Thank you, Mr. Chair, and I'm very pleased to appear before you and committee members to discuss new proposed regulations pursuant to the Firearms Act.
Our government is once again standing up for law abiding Canadians, such as farmers, hunters, and sports shooters. We are standing up for rural, northern, and remote Canadians who use shotguns and rifles as tools in their day-to-day lives. But Mr. Chair, most of all, we are standing up for Canadians who do not believe that the state has a right to needlessly interfere with the private property of law-abiding Canadians.
The long-gun registry was a wasteful and ineffective creation. Mr. Chair, I'm very proud to note that our government's legislation to eliminate the federal long-gun registry came into force at the beginning of April. The Ending the Long-gun Registry Act not only repeals a requirement for individuals and businesses to register their non-restricted firearms but also requires the Commissioner of Firearms, and the chief firearms officer for each province, to ensure the destruction of all records and copies of those records under their control.
The regulations that are now before you will help to ensure that the will of Parliament to eliminate the federal long-gun registry is fully respected. Canadians gave our government a strong mandate to end the wasteful long-gun registry, and Canadians will not tolerate an end run around the law. Nor will many Canadians or the government tolerate the recreation, under federal authority, of anything that resembles the wasteful and ineffective federal long-gun registry, which only created hassles and red tape for hunters rather than improve public safety.
The regulations we have introduced will ensure that the federal long-gun registry remains in the past, where it belongs. Members of this committee will know that despite a clear direction from Parliament to put an end to the registration of long guns, CFOs, or chief firearms officers, in some jurisdictions have continued to require that businesses collect and store point-of-sale information concerning long guns. In particular, Ontario's CFO is requiring businesses to record a buyer's name, licence information, and the details of the firearm being purchased. This is contrary to the spirit and intent of C-19 to eliminate the federal long-gun registry, which received royal assent on April 5.
To reinforce our government's position on this matter, I wrote a letter to the RCMP commissioner and to all chief firearms officers on May 8 affirming that the Firearms Act does not authorize any measures that would facilitate the establishment of a provincial long-gun registry. I further directed that neither the Canadian firearms program nor the RCMP are to assist a province seeking to establish a long-gun registry in any way. At that time, I also made clear my willingness to consider all necessary legislative and regulatory measures.
Despite this attempt to clarify what is permitted under the law, Ontario's CFO continues to be of the view that it is his prerogative to require that businesses keep point-of-sale records.
Moreover, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, despite knowing the clear will of Parliament, as expressed through Bill C-19, has publicly stated that it will be up to the federal government to make it clear that businesses are not required to maintain registration-type records. This is what the proposed regulations our government has introduced will accomplish.
The regulations before you today make clear that businesses would not be required, as a condition of a licence, to collect or retain information regarding the transfer or purchase of a non-restricted firearm. While businesses may choose to keep point-of-sale records for their own purposes, such as inventory or warranty, they cannot be required, as a condition of their business licences, to keep records that link the long gun to a specific owner.
The regulations our government has proposed pursuant to the Firearms Act will remove any ambiguity with respect to the creation of a federal registry by the back door.
Our position on the long-gun registry is quite clear. It does nothing to help put an end to gun crimes. It criminalizes hard-working and law-abiding citizens. It has not stopped a single crime or saved a single life. According to the CBC, it has cost over $2 billion—money that is far better spent elsewhere.
Canadians do not want or need this boondoggle reintroduced under the guise of collecting and storing information concerning the lawful acquisition of legal firearms by law-abiding citizens.
Our government delivers on our commitments to Canadians, and this is what we have done with Bill C-19, which is now the law of the land. It is what we are continuing to do with the introduction of regulations pursuant to the Firearms Act.
The issue of effective firearms control is an important one—one that has been debated in this country for years. All of us see the fallout from gun-related crimes in Canada. Our government is committed to protecting Canadians and ensuring that people feel safe on their own streets and in their own homes.
In this light, it is imperative that we have effective ways of dealing with gun crime. Since we were elected in 2006, our government has been committed to doing just that, to making our streets and communities safer for all Canadians. We've followed up that commitment with concrete and tangible initiatives to get tough with criminals and to help prevent crime before it happens.
I'm certain that all Canadians are concerned with preventing crime. We all want to make sure that our streets and our communities are safe. We all want to ensure that guns don't fall into the hands of criminals or are used to commit grievous crimes.
That is really what the legislation to repeal the long-gun registry is all about. It's about making sure that we continue to preserve and enhance those measures that do work to reduce crime and protect Canadians. It's also about making sure that we don't necessarily penalize millions of honest and law-abiding citizens with rules that have little effect on crime prevention or on reducing gun crime.
Bill C-19 retains the existing controls for restricted and prohibited firearms, but it eliminates the need for honest, law-abiding citizens to register their non-restricted rifles or shotguns—a requirement that has no impact on reducing gun crimes in Canada.
The regime now in place, thanks to the royal assent of Bill C-19, is one that makes sense and one that our government and many law enforcement officials believe will work to effectively protect the safety and security of law-abiding citizens. The regulations pursuant to the Firearms Act, which we have introduced, will ensure this remains the case in the future.
Thank you. I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.