These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Firearms Program Major Crown Project

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton—Melville, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Auditor General stated that the firearms program is a major crown project that requires more stringent Treasury Board reporting policies. The Auditor General also stated that the gun registry should have its own business line in the main estimates.

The deputy minister of justice disagreed, so the cover-up continues. Who is right, the Auditor General or the deputy minister?

Hon. Lucienne Robillard (President of the Treasury Board, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, according to my information the program was not formally designed as a major crown project.

Mr. Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton—Melville, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, the justice minister displayed no ability to explain anything at the committee meeting yesterday. The gun registry goes 500 times over budget and his answers are all of the Forrest Gump variety, “It just happened”.

It has been almost three months and the justice minister still has not told the House what the total costs of the gun registry have been for all departments and agencies, including all the unreported costs itemized in the Auditor General's report.

If the minister cannot give us the total cost of the gun registry so far, how can we possibly trust him on the future cost projections?

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

The Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Yorkton--Melville has put a question and his colleagues must want to hear the answer. The hon. Minister of Justice has the floor. If they did not want to hear the answer they would not have asked the question. So we must be able to hear the answer and the Minister of Justice will give it.

Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, obviously the member did not listen. I was in committee for two hours yesterday. I had an opportunity to explain the challenges that we have been facing through the development of that fantastic gun control program.

The member cannot understand knowing what he said in a press release in 1995. He said that gun control would result in more crime, more injuries and more theft. He should be ashamed knowing the stats that we have.

Gun control works. It is about value. It is about saving lives and we will keep proceeding with that program.

Some hon. members: Hear, hear.

An hon. member: You should be ashamed. You've got a million dollar boondoggle going.

The Speaker: Order, please. We have finished with that question and that answer now. Perhaps hon. members could go behind the curtains and carry on some of these discussions. We want to get on with question period or we will lose time. The hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre has the floor.

Ms. Pierrette Venne (Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, Ind. BQ): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. Last Friday, the government unveiled its action plan to correct what is wrong with the firearms registry. Among the measures announced is the transfer of responsibility for the Canadian Firearms Registration Program from Justice to the Solicitor General.

Can the minister explain what makes the Solicitor General more competent than he to administer this program, or is this more a way of ducking questions about a scandal that might hurt his campaign for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada?

Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I think that what is important here is for us to continue together to build a firearms control system that will meet the government's and the public's desired objectives, that is to provide maximum protection to all of Canadian society as well as to develop the values we share as Canadians.

That said, there are certain elements within the action plan that address the issue of administration, different technologies, and consultations. Among the elements raised by the action plan is the matter of transferring the portfolio to the Solicitor General, which is essentially a—

The Speaker: The hon. member for Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore.

Mr. Gerald Keddy (South Shore, PC): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice.

Yesterday at public accounts, a Liberal member referred to one of the Auditor General's advisers on the gun registry by name, but those names are generally only made known to the department. Could the minister tell the House whether those names were ever made public? If not, could he explain why those names were known to the member of Parliament for Mississauga West? Did the minister or anyone in his department pass on that information to the member for Mississauga West?

Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, maybe he should ask the question directly to the member of Parliament himself, for sure, I have not been involved in that at all. But having said that, we have to remain focused on what happened last night. Last night we were able to discuss the challenges that we have been facing in the implementation of the program. We have been able as well to talk about our plan of action, which is indeed a very good plan of action. In looking into the future, it means for our Canadian society that we are going to have a very good gun control program in order to share our values and to increase public safety as well.

The Speaker: The Chair is prepared to hear a point of order from the right hon. member for Calgary Centre.