House of Commons Hansard #102 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was french.

Topics

The House resumed from October 27 consideration of the motion.

Income Support Program for Older WorkersPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on Motion M-285 under private members' business in the name of the hon. member for Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #120

Income Support Program for Older WorkersPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

It being 5:55 p.m. the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from September 28 consideration of the motion that Bill C-391, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act (repeal of long-gun registry), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Mississauga South has seven minutes left for his remarks.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are dealing with private member's bill, Bill C-391.

I have always been very supportive of private members' bills. It is an important opportunity for individual members to express their views on issues that are very important to them and I respect them very much. We expect that they should provide clear, concise and correct information that is represented in a manner which is truthful and plain. The integrity of the bill is being scrutinized now, here at second reading, before it has a vote whether or not to go to the committee to have some witnesses.

Bill C-391 says it is an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act regarding the repeal of the long-gun registry. Bill C-391 does not repeal the long gun registry, period. If we turn to the summary of the bill, right in the published material itself, it says:

This enactment amends the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act to repeal the requirement to obtain a registration certificate for firearms that are neither prohibited firearms nor restricted firearms.

It means that the registry will have to continue. It means that there still will be a registry that has prohibited and restricted firearms.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

An hon. member

What is the point?

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, a member asks what is the point?

I would just say that if members are going to be truthful and plain, they have to be honest with their colleagues in the House and with Canadians that this bill does not abolish the registry. The Minister of Public Safety said in question period, “We want to abolish the firearms registry”. This bill does not do that. Those are the facts. It is not my opinion.

I was here in 1993 when we went through the process of an extensive review, consideration and consultation. It took almost two years by the time things got settled. It cost about $2 billion, ultimately, all in, for this registry to actually get up and be operational.

It was never going to cost that amount. However, about 90% of the registrations that were put in were deliberately put in with errors and omissions, which required extensive human resources. Someone had--

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. We will have a little bit of order for the rest of the hon. member for Mississauga South's remarks.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, 90% were deliberately put in with errors and omissions. A substantial number of people had to be hired to individually contact all of those registrants to get the information correct. It took a lot of time.

In addition, based on the information that we have, the National Rifle Association from the United States was working to get people to flood the registry, to crash the system, so that it would not be operational.

There was also a significant misleading public relations campaign, which took substantial cost to respond to, so that Canadians had the correct information about what was happening and why. At the time it was being promoted that somehow we wanted to take people's guns away from them. This was a substantial problem and it took a lot of money to put in, but that was a one time cost.

What is the annual cost of administering the current firearms registry? The member did not say it in her speech because she did not want to take people's attention away from a bigger number.

According to the work done by the Auditor General and also by the RCMP, the annual cost of administering the firearms registry is $15 million. According to the RCMP, the annual savings by retaining the registry, but just for restricted and prohibited firearms, would be only $3 million. If this bill passes and gets to committee, it is important to determine that because it means this bill is only about $3 million a year. What can we get for $3 million? I will get to that.

Members may remember the riots in Los Angeles, which I must admit was a terrible situation. People were trashing their own neighbourhoods. When it was all over and their neighbourhoods were trashed, they said, “There, take that”. They were hurting themselves.

Why is it that we force a system to incur a $2 billion bill because people are opposed to it? Because that is the democratic process. There is not much we can do about it when people want to oppose something like a firearms registry.

The member suggested in her speech that the firearms registry does nothing to end gang violence, drug crime, gun crime, make the streets safer, protect communities, help our police officers or reduce domestic violence. The registry does because police officers on the front line have said many times that knowing where those guns are in a volatile situation helps out.

We cannot expect the $3 million in savings to somehow solve all the problems of the world.

In her speech the member referred to and attributed information to the Auditor General of Canada, and she referred to the 2002 report. The latest Auditor General's report was in 2006 and the Auditor General said that the registry was making significant progress.

I do not understand why all the relevant facts have not been put on the table. I do not understand why we deal with sloganeering and all kinds of misinformation.

I will be opposing Bill C-391 at second reading.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

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.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

October 28th, 2009 / 6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in this House to speak on behalf of the constituents of the great Kenora riding, particularly with respect to Bill C-391.

Outside of the serious impact of the global recession and the work that we needed to do, I do not think there is a single bigger issue than dismantling the long gun registry. I have heard it at the doorsteps of thousands of constituents throughout my riding as I have canvassed and campaigned. I am here today to take my 10 minutes to speak on behalf of the majority of constituents in my riding who want to see the long gun registry dismantled.

I applaud my colleague, and neighbour, so to speak, out there in Ontario for the work that she has done and the work of a couple of key MPs in this regard.

Today I want to talk about the whole idea of gun-related crime. This is something that this government has taken very seriously. Our government has been committed to making our streets and communities safer for all Canadians since we were first elected in 2006. In fact, since we have taken office, we have followed up on a real commitment to reduce gun-related crimes with concrete and tangible initiatives to get tough with criminals.

Our government has stood up for average Canadians time and time again in the face of never-ending opposition to our tough on crime legislative agenda by the obstructionist Liberal-dominated Senate. Despite the opposition in the Senate, this government introduced and passed the Tackling Violent Crime Act. It contains tough measures to battle gun-related crime.

There are now mandatory prison sentences for criminals who commit crimes with guns, tougher bail rules to make it easier to keep people accused of serious gun crimes off our streets, and provisions that make it easier to keep the country's most dangerous, violent repeat offenders behind bars where they belong.

Our government is committed to continuing this work to get tough on crime. We have before this House many other pieces of legislation to keep law-abiding Canadians safe from those who choose not to live within the bounds of the law in our civil society. One of them is a bill that would change the so-called faint hope clause which gives some people convicted of serious crimes a chance at early parole. If passed, that legislation would close the revolving door that allows convicted criminals back out on our streets after serving as little as a Liberal one-sixth, as we call it over here.

We will continue bringing legislation forward that focuses on the protection of honest, hard-working Canadians. As our Prime Minister has stated, our government's approach to criminal justice is fundamentally different from our predecessor's. We believe that the central purpose of the criminal justice system is not the welfare of the criminal; it is the protection of law-abiding citizens and their families.

Canadians across this country hear media reports on a crime that is committed with guns on an almost daily basis. This concerns not just Canadians who live in large urban centres. We do, from time to time, see gun violence in smaller towns and cities as well. The fact is that almost all of these acts of violence were committed with handguns.

Our government has always contended that the long gun registry could be misused and that information contained in it could be compromised to the detriment of law-abiding gun owners across this country. As the member for Timmins—James Bay has said:

I would say that the people in my riding are very responsible gun owners. They have had a lot of resentment about how the registry was implemented, and a lot of that resentment has been well founded.

The constituents of the great Kenora riding share those concerns.

We saw the extent to which the long gun registry could be misused a couple of weeks ago when it was widely reported that the information contained in the registry was handed over to a private polling company. Constituents in my riding were called without any consultation or any regard to the privacy concerns or interests of the information contained in the registry records.

I can think of no greater example to point to for the justification of abolishing the unfair, burdensome, unnecessary and costly long gun registry.

That is really what the bill before us today is all about. It is about making sure that we continue to preserve and enhance those measures which do work to reduce crime and protect Canadians. It is also about making sure that we do not unnecessarily penalize hard-working, honest, law-abiding citizens with rules that have little effect on crime prevention or reducing gun crime.

What, then, does Bill C-391 do? Let me be clear, first and foremost, that the legislation before us today removes the need to register non-restricted firearms, such as rifles and shotguns that are not otherwise prohibited.

Today, such non-restricted firearms are primarily used by our first nations communities, in my riding of more than 320,000 sparkling square kilometres of great hunting terrain, for tradition and recreation; by some farmers, not so many in my riding; by sports hunters and people who enjoy rifling, such as myself; by folks who want to protect their livestock or hunt wild game. They are rarely used to commit crimes. We know that is the case, thanks to a recent study published in the Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice which noted that most of the guns that are used to commit crimes in Canada are handguns smuggled in from the United States.

That said, Bill C-391 does not do away with the need to properly license non-restricted firearm owners, nor does it do away with the need for the owners of other types of weapons to obtain a registration certificate as well as a licence.

Registration of restricted and prohibited firearms, including all hand guns and automatic firearms, would continue to be maintained by the RCMP's Canadian firearms programs.

I can assure my colleagues and all Canadians that farmers, duck hunters, target shooters and other law-abiding citizens, under Bill C-391, will still need to go through a licensing procedure. To obtain a licence, they must be able to pass the required Canadian firearms safety course. It is a rigorous course. I have taken it. It is an important reminder to me of the concerns we have to have for the safe handling and storage of firearms.

They will also need to pass a background check, performed by the chief firearms officer or representatives who employ law enforcement systems and resources to ensure that the individuals in question have not committed serious criminal offences in the recent past, are not under a court-sanctioned prohibition order for firearms, and do not pose a threat to public safety.

Bill C-391 retains licensing requirements for all gun owners while doing away with the need for honest and law-abiding citizens to undergo the burden of registering their non-restricted rifles or shotguns, a burden which has no impact on reducing gun crimes in Canada.

Over the last three years the Government of Canada has passed legislation to tackle violent crime and violent gun crime, as I alluded to earlier, by introducing mandatory prison sentences for gun crimes, as well as reverse bail provisions for serious offences. These changes were long overdue.

We have provided more money to the provinces and territories so that they could hire additional police officers. The government has committed to helping the RCMP recruit and train more personnel. Our government has taken action to help young people make smart choices and avoid becoming involved in gang activities through programs funded through the National Crime Prevention Centre.

We need to ensure that we have a system to screen prospective gun owners that is effective and efficient. That is why this government has invested $7 million annually to strengthen the front-end screening of first-time firearm licence applicants, with a view to keeping firearms out of the hands of people who should not have them.

We have to ensure that we have a mechanism in place to keep firearms out of the hands of those who threaten our community, our safety and our lives.

As I wind up this speech, I just want to urge all hon. members to review the real facts, to listen to Canadians from the great Kenora riding and many other ridings that are large in size and have predominantly remote and isolated rural communities, and to respect our way of life. I urge them to support the vast majority of people who believe that the long gun registry unfairly penalizes law-abiding citizens who live in our ridings.

Therefore, I am confident that members will approach today's debate with an open mind and, when the time comes, will vote accordingly.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to be able to take part in this debate and to explain my views regarding gun control in Canada, the firearm registry in particular and the whole issue of Bill C-391, which was presented by the member for Portage—Lisgar.

First, I do have some experience with firearms. I did 10 weeks of basic military training as part of a summer job back in the early 1970s. I handled the semi-automatic rifle, a rocket launcher and handguns. I did it with the Black Watch reserves on Bleury Street in Montreal and I have maintained a wonderful relationship with the Black Watch ever since. Here is to the Black Watch. One of the aspects of the training was being able to strip weapons down and reassemble them in complete darkness. In fact, in that particular group, I was the one student employee who was able to do it the fastest.

I also spent summers on my grandmother's farm in Manitoba and had the opportunity to go with her when she went to hunt and shoot down some of the pesky animals, the critters, that were eating her chicken coop.

I also took part in the parliamentary program with our military forces and spent a week on one of our frigates, the HMCS Winnipeg. I had a wonderful time with the defence critic for the Bloc Québécois. There, we participated in their firearms practice several times. We had a great time there as well.

So I am familiar with firearms. Perhaps I am not as familiar as someone who is an ongoing hunter or belongs to a sporting or rifle club, but I do have familiarity. I have to say that I am a strong proponent of strong, effective gun control in general.

Second, I am also a strong proponent of the firearms registry. I am not alone in that. The Canadian Police Association and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police are also strong proponents of both effective gun control and the firearm registry.

I would like to give some other facts. We have heard some facts or alleged facts from some of the members opposite, so I would like to provide some of the other available facts. In 2008, police services queried the firearm registry 9,400 times per day on average. That is over 3.4 million times per year. This included over two million checks of individuals, 900,000 address checks and 74,000 checks of serial numbers on firearms. I am not the one giving that information. That is from the firearms registry. That is from the Canadian Police Association and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.

On April 7, 2009, the Canadian Police Association sent a letter to our public safety critic and others. The association made that statement. I just quoted those numbers from the Canadian Police Association. If the members from the Conservative Party who are heckling me are saying that I am wrong, then they are also saying that the Canadian Police Association is wrong when it actually put those figures in its letters.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

You are just not being honest about what the numbers mean.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. Unfortunately, there are no questions and comments periods during private members' business, so I can understand the frustration of some MPs who might like to ask questions. However, we will control ourselves and allow the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine to finish her remarks.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the April 7 letter, the Canadian Police Association talks about the importance of the program and why registration is such a key component. Let me just quote some of the reasons that the Canadian Police Association gives for supporting gun control and specifically the firearms registry:

Licensing firearms owners and registering firearms are important in reducing the misuse and illegal trade in firearms for a number of reasons.

1. Rigorously screening and licensing firearm owners reduces the risk for those who pose a threat to themselves or others. Already there is evidence that the system has been effective in preventing people who should not have guns from gaining access to guns.

2. Licensing of firearm owners also discourages casual gun ownership. Owning a firearm is a big responsibility and licensing is a reasonable requirement. While not penalizing responsible firearm owners, licensing and registration encourage people to get rid of unwanted, unused and unnecessary firearms.

3. Registration increases accountability of firearms owners by linking the firearm to the owner. This encourages owners to abide by safe storage laws, and compels owners to report firearm thefts where storage may have been a contributing factor. Safe storage of firearms.

4. Registrations provides valuable ownership information to law enforcement in the enforcement of firearm prohibition orders and in support of police investigations. Already we have seen a number of concrete examples of police investigations which have been aided by access to the information contained in the registry.

The Canadian Police Association gives 10 reasons for supporting the firearms registry. I will not go through them all, but I would be more than happy to table a copy of the letter if the members in the House would agree to that.

I would also like to quote from an email that I received on October 28, 2009 from a constituent of mine, Ms. Rosemary C. Reilly. Ms. Reilly is an associate professor in the Department of Applied Human Sciences at Concordia University, and she also resides in my riding. In her email she states:

Dear Ms. Jennings:

I am growing increasingly concerned about the private members bill C-391. This bill, named an Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act, seeks to dismantle Canada's gun control laws. As my MP I urge you to vote against it.

I say to Rosemary that she can rest assured I will be voting against Bill C-391. She goes on to state:

The story around the gun registry often ignores the role long guns play in domestic violence. Rifles and shotguns are the firearms most often used to kill women and children in domestic violence. 88 percent of Canadian women killed with guns are killed with a shotgun or a rifle, the very guns that supporters of Bill C-391 say are not the cause of gun violence. 50 percent of family homicides end in the suicide of the murderer, indicating that the key to protecting women and children is thorough screening in licensing and licence renewal for gun owners.

Rosemary Reilly goes on to state in her email:

Our gun laws have been recognized worldwide as an effective tool for reducing gun violence targeting women. The number of women murdered with firearms fell from 85 in 1991 to 32 in 2005. In contrast murders of women without firearms declined only slightly during the same period of time.

Information about the guns that individuals owns is essential to Canada's police agencies...

Then she goes on to quote the same statistics that are quoted in the Canadian Police Association's April 7 letter. I assure Rosemary Reilly I will be voting against Bill C-391.

I believe there should continue to be a firearms registry and I also believe that long guns should be part of that firearms registry.

People in my riding have not been immune to gun violence. People in my riding, in my city and my province have also been victims of long gun violence, not just handgun but long gun violence, and I believe that the firearms registry should continue.

I call on the Conservative government, if it truly believes the firearms registry should be dismantled, to bring its own government legislation forth and not to go behind and use a member of its caucus to bring forth that legislation in its stead. It should have the courage of its conviction and should bring forth government legislation abolishing the firearms registry, in particular for long guns.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand today to speak to Bill C-391.

Fourteen years ago the biggest boondoggle, I believe, in the history of Canada started. Thanks to the 14 or 15 years of work by the member for Yorkton—Melville and with the culmination with Bill C-391 brought forward by the member for Portage—Lisgar, we finally will correct something that has been an anvil around the necks of the taxpayers of the country for 14 to 15 years.

The member across the way and some of her colleagues always embellish figures. If they would even talk about something close, we might slightly believe them, but the figures are so far out that it is just beyond imagination. There is absolutely no evidence that the firearms registration has played any role in the reduction of crime.

Domestic firearm deaths were declining at the same rate prior to the implementation of the Firearms Act in 2001, as after, not only in Canada but in the United States as well. What may have been a factor was the vastly increased screening provided by the licensing system. Although that is still unproven, the licensing system has had a significant impact in denying legal firearms to those who should not have them.

While each incident of domestic homicide is very tragic, spousal homicide with a long gun, thankfully, remains a very rare crime in Canada. We will as a government, however, continue our efforts to ensure the increased safety of all Canadians.

That is why Bill C-391 does not change anything in the licensing system. Licensing of the individual is the key to identifying potential threats and taking appropriate action. We have already made considerable effort to significantly expand the screening process for new licences and those changes are in place and working effectively.

The registration of the individual firearm has never been a significant factor in the prevention of violent acts, domestic or otherwise. A good example of that is Canada has had one of the toughest handgun laws in the world since the mid-1930s and it does not eliminate crime or even reduce it to a fair extent.

However, this has nothing to do with that. We have no intention of taking away the handgun registry. Instead, we should take the money out of this wasteful long gun registry and put it toward trying to stop the smuggling of illegal guns coming in from the U.S. and other countries around the world. That is where we need to put our resources.

Another thing the opposition always likes to touch on are all the hits on the gun registry on a daily basis. The RCMP claims there have been 10,288 hits per day in 2009, but only 20 of them deal with registration inquiries of all types, non-restricted, restricted and prohibited. That comes out of the Canada Firearms Centre. All other information inquiries will still be available to police as they are from the licensing database. As well, only the non-restricted registration inquiries will be absent. Handguns and prohibited firearms will still be available.

I have a brother-in-law who has served on the police force in Toronto for quite a few years and is now with the Kitchener-Waterloo force. I have not asked only him this question but many police officers because a lot of them are friends of mine. If they were to get a complaint on a domestic incident, they checked the registry and found there were no guns in that house, would they be expected to leave their guns in the car expecting there to be no guns in the house? Of course they would not. They have to treat every instance as if there could be. The gun registry does absolutely nothing.

Whenever police officers access a Canadian Police Information Centre for whatever reason, such as for a simple address check, an automatic hit is generated even though we all know the information has nothing to do with it. Those members are fudging the numbers and doing it deliberately. I am sure they do not honestly believe it.

The Toronto Police Service, which I mentioned, has 5,000 officers. The Vancouver police force has 1,400 officers. Ottawa, where we all work out of on a fairly regular basis, has 1,050 officers. The B.C. RCMP has more than 5,000 officers. Not counting all the other police forces in between, when we add them all up, we can just imagine how those members come up with this number. However, the bottom line is only 20 out of all those hits actually mean anything.

Additionally, every legal purchase of a firearm generates three administrative hits to the registry, for the buyer, for the seller and for the firearm itself. These changes to the computer records are conducted by police agencies and are counted in the totals. Given the seven million firearms registered in the system, legal transfers and computer-generated inquiries account for the majority of hits. Clearly, a hit on the registry does denote actual investigative use. It is pretty clear to me.

Our government has consistently made the safety of Canadians a higher priority than any government in history. Elimination of the registration requirement for non-restricted firearms, and that is the key, while retaining strength in the licensing system, will have no negative impact on public safety.

Over the years that I have had the pleasure of working out of the House, I have done a number of polls in my riding, through my householders, comments that feed back and whatnot. Consistently, those surveys have come in between 84% and 95% in favour of getting rid of the gun registry. The most recent one done in my riding by a radio station last spring, May or June, came back at 92%. It remains very strong. That is not going to change.

However, the one thing I think I put a lot of weight on is what police officers and police chiefs say, and I have talked to a lot of them. A local police chief in my riding, from the biggest urban centre there, said to me “Get rid of the gun registry. It's an anvil around our necks”, meaning his force. I have never yet met a police officer in my riding who will tell me that the gun registry helps him in his job.

I had something sent to me. This is from an RCMP corporal who requested to remain anonymous for fear that his statements might affect his job. I can understand that and I will honour that. However, he offered this assessment:

I certainly do not understand how the CAPC can claim that the registry is a useful tool. I think their doing so is more a statement of how long it has been since any of them has been in touch with front-line policing. I have never once in my career found the registry to be in solving a single crime, and can say without a doubt that I have never witnessed the long-gun registry prevent a crime.

I have another comment from a Mr. Robert H.D. Head, assistant commissioner now retired, of the RCMP. He states:

As a life member of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, I have watched with interest their endorsement of the long-gun firearms registry since it was first introduced in the House of Commons as Bill C-68. At that time, it was reported that Bill C-68 was wholeheartedly endorsed by the CACP. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

Those are his words. He goes on to say:

Although the Chiefs did have majority support, it was far from “wholehearted”. At that time and apparently continuing to this day, their endorsement seems more political than practical. Members of Parliament from all political parties have an opportunity to right a wrong and support Bill C-391. Let us all hope that they have the intestinal fortitude to act accordingly.

I certainly will be supporting the bill. It is time to quit the charade and quit wasting Canadian tax dollars. Let us take this money we will save, and put it in to stopping the smuggling of guns and whatnot, especially in our large urban centres. I realize there is a problem with illegal handguns there. Let us do that. At least we will get some benefit out of our dollars.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

There being no other members rising, I will go to the hon. member for Portage—Lisgar for her five minute right of reply.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, as we come to the close of the second hour of debate at second reading stage of this bill, I would like to read into the record some of the feedback that I have received. I have received numerous emails, letters and phone calls. Although hunters, farmers and sports shooters have contacted me, the majority of the correspondence has been from front line police officers who are concerned. It is important that as we look at ending the long gun registry we look at what police officers are saying.

Chief of police Rick Hiebert in Winkler said:

As the Chief of the Winkler Police Service I would like to offer my support for Bill C-391. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police does not speak for all active police chiefs when supporting the long-gun registry. I personally believe it is time to put an end to the long-gun registry and use that money to focus on criminals and illegal gun activity.

I want to read one more email I received today from a high-ranking police officer from Toronto, who asked to remain anonymous. He said, “I'm a firearms owner and believer in firearms accountability. I do not believe that the registry has made my job easier or safer. Further to that, it has not made public safety better and it has created a false sense of security. I'm in support for a change to this legislation for the better”.

As legislators, as individuals who represent the great country of Canada, we have an obligation when we see a bill that has not worked to address it honestly and change it. That is why I have introduced Bill C-391.

We do have a problem with gun crime in Canada. I agree with the concern shown by members of Parliament who represent large cities and urban centres that we have a problem with gun crime. However, the long gun registry has done nothing to help reduce crime in cities.

Many of the concerns that have been brought forward are addressed under the licensing process, and it is important that Canadians understand this important part of our gun control. It truly is gun control; it is the licensing process.

Individuals who have a record of violent crimes, criminal behaviour, domestic violence are denied a licence, and that needs to continue. However, the long gun registry has done nothing to actually end gun crime in Canada. If it did, I believe individual police officers would come forward. They would be calling me or writing me and telling me to continue with the long gun registry because they need it. That is not what I am hearing.

As we look back over the last 10 years of this boondoggle, of the waste of money that has gone into this long gun registry, let us look at it honestly and look at the facts.

The long gun registry has done nothing to reduce crime. The long gun registry creates a false sense of security. It actually creates a shopping list for gangsters and individuals who want to break into that long gun registry, and it has been breached over 300 times, and target long gun owners to try to steal their firearms. The registry is actually a hindrance to fighting crime in Canada.

This is important legislation. We are being watched as members of Parliament on what we do to fight crime in Canada. We need to focus on criminals and criminal activity.

I ask for the support of those members in the House who have said in their ridings that they will not support the long gun registry. I ask them to be here on November 4 and support this bill, which would end the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry once and for all.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The time provided for debate has expired.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.