we are not a war here, are we? Is this the culture war the left is always trying to incite?

The reality of this blatant assault on the Canadian Constitution can only be stopped by Bill C-19. Yet the left-wing parties are fighting to keep this kind of legislation on the books, vowing never to rescind it. They have promised to keep fighting every attempt by our government to end it and then to reintroduce it if they ever get the chance.

Nevertheless, our Constitution is the set of rules that our government abides by because they represent the supreme laws of the nation. When we see the left-wing parties demanding that the gun registry stay, remember they are demanding an outright repudiation of the Canadian Constitution as well as a blatantly unconstitutional denial of our civil rights and freedoms. These violations prove that the long gun registry was never about crime reduction. It was about giving the Liberal government the power to seize Canadian property without due process.

The 11 violations constituents cited are as follows.

First, Bill C-68, from which the long gun registry emanated, denies the constitutional right to possess private chattel property by allowing the police to confiscate the private property without the due process of law, or fair, just and timely compensation. That is from CFA subsections 102(1) and 102(4). This section also provides for the future confiscation of any and all personal property, classed as being prohibited upon the death of the owner, without monetary compensation of any kind.

Second, Bill C-68 denies the constitutional right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure, by forcing citizens to allow the police into their homes to search and seize without a warrant, even if no known crime is suspected. They have to allow the search or face arrest, and the legality of search can only be challenged after the fact. That is from CFA sections 102 to 104 and Criminal Code amendment subsections 117.04(1).

Third, Bill C-68 denies the constitutional right against self-incrimination, the right to remain silent, while allowing police to threaten criminal charges, according to CFA sections 103 and 113, if one does not assist the police to search one's home and go through one's belongings, relative to the enforcement of the act, its regulations or part III of the Criminal Code, CFA section 103.

Fourth, Bill C-68 denies the constitutional right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by saying the burden of proof is on the individual. That is reverse onus. That is CFA subsection 75(3), Criminal Code amendment subsection 117.11. This section alone destroyed the very foundation upon which our entire legal justice system was predicated.

Fifth, Bill C-68 denies the constitutional right to consult legal counsel before consenting to surprise police inspections or warrantless searches of one's home, CFA sections 103 and 113.

Sixth, Bill C-68 denies one's constitutional right to privacy by authorizing police to conduct warrantless searches of one's home at any time, even if one does not own a firearm. That is from CFA subsection 102(7) and section 104.

Seventh, Bill C-68 denies the constitutional right to freedom of association by allowing the government to prohibit one from owning a firearm if one is an associate of someone who is already prohibited from owning a firearm. That is Criminal Code amendment subsection 117.011(1)(b).

Eighth, Bill C-68 denies the constitutional right to be represented by an MP by allowing the justice minister to make unilateral regulations that modify the Criminal Code as he or she sees fit, using orders-in-council, without ever having to go through the House or Parliament. That is CFA subsections 117(a) to (v) and subsection 119(6), part III of the Criminal Code. That provision makes the justice minister a law onto himself or herself.

Ninth, Bill C-68 denies aboriginals their constitutional right to equal treatment under the law by allowing the government to unilaterally adapt or otherwise change any provision of the act as it applies to native people, according to CFA subsection 177(u). This is all without consulting the House or Parliament. That is from CFA subsection 119(6).

Tenth, Bill C-68 allows the justice minister to create civilian police, as opposed to properly trained officers dedicated to law enforcement. That is from CFA section 101. This provision leaves the door wide open for a future creation of unaccountable government forces and/or paramilitary units.

Eleventh, Bill C-68 allows for both military and foreign enforcement as well, but with no other part of the Canadian Criminal Code enforceable by the military, especially a foreign military. We wondered why that one was added. The truth is this provision was included to legitimize the future presence of foreign troops on our land. Why would Canada ever need foreign troops enforcing Canadian gun laws?

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

I must interrupt as the hon. member's time is up. I am sure she will be able to add to her comments in response to questions.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I have had the distinct displeasure of listening to the most ridiculous, disgusting and blatantly ideological speech that I have heard in the House of Commons since May 2 of last year. It is absolutely appalling. I hope that, at the very least, my colleague removed the National Rifle Association logo from her speech, because that is what we are talking about today. When people talk about the Americanization of Canadian politics under the Conservative government, that is exactly what is going on here.

Can the member explain why police officers tell us that the registry is useful and practical and saves lives? The Conservatives want to raise cash by playing politics with this issue, and now they think they can teach us a lesson or two with an utterly ridiculous speech.