Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to move the motion before us and to speak in favour of it.
It has been said that bad laws are the worst form of tyranny. What we have in Bill C-68, the Firearms Act, is legislation that violates the property rights of Canadians and is a colossal waste of our money.
The intended purpose of Bill C-68, quite frankly, is an insult to the three million firearms owners in Canada. The reason for what I have just said will become evident as we listen to the course of debate throughout the day.
Allow me to begin by explaining the motives of the Liberal government in pursuing a firearms registry.
It was the current health minister and former justice minister responsible for this legislation who said that it is his firm belief that only the police and military should have access to firearms.
Let us analyse that statement. What we have is a Toronto lawyer with no concept of what life is like in rural Canada. The minister is trying to lead Canadians to believe that criminalizing the legal ownership of firearms will somehow reduce crime.
Let us be clear. We are talking about hunting rifles and shotguns, not handguns. We have had a handgun registry since 1934 and we all know the extent to which crime has been reduced by that measure, do we not?
I would like the minister to explain what intellectually stunted logic he is using by making a farmer in Saskatchewan register his .22 rifle. Will that somehow help him to sleep better at night? Will it somehow reduce crime? How will that affect the criminal misuse of firearms?
The minister may not be aware of this fact but criminals do not register their guns nor do they break into people's homes and decide not to steal a gun because it is registered. I will go out on a limb and suggest that the criminal who does steal a firearm is not going to decide whether or not to use it in the commission of an offence based on whether it is or is not registered.
Not only does the former justice minister believe that Canadians should not be entitled to own firearms but Liberal senator Sharon Carstairs said that registration of hunting rifles is an important first step in socially re-engineering Canadians. The absurdity of that statement is self-evident. It is important that we understand where these people are coming from. They do not understand that to a farmer in Saskatchewan a .22 rifle is a tool. Toronto lawyers do not usually face rabid skunks walking on to their property. Then again many farmers in Saskatchewan would argue that a Toronto lawyer is a rabid skunk. In any event, the usefulness of a rifle as a tool to rural Canadians is very important. However, that fact may not be readily apparent to those who are trying to socially re-engineer Canadians.
What do they mean when they say that registration is a first step? Under Bill C-68 the justice minister can by order in council, in other words without coming before parliament, declare any firearm prohibited. What we have is a slippery slope. The minister can declare 10 gauge shotguns prohibited and they can be confiscated without compensation to the owners. Then it could be 12 gauge shotguns, 16 gauge, 20 gauge and eventually the elimination of all legal firearm ownership in Canada.
The motion we have put forward today covers an extensive list of deficiencies in this bill. I will speak to one aspect of the motion, Treasury Board cost benefit guidelines. According to Treasury Board policy when the government is preparing to establish new regulations it must provide a cost benefit analysis of those regulations. The policy states specifically: “When regulating, regulatory authorities must ensure that benefits outweigh the costs to Canadians, their governments and businesses, and the limited resources available to government are used where they will do the most good”.
The new gun registration system established under Bill C-68 has failed the Treasury Board test. In particular, the government has left a number of important questions unanswered. For instance, what is the approximate number of individuals to be licensed? The government does not know. What is the approximate number of firearms to be registered? That is undetermined. What will the impact on businesses and the economy be? It is Yet to be seen. How many jobs will be lost? How many business closures will there be? Again we do not know. Will these regulations improve public safety? Clearly the evidence before us which we will see today is very strongly in the negative.
With these questions unanswered it is impossible to determine the cost effectiveness of registration. Despite this, the government is pushing ahead with its registration plan. The reason is that it is the government's first step in eliminating legal firearm ownership in Canada.
Registration was supposed to begin October 1 but that date has been pushed back to December 1. The registration system was originally projected to cost $85 million. Cost projections are now well over $120 million. Some are estimating the system will actually cost over $500 million. Considering these huge sums of money I think we could agree this money could be better spent on areas such as health care, education and tax cuts to lower and middle income Canadians who are burdened excessively by the high spending ways of this Liberal government. The government did not do a cost benefit analysis of this legislation because it did not want to impede its efforts to eliminate legal firearm ownership in Canada.
I am very pleased that the hon. member for Yorkton—Melville has seconded my motion. I urge all members of this House to listen very carefully not only to what I have said and not only to the analysis of the legislation that we are about to hear from the hon. member for Yorkton—Melville but to all hon. members who speak in support of this motion today.