Mr. Speaker, I think it is telling that the House leader from the government referred to Bill C-15B as an act to deal with animal cruelty. It speaks to the subterfuge taking place on the part of the government.
Yes, the bill does have something to do with animal cruelty but it also has a lot to do with the firearms legislation. Some 22 pages and hundreds of clauses are going to be changed.
In the first part of my speech I dealt with animal cruelty. In this part of my speech I will deal with firearms.
I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the Canadian Alliance is firmly in favour of public safety and good, sensible gun control. However we oppose Bill C-15B because of the amendments to the current Firearms Act, Bill C-68, which is a sham. The bill is unworkable. Rather than increasing public security it actually decreases it. I will tell the House why.
As I mentioned before, the bill is costing some $600 million, and the money would have been better spent on increasing public safety. It could have been better spent on putting more police officers on the street and on our judicial system. We need to ensure that individuals who commit crimes will receive the penalties they deserve. We also need to ensure that individuals who commit firearms offences or violent acts against others will be put in jail for a long time.
When people commit an act with a firearm a number of things happen. First, if they are convicted their penalty runs concurrently not consecutively to their other offence. Therefore there is no real penalty for committing an offence with a firearm.
Second, in order to get an expeditious conviction on the original offence, the firearms weapons offence is often plea bargained away to get a quick conviction on the other offence. The person who has actually put a gun to someone's head is assured of no penalty for using the weapon in that manner.
Third, the bill does nothing to address the influx of weapons into this country by criminals. Criminals do not take a course to get a firearms acquisition certificate. They engage in the waiting time to get a firearm. The firearms they get are smuggled in and then used to commit a crime.
We support a firearms acquisition certificate. We support courses and lead time. Thankfully we are not like the United States which has liberal gun controls that enable individuals to use guns and enable weapons to get into the hands of those who should not have them. We are thankful that in this country we have historically had good gun control laws that prevent that from happening.
However, the problem we have is that Bill C-68 and the son of Bill C-68, Bill C-15B, do not do that. We importune the government to change the bill and do what we ask in the name of public security.
One of the arguments the Minister of Justice had used was that the bill would decrease the number of suicides. People who want to commit suicide will not get a firearms acquisition certificate just to blow their head off. The gun is often acquired illegally through other means or stolen. All too often a person commits suicide through another means.
Similarly, if we look at the murders in the country, some 700 to 800 murders are committed every year. One-third of those murders are committed through the use of a firearm.
I encourage questions on the issue since there is a lot of debate from both side. We do not support the bill because we in the Alliance are in favour of tough laws against animal cruelty. We are in favour of good sensible gun control laws but we will not support a bill that will do the opposite for the Canadian public.