These comments are direct quotations from the Hansard documents.

Free Vote Wanted

Mr. Dale Johnston (Wetaskiwin, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, believe it or not, back in 1993 this Prime Minister told the Toronto Star that Canadians felt alienated from their political institutions and that they wanted to restore integrity to them, that they had enough of the abuses of Parliament and the arrogance of government.

For his information, Canadians still feel that way but we are wondering about him. Will the Prime Minister stop riding roughshod over Parliament and his caucus and allow Liberal MPs a free vote on the plan to dump another $59 million into the useless firearms registry?

Hon. Don Boudria (Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member, if my memory serves me right, is the chief whip of his own party, charged with discipline on his side of the House. For him to remonstrate from across the way about discipline on our side, he is pontificating from afar. The hon. member across should know that his own predecessors as chief whip have sent people to the back row of his own party. Some of them are still there today, waving at me as I speak.

Mr. Dale Johnston (Wetaskiwin, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, that was neither a yes nor a no, but I would like to remind the Prime Minister that he is doing exactly what he criticized the Tory government for doing in 1990. He said at that time, “You cannot say over and over that what you do does not matter, and that you are right and everyone else is wrong. That is not democracy, that is a dictatorship”. What he has on that side of the House is just that: a dictatorship.

Here he has an opportunity. Will the Prime Minister keep one promise? Will he allow a free vote so that his MPs do not have to wimp out or duck out?

Hon. Don Boudria (Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member across the way knows perfectly well how Parliament functions. He knows perfectly well of the confidence convention of the House. He knows how it operates. He knows better than what he is saying. I should suggest to him that he should concentrate on discipline on his own side of the House, particularly in view of the fact that so many of his own colleagues have been kicked outside of caucus back to another party and back in several times. We cannot even follow which side they are on.

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

The Speaker: Order. Perhaps the Chair could remind the House that question period is intended to be one question and one answer, not a hundred questions and a hundred answers and all at different times. It is very difficult for the Chair to hear today and it is only Tuesday, so I would ask for a little co-operation from hon. members.

The hon. member for Frontenac—Mégantic.

Mr. Gerald Keddy (South Shore, PC): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Solicitor General. On April Fool's day, the Solicitor General inherits one of the greatest frauds ever perpetrated on the Canadian public. I can only say they picked the right day.

The truth about the costs and the practicality of the gun registry have been hidden from Canadians and continue to be hidden from Canadians. Will the new Solicitor General stop this Liberal sleight of hand and guarantee public disclosure on a regular and consistent basis on all gun control costs and information?

Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows very well what the costs are for the gun control centre. He knows that last fiscal year we were talking about $688 million. He knows as well that this party, this government, will be voting on the supplementary estimates (B) tonight, and on the main estimates as well. He knows that we have been reacting to the report of the Auditor General before Christmas.

As well, he knows that we have tabled a good plan of action in order to make sure that we will improve management and improve services. Having said that, it is a good and sound policy and we are starting to see the results, and this party and this government will keep talking--

The Speaker: The hon. member for Gander—Grand Falls.

Mrs. Betty Hinton (Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, Canadians have no problem with the concept of checks and balances as they relate to gun control but they do have a problem with unbalanced cheque books and billion dollar cheques for unworkable programs like firearms registration.

Canadians know that Liberals cannot grasp the difference between gun control and firearms registration. Gun control targets criminals; firearms registration targets law-abiding farmers, ranchers and duck hunters.

Will the Minister of Justice scrap his ill-conceived gun registration scheme and redirect future money to fighting crime?

Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, licensing and registration are two important components of gun control. We do it here. We as well are not the only country to do it.

If we look at Germany, for example, it has exactly the very same system. Having said that, when we look at the results we have obtained through licensing and registration, I guess it tells a lot about what we want to do in terms of public safety.

In terms of cost, over a seven year period of time, it has been $688 million for Canadians. We are heading in the right direction. It is a good and sound policy and we will keep talking about gun control and public safety.

Mrs. Betty Hinton (Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I would not be very proud of that. I certainly would not be shouting it from the rooftops.

It is apparent to Canadians that the uptown Liberals across the way have never been in a rural area where firearms are actually a day to day part of everyone's life and it is painfully obvious to Canadian taxpayers that the Liberals have absolutely no regard for Canadian tax dollars.

Does the minister deny the firearms registration will cost an additional billion dollars for enforcement?

Hon. Martin Cauchon (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is very simple. That opposition party does not believe in gun control. However I would like to refer to a press release from the member for Yorkton—Melville dated January 25, 1995. He said:

Gun controls will not improve public safety, it will put the public at more risk. Gun controls will not reduce violent crime, it will increase violence. Gun controls will not save lives, it will cost lives.

When we see such nonsense, how could they understand common sense?