Madam Speaker, I am pleased to pick up my comments from where I left off yesterday at adjournment.
Yesterday I talked about the great statesman and parliamentarian Sir Edmund Burke. Burke's position, when discussing bills and motions that lead to an end requiring a practical application of the laws that parliamentarians pass, was that parliamentarians should focus on those who do as opposed to those who simply pontificate when seeking the ends to a particular means.
The particular end we seek is the protection of our communities and families from criminals. To that end our government has done a lot of common sense things. For example, we have introduced legislation that would put violent and repeat criminals behind bars.
The opposition also seeks the same end, to keep our communities and families safe, but believes that compiling a list of those law-abiding citizens who own long guns somehow achieves that goal. However, Canadians know that logic is tragically flawed.
I want the Canadian public to grasp this point. The opposition parties think that compiling a $2 billion list of law-abiding farmers and hunters is more effective in fighting crime and exponentially less expensive than simply locking criminals up. That is the difference between us and the opposition on this matter.
As Burke said, let us look to those who do in this regard. Those who do are our front line police officers who day after day protect our communities. What do front-line police officers say about the long gun registry? During committee study on the private member's bill introduced by the member for Portage—Lisgar, Detective Sergeant Murray Grismer of the Saskatoon police said this:
—we recognize the cornerstone of public safety is the training, screening, and licensing of owners, not the registration of non-restricted rifles and shotguns.
He went on to say:
I don't rely on the Canadian firearms registry to protect my life.... I don't rely on the information contained there.
Finally, Sergeant Grismer provided this common sense advice to committee:
By having more members on the street, having a more visible presence, we make our society safer than we do by having a registry—
It is clear that the long gun registry does nothing to enhance public safety.
It is truly disappointing that the opposition parties oppose the government every time it takes concrete steps to protect Canadians and their families. The opposition would use the heavy hand of the Criminal Code of Canada to threaten and intimidate law-abiding farmers and sportsmen, while we would use it to keep drug dealers who prey on our children and sex offenders who prey on their innocence behind bars. That is the difference.
It is worth dwelling of these differences because we know that the opposition likes to engage in misinformation campaigns, especially on the issue of the long gun registry.
The main difference between the government and the opposition is a basic philosophical one. On our side of the House we believe in constructive politics and empowering Canadians. We believe that our role is to empower Canadians so they can work hard, raise families, and to the greatest extent possible keep the fruits of their labour.
The opposition does not believe in that type of Canada. Those members believe in the politics of division and fear. They want to pit rural Canadians against urban Canadians. They want to pit gun owners against non-gun owners. They want to pit the younger generation against the older generation. It would seem that the Liberal Party and now even the NDP have adopted the advice of Liberal pollster Frank Graves, who counselled the Liberals to pit Canadians against each other in a grand culture war.
It would seem that Mr. Grave's advice has been taken to heart, in how these two parties have decided how they will approach the issue of the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry. Instead of working constructively, these parties have held fast to their rigid ideology in order to divide Canadians.
In one barrage of misinformation after another, the opposition has fired the opening salvos in its divisive culture war. I am going to give a couple of examples of the type of tactic that the opposition is using.
On not one but two occasions, the NDP misled Canadians by posting pictures of restricted weapons on its website, suggesting that these weapons would no longer be registered if Bill C-19 were to become law. On another occasion, the NDP claimed that a restricted weapon would somehow become unrestricted if Bill C-19 were to become law. We all know it has nothing to do with restricted weapons; it has to do with the long gun registry of law-abiding hunters, farmers and sports shooters.
Spreading this type of misinformation and fear is morally and intellectually bankrupt. We have long known that the NDP and Liberals are not averse to using this type of strategy. What they are averse to using is the facts, logic and plain reason in matters of public policy. Nonetheless, the deliberate use of misleading information is a new low.
I began this speech by repeating Burke's prescription that one should always look to the practical means of achieving an end when deliberating a difficult question. We believe in the end of safe communities. I also believe that through some contortion of logic, the opposition also seeks the same end. However, in reaching that end, we believe in a robust regime of firearm licensing. We believe that one aspect of having safe communities is that violent repeat offenders should be kept behind bars. We do not believe that a $2 billion list of law-abiding gun owners is a prudent means of realizing safety on our streets and in our communities.
We have looked to the farmers and to the front-line police officers, and their message is clear: let us get serious about crime and do things that would actually keep our families and communities safe. Let us get on with passing our badly needed criminal justice reforms. Let us pass Bill C-19.