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

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, with respect to the reference the member opposite made, police in my riding tell me that the long gun registry is completely useless. They do not depend on data in that data bank because it is as dated as the first day it was input.

Fortunately Canadians from coast to coast to coast know they have a strong, stable Conservative government which will defend their rights and end the wasteful long gun registry once and for all.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Madam Speaker, like my hon. colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, I am a little stunned. I will remain polite, however. That is not to say that my colleague did not, because he already said what I was thinking.

I do not think the member answered his question, and it is a very important one. We have been saying this from the beginning. I have all due respect for all hunters, and not only the hunters in the hon. member's riding. We on this side of the House have never shown a lack of respect towards hunters. We simply acknowledged that there was a problem with the legislation and proposed a solution.

Now the Conservatives are arguing all kinds of things and giving the impression that our prisons are filled with hunters and aboriginal people who own rifles and who were incarcerated after the police stormed their houses and confiscated their weapons. Let us stop fooling around.

Does the fact that police chiefs are saying—the same police chiefs the Conservative government quotes at every turn for its law and order bill—

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

February 7th, 2012 / 4:20 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Order, please. I would ask the hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke to reply.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, it is the front-line police officers who tell us that the stats that are reported on the number of times they have referenced the gun registry are totally out of whack. Even when they check a licence plate number for someone who is speeding, it defaults as a hit to the gun registry, but they are just checking CPIC.

I do believe that what was said on the opposite side is totally ridiculous. The only way this gun registry could ever be fixed is to end it once and for all.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, we do not understand. It truly is difficult to understand.

We are hearing arguments like the ones just made to us: the hon. member has talked to police officers who do not believe it is used very much. But we have the figures: 92% of police officers use the firearms registry. Those are figures, those are facts. But obviously, we are used to this: reliable, objective data are of less interest to the people on the other side of the House than what they hear in their own immediate circles.

This registry is useful. As I said, 92% of police officers use it. Since it was established, spousal homicides have declined by 50%. We know that women are the ones who are too often the first victims of spousal homicides, and so we can see very clearly why the Fédération des femmes du Québec called for the registry to be preserved. We have talked about suicide recently. We have spoken in the House in support of suicide prevention. Over the last nine years, firearms suicides, which too often affect our young people, have declined by 64%. For that reason alone, the registry is absolutely essential and useful. And in spite of what they say about it, it is not very expensive. It cost a lot at the beginning, but now the costs associated with the registry represent only about 5% of the Canadian firearms program.

We are also presented with another argument: it sometimes presents problems for hunters, aboriginal people and others. The NDP has proposed solutions to that: decriminalize the first offence, make sure that long gun owners do not have to absorb the costs, protect information about owners, and provide legal guarantees to protect the rights of aboriginal people. This is an extremely useful registry that saves lives, and we can mitigate some of the problems. Why not? Is it because, as my hon. colleague said, it threatens our civil rights? Is implementing a firearms registry equivalent to invoking the War Measures Act? If I register my car or my dog, is it because I am subject to war measures? That is truly inflammatory language that is completely unrealistic and makes no sense.

When we are reduced to arguments like that, it means we do not have much left. So it is easier for us to understand why this government refuses to debate, why it has again imposed a closure motion on us, a gag, why it does not want parliamentarians to discuss the issue at any greater length, and why it does not want parliamentarians to be able to address their fellow Canadians to explain the issues to them. This government no longer has any logical, valid argument to support its bill.

It is not only parliamentarians that this government refuses to listen to. It refuses to listen to the provinces that, like Quebec, have fought at every level, calling for the firearms registry to be kept, or at the very least—if the government is silly enough to abolish it—for the data to be kept. Nor does the government listen to the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, which has called for the same thing. Nor does it listen to numerous experts, including those in the health care field. Nor does it listen to victims' groups, because the majority of victims' groups are completely in favour of the firearms registry and have called for it to be kept.

There is always a double standard. The government meets with a victims group that says more prisons are needed, and so the government decides to go headlong into that, build prisons and invest billions of dollars to put more people in prison, all the while totally disregarding the opinion of experts, once again. And then there are meetings with victims' groups and victims' families who, sometimes through tears, plead to keep the registry. I saw the mother of one of the young women killed at École Polytechnique de Montréal, and she was crying and pleading for the firearms registry to be kept. Then, quite suddenly, the government members block their ears, do not hear anything else and disregard whatever else is being said.

Victims do not count in this government's eyes, unless they are repeating what the government wants to hear. I do not call that listening. This government’s modus operandi is to be completely closed off to the opinion of others. I call that “my way or the highway” I call that contempt for any opinion not shared by the government.

But contempt cannot last forever. People will continue to speak out and voice their opinions. The people will take back the government, which imagines that since 40% of Canadian voters voted for it, it is entitled to do what it wants and can ride roughshod over any and all opinions that it does not share.

As I was saying, there is always a double standard. Let us take another example. The gun registry helps keep our communities safe and, as I said at the beginning, helps save lives. Today, the Minister of Public Safety implied that the use of information obtained by torture would be permitted in order to save lives. That encourages torture. If the government is prepared to consider information obtained by torture in order to save a life, then it is encouraging torture. However, registering a firearm in the gun registry to save lives suddenly is not acceptable.

In August 2010, Jack Layton said:

Stopping gun violence has been a priority for rural and urban Canadians. There’s no good reason why we shouldn’t be able to sit down with good will and open minds. There’s no good reason why we shouldn’t be able to build solutions that bring us together. But that sense of shared purpose has been the silent victim of the gun registry debate.

Mr. Harper has been no help at all. Instead of driving for solutions, he has used this issue to drive wedges between Canadians.... [The Conservatives] are stoking resentments as a fundraising tool to fill their election war chest.

Mr. Harper is pitting Canadian region against Canadian region with his—

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Order. Using a member's name is not permitted in the House.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Jack Layton also said in August 2010:

[The Prime Minister] is pitting Canadian region against Canadian region with his “all or nothing show-down”. This is un-Canadian. This kind of divisiveness, pitting one group against another is the poisonous politics of the United States. Not the nation-building politics of Canada.

That was true in 2010 and it is still true today. We can only hope that this government will respect the opinions of Canadians, who risk losing their lives if the registry is abolished, that it will respect opinions that differ from its own, that it will respect the dialogue between Canadians, and that it will respect the House by giving it the opportunity to debate and do its job.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Madam Speaker, the member opposite stated that 92% of the police use the registry. My question is: How many use it by choice?

We know that the database is accessed automatically every time a car is pulled over for speeding. Does the member opposite think that if the datum shows that the owner of the vehicle does not have a registered long gun that the police should let his or her guard down? Does the member opposite think that the police should treat every circumstance as if there were a dangerous weapon available and that the long gun registry serves no useful purpose?

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, I do not think that police officers should automatically treat every situation as if it were dangerous. Canada has a long-standing tradition of presuming that people are innocent and acting in good faith. If someone is exceeding the speed limit by 10 or 20 kilometres per hour, I do not think that the police officer responding should have to assume the situation is dangerous. Police officers can make more informed decisions about such situations when they have access to the gun registry so they can check it and feel more confident.

Not only do 92% of police officers use it, but 74% of them say that the results of their searches have been helpful during major operations. In other words, the registry is useful.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat Pontiac, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my esteemed colleague for her very interesting speech. She discussed something important. The NDP has suggested what I consider to be completely reasonable changes to the registry. What does my colleague think of those changes?

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, I believe and I dare say that we have been listening. We did not merely say that the registry is a good tool that has to be maintained and then just stop listening. Some people had concerns. We listened to them and made practical suggestions to address those concerns. That is the true role of a government: to bring everyone to the table and find solutions everyone can agree on instead of constantly trying to be divisive.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

The hon. member for Gatineau for a very quick question.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Madam Speaker, the government listens to the Association of Chiefs of Police when it comes to Bill C-10 on law and order, but when those same chiefs come to committee to talk about Bill C-19 and urge the government to keep the registry, the government suddenly turns a deaf ear. What does the hon. member think about that?

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank all of my colleagues for their questions. It is remarkable; it really is a double standard. That is why I do not call that listening. The government adopts a position at the outset and when someone comes along and tells it what it wants to hear, it agrees. But when a larger group of people comes along with even more relevant facts and information and contradicts the government, it suddenly stops listening and puts on a blindfold and everything shuts down.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

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 Etobicoke North, the environment; the hon. member for Vancouver Quadra, public safety; and the hon. member for Halifax, the environment.