By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, October 29, 2011 - 0 Comments
Martin Singh touted himself as the pro-business candidate. Thomas Mulcair touted himself as Stephen Harper’s nightmare and a man who can say no to organized labour. Paul Dewar unveiled his urban agenda and worked the room in Toronto. And Peggy Nash joined the race with two objectives.
There was yet another reason to question the purchase of new F-35s. David Anderson tried to explain the Canadian Wheat Board with a cartoon. More emails meant more questions for Tony Clement, which Deepak Obhrai and Pierre Poilievre promptly threw themselves in front of. Stephen Harper worried about the global economy. And the government pledged to destroy all traces of the long-gun registry, while the Victims Ombudsman defended the registry’s usefulness. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 12:43 PM - 5 Comments
Provincial government wants to replace federal registry with provincial equivalent
The provincial government in Quebec says it will defy an order by Ottawa to destroy data related to the long-gun registry. Provincial Public Security Minister Robert Dutil said Wednesday the Sûreté du Québec will be told to hold onto the data it has collected over the years while the province seeks to gain control of federally-held data on Quebec gun owners. Quebec’s plan is to build a gun registry of its own to replace the federal registry the Conservatives are planning to dismantle. “We will work hard to make sure that these tools are given back to Quebec,” provincial Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Yvon Vallières said. “We helped pay for them, I don’t see why we couldn’t have them.”
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 6:06 PM - 86 Comments
The Scene. At its essence, this debate over the long-gun registry was always a debate about paperwork. And so it is only right and fitting that it should end now with a fight over what should be done with that paper.
For the record, Article 29 of Bill C-19, an Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act, states that “the Commissioner of Firearms shall ensure the destruction as soon as feasible of all records in the Canadian Firearms Registry related to the registration of firearms that are neither prohibited firearms nor restricted firearms and all copies of those records under the Commissioner’s control.” And variously this much is viewed as a waste of both information and money.
“Why,” Nycole Turmel asked this afternoon, “destroy two billion dollars of accumulated information, while the provinces and the police want to keep it?” Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 1:37 PM - 15 Comments
A note from the office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime.
Following the tabling of the Government’s proposed legislation to abolish the long gun registry, Sue O’Sullivan, Canada’s Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, today spoke out in support of the long-gun registry, urging the federal government to maintain the registry as a tool for preventing further victimization. “Our position on this matter is clear – Canada must do all it can to prevent further tragedies from happening, including using the tools we have to help keep communities safe, like the long-gun registry,” stated Ms. O’Sullivan.
According to 2002 RCMP data, long-guns are the most common type of firearm used in spousal homicides. Over the past decade, 71% of spousal homicides involved rifles and shotguns. “Though there are varying points of view, the majority of victims’ groups we have spoken with continue to support keeping long-gun registry,” explained Ms. O’Sullivan. “I have brought that voice forward to the Government by relaying those views directly to the Minister of Justice in our most recent meeting.”
The Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime helps victims to address their needs, promotes their interests and makes recommendations to the federal government on issues that negatively impact victims.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 3, 2011 at 1:30 PM - 41 Comments
A footnote on the meaning of Brad Trost.
Here is a question put to the government by the NDP’s Francoise Boivin last Thursday. Emphasis mine.
Mr. Speaker, women’s rights should not be open for debate, yet members of the government seem to think they are. The Supreme Court of Canada has clearly ruled that access to abortion is a fundamental right. Either the Prime Minister has lost control of his caucus or his government’s new policy is to outlaw abortion and turn back the clock on women’s rights. Which is it?
This attempt to define Brad Trost’s public stance as a reflection on the Prime Minister’s leadership is especially interesting given the party to which Ms. Boivin belongs. A year ago it was Jack Layton who was apparently failing to keep sufficient control of his caucus. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, February 25, 2011 at 10:30 AM - 9 Comments
Rather than simply lament for how little attention is paid to the institution, I thought I’d ask some smart people if they had anything to say in response to my piece about the state of the House of Commons. Over the next little while, those responses will appear here. First up, Nick Taylor-Vaisey.
Does Canada’s House of Commons matter? Well, it can matter. But that all depends on what our MPs are talking about and how they’re approaching the conversation.
Remember that debate about the gun registry? Civil it might not have been, but was it popular? You bet. People paid attention because they cared about what was at stake. It helped that Ottawa’s politicians had just returned from a summer break, and news media around town were looking for a juicy story. But people everywhere were talking about the gun registry. The House of Commons mattered. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 5:22 PM - 93 Comments
“The only good coyote is a dead coyote,” Bruce-Grey Owen Sound MP Larry Miller told about 150 people during sheep day at the 45th annual Grey Bruce Farmers Week … Miller used the debate to again state his opposition to the national gun registry. He said farmers, like himself, who once a carried a couple rifles in the truck are “afraid to bring out their guns and travel around like they used to.”
“What the MNR needs to do when it comes to unregistered guns and what have you, they’ve got to start turning their heads the same way as they do with commercial fishermen that break the law,” Miller told the meeting. “Let the farmers out there that have guns do a lot of this control.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, December 6, 2010 at 6:58 PM - 105 Comments
The Scene. After members of each party had risen to note the 21st anniversary of the murders at l’École Polytechnique, the leader of the opposition stood to add his acknowledgment and to wonder, on the occasion, why the government had once more delayed the implementation of regulations that would make it easier to track the movement of firearms.
In the Prime Minister’s absence, John Baird stood to offer the government’s response. “Mr. Speaker, I think all of us, in all political parties, each and every member of Parliament takes today to remember the tragic loss of some young women who had promising futures,” he said, quite solemnly. “That is something that I would not want to be political on.”
There was a groan from the opposition side at this.
“What I can say,” Mr. Baird continued, “is that our government is committed to making our communities safer and we are committed to working with law enforcement on meaningful gun control that actually works and makes those communities safer.”
This was not quite an answer to the question at hand, so Mr. Ignatieff tried again. When, he wondered, would the government learn from the massacre of 21 years ago and give the police what they required?
Mr. Baird responded here with pitch-perfect passive aggression: not at all a direct answer, but a series of sentences that leave just enough to interpretation as to neither reject anything nor commit the government to anything going forward. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Monday, November 22, 2010 at 2:24 PM - 18 Comments
Savings would fall between $1.6 million and $4-million
A 70-page report on proposed legislation to kill the long-gun registry found that scrapping it would save somewhere between $1.57 million and $4-million per year. The Conservative government, who was in favour of dismantling the long-gun registry, had estimated its costs in the billions. After the bill was defeated in September, Christopher McCluskey, a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, told the media that the long-gun registry cost $2-billion. Other Conservative MPs are on record saying that scrapping the registry would save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars per year. The contradictory report in question was commissioned by the RCMP in 2009 and became public today after the Globe and Mail received it through Access to Information rules. Peter Hall, the report’s author, concluded that if legislation to scrap the long-gun registry were passed, the firearms program would eliminate at most, 63 full-time positions and some IT costs, for a savings of $4,025,000 per year.
By Andrew Coyne - Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was praised for rising above ideology
“Mr. Layton charged the Conservatives’ economic plan was following “some rigid ideology,” as opposed to dealing with the reality of relatively high unemployment.”—Financial Post, Sept. 16
“Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe also took aim at Harper over the gun registry, accusing him of adopting an “ideological” stance to please his political base in the West.”—Montreal Gazette, Sept. 21
“First and foremost, we need to take ourselves seriously again, to pursue an active foreign policy informed by facts and compassion, rather than by ideology.”—Paul Heinbecker, Globe and Mail, Sept. 24
There is no more serious accusation in Canadian politics than that of having an ideology. Politicians would confess to killing their own grandmother rather than own up to such a thing: what the dictionary defines as “a body of ideas.” Possession of cocaine is a charge you can probably survive. But possession of ideas is career-ending.
Rather, practical men that they are, politicians prefer to say they live in the real world, guided, as Ambassador Heinbecker says, by facts, not ideology. “I’m not ideological,” many will say. “I just do what works.”
By Andrew Coyne - Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 10:17 PM - 0 Comments
We learned via the Star’s Susan Delacourt that MP Scott Simms “has a raw, recent and personal reason for his decision to support the long-gun registry in the Commons today. Simms’ father, Reginald, took his own life with a long gun in June.”
After the revelation, delivered in Wednesday’s in camera caucus meeting, “many MPs were in tears and Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff was visibly emotional.” In a separate blog post, Delacourt elaborates:
Reportedly Ignatieff choked up when it was time to take the floor again and caucus members lined up to embrace Simms.
It makes all the games and the jeering and the attacks look pretty petty.
Indeed: politics can be such a cynical game. Thank goodness, with emotions running as high as they were, somebody found the strength, and the courage, to leak the story to the Star.
By John Geddes - Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 7:06 PM - 0 Comments
Just before this evening’s vote on the gun registry I ran into Nova Scotia MP Peter Stoffer in the foyer of the House of Commons. He’s usually a jovial, stolid sort of guy—voted most collegial in this year’s Maclean’s survey of MPs. This evening, though, he didn’t look so good.
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 John Geddes - Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 3:12 PM - 0 Comments
I’ve just been listening to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews responding to opposition MPs in Question Period on the gun registry. Toews repeatedly stressed that even though Conservatives want to scrap the long-gun registry, they continue to support licencing gun owners and registering restricted weapons, such as handguns. Why is registering rifles and shotguns unacceptable, but those other aspects of the firearms regulatory system are just fine? Toews objects to the long-gun registry on grounds that “criminals don’t register their guns.” But the bad guys don’t apply for licences or register handguns either. So why the inconsistent approach?
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 Colby Cosh - Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 1:34 AM - 0 Comments
The Globe and Mail has finally explained where a Toronto Chief of Police and dozens of gullible journalists and politicians got the idea that the national firearms registry costs $4 million a year. I’ve watched this figure get repeated countless times over the past month or so, and every single time I kept returning with furrowed brow to the Treasury Board estimates, which put the combined operating and transfers cost of firearms registration at $22 million, just to the RCMP, for 2010-11. (The overall cost for registries and licensing infrastructure comes to $78 million.)
That’s not counting the costs to other federal agencies—most especially the cost to Corrections Canada, estimated loosely at $10 million for fiscal ’08-’09. Certainly the commentators who were soiling themselves over the PBO’s estimates for penological costs of Conservative law-and-order measures wouldn’t want to just ignore the money spent on keeping gun-registry offenders locked up longer, would they? Including the cost in registrant time and effort would drive the figure higher still; surely the Globe is bound to be giving the program a break in only revising the cost upward by a factor of 16½.
If the Globe is right, it seems only a bit of sloppily written verbiage in the new report on the registry—interpreted by dissimulators with badges, and faithfully broadcast by writers with poor financial instincts—could possibly have led anyone to believe the gun registry is a bargain. (The Firearms Centre in Miramichi has 240 federal employees, guys! $4 million wouldn’t cover 12 weeks of payroll expenses, right?) And maybe I’m just some Western flake, but in retrospect it does seem as though the propagation of $4 million figure was possible only because the RCMP played undisguised politics with the report, dawdling over a “translation” (a tactic that the Conservatives somehow ended up taking most of the blame for) and making sure to pass it around to friendly, gullible media outlets in a timely way before the vote on C-391. All of which, now, can serve only the electoral interests of the Conservatives themselves—keeping alive the hated totem and allowing them to exploit the real financial numbers in their search for a Commons majority.
[UPDATE, 10:22 am: Or not. The Citizen's board smacks down the Globe this morning, and the Globe seems to have mis-identified the source of the figure within the report—the actual source being a reference to another report to the RCMP by a government IT consultancy, Pleiad Canada. So could we have that document, or is it already too late to bother?]
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 11:11 AM - 16 Comments
Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner is presently speaking to reporters on the Hill in front of her Scrap The Registry van.
An hour from now, Michael Ignatieff will take questions while standing in front of the Liberal Express bus.
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.