By Michael Petrou - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - 0 Comments
I get tired of writing about gun control even before I start typing. It is probably the one topic in Canadian public discourse that is most saturated by emotion and bereft of evidence-based arguments. But some contributions to the debate require a response.
This morning we have the Toronto Star weighing in on Monday night’s Danzig Street shooting, in which two people were killed and another 24 were injured when two men opened fire at each other at a neighbourhood barbeque. All the facts are not yet known, but police suspect gang involvement.
The Star’s solution, according to its paper editorial headline, is that it’s “High time to ban guns.” The editorial continues to note that witnesses should come forward. “But society as a whole can do more by banning private ownership of handguns… Indeed it’s hard to imagine how this could have happened at all if the shooters didn’t have access to easily concealed handguns.
“It’s too early to say where the firearms used in the latest bloodshed came from. But there’s no doubt that handguns — legal and otherwise — are all too common and easily obtained. Any reduction in the supply available to criminals would help…
“As of the end of May, there were almost 700,000 legally registered handguns in this country — a sizeable arsenal waiting to be stolen by criminals. While this isn’t the main origin of firepower, private collections represent a significant source that should be shut down.”
Where to begin? Let’s start with a plea for facts. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 6:32 PM - 10 Comments
“Mr. Speaker,” declared Alice Wong, minister of state for seniors, reading carefully from the piece of paper in front of her, “I will take no lesson from the opposition.”
Both sides variously roared with agreement and soon thereafter the farce of this afternoon’s proceedings moved from thinly veiled to unabashed. Switch “I” for “we” and the government might have an answer for everything and we might be able to pronounce closure on this entire business of parliamentary democracy for at least the next four years. Think of all the time that would free up. Not to mention the money saved on electricity bills when we no longer have to bother pretending there’s a reason to keep the lights on in here.
The hour had actually begun on a stridently serious note, at least insofar as there is surely nothing more serious than the gun. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 2:41 PM - 70 Comments
“Tories delist sniper rifles, self-loading weapons,” says the front-page Toronto Star headline, followed by text in the body of the story claiming that such weapons will be “declassified” under the Conservatives’ bill to kill the long-gun registry.
It’s unclear exactly what the Star means here by “delist” and “declassify.” Currently, firearms in Canada are classified three ways: as non-restricted; restricted; or prohibited. Roughly speaking, most rifles and shotguns are non-restricted; restricted firearms include many handguns, and rifles or shotguns that are deemed to be too short; and prohibited firearms include automatic rifles, as well as some handguns. The Tories aren’t reshuffling how various firearms will be classified. A gun that was non-restricted previously will remain so. What’s changing is that gun-owners will no longer have to register non-restricted rifles.
The Star lists several examples of firearms its says will soon be “freed from the binding controls that now see them listed with the RCMP-run database.” It’s a little more complicated than that. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Friday, September 30, 2011 at 2:06 PM - 11 Comments
Documents show a “double standard” on long-gun registry, NFA says
Hundreds of guns have been lost or stolen from the hands of Canada’s police agencies, according to documents obtained by a group opposed to the federal long-gun registry. The National Firearms Association found that 428 guns have been lost or stolen. Association President Sheldon Clare said this represents a “double standard,” since the police justify the existence of the long gun registry largely on the assumption that firearms can be stolen or lost by civilian gun owners. According to the documents, which were obtained by the NFA through an Access to Information request, the RCMP has lost 32 guns while other police forces have lost 316. The rest were lost by other public agencies, not including the Canadian military.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 at 10:38 AM - 0 Comments
Statistics Canada releases new figures on homicide.
The latest homicide study released Tuesday by Statistics Canada shows there were 179 firearm-related killings in 2009, 21 fewer than the previous year. Most of them involved handguns which are tightly controlled in Canada … Stabbings (36 per cent) and shootings (30 per cent) were the most common forms of homicide in 2009 and, as in previous years, a “large majority” of victims knew their assailants. That said, the number of people killed by a stranger last year jumped 17 per cent …
Of the 253 firearms used to kill between 2005 and 2009, 69 per cent were found not to be registered, while 31 per cent were — the bulk of them rifles or shotguns, which fall under the controversial long-gun registry.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 6:54 PM - 0 Comments
As projected, the House of Commons has approved a motion of the public safety committee to defeat Bill C-391, by a margin of 153 to 151.
After 15 years, opposition to the long-gun registry is stronger in this country than it has ever been. With the vote tonight, its abolition is closer than it has ever been. The people of the regions of this country are never going to accept being treated like criminals and we will continue our efforts until this registry is finally abolished.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 5:49 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Michael Ignatieff stood first to express his concern for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador in the wake of hurricane Igor, second to lament for the Finance Minister’s speech the other day.
“Yesterday the Minister of Finance delivered a wild partisan rant,” Mr. Ignatieff. “I assume that the Prime Minister approved this speech because, after all, he makes the rules, but what I wanted to know is whether the Prime Minister understands that this was a classic example of the politics of fear, division, envy and resentment at a time when Canadians need to hear a message of hope and unity.”
There were several bursts of laughter from the government side.
Stephen Harper stood next, first to express his concern for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador in the wake of hurricane Igor, second to half-heartedly dismiss the Liberal leader’s lament.
“As for the government’s economic policy, we are, of course, providing hope and opportunity through the economic action plan,” he ventured, “and stand strongly against the tax and spend policies of the Liberal Party.”
Various Conservatives stood to applaud. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 4:30 PM - 0 Comments
Messrs Ignatieff and Layton are promising that all of their respective sides will be in attendance for the vote on C-391 that is now expected to take place at about 5:45pm. Independent MP Andre Arthur stood before QP and informed the House that he remained opposed to the long-gun registry. Liberal MP Scott Simms, who had been the subject of some speculation this morning, is expected to vote against C-391. Postmedia’s Janice Tibbetts has the NDP’s Niki Ashton still in favour of C-391.
If all that holds true, the committee report to be voted on tonight will be approved by a count of 153-151, thus defeating Bill C-391 and preserving the long-gun registry.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 10:51 AM - 0 Comments
The actual text that will be put before the House this evening at approximately 5:30pm is as follows.
The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security has the honour to present its second report.
In accordance with its Order of Reference of Wednesday, March 3, 2010, your Committee has considered Bill C-391, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act (repeal of long-gun registry), and agreed on Thursday, June 3, 2010, to report the following:
That this Committee, pursuant to Standing Order 97.1 (1), recommends that the House of Commons do not proceed further with Bill C-391, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act (repeal of long-gun registry), because the Committee has heard sufficient testimony that the bill will dismantle a tool that promotes and enhances public security and the safety of Canadian police officers.
There are a total of 304 votes in play—308 seats minus three vacancies and the Speaker, who only votes in the event of a tie. At our last count, there were 153 MPs committed to defeating C-391, 150 MPs committed to seeing it passed. That breaks down, by our math, as follows. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 20, 2010 at 6:15 PM - 0 Comments
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, in QP this afternoon. “Mr. Speaker, in fact, we are listening to victims. And victims want dangerous, repeat criminals in prison. They want safe streets. They don’t want the dangerous criminals on the streets. And they want laws that target the criminals. They don’t believe that the long-gun registry targets criminals. In fact, it targets law-abiding hunters and farms and sportspeople right across this country. It’s not a law we need in Canada.”
National Victims of Crime Ombudsman Sue O’Sullivan, about an hour later. “In the few short weeks since my appointment, I have had the opportunity to begin an important dialogue with national victims’ groups on a number of issues, including the long-gun registry,” explained Ms. O’Sullivan. “Though there is no consensus, the majority of victims’ groups we have spoken to have made it clear: Canada should maintain its long-gun registry.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 20, 2010 at 9:45 AM - 0 Comments
Peter Stoffer has decided to switch sides as it relates to House votes on the gun registry, which, by this unofficial count, makes it 153 votes against C-391, which, in theory, clinches defeat for the bill.
CBC has the government trying to arrive at a Plan B in the event C-391 does fail.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, September 17, 2010 at 5:38 PM - 0 Comments
The Prime Minister vows to continue not resting until the long gun registry is abolished.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the federal long-gun registry will someday be scrapped, regardless of what happens to a Tory backbencher’s bill on the issue when Parliament returns next week … ”Opposition to it has not diminished; it has only increased,” he said.
He again denounced the registry, which was introduced by the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien in 1995, as a “large-scale operation that targeted the wrong people” — including hunters, farmers, outdoorsmen and women, as well as police officers “who understand the reality of these communities.” ”These people will never accept this registry because they know it is ineffective and wasteful, and the party I lead will not rest until the day it is abolished,” Harper said to applause.
By Harris-Decima’s findings, public opinion has indeed been shifting, but in the exact opposite direction.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, September 17, 2010 at 1:30 PM - 0 Comments
An interesting exchange from John Baird’s news conference yesterday.
Reporter: Mr. Baird, if scrapping the gun registry is so important and if the Prime Minister feels so strongly about it, as the Conservatives do, then why not just bury it in a money bill and make it a confidence motion?
Baird: I don’t anticipate that you’ll see that this fall.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 4:10 PM - 0 Comments
NDP MP Niki Ashton will disclose tomorrow how she plans to vote on C-391. Peter Stoffer, previously committed to voting in favour of C-391, says he’ll have something to say on Monday. John Rafferty, another yes vote, says his mind hasn’t changed. Bruce Hyer says he won’t vote for a Liberal motion that would effectively scrap C-391.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 11:46 AM - 0 Comments
John Baird, today. “I share the disappointment of many of my colleagues that people who had fought so long, so hard, so passionately against the registry are now feeling the pressure from the two Toronto leaders, Mr. Ignatieff and Mr. Layton,” Baird said. ”We’re all accountable. If we make clear and unambiguous promises in our constituencies and then face pressure from Toronto elites, [MPs are] accountable for that.”
Toronto Star, May 2006. Baird calls himself an “Ottawa boy” but concedes after living in the Big Smoke for about 10 years, Toronto is in his veins. He regularly visits the city, staying at his old apartment, which he sublet to a friend. ”I miss Toronto,” he said.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 11:18 AM - 0 Comments
Carol Hughes says she’ll oppose C-391, which makes it 152 MPs opposed to the bill, 151 in favour.
“Should Ottawa have spent a billion dollars on this thing? I say no way, and so do most people around here. But that start-up money is gone, and I want to look forward, not back. I think many people were surprised to learn this month that it now only costs a dime per Canadian to keep the registry running,” Hughes said.
Jack Layton wants to talk compromise with the Prime Minister.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 4:32 PM - 0 Comments
In other news, Jean-Yves Roy, the Bloc MP whose exit was the subject of some speculation, will be in his seat for at least the first vote on C-391.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 13, 2010 at 2:07 PM - 0 Comments
The last NDP MP yet to comment is Niki Ashton. Carol Hughes has said she will not vote in favour of a Liberal motion to scrap C-391, but has not committed to voting one way or another should C-391 come to a vote on third reading.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, September 10, 2010 at 2:46 PM - 0 Comments
In light of conflicting counts circulating as to upcoming votes on Bill C-391, here is how we arrived at our most recent tally of 151-150.
In favour of Bill C-391 are counted 143 Conservatives, two independents and NDP MPs Bruce Hyer, John Rafferty, Nathan Cullen, Dennis Bevington, Jim Maloway and Peter Stoffer. That’s a total of 151 votes.
Against Bill C-391 are counted 75 Liberals, 48 Bloc Quebecois and 27 NDP MPs. That includes three New Democrats who have switched their votes: Charlie Angus, Claude Gravelle and Glenn Thibeault. That’s a total of 150 votes.
Not counted are the votes of Peter Milliken (the Speaker only votes in the event of a tie), Judy Wasylycia-Leis and Maurizio Bevilacqua (both of whom have officially resigned) and Inky Mark (who is expected to soon resign).
Three New Democrats who voted in favour of Bill C-391 when it was last put to the House—Malcolm Allen, Niki Ashton and Carol Hughes—are counted as undeclared at this point. Ms. Hughes has said she will not support a Liberal motion to scrap C-391, but she has not said what she would do in a straight up or down vote on the bill. Mr. Allen and Ms. Ashton have not, to my knowledge, committed one way or the other.
The one caveat is the vote of Bloc MP Jean Yves-Roy, who would seem to be deciding if or when he may vacate his seat. He has previously voted against C-391.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 12:35 PM - 0 Comments
There may ultimately be two votes on C-391. Two days after the House returns, there will be a vote on a Liberal motion to scrap C-391. If that fails, C-391 will proceed to a vote at some point later this session.
On that note, an update. New Democrat Bruce Hyer says he won’t vote to scrap C-391 on the initial vote, though he reserves the right to ultimately change his mind on the bill before it comes to a final vote. Meanwhile, John Rafferty, another of the NDP dozen, says he intends to vote in favour of C-391. As does Nathan Cullen.
That shifts the advantage back to supporters of C-391 by a count of 151 to 149.
Four NDP votes (Allen, Ashton, Gravelle and Hughes) remain undeclared. One no vote (Jean-Yves Roy) remains in question.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 2:23 PM - 0 Comments
The resignation of Maurizio Bevilacqua became official last week. Postmedia reports Inky Mark’s departure will follow this week. That subtracts a single vote from each side of the C-391 debate. The declarations of Charlie Angus and Glenn Thibeault though add two votes to the no side.
From our last update then, the count has flipped: 149 votes against C-391, 148 votes in favour.
Seven NDP votes (Malcolm Allen, Niki Ashton, Nathan Cullen, Claude Gravelle, Carol Hughes, Bruce Hyer and John Rafferty) remain undeclared. And one no vote (Jean-Yves Roy) might soon be vacated.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 10:16 AM - 0 Comments
NDP MP Glenn Thibeault, one of the dozen New Democrats who voted in favour of Bill C-391, seems to have had a change of heart. From the official release.
Sudbury MP Glenn Thibeault today announced his support for Jack Layton’s plan to find a compromise on the gun registry that brings rural and urban communities together.
“I went to Ottawa to work to make our community safer and stronger—not to drive it apart,” said Thibeault. “That’s why I will be standing with Jack Layton, not Stephen Harper and Garry Breitkreuz, on the long gun registry. We need to find a solution that brings rural and urban Canadians together and so far Jack Layton is the only one showing the leadership to do just that.”
… Thibeault had previously voted to send Bill C-391 to committee for a proper study and to learn more about the issue. Since then, countless conversations with experts and local constituents have convinced him that the Conservative position would be a step back for public safety, and that a new way forward was needed.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, September 3, 2010 at 9:20 AM - 0 Comments
The Star suggests at least some of the NDP dozen may avoid a vote on Bill C-391 this fall.
The about-face is driven in part by tactics the Conservative government is employing as it tries to build support for killing the registry. One Conservative MP has accused Canada’s police chiefs of plotting to use the registry to seize Canadians’ rifles and shotguns.
“You’ve got the Conservatives turning off our rural guys,” said Brad Lavigne, national director of the NDP. He added that two “very real options” are available to rural members — stay away or reverse their earlier support for the Conservative bill.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 10:56 AM - 0 Comments
Dennis Bevington, meanwhile, repeats his intent to vote to scrap the registry.