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Evidence of meeting #47 for Public Safety and National Security in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was keep.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

Well, absolutely. That's the only reason I'm here today given the very blatant refusal by the CFO in Ontario to respect the impact of Bill C-19. I guess there are a number of ways of handling it. You could take a court action to clarify that. You can pass a regulation to clarify it. We've chosen the regulatory measure.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Aspin Conservative Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

As well, Mr. Minister, law-abiding gun owners are quite worried that the data in these paper records will eventually be used to confiscate their firearms. Can you ensure the committee that these changes you brought forward in terms of the regulations will ensure that these records that CFOs have produced for gun-shop owners to keep will not be used against law-abiding Canadians in the future?

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

Well, what I can say is that we will not mandate the creation of a registry. Whether you call it a green book, whether you call it paper, or whether the gun shop keeps it in a computer makes no difference to me—what you're doing is creating a registry. So what we're saying is that there is no authority under the federal legislation to do that, and we've made that very clear in order to ensure that we are carrying out the promise we made to the people of your riding, and indeed, ridings like mine, where the long-gun registry was a huge thorn in the side of very ordinary citizens.

Might I just make this one point? One of the things I've heard police say about the registry is that it's the indirect impact of the registry that caused a lot of problems. For the very farmers, hunters, and sport shooters who as a general rule are very supportive of the police, the registry created a rift. So instead of having those individuals as partners in fighting crime, those individuals began to see the police as the other side.

That was one of the most significant aspects of the damage that the long-gun registry did. Basically, the old Liberal government said that “if you don't register this, you're a criminal”, and people resented that very much. It alienated them from the police, and that was very unfortunate.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Aspin Conservative Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

As I have said, Thomas Mulcair, the leader of the NDP, has publicly stated that if elected as Prime Minister he would definitely bring back the gun registry.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

That's my understanding as well, but I could be corrected by other media reports.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Aspin Conservative Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Would you say that our government is the only government standing up for law-abiding Canadian firearms owners at this point?

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

Well, I certainly would say that.

You know, I've heard Liberals and New Democrats say they'll create a registry that isn't a criminal registry. What they don't tell you, then, is that it would be unconstitutional, because the only basis—

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

Mr. Norlock, on a point of order.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Conservative Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

On a point of order, Mr. Chair, there seems to be a disagreement on both sides as to the veracity of whether or not the leader of Her Majesty's official opposition....

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

That's not a point of order.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Conservative Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

I can provide, should the chair wish, a direct quote.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

No, I think we'll just let it ride for now. We don't want to dwell on that while we have the minister.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Conservative Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Okay.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

If you very quickly want to finish your comment, you're about ten seconds over now.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

I'll leave it at that.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Kevin Sorenson

All right.

We'll move back to Mr. Garrison, please.

June 19th, 2012 / 5:15 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Thank you much, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to the minister for being here.

Rather than talking about the past or the future, I'd like to talk about what's before us today—namely, the regulations dealing with records of sale.

I want to go back through this with you. To me, the records of sale pre-existed the registry. They weren't used to create the registry. They're kept routinely by gun shops. They're not in any electronic form so that they could be searched. They're accessible only by warrant.

If this regulation goes ahead, aren't you really creating a big hole in the only potential source of information we have about non-restricted weapons that might be used in gun crimes?

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

No. I don't agree with that at all. If shop owners are keeping records, those records are accessible by warrant and not by a bureaucrat exercising that type of unilateral power to not only go into businesses; they could also, under the Firearms Act, go into homes, which is quite disturbing.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

I'm talking about the records of sale. I'm not talking about the pre-existing registry.

To me, I see a scenario where there's a crime committed with a non-registered weapon. The manufacturer might say, well, that gun was shipped to this gun shop, and the gun shop owner says, “I love the minister. He told me I didn't have to keep these records, so we don't have them”.

What do you say to the police and prosecutors who are trying to prosecute that crime? What do you say to the victims of that crime? Is it, “Oh, we decided that wasn't essential information and people didn't have to keep it”?

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

I'm not going to speculate on what happens in an investigation, but I can assure you that's not how these crimes are investigated.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

It certainly won't be possible if this regulation goes forward.

I guess I would ask you, then, did you consult with the police, perhaps the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, or with prosecutors about the implications of this regulation before putting it forward?

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

We consulted extensively with all types of people. Eventually you make a decision that may not make one group happy but may make another group happy, or you might arrive at a compromise.

One thing we have done, instead of focusing on criminalizing long-gun owners, is to say that if you actually use a firearm in the course of a crime, there will be a mandatory minimum prison sentence. I believe that incapacitation of an individual who actually uses a firearm by imprisoning that individual is really the effective tool of ensuring that individuals do not utilize firearms.

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Would you be willing, Mr. Minister, to give us a list of those people who were consulted specifically about this regulation? As a committee member, I guess I'd like to hear from people like prosecutors and police, or to know very specifically what they had to say about the implications for investigating and prosecuting crimes if this regulation goes forward.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

I can assure you that my colleague Ms. Hoeppner has done extensive consultations. I'm sure she'd be happy to share that with you. I've—

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

On this change of regulation.