Mr. Speaker, on November 4, I received a contradictory response from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety. I hope that this evening the minister will enlighten us as to his position. The fact that this bill was passed on February 15 in this House and the government trumpeted victory at the conclusion of that vote in no way detracts from the scope of this evening’s adjournment proceedings. The legislative process of Bill C-19 is following its course.
My question dealt with the preservation of the firearms registry data. I must admit that I am quite puzzled by this government’s attitude toward crime. On the one hand it adopts a repressive approach, and on the other it is in the process of destroying an effective tool for police officers. This is a tool to control the use of long guns in Canada and to track the owners of such weapons.
It also curbs the trafficking of illegal weapons and serves to prevent the use of firearms in violent crimes against vulnerable persons such as female victims of domestic violence. Ending the registry is going to make things worse, and it runs counter to the effective combatting of crime. In reality, it is going to increase the number of victims in this country. For all these reasons I deplore this initiative of the government, who wants not only to abolish the firearms registry but to destroy the data collected, and who is categorically refusing to transfer it to the provinces, including Quebec, which is holding out its hand to the federal government.
This province is prepared to take over and manage this data. All Canadians and Quebeckers still remember the slaughter at the École polytechnique, the 22nd anniversary of which was marked last December. That blow to the heart of everyone argues in favour of transferring the data to Quebec. The federal government’s objection to proceeding with this transfer is inconsistent with an effective battle against crime.
Given the lack of co-operation between the federal government and Quebec, the provincial minister of public safety announced in a press release on December 13, 2011, that, if Bill C-19 were passed, he would go to court to recover the data from the registration certificates of non-restricted firearms owned by Quebeckers, data that are found in the Canadian firearms registry.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety said that the long gun registry does nothing to prevent criminals from obtaining firearms. I would like to challenge that statement. Certainly, criminals will always find backdoor methods of obtaining weapons, but the registry nevertheless constitutes an effective safeguard. Thanks to this registry, certain licence holders who presented real risk to public safety were deprived of the use of their firearms. Crimes were thus prevented. The registry protects both the public and police officers, and prevents them from becoming victims.