House of Commons Hansard #192 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was life.


Public Safety Act, 2002Adjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Northumberland Ontario


Paul MacKlin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Yorkton--Melville for the opportunity to again remind parliament and indeed all Canadians about the public safety benefits of the Canadian firearms program.

I am pleased to report that our practical approach to gun safety is already helping to cut down on firearm related crime in the country. The program does this by keeping firearms from people who should not have them and by encouraging legitimate owners to handle their firearms safely and responsibly. These important goals are being achieved in part through the licensing of firearms owners and the registration of their firearms.

The first phase of the program was the licensing of the firearm owners. As members know, they had to apply for a firearms licence by January 1, 2001. We are currently wrapping up the second phase of the registration of firearms. An overwhelming majority of Canadian firearms owners will have a licence and will have their guns registered well before the December 31 deadline.

This is the result of the approach that the Canadian Firearms Centre has taken. We applied the lessons we learned in the licensing phase of the program to registration. We have focused on making registration as simple as possible.

For example, the Canadian Firearms Centre sent personalized registration forms to every licensed firearms owner in Canada. Every owner had an opportunity to register his or her firearms free of charge. We also made it possible for them to register online. More than 100,000 Canadian firearms owners have done just that.

Regarding the hon. member's question on the errors in the system, I want to emphasize that the errors reported to the Canadian Firearms Centre to date represent a tiny fraction of the firearms documents that have been issued. As recently as April 27, 2002, 99% of the firearms in the Canadian firearms registry system were correctly registered according to identification and classification, as required under the law. Also, 99% of the licences were correctly issued to the right person, living at the address stated, with the appropriate privilege and safety training.

There may also be a small number of entry errors for which we have no statistics, but when these are reported they are dealt with promptly in co-ordination with the client. Firearms owners should verify the information on the firearms documents and contact us immediately at 1-800-731-4000 to report any anomalies and have the situation rectified.

There are currently 2.1 million individuals in the firearms database and firearms owners have been sending in their registration applications in unprecedented numbers. As with any other high volume operation, it is only natural to expect a small degree of entry error. That is why we remain vigilant and have recently made some improvements to further minimize the potential for error.

Over the past few months, the Canadian firearms program has completely restructured the registration process and implemented rigorous measures to ensure the integrity of the information. When the personalized registration application is returned for processing, the form is scanned, including the bar code that identifies the licensee. Manual data entry is eliminated, which minimizes the potential for error.

At the request of the firearms community, and I want to emphasize that, the firearms registration certificate does not carry the licensee's name to ensure privacy and public safety. The number on the registration certificate provides, when required, an electronic link to the owner of the firearm. This avoids disclosing the location of firearms should anyone other than the legitimate owner come into possession of the registration certificate.

Public Safety Act, 2002Adjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Canadian Alliance Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I think the member should go back and check the records in his own department. He talks about a tiny fraction of errors, but through access to information we have already found out that over 90% of the registration certificates and applications that come in have errors on them. That is not exactly a tiny fraction.

The member says that firearms owners are responsible for making sure that the information is accurate. He should try to use the system some time. The frustration that firearms owners have with trying to get and convey accurate information is unbelievable.

The RCMP has confirmed that 42% error rate in registration applications, for the description of the firearms alone. That means that there are 222,000 firearms that have the same make and serial number.

This answer that I have been given makes a mockery of what we do in this place. It is just not right to have these kinds of so-called facts brought out.

It is just not working.

Public Safety Act, 2002Adjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.


Paul MacKlin Liberal Northumberland, ON

Mr. Speaker, as does occur at times in the House, obviously there is some discrepancy as to the way people view various statistics. Clearly the hon. member chooses not to accept the statistics I brought forward. That is his choice.

Quite frankly, the most recent statistics indicate that as of May 4 of this year we now have over 3,871,000 firearms registered. There is no question that there will be some degree of error within that registration process, but I think the hon. member does tend to exaggerate the ultimate errors within the system.

Public Safety Act, 2002Adjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24.

(The House adjourned at 6.55 p.m.)