There is a problem. The problem is that this committee has no flexibility with respect to its timetable, an issue that was of great concern and great consternation to me at an in camera meeting that I can't talk about. But the end result of that was that this committee has an agenda—that's public, so I can talk about it—that sets certain days for certain matters. As I understand it—and any honourable members of the committee may wish to correct me—clause-by-clause consideration of Bill was set for two hours for today and two hours for Thursday of this week. If my recollection is correct, next Tuesday and Thursday we are to give instructions to the analysts regarding a very comprehensive study on mental health and the state of corrections that this committee undertook last fall, October and November, with trips across Canada and to Norway and Britain, and hither, thither, and yon. I think it behoves us to move forward on that report, given the amount of time and money the committee has expended on studying mental health in corrections. I'm sure Mr. Davies, who's the mover of this motion, would not want to see all the work and time and energy and toil and labour he's put into studying the state of mental health in corrections be put off yet again.
I don't know how you prioritize the state of mental health in corrections versus Bill 391. Certainly the members on this side of the House are anxious to move forward. We support this bill wholeheartedly, at least speaking for myself, and I think I speak for all the members on this side of the table. The committee, as you know, Mr. Chair, is the author of its own procedure; it's the author of its own affairs. This committee has made a motion, and the motion was, as I understand it, to do clause-by-clause consideration today and Thursday. But there may be some technical problems with that.
I'm a little confused as to the starting lineup for today's match, because Mr. Davies—we welcomed him back a few moments ago when he made the motion—hasn't been participating in the hearing of the witnesses, and I was under the understanding that Mr. Comartin, the senior justice critic for the NDP, had a lead on this file. Is the problem that Mr. Comartin is not available today? I don't know. I would suggest, if that's the problem, that's not a legitimate or bona fide reason to adjourn what is to be clause-by-clause consideration from Tuesday and Thursday to Thursday and Tuesday of next week.
Maybe the amendments aren't ready. I don't know if the NDP needs more time. I don't know if the other parties are proposing amendments. I'm a little confused and I'm a little concerned by all of this. All that I do know—or I guess I might know more than this statement—is that the committee had resolved to do clause-by-clause today and clause-by-clause on Thursday of this week. This committee has set its own timetable, against this side of the table's strong opposition, essentially to the end of what was anticipated to be the spring session. So with Tuesday and Thursday already booked to do mental health and the state of corrections, I would suggest to you, Mr. Chair, that this motion is out of order, and I'm sure my colleagues would like to support me on this proposition.
I too want to voice my displeasure at the fact that we are once again leaving the agenda and trying to make last-minute adjustments. We prepare very hard for these committee meetings. My desk is completely covered in documents. There are a number of reasons we do this. It's because we want to do a good job. I'm sure that all members of this committee from every party want to do a good job.
I am prepared on Tuesday and Thursday of next week to move forward on a mental health issue, and it is pressing. I'm going to tell you why I believe it is pressing.
We just recently saw in a newspaper yet another example of why that study could help save lives and could help to improve the system. I want to read from a newspaper article with regard to that very important case, which was captured by not only our nation, but nations across this world. It's an important case because it could happen again, and we have the power to make some positive changes to hopefully prevent that.
Let me read a few sentences, if you would allow me, Mr. Chair. This is from an article by Dean Pritchard from May 31, and it's from Winnipeg:
The doctor of the man who beheaded an innocent passenger aboard a Greyhound bus less than two years ago is recommending day passes for his client, Vince Li.
The treating psychiatrist believes the man found not criminally responsible for slaying Tim McLean in front of a busload of horrified bystanders is ready to leave his secure mental health facility for hours at a time, provided he is accompanied by two “special constables”.
Li's treating psychiatrist says Li continues to suffer hallucinations, but at a reduced intensity and frequency than at the time Tim McLean was killed.
He said Li is assessed as a low homicidal risk and suicide risk, and he responds well to hospital staff.
Here's a quotation:
“His demeanour on the ward, he doesn’t argue with staff...he is responsive to their requests.”
Meanwhile, McLean's family is lobbying to toughen the law against those found criminally not responsible for killing another person and was previously appalled when a psychiatrist commented that Li could be potentially...released within five years.
I might note that this is a case that happened in fact just outside Winnipeg, in my home province of Manitoba, and in fact the mother of the young man who was brutally murdered lives in our colleague Candace Hoeppner's riding, and we've been in close contact with her about this.
Let me continue:
“Tim's Law” aims to set at least a minimum mental health facility term for mentally ill killers.
Vince Li has been treated at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre since he was found not criminally responsible for the July 2008 killing aboard a Greyhound bus.
Manitoba's Criminal Code review board will perform annual reviews of Li's mental health....
Now, I understand that this tacks on a very large responsibility to a provincial government. However, given that we took the time and energy and used taxpayers' funds to do an extensive study of the mental health system in our prisons, and of addiction, and of how they influence one another, etc., I am anxious to complete this study, not only because it's the right thing to do, but because this is a pressing issue. This is an article, as I stated, from May 31. This is weighing heavily on the minds of the family of Tim McLean and on the minds, might I add, of the family of Vince Li.
I believe it's incumbent upon us as parliamentarians to not only honour the schedule we have lived by, which we all know many of us did not want to agree to and were handcuffed into doing. However, we agreed to it because I am prepared for Tuesday and Thursday to address this very serious issue, which is pressing, which is at the forefront of some of the news articles that we've seen—and I'm sure there are more to come—if not for any other reason than to assure these families that someone is looking at this issue. I don't want to detour from our agenda, because I believe this is a pressing issue.
Those are my comments.
I would hope that members of this committee—although many of them aren't listening.... I want to implore you to think about these families. Were this your son or your daughter who was beheaded and cannibalized by an individual who was found not criminally responsible, who was then about to receive day passes when the psychiatrists have said clearly that there are still hallucinations—not to the same extent as when the homicide occurred, but there are still hallucinations—you too would be very concerned. It would rip at your hearts, it would rip at your very being and your very soul. I will not do that to these families without voicing very clearly here in this committee that it cannot be done. We cannot leave these families in that kind of a state. This study is important to them, and I thank the analysts and the researchers who accompanied us. I know you've done a lot of work to prepare a draft report for us. I want to proceed to evaluating it and to making some significant recommendations for not only this family, but for all Canadians.
Again, I know that many of the opposition members are not listening. I implore you to listen very briefly. You need to do this for these families. Please, Mr. Chair, I need for them to hear this. These families cannot be left in this kind of situation.
Thank you for your time.
Mr. Chairman, right now, just to inform the committee, I'm seeking instructions from Mr. Comartin. I will be able to give a final answer very quickly.
As it is my turn to speak on this issue, I just want to quickly say that I think Mr. Rathgeber made some offensive comments about our study. He said in the mental health study that we travelled across the country, into Norway, into Britain, and “hither and thither and yon”. Actually, the committee went across this country and we went to Norway and Britain, and that was it. If he's suggesting that was not a wise use of resources of this committee, then it's certainly contrary to what his colleague just spent the last ten minutes prattling on about.
I think it's offensive to regard the work of this committee on mental health as something that is put in nursery rhyme terms. It was a valuable study, and it certainly was a good use of our time.
I also want to point out that we have time in June. I know the committee time has been allocated, but there are a few days still in June. The purpose of my motion would move things one day. This is a very important bill, Bill . It deserves to have the full consideration of this committee. Mr. Comartin wants the opportunity to put some amendments forward. That was the spirit of my motion—to enable that to happen, so that this committee would be able to consider every conceivable aspect of the gun registry bill before a very important vote comes up in Parliament, and so that amendments would be put before this committee for all parliamentarians' consideration.
I'll point out that I hear one of my friends interrupting me, and it makes it difficult to speak, but I will respond. He asked why he is not here. I've explained why he's not here to the chair, but I'll do it again here, as I did to Mr. MacKenzie. He's not here because he was called to a meeting of the Afghanistan committee. Mr. Comartin is our party's nominee, and that's going on right at this moment. I might also point out that Mr. Comartin also advises me that he sent this request to defer this one day to the government House leader, Jay Hill, who didn't even give the courtesy of a reply. That's why I'm bringing it up at the committee here, but if we want to get into that kind of politics, I'll bring that forward for the record so everybody can hear.
As well, I would point out that I did talk to the chairman, I talked to the government leader on this committee, and I talked to all the other leaders. Frankly, before I moved this motion I thought I had the agreement of everybody on this. Apparently we don't. This is what I have to say on this subject.
In terms of the mental health committee study, of course I think we're all in agreement that it's a very important thing, and I think we can get that done by the end of the summer. I don't think one day is going to make that much of a difference on it. That's what I wanted to say to the substance of the matter.
I'm awaiting instructions from Mr. Comartin right now. I'll certainly be able to advise the chairman right away if there's a way I can get this out of the way and move the committee business forward.
I will speak to the original motion and to the amendment. I would disagree with both of them and recommend the committee not support either.
I would just say that all of us have been paying very close attention to this bill, not just those of us on this committee, but really throughout the country. We've been paying very close attention to the contents--those who are very opposed to the bill and those who support the bill. It hasn't come up by surprise.
I would very respectfully say to Mr. Davies, who has been put in a difficult position, that if Mr. Comartin is as concerned about this bill as Mr. Davies indicates, he would have been prepared. If he could not be at this meeting, it would have taken him maybe half an hour or maybe even an hour to prepare Mr. Davies to present those amendments.
All of us have worked in committees before. I also chair a committee. I chair the HUMA committee. I've seen the NDP before where they had amendments and the mover couldn't be there and that member really prepared one of his colleagues very well and she came and presented those amendments really with great excellence. So I don't think it's a stretch, especially when this is a bill, as I said, that has not just jumped up on us, or “oh, I didn't realize we were at this place”. We knew this was happening. I think Mr. Comartin could have prepared Mr. Davies to present any amendments.
This committee planned today and Thursday to look at Bill , and I would respectfully ask that you follow through on the commitment that you made, not just to the House of Commons, but to all Canadians. This isn't just a few of us who are paying attention and who are affected. This is all Canadians who are affected.
Now, if Mr. Davies would agree that we could start going through clause-by-clause right now, and if we're not finished on Thursday then hopefully Mr. Comartin would be here.... If we are finished today, then that's kind of the risk you take. All of us know you just can't think that somehow everybody will change all of their plans and the whole country will just wait because you're not prepared.
Mr. Chair, I think you need to look at what this committee has made a decision on. The whole committee cannot stop because one individual is not properly prepared. That would be my respectful submission.
Again, I think Mr. Davies has been put in a bit of a difficult spot having to defend, in this case, the indefensible. I think all of us should just say let's start right now. It's ten after; let's start on the business. Let's get moving on this bill, clause by clause. Let's deal with it, and this committee can then move on to the other business you have.
I appreciate that. I think I'm understanding now.
The point I would like to make with regard to this motion is, first and foremost, that the added information Mr. Holland now claims he made, which included the word “expert”, is in contention with what we heard.
First and foremost, the experts who appeared here supported the repeal, clearly supported the repeal, of the long-gun registry. I don't know who Mr. Holland is referring to, but the only experts who are declared experts.... For the purposes of being an expert, there is a lengthy process involved in being declared an expert witness, and there are very few declared expert witnesses in this country. The experts who appeared here, who have legitimately been declared and followed the process, were not in agreement with keeping the long-gun registry.
If you would allow me, sir, please let me refer to the experts who spoke here.
I'll refer to the first expert who spoke here. That expert was Mr. Jack Tinsley. I'll read from the blues of his testimony. He stated: “I have been declared an expert in the area of illegal street drugs and drug trafficking at all levels of Manitoba courts. These experiences and many others in a progression of higher ranks over the span of my career have led me to three conclusions...”. He then goes on. I'm not going to continue to read the whole thing. But Mr. Tinsley, who was a 30-plus year member of the Winnipeg Police Service, has followed the process, is an expert witness, and stated clearly that he does not believe in the long-gun registry, seeks a repeal of the long-gun registry, and completely agrees with our side with regard to that and with the bill put forward by Ms. Candice Hoeppner.
The second witness who is a declared expert is Mr. Grismer. Let me flip my page to Mr. Grismer's testimony, so that I might read into evidence as well the fact that he is an expert witness. Here's what he said in his brief:
The Courts in Saskatchewan have qualified me as an Expert Witness, able to give opinion evidence on firearms. I have provided assistance to both Federal and Provincial prosecutions in the area of firearms related crime. I am Master Instructor for the Canadian Firearms Safety Courses (Non-restricted and Restricted) and an Approved Verifier, certified by the Registrar of the Canadian Firearm Registry since September 2001.
So I would say that this is contrary to what Mr. Holland has led this committee to believe. The experts who are declared experts do not agree with Mr. Holland's statement. Again, Mr. Grismer goes on to side with Ms. Candice Hoeppner's bill in asking to repeal the long-gun registry.
So we now have Mr. Tinsley, who is a retired police officer, and we have Mr. Murray Grismer, who is an active police officer, and both are declared expert witnesses, through a lengthy process that not many officers get in their lifetime career.
Now I'll go to the third expert witness, if I may. We had another fellow who indicated he was--and he used the words--an “expert witness”. That was a Mr. Bernardo. I would cite a letter sent to all committee members and submitted through our clerk, Mr. Roger Préfontaine. In that submission to this committee, Mr. Bernardo indicates:
I am a member of the Public Safety Minister's Firearms Advisory Committee and a previous member of the Justice Minister's Firearms Experts Technical Committee. I have also served as an Expert Witness in court trials regarding firearms and have addressed the United Nations four times on behalf of Canadian firearms owners.
As far as I can recall--and I may be wrong--there may have been other people who are designated expert witnesses, but these are the three that came to my mind immediately. When Mr. Holland used that word to describe, in bulk, that experts side with him, he misled the committee. He completely misled the committee.
I take offence to that. The testimony that was provided by these experts was clear. Mr. Bernardo agrees. He believes there should be a repeal of the long-gun registry. Again, I've only brought up three that came to mind.
Mr. Holland has completely misled this committee, which continues to happen, and it's shameful. It is shameful.
I would submit, Mr. Chair, that the experts agree. They agree with Ms. Hoeppner that the long-gun registry is not doing what it was intended to do.
Unfortunately, the statements made by Mr. Holland were made in an effort, I believe.... Well, it is possible he made a mistake. It is possible. But there have been a number of mistakes, then, and we've got to stop this. We've got to clearly cite the experts. We've got to clearly state what happened in committee, and what happened is that the witnesses who came before us were not unanimously in agreement. Parliamentarians are not unanimously in agreement. So any motion that is put forward that would suggest in any way that there is unanimity I would be completely against. It would not be truthful. It would not in fact be serving Canadians to do something that was dishonest.
I wouldn't suggest that any of us are trying to do that. But making misleading comments like the ones Mr. Holland just made is not fair to Canadians, because they may not have had the benefit of sitting through all the testimony. The experts clearly said they believe we ought to repeal the long-gun registry, and anyone who says different is misleading.
From here on out, since I've made these comments publicly, should they dispute that or claim that experts said otherwise, I would suggest it would be an outright lie and a disservice to Canadians. It would be a disservice to every expert who appeared here with their credentials and a disservice to every single one of these witnesses who came here of their own goodwill to do the right thing, to make sure we look at this bill in an effective manner and in a fair manner. I think what's missing sometimes is the fairness in all of this.
I will not vote for this motion because it is not reflective of what happened here. I am going to vote with the experts, and I am going to vote to repeal the long-gun registry.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Firstly, I must say I'm disappointed with the motion. I came here prepared to debate the merits of Ms. Hoeppner's bill, but the member for Ajax—Pickering is using this motion, as he is fond of doing, to basically sidestep any sort of meaningful or intelligent debate. This motion, as I understand it, if passed, would send the bill back to the House and let the House decide. So I guess he doesn't trust this committee to actually have a thorough and meaningful debate regarding the merits of Bill C-391, the merits of the firearm registry and firearm and gun control generally, and the long-gun registry in particular.
Now, of course we know that his leader is on the media record as stating he's going to whip his members to vote against Bill C-391 if and when—well, not if—this bill returns to the House. We do have to report it back at some point. Of course, Mr. Chair, we know that puts many members of the Liberal caucus in a very precarious position.
In my region of the country, western Canada, Alberta to be specific, of course the long-gun registry is pretty much universally despised. You know that, Mr. Chair. You represent the territory where I was born, actually, Melville, Saskatchewan. Saskatchewanians and Albertans don't differ when it comes to the effectiveness and the efficiency of this type of alleged crime control.
When I look at the motion, it's quite obvious to me that this motion was written before the member for Ajax—Pickering tried to stack the witness list. If he had been successful in stacking the witness list, I think we probably would have heard sufficient testimony that the bill would dismantle a tool that promoted and enhanced public safety and the safety of Canadian police officers. Thankfully, this committee, through its wisdom and through its debate, decided not to let Mr. Holland stack the witness list. As a result, we heard a balanced list of witnesses. We heard good evidence for the bill, and I''ll admit we heard some compelling testimony—not a lot, but some—that Bill C-391 was perhaps not a meritorious piece of proposed legislation.
Under no fair analysis of the evidence that's been put forward or that this committee has heard could one possibly come to the conclusion that the committee has heard sufficient testimony that the bill would dismantle a tool that promotes and enhances the public security and the safety of Canadian police officers. In fact, I would submit to you, Mr. Chair, that it's quite the opposite.
I would consider proposing an amendment to this motion, but of course I don't want to recommend that the House of Commons not proceed further. I think an amendment would actually be in order if we were going to be factually accurate, because I think the committee has heard sufficient testimony that the long-gun registry does nothing to promote and enhance public security, and does nothing or very little to promote the safety of Canadian police officers.
We've heard from many witnesses. We heard from, for example, Chief Rick Hanson of the Calgary Police Service, a very fine officer. I got to know him a little bit. He came to Edmonton in March and appeared before the justice committee when we were doing our organized crime study. He was very thoughtful and methodical in his advice to the justice committee. I thought he was similar when he appeared before this committee. He told us that the long-gun registry is of no benefit to his officers, in one of Canada's largest and sadly, from time to time, most violent cities. His basis for coming to that conclusion was that criminals simply do not register their guns.
Most of the violence.... And there's considerable gang violence in the city of Calgary. It's very unfortunate. I think all metropolitan cities, my city of Edmonton included, are plagued by gang violence from time to time. I would say that the compelling evidence I have heard is unequivocal on this point. Those weapons used in gang-land warfare are not registered; they're smuggled into Canada. We heard this on the justice committee as well when we did our organized crime study.
You have these grow operations in B.C. and Alberta and elsewhere. B.C. bud, as it's locally known, is smuggled into Washington State or Oregon. The payment for the B.C. bud, which I understand is fine-grade marijuana—I wouldn't know anything about those types of things.... But I understand that it's valuable in the black market, and often the payment for those drug shipments is illegal hand-guns and assault rifles, and those come back onto our city streets—Vancouver, Edmonton, and certainly Calgary, as Chief Hanson so eloquently pointed out. And it's those unregistered illegal assault rifles and hand-guns that are used both in the commission of violent offences and to provide insecurity to Canadian police officers.
Mr. Holland's motion specifically mentions the safety of Canadian police officers as one of the reasons why he thinks we should invoke Standing Order 97.1 and recommend to the House that this bill not proceed.
Well, we heard from other police officers besides Chief Hanson, and we heard from the chief in Abbotsford. It's not a big city, but certainly a medium-sized city close to a large metropolitan area, which has been absolutely plagued by horrible gang-land warfare. That's the city of Abbotsford, which as you know, Mr. Chair, is conveniently located in the lower mainland close to the city of Vancouver. And then tucked in there and sort of in between but a little bit north—Mr. Davies can help me with the geography—is the city of Surrey. Surrey also has had significant problems over the past couple of years with respect to gangs.
I remember Chief Rich from the Abbotsford Police Department saying that the gun registry is, and I quote, “horribly inaccurate”. So that caused me to ask some questions, both to.... Well, I don't think I asked any questions of Chief Rich, but I certainly asked some questions of Charles Momy, who is the president of the Canadian Police Association, when they appeared on the same panel. I asked if he truly believed that the gun registry was reliable, and it took a little bit of prodding but I eventually got him to concede that the long-gun registry simply was not reliable, and eventually he did agree with Chief Rich that the gun registry is horribly unreliable.
And then you will recall—not in a question that I asked, but I wish I had asked it, because it was so brilliant; it was asked by Mr. Wrzesnwskyj from the Liberals. Charles Momy could not think of a single life, could not name a single incident where a life was saved by the long-gun registry. And then Mr. Wrzesnwskyj, who is very clever, changed the subject and said he meant to ask more metaphorically whether it saves lives. But the point is and the testimony would reveal that the president of the Canadian Police Association stated categorically that he didn't know of a single incident where the long-gun registry had saved a life.
So with that kind of compelling testimony--and I have more, but I thought I would come back to the motion we're voting on--how could I possibly, Mr. Chair, support a motion that has in it “enhances public security and the safety of Canadian police officers” when in fact it's quite the opposite? We've heard evidence that it does nothing to do any of that.
Now, I thought Mr. Momy was a very interesting witness, because he wasn't called by our side, but I think we probably should have called him, because his evidence was really that helpful to us.
Ms. Candice Heoppner: We were so limited; that was the problem.
Mr. Brent Rathgeber: This is a figure that the proponents of defeating Ms. Heoppner's bill like to flout around, that 92% of front-line officers have access to the registry on a regular basis. But then when I asked him about that, he was very candid with me, and I appreciated that. He has some 41,000 members who belong to the Canadian Police Association. But when they did that survey.... In fact they didn't even do the survey; I understand the RCMP did the survey, but that's really not relevant. When the survey was done, only 408 members of the CPA responded to the question “Do you use the long-gun registry?” Now, that's less than 1%. So of the 408 who actually took the time to respond.... And remember, Mr. Chair, this is not some random survey, with people who are chosen at random and therefore are representative of the larger population. This is a survey that, as I understand, was distributed to every member of law enforcement who is a member of the CPA.
Only 408 bothered to respond to the survey, and of those, 92 said they had access to the long-gun registry. So that's well less than 1%. I can manipulate statistics as well as the opposition, so from that analysis I guess I'm free to conclude that over 99% of front-line police officers don't access the long-gun registry, because there is certainly no evidence in opposition to my supposition.
Mr. Momy was not one of the witnesses Mr. Holland put in his motion that would indicate there was sufficient testimony that the bill will dismantle a tool that promotes and enhances public security and the safety of Canadian police officers--much to the contrary, actually.
You will recall, Mr. Chair, that three weeks ago from this Thursday I gave Mr. Momy a couple of hypothetical situations. We keep hearing that the long-gun registry gets 11,000 hits a day. Again, statistics can be manipulated, and although that's probably true, Mr. Momy did tell me that 45% of those hits were automatically generated through CPIC inquiries.
You can't use that to support anything. That's a simple situation where a car has a burnt-out tail light and the police pull it over. They run the plates through CPIC, and that automatically generates a firearm registry search through CPIC. So it's not a specific case of an officer actually accessing the Canadian firearm registry. It's just an automatic computer-generated search.
Nonetheless, according to Charles Momy, the president of the Canadian Police Association, 55% of those 11,000 hits per day--or a big chunk of them--are as a result of police responding to domestic situations. I gave him a couple of hypotheticals. The cops show up at a house and do a search of the owner or a search or the address. If it comes up negative, that there are no registered weapons, do the police officers rely on that search? Do they go in unarmed, walking in backwards? Of course not. Police need to be vigilant. So any time you have a search that shows there are no registered weapons at that residence, you automatically assume it to be wrong. He told me that. You go in there expecting the worse. You go in there expecting that the occupants are going to be armed. You're prepared and ready for that. So a negative search is not reliable, don't rely on it.
Then I posed a second hypothetical to Mr. Momy. What if the registry search shows there is one registered weapon at the residence? Would you rely on it then? Then I carried my hypothetical to the next level. What if you go in, there's a domestic dispute, and the assailant--not to be sexist, but it's typically a man, at least statistically--had a firearm? So you neutralize that firearm and take it out of play. At that point, do you assume that you have a safe crime scene and there are no more registered weapons at that residence? Mr. Momy's response was, “Of course not. We expect there to be more.”
As many of the witnesses said--and I think Ms. Glover acknowledged that some of these witnesses have been declared experts in criminal trials--all the registry really does is count weapons. But I digress.
So the search shows that there is one firearm. They neutralize it. Do they stop? Do they think they have a safe crime scene? Of course not. They continue to be vigilant. They continue to stand on guard for thee. They continue to operate as if they have more weapons until the scene is neutralized, based on some other action than their reliance on a unreliable long-gun registry.
So we have two situations. One is positive and one is negative. They don't rely on either one of them. So it's not reliable. They don't rely on it and they can't rely on it.
It really bothers me when proponents of gutting or killing Bill C-391 say that somehow the long-gun registry promotes the safety of Canadian police officers, because it just ain't so, folks. It's quite the opposite, as my hypothecal situation has just outlined. You cannot rely on that registry.
When Bill Blair was here last week, I asked him about Mayerthorpe. As all the members of this committee will know, I live in Edmonton, Alberta, and Mayerthorpe is a city about two and a half hours northwest of my city. It was a tragic day in March 2005 when four of Canada's finest Mounties were gunned down by a man, Mr. Roszko, who had absolutely no respect for law, no respect for order, no respect for the police, and no respect for public safety.
But Mayerthorpe cannot in any way, shape, or form be used to support the proposition that the long-gun registry enhances the safety of front-line police officers. Quite the opposite. And let me tell you why, Mr. Chair. And this is all on the public record; I'm not making this stuff up. Roszko did not register his firearms. He had two weapons that he used when he was holed up in that Quonset hut on that March morning. One was a nine-millimetre Beretta, not registered; the other one was a Heckler & Koch assault rifle. It is a semi-automatic, so it's a restricted weapon. It also was not registered. And this is what Mr. Blair talked about.
He's really stretching it when he says the gun registry somehow helped in that investigation. It is true that there was a third weapon that wasn't fired that day in Mayerthorpe, and that was a shotgun registered to Shawn Hennessey's grandfather. Roszko pulled the nine-millimetre Beretta on Shawn Hennessey, and as a result, Hennessey lent him his grandfather's registered shotgun. And it is quite true that the gun, which was not fired, was recovered at the crime scene, and therefore led to this elaborate and expensive “Mr. Big” sting operation where Hennessey and his brother-in-law Dennis Cheeseman were ultimately convicted of being accessories to Roszko. And they are spending some pretty considerable periods of time in federal institutions as a result of their involvement in the Mayerthorpe massacre. They did nothing to enhance the public safety of the very brave police officers who were gunned down by a man who did not register his assault rifle and who did not register his nine-millimetre Beretta.
Some of the facts about Mayerthorpe are still in dispute, but locals will tell you that one of the four officers who went into that Quonset that morning was not armed. And none of them had flak jackets; none of them had protective equipment. It is sad, but the reality is that the four RCMP officers were lightly armoured--