7 December 2009
Many of my acquaintances are hunters. Hunting is not practiced to the same extent today as it used to be, but it is a traditional activity that has always been part of the culture of the First Nations as well as the settlers who came to this country.
Almost all these hunters, and the farmers who need to keep hunting rifles, are absolutely honest people who have never committed any act of violence against anyone.
Nevertheless, the law treats them all nowadays as potential criminals. In addition to the firearms possession and acquisition license, they have to periodically register each one of their hunting rifles.
A private bill proposed by my colleague Candice Hoeppner, bill C-391, is presently being examined in the House of Commons, with the purpose of abolishing the registry for long guns. It has already been adopted in the first two readings, and the final vote in the third reading will take place in a few weeks.
As you probably know already, this gun registry was set up by the liberal government in 1995, following the massacre that took place at Montreal’s École polytechnique twenty years ago. It was no doubt based on good intentions. But government policy should not be judged on its intentions but rather on its observable consequences.
This registry has been an administrative and financial disaster since the start. According to government estimates at the time, it was supposed to cost 2 million dollars; but spending on this program is now up to 2 billion dollars, a thousand times more. Imagine what could have been done with all this money.
The auditor general has stated in one of her reports that there is no evidence that the registry helps reduce crime. Very few crimes are committed with hunting rifles. The police can already know who possesses a firearm by consulting the list for firearms possession and acquisition licenses. And let’s be clear: the goal here is only to put an end to the hunting rifles registry. The bill will not affect the registry for restricted firearms like revolvers.
We all agree that something has to be done to fight against crime. But let’s do it with serious and efficient measures, not with symbolic and costly programs such as this registry. This registry unjustly targets hunters and farmers, not criminals.
I supported bill C-391 in the first two readings, as did all my colleagues in the Conservative Party. And I hope that the next time again, many of our colleagues on the opposition benches will join us to adopt it in the third reading.
Thank you for listening and talk to you soon.