These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Cost to Implement Registry

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton—Melville, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, on January 10 the Auditor General sent me a letter saying that the Department of Justice estimates that the gun registry will not be fully implemented for three or four years.

How much is it going to cost to fully implement the gun registry and how much is it going to cost to maintain it each year after that?

Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is hard to believe that a member has come back with a question that I answered before Christmas.

We have said that we accept the recommendations of the Auditor General's report. As well, there are two reports that we expect to be tabled shortly. As soon as we get those two reports with their recommendations, we will come forward with a plan of action, but making sure that we will keep proceeding with gun control because it is about public safety.

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton—Melville, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, any competent minister would know what his department is spending on each of its programs.

On December 12 the minister said this about the funding of the firearms program, “I will report back to the House with an accounting of how we manage any shortfalls. I will be open. I will be transparent”.

He has had six more weeks since I asked him the question which I just asked again. Is the minister ready to be transparent with Parliament? How much is the gun registry going to cost to fully implement and how much will it cost to maintain?

Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, gun control is a very important program for Canadian society. We will keep proceeding with gun control, with the stages of licensing and registration as well.

Before Christmas we were very transparent. We said that we were proceeding on a cash management basis within the department in order to keep the system up and running. We expect the two reports to be tabled shortly.

I will report back to the Canadian population. By the way, the Canadian population supports gun control in this country.

Mr. John Williams (St. Albert, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, on December 5 the Minister of Justice told the House that major funding for his billion dollar gun registry had been frozen after the government withdrew a request for $72 million in funding.

Would the minister now tell the House how much it has cost to keep the gun registry running for the last two months and, more important, where did he get the money?

Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in accordance with the rules of the Treasury Board, I said before Christmas that with regard to the functioning of the program, we were proceeding on a cash management system within the department, which is normal based on Treasury Board rules.

With regard to the future of the program, we expect the reports to be tabled shortly. I will get back to the Canadian population, and we will keep proceeding with gun control in two stages because it is about public safety. We believe in gun control on this side of the House.