The hon. member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough refers to Uncle Henry's rifle. I am not sure he actually does have an Uncle Henry, but these shotguns and rifles are essentially tools that a farmer may use for the protection of his livestock and are kept under lock and key.
My party has always resisted the long gun registry because it simply does not work and it targets the wrong group. This bill is what we would rather have. We know that the minister of justice of the day said that the cost of implementing the registry would be at most a mere $85 million. The member for Edmonton North has fought for this legislation tooth and nail since she became a member of parliament.
Let us just say that it was a noble intent, it was the right thing to do. We disagree with it. Even if it were, we now know the price tag is well above $400 million. We know that there are very prudent estimates that when this thing is finally settled it will cost over $800 million to actually implement.
The point that I want to make is we could use those dollars toward a truly safer street agenda, including more money for the RCMP for overtime, for personnel and for new technologies to fight cyber crime. In the context of the world events which have taken place since September 11, there is the very real issue of putting those added resources toward augmenting the budget of the RCMP or even CSIS to help them fight biker gangs and terrorist cells, as opposed to arbitrarily taxing deer hunters, duck hunters and farmers. It just makes a lot of sense.
I am arguing our position from a purely economic perspective in this regard. Even if it was a noble intent, we now know that not only was it misguided and ill-advised but it has become one of the most comprehensive and expensive boondoggles that the federal government has ever had throughout Canadian history.
We are trying to use this private member's bill, although it is non-votable, to help educate the public to the fact that any reasonable parliamentarian is not against gun control or having more stringent provisions to deter accidental harm from firearms. We want to ensure that we have a mandatory additional penalty in place for any criminal act committed with the use of a firearm. These are the kind of things that the public wants us to do. They want us to deter the criminal use of firearms.
If we want to make our streets safer, why do we not use that $800 million? We still have about $400 million that we can save to achieve a truly safer street agenda. That is why I moved Bill C-269. I made a commitment to the constituents in my riding of Fundy--Royal that at the very least I would do my best to keep the issue alive. That is what I am trying to do with respect to this issue. Maybe that says something to accountability.
I know the member from Cypress Hills--Grasslands has been steadfast in his opposition against this arbitrary registry. I applaud him for his efforts. This is an issue that transcends many party lines. It really is a split on rural Canada versus urban Canada. However even urban Canadians are now saying that when they fought this back in the 1997 election, they thought it was the right thing to do. Now that the price tag is $400 million and it might even get to as high as $800 million, they are saying that perhaps we were right back in 1997, that it was a bad idea and that we were concentrating on the wrong element of society.
Let us target our energies toward criminals. Give the RCMP and our law enforcement officers a tool kit to fight crime. We should take the issue and weigh it on one hand, then on the other. Are we concerned with terrorist cells and having the resources from a security perspective with respect to the RCMP to actually flush those folks out? Are we concerned about organized crime? Instead of taxing deer hunters, duck hunters and farmers, why do we not give the tool kits to the RCMP to fight terrorist cells and biker gangs?
We know that long guns principally are not the weapons of crime in an urban context. Therefore, we are really targeting the wrong group.
It may be a noble intent, but all of the good that we are trying to get out of Bill C-269, I can advocate was already in place with respect to Bill C-17. That would have been a better way to go as opposed to using this useless, cumbersome long gun registry. There are a lot of superlatives being added by my friends and colleagues who join me in their opposition to Bill C-68 and in support of my private member's bill, Bill C-269.
It is not even a cash cow for the government. It is so bureaucratic and so expensive that it is not even paying for itself. Any other reasonable government would have actually cut its losses long ago.
I ask all members to reflect on this particular issue and then, as time goes by, find some way to keep the good and the noble intent that might have been in place in Bill C-68 and ditch the long gun registry, which, at its worst, is an attack on rural attack and clearly is an attack on the legitimate long gun owners of rifles, rifles that are used by deer hunters, duck hunters and farmers.
I want to thank my colleagues for their encouragement and contribution throughout my remarks. If I was ever at a loss for words throughout my speech, there was no shortage of assistance from my friends and colleagues. I want to thank them for their support.