Mr. Speaker, to finish my speech, I would like to mention two main things about Bill C-19, or two arguments that have been repeated and that need to be corrected.
My first point—and we agree with the government—is that the cost of initially implementing the registry—over $2 billion—was far greater than what was planned and announced by the Liberal government in office at the time. The cost of implementing the registry was staggering. However, the registry now exists. I found it interesting that the member for Cariboo—Prince George was asked a question by a member of his own party about the annual costs. He was unable to respond. I can say that the current costs are minimal compared to the program's contribution. The registry currently exists. We can use it.
It is a little bit like if someone decides to renovate his or her basement. That individual is told that the renovations will cost $10,000 but, in the end, they actually cost $50,000. Will the person completely scrap the renovations because they cost too much? No. That person will work with what they have got. The fact that the registry initially cost a lot of money—$2 billion—does not justify eliminating it. That does not make any sense. The registry currently exists. The operating costs are minimal, and the registry has many benefits, as I mentioned in my speech before question period.
The second point that I would like to make is that the Conservatives have now decided that abolishing the registry means that all the data must be destroyed, even though the provinces—Quebec, among others—want to keep this data to manage their own program. The Conservatives are saying that they mentioned doing this in their election campaign, but I honestly did not hear anything about it.
The hon. member for Beauce said that this falls under federal jurisdiction, but justice is a shared jurisdiction. The Criminal Code does fall under federal jurisdiction, but the administration of justice comes under provincial jurisdiction and, as far as I know, the Sûreté du Québec does not fall under federal jurisdiction. So now we should all be able to agree. The NDP did its part to search for a middle ground between the government, which wants to completely abolish the long gun registry, and those who want to keep it, including the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. Such groups suggest, and rightfully so, that the registry is used repeatedly and regularly. Many of my colleagues have made that argument. I know that the police forces in my riding of Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques use it. I know they use it especially frequently in cases where there is a risk of domestic violence. This argument cannot be casually dismissed, which is what government members so often like to do.
The firearms registry should be amended to eliminate the sticking points that we have mentioned, that we continue to mention and that I talked about before question period. Those sticking points can be eliminated. My constituents in Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques have said that corrections must be made, including decriminalizing a first offence when someone fails to comply with the registration requirement. There are other sticking points. The NDP is prepared to sit down with the government to eliminate them and ensure that the registry continues in the same direction.
This is an important policy issue. This is not a trivial matter or delay tactic, but rather a fundamental issue concerning Canada's social fabric. That is why we want to work with the government to amend Bill C-19, but we will not be voting in favour of this bill in its current form.