A former policeman says that we could have done it with 5,000. That is even better and it makes it even more tragic that we have built this straw man into the gun registry, this placebo, that we will all be more secure in our streets and in our homes because people have a slip a paper beside their gun. We all know that does not work. It has been tried in other jurisdictions, and I will touch on them later.
The member for Halton spoke earlier about CPA day on the Hill, the Canadian Police Association. I had the opportunity to visit with three fellows from Saskatchewan. They did their lobbying on their issues. Part of their request was for more funding. I said that I would be happy to do that for them.
I have no problem with more funding for our frontline police. It should have been part of our security budget. Instead of this global thing of tracking down terrorists in the Mediterranean and God knows where, let us have some security at home as well in that $7 billion budget of a year ago which the government called security. It is not showing up. We have less police on the streets today. We have a retirement rate that says that we will lose the well-trained guys and we will have to bring in some rookies to try to fill their spots which will create some problems.
Organized crime is light-years ahead of what justice and police officers have been able to keep up with, with their contracting budgets. They have more areas to cover than they ever dreamed. The Internet has opened up a whole new world for criminals and the police just do not have the resources or the allocations to cover those off. Here we see money going in the wrong direction.
The government makes a big thing out of public support. It has the CPA onside. It might have the leader of that, a fellow from Saskatchewan who should know better, but his political ties say that he will support this thing. He also has a couple of quotes that are very telling.
The fellow's name is Griffin. He suggests that the police should tread lightly in enforcing this law and that they should use discretion when they run up against gun owners who do not want to comply with the law as an act of civil disobedience. He says that it is unenforceable, yet he supports it. His own guys are doing without and he says that they cannot charge these folks. He is absolutely right. There have been a few folks who have tried to become arrested and cannot. The government will not process it because it knows it does not have the constitutional backing to do it.
Here is another quote. It reads, “Peel Regional Chief, Noel Catney, has expressed concerns about the flood of cheap, illegal guns in Canada”. It has gone up, not down. Chief Catney says that the import and trafficking of firearms is just as much a problem for them as investigating illegal drugs and that the cost of guns on the streets has declined drastically over the years. The black market is thriving under this.
I remember the justice minister from Edmonton at that time was warned by the member for Yorkton—Melville. He said that the black market was going to do well. She would not believe him. Here it is, the police officers themselves are saying that. Chief Catney said that about 1,000 crime guns were seized last year in his city alone. They were not registered and the registry did not help them all.
We all know what Chief Fantino of Toronto said. He said that this was a total waste of time, energy and money and they did not even use it.
I asked the CPA folks who visited me today whether they were part of the 2,000 hits a day that the government claims the police are doing on this registry because it is so wonderful. They said that they did approach it every once in a while but if they go back again and again, it is called redial. They cannot get through either. The Internet site is a dismal failure.
I have folks coming into my office who are trying to follow the program, and they cannot even get the application forms. Nobody answers the phone on the other end. An ex-RCMP staff sergeant, a tremendous guy, is the head of the CFC in my region and he cannot begin to keep up with all the calls that are coming through because there are no answers to the questions. Public safety, I do not think so. There is a lot of misdirection out there.
During question period the other day, I was talking about a multiple convicted child molester who had been released on the streets of my riding. Thank God the police warned the people about this guy being there because the government would not do it. This guy is a multiple offender, but the government will not put him on its sex offender registry because it will not be retroactive. It will not do the same thing with its DNA database. It will not go retroactively so these guys can be caught quicker. The Solicitor General has said that it is all about privacy and all about constitutional challenges. What is different between that and Bill C-68? The government is invading my privacy with a very intrusive form that I have to fill out. It is invading my constitutional rights.
Dr. Ted Morton from the University of Calgary did a tremendous paper on the constitutionality of Bill C-68. The government does not have a leg on which to stand. The Supreme Court does not have a leg on which to stand. To that end, the FSIN native group from Saskatchewan is challenging it. Eight provinces, three territories, everybody, is going to challenge this thing or not support it. This is a law to which nobody will adhere.
The justice minister said on March 21:
The criminal law is a blunt tool; it is only effective if it is applied consistently and if it reflects true social consensus on an issue.
That statement flies in the face of everything that is happening today. When he stood in the House this morning, why did he not say that what he said the other day and what he was saying today totally contradicted each other. He does not know from where he is coming. He is trying to get a political answer to a policy situation that has no merit.
I invite Liberal backbenchers to stand up tonight and vote against this money. They should not hide. They should not absent themselves from the vote because their folks at home will know. The whip told Liberal members why they should vote for it. She said:
I think that when Canadians elect a Liberal government, they expect us to fulfill the policies on which we ran, and that means that those people who ran on those policies and supported the gun registry in two elections are expected to support it.
A lot of those Liberals were elected in spite of the gun registry. Some of them were darn close, 50 votes and so on like that. This is the issue that will drive that wedge. Thankfully, folks out there are waking up and they will demand accountability on their folks here tonight. If it brings down the government, because the Prime Minister decides it is a confidence motion, then so be it. The public does not have confidence in this issue. They may have supported it at a cost of $2 million, maybe even $100 million, but at $1 billion and climbing, there is no support for this.
There is no public safety because a piece of paper beside my firearm does not make it safe. The illicit trade of guns has gone sky high, and the police do not have the resources to catch up to it.
Editorials are popping up all across the country saying that this registry should be scrapped, that it is not worth saving. The Australians are a couple of years ahead of us on this. Here are the first year's results in Australia: homicides are up 3.2%; assaults are up 8.6%; and armed robberies are up 44%. In Victoria alone, homicides with firearms are now up 300%.
We had a handgun registry. We had a long gun registry during the wars and during uprisings. In 1950 the justice minister of the day, Stuart Garson, told Parliament that 45,000 handguns originally registered in 1939 could not be found. They were lost. I happen to have a couple of those now. I am standing here as a criminal because some bureaucrat somewhere lost my registration from years ago. If I go to re-register these guns, I will be told I am a criminal just because someone messed up on the paperwork on guns that I owned. I am ready to fight that one all the way.
While the ownership of ordinary rifles and shotguns continue to remain completely unregistered following World War II, homicide rates and suicide rates in the forties, fifties and sixties were actually lower than they are today.
There we have it. This is a totally failed program. The minister stands over there and he will never release the numbers. Even the other day he was asked and he said that he could not release them, but he did release them. His deputy minister released them in the Senate.
When the Auditor General says that Parliament has been left out and totally misled, this again reinforces it. The government will tell the Senate committee but it will not tell us in the House.