Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address Bill C-19, the ending the long gun registry act. The bill is a clear and straightforward piece of legislation which would bring an end to the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry.
Our government has been very clear with Canadians that we have long opposed the long gun registry. We said we were going to scrap it. We promised during the last election that if elected we would get rid of it once and for all. On May 2 Canadians elected a Conservative government and gave us a strong mandate to continue to carry out the priorities they asked for, including finally doing away with the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry.
I am proud to say that we are delivering on our promise to law-abiding hunters, farmers, sports shooters and taxpaying Canadians. They will no longer be burdened with this costly, wasteful and ineffective registry. This bill would bring an end to the era of targeting these law-abiding citizens who legally own firearms in Canada. I believe it would help us refocus much needed resources, energy and effort on tackling crime in Canada.
Gun crime prevention is an important issue to me, as well as all members in the House and all Canadians. We should never forget the tragedies that have resulted from the commission of gun crimes in Canada.
However, the long gun registry does absolutely nothing to stop crime. If a deranged person is intent on inflicting harm, a piece of paper will not stop him or her from doing so. Frankly, it is doing nothing to protect our communities. Criminals do not register their firearms. We see the proof of this day after day. We see front-line police officers fighting gun crime on the streets. The criminals they are up against are using handguns, not registered long guns. In some jurisdictions handguns are used in 97% of the crimes and the majority of those, some 93%, are smuggled across the border into Canada illegally. That is a staggering statistic, one which flies in the face of any argument supporting the long gun registry.
The state broadcaster, CBC, has estimated that since it was foisted upon Canadians, the long gun registry has cost in excess of $2 billion. Taxpayers continue to throw money into a registry that is wasteful, ineffective, and most importantly, inaccurate. We heard testimony at committee from front-line police officers that confirmed what we already knew. They said anyone who would bet their life on data contained in any database, let alone one as inaccurate as the long gun registry, is not someone they would want to be partners with. Police officers would rather see time, money and resources go toward apprehending criminals who smuggle handguns and the individuals who use them for committing crimes as opposed to law-abiding citizens who simply like to do a bit of hunting on the weekend.
There are numerous reasons why the long gun registry needs to end and why members on both sides of the House need to represent their constituents' wishes and stand with us to end the long gun registry once and for all.
Officers are on the street dealing with dangerous criminals every hour of the day. We need to listen to what they are saying about tackling crime in Canada and give them useful tools, not ones that put their lives on the line.
I encourage all members across the floor to follow the example of their colleagues from Thunder Bay—Rainy River and Thunder Bay—Superior North and stand up and vote the will of the men and women who elected them. In my riding of Sault Ste. Marie, I represented the will of my constituents, which is in part why I am standing here today as opposed to a member of the opposition who was previously in this position.
When the long gun registry was introduced 16 years ago by the Liberals, Canadians were told that the cost would be in the range of $1 million. What we know now is that the cost has ballooned to over $2 billion and continues to grow. As the former auditor general, Sheila Fraser, said in 2006, it is impossible to tell where the ceiling of these costs will be because so many of them are hidden.
There is another cost borne by law-abiding citizens in this country, not only in dollars and cents, but farmers, hunters, sports shooters and other firearms owners are made to bear the high cost of the challenge to their integrity in being called criminals if they do not comply with the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry.
Many opponents of the long gun registry have expressed deep concern over the years about their private information getting into the wrong hands and the registry becoming a shopping list for thieves and gangsters instead of a tool to protect Canadians. An access to information request to the RCMP showed that the registry had been breached over 300 times, and this was back in 2003. I can only imagine how many more times this has happened since then.
Canadians put their trust in this government on May 2 in large part because of our commitment to get tough on crime and to make our streets and communities safer. Our government believes that the right gun control laws do save lives. Bill C-19 would continue the strict system of controlling restricted and prohibited firearms. As well, a requirement for a valid firearms licence would remain in place.
We will continue to provide legislation that gives police real tools to apprehend criminals and keep them off the street, such as the safe streets and communities act, which was shamefully opposed by the NDP. Unlike the opposition, we do not support punishing law-abiding Canadians and rewarding criminals.
Instead of defending the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry, the opposition needs to stop stalling and hindering these important pieces of legislation our government has introduced so that we can pass them, see them become law and ensure that criminals are where they belong: behind bars and not on our streets.
I am asking for the support of all members of Parliament, no matter their political stripe, to pass Bill C-19 and to work together to eliminate the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry once and for all. Let us take this opportunity to refocus on tackling real crime in Canada.