Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to rise today on behalf of my constituents of Fundy Royal to speak to what I think is a very important debate.
Because it took a long time to get to this point, I would like to thank a couple of people, one of whom is the member for Yorkton—Melville. The member led a long, detailed, very thorough fight for the rights of everyday hard-working, law-abiding citizens, the type of citizens who live in my riding of Fundy Royal. He is to be commended. As members of Parliament, we are dealing with the aftermath of this Liberal boondoggle that was created in the 1990s by individuals who, by all accounts, had an agenda. I recall the then minister of justice, Allan Rock, saying that he came to Ottawa with the firm belief that only police and the military should have firearms. That is truly an out-of-touch point of view. It gives us a perspective on the driving motivation behind the registry. Not only is it truly scary for our country, but it truly targets the wrong individuals.
I want to personally thank the member for Yorkton—Melville for standing up for my constituents as well as all Canadians during those days, finding out all the problems and attacking the cause of the many issues that were foisted upon law-abiding citizens. This is a culmination of that work.
I have a few questions that I think responsible parliamentarians have to answer when discussing any changes to the law. On the firearms registry, I have a few of questions. Who does it target? Does it work? Are taxpayers getting good value? I think those are some fundamental questions, and I will look at a few of those in my remarks.
Who does it target? As has been said by the previous speaker, as members of Parliament, whether we are in urban, suburban or rural areas, we know that the gun registry targets the law-abiding gun owner. It is the person who will send in the forms by email or hard copy or who will wait in lines.
When the registry was brought in, I remember seeing many of the law-abiding good people in my region lining up for hours at the McAllister Place Mall to go through the process of registering their firearms. Meanwhile, the Hells Angels, organized crime, gangs from the west coast to the east coast merely went about their business. I suppose some of them might have had a chuckle at the thought of all the law-abiding citizens in our country, many of them senior citizens, lining up to register their firearms, while they perhaps were about to go and buy a smuggled handgun out of the trunk of a car.
The registry was targeting the law-abiding citizen, not the bad guy. That is why, even then in the 1990s, right-thinking people knew that the registry would never work. It was predicted by the member for Yorkton—Melville, for example, that the registry would not work because, for that fundamental issue, it targeted the wrong people. How can we solve a crime problem if we do not target criminals? It has been the benefit of time, the passage of a decade and a half, that we have seen individuals who said all along that it would not work proven completely, 100%, right.
Although I have run on a platform of fighting against the registry in my political career, I would be the first to say that if I and my constituents thought this registry worked, if we thought it prevented crime, if we thought that it saved lives, we would have a different position. However we know, intuitively and with the benefit of the passage of time and the wonderful statistics that we have available to us, that the registry simply does not work because it targets the wrong people.
Does it work? The answer is a resounding no. We have seen this in some of the tragedies that have happened since the registry has been in place. The registry did nothing to prevent some of the crimes that took place.
I will move on to the final question. Even in light of the fact that it does nothing to prevent crime and it does not work, is it a good value? Are we at least paying very little for it? Is it not enough money to really be too upset about?
We know the Liberals have always been good with budgeting. That is one thing we will give them. We know at the time that the minister said the registry would cost net to the taxpayers about $2 million. Some people might have thought, since it was the Liberals saying this, let us go by a factor of ten and it might cost $20 million, or even a factor 100 and it might cost $200 million considering it was a Liberal estimate. In fact, we know, through the work of professors, from the work of the member of Yorkton—Melville in accumulating statistics and from the work of the auditor general, that the estimate for the cost of the registry rose to $2 billion. That is $2 billion for a registry that targets my constituents, law-abiding people and does not work.
How can we allow something like that to continue? The short answer is we cannot. That is why I am very pleased that we have a government now that is committed to doing the right thing in ending this abomination to the taxpayer.
In a previous Parliament we had a private member's bill, Bill C-391, that would get rid of the gun registry. Members on this side of the House supported that private member's bill. Interestingly enough, we heard a lot of members opposite, who used to go into their riding, maybe to their fish game clubs or sports shooting federation, say that they were against the registry, that they would fight against it and vote against it. Some members said all of those things, except when it actually counted. When it came time to vote on the bill, the members opposite, in just enough numbers, voted to defeat it.
It was there and then that I and my colleagues came to the realization that the only way to defeat the registry was to form a majority government. That is why I am very glad that on May 2, our government was elected with a clear mandate. It was a mandate to act to protect everyday law-abiding citizens. It was a mandate for safer streets and communities and to end the wasteful long gun registry.
Unlike my friend, I did register my firearms. One of them was very common in New Brunswick and coast to coast. It was an old .303 Lee Enfield rifle. It is one that our military has used for decades. In fact, in the north people continue to use them, but those rifles will be replaced now.
Since those rifles did not have a serial number that would be appropriate for the registry, I received in the mail an orange sticker that had a number on it with instructions from the Registrar of Firearms to affix the sticker to the old Lee Enfield rifle. I never did put it on the rifle, but I kept that sticker as a reminder of all the absurdities that came from the registry and the fact that it targeted the wrong people. I keep that as a reminder to stay dedicated, as we all have, and to keep moving forward in the right direction.
For our part, our government will continue in our battle against crime to target the cause of crime. In our view, that is the criminals. Canadians are with us on that. We will continue to fight for safer streets, safer communities and we will do that by targeting criminals. We are going to end the targeting of law-abiding citizens by ending the gun registry.