Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gun Registry

Remarks to the Canadian Police Association

Delivered on April 19, 2010

C’est un honneur d’être avec vous aujourd’hui, avec des femmes et des hommes qui se dévouent pour que nos familles et nos communautés puissent vivre en sécurité.

Vous êtes la première ligne de notre système de justice et mon rôle, comme leader politique, c’est de vous écouter, de comprendre vos besoins et de vous donner les outils dont vous avez besoin pour faire votre travail.

C’est un engagement personnel que je prends devant vous aujourd’hui, c’est aussi un engagement de mon parti.

La sécurité de nos communautés, de nos quartiers, de nos familles est une priorité centrale du Parti libéral du Canada.

In the first week of February, after Stephen Harper shut down Parliament, we held a policy roundtable on community safety, here in Ottawa. I was there, taking notes.

One of our panellists was Ottawa Police Chief Vern White, and one thing he said in particular has stayed with me.

He said, it’s one thing for politicians to promise new front-line law enforcement officers. But if you’re going to give us new front-line officers, then give us new mental health officers. Give us new drug treatment officers.

I understand exactly what Chief White was getting at—crime prevention isn’t just a matter for the police alone.

You’re doing everything you can, every hour, every day of the year. You need allies and support to help you do your job.

Le gouvernement actuel croit qu’il n’y a qu’une seule solution au crime : mettre davantage de gens en prison.

Ils vont dépenser des centaines de millions de dollars pour construire de nouvelles prisons.

Les Canadiens savent que ça ne marche pas comme ça. Ils ont déjà vu ce vieux film en noir et blanc.

The current government thinks that they only way to reduce crime is to put more people in jail.

They tried that approach in the United States. They have almost two-and-a-half million Americans behind bars.

If they were all in one place, that would make Prison City, USA the fourth largest city in America.

The state of California is about to spend more on its prisons than its public universities.

And yet, every indicator, especially violent crime, shows that the American crime rate is much, much higher than ours.

This isn’t to say that longer sentences and stricter sentencing aren’t part of the solution. They are.

And my party has supported tougher sentences—in government and in opposition.
Nous avons appuyé des sentences plus sévères, tant au gouvernement que dans l’opposition.

Mais nous devons aussi donner aux jeunes une formation, une discipline, une vision positive de l’avenir – sinon ils vont les trouver dans une gang de rue.

Nous devons dire aux jeunes que s’ils violent la loi, ils seront punis. Mais nous devons, surtout, faire tout ce qui est en notre pouvoir pour prévenir le crime.

Mais voilà le problème politique. Vous commencez à parler de prévention en même temps que de punition et les Conservateurs vous accusent de mollesse face au crime.

There’s a clear difference between our approach and the Conservatives’.

They believe in punishment as a cure-all—the failed American approach. We believe in punishment as a last resort, when our best efforts to prevent crime fail.

Les Conservateurs disent qu’ils défendent les droits des victimes. Nous aussi. Mais nous croyons que ce qui est mieux, c’est d’abord d’avoir moins de victimes.

Et aujourd’hui, en ce premier jour de la Semaine nationale de sensibilisation aux victimes d’actes criminels, je demande au gouvernement de renverser sa décision de couper dans le financement de l’aide aux victimes d’actes criminels.

The Conservatives say they support victims’ rights. So do we. But we would rather have fewer victims in the first place.

And today, on this first day of National Victims of Crime Awareness Week, I’m calling on the government to reverse its cuts to the victims of crime initiative.

The Conservatives want to give young people longer prison terms. When it’s appropriate, so do we.

But we also want to give young people something to be part of that isn’t a gang, somewhere to go that isn’t the street.

We need to tell young people that if you break the law, we will punish you—but we will do everything in our power to prevent crime in the first place.

This isn’t just our approach, it’s yours. Police across Canada are taking the lead on crime prevention, and finding new ways to keep our communities safe.

But while you’re taking the lead, the Conservative government is letting their own crime prevention budget go to waste, unspent. They wasted more than half of it last year.

The government needs to get off the bench, and start following your example. We need to help support what works, and give you the tools you need to do the job.

You should expect nothing less.

La sécurité de nos communautés n’est pas seulement un enjeu local. C’est un enjeu national.

Nous avons besoin des meilleures idées. Il ne faut pas être aveuglé par des idéologies. Nous avons besoin de politiques pragmatiques, pas partisanes. Nous avons besoin d’avoir un véritable dialogue national sur la manière de garder nos familles en sécurité.

The political problem we have is this: You can’t talk about making crime prevention a priority, alongside punishment, without having the Conservatives jump up and down, saying that you’re “soft on crime.”

The current government has politicized public safety to an extent we’ve never seen in Canada.

We need to tone down the rhetoric, put the politics on hold, and start listening to one another.

We welcome a debate—a real debate—one based on facts and evidence and mutual respect. Let’s start there.

That includes gun control. The issue has become so politically charged that we’ve lost sight of what our real objective should be: protecting our families and our police officers from gun crime.

We know where we stand. The Liberal Party proudly stands with Canadian families and Canadian police officers for effective gun control.

Nous sommes fiers de faire équipe avec nos policiers en faveur du contrôle des armes à feu.

Soyons clairs : nous voulons un registre des armes à feu pratique et efficace.

We support a smart, effective gun control registry.

Police officers across the country check the registry more than eleven thousand times a day—and it costs less in a year than the Conservatives have spent on their partisan advertisements in the last few months.

The gun control registry isn’t perfect, but it’s a vital tool to keep our communities safe—which is why a Liberal government would improve it, not scrap it.

It’s also why we oppose the Hoeppner bill to scrap the gun registry—a Conservative government bill masquerading as a Private Member’s Bill.

Le registre des armes à feu est un outil nécessaire à une meilleure sécurité de nos communautés.

C’est pour cette raison qu’un gouvernement libéral l’améliorerait plutôt que de l’éliminer.

C’est aussi pourquoi nous nous opposons au projet de loi Hoeppner qui veut abolir le registre des armes à feu; il s’agit d’une initiative du gouvernement conservateur maquillée en projet de loi privé.

But it would be wrong to ignore the frustration and legitimate criticisms that we have heard about the gun registry, particularly from rural Canada.

That’s why, today, I’m announcing what a Liberal government would do to make the gun registry more effective, and to respond to these concerns.

First, we’d change the law, so that people who forget to register their gun can be issued a ticket, rather than face a criminal charge. This will give front line officers the tools you need to distinguish an honest mistake from a threat to public safety.

Someone who habitually breaks the law and flouts the regulations should be treated far differently from someone who makes a one-time mistake. One kind of behavior is criminal, the other isn’t. And you need the appropriate tools to deal with each situation. That’s a message we heard loud and clear.

Second, we’ll permanently eliminate fees for new licenses, renewals, and upgrades.

And third, we’ll streamline paperwork, to make registration as quick and easy as possible.

If we want and need people to register their firearms, we shouldn’t be creating obstacles for them. That’s what we’ve heard from rural Canada. Canadians want gun control that works, and that treats gun owners fairly. And that’s our commitment.

Nous n’abandonnerons pas le contrôle des armes à feu. Surtout quand on sait que les fusils et carabines ont causé la moitié des décès des policiers morts en devoir au cours des dernières années. Surtout quand on sait que le registre des armes à feu est utilisé tous les jours par les forces de l’ordre.

Et cela signifie que nous serons unis, comme députés libéraux, pour voter contre le projet de loi Hoeppner en troisième lecture.

We won’t abandon gun control. Not when rifles and shotguns are responsible for half the police officers killed in the line of duty in the last few years. Not when the gun registry is a vital tool that law enforcement uses every single day.

And so, when the Hoeppner bill comes to third reading in the House of Commons, we will stand united as Liberals and vote against it.

A number of our MPs supported the Hoeppner Bill at an earlier stage, out of frustration with the problems that exist in the gun registry.

We’ve worked with those MPs to create the reform package I’ve just announced—sensible changes that address legitimate concerns, while upholding the integrity of the gun registry.

Over the coming months, we’ll have more to say about the sensible, practical approach a Liberal government will take to preventing crime.

We’ll continue to work with your organization and police forces across Canada. And we’ll also continue to vote for tougher penalties.

But we know that just as crime isn’t a simple problem—the solutions can’t be simple or simplistic. You in this room know that better than anyone.

And so I didn’t just come here to talk to you. I’m here to listen. I want to hear what you have to say, and answer your questions. So let’s get right to it.

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