In a week or so the Canadian Parliament is due to reconvene for the autumn session and it already has a hot potato issue that MPs are set to vote on in the first week.
Conservative Backbencher Candice Hoeppner’s private member’s bill to scrap the Long-Gun Registry portion of the Firearms Act is supported by the entirety of the Conservative Party and will be opposed by the full Liberal and Bloc Quebecois caucuses leaving only the NDP to decide the Long-Gun registry’s fate.
Jack Layton, The NDP chief has promised a free vote on the gun registry just like all other private member bills, but he has all but assured us the bill won’t pass even though some members of his caucus from more rural areas are in favor of it.
As an NDP affiliate myself, I understand that the MPs who are in support of the bill have an obligation to their constituents to speak for them, however I think it’s every member of the opposition’s duty to also speak out against Prime Minister Harper and his tactics.
While the gun registry might have had its financial and management blemishes during the start up thanks in large part to inexperienced justice ministers, I find it obtuse that we might train wreck it just as it starts to get going on a straight track. It now costs only about four million dollars a year to maintain.
The man responsible for the straightening is former RCMP Chief Supt. Martin Cheliak. He worked as director general of the Canadian Firearms Program which oversees the gun registry. He is recognized as the man who significantly improved the gun registry’s efficiency, winning him deserved admiration and respect from both police chiefs and beat cops. He was rewarded with the termination of his employment by the Harper government.
Marty Cheliak’s silencing is not the first orchestrated by the Harper and his posse. Our head statistician, the military public complaints commissioner, the RCMP public complaints commissioner, the nuclear safety regulator and diplomat Richard Colvin have all felt the wrath of Harper to one degree or another for contradicting the government’s statements and policies.
According to the CBC, an RCMP evaluation report of Canada’s long-gun registry concludes that the program is cost effective, efficient and an important tool for law enforcement. The report states, “Overall the program is cost effective in reducing firearms related crime and promoting public safety through universal licensing of firearm owners and registration of firearms,”
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has come out in strong support of the registry. About two weeks ago, Toronto police chief and CACP president Bill Blair told CBC’s Power and Politics “A resolution for its adoption as the official policy of the CACP was put before the members and that resolution was passed without a single dissenting voice.”
With all this praise from the people who actually use the registry, I find it hard to understand why Harper and the Conservative party are so against it. Are they not the party that got re-elected on the “get tough on crime” platform? It’s much harder to lock someone up and throw away the key when that someone can’t be found in the first place.
Stephen Harper and his government have given amnesty to all rifle and shotgun owners facing prosecution for failing to register their firearms for four years in a row, with the extended amnesty currently set to expire on May 16, 2011. This from the man who voted in favor of the registry twice as a member of the Reform Party before voting along party lines in 1995.
I think it’s time to start enforcing the law and not worry about the mistakes of a few in the past. Besides, if you need to register your car in order to track its history, it might also be wise to register your gun to track a homicide.