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House of Commons Hansard #41 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was firearms.

Topics

SyriaRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

We are under applications for emergency debates and the member has informed the Chair of his request to raise it, which is why we are dealing with it now. However, I am sure he will take up the parliamentary secretary's offer to discuss this for, perhaps, a take note debate.

The House resumed from October 28 consideration of the motion that Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Ending the Long-gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House to speak to the government legislation to end the gun registry.

This could be a serious policy matter for legislators to address were it not for the politics of the Conservative government and the mess made with the registry by the previous Liberal government. We could have a discussion on community safety; we could listen to our police; we could pay attention to the concerns and situations of all Canadians, including our rural communities and aboriginal people, but we have not.

The government is now bent not only on ending the registry but on returning this country to a place worse than when the registry was introduced. The government is bent on the destruction of the data collected for the registry that the police and the provinces want kept. The government that screams about the money wasted on the registry by the previous Liberal government is prepared to spend billions on a bonfire to destroy the records.

This law and order government will not listen to the police. The government that talks about respecting provincial rights and provincial jurisdiction will not listen to the provinces who want to keep the data.

All of this is because of an ideology that has nothing to do with community safety or the rights of our citizens.

Let us be clear about the legislation and all it does beyond ending the gun registry.

The legislation eliminates the requirement to register non-restricted firearms and destroys existing records of the long gun registry.

As a registration certificate will no longer be required to possess a non-restricted firearm, certain offences in the Firearms Act are being amended or repealed. The Criminal Code is also being amended so that the failure to hold a registration certificate for a non-restricted firearm does not give rise to any of the offences relating to unauthorized possession of a firearm and does not allow police to seize firearms.

Previous versions of the government's bill to dismantle the registry had a requirement for people to check that the person to whom they were selling or giving a long gun was a licensed firearm owner. Earlier versions also allowed for businesses to keep records of the sale of long guns as was the practice prior to the registry. The bill contains neither provision.

As New Democrats, we have made it clear that there is a better way to proceed. We can have good gun control laws and also address the problems of the registry.

In 2010 the NDP put forward a number of suggestions to address problems with the registry while maintaining its value as a public safety tool. The proposals included: decriminalizing first time non-registration of long guns, making a one-time offence a non-criminal ticket; enshrine in legislation that gun owners will never be charged for registration; prevent the release of identifying information about gun owners, except to protect public safety by court order or by law; and, create a legal guarantee for aboriginal treaty rights.

For the Conservative Party, which is now the government, the long gun registry has been all about politics and fundraising. For five years as government it never introduced government legislation to do away with the registry it hated. Instead, it used its opposition to the registry to raise funds for the party.

Despite campaigning to abolish the registration of long guns in the 2006 general election, the Conservative government never actually brought a bill before the House of Commons for a vote. Instead, it preferred to simply fan the flames of division between urban and rural Canadians.

As a resident of northern Ontario, I know of the significant criticisms from rural and aboriginal Canadians for the registry. Under the Liberal government's management, the implementation of the long gun registry was marred by long delays, fees for registration and significant cost overruns. It was not properly introduced or managed.

Our party's former leader, Jack Layton, understood the north and those concerns. In August 2010, building consensus across the country in cities in rural Canada, he said:

Stopping gun violence has been a priority for rural and urban Canadians. There’s no good reason why we shouldn’t be able to sit down with good will and open minds. There’s no good reason why we shouldn’t be able to build solutions that bring us together. But that sense of shared purpose has been the silent victim of the gun registry debate.

[The Prime Minister] has been no help at all. Instead of driving for solutions, he has used this issue to drive wedges between Canadians.... [The Conservatives] are stoking resentments as a fundraising tool to fill their election war chest. [The Prime Minister] is pitting Canadian region against Canadian region with his “all or nothing show-down”. This is un-Canadian.

This kind of divisiveness, pitting one group against another is the poisonous politics of the United States. Not the nation-building politics of Canada.

No matter our views on the registry, the government needs to get its head out of the sand and recognize some facts. We know how many times the registry is used. As of September 30, 2011, the Canadian firearms registry is accessed 17,402 times per day. We know there is value related to this registry that must be retained.

While there are significant cost overruns in the initial phase of registry set-up, as highlighted by the Auditor General's 2006 report which revealed that the cost of the Canadian firearms program had hit $946 million by 2005, by 2010 the cost of the registry was stabilized at about $4 million.

Some provinces want to keep the registry data and some do not. Let us allow each province to decide for itself. If Quebec wants the registry data, it should be Quebec's right to keep it. If Saskatchewan does not, Saskatchewan should be making that decision, not Ottawa. Yet the Conservative government that loves to preach about letting provinces decide now wants Ottawa to dictate that decision. What a strange day for a party that was born of Reform and Canadian Alliance parents who hated Ottawa doing just what the Conservatives are now doing to the provinces and regions.

I have received well over 600 emails over the last couple of days about the gun registry. I will quote from an email that I received from Michael:

[This government] has no right to destroy the Long Gun Registry. This information has been bought and paid for by Canadian Taxpayer[s].

Destroying it would be disrespectful to Canadian the Tax Payer, not that respecting the Canadian Tax Payer matters much to [this] government.

Barbara wrote in an email:

I hope all NDP members fight 2 save Registry Data. Data was collected by provinces and does not belong to the Federal Government. Take it to the Courts if needed; 60% of Canadians stand with you!

I received an email from Richard who wrote:

I agree that the long gun registry needs to be fixed but not abolished. There are people in the community that are informed and like gun laws.

Here is another email, this one from Jacques. He says:

The government has done three things that I am uncomfortable with:

1. Abolishing the gun registry even though police officers are asking that it be maintained. How can they justify allowing the free circulation of firearms?

I will not list the other two points that make this man uncomfortable since they have nothing to do with the gun registry.

As I said earlier, I have received hundreds and hundreds of emails, and I would like the government to reconsider keeping the gun registry data.

Ending the Long-gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, the member made reference to the costs of implementing the gun registry. I thought maybe he would take some shots at the Liberal Party.

My concern is that many outside professional groups have seen the value of the gun registry. We like to believe that governments make decisions based on information and facts and that it applies some common sense.

I can assure the member that typically this is what we have done as a party. We look to the member to provide some comment as to the direction in which he would be taking us if the NDP were in government. Would the NDP commit to reinstate the gun registry?

Ending the Long-gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Madam Speaker, the fact of the matter is we are not in government; we are in opposition.

What the government is going to do in the short term is get rid of the data that has been collected for the gun registry for the last 15 to 20 years. Some provinces want this data and some provinces do not. The government should allow the provinces to decide for themselves what to do with this data.

Ending the Long-gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Madam Speaker, I know the member opposite is passionate about the issue, but much of his information is very misleading. I cannot see how it is going to cost the federal government $2 billion to destroy the records.

Also, those records actually belong to the federal government and not to the provinces. This was federal government legislation and therefore belongs to the federal government. The Privacy Act says that the federal government cannot pass that information on.

Does the hon. member understand that particular aspect of this matter?

Ending the Long-gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Madam Speaker, I never said that destroying this data was going to cost a billion dollars.

Ending the Long-gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member for Nickel Belt about recent press coverage which suggests that the long gun registry was protecting us from more than the legal long guns used by hunters and by first nations, but also applied to such things as the semi-automatic self-loading Ruger Mini-14 and the Steyr Mannlicher HS50, a .50 calibre sniper rifle that can pierce armour.

These are weapons that have been used in the commission of crimes, such as the Norwegian bloodbath which occurred in the summer. I am wondering if the hon. member can speak to the increased risk to public safety from these weapons becoming delisted.

Ending the Long-gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Madam Speaker, there is a great risk to all Canadians if this gun registry is disbanded.

While I have the time, I want to read from another email that I received. Jason wrote:

I am writing you this letter in regards to vote to continue debate over [the long gun registry]. I am asking that you vote to continue the debate, and give yourself more time to hear the comments from your constituents.

I consulted with my constituents in all parts of my riding. The member for Portage—Lisgar was in my riding, in a hotbed of hunters in Cache Bay for a meeting on the long gun registry. Eighteen people showed up. This is a gun registry hotbed. Seven people were for the gun registry, two were my people, and that leaves 11 people.

What happened after this debate is that my polling numbers went up. The member came back a second time to my riding, to Sudbury, for the same thing. Again, my polling numbers went up. At the end of the day I beat my nearest opponent, the Conservative candidate, by 50%. I am very proud of the fact that I voted to keep the gun registry.

Ending the Long-gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the members for Portage—Lisgar and Yorkton—Melville for their work on this important issue. Their efforts have helped ensure that the government could bring forward Bill C-19 and finally rid Canadians of the failed and ineffective long gun registry.

As a retired member of the RCMP, I would like to relate what I saw as someone who was on the street for 20 years. Before I do that, I would like to speak to the amount of money that has been wasted on this registry and provide a different view on what that money could have been spent on. We know that when the long gun registry was introduced, the previous Liberal government indicated that it would only cost about $2 million. Yet, we hear that number is as high as $2 billion to date. If that money had been invested in crime prevention programs, such as youth or women at risk programs, they would not only have assisted police in their day-to-day investigations but provided opportunities for those in high risk environments.

This is also money that could have been spent on better investigational tools for the RCMP to investigate complex cases. It could have gone toward surveillance equipment, more police vehicles, a number of things to deal with day-to-day operations or more front line police officers. One thing that I have heard from the opposition is that there is not enough money for new police officers on the ground. In fact, the cost for a member in the RCMP is approximately $130,000 a year. That includes wages and equipment.

That would have equated to a total of 1,538 new members on the road since this gun registry was enacted if we base it on $2 billion. That in itself would have benefited all Canadians. Instead, the previous Liberal government persisted in building and maintaining a gun registry which did nothing to prevent crime and was not a viable tool for law enforcement.

I would now like to speak to my experience as a police officer. We have heard a great deal from the opposition about what a useful tool the long gun registry is for law enforcement. My own experiences do not support that. The point I want to emphasize the most is that whenever I investigated murders, domestic disputes, robberies, break and enters or any other crime, I always assumed there was a firearm involved. It is simply better to be safe than sorry. Gun instincts will serve police officers much better than relying on computer entry data. I want to provide a couple of examples of that.

When police officers approach vehicles during routine stops, they will have done the computer checks to determine who the vehicle belongs to, et cetera, but what they do not know is if there are firearms in the vehicles. Therefore, when officers approach vehicles, they will approach close to and behind the driver's side door, making sure the driver of the vehicle has to look back at them. If police officers walk straight to the door, they leave themselves very vulnerable. That is why police officers will always make the driver look back at them.

Another example is when police officers approach residences. They will always stand to the side of the door before knocking. Why? Because if a bullet is coming through the door, it will not hit them. That is just common sense.

Drug investigations are a different breed altogether. Having been involved in drug investigations for three years, more often than not when we found firearms, they were stolen and not registered. For the most part, criminals do not register their guns and I will explain why. It is due to the fact that when and if criminals apply for firearms licences, they are refused. That is because gun owners must undergo a rigorous police background check as part of the licensing system. Criminals work outside the system, just as they work outside the law.

I would also like to talk about a major flaw in the long gun registry that no one talks about. In fact, I have not heard it once in the debate from either side. In my experience, the system itself is completely unorganized.

Say, for example, that someone owns a long gun which is produced without a serial number, such as a Cooey .22 and there are many others. The process would be to register the firearm and then the sticker would be mailed, which would be attached to the long gun as the serial number. Sometimes, the owner would receive two stickers with two different serial numbers. This happens a lot. Members can imagine the confusion that this creates and also the lack of confidence it brings in the efficiency of the long gun registry. That is why, in my experience, it is simply not a viable tool to prevent crime or help law enforcement.

One of the most compelling things that this government is doing to fight crime in this country is the introduction of Bill C-10, safe streets and communities act. That is what I am hearing from police officers in my riding and across the country. The safe streets and communities act would deliver greater accountability for offenders, better justice for victims of terrorism, and would eliminate house arrest for serious crimes. It would eliminate pardons for serious criminals and sex offenders. It would strengthen penalties for drug crimes, especially for those that target kids, and it would produce better protection for children against sexual predators.

This is real tangible action that would give those on the front line the confidence that we as politicians are doing our job. It demonstrates that we as a government are working to give police the tools they need to get their jobs done. That was a commitment we made during the last election and it is a commitment we are delivering on.

Another commitment our government very clearly made was to scrap the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry. It is something that Canadians across the country have spoken out against. It is something we received a clear mandate to do on May 2 and it is something we fully intend to deliver on.

Ending the Long-gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, New Democrats have been saying for many years that we need to find a way to address the problems with the registry, while further strengthening gun controls. Our position is clear. We want to see the legitimate concerns of rural and aboriginal Canadians addressed, while ensuring that police have the tools they need to keep our streets safe.

I was listening to my colleague and he talked about how much we need more police officers on the street. I should remind him, and he can comment on this, why the Conservative government backtracked on its pledge to add 2,500 police officers on Canadian streets. Here we have a colleague who is saying that we need more police officers on the street but his government does not even believe in doing that. There are police officers across Canada who are saying that the gun registry is the proper tool to enable them to continue doing their job. Maybe he would like to comment on why the government, when it had the funding to do so, backtracked on providing 2,500 police officers. That was the Conservatives' promise.

Ending the Long-gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Madam Speaker, the Conservative government has fulfilled this promise to provide more police officers across Canada and, if we had possessed an extra $2 billion, as a result of this gun registry, we could have done a lot more.

Ending the Long-gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, the Government of Quebec has given a very clear indication that it would like to have some form of a registry and it is looking to Ottawa to support its initiative. The government in Ottawa, on the other hand, says it would rather press the delete button than surrender any sort of information to the Province of Quebec. As a result, that means that if the Province of Quebec is going to move forward, it is going to have to spend millions of dollars in order to recreate something on which the government is choosing to hit the delete button because it does not want to share the information with Quebec.

Would the member not agree that, by sharing the information with Quebec, the citizens of Quebec would benefit if the government was moving ahead because now the government would have extra money to invest in community policing, outreach and so forth? That is common sense. Would the member not agree with common sense?

Ending the Long-gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Madam Speaker, yes, I completely agree in common sense. However having said that, each province has its own prerogative as to whether it wants to open up its own registry. The information collected by the gun registry is under federal jurisdiction and I would encourage any province that wants to open it to go ahead.

Ending the Long-gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for his great service to the people of Canada. In my area I am privileged to work with the regional police services which offer a great service.

One of the misconceptions, which my colleague commented briefly on, is that police officers use the registry thousands and thousands of times a day or even an hour. We know that when they access those records, it is not always to check whether or not a gun is present.

The other comment the member made is that any police officer in any police service across the country would not assume simply because there is no gun registered that there may not actually be one there. I wonder if he could reiterate that and perhaps expand on his experience, and the fact that one always has to assume that there could be a firearm present in a scene where the police have been called to act.

Ending the Long-gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Madam Speaker, with regard to police officers who are attuned to ensure that their safety comes first, the best example that I can provide to hon. members is when a police officer approaches a vehicle. This is probably the toughest time for police officers because they utilize CPIC or NCIC which are the two databanks available to them. When they query CPIC, it automatically goes to the long gun registry. It is an automatic hit. It automatically happens. It is not necessarily that I have to personally do it. It is unbeknownst to me that it is going there. It checks against the driver and only the driver, not any passengers in the vehicle. If the driver of that vehicle is not the registered owner that becomes problematic. I believe it always comes down to a police officer's gut feeling.

Ending the Long-gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Madam Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House today on my own behalf, on behalf of Quebeckers and on behalf of my constituents in Alfred-Pellan in particular, to speak about government Bill C-19.

Today, I would like to begin by speaking about the gun registry from my heart and from personal experience.

I come from a Quebec family of hunters who have been hunting for many generations. And for the past two generations, there have been female hunters in my family as well. My older cousin was the first female hunter in the family, and I was the first on my father's side. I am proud of that. I began about four years ago, when my father decided to introduce me to hunting. There is an introductory program for new hunters who use rifles. This program allows anyone who has never had a hunting licence to get one and go hunting with an experienced hunter, who will show the new person the basics. This licence allows the holder to participate in any kind of hunting throughout the year. I began with deer hunting four years ago and fell in love with it. I loved being in the woods, walking, being there in the fall, feeling the wind and seeing how hunting works. I loved the experience.

The following year, I decided to take classes in order to get my hunting certificate. So that is what I did and now I have had my hunting certificate for two years. When my father explained to me how it all worked, he felt like a real mentor. He taught me with the help of my cousins, my uncles and that one female cousin. He taught me that safety is very important, that a firearm could not only hurt someone, but could even kill someone automatically, and that one must be very careful. He also told me how much he valued the firearms registry and how important it is. And he explained how easy it is to register a firearm in Canada.

In my family we are hunters and we all must register our firearms. We have to go through quite a process to prove that they are legal. It does take several weeks to register one's firearms, but that does not bother us. We do so quite willingly.

I am lucky to have been born and raised, and to still live, in the riding of Alfred-Pellan. Above all, I am lucky to represent the people of that community. Alfred-Pellan is a rather unique riding. It is located on Laval Island. Some 80% of its surface area is agricultural land, where there is nothing but fields and farmers working the land. However, the rest of the area is densely populated, with many young families moving there. There are lots of apartment buildings, some low-income housing and many condos. Two different worlds can be found there: one urban and one rural. It is rather unique. We are also fortunate to be very close to Montreal Island. We are lucky to have the best of both worlds.

When I learned that we were going to be debating Bill C-19, I went to speak with the people of Alfred-Pellan to hear what they think. I live in the part that is mainly agricultural. I know many of my neighbours, for I used to play in their fields when I was growing up. They were the first ones to come and see me when the discussions began. They told me that they were very conscious of just how important it is to keep the firearms registry. They are hunters and farmers themselves, and yet they want to keep it.

The people who live in the more urban area of my riding said the same thing. The people living in Alfred-Pellan are almost unanimous: they say it is critical to keep the firearms registry. Unfortunately, Bill C-19, which was introduced by the government, will eliminate the federal firearms registry.

What we are asking, and we are not the only ones, is that the data from the firearms registry be kept. Last week, the Quebec National Assembly voted unanimously to demand that the data be kept so that Quebec can create its own firearms registry.

It makes complete sense. As the Conservative member just said, if the provinces want to create their own firearms registry, they should go ahead and do it. Thus, the government is acting in extremely bad faith when it says that it plans to destroy the registry data, which cost $2 billion, that it is going to destroy all the data, and that the provinces will just have to make do. It will cost millions of dollars to recover all that data and it will be an extremely long process. I find it very sad to think that we cannot work as a team, all together, so that the provinces that want to keep the firearms registry are able to do so and those that do not want to keep it do not have to.

I live in a riding that includes both rural and urban areas. I am there every day. I am very close by. I also find it sad that the Conservatives are seeking to separate these two worlds. They are trying to divide Canadians on this issue. I find it very sad.

The NDP is trying to respond to the concerns of aboriginal and rural communities. At the same time, we also want to ensure that the police have the tools they need to keep our communities safe. The members opposite talk a lot about their bill, which seeks to make our streets and communities safe, but they also need to listen to what we have to say on the subject.

This bill was previously introduced in 2010 by a member, not by the government. At that time, we proposed a certain number of ways to resolve the various problems with the registry, since we are indeed aware that the registry is not perfect. However, rather than destroying all the data and destroying the registry, it is more important to improve it. So much money has been invested in the registry that the least we can do is try to improve it.

I will mention some suggestions made at the time. It was suggested that failing to register a gun be decriminalized for a first offence and that the person involved be fined instead. This would be a good way to decriminalize the registration of firearms. We could write into the law that long gun owners would not have to absorb the registration costs. It was also suggested that information about gun owners not be divulged, except when required to protect the public or when ordered by a court or the act. There was also the creation of a legal guarantee to protect aboriginal treaty rights. Members did suggest these different things.

I would also like to talk a little about the province of Quebec. Quebeckers unanimously declared that they want to keep the gun registry data. The politicians and the people want the registry and it is a tool that the police use every day. I know a number of police officers in my riding who have told me that they never enter a house without consulting the gun registry. Who knows how many times this has helped them before they have gone inside. It is very important for the safety of the police and the public.

What I have mainly been hearing from my constituents is that, right now, they are angry with the Conservative government. They are very disappointed and angry about what the Conservatives are proposing. What I hear people say most often is that we paid for the gun registry, we paid for the data. People are wondering why the government wants to destroy the data that taxpayers paid for.

As I mentioned earlier, the Liberals invested $2 billion in this gun registry. It has already cost a great deal more than what it was supposed to. Now it will cost another $2 billion to destroy it. It is unthinkable that a government that is trying to save money would destroy it. My suggestion is that the provinces be allowed to decide and that that the gun registry data be retained.

Ending the Long-gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member opposite for her comments on the government's promise made, promise kept to abolish the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry.

My hon. colleague opposite said that police officers would not enter buildings if they did not know that there were registered guns inside the building. I have had police officers, unsolicited, approach me to say that they were front line and the registry was useless. They said that they had to be prepared for anything when they responded to a call. I find it astonishing that she heard that from a front-line police officer.

Is the member opposite and her party committed to keeping the long gun registry if the Quebec government wants to have a registry? Also, if her party were ever to form a national government, would its position be to reinstate the long gun registry?

Ending the Long-gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Madam Speaker, the member opposite just asked an excellent question. We do see a duality within our country. As I was saying, it is not for nothing that Quebeckers want to keep the firearms registry. Quebec police officers consult the registry 17,000 times a day and they are asking that it be kept. Police officers in my riding have come to see me in person to say that they consult the registry. The Quebec National Assembly wants to keep the data from this registry because police officers want to consult it. The answer to the question is clear: Quebec wants to keep the registry and the data must be preserved because police officers in my province use it.

Ending the Long-gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, before asking my question, I would like to read from an email I received from Andréanne Joly from Kapuskasing:

Gun control works. Public health and safety experts have shown that tough legislation on firearms has reduced the rate of death by firearms. Issuing licences to owners and registering firearms are standard practices around the world. Abolishing the long gun registry will diminish our capacity to respect our international commitments on combatting trafficking in firearms.

In light of this email and the fact that over the past 10 years, 71% of spousal homicides were committed with a firearm and that 76% of those homicides were committed with a long gun, I support what my colleague is saying.

The Government of Quebec has asked that we keep the data. The Government of Canada says it wants to get rid of it. Can the hon. member perhaps compare this request and the government's response to with issue of the census? If I am not mistaken, the government did not get rid of the data from past censuses. The data are still available to help people make policy decisions.

Ending the Long-gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Madam Speaker, my colleague on this side of the House raised an excellent point. I liked her comments very much when she said that since the creation of the gun registry, we have seen a decrease in crime. The fact that long guns are often used in domestic disputes is also very important, as well as the fact that they are one of the main means of committing suicide. Police officers intervene and must enter a house in the case of a dispute, a suicide attempt or something like that. It is very important to keep the registry to protect the public and the lives of the police officers who keep our streets safe. I would like to reiterate that the Quebec government has asked that this information be kept. I hope that the government on the other side of the House will listen to the urgent demands from the province to keep this information, so that we do not end up spending millions of dollars more to put a gun registry back in place.

Ending the Long-gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Madam Speaker, I am very proud to stand today to speak in favour of Bill C-19, the ending the long-gun registry act.

On May 2, Canadians gave our government a strong mandate to end this wasteful and ineffective long gun registry once and for all. That is exactly what we will do.

For the past seven years I have heard concerns from my constituents about the effectiveness of this registry and the fact that it targets law-abiding citizens and not criminals. My constituents want effective solutions that keep their streets and communities safe. That is why our government has taken concrete steps to improve our justice system. We have put forward tough new sentences to keep dangerous criminals where they belong: behind bars. We have also made major investments in crime prevention.

This is how we keep Canadians safe: tough sentences and smart crime prevention funding. It is not by promoting a measure that is essentially a glorified list of non-criminals that has cost billions of dollars and focuses on people who are already, by nature, law-abiding citizens. Targeting people like hunters, farmers and sport shooters is not going to stop crime, and in fact it has not.

I would like to focus my remarks today on the dictatorial legislation that is the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry.

As I have already stated, the registry is a collection of data regarding law-abiding hunters, farmers and sport shooters that is held by the Government of Canada. These data had been collected with a gun to our heads, so to speak, and under the threat of extreme punishment, including serious jail time. In our view and my view, this is simply wrong.

I am one of those individuals who reluctantly registered my long guns under this threat. I waited until the very last minute in 2003 to register my rifles and shotguns. I was the mayor of my municipality at the time, a role that I took just as seriously as my role as a member of Parliament. I feared that should some overzealous conservation officer or policeman charge me for owning an unregistered gun that had been legal for all my life, it would give me a criminal record that would disqualify me from holding public office, including as a member of Parliament.

Registering my long rifles, many of which are family keepsakes, was one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make. I was made to feel like a common criminal if I did not comply, and it still sticks in my craw.

The previous Liberal government foisted this measure on law-abiding Canadians under the guise of preventing tragedies perpetrated by individuals who use firearms for criminal purposes. However, there is absolutely no evidence that the long gun registry has prevented a single crime or saved a single life.

I have heard the arguments from the opposition members, whose misguided view is that since Canadians must register cars, boats, ice shacks and so forth, then something as potentially dangerous as a shotgun or a rifle must also be registered. The key discrepancy shows, at best, a fundamental misunderstanding of the difference between administrative and criminal law or, at worst, a deliberate effort to muddy an important issue of fundamental liberty.

Guns do not kill people. Bad people with guns kill people.

If someone does not register their car, they will face a small fine, determined by the province in which they reside; if someone does not register their shotgun, they face the prospect of a criminal record or serious jail time or both. As Conservatives and as individuals who care about the protection of fundamental freedoms, we must stand up to say it is wrong to put people in jail for what amounts to paperwork errors.

My family, by nature, consists of law-abiding members of our community. My father, who is now 79, still hunts with me, my four brothers and many of his grandsons, including two of my sons. In fact, we will all be doing some deer hunting next week, which is an annual fall tradition. It is not just about the hunt or the kill; it is a family thing that has been going on for years in our family, and it will continue.

My dad also reluctantly registered his rifles and shotguns. He was issued a possession-only licence, or a POL, and was able to purchase ammunition for five years until his POL expired. Now, under the long gun registry, he is made to sneak around like a criminal and ask me or someone else with a valid POL or PAL to buy ammunition for his rifles, some of which he has owned since he was a teenager. This is just simply not right.

Bill C-19 is just a starting point. Bill C-19 does what we said we would do, eliminate the long gun registry.

As I said earlier, a person will still require a licence to own or purchase guns and ammunition. Further legislation will be required to make further improvements to this farce that the Liberals created. In my opinion, we need to merge the PAL and POL, so that there is one licence, and extend its duration from five years to ten. Also, anyone like my father, and thousands more across this country who, like him, have had a valid PAL or POL or a legal hunting licence in the past should be grandfathered into the system so that they do not have to prove again what they proved years ago, which is that they can safely operate a firearm.

Another change that I will push for is the creation of a prohibitive offenders registry. This registry would target people who have committed and are convicted of a firearms crime, the very people who give law-abiding gun owners a bad name. As I stated earlier, the gun registry is simply not an effective way to reduce crime.

As the hon. Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism so succinctly stated, “We measure results, not intent”. The results simply are that there is no correlation between crimes committed with long guns and the implementation of a measure that needlessly targets law-abiding hunters, farmers and sport shooters.

I would also like to discuss a portion of the bill that has received significant attention from both the media and the opposition, and that is the destruction of the records contained in the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry.

The fact of the matter is that on May 2, and for the last five years, we have told Canadians we would get rid of the long gun registry once and for all if given the opportunity, and Canadians can take that promise to the bank. Let us examine what that means.

The registry is composed of a few components. It is compelled by the force of criminal law to collect the personal information and data of law-abiding gun owners. We will end that. It is also the retention of records of law-abiding gun owners. Obviously, when we said we would scrap the long gun registry, destroying those records was implicit. I might add that it should also include the records of individuals who buy ammunition. I license my truck, but when I buy brake pads or tires for my truck, I do not need to show my driver's licence. Neither should someone have to show a gun licence to buy ammunition. I will work hard to change that.

The registry is the records and the records are the registry. I realize the NDP and the Liberals would have us hang on to those records so that they could more easily recreate a backdoor registry should they ever have the chance to do so. Our government will not allow for that.

As the Minister of Public Safety said, claiming you want to scrap the registry but keep the records is like a farmer saying he will sell you his farm as long as he can keep the land. That is the way some of the opposition members think on this.

Frankly, it comes down to a single imperative. We made a commitment to Canadians that we will no longer target law-abiding hunters, farmers, and sport shooters through the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry, and this is exactly what we will do. We believe, as I stated earlier, that Canadians should be able to trust their politicians. When they promise to do something or vote for something, there should be no question and no second thought.

On that note, I would like to remind the members from Skeena—Bulkley Valley and the Western Arctic, who have recently decided to turn their backs on the wishes of their constituents and turn their backs on the commitments that they made on May 2, that they are breaking their election promise to their constituents. The memories of voters are long, especially on this important issue. Several of my new colleagues on this side of the House know this very well. The members from Yukon, Nipissing—Timiskaming, Sault Ste. Marie, and Ajax—Pickering are here in large part because their predecessors forgot that they are supposed to represent their constituents to the government, not the other way around.

I hope that members opposite will listen to the views of Canadians and vote to end the nearly 17-year-old legacy of waste that is the long gun registry. In closing, as deer hunters in my riding, including myself, head to the bush next week, they can take solace that the government is finally getting rid of this hated, useless long gun registry.

Ending the Long-gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's comments. I do need to let him know that with respect to the last vote on the registry, the first place I went to was Wawa. It was the middle of hunting season, and a hunter came up to me and said, “Are you the one who voted to keep the registry?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “I want to tell you that you did the right thing, because registering my gun has never prevented me from going hunting.”

I also want to talk to my friend here about the statistics on domestic violence. One in three Canadian women who are killed by their spouses are shot. Eighty-eight percent of firearms are rifles and shotguns. Use of guns during these events has often resulted in multiple victims, and many times it is the children.

When a gun is involved, the chance of a woman's death increases by 12 times compared to other forms of violence. Even if guns are not directly fired on the women, they are often used as a tool of intimidation in rape or physical or psychological violence.

Finally, let us look at the statistics: there has been a 50% decrease in spousal homicides since.

Prior to the registry, businesses were required to keep records of the sale of non-restricted firearms. This bill makes no provision for reverting to that process. Why does the government want to reduce accountability and tracking of firearms beyond the repeal of the registry?

Ending the Long-gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her misguided question, or the misguided information before her question.

She represents a very beautiful riding; in fact, my family has had a hunting camp on Manitoulin Island for years. I am not sure if I am going to be able to join them, but my brothers and my dad will be heading up there in mid-November.

If anybody should be voting for this bill to get rid of the registry, this member should be. She mentioned a number of things. Domestic violence is a sad mark on any community and on life in general, but if we are going to concentrate on all things that contribute to domestic violence, are we going to ban kitchen knives, baseball bats, cast iron frying pans and whatever else? Let us be realistic.

We want to punish people who commit violent crimes. If the member is so concerned about violent crime, as she pretends she is, then she will be supporting our crime bill. That is the best way to deal with this.

Unfortunately, we will never eliminate violence in our society. It is too bad, but it is a reality. We have to admit that and do other things to try to prevent those kinds of things.

Ending the Long-gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Madam Speaker, I have a quick question for the member: what does he have to hide? What is the big deal about registering a gun? What does the member have to hide? If he has nothing to hide, then who is he protecting?

The member mentioned the fact that he has to show a gun licence to get ammunition. What is the big deal? What does he have to hide?