Mr. Speaker, the way the member for Malpeque used the words “gun lobby”, it was obviously intended as an insult to the people I represent in my constituency. The gun lobby, so-called, is mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and uncles and aunts who hunt and fish in this country and who dedicate themselves to the conservation of our fish and wildlife resources.
The members opposite want to narrow the debate and we are enlarging it.
As the chair of the Conservative hunting and angling caucus, I travel right across the country and meet with hunting, angling, and conservation groups. As a group, they are genuinely supportive of the common sense firearms licensing act, and even more supportive of the conservation measures this government has brought in, such as the national conservation plan. I am making the point that because most of the firearms owners are hunters, the act of hunting generates a spirit of conservation and a caring for the earth that the members opposite are actually attacking. They do not realize it; they think it is all about the guns. It is not. It is about a way of life. Many of us view the long gun registry and the comments by the members opposite, including by the member for Malpeque, as an attack on a way of life. I know they do not want to think of it that way. They want to narrow it down to an NRA gun lobby kind of thing. That is so far from the truth.
Our message from the Conservative hunting and angling caucus is resonating right across this country when we say and point out and prove that this party and this government and this Prime Minister and this minister are standing up for a way of life that millions of Canadian cherish. We have the recreational fisheries program. We have the national conservation plan. We have our national areas conservation program, the habitat stewardship program, and the North American waterfall management plan—the most important program of all—a continent-wide conservation plan encompassing three countries to conserve North America's waterfowl. Guess who supported, created, and funds that? North American hunters. That what my community does, I am so proud of them for what they do.
They were quite right in the early days of the long gun registry, realizing that it was an egregious attack on their way of life. That is what it really was.
The members opposite can bleat all they want that “It's not about the hunting and angling. We really care about public safety”. No, they do not. They are attacking a way of life because they do not like the people who participate in this way of life.
In Canada, there are four to five million people who hunt, fish, and trap. It is our duty, at least on this side of the House, to help preserve and protect this way of life. Again, I am so proud to be chair of the Conservative hunting and angling caucus and am proud to see the member for Yukon, my co-chair, a former conservation officer and wildlife biologist, who deeply understands this way of life, in the House today.
Again, what the common sense firearms licensing act would do is help preserve and protect this way of life.
We know that criminals are not licensed gun owners and that licensed gun owners are not criminals; but, again, the logic of the old Bill C-68 the Liberal government put forward burdens people who are not criminals while letting criminals off.
We see how the members opposite vote. Time and again, they vote against our strong, tough on crime justice bills, looking for root causes. Do members know what a root cause is? Basically, when someone commits a crime, the root-cause-types look at those of us who are law-abiding citizens and work hard and own property and basically say, “Well, it's your fault. You're the person and the group who made this root cause that caused the criminal to commit the crime”.
On this side of the House, we know that criminals commit crimes because they are not good people. It is as simple as that. That is common sense.
Again, what is really interesting is that when we eliminated the long gun registry, the crime rate actually fell. In fact, the year after the registry was abolished, gun crime in Toronto decreased by over 80%.
I am not here today to claim that these two things are necessarily linked. In fact, it is precisely the opposite. It proves empirically that measures make left wing politicians, like all of them across the way, feel like they are tackling crime and are generally not worth the paper they are printed on.
There is more to directly address the matter that is before us today. As I said, as chair of the Conservative hunting and angling caucus, I travel across the country, meet with wildlife associations, rod and gun clubs, and everyday ordinary hunters. Without exception, the first problem I hear about when talking about the federal firearms legislation is that there was no common sense. We are bringing common sense in. It is clear that the early laws drafted by the Liberals were crafted by someone who could not tell a rifle from a shotgun.
Let me talk about the Manitoba Wildlife Federation and what it had to say about this bill. It stated:
We support smart, cost effective firearms policy that keeps Canadians safe, but treats gun owners fairly. We applaud the Harper Government’s ongoing efforts to streamline firearms licensing in Canada to make it more effective and efficient.
This next one is very interesting. Pardon my Manitoba high school French, but it is by La Fédération québécoise des chasseurs et pêcheurs, or the Quebec Hunting and Fishing Federation. They said that they were “...thrilled with this initiative. Quebec hunters are very pleased with this bill because it simplifies the licence issuing process for law-abiding users, while reinforcing the concepts of safety and education”.
There are 575,000 Quebeckers who own firearms and enjoy hunting. We are going to make sure that every one of those law-abiding Quebec firearm owners and hunters knows exactly what is in this bill, and we think that they will react accordingly.
The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, 100,000 strong, stated:
...the changes introduced...by the...government...strike a balance between the need to remove administrative burdens on legal, law-abiding firearms owners in Canada, and the government's intention to protect and enhance public safety. In our opinion, they have succeeded on both accounts.
I have quotes from hunting and angling conservation groups right across the country, so this notion of the member for Malpeque that there is some kind of narrow base we are appealing to is utter nonsense. These are regular, common folk who know something bad when they see it and are applauding our government's efforts to protect and preserve the grassroots hunting and angling traditions in this country.
I will say a quick word on the authorization to transport. It applies only to restricted and prohibited firearms. The member for Malpeque clearly does not understand the difference between firearms. When the reclassification happened, the Swiss Arms and CZ rifles were reclassified simply because of how they looked, not because of what they did. They were semi-automatic firearms. I own semi-automatic firearms and other people in this room do as well. They were reclassified because of how they looked, not what they did. No one is proposing that any restricted firearms ever be legalized, like fully-automatic firearms. I certainly would not support that.
In terms of the ATT, every single time that a law-abiding shooter went to the range, he or she had to get a permit every single day. We have made it so that once shooters get there, the first ATT is good.