Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak in favour of the ending the long gun registry bill.
It has been nearly 17 years since the previous Liberal government imposed the wasteful, ineffective long gun registry on Canadians, which is ironic.
In March 2008, I was the first active RCMP officer to be elected to the House of Commons. It is also ironic that I was also the first Conservative first nations member to be elected to the House of Commons.
My riding is entirely in northern Saskatchewan, and is actually two-thirds of the province. Obviously, many of the communities are very remote. As a result, firearms are a way of life where I come from, and in my daily life in the RCMP, I saw firearms being used in a legal way. There are those who make their living as farmers and use a shotgun to protect their crops and livestock, and there are those who are first nations, Métis or non-aboriginal who use a rifle to hunt for sustenance. However, these facts seem to have evaded the previous Liberal government.
When the long gun registry was established as part of Bill C-68, it was done with the intention of protecting Canadians from gun crime.
I had five or six years' service when the gun registry was being imposed and I recall listening to my fellow RCMP members, the constables, the corporals and the sergeants. I heard them say that the long gun registry would be ineffective, that $2 million would not be substantial enough and that there would be lots of cost overruns. Obviously, it was ill conceived as its fundamental focus is on those who are predisposed to follow laws, regulations and rules.
It is abundantly clear that adding needless red tape to every long gun owned by a person in Meadow Lake, La Ronge and La Loche does nothing to stop criminals from getting their hands on guns in cities. The real way to ensure that we can keep our streets and communities safe is through smart investments in crime prevention and establishing tough, effective sentences for those who break the law.
It reminds me of one incident that took place. I was on patrol in a first nations community and saw someone drive a pickup truck down a road, turn to an approach and then turn its lights off. I proceeded to follow. Upon entering the residential lot, I saw an offender pointing a rifle at a residence with individuals inside. I exited the vehicle and he nearly turned his gun on me.
It is kind of ironic that less than a year later we had to investigate a murder in which this individual, in a rage of anger, had thrown his young infant son against a door frame. If the proper sentencing had been in place to deal with this offender, I believe that this offence would not have been committed and one more young child would have become an adult.
Through these measures we can ensure that crimes do not happen in the first place and that dangerous criminals who insist on harming others are kept behind bars where they belong.
Over the past five years our government has taken concrete steps in both these areas. Then as now, we are committed to keeping Canadians safe and not increasing needless bureaucracy.
Frankly, front-line police officers agree that the long gun registry is not a tool that is useful in day-to-day operations.
I served as an RCMP sergeant. I can say from experience that decisions that my colleagues and I made regarding our safety were not based on information we obtained from the long gun registry. Every complaint was always treated as a firearm complaint. Even when we were serving a summons or a subpoena, we treated the residence as if there were a firearm inside and took the necessary precautions.
Members opposite, specifically the NDP member for York South—Weston, frequently suggest that eliminating the long gun registry will lead to the death of police officers.
I have another personal experience. At 9:25 p.m. on July 7, 2006, in Spiritwood, Saskatchewan, I was on duty and on patrol. A domestic assault occurred in which the mother and sister were assaulted by Curt Dagenais. Subsequently, a pursuit ensued in which chase was given down remote grid roads. As a result, two members were shot and mortally wounded. The members' names were Marc Bourdages and Robin Cameron. One week later, they died from their wounds. This is something I remember every day. Was the gun registered? Yes.
I think there is more of an underlying issue there. The individual had continuous run-ins with people in authority, from transport police to the RCMP to anyone in authority. The individual also faked his own death.
Under our omnibus crime bill, if that individual were charged today, we would still have those two members here working and serving our country.
Any time police officers go into a potentially volatile situation, they do so knowing that there is always a chance someone will have a firearm or other weapon. There was a time when I would leave home knowing the risks of putting on the uniform and knowing that it might be the last time I would see my family.
A list of all weapons, not to mention a list that is well known to be inaccurate, is not a reliable tool. To say that a vote to scrap the long gun registry is a vote against the safety of police officers is simply not accurate.
I want to be clear. The NDP and the Liberals claim to be standing up for law enforcement, when, in reality, it is only our government that has consistently delivered to our men and women in uniform.
Every time a measure comes to the House to give police the tools they need to do their jobs, be it tougher laws, better investments or more funding, police officers from coast to coast to coast count on the opposition to obstruct, delay or oppose them, which is why I find it strange that members opposite are all of a sudden best friends of those in uniform.
When I look at our Conservative caucus, I see 11 members who have all served our country. We have all taken the risks to serve our country. At one point or another, all of us have had to make a decision to go into volatile situations where our lives were deeply at risk.
I was a police officer and I did not find the long gun registry to be a useful tool to prevent crime. Last Friday, I sat with six members from Prince Albert and all of them said that we should get rid of the long gun registry.
First, as a police officer, I can tell members of this House that the long gun registry is not a tool to prevent crime or to keep Canadians safe. In fact, the Canadian Police Association stated:
The Government received a clear mandate from the last election to proceed with their proposed changes to the long-gun registry.
We respect the message that voters have sent on this issue.
...any changes would have minimal impact on public safety.
We look forward to continuing to work with the Minister to find effective tools and resources to keep guns off our streets....
We're quite satisfied with the efforts this government has made to work on behalf of front-line police officers, specifically with respect to the comprehensive justice legislation that has been a priority since the last election.
I challenge any member who votes to keep a $2 billion boondoggle to show me a single statistic that empirically proves we are safer with these measures.
Second, the long gun registry targets the wrong people, the northerners, the first nations, the Métis and law-abiding duck hunters.
I call on all members of this House to support this very important legislation and to ensure its speedy passage.