This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

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

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

Bev Shipley Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the--

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I am sorry to interrupt, but it will have to be a very brief question. There is only a minute and a half left.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

Bev Shipley Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

I will not take the whole minute and a half, Madam Speaker.

We need to resolve the problem. One of the key issues is that the registry targets innocent people and the NDP and the other side continue to vote against targeting criminals with the justice system.

It seems to me that if we are to resolve the issue, we first need to put the forces in place to correct the injustices done against criminals, because we are allowing them to get off free. Yet the members opposite want to target those who--

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. member has 30 seconds to answer the question.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Madam Speaker, our amendments are working to decriminalize law-abiding citizens, but we need to restrict guns overall.

If we look at the statistics, a study by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec estimates that 2,100 lives have been saved since the implementation of the Firearms Act. One average, one in three women killed by their husbands is shot, and 88% of those murders are done with legally owned rifles and shotguns. Moreover, long guns killed 10 out of 13 police officers in the past--

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please. On a point of order, the hon. government House leader.

Bill C-11--Notice of time allocation motionCopyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

February 7th, 2012 / 5:05 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, Bill C-11, the Copyright Modernization Act, will provide a boost to the digital and creative sectors, which employ Canadian in high-quality jobs.

This bill has already been the subject of 75 speeches in this House and an opposition motion to block it from ever getting to second reading. In the previous Parliament, by contrast, the identical bill was sent to committee after only seven hours of constructive debate.

I have made considerable efforts to get an agreement to send this bill to committee, but the official opposition will not commit to any reasonable, cooperative approach. Therefore, I would like to advise that an agreement has not been reached under the provisions of Standing Order 78(1) or 78(2) with respect to the second reading stage of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act.

Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the Crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at the said stage.

It is my intention to propose two further days for the second reading debate of Bill C-11. This would be in addition to the 75 speeches already given on this bill.

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

5:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please.

Resuming debate, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Madam Speaker, first of all, I would like to congratulate the government House leader for moving forward with Bill C-11. As we have just heard, it is a very important economic bill for this country. It is something that I think many Canadians agree we have been debating since the late 1990s in this House. I am very pleased to see the government House leader once again taking action in support of Canadian jobs, investment and Canadian creators. I think it is wonderful news.

I am pleased to voice my strong support to end the long gun registry and I would like to provide a little history for the House about my riding of Peterborough.

My riding is proudly home to the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, a group that has done so much in support of conservation and the rural way of life. It has long represented traditional Canadian hobbies and so forth and has done so with distinction. It is something that I know my community is very proud of.

I remember back in the mid-1990s when the long gun registry was first discussed and voted upon in this House. The member who represented Peterborough at that time did not listen to his constituents. In my riding, wherever you went there were vehicles parked everywhere with stickers against Bill C-68. Shortly after Bill C-68 was passed, there was vehicles everywhere with stickers that said, “Remember Bill C-68 when you vote”.

This issue was never settled. It was seen in my riding as an attack on the rural way of life, on farmers and on folks who have long enjoyed hobbies in the outdoors like hunting, fishing and trapping. For my first nations, for example, these are long traditional pastimes. What really offended them was that the gun registry targeted the wrong people.

I will never forget a great member of Parliament in this House shortly after I was first elected. His name was Myron Thompson and he represented the riding of Wild Rose. He gave a historical perspective of what was going on when the long gun registry was being contemplated.

Myron Thompson told this House about how he and a number of other members of the Reform Party at that time went to the then justice minister, Allan Rock, and suggested that what they would really like to see prioritized in Canada was the protection of children from adult sexual predators. It was something that Myron Thompson won awards for years later, his championing of the protection of young people.

He was told at the time by the ideological government of the day that it was not going to focus on that. Instead, it was going to create a long gun registry. The theory behind that was as flawed then as it is today. It targets the wrong people.

I have been a member in this House since 2006. I ran in three elections making one simple promise and one solemn vow to my constituents that, provided the chance, I would vote against the long gun registry. I would put all the resources that had been wasted and used ineffectively, as indicated clearly by the Auditor General, into tackling crime and targeting those who committed crimes with guns. What I and this government would never do would be to point the finger of blame for gun crime at law-abiding Canadians. For too long that has been the way things have been in this House.

It requires the most basic knowledge to realize, first, that firearms in the hands of law-abiding Canadians are no more harmful than any other piece of property. Second, inundating law-abiding Canadians with red tape will not reduce crime. It has not.

The numbers speak for themselves. No one can point to a single life that has been saved by the long gun registry. We hear numbers thrown around all the time. These numbers are purely fictitious.

They talk about how many times the gun registry is used or accessed every day. They know that this is for things as simple as writing a fine for a highway traffic act violation. It has nothing to do with the registry whatsoever.

We see a lack of knowledge about firearm issues too frequently in the opposition benches. The opposition members throw around terms like “sniper rifle” and empty rhetoric only to confuse and frighten Canadians about the real issues.

Let me clarify the issue once and for all. A sniper rifle is simply a rifle used by a sniper, nothing more or less. There is no difference between the firearms described by my colleague from St. John's East and any high-powered rifle used by hunters and target shooters. This type of misinformation shows at best a lack of basic firearms knowledge or at worst an attempt by the NDP to merely placate the wishes of special interest groups.

We saw this very behaviour just a few months ago. I would argue that the following was done deliberately to mislead Canadians. The NDP designed billboards featuring silhouettes of various firearms that it knew were restricted firearms and had nothing to do with the long gun registry. However, the NDP ran with them anyway, because facts for the NDP and the Liberals have no place in this debate. This is an ideological debate for the left. It is about going after the wrong people.

Ultimately, however, the debate always must come back to the people the long gun registry has affected: farmers, ranchers, hunters, trappers, sport shooters, first nations. They have broken no laws. What have they done to deserve this kind of targeting by government? They are Canadians who work hard, play by the rules, contribute to conservation programs and enjoy the freedom to go to a shooting range or to go on a hunting trip with their friends and family.

The long gun registry was created in the aftermath of a tragedy and we should all be mindful of that. However, that does not mean it was the right thing to do. It targeted the wrong people. The tragedy that occurred in Quebec at École Polytechnique was committed by a criminal. The bottom line is that if we are going to prevent things like that, we have to target criminal activity. We do not target everyone and consider them all to be criminals. That is what this legislation did.

Firearms owners have been told for years that something must be wrong with them. They have been made to feel at fault for gun crime as if gang-related gun violence were somehow connected to hunting or a shooting sport. It is not logical, it is wrong and Canadians see and know that. They understand that this was a waste of money, time, and resources and that it targeted the wrong people. Simply put, the logic behind the gun registry was faulty. Criminals do not register their guns; they buy them from other criminals. These guns are largely stolen and smuggled across the border.

The opposition members often cite tragedy. They quote groups and well-meaning individuals who have blindly bought into this ideology that somehow this registration system can protect someone. Some of them say, “You register your car, why not your gun?” I would say back to them, “Wow, that's really creative. How does registering anything prevent it from being used in a crime?” It does nothing.

Last year there were a couple of fatal stabbings in my riding, absolute tragedies. In fact, far more people are killed with knives than guns. Would they propose that we register kitchen knives? Should every knife in Canada be registered so that no one would be stabbed? This is a nonsensical, crazy ideology that has long targeted the wrong people. If they really want to target violence against women and crime in our communities, then let them stand, just once, in support of justice legislation that protects those who need protection from criminals. Do not treat every Canadian like a criminal, which is what they propose.

The former Auditor General had her word on this. She said that the data in the long gun registry are faulty and should not be relied upon. For a long time, the good people of my riding stood against this bill. I am proud to support this bill today.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Madam Speaker, that speech from the member opposite sure was a treat. Unbelievable. I really liked the part about how registering a gun the way one registers a car is absolutely crazy.

If the information in the gun registry is inaccurate, the government is to blame for making it so. That is utterly unacceptable.

The member thinks the numbers are made up? Honestly, that is incredible, especially since we know that one-third of all women killed by their husbands are shot to death and that in 88% of these cases, the murder weapon is a legal rifle or shotgun. Since the introduction of the gun registry, the incidence of spousal murder has dropped by 50%.

How can they talk about crazy, inaccurate numbers when we know that the incidence of this particular crime has dropped by 50% since the introduction of the gun registry? What is the connection? I would really like to know.

Why is the government trying to endanger women's lives by destroying the data in the gun registry?

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, with the greatest respect to the people across the way, when they quote numbers like that and simply say one out of three women who are killed at home are killed by a long gun, how were the other two out of three killed?

The bottom line is this. Why are we not looking at the three out of three and coming up with laws that actually protect people? A registry cannot protect people. Registering a gun can no more protect people than registering a car can stop someone from drinking and driving.

Those members should get their heads around the issue and understand that these are crimes. The way to target crime is by going after the criminal, not going after every law-abiding Canadian and branding them all as criminals. That is what the opposition seeks to do. It is shameful.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Madam Speaker, I have a quick question without using any of the rhetoric that has been brought up so far.

I am trying to follow the logic. The member makes the point that the registry is ineffective. He makes the point that the registry is a waste of money and does not work. Why does the government insist on maintaining the handgun registry? Would that not be a waste of money as well?

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, handguns, as members well know, have long been restricted. In fact, in Canada virtually very few people actually own handguns since they are prohibited in Canada.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

So it works.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

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

It works.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please. There are obvious differences of opinion. The hon. parliamentary secretary has the floor at the moment.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, the prohibition of handguns has largely meant that the number of them in Canada is quite low.

However, handguns are often used in crime, but they are not legal ones. They are not ones that are registered. They have not gone through any form of long gun registry. Even if they were, criminals use guns in crime, not law-abiding Canadians.

The opposition members want to target law-abiding Canadians. Now they are yelling across the floor, defending the fact that they want to target hunters and farmers, law-abiding outdoors people and first nations. That is who they want to target. They must all be criminals because they own a gun. That is their theory. Thanks for clarifying that.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the great work on the outdoor caucus. The recreational community adds significant dollars to our economy.

As a father of three daughters, what is our government doing to help keep our streets safe for women across the country?

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his support for all of the legislation that we have brought forward to tackle violent crime, including legislation that targets those who use guns in the commission of a crime.

I will make no apologies for ensuring that those who commit serious crime are going to do serious time in our country. However, those who abide by the laws, those who play by the rules and pay their taxes should not be targeted by government or the opposition, and that is what the long gun registry has done for too long.

I look forward to the vote tonight.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-19, a bill that if passed will mean the abolishment of the long gun registry.

As the opposition critic for public safety and as the representative for a community where gang and gun-related violence is a reality, where there have been four murders in the last month alone, I am fiercely opposed to the bill.

Abolishing the long gun registry is a mistake and I fear the impact this mistake will have on public safety.

The most saddening part about the government's motivation to kill the registry is that it is entirely political. It has nothing to do with public safety. Instead, it has to do with a reckless Conservative agenda on crime that will cripple our criminal justice system and cost taxpayers billions of dollars, all just to divide Canadians and score some cheap points along the way. It has nothing to do with the facts, but, sadly, facts are rarely a concern with the government, especially when it comes to public safety.

Last week in the Senate committee hearing on Bill C-10, the omnibus crime bill, the Minister of Public Safety told senators to ignore the facts when it came to public safety. He said, “I don't know if the statistics demonstrate that crime is down...I'm focused on danger”.

His statement, which seems completely absurd to most Canadians, pretty much summarizes the government's approach on crime. Its plan, as far as I can see, is to scare Canadians and then spend billions of dollars on policies that will not make our communities any safer, all the while convincing us that all of this somehow makes it tough.

My friends do not believe in facts, but I will give some to them anyway. Here are some facts about the long gun registry, which the minister and his colleagues on that side of the House are ignoring.

On average, one in three women killed by their husbands are shot and 88% of those women are killed with legally owned rifles and shotguns. Since the introduction of the gun registry, gun-related spousal homicides are down 50%.

Rifles and shotguns are the guns most often used in suicides, particularly those involving youth. These have decreased by 64% in nine years, from 329 in 1995 to 121 in 2005, with no evidence of substitution with other methods.

Long guns have killed 10 out of 13 police officers in the past 10 years. That comes from the 2010 RCMP evaluation of the Canadian firearms program.

The Conservatives are also ignoring the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, which has told them many times that the registry saves the lives of officers and that cancelling it would hinder their ability to solve crimes.

The Conservatives are ignoring the RCMP that has consistently defended its usefulness as an investigative tool.

The Conservatives are ignoring victims' groups that have spoken out in support of the gun registry. We heard from many victims' groups in committee.

The registry is not perfect. That is why New Democrats have been saying for many years that we need to find a way to address the problems with the gun registry, while strengthening gun controls in our country.

Our position is clear. We want to see the legitimate concerns of rural Canadians and aboriginals addressed, while ensuring that police officers have the tools they need to keep our communities safer. We want to bring Canadians together and find solutions, instead of playing games with wedge politics like the Conservatives are doing.

The NDP put forward a number of suggestions to address problems with the registry, while maintaining its value as a public safety tool, but the Conservatives refused to consider those solutions. Not only are they going to end the gun registry, but just to prove a juvenile point, the government is also going to destroy the existing gun registry data.

The money has already been spent. We have heard about it. It was $2 billion that my friends spent over the years to gather this information. It makes no sense to simply destroy it if there are police officers and provinces that want to use it to enhance public safety. Destroying existing information in the registry will not bring back the money that has already been spent. Why is the government going to effectively burn billions of dollars worth of data that Canadian taxpayers have already paid for when the provinces and the police are telling us that the data has a public safety value?

It does not make sense to me. What makes sense to me is to fix the registry so it works for all Canadians, rural Canadians, aboriginals and urban Canadians. What makes sense to me is to give the police the tools they need. What makes sense to me is to adopt improvements that New Democrats have proposed to strengthen the gun registry. What makes sense to me is to ensure that semi-automatic weapons, like the Ruger Mini-14, used by Anders Breivik in the recent Norway shootings and by Marc Lépine at the Montreal massacre in 1989, cannot be classified the same way as hunting and sporting shooting guns, to close loopholes around firearms importation that have led to guns ending up on the black market. What makes sense to me is to stop gun violence in the country using every possible tool that we have. What makes sense is to save lives.

Like Jack Layton said, “stopping gun violence has been a priority” for rural and urban Canadians. There is no good reason why we should not be able to sit down with goodwill and open minds. There is no good reason why we should not be able to build solutions that bring us together. There is no good reason why we cannot rise above the political games, fix the registry and make Canada a safer place for everyone: my family, the families of the members and families across our country.

I urge my Conservative colleagues to vote against the bill so they can work with the NDP to fix this so we have safer communities.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I did not catch all of the member's speech, but I did catch the last part. There is a quote he used that we really have trouble with because it is fundamentally not factual and it has never been able to be accomplished by the wasteful, ineffective gun registry. That was the Jack Layton quote that said stamping out violence, et cetera.

There is no evidence whatsoever that the gun registry, in the 17 years it has been existence, has ever contributed to stopping one single criminal use of a firearm. I have been waiting all through this debate for at least one shred of evidence, but unfortunately it is not there.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, here we go again, the Conservatives confusing the facts. Jack Layton and the NDP have always wanted to work with the Conservatives to fix the gun registry once and for all.

Let us work together. Let us take into consideration the concerns of rural Canadians, hunters and urban Canadians. Let us work together and fix those loopholes. That is what New Democrats have been proposing for many years. Unfortunately the Conservatives are not listening.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the reasoned tone and logic put forward by the member for Surrey North in contrast to other members who say that because people were killed by knives, there is no need to control guns, or that by registering, someone is imputed to be a criminal, which is nonsense, whether it is for cars, snowmobiles, dogs or guns. The member for Peterborough certainly brought forward some illogical arguments.

One thing I would like the member for Surrey North to comment on is the conclusion being reached by the members of the Conservative Party on less information about deadly weapons. Even in the hands of hunters and farmers, guns can be deadly. We see that from suicides and accidental shootings. Their conclusion is that less information can make Canadians safer and less control of these deadly weapons can make Canadians safer.

Could the member comment on the logic, or otherwise, of that?

Ending the Long-Gun Registry ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have been in the House all day today listening to our Conservative colleagues talk about abolishing the gun registry. I said earlier that there is no logic to their whole argument around abolishing the gun registry. In fact, they are going around in circles trying to generate some facts that are not there.

To answer my colleague's question, there have been four murders in my community over the last month. Illegal guns were used in those murders. I am very concerned about guns in the community, the ones floating around without being registered.

I urge my colleagues not to abolish the gun registry. We need to keep our communities safe and the way to do that is to register guns and know where they are at all times.