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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates



Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Speaker: The Honourable Andrew Scheer

    The House met at 10 a.m.



[Routine Proceedings]



Committees of the House

Procedure and House Affairs 

    Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Orders 104 and 114, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 14th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the membership of the committees of this House.
    If the House gives its consent, I move that the 14th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs be concurred in.
    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Deputy Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)


Sickle Cell Disease  

    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to present this petition regarding sickle cell disease and thalassemic disorders.
    Sickle cell disease affects blood cells which carry oxygen throughout our bodies. In sickle cell disease, red blood cells harden into long slivers that block veins and arteries causing injury to blood vessels of organs, including the brain and lungs. About 10% of children develop strokes. Children with sickle cell are also extremely vulnerable to infection and have periodic health crises that cause terrible pain and difficulty breathing. The lifespan of persons with sickle cell disease can be reduced by as much as 30 years.

The Environment  

    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition today in support of the interfaith call for leadership and action on climate change.
    The petitioners rightly point out that the growing crisis of climate change is symptomatic of greed and an underlying spiritual deficit which has led to unsustainable patterns of production and consumption. The signatories call upon the government to recognize that global warming is a reality and that climate change affects all Canadians and people around the world. They rightly call on Canada to lead by example instead of waiting for others to act.
    To that end, the petitioners are calling on the government to do three things: First, to work toward a new international agreement to replace the Kyoto protocol that binds all nations to a new set of carbon reduction targets; second, to establish a national target within Canada that we ourselves can achieve; and third, to play a constructive role internationally to fund climate mitigation efforts around the world.
    I will conclude by thanking the interfaith community for staying active on this file despite, or perhaps as a result of, the Prime Minister's outrageous contention that the Kyoto protocol is stupid. It is time for the Prime Minister to act like a leader in the fight against climate change.

Nuclear Disarmament  

    Madam Speaker, I wish to draw to the attention of the House a petition that is a call for Canada to host a conference on nuclear disarmament. It is a petition calling on the Government of Canada to respond to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's proposal for a summit on nuclear disarmament.
    In 2010, this House unanimously passed a motion that encouraged the Government of Canada to deploy a major worldwide Canadian diplomatic initiative in support of preventing nuclear proliferation and increasing the rate of nuclear disarmament.
    Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to issue an invitation to all states to gather with Canada in Canada to begin discussions for a global legal ban on nuclear weapons.

The Environment  

    Madam Speaker, I have a second petition from the residents of Alberta drawing the attention of the House to the fact that there is considerable concern that fracking creates the possibility of poisoning the water source in the province.
    Therefore, the petitioners request that Parliament legislate a moratorium on fracking on lands under its jurisdiction.

Shark Finning  

    Madam Speaker, I rise this morning to present two petitions.
    The first petition comes from residents primarily in the Victoria area of British Columbia and deals with an issue that the House has had presented a number of times, which is the subject of a private member's bill, and that is the issue of shark finning. The removal of the fin of the shark for no purpose other than to prepare a particularly rare soup is one dish leading to the annihilation of a species, with as many as 70 million sharks killed every year.
    The petitioners call on the House of Commons to ban the possession, trade, distribution and sale of shark fins in Canada. It is a very compelling issue.

National Parks  

    Madam Speaker, the second petition relates to the treatment of our national parks and the opening up of a national park, which is not only Canada's highest order of conservation but is recognized as a United Nations world heritage site. I refer to Jasper National Park and a proposal for which a decision has now been deferred. These petitions are still very valuable and urge that we turn down a private sector development proposal for something to be called the Brewster glacier discovery walk in Jasper National Park.
    This petition comes from residents of Saanich—Gulf Islands and I urge the House to give it its full attention.

Citizenship and Immigration  

    Madam Speaker, today I table a petition from individuals who are concerned about the government's decision to put a freeze on people's ability to sponsor their parents or grandparents.
    For many years, immigration policy allowed for the reunification of parents and grandparents with their children here in Canada and the Government of Canada has made the decision to apply a freeze, thereby not allowing children to sponsor their parents.
    The petitioners find this to be a cruel policy, one that does not take into consideration that the right mixture of people being able to immigrate to our country is required and part of that mixture is in fact parents and grandparents. They are calling upon the government to lift that freeze.


Questions on the Order Paper

    Madam Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
    Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]


Ending the Long-gun Registry Act

Bill C-19—Time Allocation Motion  

    That, in relation to Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act, not more than one further day shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage of the bill and two sittings days shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said bill; and
    That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for government orders on the day allotted to the consideration at report stage and on the second day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.


    Pursuant to Standing Order 67.1, there will now be a 30-minute question period. I invite all hon. members who wish to ask questions to rise in their places so the Chair has some idea of the number of members who wish to participate.


    As is the custom, as Chair I will give preference to the opposition but will recognize some members from the government side.
    The hon. member for Windsor—Tecumseh.
    Madam Speaker, I must admit that I was a bit surprised today by the government House leader having to read this motion. He has done it so many times, I would have thought he could have simply stood and, from memory, repeated the same motion.
    Since this Parliament started, we have had one closure motion and we are now seeing our 13th time allocation motion. There have been 12 since Parliament returned in September of last year. As always, every time this happens it is a new record for the government.
    We really need to wonder what the government is so scared of in terms of the debate. I think this is the first time, however, that the motion puts time allocation both on report stage and on third reading. We have not even had any indication from the government as to when time will be allocated on the calendar for third reading.
    I wonder if the minister could tell us when the debate on third reading will start?
    Madam Speaker, I will leave that issue to the government House leader.
    With respect to the debate on this particular issue, we have debated this issue both in the House of Commons and in coffee shops across the country for the past 17 years.
     I recall when the hon. Allan Rock came to see me when I was the provincial attorney general in Manitoba and tried to compel the Province of Manitoba to enforce his long gun registry. I made it very clear to him then, back in about 1997 or 1998, that we would not do that. In fact, the Manitoba government has consistently not enforced the long gun registry. The NDP Manitoba government knows that it is a waste of time and money. It is focused on real crime, as is this government, rather than treating law-abiding hunters, farmers and sports shooters as criminals.


    Madam Speaker, I think the Minister of Public Safety just basically made the point himself. What is the rush? The issue has been around since 1997. In 2006, we started debating the issue in this House. Why do we need a time allocation motion?
     I am glad the minister is answering instead of the government House leader because I will remind him of some things he said in this House.
    In 2001, the Minister of Public Safety said:
    For the government to bring in closure and time allocation is wrong. It sends out the wrong message to the people of Canada. It tells the people of Canada that the government is afraid of debate, afraid of discussion and afraid of publicly justifying the steps it has taken.
    What else did the minister say? On a separate occasion, again in 2001, he said:
    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister of Canada swung an axe across the throat of parliament. ... If the bill was the right thing to do, why did the Prime Minister do the wrong thing by invoking closure?
    What has changed?
    Madam Speaker, I find it astounding that the member would ask what has changed in respect to this issue. We have been debating it for 17 years. That is almost as long as some of the members across the way are old.
    I have patience. I have argued this issue for a long time. What the member is suggesting is that perhaps we wait another 17 years.
    This is the real rationale behind the NDP members' strategy here. They are deliberately, on every criminal bill, trying to get the government to invoke closure so they can say that it is a new record. The real record is their obstinacy in terms of passing criminal legislation that would actually protect victims and get criminals.
    Madam Speaker, what is noteworthy here is the fact that the government has really taken a rule and, I would argue, has abused the rule and the privileges of members of this assembly.
    What the government continuously does, and it is becoming a procedure, is introduce legislation and soon thereafter brings in time allocation. I am not as much concerned about the subject of this bill as I am offended that the government House leader, who, I would argue, is likely the worst government House leader we have seen for many years inside this chamber because of his inability to negotiate agreements between the other House leader, reverts to, time and time again, shutting down and limiting debate inside this chamber by bringing in time allocation.
    Is it the government's intention to use time allocation as a standard procedure in order to wind up debate on all the different types of legislation before this House?
    Madam Speaker, it is interesting to note that the member, after being in the House for a year and a half, has now indicated that our House leader is the worst he has ever seen. That is quite an experience to rely on. In fact, I have to say that our House leader is a very patient man, a very decent man, a very honourable man. The type of comment made by the member is uncalled for. I know the member for Winnipeg North is much more of a gentleman than to make that type of comment.
    In respect of the use of time allocation, he knows the issue of the long gun registry has been around for at least 17 years. We have debated this in every election. We have made it clear in every election that we would get rid of the long gun registry.
    I know what happened in my own riding, which was held by a Liberal who in fact even voted against the long gun registry. It was not enough to save him back in 2000 because the people of rural Canada and indeed in suburbia and in the downtown of cities understand that this is not a system that works.


    Madam Speaker, with all due respect, I find the comments by the minister to be very offensive to the democratic standards in this country.
    We are seeing around the world people in nations rising up and asking to be governed by the rule of law, to institute real democracy.
    We hear the hon. member across the way state the case that the nation should be run based on a party's election platform.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Ms. Linda Duncan: Madam Speaker, the hon. member seems to find this to be very humorous.
    It is humorous.
    Order, please. I would like a bit of order in the House.
    The hon. member for Edmonton—Strathcona will conclude her question.
    Madam Speaker, in a nation governed by the rule of law, the laws are made by the duly elected members in debates in the elected House. Last May we only had an election of the new members of this House. That side of the House should be giving due respect to our democratic parliamentary system, wherein we have committed in this country to show the world that this is how we are running our nation and others should watch us, that we make the rules of how we govern our nation based on the debate in the House by the duly elected officials.
    I implore the minister to start referencing our system of Parliament in this country.
    Madam Speaker, we made it very clear during the elections in 2011, 2008, 2006, 2004, 2000, 1997, and the predecessor parties, that our goal was to abolish the long gun registry, that we are opposed to the long gun registry. That was our platform. When we became government we did not change our platform. We said the things that we ran on as our platform are the things that we are going to implement.
    The opposition is saying that it is going to try to delay and stymie the process for as long as possible, that there should be another four years to debate this and then have another election and, indeed, never get this accomplished. I think Canadians understand. The issues are very clear on where the NDP stands. I do not think there is one person in this Parliament who has not already made up his or her mind on this particular bill. That member and that party continue with a charade when in fact they simply do not want the bill passed. They do not want to hear the democratic will. They do not want the bill passed.
    Madam Speaker, I feel compelled to respond to the comments of the Conservative minister on this debate.
    I find it hugely insulting that the minister considers debate in the House of Commons to be simply to delay and stymie the process. What is he referring to by stymying the process? This is the process. This is the way in which elected members of Parliament, as the NDP member just mentioned, reflect concerns about a piece of legislation. They are legitimate concerns. They are concerns that we have heard from the RCMP, from police chiefs, from civil society right across the country. Debate is the way that members reflect that. It is the way that members represent their constituents who want to have a voice. They want to know that their members of Parliament are listening to their concerns and are reflecting them here.
    This is not about delaying. It is not about stymying--
    Order, please. The hon. Minister of Public Safety.
    Madam Speaker, I am curious to know when the member thinks she has not had an opportunity to put her position on the long gun registry on the public record here in the House, in committee, or otherwise. If over the years that she has been here she has not been able to express her opinion very clearly on the issue, I would be surprised.
    Perhaps we could check the record to see if indeed she has made any comments. If she has not made any comments, all I can say is, where has she been?


    Madam Speaker, I am a new member to this chamber. There are many rules and regulations and things to learn in Ottawa. One of the things I have learned about in the last six or seven months is time allocation. Thanks to my colleagues in the Conservative Party, I now know what time allocation is. It is denying my right to speak on behalf of my constituents to represent their views.
    The minister says that this issue has been talked about for 17 years. My constituents would like to have a voice in this chamber. What do I tell them about the government not allowing their member to speak in the House?
    Madam Speaker, he can say to his constituents that he voted in favour of retaining the long gun registry, a registry that in fact criminalizes hunters, sports shooters and farmers and that he wants to see those individuals penalized through the criminal process. He can also tell them that he has consistently voted against measures that would protect victims and that would protect children from sexual predators. Those are the things he can tell them.
    It is very clear on the record. He can go back and tell his constituents exactly what he has done in the House.


    Madam Speaker, the government's insults and personal attacks show what this debate has come to. There is no debate, merely personal attacks. The Conservatives say that they have wanted to make this change for years. This government's attitude has not evolved. It is closed-minded and not at all open to hearing other points of view. We have proposed reasonable amendments to this bill, but the government has never listened. It is still not listening to us. There is no democracy in the House. The opposition represents 60% of Canadians, but still there is no debate in the House. This situation has to end immediately. The Chair should rule on this. We never get answers to our questions because there is never any debate.


    Madam Speaker, I have never heard this individual raise this question in the House in terms of the long gun registry. In question period I certainly have not had a question from him on that. If he has not taken advantage of the opportunities to debate the bill over the past number of months, I am somewhat surprised.
    As for personal attacks, I find that quite astounding. I have not made any personal attacks. I have simply indicated in response to a question from the NDP member for Surrey North asking what he is supposed to tell his constituents. I said to tell them the truth, tell them exactly where he stands on various issues, including the long gun registry and issues related to penalties against those who would abuse children. He should tell them exactly where he stands.
    Madam Speaker, I was not going to enter this debate, but then I heard something from the minister that made me realize it is worth standing up and countering what the government says.
    The minister is accusing us of criminalizing hunters and sports shooters. That is not the intent, nor is it the actual effect of the long gun registry. Every time the Conservatives say that, we have to stand and say that is wrong, that it is not true. That is one of the reasons we need to continue this debate. Everything has to be countered. On every argument that is brought up, light has to be shed on what the government is saying, the things that are not true.


    Madam Speaker, I am puzzled. The long gun registry was passed pursuant to Parliament's criminal law power. A breach of that provision is a breach of the criminal law. A person who breaches the criminal law and is found guilty is a criminal.
    Madam Speaker, as the minister knows, I have sat on the public safety committee both in this Parliament and in the last. We have vetted this bill backwards and forwards, inside and out. I must say there are very few pieces of legislation or other matters that I have examined more thoroughly.
    The minister has sat in this chamber longer than I have. I am curious to know when was the last time he actually heard a new argument or a new angle with respect to the merits or the lack of merits of the long gun registry? When was the last time he heard a different argument?
    Madam Speaker, I think I have heard all the arguments that could possibly be made in respect to this bill. The argument essentially boils down to the opposition wanting to criminalize the farmers, hunters and sports shooters in my riding. Having said that, I do not know what the opposition members want to do once they have criminalized them. We know they do not want to send anyone to prison. Hopefully they do not want to send farmers, hunters and sports shooters to prison for this.
    The point remains that it is a criminal offence for a decent, law-abiding, ordinary individual not to register a firearm even though that individual is properly licensed to acquire a firearm.


    Madam Speaker, as for breaking the law, it was voted on by Parliament under a previous government. This government strongly urged gun owners to disobey the law and gladly promised that it would scrap the legislation. Encouraging people to disobey the law—and then accusing others of wanting to criminalize them after the fact—is just wrong.
    Earlier, the minister mentioned the very young ages of some of our elected representatives. I have a great deal of admiration for my party's young MPs. These young people are serious, hard-working individuals who are doing an excellent job. The minister needs to remember that we were all elected to Parliament and we all represent Canadians. If he wants to base his actions on the legitimacy of his mandate and act nonsensically, leading the procedure any which way, I must remind him that there are rules we must follow. That is all we are asking for today.


    Madam Speaker, perhaps we could start quoting some of the member's caucus colleagues.
    The member for Sackville—Eastern Shore in Nova Scotia said this:
    I have had this view since 1995. I have always believed that the gun registry is a failure in principle and a failure in policy, and that we could do much better with different policies.
    That is exactly it. Let us get this broken policy behind us and get effective policies reflected in laws that actually target criminals and not honest law-abiding citizens.
    Madam Speaker, what we are debating right now is time allocation and not the merits of the bill on which time allocation has been moved.
    As a new parliamentarian, I notice that in this Parliament it seems the hon. members across the aisle have very little respect for the democratic process. The democratic parliamentary process is to have the bills read at different stages, not to fly through them under time allocation. All members in this House should be able to deliberate and represent points of view from their ridings and to listen to the points being made by other members. What I am seeing over and over again is an attempt to silence any opposition.
    My question for the minister is, what do you have to hide that you want to shut up any debate in this House?


    I would just remind all members to direct their comments through the Chair.
    The hon. Minister of Public Safety.
    Madam Speaker, the NDP member for the Northwest Territories said in 2009:
    My views on the long-gun registry have been pretty consistent over the last four years. We waited for the government to address this for nearly four years.
    The member indicated in the Northern News Services that he is “encouraged that this vote has passed and will now go to committee”.
    That was in 2009. Members in that caucus are saying, “Let us get on with this”.


    Madam Speaker, time allocation should be the exception, not the rule, in this House. If there were a question of national security or an entire Canadian sector dealing with a devastating economic crisis, we would come to an agreement in the House to cut off debate for a specific reason. However, the government is simply making up excuses. It has moved nearly 20 time allocation motions, even though the House just recently resumed. It is completely unacceptable.
    Not only are the opposition members of the House being scorned, but so are Quebeckers. Three Quebec ministers came to Ottawa to comment on Bill C-19, specifically to ask the federal government not to destroy the data. The Government of Quebec has made a formal request and we have not finished debating this issue. However, the federal government refuses to listen. What is so urgent that the government will not listen to anyone—neither parliamentarians nor provincial governments—debate this issue?


    Madam Speaker, our government did hear that concern expressed by the Government of Quebec. We heard what the Government of Quebec said. We weighed that issue. We indicated very clearly that when we made the commitment to the people of Canada to abolish the long gun registry, what we said is that we would abolish that long gun registry.
    What is the registry? The registry is the data. We cannot say that we will abolish the long gun registry but keep it active through the back door. That is simply not appropriate. It would be in breach of our undertaking to the people of Canada.


    Madam Speaker, for the minister to gently poke fun at the young MPs from Quebec here in the House, shows that he does not fully understand how the democratic system works. Many recently elected MPs want to take part in this debate, having not had the opportunity to do so in the 17 years he refers to. These MPs are representatives elected by the people in their ridings. What is more, the minister is being disrespectful toward all voters in Quebec and he should apologize.


    Madam Speaker, I wanted to impress upon the members opposite how long this debate has been going on. Sometimes we have to use practical examples as illustrations that people can understand.
    I think people can understand that someone being born and coming to the age of majority is a very long period of time. It is 18 years. As I said, it is almost as long as some of the members across the way have been alive.
    This is not a rush through the House of Commons or the parliamentary process. For that member to twist my words in an untoward fashion like that is simply inappropriate.


    Madam Speaker, I heard some members talk about their involvement in debate in terms of time allocation and their opportunity to be engaged in this. I heard one member from the opposition side say that he felt he did not have an opportunity to contribute. However, he was on the public safety committee and had an excellent opportunity to contribute there.
    We know debate is not the only way for a member of Parliament to contribute to what is going on. Opposition members make it seem as though it is the only way to do so. The minister has made an excellent case that debate is not a lifelong process and we should move on with this.
    However, one of the members brought up what we should consider reasonable amendments. Could the minister comment on reasonable amendments? Would the example of the amendment put forward by the opposition to change the short title of the bill be one that is reasonable and worthy of consideration in debate?
    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his hard work on this particular file. The people of Yukon are concerned about this long gun registry and this was an important part of his commitment to the people of Yukon.
    For the opposition to bring up those types of frivolous amendments simply illustrates to the people of Canada that all those members are interested in with respect to this is a further 17 year delay.


    Madam Speaker, what will be the Conservative government's legacy? What will Canadians think of the Conservatives 30 or 40 years from now? What will they think of this government that—in the history of Canada—will have collaborated the least on parliamentary work, invoked the most time allocation motions, been the least willing to collaborate on amendments, and invoked in camera proceedings the most? What kind of democracy do the members opposite think we live in?


    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for contributing to the debate to the extent that he has.
    The process works. In certain cases, as in this case, closure is warranted. When opposition members deliberately stymie the passage of every single bill because philosophically they oppose them, that is also an abuse of the parliamentary process. Closure is a mechanism to correct the abuse by the opposition parties.
    It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings at this time and put forthwith the question on the motion now before the House.


    The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
    Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Deputy Speaker: In my opinion, the nays have it.
    And five or more members having risen:
    The Deputy Speaker: Call in the members.


    (The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

(Division No. 110)



Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Newmarket—Aurora)
Brown (Barrie)
Del Mastro
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
MacKay (Central Nova)
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Young (Oakville)

Total: -- 150



Allen (Welland)
Davies (Vancouver Kingsway)
Davies (Vancouver East)
Dionne Labelle
Doré Lefebvre
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Harris (Scarborough Southwest)
Harris (St. John's East)
LeBlanc (Beauséjour)
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord)
Morin (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Morin (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot)
Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor)
Sims (Newton—North Delta)

Total: -- 132



    I declare the motion carried.
     I wish to inform the House that because of the proceedings on the time allocation motion, government orders will be extended by 30 minutes.


Report Stage  

    The House resumed from February 6 consideration of the motion that Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act, as reported (without amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.
    Resuming debate. The hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley has eight minutes remaining for his comments and five minutes for questions.
    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to pick up my comments from where I left off yesterday at adjournment.
    Yesterday I talked about the great statesman and parliamentarian Sir Edmund Burke. Burke's position, when discussing bills and motions that lead to an end requiring a practical application of the laws that parliamentarians pass, was that parliamentarians should focus on those who do as opposed to those who simply pontificate when seeking the ends to a particular means.
    The particular end we seek is the protection of our communities and families from criminals. To that end our government has done a lot of common sense things. For example, we have introduced legislation that would put violent and repeat criminals behind bars.
    The opposition also seeks the same end, to keep our communities and families safe, but believes that compiling a list of those law-abiding citizens who own long guns somehow achieves that goal. However, Canadians know that logic is tragically flawed.
    I want the Canadian public to grasp this point. The opposition parties think that compiling a $2 billion list of law-abiding farmers and hunters is more effective in fighting crime and exponentially less expensive than simply locking criminals up. That is the difference between us and the opposition on this matter.
    As Burke said, let us look to those who do in this regard. Those who do are our front line police officers who day after day protect our communities. What do front-line police officers say about the long gun registry? During committee study on the private member's bill introduced by the member for Portage—Lisgar, Detective Sergeant Murray Grismer of the Saskatoon police said this:
—we recognize the cornerstone of public safety is the training, screening, and licensing of owners, not the registration of non-restricted rifles and shotguns.
    He went on to say:
    I don't rely on the Canadian firearms registry to protect my life.... I don't rely on the information contained there.
    Finally, Sergeant Grismer provided this common sense advice to committee:
    By having more members on the street, having a more visible presence, we make our society safer than we do by having a registry—
     It is clear that the long gun registry does nothing to enhance public safety.
     It is truly disappointing that the opposition parties oppose the government every time it takes concrete steps to protect Canadians and their families. The opposition would use the heavy hand of the Criminal Code of Canada to threaten and intimidate law-abiding farmers and sportsmen, while we would use it to keep drug dealers who prey on our children and sex offenders who prey on their innocence behind bars. That is the difference.
    It is worth dwelling of these differences because we know that the opposition likes to engage in misinformation campaigns, especially on the issue of the long gun registry.
    The main difference between the government and the opposition is a basic philosophical one. On our side of the House we believe in constructive politics and empowering Canadians. We believe that our role is to empower Canadians so they can work hard, raise families, and to the greatest extent possible keep the fruits of their labour.
    The opposition does not believe in that type of Canada. Those members believe in the politics of division and fear. They want to pit rural Canadians against urban Canadians. They want to pit gun owners against non-gun owners. They want to pit the younger generation against the older generation. It would seem that the Liberal Party and now even the NDP have adopted the advice of Liberal pollster Frank Graves, who counselled the Liberals to pit Canadians against each other in a grand culture war.
    It would seem that Mr. Grave's advice has been taken to heart, in how these two parties have decided how they will approach the issue of the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry. Instead of working constructively, these parties have held fast to their rigid ideology in order to divide Canadians.
    In one barrage of misinformation after another, the opposition has fired the opening salvos in its divisive culture war. I am going to give a couple of examples of the type of tactic that the opposition is using.


    On not one but two occasions, the NDP misled Canadians by posting pictures of restricted weapons on its website, suggesting that these weapons would no longer be registered if Bill C-19 were to become law. On another occasion, the NDP claimed that a restricted weapon would somehow become unrestricted if Bill C-19 were to become law. We all know it has nothing to do with restricted weapons; it has to do with the long gun registry of law-abiding hunters, farmers and sports shooters.
    Spreading this type of misinformation and fear is morally and intellectually bankrupt. We have long known that the NDP and Liberals are not averse to using this type of strategy. What they are averse to using is the facts, logic and plain reason in matters of public policy. Nonetheless, the deliberate use of misleading information is a new low.
    I began this speech by repeating Burke's prescription that one should always look to the practical means of achieving an end when deliberating a difficult question. We believe in the end of safe communities. I also believe that through some contortion of logic, the opposition also seeks the same end. However, in reaching that end, we believe in a robust regime of firearm licensing. We believe that one aspect of having safe communities is that violent repeat offenders should be kept behind bars. We do not believe that a $2 billion list of law-abiding gun owners is a prudent means of realizing safety on our streets and in our communities.
    We have looked to the farmers and to the front-line police officers, and their message is clear: let us get serious about crime and do things that would actually keep our families and communities safe. Let us get on with passing our badly needed criminal justice reforms. Let us pass Bill C-19.


    Madam Speaker, I was listening to the member as he was addressing this issue.
    The member is from Nova Scotia, as I am. As I was listening, some of his rhetoric caused me concern. When the member said his goal was to make Nova Scotians safer, was he suggesting that it was my goal to make Nova Scotians less safe?
    Does the member in fact believe what the government has been suggesting, that as a member of this House I am somehow supporting the early release of sex offenders, or that I am somehow suggesting that people who commit murder in our communities should not be apprehended, incarcerated and penalized?
    I would ask the member to consider this. The fact that we oppose the strategy of the government on this particular legislation should not be put down to rhetoric like this, suggesting that what I am doing in opposing him is in fact trying to make Nova Scotians less safe.
    Madam Speaker, the member is in fact right. If he had listened to the first part of speech, I said that the opposition also seeks the same end, to keep our communities and families safe, but thinks that compiling a list of those law-abiding citizens who own long guns somehow achieves that goal.
    I fully believe that all members of this House want to pass legislation that would result in all Canadians, their families and their communities being kept safe, but the fact is that our party believes the best way to do that is to lock violent offenders up, not let them walk the streets.
    That is very different from what the opposition has been saying.
    Madam Speaker, I disagree with the member and his argument.
    If we listen to the core of his argument today, he makes it sound as if the Conservatives are doing this based on facts and information brought to or prepared for them. Then the member goes on to say that the opposition is basing its decisions on its party beliefs and ideology.
    The member has it completely mixed up: the facts do not support his speech. We can canvass emergency first responders, from the police to ambulance attendants, and advocacy groups out there, the stakeholders, who are telling us why this is valuable.
    The member even concludes by saying it is a $2 billion registry. Well, we know that the annual cost of the registry is less than $5 million a year. We know that a vast majority of police want to see it maintained as one of the tools they use in policing.
    I am wondering if the member has the roles reversed—
    The hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley.
    As I mentioned in my speech, Madam Speech, we will not listen to those who sit in ivory towers and pontificate about the way things should be. We like to talk to people who are on the street, the front-line police officers who know how things are. When we do that, we do not have to walk too far. All we have to do is turn to our caucus colleagues.
     The member for the Yukon, the member for Wetaskiwin, the member for Kootenay—Columbia, the member for Saint Boniface, the member for Vaughan, the member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, the member for Oxford and the member for Northumberland—Quinte West were law enforcement officers in this nation, and to a one, they support the elimination of the long gun registry.



    Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by saying how disappointed I am that the government has introduced this bill. During the previous Parliament, my colleague from Timmins—James Bay introduced a bill laying out a responsible approach to ensuring public safety while taking into account the needs and grievances of gun owners. I am disappointed in the government's position, but I am not surprised.
    Personally, I support the gun registry. There is no doubt in my mind that the registry is an important tool to ensure public safety in Quebec and in Canada. How can the government say that it wants to make our streets safer? Of course I want safer streets, but I have to tell it like it is. This government has ignored all of the available data and analyses, choosing instead to give us Bill C-10 and Bill C-19. The people of Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert and I feel that this government is not walking the walk.
    Many organizations have condemned this bill, among them the Fédération des policiers et policières municipaux du Québec, the Quebec association of emergency physicians, the Canadian Labour Congress and the YWCA. These organizations have said that the registry is useful.
    Why is this government not heeding its own Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, Ms. O'Sullivan, who has said that Canada must do all it can to prevent further tragedies from happening, including using the tools we have to help keep communities safe, like the long-gun registry?
    From the beginning of the session, this government has tried to convince us that it cares about the victims of crime. Students at Dawson College spoke to me about this issue at a meeting on post-secondary education. The chairperson of the Dawson student union, Audrey Deveault, said that the harm caused by firearms is a problem for our country and that weakening long gun control would not help solve the problem. But why listen to them? Dawson College students asked to meet with the Prime Minister to discuss the firearms registry, but he did not even have the courtesy to respond.
    The Association des étudiants de Polytechnique has also spoken out loud and clear against this bill, as has the Association québécoise plaidoyer-victimes, which stated in its press release that saving money is a false argument. It said:
    Citing the cost of the registry as a reason for undermining some of its elements is not one of the soundest possible arguments. In fact, the Polytechnique, Concordia and Dawson shootings are tragic reminders of the cost of gun violence.
    I would also like to call the attention of this House to the opinion of Quebec's Association of Families of Persons Assassinated or Disappeared. Ms. Elizabeth Pousoulidis, president of the association, said that controlling and registering firearms were important measures to protect safety and quality of life in our communities and to minimize the number of victims wounded or slain. That is one more voice speaking out against this bill. The government may not have expected this from an organization founded by one of its senators.
    The registry has had many positive outcomes. I have been involved in women's causes for a long time. I was affected by the École Polytechnique massacre, which spurred many to call for the creation of the registry. But we should not forget about domestic violence. According to the Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, 71% of spousal homicides are committed with a rifle or shotgun. These types of guns are governed by this bill.
    The YWCA estimates that violence against women costs Canadians approximately $4 billion annually.


    Over 100,000 women and children are forced to leave their homes because of violence and abuse. The CEO of the YWCA, Paulette Senior, made a very important point that I would like to share with the House. She said, “Long guns and rifles are used to intimidate women and the threat of a rifle is often a significant reason that women don’t risk leaving to seek help.”
    That is why the Fédération des femmes du Québec, the Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale and the Fédération de ressources d'hébergement pour femmes violentées et en difficulté du Québec have decided to speak out in favour of maintaining the firearms registry. They work in the field of violence against women and they see the effects of firearms and the registry. It is important to note that the rate of homicides involving rifles or shotguns has decreased by 70% since the registry was created.
    As a member from Quebec, I call upon this government to grant the request of the Government of Quebec and Quebeckers. We must save the firearms registry or, in the worst case scenario, we must save the data. We must.
    I would like to close by citing a letter that I received from Dr. Jocelyne Sauvé, the director of public health in the Montérégie region. She makes arguments that represent the principles I uphold as a physician.
...I would like to share with you my concerns about public health should this bill be passed.
    In Canada, firearms are the cause of approximately 800 deaths per year, mainly suicides committed in private residences with non-restricted firearms such as shotguns or rifles. A number of studies have shown that a home where there are firearms is five times more likely to be the scene of a suicide and three times more likely to be the scene of a homicide or a firearm-related accident than a home without a gun. Contrary to popular belief, most gun deaths are caused by people who do not have a criminal record. For these people, who often have personal, marital or mental health problems, access to firearms is a significant risk factor for such action. As a result, controlling access to firearms is a key prevention measure for vulnerable individuals.
...The combined effects [of the firearms registry] have resulted in a reduction in the number of weapons that are improperly stored, lost or illegally owned. It also makes firearms less accessible to individuals who are vulnerable or in a state of crisis, without preventing owners from using them for ordinary, legitimate, purposes such as hunting or sports shooting.
    In addition, the Institut national de santé publique du Québec recently stated that the Firearms Act had saved 300 lives a year between 1998 and 2004. I am therefore asking members of the House to consider the points that I have just mentioned, as well as those set out in our brief, and oppose this bill.


    Madam Speaker, my question has to do with violence against women. I agree with my colleague that the best thing we can do is to ensure people who are unstable do not get guns and do not have access to them. The licensing process can help with that. It is not a perfect system, but it can help red flag individuals who should not own a firearm.
    There is yet to be any link between the registry and firearms control, where people actually do not have access to a firearm because of the registry. No one has been able to make that point.
    My hon. colleague talked about the fact that many women are intimidated by guns and that guns are used to intimidate them, which is a very sad thing. However, the fact is more women are actually killed with knives. Therefore, following the logic of my colleague across the way, given that more women are killed with knives than anything, does the NDP now propose a registry for knives? Unfortunately that is how they are being killed.



    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague opposite for her very pertinent question.
    Today we are discussing the firearms registry. As I said in my speech, statistics show that firearms are often used in domestic violence. I would also remind the member opposite that for several years now, the NDP has been saying that we need to find ways to resolve the problems associated with the registry, while strengthening laws to help control the possession of firearms.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.
    I would like to hear what she really thinks of clause 29 of this bill, which, in my opinion, is unacceptable.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.
    Under clause 29, all of the data must be destroyed. Chiefs of police and some provinces, particularly Quebec, have already indicated that they want to preserve the data for public safety. The answer was no; the data could not be transferred to them. Yet we all know how costly it was to create the firearms registry and to gather all that information.
    Personally, I think eliminating the firearms registry is unthinkable when we know the repercussions this could have on public safety, specifically in Quebec and throughout Canada.
    Madam Speaker, I would first like to congratulate my hon. colleague on her wonderful speech, which showed a broad range of understanding, particularly concerning violence against women.
    I have a very brief question. What importance does she place on maintaining the registry, specifically concerning its impact on public safety?
    Madam Speaker, could the hon. member repeat the last part of her question?
    Madam Speaker, I would like the member to explain how important maintaining the registry is to public safety.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
    It is common sense. If we do not have a gun registry, we will not know who owns a gun. If we do not know that, imagine the repercussions for the safety of Quebeckers and Canadians.


    Madam Speaker, I am very pleased today to rise in the House to speak in favour of Bill C-19, the ending the long gun registry act. However, I would first like to honour my colleagues, the member for Yorkton—Melville and the member for Portage—Lisgar, for their tremendous work on eliminating the long gun registry. We will shortly see the fruits of their labour.
    Many of my colleagues on this side of the House have spoken eloquently about how the long gun registry has been wasteful and ineffective. Costs have ballooned to over $2 billion. They have proven that the registry has not stopped a single crime, nor saved a single life. They have told us how front-line police officers, like Murray Grismer and Duane Rutledge, have explained why the registry is useless and actually reduces officers' safety. They have told us how the registry needlessly targets law-abiding hunters, farmers, ranchers and sport shooters. They have told us how it diverts much-needed resources away from crime prevention and law enforcement. My colleagues have been spot-on in their condemnation of the long gun registry.
    What I will do is show why, in principle, the registry is wrong and should have never come into existence.
    Sir William Blackstone wrote in his seminal text, Commentaries on the Laws of England:
...every wanton and causeless restraint of the will of the subject, whether practiced by a monarch, a nobility, or a popular assembly, is a degree of tyranny.
    This is an important statement to remember in the context of the long gun registry.
    Not long after his first election, Allan Rock, the former Liberal justice minister who oversaw the implementation of the long gun registry, stated that it was his firm belief that, “Only the police and military should have firearms”.
    Lloyd Axworthy, the then Liberal foreign affairs minister, during his time also stated that, “disarming the Canadian public is part of the new humanitarian social agenda”.
    These egregious attitudes run contrary to section 1 of the Canadian Bill of Rights, where it is clearly laid out in black and white:
     It is hereby recognized and declared that in Canada there have existed and shall continue to exist without discrimination by reason of race, national origin, colour, religion or sex, the following human rights and fundamental freedoms, namely,
(a) the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property...;
    This is not something that most of my colleagues across the aisle would like to admit is part of the rights of Canadians. Law-abiding individuals should not be compelled by the force of criminal law to register their property.
    Let us not mince words. A firearm in the hands of a sound-minded, law-abiding Canadian is no more a threat to the safety of Canadians than any kitchen appliance or garden tool. It is refreshing that our government has finally returned this common sense attitude back to the discussion. Limiting personal freedom for nebulous public safety benefits is not what the Fathers of Confederation envisaged in 1867.
    We cannot fundamentally give up liberty in order to maintain a small amount of safety or, in reality, a small amount of perceived safety. This is why I am so very proud to be a Conservative member of Parliament. We are the only party that talks about liberty, freedom and human rights, and we actually mean what we say. Rather than frittering away billions of dollars, this money could have been spent on crime prevention, policing or incarceration, all of which would have, by comparison, reduced crime exponentially.
    The regulation of property is a matter for the provinces. It is most certainly not a matter to be dealt with under the Criminal Code, the strongest instrument available to government. We must cease the attitude that says guns are scary, therefore, no one should have them. If we follow that path, this approach would simply never end.
    It is a sad truth, but there are individuals who will seek to do harm to others in our society. Studies show this number to be about 7% of the population. Those people will not be bothered by some sort of bureaucratic regulation that mandates them to register their firearms. This attitude needs to be replaced by one of enlightened understanding.
    Regulation must be smart. That is what we have done. We ensure, through rigorous testing, that only those who are responsible and qualified come into possession of firearms. We have ensured that those who insist on breaking the law and harming others will receive serious jail time. These are measures that make sense. These are measures we will continue. These are measures that the opposition, somehow, opposes. I am not sure how it logically squares that circle.


    Canadians voted on May 2 from coast to coast to coast for a party that said it would return logic to the firearms laws in this country. Every single person knew that a Conservative government would end the long gun registry. That should be a surprise to no one. A promise made, a promise kept. Canadians gave our government a strong mandate to end the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry once and for all. That is exactly what the bill before us would do.
    I would now like to focus on the land, resources, people and culture of my own constituency. My constituents are uniformly outraged by the long gun registry. Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette is a vast and beautiful constituency in western Manitoba. Farmers, ranchers, loggers, hunters, anglers, outfitters and trappers make up the majority of my constituents. It is a beautiful place with abundant wildlife. Many of my constituents are avid hunters, as am I. Hunting is a part of my culture and my way of life, as it is for many of my constituents. Interestingly, almost all of the homes in my constituency have one firearm or more, yet the crime rate is very low. The comment by the member opposite about how women are intimidated by firearms most certainly does not apply to the women in my constituency. Many of them own firearms and hunt.
    Why is the crime rate so low in my constituency? It is because where I live there is a culture of respect for each other, the community and the land that sustains us. In fact, I would call my constituency a peaceable kingdom. Members opposite are always throwing around labels like gun lobby in order to demonize people like my constituents. It is as if firearms ownership is a central tenet of my neighbours' existence. To us, firearms are a useful tool and a necessary part of country living. We are not afraid of firearms. Seeing someone walking down the road with a firearm is usually an excuse to stop and ask how the hunting trip was.
    The gun lobby is manifested by the many wild game dinners that are hosted right across my constituency. In my constituency there is the Crawford Park Christmas party. People bring food to the event and most of the meals are wild game. There is a Santa Claus and people sing Christmas carols. There are all the traditional things that Canada stands for. Is that the gun lobby in action? It is not. These are good, solid folks who work hard and play by the rules. My constituents are honest country people who work hard and play by the rules. That is why we find the long gun registry so egregious and offensive. When crimes are committed in far-off, big cities, who gets punished? My constituents do.
    Parties opposite make a great show of their support for the working people. Yet those parties are working tirelessly to put the communities in my riding out of business. From the long gun registry to the Liberals' failed animal rights legislation, to the NDP attacks on rural resource communities and to the recent musings by the NDP member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl on the end of the seal hunt in his province, a disturbing pattern has emerged, a pattern of relentless attacks on the entire sustainable use community.
    The Liberals have always despised rural resource communities like my own, but there was a time when the old NDP actually exhibited some solidarity with people on the land. In fact, out of the nine NDP MPs at the time of the vote on Bill C-68, eight voted against the long gun registry, including the then leader Audrey McLaughlin. Times have certainly changed. Today's NDP has become the party of big government elites and union bosses and has abandoned its roots.
    Members on this side of the House will never forget who we are and where we come from. We stand in solidarity with Canada's natural resource communities, with our culture of the responsible and sustainable use of our national resources, and with Canada's law-abiding firearms owners and hunters. I therefore encourage all members to stand with me and support Bill C-19, a bill to end the long gun registry.



    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his remarks.
    I understand that the Conservative government opposite wants to dismantle the gun registry. That is very clear, particularly given the time allocation that we have just voted on for the 14th time in the House.
    For weeks, Quebec has been asking the government to transfer the data. Why is the government refusing? How can the Conservatives show such a lack of respect for Quebec, which their party recognized as a nation right here in the House?


    Mr. Speaker, there is a very simple answer to the hon. member's very simple question. The records are being destroyed and will not be supplied to any jurisdiction because when we committed to eliminating the long gun registry, that was a de facto commitment to eliminate the records. The records are the registry. We simply could not say we were going to eliminate the registry without eliminating the records. That is self-evident.
    Mr. Speaker, I wish to address this question through you to my friend, the hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette. In this case, I use the term “friend” with great affection. I have known the member for many years from his previous work, before politics, in biology.
    I would like to ask him and other members of the Conservative Party not to assume that members on this side of the House do not have friends and relatives who are hunters, who use guns, who respect gun owners and who understand that gun owners in this country are responsible and stalwart members of our communities. I ask my friend to please recognize that some of us have actually spoken to police chiefs and RCMP officers who have asked us to help them keep this tool. I would have much preferred that at this point in the discussion we were finding solutions that work for everyone rather than finding ways to further divide us.


    Mr. Speaker, I am reminded of the metaphor, if it sounds like a duck, walks like a duck and swims like a duck, it must be a duck.
    All the pious words in favour of the hunting community notwithstanding, the actions of all the members opposite certainly belie that. Over and over again, they seek to restrict and reduce the ability of people who live in my constituency to live their lives how they want to. I will gladly concede the point to my hon. friend when she provides unequivocal support for a way of life that has sustained this country for generations.
    Mr. Speaker, my riding is very expansive. There are rural and urban communities. I have talked to front-line police officers and to constituents right across my riding. Whether rural or urban citizens, there might be the odd one I have talked to who has wanted to keep it, but the vast majority, I would say 99% of them, would like to get rid of the long gun registry. We know this has been a very expensive piece of legislation.
    My hon. colleague supports the elimination of the long gun registry. Would he tell us how much it has actually cost Canadian taxpayers? Could those dollars have been of better use for the citizens of Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, we know that it has cost at least $2 billion overall. I know members opposite dismiss the $5 million a year as if it were peanuts. Obviously, that money could have been better spent on policing and law enforcement activities. However, I would like to throw another idea into this. I am a biologist and avid conservationist. Most of the hunting community participates in conservation activities. When I think of the conservation programming that could have been funded with that money, I literally weep. The good we could do for our land, biodiversity and wildlife with that money would simply be incalculable.


    Mr. Speaker, it is with great humility and emotion that I rise to speak to Bill C-19. This is a complex and difficult bill for Canadians, a bill that should raise public awareness about a problem.
    I will not be speaking for myself alone; I will be speaking primarily on behalf of the victims of crimes committed with firearms, the families whose lives have been affected forever, who continue to be victims and will remain victims.
    In today's society, these debates are widely reported. The media love these issues. This means that we should be able to debate them in the House at length, especially when the issue is complex and affects many people. For that reason, I am speaking with a great deal of humility because just like a number of my colleagues and even the members opposite, I probably have much to learn about this issue and about the experiences of the victims of these crimes. We must take this into consideration.
    Let me begin by explaining what the registry is. The Canadian firearms registry is part of the Canadian firearms information system available to Canadian police forces through an online system called the Canadian Police Information Centre. CPIC, as it is called, is a search program the police can use to look up the name, address and firearm permit number of an individual or even information about firearms such as the serial number or the firearm registration certificate. It is a way of determining whether the certificate has expired or is still current. That in itself sounds the alarm for some people in the police force.
    The system also provides police officers with real-time access to the information, and it is updated regularly when a public danger has been identified. The system is used when police officers respond to a call and might be used in the course of their duties and investigations. Police officers have to respond to all sorts of calls. Speaking of police officers, in 2011, they used the registry almost 15,000 times a day. The registry was useful. There is no doubt it was useful. We have to keep that in mind.
    What is the difference between a permit and registration? Under the Firearms Act, having a permit and registering a gun is comparable to having a driver's licence and registering a vehicle. A firearms permit shows that the permit holder took training, satisfied certain public safety criteria, including a background check, and is authorized to own and use firearms. The purpose of registering a firearm is to identify a firearm and tie it to its owner, in order to keep track of guns.
    What we want here is control. We want to protect the public from actions or misdeeds. It is better to have some control than none at all. For some time now, the government has not wanted control or debate. It has been letting everything slide. Freedom is great, but at what cost?
    The cost is often unnecessary deaths, shootings and tragic events that could have been prevented if we had at least had some control and if we had been able to broaden the scope of a certain law. Hunters and fishers were never the target of the gun registry. The target is a population at risk. Some will say that, as long as they are at risk, they can do what they want and that they would never take the time to register or what have you, but that is not true. It is not true. We never know who we are dealing with.


    The legal registration of a firearm was a way to save lives and I am certain that it still is—we are only at the report stage.
    Parliament passed the Firearms Act in 1995 and implemented most of its provisions in 1998 with the specific goal to protect people from crime. As I said, this law does not target hunters. The purpose of this legislation was to protect the population in terms of possession, transportation, maintenance and storage of firearms.
    If a civilization, a modern society like Canada wants to protect its people and implement a registry such as this one, why not? It must do so. It must ensure that people are not living in fear and worry. We must protect the people of Canada from east to west, from one end of the country to the other.
    The 2000 reference regarding the Firearms Act stated unequivocally that the primary goal of this act is public safety. Is the act achieving its primary goal now? That is hard to say. The answer involves complex analysis. That is why we have to debate it. For the nth time, the government is limiting the debate by moving a time allocation motion. Many of us know a thing or two about this. We can do the research and ask our constituents what they want. But do we have time to do that? Never. Regardless of the issue at hand, we never have time for that. Everything is so rushed. That is not how a democratic Parliament should work.
    That is why it is important to gauge the impact of changing these provisions and to hold an informed and civilized debate on the issues involved. We live in a changing world where truth can be stranger than fiction. One of my colleagues opposite talked about that. Scenes of violence are commonplace on television and in video games. It is absolutely everywhere, and nobody is talking about it. Some people are more easily influenced than others. That element of Bill C-19 has not even been touched upon.
    That makes no sense, considering how freely available scenes of gun violence are to people seeking that kind of thrill. It is in video games. Gratuitous violence is present in all kinds of social media. People can go online and buy guns so powerful that they might as well be nuclear weapons. They can buy a bazooka online and have UPS or even Canada Post deliver it. What kind of world, what kind of society do we live in? Is this the Planet of the Conservatives, a society where fear trumps peace and harmony? I do not know what to say, but do I even have the authority to speak? As a representative of the people, can I make decisions on their behalf? I would like to have a chance to talk to them and hear what they think.
    I humbly conclude my remarks, and I hope that the Conservative government will hear our grievances.



    Mr. Speaker, I have two comments. The first comment is in regard to time allocation. There comes a moment in time when it is time to actually implement a bill and we have reached that point. Parliamentary procedure being what it is, time allocation is needed at different steps in the process.
    The long gun registry has been debated over the years and I think positions are well-known. Canadians are expecting us to implement this bill, which is why we have time allocation.
    I have a question for my colleague. If the gun registry is so effective, I will mention two cases and see if he can comment on them. The first case is when a crime is committed with a long gun that was on the long gun registry, it is obvious to me that the long gun registry did not prevent that crime.
    Case two is if a crime is committed with a long gun that is not on the long gun registry, it is quite obvious to me that the long gun registry did nothing to prevent that crime.
    I am wondering if my colleague could comment on the fact that he long gun registry does not prevent crime. I have given two examples of where a gun is on the long gun registry and where it is not. Could the member comment on this and try to make sense of it?


    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague opposite for the questions. I sincerely believe that the registry is useful. How many times has it been used and has it prevented tragedies? Probably hundreds of thousands of times. We have no statistics on that. All we hear from the media is that someone was shot, there was a shooting or something, and that it was done with a registered or unregistered weapon.



    Better to be protected than not. Better to prevent than not prevent.


    This is what our debate should focus on. The registry is definitely useful, because police forces use it. I think it is much better to prevent crime and not frighten Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, I feel just as passionate about this issue as my colleague. I think we are having a spurious debate here. It has been proven repeatedly that the registry saves lives.
    I deplore the fact that my colleagues across the floor are playing around with assumptions about registered and unregistered weapons and the cost of maintaining the firearms registry, when we know that millions of dollars have been spent on keeping it up to date. I do not understand why they want to throw away the millions of dollars invested in the registry.
    I also do not understand the comparison and degree of comparison between an edged weapon and a firearm. I do not understand the Conservative members' logic. This is about people's lives; it is not about money. It is not about the registry. It is not about—
    Order. I have to interrupt the hon. member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert.
    We have enough time for an answer. The hon. member for Compton—Stanstead.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for her comments. I think there is no price on saving a life. There is absolutely no price on that.
    It currently costs a few million dollars to maintain this registry. It is truly useful and costs practically nothing compared to other useless expenses we could name here for which the government is responsible. I think there is no price on saving a life.


    It is a statement that has to stand. There is no price on saving a life.
    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.


    Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise the hon. member that with the last incarnation of the bill, I took the time to sit down with the chief of police of my city and the head of the gun registry, both of whom are fully supportive of retaining the gun registry, which includes keeping long guns on the gun registry. There is, of course, no such instrument as the long gun registry.
    I was informed by the chief of police that the key reason officers were able to arrest and eventually convict two of the perpetrators in the killings of four RCMP officers at Mayerthorpe was the gun registry. That was how they were able to track down the gun.
    There have been countless examples given by police officers across the country of how many times they use this mechanism and they have stated that it is useful to them. The Canadian Association of Police Boards, Canadian Professional Police Association, Canadian Emergency Physicians and medical officers of health have found it to be useful.
    Would the member prefer that this useful instrument not be available to identify weapons which could maim, kill or cause suicide?
    Mr. Speaker, I will mention some things that police officers are really saying about the gun registry.
    A.B.J. “Ben” Beatty, a 23-year veteran of the Ontario Provincial Police stated:
    I must point out, Sir, that the firearms registry did not assist in solving one, nor obviously in deterring one [single crime]. The reasons that the firearms registry is so highly ineffectual are, I believe obvious, but basically it affects the wrong people, law abiding citizens and not criminals.
    Retired RCMP staff sergeant Len Grinnell said:
    As a retired member of the RCMP, who supervised police officers in Canada's largest Detachments, I have grave concerns about the reliance on the registry for data which could result in the death or injury of a police officer.
    Mr. Speaker, I think someone in the Prime Minister's office has been very busy writing speeches, because all the speeches I hear from government members are starting to sound the same.
    The hon. member cited some statistics to show that almost 100% of gun crimes committed with handguns were committed with illegal handguns. If he believes as he and others have been saying that criminals do not register their guns, why is the government sticking with the handgun registry? Would it not be useless in the member's eyes as well?
    Police chiefs from all over the country have told us that the registry is valuable. Is there a schism between the leadership of the police and officers on the street? Is the government saying that it does not have faith in police leadership in this country?
    Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member that even though the speeches might sound the same, I believe every word that I am saying.
    I represent the constituents of the riding of Sault Ste. Marie. My constituents elected me in large part based on our government's position on the long gun registry. An NDP member was defeated for that same reason. I stand by our government's position and I stand by the constituents of my riding of Sault Ste. Marie.
    Mr. Speaker, the member's question was not answered so I want to echo what my Liberal colleague asked.
    Conservatives will have us believe that police officers do not want this registry. However, the chiefs of police, the people who have gone through the ranks, have lots of experience dealing with many issues relating to policing.
    Could the member tell me whether there is a divide between the police officers and the chiefs of police?


    Mr. Speaker, I did take the opportunity to meet with the chief of police in my riding. He did state that there was not one incident where the long gun registry provided any service to save any lives in Sault Ste. Marie.
    He did tell me the registry is used, but the reality is it is used if the police pull over a vehicle. The software system automatically checks to see whether that person has a gun or not. If a police officer has to depend on that, then that is ridiculous.
    Mr. Speaker, I am proud and privileged to once again speak in support of Bill C-19, the ending the long gun registry act. I say that with a bit of despair. While I am happy to speak to the bill, after 16 or 17 years this wears on an individual. A couple of opposition members yesterday commented on our not giving enough time for debate on this issue. In my world, 16 or 17 years is a long time. I am hopeful that a week from now the opposition will have come to its senses and will stand in support of this great bill.
    I have heard countless times over the past seven years from my constituents that they are concerned about the effectiveness of the registry and the fact that it does not actually target the people it was intended to target. It is simple. The long gun registry targets law-abiding Canadians, not criminals.
    My constituents, like many other Canadians, want effective solutions that keep their streets and communities safe. That is why this government is taking concrete steps to try and improve our justice system, and we have been slugged at every step on that road as well.
    Bill C-19 is an important piece of legislation that should be supported by all members of the House. The bill before us is about freedom, pure and simple.
    A firearm in the hands of a licensed law-abiding Canadian is no more dangerous than any other piece of property. This is why I feel so strongly about the connotation that owning a rifle or a shotgun makes someone a criminal. That must be eliminated.
    Before I discuss the bill I would like to review how we arrived at where we are today.
    I would like to share with the House a quote from former Liberal justice minister Allan Rock:
    I came to Ottawa last year, with a firm belief that the only people in Canada who should have firearms are police officers and the military.
    Does that sound familiar? Adolf Hitler, 1939.
    Oh, come on.
    Mr. Speaker, this statement is the reason we are here today. We now have an ineffective and wasteful registry that has been estimated by the state broadcaster to cost in excess of $2 billion.
    Similar to Mr. Rock's comments, another--
    An hon. member: I don't think the PMO wrote that.
    An hon. member: Don't lose hair, Larry.
    Mr. Larry Miller: Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether the members of the Liberal Party want to listen or if they want--
    Order, please. I appreciate the enthusiasm hon. members have for the speech of the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, but I am sure other members would like to hear what the hon. member has to say.
    The hon. member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound.
    Mr. Speaker, we now have an ineffective and wasteful registry that has been estimated by the state broadcaster to cost in excess of $2 billion.
    Similar to Mr. Rock's comments, another prominent Liberal at the time, Senator Sharon Carstairs, said the following, “The registering of hunting rifles is the first step in the social re-engineering of Canadians”. Can hon. members believe that statement, “the social re-engineering of Canadians?” That is what Adolf Hitler tried to do in the 1930s.
    The two statements that I have shared should clearly illustrate why this registry was created. It was not about decreasing gun crime or improving police officer safety. All evidence shows that it has not had any measurable improvement to either issue. When it comes to police officers, those out on the ground, not involved in police politics, many of them in my riding were out putting up signs and that kind of thing in support because they did not support the registry.
    The two statements I have shared should clearly illustrate why this registry was created. It was not about decreasing gun crime or improving police officer safety. All evidence shows that it has not achieved any measurable improvements to either issue. The long gun registry is, at its core, solely about an idea that the Liberals of the nineties had that guns were inherently evil and must be taken out of the hands of the general population. Again, who does that sound like?
    Our government fundamentally disagrees with this idea. Firearms are tools. The danger is not inherent in the piece of property, but rather the intent in which it is used. This is why we have taken measures to ensure that individuals who are predisposed to committing crimes with firearms do not have access to them in the first place.
    This is the most logical route to take. We license individuals such as hunters, farmers and sports shooters, which I am, so they can legally buy firearms. All individuals are screened so that criminals, unqualified individuals and the mentally ill cannot have access to firearms.
    However, it is possible for some individuals to fall through the cracks. There are individuals who purchase firearms illegally on the black market for the sole purpose of a committing a crime. For these individuals, there must be a strong deterrent through tough jail sentences, and this is what we are doing. Nowhere in this model is there a logical place for a registry, which essentially amounts to a piece of paper next to a gun.
    Let us be clear. Law-abiding hunters, farmers and sports shooters are not the ones out there committing crimes. It is important to focus the very limited resources that exist for crime prevention and public safety on things that actually result in reductions in crime. This is why it is so important to vote in favour of Bill C-19.
    The bill would do two key things that would go a long way to both restoring a modicum of sanity to firearms laws in Canada and would also be important steps to focusing our resources where they could be most useful.
    First, the bill would eliminate the requirement to register non-restricted and non-prohibited firearms, essentially most rifles and shotguns. This is important because, contrary to the protests of my colleagues across the floor, these firearms are merely tools of the trade for rural folks and people who like to do a bit of hunting on the weekend or during hunting season. They are not the military-calibre weaponry as suggested by the NDP.
    I would like to digress for a moment. As I stated earlier, a large reason for the oppositions' steadfast support for the long gun registry stems from the fact that most of the folks across the way have never held a firearm or been around firearms. That is fine, if that is their choice, but they should at least learn the facts.
    The member for Papineau posted on Twitter some several weeks back a picture of a firearm he claimed would be non-restricted. It was quite the ominous photo, almost laughable. However, the facts were that the pictured firearm, the Micro Tavor TAR-21, is a restricted firearm.
    Not to be outdone, the NDP then purchased billboards and slapped up some scary looking silhouettes of firearms. The only problem was that the pictures of guns it was using were also restricted firearms.
    This sort of fearmongering is not helpful. It deliberately distorts the truth and does nothing to improve safety in Canada. The facts are that we are removing the need to register firearms, in large part, used responsibly by responsible people.
    We are also providing for the destruction of data contained in the Canadian Firearms Registry pertaining to the registration of long guns. This is important because this information should never have been collected in the first place.


    I know there are protests from across the way about destroying the data. The gun registry is the data. We do not get rid of the gun registry, unless the data is destroyed. It has to be done. It is so outdated. We could talk to policemen or women and they will say the same thing.
    Let us face the facts. The long gun registry has not been successful. It has been a massive boondoggle. It does not improve the safety of police officers. It has not stopped a single crime or saved a single life. It has cost in excess of $2 billion.
    Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Let us stop this and eliminate stupidity from firearms laws in Canada.
     Canadians gave this government a strong mandate to end the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry once and for all, and that is exactly what the bill before us today would do. I can hardly wait until next week for the final vote. I and the many people I have heard from in the last couple of days are so looking forward to that.
    I call on all members of the House, regardless of their party affiliation, to stand up for law-abiding Canadians and support the bill.


    Mr. Speaker, I had a chance to sit in committee after second reading. Victim after victim said that we needed to keep the gun registry. We heard from chiefs of police. We had letters.
    The member across pointed out that the gun registry did not increase the safety of the RCMP or police forces. Yet the chiefs of police, the very people who are leaders in our country, want to keep the gun registry.
    Is the member telling the truth or are the chiefs of police telling the truth? Who is telling the truth about the safety of our police officers?
    Mr. Speaker, not at one point did I ever say that police chiefs were not saying what they believed.
    I did talk, if the member was listening, about policemen and women on the ground, those who are not involved in politics. Quite often the direction that comes out of the police chiefs comes from urban situations. I totally understand that.
    In fact, a policeman just said me the other day not to let anybody tell me that the registry helped police officers when they went to a door. He said that it did not matter how many guns the person might have. Even if they checked the registry and it said that there were no guns in that house, they still approached the house as if there were, He said that they did not know whether the person got a gun through the black market or other means.
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member mentioned firearms licensing. Is he aware of the evidence that was presented to committee that the registry was not effective? That same evidence showed that licensing was not effective, which boggles my mind because I believe in licensing.
    In terms of licence revocations, if people's licences are revoked because they are now seen as potentially dangerous or perhaps are in mental distress, would it not help to have a record of the firearms they have at their disposal? Would it not help police officers when they collect the firearms that need to be taken away from these people?
    Mr. Speaker, that is a good question from my colleague. As part of my speech, my hon. colleague might remember my saying that the licensing system, if done in the right way, would ensure that people who had committed crimes or the mentally ill, as he referred to, would be unable to get that licence in the first place. That would be dealt with in any licensing system.
    I did not hear the testimony saying that licensing did not work. I do not believe licensing does not work. With respect to the mental state of individuals, their status can change. The law has to deal with that. A licence, one way or the other, will not stop that.
    Mr. Speaker, I have a very quick question for my colleague from Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound.
    I was elected in 2006 and we made a commitment to end the long gun registry. There was the same commitment in 2008 and again in 2011. In Burlington I made the commitment that this government, if elected, would end the long gun registry. Why is it important to the member and his constituents that what we say during an election is what we do when we form government?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Burlington does a great job representing his constituents. A number of his constituents come to my beautiful riding of Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound during deer season and duck season to hunt.
    On the member's question about the importance of honouring commitments, the government has no credibility without following up on them. Early on in our mandate we said we would do this, although it would have been nice to have done this before Christmas. However, it is after the Christmas break and it is back on the agenda. Come next week, we can finally have three cheers that this thing will be gone.



    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to debate Bill C-19.
    Once again, the Conservatives are showing their narrow ideology in trying to eliminate the Canadian firearms registry. This registry is strongly defended by our police forces and by the majority of Canadians, but this government is choosing once again to ignore reality. It continues to reject all the recommendations by the opposition parties and the provinces, showing utter contempt.
    The arguments in favour of this bill are not very convincing, while there are many arguments against the bill that are backed by data and by groups that work in protecting Canadians. The Conservatives' three main arguments—that the registry is expensive and ineffective and it violates the rights of hunters—do not hold water.
    Yes, the initial cost of the registry was exorbitant, but it has already been paid for by Canadian taxpayers. Abolishing the registry will not bring back the money that has already been spent. In addition, today, the government is refusing to even give the provinces the data when they are the ones that paid for it. The provinces will therefore have to once again spend taxpayers' money to recreate a registry that already existed. In short, the Conservatives are once again making the provinces pay, just as they are doing with Bill C-10 and Bill C-25 and just as we saw recently with the proposed changes to increase the age of eligibility for old age security benefits.
    Also, according to the RCMP, abolishing the registry would result in direct savings of only $1 million to $3.6 million. That is what the lives of the thousands of people saved by this registry are worth to the Conservatives. This government claims to want to destroy the registry to save money. To the government, then, a life is worth nothing.This so-called savings is nothing compared to the increased cost of police investigations that will inevitably result from abolishing this registry.
     In other words, the Conservatives' main argument for wanting to abolish the registry is simply a ridiculous lie. The annual cost of the registry is negligible and the government could easily cover this low cost if it stopped wasting taxpayers' money on exorbitantly priced military aircraft and the ridiculous promotion of royalty.
    The other argument frequently used by the Conservatives to justify destroying the registry is that it is supposedly ineffective. This argument is no more convincing than the others. Police forces consult the registry more than 17,000 times a day and want the registry to be maintained. It allows police officers to plan their operations better when they have to intervene with individuals, which contributes to the safety of our police forces. The registry also helps reduce the cost of police investigations. When a long gun is used in a crime, police officers can easily track the firearm and its user.
    The registry has also helped save many lives. Even though the majority of murders are committed with handguns, long guns are used in the majority of spousal murders and suicides in which firearms are involved. Various women's advocacy associations want the registry to be maintained. Year after year, long guns are used in two out of every three murders involving firearms. The registry has helped greatly diminish the number of spousal murders. For example, only a third as many spousal murders were committed with long guns in 2007 as in 1996, despite population growth, which shows the usefulness of the registry.
     These long guns wreak even more havoc on Canadian society when we consider suicide. Year after year, close to 60% of firearms suicides are committed with long guns. The registry makes it possible to quickly determine if, for example, a depressed person owns a firearm, which allows authorities to save many lives. The number of firearms suicides dropped from 569 in 2001 to 475 in 2004, proving once again that the registry works.


     Since we know that most homicides committed with firearms are suicides, it is of the utmost importance for the government to take action. However, this government is irresponsible and would rather ignore the facts and introduce a bill that will lead to the death of hundreds of Canadians.
    The survivors of the various massacres that have occurred in Canada also want the registry to be maintained. The Conservatives say that they are on the side of victims of crime, but they ignore and turn their backs on those victims when they take a stand that does not match the Conservative ideology. These same Conservatives accuse the opposition parties of being against victims.
    If, as they claim, the Conservatives are on the side of victims, why are they not listening to them? Why are they making their retrograde Conservative ideology a priority rather than addressing the concerns of victims? This government is illogical: it says that it wants to make our streets safer by imposing repressive bills, but it wants to allow the free circulation of firearms. This clearly shows that there is something fundamentally wrong with the Conservative ideology.
     In addition, one of the main reasons that there are problems with the registry is that the Conservatives did not enforce the legislation. Instead of fining or, depending on the seriousness of the case, prosecuting those who did not register their guns, the Conservatives gave offenders amnesty. Since 2006, this government has been sending the message that the laws pertaining to the registry are not important and that the Conservative government supports offenders. As a result, millions of firearms are still not registered. What credibility does this irresponsible government have when it states that the registry is ineffective, given that it is directly responsible for the problems with the registry? The Conservatives have done nothing but sabotage the registry since 2006. This government claims to want to enforce the laws but, instead, it is sending the message that only the laws that are consistent with the Conservative ideology have to be respected.
     Another argument put forward by the Conservatives to justify destroying this registry is that it violates the freedom of firearms users by imposing red tape. That does not stand up either. Only 2 million people have to deal with the registry's red tape out of a total population of almost 35 million Canadians. Why destroy this registry and sacrifice the majority of Canadians to save a very small minority from the administrative irritants of the registry? Should we stop registering vehicles? Now there is a question. Yet there are far more users of vehicles than of firearms. Obviously, vehicle registration does not go against the Conservative ideology, which is modelled on the mentality in the United States.
     It is pathetic that this irresponsible government is again trying to destroy the registry. Once again, this government is lying to Canadians in order to justify its actions. Once again, this government is allowing the United States—in this case the powerful gun lobbies—to dictate our country's policies. It is time that this government started to listen to reason and the facts: abolishing this registry will lead to more suicides and spousal murders. Abolishing the registry will complicate the work of our police officers and make it more dangerous.
     I could go on for hours, but I know that the Conservatives do not listen to anyone. They refuse to listen to the recommendations put forward by the opposition parties and the provinces. They do not have enough respect for the loved ones of those who take their own lives, the victims of killings and abused women to consider, at a bare minimum, providing the provinces with the data from the registry.
     They do not even have enough respect for our police forces to listen to them when they say that they need the registry. In short, these Conservatives, who always claim that they are tough on crime, are promoting crime by allowing weapons to circulate freely. They are completely forsaking victims by ignoring them. This bill clearly demonstrates the extent of the Conservative's contempt for our constituents. I will continue to stand up for all those Canadians who have been abandoned by this Conservative government.



    Mr. Speaker, with the utmost respect to my hon. colleague, the presentation he just gave was so full of hysteria, hyperbole and misinformation that I do not even know where to begin to address my question. I am not saying this based on my opinion but on the exact information the public safety committee heard on this matter.
    The Liberal member again brought up cars and registration. There is no criminal consequence for not registering a car, and trying to compare the two is like comparing apples and oranges.
    My hon. colleague began his speech by saying this bill is strongly defended by police forces and that the arguments for it are unconvincing. I would like the hon. member to stand and state that the 2,630 members, or 81%, of the Edmonton Police Service who voted in favour of scrapping the registry are unconvincing; that the Saskatchewan police officer association is unconvincing; and that the numerous front-line police officers who have spoken in favour of scrapping it, including 11 members who represent front-line police officers on the government side of the House, are unconvincing.
    Mr. Speaker, I am actually defending the position of over half a million police officers across the country who are in favour of keeping the gun registry. That is whom I am defending.


    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech. Before asking him a question, I would like to reaffirm the fact that, unlike the Conservatives, the NDP is not locked into one single ideology. We insist on having real debates, especially since the issues debated in the House are of great importance to Canadians.
    What does my colleague think of the Conservatives' attitude towards time allocation motions, and what are the consequences of abolishing the registry for our constituents?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. I answered her questions to some extent in my speech.
    In short, the Conservatives' attitude is that if you are not in favour of their ideology, there is no need for debate because they do not listen to Canadians or other members of Parliament. They do what they want to do. Abolishing the firearms registry will affect the most vulnerable in society, especially people who are suicidal and women, or even men, who have marital problems at home.


    Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the Liberal member would like to think back to what the consequences were for the Liberal Party in the west from bringing in this legislation. At one time Saskatchewan was represented by at least three or four Liberal members of Parliament, who have since lost their seats as a direct result of the gun registry.
    It would perhaps be in his best interest to set the record straight when he says he speaks for millions of people. Conservatives speak for their constituents. The member mentioned that his interest lay with victims and that Conservatives had not put laws in place to help victims. Our tough on crime legislation was to help victims in particular. Where was he when it came to vote to help us prevent repeat and serious offenders? I would like his comments.
    Mr. Speaker, there were a couple of questions and I will try to answer them if can remember them.
    I mentioned in my speech that the cost overruns to establish the gun registry were unacceptable. Certain areas of this country paid the price for that. We have to move on, though. We have already incurred a cost and heard from a lot of provincial premiers who represent some Canadians, believe it or not, who say they are going to continue the registry. That is going to be an additional cost to the provinces and Canadians when trying to re-establish the gun registry. We will see how they do with that.
    The other question related to the bills regarding crime—


    Order, please. The time has expired and we need to move on to the next speaker.
    Resuming debate. The hon. member for Peace River.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to stand in this House to speak in support and in favour of the legislation that we are debating today, which is the ending the long-gun registry act.
    Today, we are speaking on behalf of Canadians in rural and remote parts of this country who have been unfairly burdened and targeted by the simple and legal act of owning a firearm and a long gun. Who are these Canadians? These are our friends, families and the people I represent in my constituency. These are responsible, law-abiding individuals who use rifles and shotguns to hunt, either for sport or for sustenance or for both. These are athletes who participate in sharp-shooting events, like the biathlon and skeet shooting, and who are internationally recognized for their impressive conditioning and their precise skills. These are also hard-working farmers who are protecting their livestock and their livelihood in the same manner that their ancestors did and have done for generations in the past.
    For many of these individuals, their rifle and their shotgun are tools of their trade. Each of these people who own firearms had to undergo the proper steps to obtain a valid firearms licence before acquiring a gun. These include passing the required Canadian firearms safety exam, as well as undergoing the proper background checks to ensure they are eligible to own a firearm.
    The current long gun registry adds an unnecessary and, frankly, a useless layer of red tape to this process. It also carries with it the uncomfortable stigma that makes these long gun owners feel like they are criminals. What we are doing is putting more burden onto legal long gun owners while having zero impact on criminals themselves.
    I wonder if the opposition members who are yelling at me right now are really trying to convince Canadians that gang members and organized crime groups will go through the steps required to register their firearms. It is not likely. What conclusion can be drawn from this? This long gun registry is a waste of time and money.
    I will take a moment to say that our government is not against investing in effective measures that make a dent in real criminal activity. Quite the opposite is true. We are proud of what we have done to strengthen our police forces. We have committed $400 million to the police officer recruitment fund to assist provinces and territories in hiring additional police officers in order to correct the dismal trend of low recruiting numbers that we saw under the failed leadership of the previous Liberal government. Do members know that the Liberals actually took the unprecedented step of shutting down the RCMP training depot? That goes in the wrong direction. The $400 million was a significant federal contribution to the policing costs in this country in helping the provinces and territories in their efforts to recruit new police officers and make our communities safer.
     In that way, since 2009, our government has allocated funds for another 1,800 police officers to be hired across the country. We are also investing in policing through our partnership with the provinces and territories in the first nations policing program. To help encourage new recruits, our government has also provided crucial funding for RCMP cadet allowances and for improvement to the infrastructure at the RCMP training academy depot division.
    Those are all worthy investments to our front-line law enforcement.
    Another key piece to the puzzle of reducing crime, and another area worthy of investment, is our efforts to prevent crime before it happens. These investments include supporting community-based crime prevention programs that help at-risk youth make smart choices and avoid criminal activity.
     In 2010 alone, our government funded hundreds of community-based crime prevention programs through the national crime prevention strategy, which had an impact on the lives of tens of thousands of at-risk youth. These investments are making a tangible difference in the lives of at-risk youth, and we are proud to support the efforts to steer them in the right direction. Every youth who decides to go to school instead of joining a gang has taken a positive step in the right direction toward success instead of violence and guns.


     We make no apologies for these investments because we know that the cost of crime to victims and to our society is far greater.
    According to a Department of Justice study, the cost of crime, including everything from property damage to emotional impacts on families and victims, is estimated at nearly $100 billion on an annual basis. In the face of this statistic, we stand firmly behind our decision to invest in effective crime prevention and in appropriate reforms to the law and justice sectors.
    What we will not do is allow our scarce resources to continue to be funnelled into an ineffective measure like the long gun registry. We will not focus our efforts on laws that are not having an impact on reducing actual crime.
    We know that most homicides committed in Canada do not involve rifles and shotguns. We know that, in 2006 alone, three times as many homicide victims were killed with a handgun, not a rifle nor a shotgun. Again, in 2009 we saw that handguns were used more frequently than long guns in homicides. Two-thirds of homicides committed in 2009 were carried out with handguns, not rifles nor shotguns.
    To add to the evidence against the effectiveness of registering long guns, we have seen that in the cases where long guns were used for homicide, the vast majority of these firearms were unregistered.
     It is obvious that the long gun registry is not worth the billions of dollars that have already been spent on it. It is nothing more than a bureaucratic database with dubious benefits.
    In a time of fragile economic recovery, the money that is currently being spent could be better diverted to more effective programs that prevent gun crime and protect our police officers and our public. That is money that could be better utilized in our efforts to strengthen our border enforcement and crack down on the illegal smuggling of firearms that cross the U.S. border, which is where most firearms that are illegally smuggled into Canada come from.
    In order to fix what is wrong and make it right, we must take action to finally abolish the long gun registry. The legislation before us today would eliminate the need for law-abiding firearm owners to register their long guns.
    For those who argue that this move would weaken our gun control legislation, I reply that it does nothing of the sort. Rather, it would free up resources to be reinvested in programs that actually work.
    We will also ensure that all of the data currently listed with the Canadian firearms registry and under the control of the chief firearms officer will be destroyed to respect the privacy rights of millions of Canadians who have complied with these requirements.
    Just as important is what Bill C-19 would not do. It would not remove the requirement for Canadians to apply for a licence in order to own and use a long gun or any other type of firearm. They would also continue to face a requirement to undergo background checks and pass the standard Canadian firearms safety course.
    In addition, Bill C-19 would not make any changes to the current requirement for owners of restricted and prohibited firearms to register these firearms through the Canadian firearms program.
    Bill C-19 strikes an appropriate balance between the effective licensing measures and the responsible checks and balances that protect citizens and our law enforcement officers. I therefore call on all hon. members of this House to support the rapid passage of Bill C-19.


    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. When the hon. member for Peace River was speaking he referred to people yelling at him from this side of the House. I am a strong advocate of civility in this place and I have nothing but respect for the hon. member. However, I want to reassure him that, from where I was sitting, nobody was yelling. There were some off-conversations but there was no disrespect toward the hon. member.
    I think the point is taken.
    We will now go to questions and comments. The hon. member for Edmonton--Strathcona.
    Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the hon. member for Peace River from my wonderful province of Alberta that I put to one of his colleagues in the House earlier. As I mentioned to his colleague, I met with the former chief of police and the head of the red gun registry in Alberta, both of whom expressed strong support for continuing the registry. They gave me a number of examples of how the registry has been found useful in detecting and bringing charges in serious crimes. One of those was the case of Mayerthorpe. They informed me that the key reason that the officers were able to detect the owner of the guns used to kill the four RCMP officers at Mayerthorpe was through the gun registry.
    In view of the fact that not only those officers from Alberta and the Canadian Association of Police, the Canadian Professional Police Association, Canadian emergency associations and so forth have supported the long gun registry, would the member prefer that we do not have this mechanism anymore to detect offenders?
    Mr. Speaker, there are many things that I need to address with the most previous intervention.
    First and foremost, being a fellow member from Alberta, I can tell the hon. member that I actually have met with front-line officers from one corner of my province to the other. The police chiefs, as well as front-line officers, universally oppose the long gun registry because they understand that it is a complete waste of money. The resources are going after the wrong people. Hunters and farmers are being targeted by a program where really the resources should be allocated to going after the real criminals. I think, generally, Albertans understand that and certainly front-line officers understand where the resources need to go.
    It is my belief that people who are mentally unstable should not have access to guns and that is why the licensing provisions are still required. When she talks about being able to figure out who committed a crime after the fact, I do not think that brings lives back. Quite frankly, $2 billion wasted going after the wrong people really has been indicative of what the problem is. We need to go after the actual criminals, which is where we are heading.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to address one point that my hon. colleague made when he said that it was a complete waste of money. That means that even under the worst circumstances it has never saved anyone one cent.
    The chief of police in Waterloo described a situation there in which police officers found a deceased gentleman next to a gun and therefore thought he had been murdered. They checked with the registry and found that it was his own gun and therefore that it was a suicide. They were able to stop the investigation and thereby save police resources.
    As there are instances where the registry has saved people money, I do not think the member should be making categorical statements, but I am sure he did not mean to.
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member points out exactly why it is a complete waste of money. He could not bring a single example of a life that has been saved after spending $2 billion on the registry. I think what is really important to Canadians is that we save lives.
    I believe we need to take the allocation of the scarce resources that we have in today's day and age and ensure that the police officers who are fighting crime and communities in general can go after the real criminals and save innocent lives in our country.


    Mr. Speaker, when I travel throughout the riding of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, I am amazed at how angry our hunters and farmers are about the long gun registry after all these years. When I talk to people who think it might be a good idea, they do not understand the whole system around possession and acquisition licences and how that provides protection.
    Would my colleague talk a little about how the possession and acquisition licences will give the framework for ongoing protection?
    Mr. Speaker, the licensing provisions, as members know, will be retained. I think it is important that the public know that these will be retained.
    These provisions ensure that the people who have received the licence have gone through training, a safety course, so they know how to use and respect a firearm. Background checks are also made to ensure that they are mentally stable and do not have a criminal record. This is done in the interests of the general public. Those provisions are there; the protections are there.
    What we are not going to continue to do is go after hunters and farmers, treating them like criminals the way the previous government did.
    Mr. Speaker, as one of the few members of the House who was actually here on that fateful day way back in the mid-1990s when the then justice minister, Allan Rock, introduced this gun registry, I can tell members that while it has been a long and frustrating journey over the years, I am pleased to see that this wasteful and ineffective gun registry is finally going to be put to rest. It is only fitting that something as costly and ineffective as the long gun registry act will rightly end up in the archives somewhere, hopefully never to be opened again.
    I remember the debate back in this House in 1995 when the then justice minister, Allan Rock, brought in that bill. The Liberals, over and over again, tried to defend their action with arguments that were so incredible and hypothetical that there was not an ounce of credibility, at the end of the day, to any of their arguments about how the firearm registry would immediately start saving lives in our country.
    The fact is that after all this time there is not one single shred of credible evidence clearly showing that the gun registry saved a life in this country. That was the big argument the Liberals made when they brought the bill in. They did not have any data or any information: it was all hypothetical, rhetorical and without credibility.
    The fact is that we were right back then. I was a member of the Reform Party. We fought the bill long and hard, day after day, until the Liberals finally brought in closure. Gee, did they do that? They brought in closure on the bill, it went to vote and, since they had a majority, it went through.
    However, as it turns out these many years later, we were right. Our arguments have all been borne out over the years. We were the ones who were credible in what we said, and it has been borne out that the Liberals simply were not.
    Here we are, 16 or 17 years later, after probably spending somewhere around $3 billion in total on the gun registry, and it has yet to be demonstrated with any credibility whatsoever that the registry saved a life in this country.
    What we can demonstrate is that the gun registry act has unfairly and unjustly targeted law-abiding Canadians who hunt and shoot and use guns for other sports-related activities. They are the ones who have paid the price, not the criminals who are out there with illegal handguns and illegal long arms, committing crimes, shooting people and each other. They have not paid a price because they have never had to register their guns, nor would they ever intend to.
    It has been the law-abiding hunters and farmers who have been paying the onerous price of having to adhere to this ineffective and expensive long gun registry, and the taxpayers have been paying the bill for it.
    Therefore, I am delighted to rise today to contribute to report stage debate on Bill C-19, the ending the long-gun registry act. I love the sound of that title. Our government's longstanding commitment to law-abiding citizens is one step closer to fruition today, making this a great day for Conservatives and, indeed, a great day for Canadians.
    The reasoning behind the bill is very simple. The Conservative government does not support a piece of legislation that treats law-abiding hunters, farmers and sport shooters like criminals. We could never support that. No politician in their right thinking could support a bill like that, yet we have had to live with it for 16 to 17 years.
    This policy is as wasteful and ineffective as one can imagine. We have called it the long gun registry. It has cost Canadian taxpayers a ton of money, billions of dollars over the years, and has been shown to be completely ineffective. It has not fulfilled the promises the Liberals made in trying to defend the gun registry bill when they introduced it.


    The money could have better served Canadian citizens funding other initiatives and other programs, including more law enforcement personnel, new crime prevention techniques, rehabilitative treatment in prisons, or victim support systems. From these things we could have seen some constructive results and seen that the money had not simply disappeared into some black hole called the gun registry. These types of programs are just the tip of the iceberg in protecting our communities.
     In light of the significant monetary investment made in the gun registry, it would be reasonable to expect high returns in the form of crime prevention from it, but this has not been the case. As I stated before, there has not been a single statement, argument, fact or piece of data presented over the course of this entire debate that has conclusively proven that the long gun registry has stopped a single crime or saved a single life in this country since the day it hit the floor of this House. There is not one argument that has come from the other side that could show that. There is lots of rhetoric, lots of maybes, lots of possibilities, but not one single factual argument or statement.
    This is because the guns used in crimes are primarily ones that have come into Canada illegally for an express criminal purpose. These types of guns are never registered, to the surprise of some of my colleagues over there. Criminals do not register their firearms; they do not register their hand guns.
    This results in the registry being nothing more than a list of guns owned and legally used by Canadian citizens. We will not find a single gun in there that has been registered by a criminal or someone who brought the gun into Canada illegally for the purpose of committing a crime.
    The fact of the matter is that the long gun registry does absolutely nothing to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. It never has and never will. People who smuggle illegal firearms into this country do not care about the long gun registry. Criminals in this country, the people who buy these illegal guns, do not care about the long gun registry. People who commit crimes with these firearms, these handguns, do not care about the long gun registry. That is the fact. We are able to present that fact, and it is credible when stated. The opposition has never been able to disprove it with facts, only with rhetoric and hypotheses.
    It is outrageous that hardworking Canadians have had to fund, with their taxes, such a useless expenditure that has done nothing to make them and their families safer. They have had to fund this over the last 16 to 17 years.
    Last May Canadians gave our government a strong mandate to keep our streets and communities safe, and we heard that. We told them that we would do it. They said “Yes, we believe you”. They elected a strong Conservative majority government, and we are fulfilling that promise to Canadians.
    We have been focusing on these issues. We created the safe streets and communities act as a start to fulfilling our promise to Canadians. Unfortunately, the opposition parties have consistently chosen to ignore the facts and argue against the reforms and initiatives the government has worked for to keep our streets and communities safe. They would like to see the government continue to pour money down the drain of the long gun registry, instead of using it where it is needed most, for the protection of our families.
    Our government has strongly and consistently opposed the previous Liberal government's $2 billion gun registry because it is wasteful and ineffective. Furthermore, we are committed to keeping our promise to Canadians and removing all traces of the long gun registry. If provincial governments choose to pursue their own registry, they are free to do so but we are not going to help them. We will in no way assist with setting up other registries, because they are a clear waste of public money and time and an obvious attack on law-abiding citizens.


    Mr. Speaker, I really do not know what to say here, with the Conservatives basically ignoring the chiefs of police who have told them many times that the gun registry is a tool they use daily. Police officers use the gun registry thousands of times a day to further their investigations.
    The Conservatives have ignored the fact that the RCMP considers the registry a tool for it to solve crimes. Furthermore, the 2010 RCMP evaluation of the Canadian firearms program states:
—10 of the 13 police officers killed on the job in the last decade were murdered by long guns—
    I wonder if my colleague could tell me why the Conservatives will not allow this tool to be used by the RCMP so those police could be safer on their jobs?
    Mr. Speaker, let me correct the member's last statement: Criminals and people who are unstable and should not have firearms have killed police officers over the last few years. That is the correct way of seeing it.
    Over the years I think I have talked to far more police officers than that member has. The gun registry has been an issue in my riding since before it was passed and has been an issue ever since.
    The member's statement about police officers using the registry thousands of times a day is not credible, and he knows it. When an RCMP officer stops a car for a broken tail light and punches that licence in, everything comes up on the computer, including the long gun registry. Did the officer stop that vehicle because he wanted to check and see whether that person had an unregistered firearm? No, it is just a fact that it is in there, and whether the police use it or not for that particular purpose is their decision.
    There is not a trained police officer in this country who, when attending a particular scene where there is criminal activity, like a domestic disturbance, goes into that house based solely on what he or she has seen on the computer. The officer is always prepared for the possibility of a firearm being there.


    Mr. Speaker, my colleague opposite said that he did not want to help the provinces create a new firearms registry because it was already too costly and ineffective. However, they are well aware that Quebec wants to do it anyway.
    Given that they are so close to the people and they do not want people spending money, why do they not want to transfer the data to Quebec to ensure that we Quebeckers, who care about people, are able to create our own firearms registry?



    Mr. Speaker, if the Province of Quebec wants to bring in its own firearms registry, that will probably be fine to the people of Quebec. Are they going to vote for the provincial government again when it wastes their money on a useless, ineffective firearm registry? I do not vote in Quebec. They do, and if they think that is a good way to spend money, then good for them.
    This government is not going to provide any help to the Province of Quebec by giving it the data in our database. It is going to be destroyed because the registry is wasteful and has never been proven to be effective. We would not pass on bad information like that to the Province of Quebec.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to correct my colleague on the Conservative side. I have talked to many police officers. In fact, I worked at an institute that trained police officers. I have also talked to many chiefs across this country, the leaders of police forces across the country. Yet the Conservatives choose to ignore those very police officers who want to keep the gun registry.
    Why are the Conservatives not listening to the leaders of this country who want to keep the gun registry?
    Mr. Speaker, the answer is simple. We have talked to thousands of front-line police officers, the men and women who are on the job every day in patrol cars attending to calls for help. One would have to look long and hard in that group to find someone who supports this registry.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-19, an act to eliminate the long gun registry in Canada. Under Canadian federal law, the registry will cease to exist potentially after this week, that is, after the Senate has had its chance to deal with it, but it is pretty clear now that the Senate will deal with it in a very prompt fashion.
    I represent a riding where firearms are very important, where firearms for many people represent a necessity for subsistence living, where firearms represent a cultural way of life, where firearms are used extensively and 99.9% of the time for the correct purposes, when hunting, trapping and carrying on an outdoor lifestyle.
    When the gun registry was introduced years ago, there was very strong opposition to it, but there was strong opposition as well to the licensing provisions, to the educational provisions and to the safe storage provisions. There was a general feeling that gun owners, people who use their guns for legitimate purposes, were being hard done by. I agreed with that.
    I agreed with the Fort McPherson elder who told me he did not want to become a criminal because he was continuing to do what he had done before. I agreed with that. We should not make criminals in Canada out of respectable citizens. We should do everything we can to avoid giving criminal records to Canadians for issues that are not that important, for issues that may be bureaucratic. For example, people may simply be unable to register a gun, unable to store it properly, all the different issues that surround the use of any kind of implement.
    I was always in favour of getting the criminal charges out of the long gun registry. However, even in 2000 I said there is a value to any registry, whether we register dogs or cars or some other possession. Whatever we register has a value to the person registering it. That person has security in that his or her possession is filed in an appropriate fashion with an authority that can direct attention to that particular instrument, whether it be a car, a dog or a gun, whether it has been mislaid, has been stolen, or has been used by someone else in an inappropriate fashion. A registry is a useful tool for those people who want security with their possessions.
    Over the last four months since my constituents have heard the argument about the data, the gun owners are starting to wake up to the fact that there is a reason they want their guns registered. There is a reason that a law-abiding citizen would like to know that his gun is identified in a legal registry, so that if it is stolen, if it is misplaced, if it is mishandled by someone else, that gun will not be put under his name, and that gun will be recognized for what it is. If that gun is sold to someone else, the legal gun owner has a way of tracking that record. People are coming to me with that issue.
    I asked the government in June what it would do with the data. When the Conservatives proposed to take long guns out of the criminal registry, which is exactly what the government is doing, I asked what the government would do with the data it has collected which people have invested in giving to the government? That is what people do when they register their implements. They invest their time, their effort and their thoughts in putting it into a registry. What will the government provide for those people who want a registry?


     Perhaps it will fall into the hands of the provinces, territories, municipalities, whatever government agency decides to provide a registry for guns. That makes sense. We have a great example of that. Quebec has said it wants to provide a registry and under the law there would be no criminality with a registry. There cannot be. The Criminal Code is driven by the federal government, this Parliament, not the Quebec legislature.
    When the Quebec government establishes a registry in which its citizens can partake, it will have the opportunity to do what it wants with it. That is the way of this land. That is the way the law works. That is the way we take care of things in this land. Cars are registered with the provinces. Dogs are registered with municipalities. We have a process of registration at the provincial and territorial level. Since 2000 I have been an advocate of a provincial registry because there are more purposes to a registry than establishing criminality. There are many more purposes to a registry than that.
    Safe storage is still covered under the existing Criminal Code. It will still be a criminal offence if people do not store their guns safely.
    However, I am having trouble establishing what is considered ownership within the existing Criminal Code once the registry is removed. How do we determine what ownership is when we have removed the legal registry of guns? How do we determine which gun belongs to which person, and which person did not store the gun properly and should have a criminal record? If someone says that it is not his or her gun, will we say that because the gun is in that person's home, then that person must own the gun? Is that the way it is going to be? Did the Conservative government do any work on this legislation?
    When the Conservatives started talking about the data, it was ministers of the government who said the information could not be shared because it would be against the Privacy Act. Does it go against the Privacy Act? Is that what the Privacy Commissioner said? The Privacy Commissioner said no and all of a sudden the government changed its tune and said now that it is ineffective, inefficient, does not work, is not correct and was not made up right. That is the direction the government took.
    The government does not do legislation very well when it does not have the answers to start with. It is terrible in creating legislation. The government is not fit to legislate and that is the case with this bill. It has not looked at the issues. There is no document that shows how the Criminal Code will interact with other elements when the registry is removed. I ask government members to show me a document or any information that has been shared with members of Parliament on that issue.
    I supported the bill introduced by the member for Portage—Lisgar. It was a blunt instrument but it was what my constituents wanted and it was not in the shape that this bill is in. This bill is a mess. The government has not done a good job with it. It is reacting. It is not doing it correctly. It has left out many important elements, which we have pointed out by way of many amendments and the government has chosen not to listen. This is a government that does not listen. It does not want to do things right. It does not want to do its homework. It is a government that acts emotionally and without regard for the due process of legislation. The government is not getting any more approbation from me on its legislation.


    Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the member opposite, when the Liberals introduced the registry back in 1995, the basis of their argument was that the gun registry would save lives and stop the criminal use of firearms. That is what they told us.
    We now have had 16 or 17 years of experience with this bill. The member wondered how we could introduce this bill. We have had 16 years of experience with this registry. We have seen the wasteful spending and how ineffective it is. We know there is not one credible piece of evidence or fact to show that the firearms registry has saved a life or cut the criminal use of firearms, not one. The opposition in all this debate has not been able to present one single fact.
    Mr. Speaker, that was not the subject of my discourse. My discourse spoke to what is going to happen with the data and why the government has done what it has done. Provinces and territories can make up their own minds whether a registry would be effective for them. The government is involved in a federation, a co-operative federation. What we see here is an uncooperative government in a federation and that is a disgrace.
    Mr. Speaker, the member for Western Arctic has made it very clear where he stands on this issue despite what he knows to be the interests of his constituents. That is a question he will have to rectify with the great people of the Northwest Territories.
    He talked about putting forward amendments that we were not ready to listen to. He needs to tell the people of the Northwest Territories that one of the amendments the NDP put forward was an amendment to change the short title of the bill to something that was absolutely ludicrous. It was just a mockery of what we are attempting to do here. If the member wants to stand behind that as a credible and legitimate amendment, I would like him to do that for his people.
    He talked about not being able to track safe storage of guns. I will remind the member that there is far more to policing and investigation than just sitting behind a computer. Let us put police on the streets. Let us let them do good old-fashioned police work. Police officers do not want to be solving crimes sitting behind a computer. The member's desire to maintain this registry would create data-chasing police.
    Mr. Speaker, with all humility to my colleague from a neighbouring territory with whom I very much sympathize on many issues, he brought forward the one example that is more about form than substance. I am not interested in the title of a bill. I am interested in the substance of the legislation that would destroy billions of dollars' worth of data which the provinces might want and his territory might want.
    We put forward an amendment that would give a specific timeframe to the provinces to consider whether they wanted that data. That amendment was not accepted by the Conservative government because it is not interested in substance; it is interested in form. The Conservatives have used this issue of the gun registry for many years to raise funds, to harangue other MPs. That is what the Conservatives do. Is that legislation? Is that attention to detail for Canadians? No. That is the problem we have here in this House.


    Mr. Speaker, I have been hearing from the Conservatives rhetoric that does not make sense at all. We have heard from chiefs of police and many others from across the country and they do not want to abolish the gun registry. I wonder if the member could comment on that.
    Mr. Speaker, my position has always been that the registration of firearms should not be a criminal matter. That is correct. The police need tools. Gun owners need tools. A gun owner who loses his or her rifle and wants to indicate that he or she is not responsible for that rifle anymore can go to a registry and say that a rifle with a certain serial number has been stolen and is no longer in his or her possession. Without a registry, what can gun owners do? They are stuck with it.


    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity I have to share a few words on Bill C-19.
    No other issue raises people’s blood pressure in my riding as much as the long gun registry does. This is an important issue in my riding, Tobique—Mactaquac.


    I appreciate the opportunity to rise today. It is especially interesting to follow my colleague for Cariboo—Prince George. He has given us a nice history lesson on how we got to where we are today from 1995. Here we are 17 years later still dealing with this issue. Hopefully we will be done dealing with it very soon.
    I also want to give a tremendous amount of credit to my colleague, the member for Yorkton—Melville, who has carried the lunch can on this for a number of years. He is a tremendous advocate on behalf of our heritage activities in the country.
    I will focus my comments on three major areas based on information and feedback from my riding since I started running for office back in 2004. I have heard this in every election and on every weekend. It is about public safety, respect for our traditions and protecting taxpayer dollars.
    It is important to put this into context and I will provide a little background on the riding of Tobique—Mactaquac.
    To look at some of our western ridings, it is not one of the biggest, but it is somewhere around 17,000 square kilometres, so it is a fairly large riding for Atlantic Canada. It extends along the border with Maine in the U.S. It has a tremendous amount of traditional industries such as farming and forestry as well as tourism, which includes hunting and fishing. In this riding there are a lot of outfitters, guides and people who entertain sports and come in at various times during the year for hunting and fishing. This is an important aspect in my riding.
    I did a poll a number of years ago and I received about 1,400 responses back. Of the constituents of Tobique—Mactaquac, over 90% said that we had to get rid of the long gun registry. I did another poll recently. Again, those numbers are staggering, still up over 90%.
    I am not in denial of the challenges that violent gun crime presents to people. It is an issue. At the same time, I can point to two instances a couple of weeks ago of armed robberies in two small community stores in my riding. The people came in with a handgun. At the end of the day, people were scared and intimated. However, mandatory minimums for serious gun crimes are about that. This is what our legislation is intended to do. This is why we put those policies in place for, not a gun registry that unfairly targets the folks who are in our traditional industries.
    On the other side, we have also invested in policing, helped communities with their policing and crime prevention strategies to help our youth understand that it is important they stay away from gangs. Also, our flagship representation and bill going through now, the safe streets and communities act, is very important in addressing some of those issues.
     Bill C-19 is a pretty simple bill. First and foremost, the new legislation would remove the need to register non-restricted firearms such as rifles and shotguns. This provision is directed at all the farmers who need to protect their livestock, all the sportsmen and women who hunt wild game and all the other rural residents who use long guns to make a living. However, as it has been emphasized here a number of times, I do not think we want to forget that individuals will still need to have valid licences to possess a firearm.
    We have had a number of people come to our offices to talk about the process used to obtain a licence, and it is onerous. There is a number of hours of training. Some people in my riding provide the training to those folks. They go through the background checks that are required to determine safety. The bill would preserve these public safety aspects, but it would strike a balance with what gun owners need. Owners of non-restricted and shotguns would no longer have to register these firearms. That is great news to all the long gun owners who have waited so long to see this registry eliminated.


    At the same time, owners have talked to us about their personal information. I am pleased to say that clause 29 of the bill also includes the destruction of the records related to the registration of rifles and shotguns. Unless the data is destroyed, there is still a long gun registry and there is still the ability for someone to come down the road and recreate it. It is important for us to ensure that those records are gone.
    The second point is about respect. I want to refer to a committee that I put together back in 2006 to talk about the long gun registry. It was interesting how the folks on that committee started it out as a long gun registry committee, but then decided they wanted it to be called a public safety committee. They wanted to address firearms legislation from the standpoint of the proper controls of licensing.
    Some of the people on that committee were Mr. Cormier from Saint-André, who does training and gives the course to long gun owners; Mr. Kierstead, who is the coach of the national shooting team; Bill Ensor and Ray Dillon, sport guides in the region of my riding; a doctor who was a gun enthusiast; Mr. Ray Tibbits, a member of a local gun club, who respects and teaches our young kids in the proper use of firearms; and Mr. Dale Clark, former president of the New Brunswick Trappers and Fur Harvesters Federation. Those people had great input to where we could go with the bill.
    I know I am getting to the top of the hour, but I will quickly note that the previous bill, Bill C-68, and the long gun registry did not respect our traditional pursuits and did not respect seniors, who were being harassed by the long gun registry, and other seniors who might have had their long guns handed down to them through the generations. They were being harassed by police forces and the long gun registry, which is just despicable.



    The hon. member for Tobique—Mactaquac will have two minutes for his speech and five minutes for questions and comments when the House resumes debate on the motion.

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]


Firearms Registry

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to tell Yukon citizens that our government is on track to end the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry. After 17 years of debate and taxpayer dollars ballooning from a $2 million program to the excess of $2 billion, it is finally time to end the Liberal-led catastrophe and get back on the right track.
    We will no longer punish the lawful for the actions of the lawless and we will no longer allow hysteria and hyperbole to trump reason, fact and empirical evidence.
     The seven myths of the opposition are full of emotion but short on facts. I hope the member for Western Arctic remembers the wishes, the tradition and the culture of the great people of the Northwest Territories when he votes on this bill and that it provides him with the courage and the support to stand, as the members from Thunder Bay—Rainy River and Thunder Bay—Superior North did, to vote in favour of scrapping this ineffective law.

Canada-U.S Relations

    Mr. Speaker, SBC Firemaster Ltd. of Princeton is truly a Canadian success story. Since 1982, the company has been exporting firewood to the U.S. and has paid out in excess of $50 million in wages and salaries to Canadians.
    Last year, Firemaster's dream turned into a nightmare. Without warning, shipments were stopped at the border. From one inspection per year over the past 26 years in a one month period of time last fall, Firemaster was subjected to 40 consecutive inspections and only 5 trucks were let through. Inspection fees went from $300 to $750 per truck, the major customer, Lowe's, was lost and 20 employees were laid off. The border is once again open, but the future remains uncertain.
    Canadian businesses and workers need certainty to survive in the marketplace. I call upon the federal government to advise the U.S. authorities that this type of arbitrary action is not acceptable and is detrimental to a good working relationship between our two countries.

Kraft Hockeyville 2012

    Mr. Speaker, on August 21, 2011, the town of Goderich was devastated by an F3 tornado. Since then, the residents have worked hard to rebuild their community. They know what it is like to support each other during difficult times and the spirit of this community is stronger than ever before.
    This year Goderich is vying to become Kraft Hockeyville 2012. The hockey tradition in this community runs deep and the enthusiasm that supports young athletes is the heart of this community. For over 60 years, Goderich has played host to Young Canada Week, one of the largest peewee hockey tournaments in Canada, which has featured some of the top players in the NHL, including Wayne Gretzky.
    On March 3, the top 15 community finalists will be announced on Hockey Night in Canada. Voting begins in 25 days. I encourage all hon. members and Canadians abroad to help Goderich become Kraft Hockeyville 2012.


    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Samantha Nash from McCallum, an isolated community with a population of 80 residents, in my riding of Random—Burin—St. George's. Samantha is a graduate of St. Peter's All Grade School, with a student population of nine and three teachers who each teach several grades, and where high school students have no choice but to complete the majority of their high school courses online. This requires concentration and commitment.
    Upon graduation, Samantha learned her grades had won her two scholarships to study at Memorial University in St. John's, where she is currently in her fourth year of the engineering program. Recently, Samantha was one of only two students from Memorial selected to travel to Ottawa to participate in the 44th Annual Canadian Mineral Processors Conference.
    I ask all members of the House to join me in recognizing this young woman who has demonstrated that with perseverance and the support of dedicated teachers, students from even the most remote communities and smallest of schools with limited resources can excel in their chosen field.


Vitamin D

    Mr. Speaker, last week I introduced Bill C-388, An Act to establish a National Vitamin D Day. In the past decade, abundant research is linking low blood levels of vitamin D with chronic and degenerative diseases, including colorectal and breast cancers, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis and diabetes.
    Worldwide experts say more than one billion people are at risk. Northern populations are more at risk. Dark-skinned people living in northern climates are even more at risk. Statistics Canada's recent survey of 5,300 Canadians showed nearly two-thirds had insufficient blood levels to protect against serious disease and 1 in 10, or 3, million were so low as to be at risk of bone disease.
    Vitamin D is needed to properly absorb calcium and phosphorous, nearly every cell has receptors and it appears to play a role in the function of hundreds of genes. The Canadian Cancer Society recommends a daily supplement. Many cancer experts recommend 3,000 to 4,000 international units. No adverse affects have been reported at 10,000 international units per day.
     Wellness promotion and disease prevention are essential for sustainable health care. When it comes to vitamin D, the question for Canadians is, “Are you getting yours?”


The Conservative Government and Quebec

    Mr. Speaker, is our fine Conservative majority government neglecting Quebec? It would indeed seem that it is, according to its own supporters. In a recent letter to Maclean's magazine, Peter White, who is the president of the Conservative riding association in Brome—Missisquoi, accused the Prime Minister of turning his back on Quebec. Mr. White said that Conservative ministers from Quebec have no influence in Ottawa, and Conservative party workers have had enough. He also said that in the eyes of Quebeckers, no Conservative leader since Diefenbaker has treated them with such indifference.
    Some hon. members: Time!
    Mr. Pierre Dionne Labelle: Thank you.
     A government that is unable to work on Canadian unity in its own ranks, that sets people from the east, the west, the north and the south against one another, is a government that is not worthy of governing.


Children's Wish Foundation

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday marked the inaugural presentation of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medals. Among the recipients was a young constituent of mine, Bryden Hutt, from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
    As an infant, Bryden was diagnosed with Omenn syndrome. This is a rare disease that is basically a lack of immune system. He received a lifesaving bone marrow transplant a few years later. Support from the Children's Wish Foundation allowed Bryden to travel to Walt Disney World; a trip he was able to share with his donor, a German boy.
    Bryden was so touched by this gift that he dedicated himself to raising money for the foundation so more children could have their own wishes granted. Over the past few years, he has raised $35,000 for the foundation. Thanks to his selfless dedication to others, Bryden has allowed other children to experience the joy of having a dream come true. As the youngest recipient at Monday's ceremony, Bryden Hutt is an inspiration to all of us.
    I congratulate Bryden.

Le Carnaval des Compagnons

    Mr. Speaker, today, I want to recognize an important cultural contribution made by the francophone community in my riding of Nipissing—Timiskaming.
    This month, Les Compagnons is celebrating their 49th annual winter carnival, from February 3 to February 12. Le Carnaval des Compagnons is the second largest French Canadian carnival in Canada. It draws visitors from across the region to celebrate la Francophonie and experience a truly unique cultural event. The great success of the carnival each year demonstrates the continued strength and spirit of the francophone community in northern Ontario and beyond.


     As a member of Parliament, I am proud to represent the organizers of the Carnaval des Compagnons, and I encourage all my colleagues to make the trip to North Bay this week and join in the festivities.


    In the words of Les Compagnons, “S'amuser au carnaval, y a pas de mal”.


    Mr. Speaker, last week, the Prime Minister casually announced cuts to the old age security while in Switzerland. He did not mention it in the last election, and he certainly did not consult Canadians.
    People in my community and across this country are worried about the Prime Minister's attack on retirement security. They do not trust the government with their future. First, it wants to gamble away pensions on an insecure pooled investment scheme. Now it is making drastic changes to the OAS.
    Why does the Prime Minister not have the decency to ask Canadians what they think?
    Seniors have built this country with hard work. They deserve to live with dignity in their retirement. Canadians work hard and play by the rules. The government is shortchanging hard-working Canadians with its reckless dismantling of the OAS so that it can pay for fighter jets, corporate giveaways and prisons.


Canada-China Relations

    Mr. Speaker, our government's top priority is creating jobs and economic growth. To that end, the Prime Minister, senior cabinet ministers and a delegation made up of Canada's economic leaders have arrived in Beijing.
    This trip will focus on deepening trade and economic ties with China, one of the world's largest and fastest growing economies. Increasing ties with China would help lay the foundation for long-term economic growth in Canada.
    We recognize the value and the vitality of this important market and are building on recent successes. Under our government, Canada's exports to China have increased by 85%. Thanks to our government having secured approved destination status, the number of Chinese tourists coming to Canada this year has increased by 25%.
    Indeed, there are many ties binding our two countries together. We will continue to strengthen our economic relationship with China while standing up for Canadian values, including freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.


International Development

    Mr. Speaker, it is my honour and privilege today to recognize the 35th anniversary of CRÉDIL, the Lanaudière Regional Committee for International Development Education, headquartered in Joliette.
    Since its inception, CRÉDIL has been working to promote human rights, bring peoples together, and support sustainable, fair development in solidarity with people. Those values are all important to me. To fulfill its mandate, CRÉDIL is active throughout Lanaudière and in various environments, such as schools and community groups.
    In addition to promoting international solidarity education, CRÉDIL has another important mandate: to welcome immigrants, particularly refugees, and help them integrate into society. Every year, CRÉDIL welcomes over 70 newcomers and supports over 100 immigrants in their efforts to understand Quebec society and become a part of it.
    I would like to thank CRÉDIL for its dedication. I am pleased to salute this organization today.



    Mr. Speaker, while the opposition members talk, it is our Conservative government that has delivered for Toronto families.
    It is our government that put knowledge infrastructure investments into universities and colleges like the University of Toronto, York, Ryerson, George Brown and Humber. We have made major investments in roads, GO Transit, the Toronto Transit Commission and the revitalization of Union Station, supporting commuters and businesses in our largest city. We are there for seniors and persons with disabilities, making major investments in low-income housing.
    We are the party that cares about a vibrant, healthy Toronto: Ronald McDonald House, the Hospital for Sick Children, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Ontario Museum, the TIFF Bell Lightbox and scores of recreational facilities across the city. We have invested in Toronto's waterfront revitalization and in Pan Am Games infrastructure.
    We are the party that lowered the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%. While the NDP and Liberals offer nothing but lip service, our Conservative government is standing up for Toronto families.

Cape Breton Sporting Events

    Mr. Speaker, over the past week, two Cape Breton high school teams hosted long-standing sporting events.
    The Breton Education Centre in New Waterford hosted the 31st annual Coal Bowl Classic basketball tournament that attracts participants from high schools right across the country. I would like to congratulate Three Oaks Senior High School Axemen from Summerside, P.E.I. for their win over the Corner Brook Titans for the title championship.
    Also, Riverview High School in Coxheath hosted the 35th annual Red Cup Showcase hockey tournament featuring high school teams from all over Nova Scotia. The host team, Riverview Redmen from my riding, were the tournament champions for the second year in a row. They had a 2-1 overtime victory over Truro's Cobequid Education Centre Cougars.
    Both successful events happened with hard work and dedication from staff, students, parents and volunteers.
    I rise today to recognize both the Breton Education Centre and Riverview High School on jobs well done.



Member for Ottawa Centre

    Mr. Speaker, today one of the NDP leadership candidates, the member for Ottawa Centre, unveiled his plans to raise taxes and eliminate jobs. Raising personal income taxes is part of his plan to hit Canadian families where it hurts: in their bank accounts.
    He said he has “no problem in looking at an increase in personal income tax”. The member for Ottawa Centre also wants to raise taxes for job creators by 30%. This is from an NDP member who wants to lead Canada's official opposition, a party that voted against our cuts to the GST from 7% to 6% and then to 5% and that opposed numerous measures meant to ease the burden on Canadian families.
    A measure like this from the NDP is just further proof that that party is a danger to Canadian families and the economy.


Government Priorities

    Mr. Speaker, listening to the member for Kitchener Centre one gets the impression that Kitchener does not have a care in the world. In neighbouring London, families are reeling from a jobs crisis caused by the Conservative government. In my hometown of Scarborough, families are struggling to make ends meet because of the Conservative government.
    Yet just down the road in Kitchener, the Conservative MP's top priority is reopening the abortion debate. He does not want to talk about Kitchener job losses or old age security. No, his top priority is to take away a woman's right to choose.
    These are the priorities of Conservative MPs, not the priorities of Kitchener families. These families deserve a voice that will fight for their jobs, their pensions and their family budget. Well, these families should know even if their MP is asleep at the switch, New Democrats will always have their back.
    The Prime Minister says he will not reopen the abortion debate. However, his MPs are doing just that. Either the Prime Minister supports the views of his MPs, or he has lost control of his caucus.

Canada-China Relations

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's delegation has arrived in China to deepen the trade and economic ties between our two countries.
    His trip will strengthen the foundation for long-term economic growth in Canada. Strong economic ties require strong people-to-people ties. To that end, the Prime Minister has announced that Mark Rowswell will serve as Canada's goodwill ambassador to China.
    I have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Rowswell on both sides of the Pacific. He is a hugely popular performer in China, where he is widely known under his stage name Dashan, or “Big Mountain”. Over the last 20 years this Ontario native has scaled new peaks of popularity as a television host, performer and public speaker.
    This appointment highlights the close personal and cultural ties we share with China. It sets the stage for a very positive and productive visit this week.
    I wish the Prime Minister and his delegation every success on this trip and know that all hon. members join me in wishing Mr. Rowswell our best in this new role, representing Canada in China.


[Oral Questions]


Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, in order to pressure the Assad regime, the United States announced on Monday that it was pulling its ambassador out of Damascus. Spain, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy have followed suit. France also just announced that it is recalling its ambassador.
    When will Canada recall its ambassador to Syria?
    Mr. Speaker, no country is as concerned about the current human rights abuses in Syria as Canada. That is why we are very disappointed at the decision by China and Russia to veto the Security Council resolution against the Assad regime. That being said, we have already recalled most of our embassy staff from Damascus. We have to maintain a basic presence in order to protect the interests of the Canadians who are there. However, when the time comes, we will—



    Mr. Speaker, New Democrat seniors and pension critics are embarking today on a Canada-wide tour to engage Canadians, young and old, about retirement security. This is necessary because of the Conservatives' threats to roll back old age security. They will not come clean about their plans. They will not say that they will raise admissibility from 65 to 67 years old. People are planning their retirements now, not tomorrow but today. They need to know what is going to hit them.


    Mr. Speaker, the government has been absolutely clear that we intend to take action to protect and preserve programs like old age security so that it is there for future generations. The NDP approach, I submit, is irresponsible. It takes no account of the fact that, based on current rules, OAS is destined to grow from 15% to 25% of the federal budget to over $100 billion in expenditures. That money has to come from somewhere, from a shrinking tax base, fewer workers with more beneficiaries. These are facts with which the government must contend in responsibly planning for the long term—
    The hon. Leader of the Opposition.


    Mr. Speaker, it is fascinating to watch the Conservatives skirt around the questions. It would be much easier if they just came clean. People are planning their retirements now. Many have very tight budgets. Changes to the old age security system will have an impact on their planning.
    How can the retirees of tomorrow plan their retirements without complete information? When we will have the information?
    Mr. Speaker, again, we have been clear that those who are currently retired and those retiring soon will not be affected by the changes. However, we must protect the old age security program for future generations like mine. We need a realistic and affordable approach that takes the aging of the population seriously. We are going to take a responsible approach to ensure that there are benefits for current and future retirees.


Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, the Maher Arar torture affair and the Afghan detainee debacle taught us the dangers of courting Canadian complicity in the use of torture. However, instead of moving forward, the government is moving Canada backward.
    The public safety minister has directed CSIS to use information that has been extracted through torture. As long as there is a market for information derived from torture, torture will exist.
    Why is the government getting Canada into the torture business?
    Mr. Speaker, Canada does not condone torture and does not engage in torture. CSIS and its employees are bound by Canadian law. Our government expects CSIS and security agencies to make the protection of life and property the overriding priority.
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government is showing utter contempt for the Supreme Court of Canada and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We must not forget that in 2009 the Conservative public safety minister said, “this government does not condone the use of torture in any way”. He also said, “If there’s any indication, any evidence that torture may have been used, that information is discounted”.
    Would the minister please tell us what has changed? Why the sudden tacit endorsement of the use of torture as a matter of policy?
    Mr. Speaker, information obtained by torture is always discounted. However, the problem is whether one can safely ignore the information if Canadian lives and property are at stake.
    Mr. Speaker, I have a supplementary to that question in order to get the minister to clarify his statement.
    Will the minister table before the House the exact nature and wording of the directive that he issued to CSIS employees? Will he also explain how it is that the directive that he is putting forward is in any way compatible with Canada's obligations under international law and the ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada? It is critical that those two points be clearly made to the minister who just gave the answer.
    Mr. Speaker, we need to be clear. Canada does not condone torture, we do not engage in torture and CSIS and its employees are bound by Canadian law. The minister of course clarified what I would hope the leader of the opposition and the third party would agree with, which is that, in situations where a serious risk to public safety exists and where lives may be at stake, CSIS should make the protection of life and property its overriding priority.
     Of course we oppose the use of torture but we believe that Canada's security agencies should prioritize the protection of life.



    Mr. Speaker, I think we will let the ministers try to explain that outside so we can turn our attention to another matter that is of great importance as well.
     I would like to ask the minister a very direct question with respect to the pension answers that we have been getting. His colleague, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, who was on deck yesterday, indicated that people around her age, which I now gather is in the mid-50s range, will—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order, please. The hon. member for Toronto Centre has the floor.
    We are all very young at heart, Mr. Speaker.
    However, the fact is that the government has a new plan. It seems to be warning 55, freedom 95.
    The minister seems to be asserting that the government somehow is able to dictate what will happen after 2015. What is he telling vulnerable—
    The hon. Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.
    Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that the Liberal Party always talks about the importance of evidence-based policy. Here is some evidence. The population is aging. We are going from an OAS system that we set up with seven workers to every beneficiary to a system that will have two workers for every beneficiary; from a $35 billion expenditure now to over $100 billion in the future; and from 15% of government expenditures now to over 25% of public expenditures. This is why virtually every OECD country has made responsible long-term changes and this government must follow that course.


    Mr. Speaker, that is interesting. These events do not appear to have been open and transparent to the government at the time of the last election. How strange. These secrets are being revealed now, as though no one knew about these changing demographics. That is the point.
    Why did the government choose to attack the most vulnerable Canadians? Why attack the only Canadian program that has helped reduce poverty? Why attack the poor?
    Mr. Speaker, that is a ridiculous question, especially from a party that claims to believe in evidence-based policy. Here is the evidence: we have an aging population; the number of workers and contributors is diminishing considerably; and the number of beneficiaries of programs like old age security is growing. As a result, we need to protect today's pensioners and make responsible changes, as virtually all other industrialized countries have done.



    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, I met with workers from Electro-Motive Diesel, families who were left to pick up the pieces of the government's failed jobs plan, fathers like Ryan whose five-month-old son now faces an uncertain future.
    The Prime Minister had no problem using these workers for an election photo op but in their time of need he is nowhere to be found.
    Will the government at least ensure EMD workers are not robbed of their pensions and severance, too, or will it continue to leave them out in the cold?
    Mr. Speaker, we are aware of the decision by Electro-Motive Diesel to close the plant in London and we sympathize with the workers affected by this sad decision and their families.
    That being said, I just want to reiterate for the member that this issue falls entirely within the powers of the Ontario government and there was no ability for the federal government to intervene.
    We will continue working to create jobs and opportunities for workers in London and all across Canada.


    Mr. Speaker, the government can always find a scapegoat. What about a jobs plan?
    Our manufacturing sector is being shipped off piece by piece and the government is letting it happen. London is rallying behind its EMD workers but they all know that this could happen to anyone anywhere. We know that, under the government, big corporations and well-connected friends win out over families every time.
    When will the government finally wake up to reality? When will it stop subsidizing the companies that ship Canadian jobs overseas and start protecting communities like London, Ontario?
    Mr. Speaker, the member should get her facts straight.
    I would remind the member that raising the capital cost allowance rate for locomotives was unanimously supported by the industry committee in February 2007, including by the NDP member for Windsor West. That cost allowance was eligible for people who bought locomotives, not for the ones who built the locomotives.
    The member should not mix up anything here. We empathize with what happened but it is a matter for the Ontario legislature.



    Mr. Speaker, these are the facts. This government has presided over repeated rounds of job losses and factory closures: we need only think of White Birch Papers, Mabe Canada, AstraZeneca and Electro-Motive. Families suffer with every closure. This government's policies have led to job losses, record levels of family debt and a 2% reduction in real wages in the past year.
    When will this government implement a job creation plan? When will it finally start caring about Canadian families?


    Mr. Speaker, the jobs and growth policy was in the last budget, and there will be more in this budget, of course. This is the budget that the NDP, including the member opposite, refused to support. This is the budget that contained the job creation tax credit for small business, the family caregiver tax credit, the children's art tax credit, the volunteer firefighter tax credit and tax relief for the manufacturing sector, and all of that was opposed by the NDP members who now have the nerve to stand here and ask where the jobs plan is that they voted against.
    Mr. Speaker, let us talk about economic growth. Let us look at the figures from the OECD and its economic growth projections for 2012 for industrialized countries.
    Canada ranks 14th. It gets worse. When we look at the IMF data, economic growth projections for 2012 for all countries, Canada is 152nd, behind Bulgaria and behind Benin. This is scant comfort for people who have lost their jobs in the last few months.
    The Minister of Finance is failing and the government is failing. When will they get to work on a jobs plan so that Canadians can get back to work?
    Mr. Speaker, the member opposite certainly is entitled to his point of view but he does not need to yell. I am right here and I can hear him well.
    The reality is 610,000 net new jobs, a job growth rate of 3.7% since the end of the recession, 90% of the jobs full-time and 80% of them in the private sector. This is the best job creation record in the G7.


Status of Women

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party says that it does not want to reopen the abortion debate, but I believe it forgot to tell the member for Kitchener Centre. Yesterday, he suggested doing just that. However, the law in Canada is clear: women have the freedom to choose. The government cannot say that it does not want to reopen the debate and then allow one of its members to do so.
    If the debate is closed, will the Prime Minister tell the member that the matter is not up for discussion, or has he simply lost control of his caucus?


    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has been very clear that the government is not reopening this debate.
    Mr. Speaker, what would be clear would be to say that the government will make sure that the motion is voted down. That would be clear.



    Women rightly believed that the battle had been won a long time ago. What is surprising is that we know that all Conservative communications must go through the Prime Minister's Office before being made public.
    Are we to conclude that the comments made by the member for Kitchener Centre were approved by the Prime Minister's Office? This would directly contradict what the Prime Minister said. Will this government state loud and clear that it intends—
    The hon. Minister of Justice.


    Mr. Speaker, I reiterate my previous answer.


    Mr. Speaker, that is no answer for the millions of Canadian women who do not want their rights put up for debate.
     When it comes to putting the health of Canadians first, Conservatives are failing on every front. Trans fats are the leading cause of heart disease and high cholesterol. This is something that particularly affects children. The House agreed to the NDP motion to regulate and limit this dangerous substance.
    Why is the health minister now ignoring expert advice and siding yet again with industry, instead of acting to protect the health of Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, our government continues to make prevention and health promotion a priority. That includes reducing trans fat in foods. Results from the trans fat monitoring program show that we are making real progress, as close to three-quarters of prepackaged foods under review met the reduction targets.
    I have also instructed my department to continue its engagement with stakeholders to identify the challenges and how best to overcome them without adding a regulatory burden.
    Mr. Speaker, the truth is that the government is always full of the excuses given to it by industry. The government had a chance to help families but it failed to act.
    Health experts are clear, the provinces are onboard and families are trying to make healthier choices for their kids. In fact, there was a plan in place but the large food companies complained and, guess what, the minister killed it.
    In 2009 the minister wrote, “further action is needed”. Can the minister tell us if she was wrong then or if she is wrong now?
    Mr. Speaker, as I stated earlier, I have instructed my department to continue to engage with the stakeholders to identify the challenges and how best to overcome these challenges without adding a regulatory process.
    At the same time, we will continue to use tools such as the Canada food guide and the nutrition fact tables to provide Canadians the information they need to make informed choices about the amount of trans fat in their food.


    Mr. Speaker, I think this lacks conviction. The Minister of Health's decision to abandon the regulations governing trans fats is completely irresponsible and goes against her previous commitments. Health Canada estimates that regulations would significantly improve the health of Canadians and, as a result, reduce the pressure on our health care system.
    How can the minister justify her inaction? Will she finally listen to the advice of experts and her own officials and implement effective regulations to limit the use of trans fats or not?


    Mr. Speaker, we are committed to promoting healthy lifestyles to support Canadians in maintaining healthy weights. Our government, in partnership with the provinces and the territories, launched the national dialogue on childhood obesity earlier this year. I was very pleased to discuss this important issue with the health ministers in November so that we can turn the tide on childhood obesity.
    Our government further promotes healthy living through initiatives such as the child fitness tax credit, the Canada food guide, the Canadian physical activity guidelines, the 2010 health ministers' declaration on--
    The hon. member for Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte.

Government Appointments

    Mr. Speaker, Kevin MacAdam is a failed Conservative candidate and hand-picked insider of the Minister of National Defence.
     More recently, however, he landed as director general of ACOA's P.E.I. operations, a public service position that required French language proficiency and working in, you guessed it, P.E.I. for the job.
    Here is the glitch: Mr. MacAdam does not speak a word of French and he has been living in Ottawa since being appointed. He will not even study French in P.E.I. at one of the three institutes there for the purpose. This is all a product of Peter-nage.
    Will the government concede that those pushed to the front of the line for government jobs go to the front of the line when the pink slips are handed out very soon?


    Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member ought to know, the staffing of positions at ACOA is done by the public service, and the Public Service Commission is actually investigating this matter. Therefore, we will reserve comment until the commission has made its decision.
    Oh, no, Mr. Speaker, they are not just investigating these circumstances. They are investigating a lot of circumstances at ACOA.
    On the eve of thousands of federal public servants losing their jobs, a group of failed Tory candidates and cronies is flaunting the rules and is immune to the pain of any job cuts.
    Yes, the Public Service Commission is investigating inappropriate hiring decisions at the regional offices of ACOA and ECBC. What is the common thread here in all the appointments? A cosy relationship with the Minister of National Defence.
    With the lives of thousands of public servants about to be thrown into turmoil, will Peter-nage--
    I ask the member to refrain from using someone's proper name, even if it is in a roundabout way.
    The hon. Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) (La Francophonie).
    Mr. Speaker, if the member has relevant evidence about this matter being looked into by the Public Service Commission, I invite him to submit that evidence to the commission.

Search and Rescue

    Mr. Speaker, on the famous airlift out of the fishing camp, the minister's office told us that the invitation came unexpectedly at the last minute without any warning and, therefore, that he had to take a search and rescue helicopter.
    Yet a response to a question on the order paper shows that an invitation was made two weeks before for him to go to this announcement in London, Ontario.
    Will the minister please explain to Canadians why he felt the need to use the search and rescue helicopter at the last minute, and why, with two-weeks' notice, he could not have found alternative transportation?
    Mr. Speaker, I have answered this question many times in this place and outside this place.
    I use government assets for government business and that is it.


    Mr. Speaker, it seems to have become the norm for Conservative ministers to use army helicopters as their own personal taxis. It is now the Associate Minister of National Defence's turn to decide that a personal chauffeur is not enough.
    If we follow this logic, why does the Prime Minister not allow all the ministers to travel by helicopter while he is at it? It is completely ridiculous.
    My question is simple: can the Conservatives explain why they are so set on wasting public funds and on continuing to misuse the army's resources?


    Mr. Speaker, it is the same answer. Government business uses government assets. That applies to all ministers of this government. When we do government business, government assets are often used.
    Mr. Speaker, if the associate minister wanted to visit soldiers in the Ottawa area, he could have taken his car.
    I step outside my office every day and there is a long lineup of shiny black limos to ferry ministers up to this place. When I step outside of this place every day, there is the same lineup of shiny black limos to take them back.
    However, the ministers of defence seem to have a sense of entitlement to military transport. Will the associate minister commit today to not using military hardware like this for these purposes?
    Again, Mr. Speaker, government assets are used for government business, and I think it is commendable that the Associate Minister of National Defence, I, and others want to see the good work of the men and women in uniform who are defending our interests at home and around the world.
    We are very proud to be with them in the field, where they work, where they train, and we will not apologize for it.

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, that is the opposite commitment to what we were searching for.
    At least we can be confident that the associate minister will not be joyriding in an F-35 any time soon. Not only is production continuously delayed, but its very future is in doubt.
    Britain is the most recent country to decide to delay its decision to purchase the F-35.
    Instead of hitching rides in helicopters, will the minister do his job and follow Britain, Australia and even the U.S. in putting together a backup plan for this backward program.
    Mr. Speaker, I am disappointed that the member persists with the same old rhetoric.
    Our Royal Canadian Air Force has flown CF-18s for some 30 years. We are now working with our allies, including Britain, to develop the aircraft that will replace them.
    Britain faces an extremely difficult time right now. We are monitoring the events. We will continue to closely monitor the developments.
    We remain committed to the program.



    Mr. Speaker, hearing about the F-35s is like listening to a broken record. Every day, we wake up and it is the same thing. We learn that another one of our allies is having doubts about the F-35s. And every day, this government does exactly the same thing: nothing at all. The Americans are not going along with this. They are moving forward with a plan B.
    Will the minister abandon his script, stop reliving the same day again and again, and finally tell us what his plan B is?


    Mr. Speaker, we are continuing to monitor. I have said all of these things before.
    The one thing that should be stated categorically in the House is by the NDP, that they do not support our military, that they do not support our men and women, that they do not support our airmen and women. That is really the theme here.

Firearms Registry

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians gave our government a strong mandate to end the wasteful, ineffective long gun registry once and for all, and that is exactly what we intend to do. The $2 billion price tag is proof enough of its failure.
    Today we will vote on the ending the long-gun registry act at report stage.
    I want to thank the Minister of Public Safety for his hard work on this file. Could he also give an update to the House on the progress of the bill?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for all his hard work on this file.
    We have heard debate on this issue for 17 years. It is time to stop treating law-abiding hunters and farmers and sports shooters like criminals.
    I call on the members for Skeena—Bulkley Valley and Western Arctic to listen to their constituents and vote to scrap the long gun registry once and for all.
    The member for Western Arctic even said that 95% of his constituents opposed the long gun registry. He should start listening to his constituents.

Aboriginal Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday modular homes for Attawapiskat had to be taken off the trucks because the third party manager screwed up. He has been withholding the funds needed by the De Beers technical team to get the site work done in Attawapiskat.
    We have a small window here. Time is ticking. So far the only thing this high-priced Indian agent has done is to hit the community up for about $50,000. That is a lot of coin to provide political cover to a minister who has completely blown this file.
    Why does the minister continue to punish the people of Attawapiskat?
    Mr. Speaker, I wish there were some truth in what the member is saying.
    Our government has prioritized the delivery of the 22 modular homes. We have offered to help the band council fulfill its responsibility to complete preparation of the lots for the installation of these homes on a priority basis. The third party manager is standing by to pay once the band council submits the invoices.
    We strongly encourage the chief and council to act, which will ensure speedy delivery of the homes.
    Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the minister, in order to punish the community, has actually cut off funding for the children. For two months, education dollars for that community have been cut off by the minister.
    Education is a universal human right. It cannot be interfered with. It cannot be withheld. It cannot be used as a bargaining chip to force the submission of a band council that made the minister look bad.
    Will the minister stand up in the House and explain to Canadians why he has cut off funding for children, for teachers and for high school students for two solid months? Explain that.
    Mr. Speaker, we have another fact-free question from the member for Timmins—James Bay. What he is saying is completely false.
    We have asked for invoices from the chief and council. These were not forthcoming. As soon as the third party manager receives the information that he requires, the invoices will be paid.
    There has been no threat to the school or the school children. That is a fact.



Search and Rescue

    Mr. Speaker, by moving marine rescue services several hundred kilometres away from Quebec City, the Conservatives are gambling with the safety of Quebec's francophone fishers and pleasure boaters. The last thing that distressed boaters who need professionals to come to their rescue want to hear is, “Sorry, I don't speak French”.
    The marine rescue sub-centre in Quebec City has 35 years of experience, it is the only bilingual rescue centre in the country, and it is vital to marine safety on the St. Lawrence.
    Will the government reconsider its decision or not?


    Mr. Speaker, the answer is no. We will ensure that there is safety for all mariners, and the language capabilities will be in place before we move forward with our decision.

Search and Rescue

    Mr. Speaker, more questions are being raised about the efforts to find the 14-year-old boy from Makkovik, Labrador, who died last week after getting lost on his snowmobile. Burton Winters died while waiting for search and rescue that never came. A private helicopter joined in the search the day after the teen disappeared. A Canadian Forces search and rescue aircraft was not sent out for a full two days.
    The family of Burton Winters has a simple question. What took the military so long to get off the ground and when will we know the whole story?
    Mr. Speaker, first, let me say that we are deeply saddened by the tragic death of Burton Winters and our condolences go out to the young man's family, his friends, and his entire community.
    With respect to when we will have more answers, I met with the Chief of the Defence Staff this morning. I have asked him to have a full investigation into all the circumstances around this tragic death. We should have answers this week.

Aboriginal Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, two weeks ago, it was clear that the crown-first nations gathering would be judged on whether or not it resulted in real action.
    Across this country, Canadians have been appalled to learn that first nations education is funded at two-thirds the rate of off-reserve schools.
    Will the Minister of Finance commit today to end the discrimination, close the gap and properly fund first nations education?
    Mr. Speaker, at the crown-first nations gathering, we talked about the priority of education. We had earlier agreed with the national chief that this was a priority joint action plan item. That is why we commissioned the national panel on K-12 education. We are awaiting its report.
    We have a good report from the Senate, for which it is to be commended. We will be studying the recommendations and reporting on a timely basis.


Federal-Provincial Relations

    Mr. Speaker, this government does not seem to understand how our federation works. Its refusal to consult with the provinces on issues such as justice, health and pensions is a prime example. This unilateral decision making will cost the provinces billions of dollars. The provinces' concerns must be taken into consideration before any action is taken.
    When will this government realize that our federation must be governed through discussion and not confrontation?


    Mr. Speaker, I will give an example where my hon. colleague is in fact wrong. It is a subject that is before this House with regard to copyright legislation, a critical piece of legislation important to all Canadians. We have gone out of our way to consult with provinces. We have consulted with provinces to get their points of view on this important legislation. In fact, here is what the provinces had to say. The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, which is the ministers of education of every province in this country, has endorsed our copyright legislation as in the best interests for education and for Canada's economy going forward.
    We have worked with provinces on key legislation like that to make this country work, and my hon. colleague knows it.


    Mr. Speaker, the finance minister showed an interesting display of affection yesterday for the mayor of Toronto. The Conservatives and Mayor Ford generally share a lot in common. They both want to cut services that families rely upon. They both want to cut the arts. They both failed to get the job done for Toronto.
    When will the finance minister please stop the Ford love-in and get serious about reducing the huge lineups for affordable housing in Toronto?


    Mr. Speaker, what is not to love in the mayor of Toronto? He is 300 pounds of fun, self-described by the mayor. I did not make that up.
    The mayor is doing a wonderful job in Toronto. He is leading the transit reform charge and is straightening out the finances of the City of Toronto. It will be the ultimate great service for the taxpayers of that city to have control of the fiscal future of the City of Toronto, which has been mishandled for a long time.

Public Transit

    Mr. Speaker, in cities like Toronto, Canadians face long commutes stuck in traffic and smog. Across Canada urban mayors are asking for better public transit, but the government refuses to act. Investing in public transit would create jobs, reduce harmful emissions and save billions in lost economic productivity.
    Why is the government ignoring this growing crisis? When will it finally give cities like Toronto the help they need?
    Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government invested more than $5 billion in transit and the New Democrats voted against it. Now they are asking us for more. Come on, wake up.

Agriculture and Agri-Food

    Mr. Speaker, our government's top priority remains the economy, in which agriculture plays a vital role. This week the Prime Minister and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food are in China to promote the strong trade relationship between our two countries.
    China is Canada's largest export market for agricultural products, including canola. Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture please inform the House on how our government is expanding market access for our canola farmers?
    Mr. Speaker, Canadian producers want to make their living in the marketplace and our government is working hard to build opportunities on the world stage. Today the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food announced that Tongwei Co., Ltd., a major Chinese feed company, intends to increase its purchase of Canadian canola by up to $240 million per year by 2015.
    As Chinese demand for Canadian canola grows, our government remains committed to improving the long-term trade of Canadian canola. Our government is building on our strong record and will continue to fight for—
    The hon. member for Vancouver Centre.


    Mr. Speaker, we know the Minister of Health blocked trans fats regulations recommended by her own department and appointed task force. Last year she blocked the sodium strategy agreed to by the provinces and her department. She ignored her expert panel recommendation to list energy drinks as drugs sold over the counter by pharmacists.
    Whether it is energy drinks, sodium reduction, or a restriction on trans fats, why does the minister always ignore the evidence and jeopardize the health of Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, our government promotes healthy living through a number of initiatives as I outlined earlier. These are programs and initiatives such as the children's fitness tax credit, Canada's Food Guide, and the Canadian physical activity guide. That is why ministers at the 2010 federal, provincial and territorial meetings on health approved for the very first time in Canada the 2010 Declaration on Prevention and Promotion. Included in that envelope are initiatives on sodium, trans fats and so on. We will continue to work with the provinces and territories.



    Mr. Speaker, in the greater Trois Rivières area and in Mauricie, over a thousand—not a few dozen, not a few hundred, but more than a thousand—families are living a nightmare after discovering pyrrhotite in the foundation of their homes. The disintegrating foundations have to be replaced at an average cost of $200,000. The Government of Quebec has called on the federal government to contribute to an assistance program. Eight months later, we are still waiting for an answer.
    When and how does this government intend to help the victims of this scourge?
    Mr. Speaker, the Government of Quebec has announced plans for a provincial program to provide financial assistance to these homeowners. It is a provincial program and any request to take part in it should be directed to the SHQ.



Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, last fall our government learned that Mr. Ahmed, a Canadian citizen, and his family had been detained in Saudi Arabia because Mr. Ahmed was working illegally on an expired visa.
    The Minister of State of Foreign Affairs and her consular team worked hard to provide support to and on behalf of this family which assisted in their release. Could the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs give the House an update on the Ahmed family's situation?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his concern. The Ahmeds are indeed free and still living in Saudi Arabia. Canadian officials worked very hard to assist the Ahmeds. All documentation required for the family's travel to Canada was made available some months ago. We have been regularly in touch with Mr. Ahmed and are waiting for him to inform us of his travel plans.
    We appreciate Saudi Arabia's co-operation in this case and the efforts of consular officials. We look forward to the Ahmed family's safe return to Canada.


Citizenship and Immigration

    Mr. Speaker, a woman who has been living in Canada for 47 years is at risk of being deported for stealing $80 worth of food. Under the law, Jeannine Poloni is considered a serious criminal. However, she suffers from mental health problems and she is distraught at the idea of having to leave the country.
    Will the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism finally show a little bit of compassion and prevent this woman from being deported?
    Mr. Speaker, obviously, Canada has an immigration system governed by laws that are considered during judicial or quasi-judicial processes. No one can be deported or removed at the border until their case has been reviewed by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, an application for leave is submitted to the Federal Court, a pre-removal risk assessment is conducted and, often, a claim for permanent residence on humanitarian grounds is filed.
    That means that the system is very fair and generous to all applicants. Even foreign criminals have—
    The hon. member for Ahuntsic.


    Mr. Speaker, in their many presentations on justice, the Conservatives have made fine speeches about the importance of helping victims. However, the report of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime and the emotional appeal of Isabelle Gaston, whose two children were killed by their father, reveal the lack of support for victims of crime and their friends and families.
    Will the government stop its grandstanding on justice issues and support the Bloc Québécois bill, which would provide tangible assistance to the families of crime victims?


    Mr. Speaker, no government has been more sensitive to the rights of victims than this government. I am proud of that. In fact, we created the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime. We strengthened the victims' fund. In every piece of legislation we bring forward we keep an eye on the rights of victims.
     This for once should have the support of the Bloc and everybody else in the House.

Presence in Gallery

    I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of the Hon. Darryl Hickie, Minister of Municipal Affairs for the great Province of Saskatchewan.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!


Points of Order

Oral Questions  

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, during question period, in response to my question, the Associate Minister of National Defence said that I do not care about the well-being of the Canadian armed forces.
    I would like to inform the minister that I served in the Canadian armed forces for three years and I can honestly say that I care a great deal. I would like to offer him the opportunity to withdraw his comments.



    I am not sure that is a point of order but I appreciate the clarification.

Long Gun Registry Debate  

    Mr. Speaker, earlier today in this House I was speaking to Bill C-19 and I referred to and used the name Adolf Hitler. While the references to the gun registry and what this evil guy did to perpetrate his crimes are very clear, it was inappropriate to use his name in the House and I apologize to anybody it may have offended.


    Mr. Speaker, the member said he was sorry for using Hitler's name, but he compared our former colleagues to Adolf Hitler. I would like him to apologize, not for using that name, but for comparing my colleagues to Hitler. That is unacceptable in a democracy.


    I heard the hon. member apologize and withdraw what he said. It is usually the practice of the House that we leave it at that.
     The hon. member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel.
    Mr. Speaker, I am usually not a person to question somebody's apology but I was in the House when the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound spoke in reference to Hitler and directly attributed him to our former colleagues. However, on these occasions when he actually specified and used the terms that he did, they were written and he read them out. They were not said by accident. I have no problem with the apology but the apology must be truthful and sincere.
    Mr. Speaker, the member has apologized and the apology has been accepted. We cannot keep grinding this around. He has genuinely apologized and it should be over.
    As I mentioned, it is the practice of the House that once a member withdraws a comment or apologizes it is left at that.


[Government Orders]


Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act

     The House resumed consideration of Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act, as reported (without amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.
    The hon. member for Tobique—Mactaquac has two minutes left to conclude his remarks.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to complete my remarks. I just want to give a shout out to a couple of the ranges in my riding, in Springfield and Woodstock, that do a tremendous amount of work. They have a tremendous amount of volunteer effort to educate not only their young people and the kids but also the community on proper firearm control, safe handling and those types of things. I want to give them a shout out for all the great work they do and their work in building respect for firearms in our communities.
    The third piece I want to talk about is that Bill C-19 is about protecting taxpayer dollars. We have had a lot of debate in the House and comments made about the $2 billion that was spent on a wasteful and ineffective long gun registry. The Auditor General's report talks about that and is very specific on that issue and the amount of faulty information that is actually within the registry, which means that it cannot be relied on by the police or by any other province in that respect.
     Bill C-19, a straightforward bill, has been supported by 90%-plus of my constituents based on the polling that I have done. It provides for public safety, respects our traditions and, for the long-term, respects taxpayer dollars.
     As a rural member of Parliament, I campaigned on this four times. I know my members support it and the people in my riding support this. I ask all the members in this House to support this bill today.
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative member just made some comments about the inaccuracy of information in the gun registry. What I will point out is that he and his colleagues have been repeating, I do not know how many hundreds of times, completely inaccurate information about the original cost of building this registry.
    The Auditor General herself in 2002 estimated the cost at about $1 billion. However, $150 million was recovered through fees. Therefore, it was actually a net of more like $850 million.
    Somehow, somewhere along the line, somebody among the members opposite on the Conservative side of the benches decided to double this number of $1 billion to $2 billion and then, gleefully, the members have been repeating that fallacious figure every since.
    I would appreciate the member looking at the record and actually showing a record of how the Conservatives are coming to the figure of $2 billion, which is inaccurate. It is double the cost of this major initiative.


    Mr. Speaker, obviously the member's question is somewhat dated because that was back a number of years ago when the Liberals were talking about $1 billion. We are spending a tremendous amount on that. A CBC report said that it was $2 billion. I guess she must be questioning the CBC.
    The other thing she is forgetting about is the system development costs and the enforcement costs that go along with it.
    I feel that it is probably over $2 billion and we probably only have half our long guns registered. Where is the value for money in that?


    Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member who just spoke what he thinks of the fact that the Bloc Québécois had to present amendments, including one that conveyed exactly what Quebec's National Assembly wanted. The request came not just from some of the members, but from three ministers who specifically asked the Conservative government to let the Government of Quebec use the information that belongs to the people. After all, Quebeckers contributed some of their own tax dollars to pay for the gun registry. The only thing Quebec wants—and I am talking about the whole province—is access to the information so that the province's police forces can use it wisely.
    Why is the government denying that request and refusing to vote in favour of the Bloc Québécois's amendment, which will be put to the House this evening?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question.


    It is a pretty simple question to answer when we look at the registry and the information in it. I talked a little before about the data and how poor the quality of the data are in the registry. It was emphasized earlier in the debate that we had somewhere between 43% to 90% error rate in some of the information in there. Furthermore, the registry is the data. It would be very disingenuous of the government to say that it will get rid of the gun registry and not get rid of the data, which is the gun registry.
    I will make another point on this that I think is quite important. It was pointed out by the member for Yukon and I think it is important to say it again. We also heard that in the manual search conducted it was discovered that 4,438 stolen firearms had been successfully re-registered. With these errors, how responsible would that be for us to pass that over to any province?
    Mr. Speaker, I found it interesting that the Liberal member's defence was that the previous Liberal government only wasted $800 million on the gun registry.
    I am from an urban riding. In my riding, this issue is probably one of the most corresponded on issues in my six years as an MP, probably running about 95% in favour of abolishing the long gun registry.
    From the hon. member's standpoint, why does he thinks Canadians feel so strongly about the need to get rid of the long gun registry?
    Mr. Speaker, in my remarks I pointed out three major reasons. One is about public safety because, if we look at what is in Bill C-19, we still have the licensing provisions and we still have the safety and the background checks. That is gun control, not a registry system.
    The other thing people tell me when I am out in the riding every weekend is to get rid of the long gun registry. It is about the inaccuracy of the information and the waste of taxpayer dollars.



    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on Bill C-19, which seeks to abolish the firearms registry.
     We have heard a host of good reasons as to why the firearms registry should be kept, such as its usefulness to the police forces and the prevention of violent acts. As a hunter, however, it is important that I speak about one particular argument that has not been the subject of much discussion since the start of this debate. I hope that my colleagues from the Conservative Party will listen closely to what I have to say, because I believe that I know what I am talking about, since I am a hunter myself.
     I started hunting at three years of age. I did not hunt with a real weapon. My father built me a small wooden shotgun and took me hunting with him. I would sit on the three-wheeler and hunt partridges with him. I have not stopped hunting since. I have five weapons of my own at home: three 22-calibre shotguns, a 303 rifle and a 270 rifle. I hunt moose, bears, partridges and other small animals. So I think I know what I am talking about and that is why I want to discuss the issue.
     When hunters ask me why I am in favour of the firearms registry, I talk to them about firearm theft. I explain it in simple terms. Before the firearms registry existed, wrongdoers, who perhaps needed the money, would enter houses and steal firearms. These were regular people, just like all the Canadians we represent. They would place a short advertisement in the newspaper in order to sell the firearm. When there was a potential buyer, the thief would explain that his grandfather had given him the weapon and that he was selling it because he did not really go hunting. He would say that he no longer had the papers because it was a long time ago and he did not know where they were anymore. That would always be a bit of an annoyance, but the seller would seem to be acting in good faith and knew what he was talking about. The buyer would tell himself that this was normal and would go ahead and buy the firearm. Consequently, when a firearm was stolen, there was no way of locating it.
     Since the registry was created, when people put an advertisement in the newspaper, for example, to try to sell weapons they have stolen from other people’s homes, it is no longer possible. This is because when a potential buyer goes to see the weapon and expresses an interest in buying it, since it is a good model at a reasonable price, the buyer suggests calling to make the transfer. The person at the other end of the phone line tells him that the weapon was reported stolen, according to the information in the registry. That person then strongly advises the would-be buyer against buying the weapon. Of course, the police are notified and may take action to get the firearm back. If a person has stolen a firearm to use it for hunting, he runs the risk of being in the woods and having a law enforcement officer ask for the registration papers. If the person does not have the papers, the officer will check and see that the weapon was stolen. In either case, there is a chance of locating the weapon, which was not previously the case.
    We have to understand that many firearms are part of family tradition. Many people have firearms that belonged to their grandfather and their great-grandfather and have been passed down from generation to generation. If they are stolen from us, even if someone could offer us a similar firearm, it would not be exactly the same. It would not be the one our grandfather went hunting with. There is great family attachment to these firearms.
    Some firearms are now practically impossible to recover. Without the firearms registry, if they are stolen, there is virtually no way to recover them. The police have no way of recovering these firearms, unless they have some uniquely special feature. But when we talk about firearms from the 1960s, for example, one 22-calibre weapon with a wooden stock looks just like another 22-calibre weapon with a wooden stock. It is therefore extremely difficult, unless it is marked, to know whether that firearm is in fact the one that was stolen. It is practically impossible. Since we have had the firearms registry, thefts of firearms have declined significantly.


    We paid for these data, as did hunters. That is why we want to preserve them. That is why, in Quebec, we think this is logical. The registry provides a degree of security because the police use it, but it also protects us as hunters because it reduces theft. If a theft occurs, and that cannot always be prevented, we have a chance of recovering the stolen firearms.
     Another thing I must stress is the value of the firearms. Some of these firearms are worth a lot of money. Because they are used for hunting, a lot of money is invested to make sure they are functional. If the firearms registry is abolished and people start stealing firearms again, the owners might lose the money they have invested in this sport, which is an economic activity in Canada.
    I have a firearm, a Ruger SR 10/22. I paid $600 for the firearm alone and nearly $300 for the sight. So I would be extremely unhappy if it were stolen, and even more so if there were no database that would allow it to be recovered. At least, with the firearms registry, a police officer can type in the serial number and the name of the firearm and see the ones that have been stolen. I would have a chance of recovering my firearm, but without the firearms registry, I would have no chance of that. It would be extremely complicated. The person who had stolen it would simply have to say, if asked, that they had lost the registration, that it is in their truck, that they do not know where it is. I think it is important to talk about this aspect because not much has been said about it.
    Since I have enough time left, I would like to address another point. As some members know, I am a nurse by training. I have worked in hospitals and I come from a rural area where there are a lot of farmers. We know that farmers have suffered a great deal as a result of climate change, economic crises and the mad cow crisis. All those factors have had a considerable impact on farming. Some of our farms became unstable, economically, and were in distress. The stress level rose significantly among farmers. Most farmers have a firearm at home and use it for activities on the farm. For example, if a cow was attacked by wolves, the farmer could shoot it rather than leave it to suffer. It is reasonable for farmers to all have firearms. That is legitimate when you have a farm, I think.
     I believe that the firearms registry can be used to protect people from themselves. When doctors and nurses see that a person is depressed and not doing well, they are able to determine whether the person has firearms at home and, consequently, whether they are a suicide risk. Firearms are not forgiving; it is not possible to save these people’s lives. When they are taken to emergency, it is often too late. Doctors and nurses can use this tool to determine whether a person is in possession of firearms. If the person does have firearms, they can be asked whether they would be prepared to take them to the police station until they feel better and get help getting back on track. Conversely, if the database is not accessible, this kind of prevention—helping someone and preventing something irreparable from happening—is not possible. That is another important point that I wanted to stress.
     I want to ask the public to support us when it comes to the registry. I am a hunter and I really believe that the firearms registry can help to prevent the theft of firearms and stop people from burglarizing houses and stealing weapons. Without the registry, this is impossible.
     I paid for these data and I would like them to be kept. At the very least, if the federal government does not want to keep them, it should transfer the data to Quebec so that people like me, who paid for the data, are protected. If this kind of thing occurs, there needs to be a chance of finding the weapons. That is what I want to emphasize.


     I would ask everyone who does not consider my idea crazy and who thinks that I am perhaps right to write immediately and send a clear message to every Conservative member who is against this idea.


    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to rise in support of Bill C-19, Ending the Long-gun Registry Act. The state broadcaster, the CBC, has confirmed that $2 billion in taxpayer money have already been squandered on the long gun registry, with no tangible impact on preventing gun crime. This leads me to ask why some members in this place want to continue this wasteful program when the money could be put to much better use.
    Our government is committed to cracking down on crime. We are committed to providing law enforcement officers with the tools they need to do their jobs. On this side of the House, our goal is to put criminals out of business, in stark contrast to those across the way who would rather harass law-abiding hunters, farmers and sports shooters.
    When the long gun registry was introduced in 1995, the previous government promised it would cost approximately $2 million to implement over five years. In her 2002 audit, however, the Auditor General of Canada reported the program's costs had skyrocketed to more than $600 million. Moreover, due to a lack of solid financial information, she believed this figure did not fairly represent the true costs of the program. It is small wonder that when I ask people in my riding how they would describe the long gun registry, the response is always the same: an absolute boondoggle.
    Apart from the cost to taxpayers and the financial burden on law-abiding citizens, there is also no evidence the long gun registry has stopped a single crime or saved a single life. This is not only my personal belief, but the belief of a vast number of my constituents, as well as law-abiding Canadians. It is also the belief of the Auditor General of Canada, who, in her 2006 audit, stated that the Canada Firearms Centre did not show how it helped minimize risks to public safety.
    It is also the belief of veteran police officers such as Gilbert Yard, a retired RCMP superintendent, who has said in the past:
     I believe that Canadians are much too astute to believe [the long gun registry] is anything other than a waste of time, effort and money. Wasting public funds that could really make a difference in acute justice issues, in my view, borders on criminal activity.
    When our Conservative government came to office, we pledged that our approach to crime would generate the kind of practical results demanded by our law enforcement community rather than wasting taxpayer dollars on initiatives such as the long gun registry, which does nothing to reduce gun crimes. We promised to make our streets safer by tackling the deadly combination of drugs, gangs and guns. We promised to increase sentences for violent and repeat offenders, especially those involved in weapons-related crimes. We promised to work with the provinces and territories to fight the root causes of crime through community-based prevention. We made those promises and we have kept them.
    Over the last six years, we have passed legislation to tackle violent crime. We introduced mandatory prison sentences for serious gun crimes, as well as reverse bail provisions for serious offences, changes that were long overdue. Our government has also passed legislation that creates a new offence to target drive-by and other intentional shootings that involve the reckless disregard for the life or safety of others. Those convicted of such acts are subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison, with a maximum period of imprisonment of 14 years. If these acts are committed by or for a criminal organization or with a restricted or prohibited firearm such as a handgun or automatic weapon, the minimum sentence has been increased to five years.
    More recently, our government introduced comprehensive legislation which would make our communities safer by: extending greater protection to the most vulnerable members of society, as well as victims of terrorism; further enhancing the ability of our justice system to hold criminals accountable for their actions; and helping improve the safety and security of all Canadians.


    In particular, the safe streets and communities act would: better protect children and youth from sexual predators; increase penalties for organized drug crime and house arrest for serious crimes; protect the public from violent young offenders; eliminate pardons for serious crimes; enshrine in law a number of additional key factors in deciding whether an offender would be granted a transfer back to Canada; increase offender accountability and support victims of crime; support victims of terrorism; and protect vulnerable foreign nationals against abuse and exploitation.
    In addition to taking action on the legislative side, our government has provided more money to the provinces and territories so they can hire additional police officers. The government has also helped the RCMP recruit and train more personnel.
    Our government has shown, through these measures, that it is serious about getting tough on gun crime, but we also need to ensure that we have a system of gun control that makes people safer rather than simply making people feel safe. That is why the government is investing $7 million annually to strengthen front-end screening of first-time firearms licence applicants, with a view to keeping firearms out of the hands of people who should not have them.
    We have to ensure that our gun control keeps firearms out of the hands of those who threaten our communities, our safety, our lives. Our government is determined to maintain an effective firearms control system, while at the same time combatting the criminal use of firearms and getting tough on crime.
    We also believe the radical notion that gun control should target criminals not law-abiding citizens. It should save lives not waste money. That is why our government is moving forward with Bill C-19. This would reduce the burden on farmers and hunters who use rifles and shotguns to protect their livestock or hunt for wild game. Ending the registration of non-restricted guns would also free up money that we could reinvest to combat the criminal use of firearms.
    This government is taking a balanced approach to firearms. On the one hand, we are fine-tuning the law so it targets criminals and not law-abiding citizens. On the other hand, we have spearheaded legislation that gives the police and the courts new tools to fight weapons-related crime, especially related to gangs and organized crime.
    It is a two-pronged approach rooted in common sense and one that will enable us to make our firearms control program truly effective, enhancing public safety for all Canadians.
    I encourage all members to stand in the House and support this important legislation before us today.


    Madam Speaker, in addition to limiting the time allowed for us to debate Bill C-19, the Conservatives are accusing us of treating farmers like criminals. In my riding, 80% of which is farmland, farmers want to keep the firearms registry. I am a hunter myself and come from a family of hunters, and I want to keep the firearms registry. The member promised earlier that she would work with the provinces. I would remind the member that the Government of Quebec wants to keep the data from the firearms registry.
    Why does the member across the floor refuse to listen to what Quebec and the people of Alfred-Pellan are calling for?


    Madam Speaker, earlier today a couple of members observed that the members on this side of the House were consistent in our messaging. I would simply say that when representing the facts on this argument, the arguments remain the same.
    We have long opposed this wasteful and ineffective long gun registry. It unfairly targets law-abiding farmers and duck hunters and not criminals. Finally, there are more effective ways to tackle crime and protect families and our communities.
    I would encourage the member to stand and vote for the legislation later tonight.



    Madam Speaker, listening to the speech by the member opposite, I almost feel as though I am in an old western, with good guys and bad guys. I do not understand how, on the one hand, there can be evil criminals whom the Conservatives want to punish and send to prison, and on the other hand, there are the good guys, the farmers and other people who do nothing wrong, but who have shotguns.
    After looking at this kind of situation, can you not make a distinction or accept or try to see the positive side of a solution like the firearms registry, which could bring something positive to your fight against crime and—
    Order. I would remind all members to direct their comments and questions through the Chair.
    The hon. member for Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar.


    Madam Speaker, contrary to what the member has implied with that question, our government does support gun control that actually works. While we are open to improvements, Canada's gun control laws, including very important licensing requirements, are robust and effective.
    I want to get back to a quote that one of my colleagues highlighted. It was in the testimony given by Detective Sergeant Murray Grismer of the Saskatoon Police Service:
    The cornerstone of public safety is the training, screening and licensing of owners, not the registration of non-restricted rifles and shotguns.
    He went on to say that he does not rely on the Canadian firearms registry to protect his life at all.
    I would encourage the member to recognize that our government supports gun control measures that actually work. She should be supporting this piece of legislation.
    Madam Speaker, it is with a great deal of sadness that I rise today to speak to the bill before us. I am opposed to the dismantling of the gun registry. I am disturbed by the actions of the Conservatives who feel they have to ram through, or railroad, a piece of legislation that is ill-thought out. Once again, they have moved time allocation to stop informed debate.
    I do not know what they are afraid of. Do they wonder if some of the points made by the opposition could actually persuade some members across the way? Or do they just not want the public to have this fulsome debate?
    I heard in the House today that this has been debated for 17 years. If we were to take that attitude toward other legislation that comes before this House, we could say that everything has been discussed in one way or another forever. Therefore, there would be no need for parliamentarians to discuss it. Let us just bring it here, vote on it and get out of here. That is not what parliamentary democracy is about.
    I have also heard quite a few things about the cost of the registry. I agree that when the registry was first brought in there were extraordinary, and quite outrageous, expenditures as the system was put in place. However, by 2010, the cost of operating the registry was $4 million a year. Let us not keep quoting the $1 billion spent at the beginning.
    The Conservatives are used to making economic arguments. It puzzles me that, although we spent over $1 billion as it was a bit of a mess at the beginning under my friends, the Liberals, the cost is down today. Therefore, I do not understand the minister's position that the gun registry has to be destroyed.
    Even if this legislation is adopted and we do not keep a gun registry, surely the data we have collected should be kept. The provinces co-paid for that data to be collected. There is at least one province that wants the data because it may want to have its own registry. What kind of economic sense does it make to destroy data that we already have? Once again, it seems to be something else that is driving my colleagues across the way.
    No legislation, even when one considers the penalties, is ever by itself enough to stop all crime. For example, we have all kinds of fines for people who speed, but that does not stop them from speeding. However, we do not say that we do not need to register cars or have drivers' licences any more. We continue to have registration.
    It is very sad, but there are people who know better who still drink and drive. That can lead to tragic consequences. At the same time, we do not say that because that happens we are now going to stop selling alcohol or that we are not going to have cars on the road.
    This piece of legislation says that we need to make accommodations for the farmers and hunters. I agree. I thought the registration would be onerous so I decided to do a little research. I found that once one is registered, that is it. To transfer the registration into somebody else's name is not a huge deal. It can be done over the phone. Once again, it is not costly at all. Also, it does not cost to register guns.


    I sometimes think we live in a country where we have licences and registrations for almost everything. My grandchildren got a little dog, and we had to get a licence. We drive cars and we do all kinds of things that require licences and registrations.
    A gun, to me, is far more dangerous than little Sam, who is only about this big. A gun is far more dangerous than many other things that we accept as part of our civil society that require registration.
    The NDP, in previous iterations of this bill, had offered to make accommodations for farmers and for hunters. Obviously that is not what our colleagues have in mind. They are willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Instead of addressing the issues around farmers, hunters and law-abiding citizens, they are doing away with it all.
     This opens up the possibility to have guns on the streets that may not otherwise be there. For example, semi-automatic weapons, like the Ruger Mini-14 used by Anders Behring Breivik in the recent Norway shooting and by Marc Lépine in the Montreal massacre in 1989, come under the category of unrestricted weapons. Ask the families of the women murdered in that massacre, or the people who lost loved ones in Norway, how much comfort it gives them to know they were unrestricted weapons.
    This legislation does not just do away with the gun registering. It does away with the absolute requirement for the seller to demand licensing and to keep a record of the sales. As I said earlier, this is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
    I live in an urban riding that has a small part that is rural. In my riding people have mixed opinions on many issues. There have been eight shootings there since Christmas. When it comes to guns of any sort, unrestricted or restricted, long guns or other weapons, as a mother I want them off the streets.
    I want to do whatever it takes to keep them off the streets. If they are not on our streets, then there is less likelihood of someone young dying in my community yet again.
    I come from a riding where, not unlike many others, the rates of domestic violence are on the increase. There are pressures on families, economic pressures and all kinds of other pressures. This is not an excuse for violence. However, we know that when there are pressures on people, they will take action. Once again, by not keeping a record, we are making it easy for weapons to be on our streets and in our homes. I would urge my colleagues across the way to just stop this insanity today.
    Here is a quote from Chief William Blair. He is the Chief of Police in Toronto and past president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. This is what he had to say:
    The registry gives officers information that keeps them safe. If the registry is taken from us, police officers may guess but they cannot know. It could get them killed.


    I know that just having a registry is not going to keep our police officers safe, but it is one of the tools they carry in their backpack that ensures their safety. Surely we do not want to take away one of those tools. For the sake of the young people in my community and for the sake of the safety officers who put their lives at risk for us, please defeat this ill thought out—
    Questions and comments. The hon. member for Saskatoon--Rosetown--Biggar.
    Madam Speaker, it was suggested yesterday and twice today that, yes, we spent more than we ever intended to, but that money has already been spent, and since it will only cost a mere $4 million more a year to maintain the registry, why not keep it? My question to the member is, why does she want to continue this wasteful program when this money could be put to better use to actually protect Canadians and save lives?
    Madam Speaker, let us talk about waste. Let us talk about $19 billion that would have to be spent to build prisons for a very ill thought out crime-fighting agenda. Let us talk about the billions of dollars, not millions but billions, being given to corporations as tax credits because, after all, their profit margins were so gargantuan we had to give them more.
    Four million dollars spent across the country from coast to coast to coast is worth every penny if it keeps one officer safe and one citizen from getting killed.



    Madam Speaker, as Montrealers and Quebeckers, we were and still are affected by the tragedy at École Polytechnique, which could have been prevented if the registry had existed at the time. Police associations are telling us that it is effective, that they need it, that it is useful and that they use it. The Government of Quebec wants to take over from this irresponsible Conservative government by setting up a Quebec registry, but this government refuses to transfer the data that Quebec taxpayers paid for.
    What does the hon. member think about the Conservative government wanting to destroy the data and prevent the provinces that want to from maintaining this useful tool that the Conservatives have destroyed?


    Madam Speaker, it is rare that I am at a loss for words, but when I think about the question that was posed to me, I am at a loss for words because I cannot think of any logical or common sense reason that the Conservatives could have for wanting to destroy the data. I cannot. To me that just seems punitive.
    When I mentioned the massacre in Montreal, it still sends cold chills down my spine. I can remember where I was when that happened. Here we are today saying that the very kind of weapon that was used on that day can now be on our streets in an unrestricted manner.
    Once again, there is no reason to punish Quebec or any of the provinces, or to put our officers in jeopardy, never mind the citizens of Canada.
    Madam Speaker, I just cannot sit by and listen to some of the misinformation the member is spreading. For example, the $4 million that it costs per year is a completely bogus number.
    My colleague from Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar asked a very good question that was not answered: If we had the kind of money that was spent on the gun registry and used it to actually improve public safety, what could we do? I will answer that question for her because she may not know that for half a billion dollars, we could have put 5,600 more police on the streets of our country. If we wanted to take guns off the streets, that is what we would do, because over 90% of the firearms in Toronto are illegal firearms. They are unregistered handguns, and it is against the law to hold--
    The hon. member for Newton--North Delta.
    Madam Speaker, once again let me stress that the cost was outrageous at the beginning but has stabilized at $4 million.
    My question back to the member is this. Is he willing to spend $19 billion to provide extra policing and other tools to the police to fight crime rather than building prisons?
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Souris—Moose Mountain.
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to Bill C-19, the ending the long-gun registry act. This is something that western Canadians, people in Saskatchewan, people in my constituency have been waiting a long time for. There has been a history of opposition by the members opposite to the passage of such a bill.
    The member who previously spoke asked why we were pressing so much with the bill when it deals with farmers, duck hunters and those who belong to wildlife clubs and who do not wish to have to register their guns or be criminalized if they do not. My question is: Why has there been such opposition to removing this class of people from the provisions and the requirements to register under the Firearms Act?
    Much talk has been heard from people who believe that if the long gun registry were repealed, we would lose control of firearms safety regulations altogether. It has been said that if we get rid of the registry we will be endangering the lives of police and those who are vulnerable to domestic violence. Nothing could be further from the truth.
    The registry does not make police entrances to difficult situations any safer or less difficult. The police must always take an abundance of precaution when they go into any situation, and whether a firearm is registered or not is something they will take into account. They will go into a situation using the utmost care.
    Our government has always committed itself to keeping our citizens and our communities safe. We have said from day one that the most important responsibility for government is to keep its citizens safe and to do what it can to ensure that is the case. Our commitment has been to work hard to protect Canadians, and this was clear in our first Speech from the Throne, which said:
—our safe streets and healthy communities are increasingly under threat of gun, gang and drug violence.
    This Government will tackle crime. It will propose changes to the Criminal Code to provide tougher sentences for violent and repeat offenders, particularly those involved in weapons-related crimes. It will help prevent crime by putting more police on the street and improving the security of our borders.
    Those are practical, very basic steps that can ensure the safety of our communities and our streets. If we are going to spend money and get value for that money, we will target the most effective areas to ensure success.
    Since our government was first elected we have worked hard to follow through on our pledge to make our streets and communities safer by repairing a system that was completely out of touch with the priorities of Canadians.
    Offenders who engaged in serious and repeat victimization of society's most vulnerable were walking away from their convictions with merely a slap on the wrist. Our front-line police officers were not receiving the resources they needed to do their job and support for crime prevention was under-funded. Nonsensical and ineffective policies like the long gun registry were enacted to foster an aura of public safety rather than the taking of real action.
    We have taken a firm and reasonable approach to creating safer and stronger communities. Our government is proud of what we have accomplished so far. Our track record is quite impressive when one looks at the series of legislation that has been put before the House, and in fact has passed the House into the other House as well.
    We have taken decisive action to crack down on crime, to strengthen the rights of victims and to give police the tools they need to do their job.
    We make no apologies for getting tough on serious criminals by ensuring they serve sentences that reflect the severity of their crimes.
    We do not apologize for taking a stand against crime and focusing on helping victims of crime. It was surely a time to refocus on victims and some of the things they are interested in, giving them a say, giving them a part in our justice system, to ensure that those who commit the crime receive the appropriate sentence and punishment.


    In May, Canadians gave us a strong mandate to move forward with our tough law and order agenda. We are doing what we promised.
    In June, we introduced legislation to crack down on human smuggling. In September, we introduced comprehensive legislation to make our streets and communities safer. With this current legislation, we are moving ahead with one of our longstanding electoral commitments, that is, to abolish the long gun registry.
    It has been difficult responding to constituents who have been asking since I have been in this House in 2004, through 2006, 2008 and 2011, “When will the ineffective and wasteful long gun registry be eliminated?” They have asked us to do that and we are finally coming to a place where that may happen.
    It seems that some members of the opposition think we are too tough on criminals. If that were true, would we be introducing legislation to abolish the long gun registry if it were indeed effective?
    Eliminating the long gun registry would not make our streets unsafe because, quite frankly, it never impacted the safety of our streets in one way or another. There is not a shred of evidence that the long gun registry has stopped a single crime or saved a single life.
    What we do know, however, is that the rules and regulations currently in place for licensing firearms are effective and reasonable. For this reason, Bill C-19 would not change the current licensing regime.
    What it would do is to get rid of an unnecessary and heavy-handed system that unfairly paints hunters and farmers as criminals. We should not criminalize the failure to register firearms and criminally sanction those who use their firearm for legitimate purposes. Once passed, the legislation would repeal the requirement for the long gun owners to register their hunting rifles and shotguns.
    As I mentioned, firearm owners would still require a valid licence to purchase or possess firearms. They would be required to undergo background checks, pass a firearm safety training course, and comply with firearm safe storage and transportation requirements. Those are the kinds of things the public has an interest in and that we would enforce. Those are the kinds of things that would produce some results.
    However, the registration produced no results, cost a lot of money, and took aim at farmers, hunters, and other wildlife-interested persons.
    Bill C-19 would also require that individuals be in the possession of valid firearms licence when a firearm is purchased.
    Finally, the proposed legislation would allow the destruction of all records currently held in the Canadian firearms registry and under the control of the chief firearms officers.
    Many have felt that registry should never have been in place. In order to rectify that, the registry needs to be done away with. That would mean that its data must be destroyed. This would ensure that the privacy rights of individuals would not be breached by their information being accessed by another organization or government body.
    Let me state with the utmost clarity that our government would not allow for the creation of a long gun registry through the backdoor.
    It is common knowledge that we have desired to abolish this wasteful and ineffective measure. It has been part of the policy of the Conservative Party of Canada since its inception in 2003. It was the policy of both legacy parties. It is not news to anyone that the party, and now the government, has proposed that we proceed with the elimination of the registry.
    In fact, my colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety introduced a bill that came very close to passing in the last Parliament. Yet, thanks to a number of members from the New Democratic Party, the bill did not pass. Fortunately, many of these members I speak of were reminded, on May 2, that they must stand up for their constituents.
    As I mentioned, we have taken a number of steps that will be effective. We have taken a number of steps that will achieve results. However, we will do away, once and for all, with the ineffective and wasteful long gun registry. It is a measure that constituents from my riding of Souris—Moose Mountain have desired for a very long time. It is a measure that is long overdue.



    Madam Speaker, in fact, I heard the hon. member say in his speech that our communities are in constant danger because of the resurgence of firearms and street gangs. I am sorry, but what the member is telling us is that the weapons owned by members of street gangs are not registered weapons. So that is not relevant. It is really just an argument to try to justify an extreme right-wing Conservative policy.
    Second, the hon. member was talking about the crime rate among street gangs. We know full well that the crime rate in Canada has been on the downturn for several years. Once again, this argument does not hold water.
    Third, I would agree with the hon. member and say that we do have rules in our society, but we should not have to get rid of the ones that the Conservatives' little friends are unhappy with and do not want to follow. This is yet another argument that does not hold water.


    Order, please. The hon. member for Souris—Moose Mountain.


    Madam Speaker, it is quite interesting that the member would be so passionate, but I would ask her and the members of her party why they were not so concerned with hunters, farmers and ordinary Canadians who were charged criminally for not registering firearms that they used for lawful purposes. It is not farmers or hunters who are the ones we should go after. They are not the problem on the streets. Criminals are the problem.
    We should target our funds in taking care of the real criminals who do not bother to register firearms and who are the problem, not in keeping track of how many firearms a farmer in Souris—Moose Mountain or in Saskatchewan owns. We should target money to ensure they are criminalized. We should go after them with all our resources. We should not be using our resources, to the tune of millions of dollars, going after innocent people who are not committing crimes. They are the backbone of our country. We should be going after the criminals.


    Madam Speaker, we could say a lot of things about the hon. members speech, but I would like to focus on something very simple. We know that there are many supporters of open government on the government benches. The term “open government” means that the government shares information. I do not understand, since this involves the money of the same taxpayers, how the government can say that it wants to share information, yet it does not want to share this particular information.
    Since it is the same taxpayers who are paying, would it not make sense for the same users to continue to have access to the same information, or is the government simply trying to ensure that there will never be a provincial registry?


    Madam Speaker, the registry consisted primarily of collecting data on people who were not criminals, who were required under the force of law and threat of criminal sanctions to count their firearms and register them in the central registry, against their objection. We are saying that those who have registered under that pretense, when they ought not to have been placed in that position in the first place, will no longer have that information there.
     It is one of the greatest reliefs of my constituents. It is not the fact that we would eliminate the forward-going actions, but the fact that their records would not be available to anyone. They should not have been available to anyone in the first place. If we are to eliminate the registry, we need to get rid of the data so no one else can try to do the same thing to them or to others. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the data are completely done away with.
    Madam Speaker, it is with the support and respect of the people of my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke that I rise today once again to speak in support of this legislation, which will finally scrap the long gun registry.
    I am pleased to confirm to the House that scrapping the Liberal long gun registry is the number one topic of discussion when I am out and about on the various public engagements I am invited to attend.
    My constituents followed the progress of this legislation very closely. They are disgusted by the cynical, manipulative ploys of the opposition. My constituents assure me they will never in their lifetime support those parties with their not so hidden agenda to reintroduce the registry.
    In my riding, demonstrations against the Liberal long gun registry were not occupied by young people being manipulated by radicals funded by foreign interests. These demonstrations were held by middle-aged firearm owners whose first reflex is to respect the laws of the land, whose parents and their parents before them built this great nation.
     The political alienation of rural Canadians by the Liberals was a far greater loss than the $1 billion-plus that have been wasted on an experiment in social engineering. It was an experiment that backfired on the Liberal Party and helped reduce it to the fringe status in Canadian politics it enjoys today. The creation by the Liberals of a new criminal class, rural firearm owners, was the ultimate triumph of the negative political politics, which thoughtful Canadians rejected in the same way they rejected the Liberal long gun registry.
    This may be the worst and most enduring product of the gun registry culture war. When it comes to the gun issue, my constituents all know my stand. I am against it and I will never quite fighting until it is gone.
    Until now, however, I have only made reference to it as the Liberal long gun registry, which means registering all serial numbers on guns owned by law-abiding citizens, but there was much more.
    As we all know, brave Canadians have sacrificed their lives in two world wars and many conflicts, the most recent in Afghanistan, to ensure that we have a free and democratic society, as well as the rule book that lays out how society will be run. The rule book is the Constitution of Canada. However, when Liberal minister, Allan Rock, brought in Bill C-68, the original legislation, using deception and flawed RCMP data, his Liberal Party failed to tell the public that hidden in his so-called “gun bill” were 11 unconstitutional sections that denied the rights and freedoms guaranteed to us by our Constitution.
    Some argue that these intentional rights and freedoms violations gave the registry the same legal authority as the War Measures Act. When the War Measures Act is invoked, all civil rights and freedoms are suspended. However, we are not a war here, are we? Is this the culture war the left is always trying to incite?
    The reality of this blatant assault on the Canadian Constitution can only be stopped by Bill C-19. Yet the left-wing parties are fighting to keep this kind of legislation on the books, vowing never to rescind it. They have promised to keep fighting every attempt by our government to end it and then to reintroduce it if they ever get the chance.
    Nevertheless, our Constitution is the set of rules that our government abides by because they represent the supreme laws of the nation. When we see the left-wing parties demanding that the gun registry stay, remember they are demanding an outright repudiation of the Canadian Constitution as well as a blatantly unconstitutional denial of our civil rights and freedoms. These violations prove that the long gun registry was never about crime reduction. It was about giving the Liberal government the power to seize Canadian property without due process.


    The 11 violations constituents cited are as follows.
     First, Bill C-68, from which the long gun registry emanated, denies the constitutional right to possess private chattel property by allowing the police to confiscate the private property without the due process of law, or fair, just and timely compensation. That is from CFA subsections 102(1) and 102(4). This section also provides for the future confiscation of any and all personal property, classed as being prohibited upon the death of the owner, without monetary compensation of any kind.
    Second, Bill C-68 denies the constitutional right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure, by forcing citizens to allow the police into their homes to search and seize without a warrant, even if no known crime is suspected. They have to allow the search or face arrest, and the legality of search can only be challenged after the fact. That is from CFA sections 102 to 104 and Criminal Code amendment subsections 117.04(1).
    Third, Bill C-68 denies the constitutional right against self-incrimination, the right to remain silent, while allowing police to threaten criminal charges, according to CFA sections 103 and 113, if one does not assist the police to search one's home and go through one's belongings, relative to the enforcement of the act, its regulations or part III of the Criminal Code, CFA section 103.
    Fourth, Bill C-68 denies the constitutional right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by saying the burden of proof is on the individual. That is reverse onus. That is CFA subsection 75(3), Criminal Code amendment subsection 117.11. This section alone destroyed the very foundation upon which our entire legal justice system was predicated.
    Fifth, Bill C-68 denies the constitutional right to consult legal counsel before consenting to surprise police inspections or warrantless searches of one's home, CFA sections 103 and 113.
    Sixth, Bill C-68 denies one's constitutional right to privacy by authorizing police to conduct warrantless searches of one's home at any time, even if one does not own a firearm. That is from CFA subsection 102(7) and section 104.
    Seventh, Bill C-68 denies the constitutional right to freedom of association by allowing the government to prohibit one from owning a firearm if one is an associate of someone who is already prohibited from owning a firearm. That is Criminal Code amendment subsection 117.011(1)(b).
    Eighth, Bill C-68 denies the constitutional right to be represented by an MP by allowing the justice minister to make unilateral regulations that modify the Criminal Code as he or she sees fit, using orders-in-council, without ever having to go through the House or Parliament. That is CFA subsections 117(a) to (v) and subsection 119(6), part III of the Criminal Code. That provision makes the justice minister a law onto himself or herself.
    Ninth, Bill C-68 denies aboriginals their constitutional right to equal treatment under the law by allowing the government to unilaterally adapt or otherwise change any provision of the act as it applies to native people, according to CFA subsection 177(u). This is all without consulting the House or Parliament. That is from CFA subsection 119(6).
    Tenth, Bill C-68 allows the justice minister to create civilian police, as opposed to properly trained officers dedicated to law enforcement. That is from CFA section 101. This provision leaves the door wide open for a future creation of unaccountable government forces and/or paramilitary units.
    Eleventh, Bill C-68 allows for both military and foreign enforcement as well, but with no other part of the Canadian Criminal Code enforceable by the military, especially a foreign military. We wondered why that one was added. The truth is this provision was included to legitimize the future presence of foreign troops on our land. Why would Canada ever need foreign troops enforcing Canadian gun laws?


    I must interrupt as the hon. member's time is up. I am sure she will be able to add to her comments in response to questions.


    Madam Speaker, I have had the distinct displeasure of listening to the most ridiculous, disgusting and blatantly ideological speech that I have heard in the House of Commons since May 2 of last year. It is absolutely appalling. I hope that, at the very least, my colleague removed the National Rifle Association logo from her speech, because that is what we are talking about today. When people talk about the Americanization of Canadian politics under the Conservative government, that is exactly what is going on here.
    Can the member explain why police officers tell us that the registry is useful and practical and saves lives? The Conservatives want to raise cash by playing politics with this issue, and now they think they can teach us a lesson or two with an utterly ridiculous speech.



    Madam Speaker, with respect to the reference the member opposite made, police in my riding tell me that the long gun registry is completely useless. They do not depend on data in that data bank because it is as dated as the first day it was input.
    Fortunately Canadians from coast to coast to coast know they have a strong, stable Conservative government which will defend their rights and end the wasteful long gun registry once and for all.


    Madam Speaker, like my hon. colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, I am a little stunned. I will remain polite, however. That is not to say that my colleague did not, because he already said what I was thinking.
    I do not think the member answered his question, and it is a very important one. We have been saying this from the beginning. I have all due respect for all hunters, and not only the hunters in the hon. member's riding. We on this side of the House have never shown a lack of respect towards hunters. We simply acknowledged that there was a problem with the legislation and proposed a solution.
    Now the Conservatives are arguing all kinds of things and giving the impression that our prisons are filled with hunters and aboriginal people who own rifles and who were incarcerated after the police stormed their houses and confiscated their weapons. Let us stop fooling around.
    Does the fact that police chiefs are saying—the same police chiefs the Conservative government quotes at every turn for its law and order bill—
    Order, please. I would ask the hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke to reply.


    Madam Speaker, it is the front-line police officers who tell us that the stats that are reported on the number of times they have referenced the gun registry are totally out of whack. Even when they check a licence plate number for someone who is speeding, it defaults as a hit to the gun registry, but they are just checking CPIC.
    I do believe that what was said on the opposite side is totally ridiculous. The only way this gun registry could ever be fixed is to end it once and for all.


    Madam Speaker, we do not understand. It truly is difficult to understand.
    We are hearing arguments like the ones just made to us: the hon. member has talked to police officers who do not believe it is used very much. But we have the figures: 92% of police officers use the firearms registry. Those are figures, those are facts. But obviously, we are used to this: reliable, objective data are of less interest to the people on the other side of the House than what they hear in their own immediate circles.
     This registry is useful. As I said, 92% of police officers use it. Since it was established, spousal homicides have declined by 50%. We know that women are the ones who are too often the first victims of spousal homicides, and so we can see very clearly why the Fédération des femmes du Québec called for the registry to be preserved. We have talked about suicide recently. We have spoken in the House in support of suicide prevention. Over the last nine years, firearms suicides, which too often affect our young people, have declined by 64%. For that reason alone, the registry is absolutely essential and useful. And in spite of what they say about it, it is not very expensive. It cost a lot at the beginning, but now the costs associated with the registry represent only about 5% of the Canadian firearms program.
     We are also presented with another argument: it sometimes presents problems for hunters, aboriginal people and others. The NDP has proposed solutions to that: decriminalize the first offence, make sure that long gun owners do not have to absorb the costs, protect information about owners, and provide legal guarantees to protect the rights of aboriginal people. This is an extremely useful registry that saves lives, and we can mitigate some of the problems. Why not? Is it because, as my hon. colleague said, it threatens our civil rights? Is implementing a firearms registry equivalent to invoking the War Measures Act? If I register my car or my dog, is it because I am subject to war measures? That is truly inflammatory language that is completely unrealistic and makes no sense.
     When we are reduced to arguments like that, it means we do not have much left. So it is easier for us to understand why this government refuses to debate, why it has again imposed a closure motion on us, a gag, why it does not want parliamentarians to discuss the issue at any greater length, and why it does not want parliamentarians to be able to address their fellow Canadians to explain the issues to them. This government no longer has any logical, valid argument to support its bill.
    It is not only parliamentarians that this government refuses to listen to. It refuses to listen to the provinces that, like Quebec, have fought at every level, calling for the firearms registry to be kept, or at the very least—if the government is silly enough to abolish it—for the data to be kept. Nor does the government listen to the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, which has called for the same thing. Nor does it listen to numerous experts, including those in the health care field. Nor does it listen to victims' groups, because the majority of victims' groups are completely in favour of the firearms registry and have called for it to be kept.


    There is always a double standard. The government meets with a victims group that says more prisons are needed, and so the government decides to go headlong into that, build prisons and invest billions of dollars to put more people in prison, all the while totally disregarding the opinion of experts, once again. And then there are meetings with victims' groups and victims' families who, sometimes through tears, plead to keep the registry. I saw the mother of one of the young women killed at École Polytechnique de Montréal, and she was crying and pleading for the firearms registry to be kept. Then, quite suddenly, the government members block their ears, do not hear anything else and disregard whatever else is being said.
    Victims do not count in this government's eyes, unless they are repeating what the government wants to hear. I do not call that listening. This government’s modus operandi is to be completely closed off to the opinion of others. I call that “my way or the highway” I call that contempt for any opinion not shared by the government.
     But contempt cannot last forever. People will continue to speak out and voice their opinions. The people will take back the government, which imagines that since 40% of Canadian voters voted for it, it is entitled to do what it wants and can ride roughshod over any and all opinions that it does not share.
    As I was saying, there is always a double standard. Let us take another example. The gun registry helps keep our communities safe and, as I said at the beginning, helps save lives. Today, the Minister of Public Safety implied that the use of information obtained by torture would be permitted in order to save lives. That encourages torture. If the government is prepared to consider information obtained by torture in order to save a life, then it is encouraging torture. However, registering a firearm in the gun registry to save lives suddenly is not acceptable.
    In August 2010, Jack Layton said:
     Stopping gun violence has been a priority for rural and urban Canadians. There’s no good reason why we shouldn’t be able to sit down with good will and open minds. There’s no good reason why we shouldn’t be able to build solutions that bring us together. But that sense of shared purpose has been the silent victim of the gun registry debate.
    Mr. Harper has been no help at all. Instead of driving for solutions, he has used this issue to drive wedges between Canadians.... [The Conservatives] are stoking resentments as a fundraising tool to fill their election war chest.
    Mr. Harper is pitting Canadian region against Canadian region with his—


    Order. Using a member's name is not permitted in the House.
    Jack Layton also said in August 2010:
    [The Prime Minister] is pitting Canadian region against Canadian region with his “all or nothing show-down”. This is un-Canadian. This kind of divisiveness, pitting one group against another is the poisonous politics of the United States. Not the nation-building politics of Canada.
    That was true in 2010 and it is still true today. We can only hope that this government will respect the opinions of Canadians, who risk losing their lives if the registry is abolished, that it will respect opinions that differ from its own, that it will respect the dialogue between Canadians, and that it will respect the House by giving it the opportunity to debate and do its job.


    Madam Speaker, the member opposite stated that 92% of the police use the registry. My question is: How many use it by choice?
    We know that the database is accessed automatically every time a car is pulled over for speeding. Does the member opposite think that if the datum shows that the owner of the vehicle does not have a registered long gun that the police should let his or her guard down? Does the member opposite think that the police should treat every circumstance as if there were a dangerous weapon available and that the long gun registry serves no useful purpose?


    Madam Speaker, I do not think that police officers should automatically treat every situation as if it were dangerous. Canada has a long-standing tradition of presuming that people are innocent and acting in good faith. If someone is exceeding the speed limit by 10 or 20 kilometres per hour, I do not think that the police officer responding should have to assume the situation is dangerous. Police officers can make more informed decisions about such situations when they have access to the gun registry so they can check it and feel more confident.
    Not only do 92% of police officers use it, but 74% of them say that the results of their searches have been helpful during major operations. In other words, the registry is useful.


    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my esteemed colleague for her very interesting speech. She discussed something important. The NDP has suggested what I consider to be completely reasonable changes to the registry. What does my colleague think of those changes?
    Madam Speaker, I believe and I dare say that we have been listening. We did not merely say that the registry is a good tool that has to be maintained and then just stop listening. Some people had concerns. We listened to them and made practical suggestions to address those concerns. That is the true role of a government: to bring everyone to the table and find solutions everyone can agree on instead of constantly trying to be divisive.
    The hon. member for Gatineau for a very quick question.
    Madam Speaker, the government listens to the Association of Chiefs of Police when it comes to Bill C-10 on law and order, but when those same chiefs come to committee to talk about Bill C-19 and urge the government to keep the registry, the government suddenly turns a deaf ear. What does the hon. member think about that?
    Madam Speaker, I thank all of my colleagues for their questions. It is remarkable; it really is a double standard. That is why I do not call that listening. The government adopts a position at the outset and when someone comes along and tells it what it wants to hear, it agrees. But when a larger group of people comes along with even more relevant facts and information and contradicts the government, it suddenly stops listening and puts on a blindfold and everything shuts down.


    It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Etobicoke North, the environment; the hon. member for Vancouver Quadra, public safety; and the hon. member for Halifax, the environment.
    Madam Speaker, on behalf of my constituents of Kelowna—Lake Country, it is a pleasure to have this opportunity to show my support for Bill C-19. I have personally waited a number of years for this opportunity to stand in this place and say with confidence that the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry will soon be gone.
    Our government has been quite clear since we were first elected that we would take a stand and do what was right. We said that we would do what was right for all law-abiding Canadians. We said that we would abolish a system that criminalizes law-abiding Canadians based solely on where they live and the tools they use to make a living. Canadians have now given us a strong mandate to do that.
    The debate is not new. Our government has tried on several occasions to achieve the results that Canadians want, as have several hon. members. At this time I want to recognize the efforts of the hon. members for Yorkton—Melville and Portage—Lisgar who have worked tirelessly for many years to do away with Canada's long gun registry. Today is their day as much as it is a great day for all Canadians, a day to rejoice.
    I would ask all hon. members of this House to think back to the news coverage they have seen in the past few days. I would ask them to think more specifically about those news stories that covered gun violence on our streets. In many cases, when we see images of gun crime on television, it usually involves gang members settling scores or fighting for drug turf in large city neighbours. It usually involves brazen acts on street corners or in parks or even in schools.
    Last summer in my riding, on a Sunday afternoon, it happened. We had open fire from gang members in the middle of a beautiful August day in a tourist city, a city of just over 100,000 people. People from all around the world had gathered to enjoy a beautiful Sunday afternoon. My daughter happened to be working at the hotel that day and I thank the good Lord every day that she survived. The staff ran into the rooms, called 911 and took frantic customers, patrons from all walks of life, to safety. It was a horrific situation. It is these situations that gun control must target. This must be stopped and our government has certainly taken a number of steps over the last six years to do that.
    This government is convinced that asking hunters to fill out forms to register their long guns in a computer database does not prevent these types of crimes from taking place in our communities. Our government is not alone in taking such a stand.
     Some hon. members have indicated that police speak with one voice in support of the long gun registry. That, however, is simply not the case. For instance, in April 2006, more than 11 years after the Firearms Act was introduced, the president of the Winnipeg Police Association said, “The Winnipeg Police Association has never supported the long-gun registry”.
    More recently, other front-line officers have added their voice to the debate indicating that Canada's long gun registry does nothing to prevent gun crimes or even to protect the safety of police officers.
    Abbotsford police chief, Bob Rich, an urbanite with no hunting background, has been quoted in the London Free Press as saying that the long gun registry completely misses the mark and does nothing to address the real gun problems in his community. What he said was that 90% of all recovered guns in Abbotsford were smuggled into Canada from Washington state and that the debate we should be having in this country was about how to address that issue. I think that is of vital importance.
    Madam Speaker, yourself coming from British Columbia, you are well aware of the fact that guns and cocaine are going across the border. It is a very serious issue and it is something we need to be focused on, be aware of and working on with other pieces of legislation with the support of all members of this House.
    Chief Rich is not alone. When Calgary police chief, Rick Hanson, testified at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness last spring he said that the registry was flawed and that it failed to tackle the real issue of gun violence. He went on to say that the registry:
...falls short of making the type of positive impact this country needs to be safer. No direct links have been made between the existing gun registry and the behaviour of criminals.
    I have some more from front-line police officers weighing in on the debate. Retired police officer, Sergeant Michael Mays, who spent 6 of his 33 years on the Toronto Police Force, working the dangerous Jane and Finch area, wrote in a letter to the Toronto Star that he found the long gun registry “ terribly flawed and a waste of time, energy and money”.


    Sergeant Mays added that the information in the registry was “outdated, inaccurate and completely unreliable”, and that for any officer ”to make a decision at a call based on registry information would be foolish at best and deadly at worst”, as my hon. colleague recently stated.
    The verdict is in. The long gun registry does nothing to prevent gun crimes, protect Canadians or even protect law enforcement officers.
    Again, retired police sergeant Michael Mays noted in his letter to the Toronto Star that:
    A [police] check of the registry is done automatically every time an officer is dispatched to an address, wanted or not. From its inception, I was advised not to depend on it to make decisions.
    What we can deduce from all this is that however well-intentioned it may have been, the long gun registry is completely ineffective and does nothing to prevent gun crimes.
    Taxpayers were originally told that the registry would cost something in the order of $2 million, since the rest would be made up by fees. All of us know full well that the state broadcaster has stated the cost to be well in excess of $2 billion. Two million, two billion. M and B. That is a big difference.
    Today, we know there are over seven million long guns legally registered but there are millions of others not legally registered. Some estimates put that figure at 16 million. Seven million registered and possibly 16 million unregistered. It is a guess at best. There are still a lot of guns that would need to be registered if the long gun registry remained intact.
    We could add to that the cost of making the data current and correcting the data, as well as the police hours that would be spent enforcing its compliance. For what? For a tool that never has and never will have any impact in preventing gun crimes? For a tool that police officers do not rely on? For a tool that some police officers actually refer to as dangerous? For a tool that many police officers say has had absolutely no role in helping them to solve crimes? It is just goes on and on. We can and will do better.
     As Al Koenig, president of the Calgary Police Association, noted in the Calgary Herald, the vast amount of money spent on the long gun registry could have been much better spent and put to use for the front-line police officers in Canada. He said that the program has had no effect on crime or acted in any way as a deterrent. He said, “despite the money spent, it should be scrapped.
    That is what the legislation before us would do.
    Our government believes in taking a balanced approach to firearms control, one that targets criminals and eases requirements on law-abiding firearm owners. We must not forget that the true aim of gun control is to prevent gun crime.
    The measures we are taking to build a more effective firearms control system aim to achieve two goals. On the one hand, we want to crack down on individuals who would use firearms to harm others and, on the other hand, we want to ensure that individuals who want to obtain firearms for legitimate purposes are not a threat to others and know how to handle firearms.
    We respect our law-abiding farmers, recreational hunters and sports shooters.
    I met with members of the BC Wildlife Federation, which has about 38,000 individual members and represents over 100 member clubs in British Columbia, including the Oceola Fish and Game Club in my riding of Kelowna—Lake Country and the Kelowna and District Fish and Game Club. Its president, Rod Wiebe, put out a news release in the fall when we tabled this legislation, in which he stated:
    The Prime Minister has consistently pledged to rid us of this expensive white elephant, which has cost Canadian taxpayers almost $2 billion dollars; the introduction of the legislation is tangible proof of that commitment. Supporters of the registry have repeatedly stated that it works, but they have consistently failed to provide clear evidence to support that contention.
    The bottom line is that Canadians want results, not expensive showpieces. They want action on gun crime, not expensive boondoggles.
     Bill C-19 is long overdue. I therefore ask all members of this House to work with this government to ensure its speedy passage.


    In a little while hon. members will have an opportunity to stand up and do the right thing, to stand up for freedom for recreational hunters, farmers, fishermen, outdoors people, who appreciate the beauty of our country and our freedom, and support Bill C-19


    Madam Speaker, I am somewhat surprised by my colleague's line of thinking. He told us that the data are inaccurate, but he forgot to mention that they are not quite up to date because his government declared an amnesty. Thus, it is the Conservatives' fault. They do not keep the registry up to date and then they scrap it because it is no longer up to date. That is illogical.
    I would like an honest answer from my colleague. On this side of the House, we noted that there were problems. Why did this government never try to solve the problems with the registry instead of simply moving to abolish it?


    Madam Speaker, there are a couple of reasons. The fact is the registry is a database of law-abiding Canadians. It has not provided any reduction in gun crime.
    For example, I was in a coffee shop talking with a constituent. An off-duty RCMP officer came up to me and said that although I did not know him, I had knocked on his door one day. He wanted me to know that he has been in the force for about 20 years. He told me that we should get rid of the long gun registry because it is ineffective and does not work. That is an unsolicited comment from a front-line officer.
    One of the member's NDP colleagues, potentially a future leader of that party, the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, stated:
    Sadly the gun registry has not been a positive solution for Canadians. It was first pitched as a $2-million net-cost program. but its heavy bureaucracy has already consumed millions of tax dollars. Even so, it has faltered as a tool to stop the use of guns for criminal ends. Meanwhile, it has unfairly targeted who use firearms lawfully. Very often, that has meant rural people, including farmers and hunters.
    That was said by the member's colleague.


    Madam Speaker, I have heard during these debates a lot of speakers who would dispute what my hon. colleague said when he quoted somebody, and I cannot remember who, saying that there was no connection between the long gun registry and the behaviour of criminals.
    If my colleague is willing to make that argument, why is he not willing to make the same argument when it comes to mandatory sentences when there is no evidence that they work either?
    Madam Speaker, I want to talk a bit more about what the B.C. Wildlife Federation said:
    The long gun registry, created under Bill C-68 by a previous Liberal government, has always been misdirected. It focused on law-abiding citizens, ignoring violent criminals and offenders who have been prohibited by court from owning firearms who actually do threaten the public safety. As a result, the BCWF [B.C. Wildlife Federation] has joined with provincial and territorial wildlife federations, national and provincial wildlife and outdoor organizations, responsible firearms owners, hunters, farmers, trappers, recreational sport shooters, and many rank and file law enforcement officers who have consistently urged the government to scrap the system.
    These are common sense folks, just as the legislation we are bringing forward under Bill C-10 and Bill C-19 is common sense.
    I would appreciate the support of the hon. member. He was not here at the time when his predecessors brought in the registry. He is from Kingston and can bring some common sense from those folks in Ontario to the House.


    Madam Speaker, I am horrified to hear the arguments coming from the other side of the House. The obstinacy with which the Conservatives are calling for the destruction of the firearms registry is neither practical nor well thought out. Bill C-19 is motivated entirely by ideology and seeks to divide rural and urban Canadians. The Conservatives want people to think that those two groups hold irreconcilable positions on this issue, and that is not the case.
    As the New Democrats have shown in the past, we have the leadership that is needed for considering both sides of the coin, in order to come up with a solution that works for all Canadians. In 2010, my colleague from Timmins—James Bay introduced a bill that would have made changes to the registry and removed the parts that are problematic for hunters and the first nations, without destroying this vital protection that is used every day by the police to combat spousal violence, among other things.
    Rather than supporting a well thought-out solution to the problem, the government decided to divide Canada on this issue in order to play petty politics. I do not need to remind this House that it is women who are the primary victims of spousal violence, women who are rightly terrified at the prospect of the registry and the data in it being destroyed. Anyone who rises in this House and tries to minimize that fear is denying or ignoring the fact that one-third of women killed by their partner are killed by a legally owned shotgun or rifle. They are also denying or ignoring the fact that since the introduction of the registry, the frequency of such incidents has declined by 50%. The government is not just endangering women’s rights; it is playing with their lives.
    I represent a rural riding in Quebec. I am one of the New Democrats who represent communities of farmers, first nations and sports hunters. I have no difficulty explaining the bill introduced by my colleague from Timmins—James Bay to them, and the amendments we would like to make to Bill C-19. Those amendments would have created a firearms registry that I could defend wholeheartedly. Those amendments would have controlled the cost of the registry, simplified firearms registration and created a legal guarantee of adherence to the treaties signed with the first nations.
    However, today I have to stand up for the women in my riding who are firmly opposed to Bill C-19. I have known Andrée Larochelle and Carole Girardeau of the Carrefour des femmes du Grand Lachute since last May. That organization is a wonderful centre for women, that works with victims of violence on a daily basis.
    Ms. Larochelle wrote the following letter to the Prime Minister on December 6:
    Dear Mr. [Prime Minister]
    You are no doubt aware that December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. It marks the anniversary of the murders of 14 young women at the École Polytechnique in Montreal on December 6, 1989, by a man who hated them just because they were women.
    Since that time, in Quebec alone, 973 women and children have died at the hands of violent men.
    Here at the Carrefour des femmes du Grand Lachute, we are working to combat the violence committed against women every day. Every day, women of all ages tell us that they are the victims of violence, whether it be psychological, verbal, sexual, economic or physical. Every day!
    And now, two decades later, you, Mr. Prime Minister, the leader of our great country whose democracy is a model for the world, are planning to abolish the firearms registry, after so much work was done to implement it. It is incomprehensible. It is unacceptable.
    The women of this same great country, particularly those of Quebec, will remember you as the one who undermined the status of women. That is what we will remember. That much is certain.
    In the meantime, if you are curious, take the time to read the enclosed list of given names. It will give you an opportunity to personalize violence against women. This list was created in less than five minutes by gathering the names of approximately 30 women who visit our centre. Imagine if every Canadian woman did the same thing...
    We hope that we have made you aware of the violence women experience and we send our respect, particularly if you change your mind about the firearms registry.
    Sincerely, Andrée Larochelle, case worker and communications officer


    I have here the list of names to which the letter refers: Manon, Kim, Nathalie, Guétane, Brigitte, Micheline, Gisèle, Josée, Nicole, Isabelle, Linda, Cécile, Paulette, Lorraine, Diane, Manon, Johanne, Sylviane, Linda, Jacqueline, Suzanne, Ginette, Carole, Sylvie, France, Pauline, Josée, Nicole, Tanya, Laurie, Ronya, Selahna, Cassandra, Ashley, Paula, Amal, Lucie, Rachel, Tanya, Lisa, Lori, Judith, Andrée, Joanie, Chantal, Sandra, Karine, Lise, Lucie, Nancy, France, Danielle, Marie-Karine, Francine, Manon, Maude, Huguette, Chantal, Marianne, Sophie, Jacqueline, Michelle, Thérèse, Jeannine, Kim, Mélissa, Mélanie, Jacynthe, Mylène, Micheline, Nathalie. I did not read all the names. These are just a few of the victims.
    On behalf of the women's centre in Lachute, the women and police officers in the Province of Quebec and everyone else across Canada who has spoken out against Bill C-19, I am asking all the members of the House to vote against this reckless and ill-conceived bill.



    Madam Speaker, we were all elected by our constituents. We are here to represent them and bring their ideas forward.
    The member's colleague, the member for Nickel Belt, was quoted in The Sudbury Star on November 5, 2009 as saying, “I've been hearing from constituents since the day I was elected that they wanted to abolish the long gun registry. I've listened to them and will continue to work on their behalf”.
    Is the member's colleague wrong by listening to his constituents and standing up to abolish the long gun registry?
    Madam Speaker, as I said during my speech, I come from a rural riding as well. There were not many constituents who were concerned or unsure about the current long gun registry, but I talked with them about the amendments that we had brought forward and they were convinced that a solution was possible.
    I am going to quickly mention the amendments New Democrats have been asking for that would reconcile rural and urban Canada: decriminalize first-time non-registration of long guns, making a one-time offence a non-criminal ticket; enshrine in legislation that gun owners will never be charged for registration; prevent the release of identifying information about gun owners, except to protect public safety by court order or law; and create a legal guarantee for aboriginal treaty rights. Talking about these things with my constituents who were concerned about the long gun registry convinced them that there was a solution possible.
    Why are the Conservatives not being reasonable and trying to work with all members of the House for all Canadians?


    Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member, who has given an excellent speech on Bill C-19. Today, we voted once again on a time allocation motion for a bill that is extremely important for all Canadians. What does the hon. member think about the fact that the Conservative government is not listening to Quebec, which wants to recover the data from the firearms registry?
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Alfred-Pellan for her excellent question. The Conservatives keep saying that Canadians gave them a strong mandate. In fact, Quebeckers did not give them any mandate. The majority of Quebeckers voted for the NDP. We want to find solutions. Quebec is asking the government to transfer the data from the registry to Quebec. Why do the Conservatives not listen to Quebec and the New Democrats, who truly represent that province, and just transfer the data?


    Madam Speaker, I thank the--
    I am sorry to interrupt, but it will have to be a very brief question. There is only a minute and a half left.