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House of Commons Hansard #75 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was firearms.

Topics

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, a woman who has been living in Canada for 47 years is at risk of being deported for stealing $80 worth of food. Under the law, Jeannine Poloni is considered a serious criminal. However, she suffers from mental health problems and she is distraught at the idea of having to leave the country.

Will the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism finally show a little bit of compassion and prevent this woman from being deported?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

3 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, obviously, Canada has an immigration system governed by laws that are considered during judicial or quasi-judicial processes. No one can be deported or removed at the border until their case has been reviewed by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, an application for leave is submitted to the Federal Court, a pre-removal risk assessment is conducted and, often, a claim for permanent residence on humanitarian grounds is filed.

That means that the system is very fair and generous to all applicants. Even foreign criminals have—

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Ahuntsic.

JusticeOral Questions

February 7th, 2012 / 3 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, in their many presentations on justice, the Conservatives have made fine speeches about the importance of helping victims. However, the report of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime and the emotional appeal of Isabelle Gaston, whose two children were killed by their father, reveal the lack of support for victims of crime and their friends and families.

Will the government stop its grandstanding on justice issues and support the Bloc Québécois bill, which would provide tangible assistance to the families of crime victims?

JusticeOral Questions

3 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, no government has been more sensitive to the rights of victims than this government. I am proud of that. In fact, we created the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime. We strengthened the victims' fund. In every piece of legislation we bring forward we keep an eye on the rights of victims.

This for once should have the support of the Bloc and everybody else in the House.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of the Hon. Darryl Hickie, Minister of Municipal Affairs for the great Province of Saskatchewan.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, during question period, in response to my question, the Associate Minister of National Defence said that I do not care about the well-being of the Canadian armed forces.

I would like to inform the minister that I served in the Canadian armed forces for three years and I can honestly say that I care a great deal. I would like to offer him the opportunity to withdraw his comments.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I am not sure that is a point of order but I appreciate the clarification.

Long Gun Registry DebatePoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, earlier today in this House I was speaking to Bill C-19 and I referred to and used the name Adolf Hitler. While the references to the gun registry and what this evil guy did to perpetrate his crimes are very clear, it was inappropriate to use his name in the House and I apologize to anybody it may have offended.

Long Gun Registry DebatePoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member said he was sorry for using Hitler's name, but he compared our former colleagues to Adolf Hitler. I would like him to apologize, not for using that name, but for comparing my colleagues to Hitler. That is unacceptable in a democracy.

Long Gun Registry DebatePoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I heard the hon. member apologize and withdraw what he said. It is usually the practice of the House that we leave it at that.

The hon. member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel.

Long Gun Registry DebatePoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I am usually not a person to question somebody's apology but I was in the House when the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound spoke in reference to Hitler and directly attributed him to our former colleagues. However, on these occasions when he actually specified and used the terms that he did, they were written and he read them out. They were not said by accident. I have no problem with the apology but the apology must be truthful and sincere.

Long Gun Registry DebatePoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor ConservativeMinister of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, the member has apologized and the apology has been accepted. We cannot keep grinding this around. He has genuinely apologized and it should be over.

Long Gun Registry DebatePoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

As I mentioned, it is the practice of the House that once a member withdraws a comment or apologizes it is left at that.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act, as reported (without amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Tobique—Mactaquac has two minutes left to conclude his remarks.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to complete my remarks. I just want to give a shout out to a couple of the ranges in my riding, in Springfield and Woodstock, that do a tremendous amount of work. They have a tremendous amount of volunteer effort to educate not only their young people and the kids but also the community on proper firearm control, safe handling and those types of things. I want to give them a shout out for all the great work they do and their work in building respect for firearms in our communities.

The third piece I want to talk about is that Bill C-19 is about protecting taxpayer dollars. We have had a lot of debate in the House and comments made about the $2 billion that was spent on a wasteful and ineffective long gun registry. The Auditor General's report talks about that and is very specific on that issue and the amount of faulty information that is actually within the registry, which means that it cannot be relied on by the police or by any other province in that respect.

Bill C-19, a straightforward bill, has been supported by 90%-plus of my constituents based on the polling that I have done. It provides for public safety, respects our traditions and, for the long-term, respects taxpayer dollars.

As a rural member of Parliament, I campaigned on this four times. I know my members support it and the people in my riding support this. I ask all the members in this House to support this bill today.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative member just made some comments about the inaccuracy of information in the gun registry. What I will point out is that he and his colleagues have been repeating, I do not know how many hundreds of times, completely inaccurate information about the original cost of building this registry.

The Auditor General herself in 2002 estimated the cost at about $1 billion. However, $150 million was recovered through fees. Therefore, it was actually a net of more like $850 million.

Somehow, somewhere along the line, somebody among the members opposite on the Conservative side of the benches decided to double this number of $1 billion to $2 billion and then, gleefully, the members have been repeating that fallacious figure every since.

I would appreciate the member looking at the record and actually showing a record of how the Conservatives are coming to the figure of $2 billion, which is inaccurate. It is double the cost of this major initiative.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, obviously the member's question is somewhat dated because that was back a number of years ago when the Liberals were talking about $1 billion. We are spending a tremendous amount on that. A CBC report said that it was $2 billion. I guess she must be questioning the CBC.

The other thing she is forgetting about is the system development costs and the enforcement costs that go along with it.

I feel that it is probably over $2 billion and we probably only have half our long guns registered. Where is the value for money in that?

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member who just spoke what he thinks of the fact that the Bloc Québécois had to present amendments, including one that conveyed exactly what Quebec's National Assembly wanted. The request came not just from some of the members, but from three ministers who specifically asked the Conservative government to let the Government of Quebec use the information that belongs to the people. After all, Quebeckers contributed some of their own tax dollars to pay for the gun registry. The only thing Quebec wants—and I am talking about the whole province—is access to the information so that the province's police forces can use it wisely.

Why is the government denying that request and refusing to vote in favour of the Bloc Québécois's amendment, which will be put to the House this evening?

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question.

It is a pretty simple question to answer when we look at the registry and the information in it. I talked a little before about the data and how poor the quality of the data are in the registry. It was emphasized earlier in the debate that we had somewhere between 43% to 90% error rate in some of the information in there. Furthermore, the registry is the data. It would be very disingenuous of the government to say that it will get rid of the gun registry and not get rid of the data, which is the gun registry.

I will make another point on this that I think is quite important. It was pointed out by the member for Yukon and I think it is important to say it again. We also heard that in the manual search conducted it was discovered that 4,438 stolen firearms had been successfully re-registered. With these errors, how responsible would that be for us to pass that over to any province?

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I found it interesting that the Liberal member's defence was that the previous Liberal government only wasted $800 million on the gun registry.

I am from an urban riding. In my riding, this issue is probably one of the most corresponded on issues in my six years as an MP, probably running about 95% in favour of abolishing the long gun registry.

From the hon. member's standpoint, why does he thinks Canadians feel so strongly about the need to get rid of the long gun registry?

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, in my remarks I pointed out three major reasons. One is about public safety because, if we look at what is in Bill C-19, we still have the licensing provisions and we still have the safety and the background checks. That is gun control, not a registry system.

The other thing people tell me when I am out in the riding every weekend is to get rid of the long gun registry. It is about the inaccuracy of the information and the waste of taxpayer dollars.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on Bill C-19, which seeks to abolish the firearms registry.

We have heard a host of good reasons as to why the firearms registry should be kept, such as its usefulness to the police forces and the prevention of violent acts. As a hunter, however, it is important that I speak about one particular argument that has not been the subject of much discussion since the start of this debate. I hope that my colleagues from the Conservative Party will listen closely to what I have to say, because I believe that I know what I am talking about, since I am a hunter myself.

I started hunting at three years of age. I did not hunt with a real weapon. My father built me a small wooden shotgun and took me hunting with him. I would sit on the three-wheeler and hunt partridges with him. I have not stopped hunting since. I have five weapons of my own at home: three 22-calibre shotguns, a 303 rifle and a 270 rifle. I hunt moose, bears, partridges and other small animals. So I think I know what I am talking about and that is why I want to discuss the issue.

When hunters ask me why I am in favour of the firearms registry, I talk to them about firearm theft. I explain it in simple terms. Before the firearms registry existed, wrongdoers, who perhaps needed the money, would enter houses and steal firearms. These were regular people, just like all the Canadians we represent. They would place a short advertisement in the newspaper in order to sell the firearm. When there was a potential buyer, the thief would explain that his grandfather had given him the weapon and that he was selling it because he did not really go hunting. He would say that he no longer had the papers because it was a long time ago and he did not know where they were anymore. That would always be a bit of an annoyance, but the seller would seem to be acting in good faith and knew what he was talking about. The buyer would tell himself that this was normal and would go ahead and buy the firearm. Consequently, when a firearm was stolen, there was no way of locating it.

Since the registry was created, when people put an advertisement in the newspaper, for example, to try to sell weapons they have stolen from other people’s homes, it is no longer possible. This is because when a potential buyer goes to see the weapon and expresses an interest in buying it, since it is a good model at a reasonable price, the buyer suggests calling to make the transfer. The person at the other end of the phone line tells him that the weapon was reported stolen, according to the information in the registry. That person then strongly advises the would-be buyer against buying the weapon. Of course, the police are notified and may take action to get the firearm back. If a person has stolen a firearm to use it for hunting, he runs the risk of being in the woods and having a law enforcement officer ask for the registration papers. If the person does not have the papers, the officer will check and see that the weapon was stolen. In either case, there is a chance of locating the weapon, which was not previously the case.

We have to understand that many firearms are part of family tradition. Many people have firearms that belonged to their grandfather and their great-grandfather and have been passed down from generation to generation. If they are stolen from us, even if someone could offer us a similar firearm, it would not be exactly the same. It would not be the one our grandfather went hunting with. There is great family attachment to these firearms.

Some firearms are now practically impossible to recover. Without the firearms registry, if they are stolen, there is virtually no way to recover them. The police have no way of recovering these firearms, unless they have some uniquely special feature. But when we talk about firearms from the 1960s, for example, one 22-calibre weapon with a wooden stock looks just like another 22-calibre weapon with a wooden stock. It is therefore extremely difficult, unless it is marked, to know whether that firearm is in fact the one that was stolen. It is practically impossible. Since we have had the firearms registry, thefts of firearms have declined significantly.

We paid for these data, as did hunters. That is why we want to preserve them. That is why, in Quebec, we think this is logical. The registry provides a degree of security because the police use it, but it also protects us as hunters because it reduces theft. If a theft occurs, and that cannot always be prevented, we have a chance of recovering the stolen firearms.

Another thing I must stress is the value of the firearms. Some of these firearms are worth a lot of money. Because they are used for hunting, a lot of money is invested to make sure they are functional. If the firearms registry is abolished and people start stealing firearms again, the owners might lose the money they have invested in this sport, which is an economic activity in Canada.

I have a firearm, a Ruger SR 10/22. I paid $600 for the firearm alone and nearly $300 for the sight. So I would be extremely unhappy if it were stolen, and even more so if there were no database that would allow it to be recovered. At least, with the firearms registry, a police officer can type in the serial number and the name of the firearm and see the ones that have been stolen. I would have a chance of recovering my firearm, but without the firearms registry, I would have no chance of that. It would be extremely complicated. The person who had stolen it would simply have to say, if asked, that they had lost the registration, that it is in their truck, that they do not know where it is. I think it is important to talk about this aspect because not much has been said about it.

Since I have enough time left, I would like to address another point. As some members know, I am a nurse by training. I have worked in hospitals and I come from a rural area where there are a lot of farmers. We know that farmers have suffered a great deal as a result of climate change, economic crises and the mad cow crisis. All those factors have had a considerable impact on farming. Some of our farms became unstable, economically, and were in distress. The stress level rose significantly among farmers. Most farmers have a firearm at home and use it for activities on the farm. For example, if a cow was attacked by wolves, the farmer could shoot it rather than leave it to suffer. It is reasonable for farmers to all have firearms. That is legitimate when you have a farm, I think.

I believe that the firearms registry can be used to protect people from themselves. When doctors and nurses see that a person is depressed and not doing well, they are able to determine whether the person has firearms at home and, consequently, whether they are a suicide risk. Firearms are not forgiving; it is not possible to save these people’s lives. When they are taken to emergency, it is often too late. Doctors and nurses can use this tool to determine whether a person is in possession of firearms. If the person does have firearms, they can be asked whether they would be prepared to take them to the police station until they feel better and get help getting back on track. Conversely, if the database is not accessible, this kind of prevention—helping someone and preventing something irreparable from happening—is not possible. That is another important point that I wanted to stress.

I want to ask the public to support us when it comes to the registry. I am a hunter and I really believe that the firearms registry can help to prevent the theft of firearms and stop people from burglarizing houses and stealing weapons. Without the registry, this is impossible.

I paid for these data and I would like them to be kept. At the very least, if the federal government does not want to keep them, it should transfer the data to Quebec so that people like me, who paid for the data, are protected. If this kind of thing occurs, there needs to be a chance of finding the weapons. That is what I want to emphasize.

I would ask everyone who does not consider my idea crazy and who thinks that I am perhaps right to write immediately and send a clear message to every Conservative member who is against this idea.