Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to tell Yukon citizens, trappers, hunters, athletes, sport shooters, collectors and first nations who rely on long guns to protect their heritage, culture and traditional way of life that the bill has, as promised by our government, been introduced into the House.
Long guns have been a staple tool in Yukon since its beginning, before it was designated as its own territory. It is indeed true of Canada itself. We have a long and proud history founded on a trapping culture, a fur-trading culture, a first nation and aboriginal culture and on a farming culture in which the long gun has played a vital role in basic survival.
Today, in many parts of our nation, long guns are essential tools of basic and day-to-day routines of life. They represent tools that allow aboriginal and first nation communities to hunt, harvest and teach. Long guns raise Canadians to the top of podiums in Olympic and international competitions in trap shooting and biathlons. Long guns put food on the tables of Canadians. Fundamentally, the long gun registry has unfairly and without reason targeted the wrong people.
When we talk about the long gun registry we are not talking about criminals, we are not even talking about the sorts of guns that criminals are likely to use. More than $2 billion has been wasted and it is not coming back no matter how long we continue throwing good money after bad. That is $2 billion wasted on a program that was supposed to cost about $2 million, which is a staggering difference.
Our government has invested in prevention programs such as youth gang prevention funds because they are tangible, effective measures to help reduce crime.
The long gun registry placed unnecessary and costly barriers in front of law-abiding Canadians. It generates more paperwork, which is not something that is in generally short supply nowadays. Canadians spoke loud and clear in their objections to this.
I have outlined for my riding that I aim to learn from our past, guard it from neglect, improve the present and perfect our future. Reducing the barriers and red tape will ensure that innocent Canadians are not punished and that they are supported in the activities that define a Canadian lifestyle enjoyed by rural and urban citizens.
I have a couple of examples. I also want to quickly touch on something I heard that was a bit disturbing to me.
As a former member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and belonging to a government party that has 11 former members or retired members of police forces across the country, we have the strongest voice of front-line police services representation in our government today. Therefore, to hear the member for Windsor—Tecumseh bring up the Mayerthorpe incident and then blame the RCMP for not enforcing the act as a direct result of that tragic event is absolutely astounding. I find that shocking and very disturbing.
The member then questioned the value of building prisons. He stood in the House and voted against legislation that would increase sentences and sanctions to make it tougher on criminals who were involved in those kinds of grow-ops, an operation in that case that pre-empted the entire event itself.
To suggest that had the RCMP enforced the long gun law that Mr. Roszko would not have committed that crime is erroneous and insulting to the members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. If we follow the line of thinking that the NDP positions day in and day out in the House, Mr. Roszko may have been captured with an illegal firearm, but he certainly would not have gone to prison if the NDP had anything to say about it. He would have gone to a daycare, which is not where that gentleman belonged.
I will leave that topic and speak to another experience I have had as a member of the law enforcement community. As a former conservation officer in the Yukon territory, I and my colleagues worked every day in remote and isolated regions of our territory and we did so having hundreds of interactions with law-abiding hunters.
Conservation officers across Canada deal with people carrying firearms every day, numerous times, and have absolutely no access to a registry. This does not put them in any greater danger than the law enforcement community because what they have found, as I have found, is that firearm owners are trained. They are safe, responsible, ethical and socially and environmentally conscience individuals. They are not criminals.
As a father, I have taught my son responsible and safe use of firearms. It provides us an opportunity at different times in our lives during busy schedules, both his and mine, to get out on the land and enjoy quality time. Firearms are not about getting out and killing things. They are about time in the wilderness, time in our great environment and teaching, learning and growing together. I would hate to teach my son that that activity is something we should worry about being criminalized because of the ineffective and irresponsible use of legislation introduced by the Liberal Party.
As the Yukon MP, I committed to taking action and voting to get rid of the registry. I campaigned on this, I was supported on this, and our government is delivering on its commitment. The issue then is a little bigger than the abolishment of the registry itself. It is about restoring the faith of our constituents that we will do as we promised, that we listened to the common person and that we remember who put us here and why they put us here. I have no doubt at all about the mandate I have from the Yukon people in respect to abolishing the long gun registry.
We also look forward to moving along from a 15-year long debate and progressing with more effective programs and government business. By scrapping the registry and the data, we can put this unfortunate part of the Liberal legacy behind us and move forward.
I am looking forward to seeing the results of the vote. I am very curious to see how the member for Western Arctic casts his vote when he understands the importance of this for the heritage, culture, history and day-to-day life of aboriginal people, first nations communities, the lives and activities of all northerners, the people of the Northwest Territories, Yukon, Nunavut and, indeed, across all rural and even urban regions of our country.
The introduction of the bill represents a promise made and a promise kept. Our government, as did many individual members in the opposition, assured the citizens of our ridings that we would vote in favour of getting rid of this wasteful and ineffective registry.
As Robert Service wrote in The Cremation of Sam McGee, “a promise made is a debt unpaid”.
We are making good on this and all other commitments we made in a well led plan for Canada's near future during the May election.
I urge members of all parties to support this legislation and make good on the promises they made to their constituents in their ridings when they were seeking election to the House.