Mr. Speaker, it is really an honour to follow my colleague, the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, an MP who has fought long and hard to get rid of Bill C-68. The people in the riding she represents have appreciated that to the extent where they have elected her on five consecutive occasions. They have worked with her and have been of enormous assistance particularly in the fight against Bill C-68 and the efforts to scrap it.
I am pleased to add my voice to those who support C-19, the ending of the long-gun registry bill. It is long overdue. As many of my hon. colleagues have observed, this is not a new issue; we have been discussing this for many years.
I have to mention that some of us who are still in Parliament remember that fateful day, December 5, 1995, when the then minister of justice, Allan Rock, because of a Liberal majority was able to get Bill C-68 passed, despite the mountains of evidence that simply registering a firearm would not stop criminals from using firearms in a violent fashion, to rob somebody or to intimidate somebody. There was no evidence that would stop that at all.
Instead, with the passing of that bill, Mr. Rock turned millions of law-abiding firearm owners in this country into what the Liberal government determined to be criminals, despite the fact that the firearm owners had observed every firearm safety law that there was. They had shown their competence to own and use a firearm. They had licences. Despite all that, the Liberal government said that it did not trust them. The fact that they had used their firearms peacefully for many years, and some for many decades, was irrelevant. The Liberal government said that it did not trust them to be competent and experienced, and to obey the law.
The Liberals decided to make people register their firearms and put their names on a list that would give the government and the police authorities all kinds of unconstitutional powers to monitor and check on them. Notwithstanding that these people had never committed a crime in their lives and that they were law-abiding people with families, people who used their guns to hunt or for sport shooting; notwithstanding the mountains of evidence that they were competent and capable of using a firearm, the Liberals did not trust them.
The Liberals told people that by passing Bill C-68. On that fateful day, December 5, 1995, I was joined by my colleague from Yorkton—Melville, who has been a champion of getting rid of the long gun registry. I was in the company of the member for Calgary—Nose Hill, who is the current Minister of State of Foreign Affairs for the Americas and Consular Affairs. I was joined by the member for Vancouver Island North, who is the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. I was joined by the member for Vegreville—Wainwright. Indeed, I was joined by the member for Calgary Southwest, who of course is now the Prime Minister of Canada and leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.
Our leader promised that we would put an end to the gun registry, and now we are keeping that promise.
In particular, this is an issue of great importance to my riding of Cariboo—Prince George. It is a fairly rural riding with about four areas that we would call cities and towns. There is a lot of rural area.
There are many farmers, outdoor enthusiasts, forestry workers, miners, and many people who spend their time making a living in remote areas of my riding. These are folks who grew up using long guns and who use them sometimes in their day-to-day lives for work and recreation. It goes with the territory of the riding of Cariboo--Prince George. In short, long guns have been in use for many decades in my riding and they are used in a lawful fashion by law-abiding citizens.
Of course, every part of the country has people who use firearms for criminal intent, but they do not much care whether the firearm they are using is registered or not. As a matter of fact, they spend a lot of time looking to purchase or acquire smuggled illegal firearms that come from all parts of the world into Canada through criminal organizations. They do not really care much about the long gun registry and they are going to commit their criminal offences with firearms anyway.
The use of long guns has been a fairly normal part of life in Cariboo--Prince George for hunting, outdoor activity, sport shooting, and on the shooting range. What else is normal is that in my riding office since 1995, we have literally received thousands of cards, letters and phone calls from concerned constituents who want to know when we are going to get rid of the long gun registry that the Liberals put in. It started one day after December 5, 1995. We were charged with the responsibility of getting rid of the long gun registry. It has been a long fight. I have to admit sometimes it seemed like it was just a dream, but we are here with a strong, stable, majority Conservative government, and a Prime Minister who made this promise that we would get rid of the long gun registry. He is keeping his promise. This bill, Bill C-19, is going to do exactly that.
Our Prime Minister made that promise. The member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke made that promise. I made that promise. The member for Yorkton—Melville, my colleague from Vegreville—Wainwright, my colleague from Vancouver Island North, my colleague from Calgary—Nose Hill all made that promise. Led by our Prime Minister, we are keeping that promise today, which is more than we can say for some of the NDP members who made that promise to their constituents and had no intention of keeping it.
The people who have been calling us and asking for our help to get rid of the long gun registry are good people who care passionately about this issue. These are not criminals who are calling us, because after all, criminals do not care whether the firearm they are using in a criminal activity is registered or not.
As a matter of fact, I believe that the criminal elements in this country are responsible for bringing in illegal firearms. In December 1995 they were cheering on the then minister of justice, Mr. Rock, because all of a sudden, their market became pretty darn good for criminals who wanted to acquire firearms. I do not doubt that the price went up considerably when Bill C-68 was brought in.
We have been dealing with that criminal element by bringing in a multitude of anti-crime bills, and we are going to keep doing that. We are going to show the criminal element in this country that they cannot commit crimes under a Conservative government and get away with it. We will put them in jail. We will give them meaningful sentences that fit the crime that they commit.
When Bill C-19 passes, we will have fulfilled our promise to law-abiding firearm owners that we do not consider them to be criminals as the Liberals did and the NDP do. We are going to recognize they are law-abiding citizens capable of owning long guns without having onerous legislation like Bill C-68 breathing down their necks every single moment of their lives.