Scrapping the long-gun registry necessarily means destroying government records on gun ownership, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews says.
The plan to destroy the data has sparked an outcry from interest groups, provinces and some politicians, with Quebec saying it would consider seeking a court injunction to stop the move.
Speaking to a House of Commons committee Tuesday morning, Mr. Toews said “the registry is the data,” and the federal government is committed to destroying both.
“Our party made the very clear commitment that we would scrap the long-gun registry,” Mr. Toews said. “Implicit in that, indeed explicit in that, is that we are destroying the information that has been collected under the authority of that legislation.”
He suggested MPs who supported the bill initially but later balked at the idea of destroying the data were being disingenuous. “This is a revisionist type of excuse that some are making in order to try and justify the flipping of their position on the registry,” he said.
The Conservatives have made ending the long-gun registry a priority since their re-election this year. Those who support the registry suggest it helped bring Canada’s homicide rate down to its lowest level in more than 40 years, an idea Mr. Toews disputed.
“We know that the long-gun registry has no ability to prevent crime. There is no evidence that it has stopped a single crime or saved a single life,” he told the committee.
Mr. Toews said the registry is a waste of money and pits police officers against law-abiding gun owners, despite an assertion from the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs that the records help keep officers safe.
He also disputed a media report that suggested ending the gun registry could fuel firearms trafficking.
The Canadian Press reported Tuesday that a federal government memo, released under the Access to Information Act, indicated that scrapping the registry could weaken the ability of border agents to stop firearms trafficking by ending a requirement to verify firearms when people bring them into Canada.
“Looking at the memorandum, it's clear that the analysis presented by this official is factually flawed, it's incorrect,” Mr. Toews said, adding he has asked the deputy minister of Public Safety to review the matter.
He maintained the bill will not result in any changes to the way border officials track guns. “We're not going down that road,” he said.