'That was totally useless. Thank you.' - Macleans.ca

‘That was totally useless. Thank you.’

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Strolling casually around the House of Commons foyer yesterday, Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan happens upon a group of reporters. A delightful exchange of pleasantries follows.

Question: How long have you had the report from the Commissioner of Firearms?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: The report from the Commissioner of Firearms has to be tabled tomorrow which it will be.  I know that some information – some information on it will be coming out shortly.  Some of it has already been released in the public accounts.  The one that I know has attracted some interest is the number of times that the police access it which is close to three and a half million times.  What’s very interesting about that statistic is of those three and a half million times only 2.4 percent of the time is it actually information about the registration of a long-gun that would eliminated by the long-gun registry.  If the bill to eliminate the long-gun registry is passed and becomes law, 97 percent of the times that the police utilize that information from the firearms centre would continue to be in place because of course the bill does not eliminate the requirement for licensing of gun owners and only, as I said, 2.4 percent of those queries had to do with information related to long-gun registration.

Question: (Inaudible)

Hon. Peter Van Loan: I am referring to the 2008 statistics.  And what’s more interesting –

Question: (Inaudible)

Hon. Peter Van Loan: If I could finish, what’s more interesting –

Question: You haven’t answered my question once yet though.

Hon. Peter Van Loan: If I could answer —-

Question: A different question from the one I asked you, sir.

Hon. Peter Van Loan: The report will be tabled tomorrow which is the requirement.

Question: How long have you had it?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: What is more interesting –

Question: Well, no –

Hon. Peter Van Loan:    — what is more interesting is that –

Question: (Inaudible) what’s more interesting we ask the questions.

Hon. Peter Van Loan: — the proportion of times when in 2003, for example, eight percent, 8.3 percent of the time that police accessed information from the National Firearms Centre it was information related to the registry of long guns, right?

Question: Okay, great.

(Several reporters speaking at once.)

Hon. Peter Van Loan: That proportion, that percentage has gone down every single year since 2003 –

Question: So how long have you had it?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: — to last year when it was 2.4 percent.  So what the information –

Question: How long have you had it?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: — what this report demonstrates is exactly what we have been saying.

Question: How long have you had the Commissioner of Firearms report?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: If I could finish –

Question: No, sir, you haven’t answered the question that I asked you.  You’re answering a completely different question.

Hon. Peter Van Loan:    What the report demonstrates is what we have been saying all along –

Question: How long have you had the Firearms Commissioner’s report, sir?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: — that the registry – the long-gun registry is not used by police to prevent crime.  It’s thoroughly ineffective and that when we eliminate the long-gun registry, 97 percent – over 97 percent of the occasions –

Question: This isn’t a news conference, these are questions.  How long have you had the Firearms report?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: — over 97 percent of the occasions that –

Question: This is not QP, okay?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: — that individuals –

Question: We’re asking you a question. How long have you had this report?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: — that the police access the registry will be continued.

Question: How long have you had it?  Has it been weeks?

Question:Why did you hide it before the vote?  How long have you had this report?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: This report has not been hidden.  I think when people see the report –

Question: How long have you had it then?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: — when people see – it’s been available to me a matter of days.

Question: How many days?

Question: Did your department receive it in April, is that true?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: I don’t know. I don’t believe so but I –

Question: When?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: I certainly did not see it back in April or May?

Question: Well, when did it (inaudible) your office?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: It’s – I received it and looked at just recently, in recent days.

Question: When?  Recently meaning what?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: However – in days.  I could go back and find that for you.  It’s not terribly relevant because the information –

Question:(Inaudible)

Hon. Peter Van Loan: The information that is revealed is exactly what we say.

Question: But the information was revealed after the vote.

Hon. Peter Van Loan: The long-gun registry is not utilized by police to prevent police.  In fact, the information that they utilize, 97 percent of it, more than 97 percent of it now is information they will still have after the elimination of the long-gun registry because we maintain –

Question: Useful information for MPs who don’t know so why didn’t you give it to them before yesterday’s vote?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: Well, it’s the same information.  We had the report last year revealed the same trend.  The year before revealed the same trend.  The year before revealed the same trend.  There’s no new information in that.  What we know is the same thing –

Question: So you decide what information should be or should not be made public because you don’t find it’s interesting enough?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: We release it as the statute requires, as the rules require and it’ll be released tomorrow in accordance with the rules.

Question: How long have you had the statistics about that?

Hon. Peter Van Loan:    That’s what we do with reports.  But what’s interesting is the report has said –

Question: You decide what’s interesting —

Hon. Peter Van Loan: — every single year that the information –

Question: — you decide what people can know before they vote so you —

Hon. Peter Van Loan: No, we table the report as we are required to.

Question: After the vote though.

Hon. Peter Van Loan: What’s interesting though is this is –

Question:No, you don’t get to decide what’s interesting.

Hon. Peter Van Loan: No, here –

Question: We’re asking you a very simple question.  When did you get that report?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: Here’s one more – here’s one more thing –

Question: When did you get that report, sir?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: — here’s one more thing, in fairness, that’s interesting about the report.

Question: We don’t care what you find interesting.

Hon. Peter Van Loan: What you’re going to see tomorrow in this report produced by the National Firearms Centre to justify the existence is that the statistics I just gave you were not included. Whoever put it together didn’t put in there the information that only 2.4 percent of those three and a half million queries were actually related to information about a long-gun registration number or about a serial number of a gun. Only 4.5 percent.

Question: Why do you think that is?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: And that shows –

Question: (Inaudible) that’s why you didn’t make it public?  Is that what you’re saying?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: No, that information was not put there by the people at the National Firearms Registry so you should ask them why that information wasn’t there.  We’ve gone and got that information –

Question: And that’s why you decided not to make it public, because that information was not there?

Hon. Peter Van Loan: No, no.  We’re putting it out there on the public table at the time that’s required under the law.  But the more important question is why was that piece of information I gave you not revealed by the Firearms Centre and that’s a very important piece of information for Canadians to have.  That’s why I’m sharing it with you.  Thank you very much.

Question:That was totally useless.  Thank you.