Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and talk about what I believe is very important legislation. It is legislation that comes from a great deal of concern that Canadians have expressed to the government in the last year, and it is an issue that has been at the forefront in many communities in all regions of the country even before the last national election.
We saw a commitment given by the Liberal Party of Canada to look at ways to enhance background checks, for example, to have some sort of accurate and consistent classification. Legislation that was brought in from the Harper government said that we wanted to determine what would be a prohibited or restricted weapon and give that determination to politicians, as opposed to allowing the RCMP to make that determination. That is the direction the Harper government had taken on that issue.
As a result of that and other concerns, it was widely believed there was a need to bring in legislation that would make our communities safer. That is what we are talking about today in the form of Bill C-71. I have been following the debate and listening to what members across the way are saying, in particular last night when at times we were having a fairly heated exchange. Conservatives often refer to Bill C-71 as a way in which the government is trying to create a registry. There is really no truth to that whatsoever.
The Conservatives are trying to go back to the days when there was a long-gun registry and our Prime Minister has been very clear on that point. In part, the Conservatives have felt frustrated because we are keeping to the word of the Prime Minister when he said we would not be creating a long-gun registry.
No matter what we say in the House, we have had direct quotes from the Minister of Public Safety and others indicating that this does not create a registry. When the bill went to committee, the issue again came up. It was quite telling when the Conservative critic for public safety proposed an amendment to ensure, “For greater certainty, nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to permit or require the registration of non-restricted firearms.”
The Conservative Party brought forward this amendment. That amendment passed unanimously, by all members of Parliament at the committee, the Liberals, Conservatives, and New Democrats. It ultimately led the member for Red Deer—Lacombe to clearly state, “everybody at this table agrees that this is not a registry”.
Let us contrast that to what members in the Conservative Party were saying last night in the House. They were trying to convey a message that this is all about a registry. Collectively, the Conservative Party is trying to mislead Canadians as to what the bill is about. They are doing it for all the wrong reasons.
The Conservatives want to divide Canadians and spread a mistruth about good legislation we have, legislation I believe the vast majority of Canadians would be very supportive of.
I would suggest Progressive Conservatives would be supportive of it. I understand former member of Parliament Jason Kenney, now leader of the Conservative Party in Alberta, supports certain aspects of the legislation, from some of the comments he has made. For example, I made reference to the enhanced background checks and licence verifications. There are certain situations in society where one should seriously consider not allowing ownership. Domestic violence is a great example of that. This legislation would enhance that aspect. That is a positive thing. I believe people of all political parties recognize the value of that.
It would also standardize the retail record-keeping. During the eighties and the first few years of the nineties, there was a registry maintained by retailers. It is my understanding that in the United States it has been ongoing for years. I was once told that the NRA, which many suggest is fairly right on the issues of anything related to guns, supports retail gun registries. I believe we will find many of the retail outlets are gifted these logs. They are encouraged. I see going back to the way it was, having these retail registries, as a positive thing. In the past, Conservatives have agreed to them.
Getting back now to this whole idea of the accurate and consistent classifications of firearms, if we were to canvass constituents on whether politicians or the RCMP should be doing the classification, I believe we would find a great deal of support for having the RCMP doing it. They would feel much safer with the idea of the RCMP doing it. The RCMP is dealing with the issue at the ground level.
When I think of Bill C-71, it is about making our communities safer. It is not about what the Conservatives are trying to tell Canadians it is all about, which is a gun registry, because that is just not true. In the backrooms, we will find Conservatives will admit that is not true, but it does not fit their narrative. I find that to be very unfortunate. When I am in the community of Winnipeg North, I see many of the concerns many urban and rural community members have, as well as the types of responses we have been getting to the legislation overall. I would suggest this is good, sound legislation, and the Conservatives are determined to prevent it from passing. I find that unfortunate.
I understand my New Democratic friends, and possibly the Green Party, are going to be supporting Bill C-71. If that is the case, I applaud them on making a good decision. At the end of the day, this legislation would fulfill yet another commitment the Liberal Party of Canada made to Canadians going into the last federal election. That is why I feel very good about standing and talking about yet another piece of legislation that would put into place a commitment made by this Prime Minister and my colleagues in the Liberal caucus when we knocked on doors in the last election.
It will make a positive difference in our communities in all regions of our country. I encourage Conservatives to reflect on what was said in committee by Conservatives, get behind this legislation and vote for it.