Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in today's debate on Bill C-391. I hope the members across the floor will respect the other members' right to speak in this House, since all members have the right to express themselves and their point of view regarding this fundamental and recurrent issue.
I would remind the House that Bill C-391 amends the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act, and repeals the long gun registry. This issue has been debated many times in this Parliament. It comes up again and again. In fact, it has been a recurrent issue since 2006, ever since the Conservative party decided to make it an election issue, among other things.
I would like to refresh the memories of members and give a little background. Why did Canada adopt this firearms legislation in the first place? Why did we adopt legislation to control firearms as far back as 1995? As the House will recall, Montreal suffered a terrible tragedy in 1989. An armed man entered a university in Montreal, the École Polytechnique de Montréal, and opened fire on students, professors and support staff. We have seen this tragedy repeated not only here, but in Colombine, in other places around the world, and across the United States.
In 1989, therefore, basic measures needed to be taken to control these widely circulated weapons. As a result, in 1995, we passed the Firearms Act. It was passed, but the Conservative government bring this debate back to the House over and over again. It is before us again today thanks to a private member's bill, Bill C-391. The House will also recall that in 2006, the government introduced Bill C-21, which also aimed to repeal the gun registry, which is essential, we insist, to ensuring social harmony in Quebec and in Canada.
This bill, which the government tried to convince the opposition was necessary, caused an outcry among the opposition. Thus, in 2006, Bill C-21 died on the order paper.
Why should we keep the system already in place? First, because we in Quebec do not subscribe to the Conservatives' ideological approach, at one time largely inspired by our neighbours to the south, which aims to increase the number of people in prison and to invest very little in prevention.
When we look at the numbers and compare the homicide rate in Quebec and Canada to the homicide rate in United States, we see that in the United States it is three and a half times higher than in Canada and five times higher than in Quebec.
This approach to filling our prisons cannot be justified. I say that in relation to the homicide rate in Canada. Let us look at some of the numbers and at the report commissioned by the Department of Justice on domestic homicide involving firearms.
In 1992, a study revealed that 85% of homicides were committed with a non-restricted rifle or shotgun. That Department of Justice study showed that in 85% of the cases, domestic crimes were committed with a non-restricted rifle or shotgun. Other figures show that in 1997, in the 51 domestic firearm homicides, rifles and shotguns, including sawed-off rifles and shotguns, were used in 76% of the cases.
As you can see, a large majority of homicides in Canada were committed with non-restricted rifles or shotguns. That is the first thing that should make us realize that the gun control registry is essential. On this side of the House, we have received support from a number of organizations that have told us they hope the gun registry will be maintained. Among them are police officers, to whom the Conservatives often turn for support for their justice bills and initiatives.
The second aspect to be considered is that this registry is also supported by organizations that work with people who have attempted to commit suicide. These organizations want to keep the registry simply because the statistics speak for themselves. In 1997, a report commissioned by the federal government indicated that, in 1995, 74% of guns recovered from the five locations after a suicide or attempted suicide were non-restricted rifles and shotguns.
Once again, rifles and firearms were used in 85% of domestic homicide cases and in 74% of suicides.
Therefore, it is vital that we maintain gun control and this registry. Of course some will try to propagate myths. They will tell us to look at how the registry has been managed and the dramatic costs of this registry in the past. It is true that administrative errors were made. However, I would like to remind you that the Auditor General of Canada, Ms. Fraser, indicated in 2002 that, even though there had been some problems with controlling costs, the firearms program cost $73.7 million per year and the specific cost of registering firearms was 14.6%. Thus, we have clearly managed to control the cost of this program.
We must reread history. We must remember that here, in Canada, we have had major tragedies. I will not talk about the Dawson tragedy but of the events at École Polytechnique de Montréal. All Quebec organizations agree that the gun registry must be maintained. We must have more effective gun control. Women, police, victims, those working to prevent suicide are all asking that it be maintained as well.
We will definitely be opposing this bill.