Madam Speaker, as I was saying, the Minister of Public Safety will deny it. He will get angry too, along with many Liberal MPs. They will do that instead of replying to the substance of their policy, their own legislation.
Listen to the minister's response this week when answering my Conservative colleague from Red Deer—Lacombe during question period. He said:
There is no gun registry in the country. It is one of the reasons in the legislation we have brought forward that we will require people who are in possession of these now prohibited weapons to register them properly, so we can have a precise calculation of where these guns are.
By the minister's own description of the legislation, the Liberals intend to resurrect a long-gun registry.
That is not all. The bill misses its mark elsewhere and will waste resources in other ways as well.
Bill C-21 hopes to set up a voluntary purchase program, what Liberals call a “buyback” of the firearms the government made illegal last year. What is Ottawa proposing to purchase? It is lawfully obtained firearms as well as heirlooms and tools. Many are worth thousands of dollars because of their rarity, age and calibre.
The Minister of Public Safety recently said that the government did not know how many firearms would fall under its confiscation program, yet he also claimed elsewhere that in the range of 200,000 firearms, at an average cost of $1,300 per firearm, would be covered. At the low end of estimates, this will cost taxpayers somewhere in the range of $250 million, but other experts have said that the Liberals' voluntary confiscation program could cost the treasury billions of dollars.
As many members know, under the current Liberal government, our country's national debt surpasses the debt of every other government before it since Confederation. To the Liberals, a few more billion dollars wasted is not something to worry about. That is because they believe the budget will balance itself.
For some reason, the Liberals believe that creating more red tape for law-abiding firearms owners in confiscating their property will somehow stop gang and gun violence in Toronto. They are so confident this is a proven solution that they have even introduced another terribly flawed piece of legislation, Bill C-22, which doles out softer sentences for criminals who commit offences with a firearm. The Liberals are soft on crime. They are more concerned about standing up for the so-called rights of criminals than defending our communities.
We on this side of the House believe that victims of crime should have the first claim on our compassion. We also believe laws should achieve results, which Bill C-21 would not do. Indeed, Bill C-22 would even make communities less safe.
Unlike the Liberals, the Conservatives know our justice system must put more emphasis on responding to victims than catering to criminals.
The crimes the Liberals hope to prevent are committed by criminals who will never follow the laws and regulations of legal firearm ownership in Canada. Despite the Liberal order in council firearm ban last May, there were 462 Toronto shootings in 2020, an increase over 2018. After the Liberals brought in their firearms ban last year, the precursor to Bill C-21, the rate of shootings in Toronto did not go down but up. Why? Because law-abiding gun owners are not the source of gun crime in Toronto.
As a Conservative MP in 2012, I was proud to vote to abolish the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry. It cost taxpayers almost $2 billion, yet it did not protect the public from gun crime. Instead, it needlessly targeted law-abiding Canadians and tied up police resources.
The Conservatives went further than simply abolishing it. We also enacted tougher legislation on the illegal use of firearms, something I know we tried to pass in this Parliament as well, but was voted down by opposition parties.
As well, the Conservatives also made changes when they were in government, but the data collected on firearm owners from the long-gun registry was destroyed, so the future federal government could not resurrect it after promising not to do so. One could say that the Conservative government passed measures 10 years ago to stop Liberal tricks. I say tricks, because in the last election, we saw Liberals across the country, especially in rural ridings, promise that a re-elected Liberal government would not bring back the long-gun registry. However, the Minister of Public Safety's answer in question period shows otherwise; that Bill C-21 would create a new registry.
As the member of Parliament for New Brunswick Southwest, I represent thousands of law-abiding firearms owners. Each was schooled on how to use firearms responsibly, how to care for them and how to store long guns. Each was approved by the RCMP to purchase, own and use his or her firearms legally.
These law-abiding citizens already follow some of the world's strictest laws pertaining to firearm ownership. They are moms and fathers, grandparents, sisters, brothers and, in some cases, kids. They are friends and they are neighbours. They pay their taxes and follow the rules. They enjoy spending their leisure time at a range or hunting deer, birds and moose in the woods.
These law-abiding firearm owners strive to follow all the rules and regulations on firearm ownership as outlined by the RCMP. Safety for them is not an afterthought but the chief objective whenever they use a firearm. I have seen this first-hand, as I have gone shooting with them on many occasions.
People should not take my word for it. They should go to the range themselves and watch. For every person, it is safety first. It is always about safety first. Why? Because they are responsible Canadians.
As well, many of them are legally allowed to possess restricted firearms. Under the Firearms Act, the RCMP scans their names through the Canadian Police Information Centre every single day. I did not misspeak. Every single day, checks are made.
Unfortunately, to the Liberals, these men and women are threats. They are practically criminals in their eyes. The act of them legally purchasing a firearm is seen as dangerous. The Minister of Public Safety has taken it upon himself to overreach into provincial authority and attempt to confiscate legally purchased property at taxpayer expense.
After the tragic killings in Nova Scotia last year, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety shared a briefing with parliamentarians. Those who joined the government's technical call on the Liberal order in council firearm ban last year will recall the exchange. When asked, “Would anything announced today in this prohibition have changed what occurred in Nova Scotia and how he accessed those illegal firearms?”, the parliamentary secretary for Public Safety replied, “C'est pas l'objectif”. That is not the bill's objective.
Other than using a national tragedy to vilify and harass law-abiding firearm owners, what would Bill C-21 achieve?