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Blog > Politics > Killing the gun registry: all about money, business and lobbying
Mar 09

Killing the gun registry: all about money, business and lobbying

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, today is a rather sad day for me because, as opposition critic, I must discuss Bill C-19, despite the fact that it is International Women’s Day.

I come from a province where women have been the victims of gun violence, but where they also waged an extraordinary campaign to ensure the passage of the legislation that the government wants to abandon today. The abandonment of this bill will prevent victims’ families and friends from having the satisfaction of knowing that the loss of their daughters and friends was not in vain.

I would like to give an overview of the situation in order to help my Conservative colleagues understand that the changes made to this legislation are measures that will certainly not help to move Canada forward on the international front and will certainly not help to further the cause of women’s rights.

That being said, I would like to clarify the issue by reading the dictionary definition of a firearm:

A weapon, especially a portable gun or pistol, from which a projectile can be discharged by an explosion caused by igniting gunpowder, etc.

In recent centuries, since the late Renaissance, firearms have become the predominant weapon used by mankind, and this has led to tremendous changes in the art of war.

Today, I would like to remind honourable senators that firearms can be found throughout the entire world. I will give some statistics later. The proliferation of firearms has certainly not helped to improve the human condition, nor the condition of women and children in our country. In fact, the purpose of passing the Firearms Act in 1995 was to reduce the number of victims killed as a result of the misuse of firearms.

This is not a condemnation of the use of firearms by farmers or hunters. My father was a very good hunter and my appetite for venison surely comes from the fact that, when he was living, I was able to eat deer, caribou, moose and rabbits quite regularly. This shows that I am not ideologically opposed to this bill. I think the government has a responsibility to regulate firearms, so that they are used for the right purposes.

I want to show that, as senators, we should reflect on the use of firearms, which are dangerous weapons that kill people all over the world.

When this legislation comes into effect, firearms will no longer have to be registered, except prohibited or restricted firearms. So, this is a huge step backwards. In fact, there will be fewer obligations than there were before the act was passed in 1995.

By eliminating the mandatory registration of firearms, the Harper government is going against the teachings of the Supreme Court in the Reference Respecting the Firearms Act, which provides that registration is “integral and necessary to the operation of the scheme” whose purpose is “promoting safety by reducing the misuse of any and all firearms.”

As stated by the Coalition for Gun Control in its 2011 brief, this bill will first make licensing verification optional when non-restricted firearms are bought, thus making access to legal firearms easier for individuals who do not have a proper license, or who have lost the privilege to own and use firearms, following a prohibition order issued by a court.

Second, the data on the 7.1 million non-restricted firearms that have already been registered will be destroyed, despite the fact that such data could be useful to police investigative work to trace firearms used to commit crimes. Several international treaties require countries to keep track of firearms sales, in order to trace them more easily. This goes beyond the frontiers of Canada and, of course, beyond those of the continent.

Third, the bill does not include provisions to restore the obligation for businesses to keep sales records for firearms. That obligation, which had existed since 1977, was abolished to harmonize it with the 1995 act, since that information would then be in the registry. By abolishing the registry, we are abolishing the 1977 obligation.

Without that information, there will be no longer any way for police officers to find out where the rifles and shotguns used in crimes came from or to confiscate such weapons from suspects.

Fourth, the government is destroying a tool that police use to get guns out of the hands of dangerous or suicidal people, enforce prohibition orders and take preventive measures.

That is the scope of Bill C-19.

Last week, Conservative Senator Daniel Lang told the Senate that his government, through Bill C-10 in particular, would impose harsher but fair sentences and develop a corrections system designed to correct criminal behaviour.

The Canadian Bar Association disagrees, providing tangible evidence that Bill C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act that was passed last week, poses a threat to Canadian public safety. Bill C-10 will result in new prisons, impose jail time for minor, non-violent offences, justify mistreatment of prisoners and interfere with the transition of inmates back into society. Add Bill C-19 into the mix, and we find ourselves at an impasse.

The Canadian Bar Association is also concerned that, if Parliament passes this bill, which is just as ideological as Bill C-19, the safety of communities in general and police officers and family members in particular will be compromised.

Senator Lang also said that in order to reduce crime, the Harper government has made sure to put more police on the streets. Why then is the government not listening to the police when it comes to Bill C-19? The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, Quebec’s police associations, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police all advocate maintaining the firearms registry, because they feel that it saves lives and allows them to do their work more safely.

The Conservative government insists on abolishing a registry that the RCMP considers to be very useful for judicial and police services. In a recent assessment of the Canadian Firearms Program, the RCMP reported three things to confirm that the firearms register is critical to the safety of Canadian citizens. First, it improves the safety of officers on duty. The RCMP found that the existence of the registry allowed its officers to better prepare for a raid on a residence by assessing potential threats and knowing how many weapons were there. The benefits are obvious.

The RCMP also feels that investigations are supported by this registry. It helps in tracing weapons. The automated and centralized registry allows police forces to speed up searches directly on the premises where they need them. In addition to enhancing public safety, the registry helps police officers seize firearms in cases involving family violence or mental illness.

The goal of maintaining the firearms registry is clear and obvious, and respects this idea of public safety. Abolishing the registry will make it harder for the police to anticipate the presence of firearms when they are called to potentially violent crime scenes.

In Quebec, the provincial government’s position is unequivocal. The authorities believe in a universal firearms registration system as a valuable tool that promotes crime prevention and supports the work of the police, prosecutors and health care providers.

Unlike the federal government’s position, that of the Quebec government is supported by many agencies, health and public safety experts and police organizations in Quebec.

Last week, Conservative Senator Daniel Lang claimed there is nothing to prove that getting rid of the registry will change matters when it comes to suicides and homicides. How can the honourable senator say such things without providing us with any data?

Statistics and scientific facts show that much of the progress in terms of public safety can be attributed to the creation of the firearms registry in 1995. The Polysesouvient organization said so in its submission to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security in 2011. The organization’s researchers came to the following conclusions.

First of all, the number of firearms-related deaths decreased by 34 per cent between 1995 and 2008.

Second, the number of homicides committed with long guns — shotguns and hunting rifles — fell by 41 per cent between 1995 and 2010. In 2009, the number of homicides with long guns reached its lowest level since this type of data started being collected in 1961.

Third, according to Statistics Canada, much of the decline in firearm-related homicide since the early 1980s can be attributed largely to a decrease in homicides involving a rifle or shotgun.

Fourth, before the adoption of the Firearms Act, in 1991, long guns accounted for about 60 per cent of firearms used to commit murder, compared to 30 per cent with handguns. In 2010, it was 23 per cent. Although the majority of gun murders are committed with handguns today — 64 per cent in 2010 — it is not because long guns are less dangerous, but because the law had the intended effect on the weapons newly covered under it, that is, long guns, the very type of firearms that were previously most often used for hunting or to kill animals disturbing farms.

Fifth, the number of women murdered with guns dropped by 64 per cent between 1995 and 2007. Such a decline is hard to ignore. From 2000 to 2009, almost a quarter — 23 per cent — of intimate partner homicides were committed with guns. This proportion was second only to knives.

Sixth, the number of armed robberies using firearms fell by 56 per cent between 1995 and 2010.

Seventh, suicides by firearms fell by 48 per cent between 1995 and 2008.

Eighth, maintaining the long gun registry is cost effective. According to the latest information, it costs only $4 million a year. The money already spent to establish the registry certainly cannot be recovered and represents an investment in public health and safety. I will give you some statistics on that a little later on. In the administration of this legislation, we must consider not only the registry, but also all the other departments involved, including the RCMP.

It is not surprising to hear Senator Lang say that the statistical data have shown no correlation between the implementation of the long gun registry and a decline in the criminal use of firearms. After all, since when does the Conservative government place any stock in scientific fact or statistical data, especially after what it did to Statistics Canada?

Senator Daniel Lang added, in his speech to the Senate, that the government can “reduce crime by spending taxpayers’ money effectively.” I would remind Senator Lang and his Conservative colleagues that the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, has just tabled a report on the fiscal impact of the changes resulting from just one aspect of Bill C-10. He seems to present a perspective that is diametrically opposed to that of Senator Lang. To date, at least in the Senate, no serious government study has provided Canadians with the cost of implementing the bill, and I am referring to all aspects of the bill. Mr. Page has estimated that it will cost billions of dollars.

In his report presented on Tuesday, February 28, Kevin Page stated that amending just a single section, namely section 741.2 of the Criminal Code, under Bill C-10, could result in additional expenses amounting to tens of millions of dollars for Ottawa and the provinces.

The Conservatives talk about costs. I am talking about the lives of women that have been sacrificed because someone wants to get rid of gun control and eliminate the registry.

I would really like to ask Senator Lang, when he claims that the government intends to spend taxpayers’ money effectively, if we should include the additional cost arising from a single measure in Bill C-10, which amounts to $8 million dollars a year for the federal government and $137 million dollars a year for the provinces.

The Conservative government’s intention to abolish the registry is a stunning, if not deplorable, paradox.

The Barreau du Québec reminds us that the Conservative government set itself the goal of “making streets and communities safe,” which led to the introduction and first reading of Bill C-10 on September 20, 2011.

Given this self-proclaimed desire to ensure the safety of Canadians, the legislative choices to remove the obligation to register long guns and to destroy the existing firearms registry are counterproductive to the objective of protecting the public, which the government claims to want to achieve though these choices.

I would also like to refer to Senator St. Germain’s statement, which mentioned an amount of $2 billion. It is always easy to talk about costs that are spread over a period of 17 years. Honourable senators, I am a member of the Finance Committee and, the last time I checked, the estimates have never referred to budgets presented over a period of 17 years. Generally speaking, the estimates refer to the current budget and, if there are additional expenses, they are included in the Supplementary Estimates. Nonetheless, they are talking about a period covering 1995 to 2012.

According to the Auditor General, in 2001 the annual cost of administering the program was $200 million. The Auditor General of Canada has also said that the annual funding for the program is currently set at $82.3 million. She was taking into account the fact that several departments and provincial governments participate in the program but that the primary responsibility belongs to the Canada Firearms Centre.

The federal partners that incur costs are the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canada Border Services Agency, Correctional Service Canada, the Parole Board of Canada, the Department of Justice and others.

There is no need to cause a fuss by saying that the registry itself costs $100 million. The figures speak for themselves, and we can see from the government’s official data that all these organizations contribute not only to administering the program but also to ensuring the safety of Canadians.

I would like to talk about the firearms industry. Even if I do not succeed in convincing the honourable senators of the importance of keeping the registry, it is still important to look into the situation a little. I would like to make a comparison between Canada and the United States.

According to the most recent data I consulted, from 2010, there are currently 270 million firearms in the United States. There are on average 10,000 gun-related deaths every year. Out of the 32,000 suicides that occur every year in the United States, 17,000 people commit suicide using a firearm. This means that over half of all suicides in the United States are committed using a firearm.

As for accidents caused by the mishandling of firearms, there were 789 deaths in 2010. Every year, the United States — despite the fact that the country produces and exports huge numbers of firearms — imports $1,585,242,738 worth of firearms. As you can see, it is a very lucrative business that puts a lot of money into the pockets of those who engage in it.

I will now summarize the situation here in Canada. It is estimated that 9,950,000 individuals possess firearms in Canada. In other words, one out of three Canadians owns a firearm. As for the number of firearms in Canada, we rank 13th among various OECD countries. In the United States, about 88 per cent of Americans own a firearm. So, Canada ranks 13th with 30 firearms for every 100 people, and is among a group of similarly ranked countries like Sweden, Norway, France and Australia, where approximately one-third of the population owns a firearm. I would remind honourable senators that in Canada, 80 per cent of the population lives in an urban setting and only 20 per cent lives in a rural environment.

There are 7,514,385 registered firearms. We talk about guns, but who are the owners? A total of 3,500,000 owners participated in the program and registered their firearms. This means an average of three guns per person.

I am going to provide other numbers to give a clear idea of the situation in our country. Canada exports $90,237,690 worth of firearms to the United States. We are a small exporter. However, we legally import $154,645,493 worth of firearms, which are registered.

If we take a close look at the situation, we realize that a registry legally exists. We are talking about millions of users, about millions of firearms, about a system developed by Canadians for Canadians, and paid for by Canadians across the country. That system works, despite initial difficulties.

When we read the Auditor General’s report, we note that there were problems at the beginning. They were related to the registration process, the interaction between departments, and also the use of computers to collect and process all this data. Today, I am not going to blame the public servants and the experts who devised this system. When we develop a new system — such as, for instance, the SAP management system and its implementation — we know that it is a costly process.

I now come to the concerns of two groups that are very dear to me, namely the Fédération des femmes du Québec and the Fédération des ressources d’hébergement pour femmes violentées et en difficulté au Québec.

They say that this bill, which seeks to abolish gun control in Canada — despite the fact that the existing legislation has proven its value and is considered an essential tool for police officers — basically ignores the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which provides that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person.”

The gun registry is a means to protect the life and security of Canadians. The two federations add that every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination.

The idea is not to set people who live in the North, in the Prairies or in large urban centres against each other. When it comes to protecting citizens, the law of the land applies equally to everyone. I think the federations are absolutely right.

They add that Bill C-19 is completely at odds with the spirit and letter of a recent statement made regarding violence against women and adopted by the members of the International Organization of la Francophonie, during a session chaired by the Government of Canada. That session was chaired by our colleague, Senator Josée Verner, when she was the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

I remind honourable senators that we have a past history and that we are here to work together, to find and apply the best solutions. We are not here to fulfill the wishes of a thriving industry.

Today I would like us all to remember not only the École Polytechnique tragedy, but other incidents that happened in Quebec: Dawson College, Concordia University, and the armed attack on Quebec’s National Assembly. Quebec’s past includes many incidents involving the malicious use of firearms. Gun control is one way to prevent such tragedies.

Not long ago, Canada sought membership in the United Nations Security Council. As part of the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, Canada worked on the firearms protocol, which was adopted on May 31, 2001, by the General Assembly and came into force on July 3, 2005, once the required number of countries ratified it.

Unfortunately, even though the United States worked on drafting the protocol, it decided against signing it. In a few minutes, I will explain why the United States backed away. For its part, the European Community signed the protocol on January 16, 2002, and in 2010, the European Community proposed a legislative measure to align the European Union’s legislation with the provisions in article 10 of the protocol. Article 8 of the protocol covers the marking of firearms for purposes of identification, article 7 calls for records to be kept for at least 10 years, and article 10 details general obligations concerning the licensing and transit authorization system.

The protocol also defines the confiscation, seizure and deactivation of firearms and requires states to adopt legislative measures to criminalize certain activities. It calls for cooperation, the regular exchange of information between states and measures to regulate brokering.

Honourable senators, if Bill C-19 passes, Canada will never be able to comply with the spirit and the letter of the protocol that it helped draft, but that the Conservative government did not ratify. It is a shame that Canada has chosen to side with the countries that refuse to comply with international rules instead of with the 57 countries that have ratified the protocol.

In contrast, I want to give you a brief overview of the situation in Europe because there are some countries that do not belong to the European Union. We realize one thing when we analyze the arms and munitions legislation of six European countries, namely Germany, Denmark, Spain, Great Britain, the Netherlands and Switzerland: each of these countries has carefully studied the conditions for acquisition, possession, use and carrying and transporting firearms by individuals.

Of these countries, Denmark and the Netherlands are the only countries to have opted for a general prohibition. In other words, in general, people cannot purchase firearms, for instance for hunting or for killing harmful animals. But there is an exception that allows them to obtain a firearm when they prove that they need it. They have a general prohibition, but there is an exception.

The other four countries authorize the acquisition and possession of certain types of firearms. I cannot say whether the same guns are authorized in all countries, but, in general, handguns are obviously prohibited, as well as rifles, because recreational hunting is commonplace in Europe. It is important to remember that firearms are subject to severe laws and people must register their guns.

In certain cases, guns are registered with local authorities. Nevertheless, all these countries have gun registration. For countries that have gone through wars, this measure allows them to guarantee the safety of their people.

I tell myself all the time that my colleagues opposite are intelligent people. So why do they support the abolition of the gun registry? In doing my research I discovered the reason.

You will not be surprised to learn that the National Rifle Association is behind it all. It is a very powerful lobby in the United States and it does not want any controls on any type of firearm. It has been working to abolish the registry in both the United States and Canada for a long time. We now know that — and I will quote Mr. Tony Bernardo, a well-known Conservative who is a fervent defender of firearms and the executive director of the Canadian Institute for Legislative Action, the CILA.

The NRA has provided logistical and tactical support to organizations such as the Canadian Institute for Legislative Action (CILA), established in 1998 to lobby Ottawa to shut down the registry.

He also wrote in the Canadian Firearms Digest:

The NRA provides the Canadian gun lobby group with tremendous amounts of logistical support, and while the NRA’s constitution prevents them from providing money, they freely give us anything else. . . .

Moreover, in 2000 the NRA paid $100,000 for an infomercial about what is called “the Canadian situation.” The infomercial aired on the national network in the U.S., according to Bernardo, who appeared in the video. That means they provided some material to ensure that the information was transmitted, and we know there is no barrier and no frontier between Canada and the U.S. when it comes to television.

Bernardo is a frequent guest of the NRA chat shows updating U.S. gun owners on the fight to kill the Canadian registry. The NRA was instrumental in helping him set up his Canadian lobby group, and they gave him all the technical support so that Bernardo could do the work here and make sure that the registry would be abolished.

I will now quote someone from Ontario. I read in a report that Michael Bryant, the former Attorney General of Ontario, said: “The NRA has been agitating in Canadian political backrooms for years.”

I am talking about an organization that paid and that is supporting a Canadian organization. I would like to remind my colleagues that when we talk about the environment it is a sin to talk about supporting a cause with money from the United States, but when it comes to the gun registry it is not a sin anymore and they do not consider that a barrier. I have not heard any of the Conservatives mentioning the fact that the NRA has been a big help in supporting the abolition of the gun registry.

We also have some other people who were in fact very much involved, and I am referring to the Conservative MP by the name of Garry Breitkreuz. I do not know him, but I know he was very supportive of and supported by the NRA. There is a direct link between the NRA and the Conservatives. I have ample evidence from all the reports that I could consult. There was also Candice Hoeppner, who attended the CSA 2010 annual meeting. She attended the meeting with the NRA, which means that you have people who were involved, who were supported and are part of it.

Another person who has worked very closely with the NRA is Gary Mauser, a retired marketing professor and a long-time active Conservative Party member and past director of the New Westminster-Coquitlam Conservative Riding Association. In 2006, Professor Mauser was chair of the party’s nomination committee in the riding. He personally donated in excess of $11,000 to the Conservative Party and its predecessor parties.

An opponent of the registry since inception, Professor Mauser has written extensively in support of arming for self-protection — it must be dangerous in that place — and his early research was partly funded by whom? The National Rifle Association. He is also a good friend of someone we know very well who is against the registry: Stockwell Day.

This is just to say that there is a direct connection between the NRA and the Conservative Party.

How sad it was to read that two days after the September 13 Dawson College shooting, Tony Bernardo was quoted as saying the Beretta CX4 Storm — the gun used in the rampage and which he also owned — was “a lot of fun to shoot.” This was two days after people were killed. I find it quite strange that one would think that person very normal.

I want to conclude on the NRA to say that they have established a foundation which is tax-exempt in the United States. Of course its activities are designed to promote firearms. Listen to their mission statement, which states:

. . . to educate the general public about firearms in their historic, technological and artistic context.

I would need to take a course to understand where they think there is some artistic context related to guns. As far as I am concerned, there may be some artistic context with guns that are in our museums, but as for the semi-automatic guns we are talking about here, I do not think there is anything artistic about them.

I have found more or less that this is all about money, business and lobbying. In the United States, year after year, $15 million and more is given to candidates who support, of course, the position of putting fewer restraints on the use of firearms in the United States. As I mentioned, they are three times more likely than any other country in the world to own a gun.

I would certainly not fulfil my duty if I did not speak on behalf of my province.

I would like to remind you of what Quebec’s public safety minister, Robert Dutil, said. We have often heard that the Harper Conservative government is a government that would work hand in hand with the provinces, that there would be no more scuffles, and that there would be ongoing consultation. So far, that type of consultation has been elusive.

Minister Dutil said that in Quebec, the firearms registry is consulted 700 times every day. Considering that there are 24 hours in a day that makes quite a few times per hour. The firearms registry is an essential tool in police work in Quebec. Enquire about it in your respective provinces.

The minister added that spousal abuse is a known problem that is known and deplored in Quebec. However, he noted that the registry contributes to preventing crimes against the person. Mr. Dutil mentioned that in Quebec, between 2006 and 2010, 264 spousal abuse incidents involving rifles and shotguns were documented. Statistics show that hunting guns were used more often than handguns in spousal abuse cases, obviously because it is much harder to procure a handgun. The statistics prove it. The number of homicides involving a rifle in cases of spousal abuse has decreased significantly.

I want to shift to another serious matter related to the use of firearms, and that is suicide. Statistics from the Institut national de santé publique du Québec show that out of the 650 reported suicides committed with a firearm in Quebec over a period of four years, 565 were with an unrestricted firearm, a rifle or shotgun.

Thus, the firearms registry is a very important suicide prevention tool. The purpose of having unrestricted firearms registered is to make them less accessible to people who are likely to misuse them, such as people with depression. The registry also contributes to protecting people with mental illness and their loved ones.

Universal registration enables the chief firearms officer to determine whether the weapons are in the possession of people under an order that would confine them to an institution or require a psychiatric assessment. Under Anastasia’s Law, the chief firearms officer is systematically informed of these applications. Between January 1, 2022 and November 1, 2011, 18,661 applications for orders were reported to him, and consultation of the registry made it possible to conduct over 1,000 interventions to ensure the safety of persons.

When someone in a couple or a family, whether it be a child or a spouse, is perturbed, has behaviour problems or suffers from a mental illness, the chief firearms officer can be called upon to intervene in order to ensure that the firearm is removed legally. The government does not intervene with the family; it is the family that asks for help from the government. Bill C-19 will prevent this type of intervention, and it is the federal government’s responsibility to stay out of it.

The minister concluded by saying that, if the registration of non-restricted firearms were to save just one life, from a moral standpoint, its maintenance would be justified.

We know that the registry has saved many lives. As far as I am concerned, those who help to abolish the registry will certainly have the increased number of suicides and murders on their consciences.

I would like to close by looking at what the various police organizations in Quebec have to say. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police is clearly against the bill. The same is true in Quebec. We are often mocked by people who say that organized criminals do not register their weapons. No one ever thought they did. We have known for a very long time that there are places where firearms are crossing the border in both directions. That is the criminal world; the registry is for honest people.

Could I have five more minutes?

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, is leave granted for an additional five minutes?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: The honourable senator has five more minutes.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I would like to conclude with two messages I received from mental health workers. In one, the Association pour la santé publique du Québec says that there has been a significant decrease in the number of shooting deaths in Canada. The association strongly supports our position that this bill is completely useless and counter-productive.

However, what really struck a chord with me was a message from public health service directors from all regions of Quebec. I would like to read part of it. The doctors said:

In Canada, suicide is by far the leading cause of firearm-related death, representing 73 per cent of such deaths. In 2008, in at least 43 per cent of these cases, the weapon was an unrestricted firearm or a long gun.

In 2010, this class of weapons, which includes rifles and shotguns, represented 23 per cent of homicides committed with a firearm. It has been shown that firearm-related deaths generally involve people struggling with personal problems.

In closing, I would add that saving thousands of lives saves an estimated $400 million per year, according to the Institut national de la santé publique in 2010. The operating costs associated with registering firearms are approximately $9.1 million per year. That cost is minimal compared to the costs associated with firearms-related deaths and injuries, which were $6.6 billion in 1991, or approximately $9 billion in 2009 dollars.

Honourable senators, in order to avoid reading the names of all 298 organizations, I would like to table a document entitled “Canadian experts opposed to the abolition of the long gun registry, Bill C-391, 2009-2010.” They have authorized me to share this list and I would rather not read it out in public. May I do so?

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is leave granted, honourable senators, for the tabling of this document?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Carignan: No.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Leave is not granted.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I would like to conclude simply by saying that, as a woman, a Quebecer and a Canadian, I was proud to support the firearms registry. I am not one of those people who said that it was perfect from the start. But the legislation accomplished what it set out to do: it made Canada one of the countries with an advanced system of justice. I believe it contributes to the protection of the fundamental right to life and security of all Canadians, as provided by Canada’s Constitution.

This is in contrast to the American Constitution, which allows everyone to bear arms. Who protected the Americans when the North fought the South in the nineteenth century? I believe that in Canada there will be no battles between East and West, North and South or cities and rural areas. All Canadians must be protected and all Canadians have benefitted from the gun registry. I beg my colleagues to study the bill seriously and to reject it.

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