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S'enregistrer au Flux RSS Le Sénat du Canada
Blog > Politics > Conservatives host sinister party at taxpayers’ expense
Feb 17

Conservatives host sinister party at taxpayers’ expense

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I am certain that she is very pleased that I still have a question to ask her, particularly since the economy is an issue that is extremely important to her. I am trying to make a connection between the firearms registry and economic growth and job creation.

We learned that, yesterday evening, a party was organized to celebrate a happy occasion. To me, a happy occasion is a birthday, a promotion, the birth of a child or a wedding, for example. The leader will understand why we have doubts about the nature of the happy occasion that was celebrated when she thinks about the incredible tragedies that have occurred in Canada, particularly in my province. Yesterday was not about victims’ rights. The Conservatives simply use victims’ rights as a pretext for introducing other bills.

In Quebec, the general impression was that the Conservatives’ party was equivalent to dancing on the graves of Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maude Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik Widajewicz, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault and Annie Turcotte — all those who died during the Polytechnique massacre.

How can the leader’s government celebrate such a bill when it was born from the killings at École Polytechnique?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): We all vividly remember the tragedy at École Polytechnique, and I remember exactly what I was doing when that terrible tragedy happened. For the honourable senator to equate that in any way with legislation that targets law-abiding citizens is shameful.

I am at a loss for words. As a victim myself, as others of us, of criminal acts, how could she stand up in this place and use the names of innocent victims to criticize a piece of government legislation? The honourable senator knows full well, as we all do, that the tragic events at École Polytechnique, which saw so many young women massacred, has nothing whatsoever to do with Bill C-19, which was an act to abolish the long-gun registry.

It is disgusting that the honourable senator would even equate the two. She always tries to confuse the issue of the long-gun registry with our serious efforts to control dangerous weapons. As I have pointed out in this place many times, these were brought in by Conservative governments. We have strong gun control laws in this country.

Back when this long-gun registry was brought into this place in the mid-1990s, I said at the time that the money would be far better spent on border security to keep illegal guns out of the country and on issues such as violence against women.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I am sorry to say that I do not know which of the two would be more shocked by the leader’s words. Suzanne Laplante-Edward, who lost her daughter in this tragedy, stated, “I am outraged. I cannot believe that my taxes are being used to pay for a party where the Conservatives are dancing on my daughter’s grave.”

Those are not my words, but those of a victim’s mother.

The leader is claiming that the registry is being abolished to save money, but evidence was brought before committee showing that the firearm-related homicide rate has fallen since the registry was implemented. From the beginning, there has been a reduction in the number of lives lost and the number of court cases, as well as in the costs that the government must assume when such an incident occurs.

Finally, could the leader provide us with the exact amount of money spent on the party in question?

Senator LeBreton: First of all, I have the greatest sympathy for the mothers of the victims. I can totally understand her feelings. Anyone who has lost children is very emotional about it.

I remove the mothers of the victims from this because, obviously, anybody who has lived through a tragedy like that has great difficulty with any matters that they perceive to be directly related to the tragedies they have faced.

The fact of the matter is that the government — and before we formed the government, in every election since 2004, our party then and now as we ran for government — has made it very clear that it was our intention to scrap the long-gun registry. As I have mentioned many times, I was raised on a farm. We had shotguns and rifles, and my father was certainly not a criminal.

The purpose of the bill was not to target law-abiding citizens. Of course the government, at the same time, adheres to strict gun control laws brought in by Conservative governments, as I have pointed out.

Certain members of Parliament have worked many years on this issue, some of them for 15 or 17 years. The fact that they decided to have an event to mark the occasion is their own business. As far as I know, these are events that they decided to participate in, which is their right. I do not know what that has to do with the taxpayer or the government.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I gather from the leader’s response that we will not be told the amount paid for this party.

For several months now, Quebec’s public safety minister, Robert Dutil, has been urging the government to transfer the firearms registry, which was paid for by all Canadian taxpayers, in the event that Bill C-19 was passed. The government’s idea of saving money is strange to say the least, given that it continues to ignore a request that would allow a province to continue to use the registry and benefit from the investment that has already been made.

How does the leader justify her government’s decision and how can Prime Minister Harper say that he respects taxpayers when 70 per cent of Quebecers are in favour of keeping the registry?

Senator LeBreton: The bill is very clear, as was our commitment. We brought in Bill C-19 to scrap the long-gun registry. It is a registry. A registry has names. When we said we were going to scrap the long-gun registry, we are doing exactly what we said we would do.

We have the bill before us now, and if individual provinces want to embark on their own registries, they are free to do so. However, we will not participate in a back-door effort with data, by the way, which is now incomplete and not useful.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: How many other registries in other departments does the government intend to erase and to make disappear in order to imply their policy?

Senator LeBreton: That is in line with the honourable senator’s usual ridiculous questions. We are talking about the long-gun registry, and the bill before us is to scrap it.

I must say, at this point, I was delighted to see two NDP members of the Official Opposition have the courage to get up and vote for this measure. For the honourable senator to ask me some question about how many registries, it actually is a ridiculous question and I should not even be trying to answer it.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I have every right to talk to the leader and to ask her questions. That is my role as a member of the opposition.

The leader also has the duty to answer politely. I have never qualified her as ridiculous, and I have never used words describing her as an idiot, so I do not see why she would talk to me this way. I ask her to withdraw those words.

Senator LeBreton: I do not think I have ever called anyone an idiot, unless I have done so to their face, which of course is in private.

When Senator Hervieux-Payette reads her preambles and the vicious attacks that she unleashes on our government every time she gets up, which is her right, I have a right to defend my government. I will do so, and I will absolutely not apologize for it.

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