By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - 0 Comments
Shortly after Dominic LeBlanc had said his piece yesterday, Independent MP Bruce Hyer, formerly of the NDP, stood to add his support to Mark Warawa’s question of privilege.
Before the third reading vote on the long gun registry bill, for example, I was informed by the whip of my former party that if I did not vote as the party wished, then I would be “punished”. After that vote I was instantly punished: no questions, no statements, no foreign travel, no committee representation, no debating time other than asking brief questions of party debaters.
However, I was not really the one who was punished by the party and by our system here. It was the constituents of Thunder Bay—Superior North who were punished. Their voice in the House of Commons was muzzled. The person they had elected was no longer able to speak for them, to ask their questions and to raise their concerns and aspirations.
Tomorrow will be exactly one year to the day since I became an independent. I was scheduled that day to have my first S. O. 31 statement since my punishment had begun. Somehow the party found out that I would use my statement to announce my becoming independent. In the few minutes before my scheduled speaking time, they asked the Speaker to pull my statement, and the Speaker complied. However, now, as an independent, I and my constituents do get a reasonable and adequate number of questions and statements.
The similarities between my experience and that of the member for Langley are striking. We must all recognize that we have developed a problem in Parliament of excessive party control, and we must move to fix the problem before it erodes our democracy any further.
By The Canadian Press - Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 10:56 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Public servants spent a full month, at the “urgent” request of Public…
OTTAWA – Public servants spent a full month, at the “urgent” request of Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, preparing two splashy announcements heralding the destruction of the long-gun registry data — only to have the events cancelled at the last moment without explanation.
The final deletion of millions of registry records last October 31 could be seen as a crowning achievement for a Conservative government that had campaigned against the registry for more than a decade.
Instead, Toews confirmed the destruction during a closed-door meeting in Regina in a manner that one puzzled gun advocate likens to sliding “a note under the door.”
“Conservative MPs communicated the important news with their constituents,” Julie Carmichael, Toews spokeswoman, said this week in an email when asked about the low-key announcement.
She pointed to a news release posted on Toews’ local MP web site — a release that is not cached on Public Safety Canada’s web site with his many other ministerial announcements.
The local delivery was all the more puzzling given the taxpayer-funded resources poured into preparing two major “national” media events to mark the occasion.
“Given that the MO (minister’s office) has flagged this as urgent, may I please request your respective comments by 11 a.m. tomorrow, if possible,” a Public Safety communications official emailed his colleagues on Sept. 26.
Documents obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information show that “message event proposals” specifically targeting the national media market were drafted as early as Oct. 2.
Speeches were written and edited multiple times, as were news releases.
The RCMP was brought into the loop.
Three government spokespeople, Toews, Maxime Bernier and Candice Bergen, were lined up to speak, and arrangements were being made to hold the first of two media events at the same farm south of Ottawa where the government had announced the introduction of legislation to kill the registry in 2011.
On Oct. 16, Toews’ communications adviser for “ministerial events” sent the whole package to a “strategic communications” analyst in the Privy Council Office — the central bureaucracy that supports the prime minister and clears all communications materials. The package was copied to 11 different officials at Public Safety Canada, including a senior web strategist and someone whose job title is social media adviser for ministerial events.
As late as mid-afternoon on Oct. 29, less than 24 hours before the first media event at the Richmond farm, an email was circulated with fully developed plans for the two events attached.
And then … nothing. No events, no speeches, no photos, not even a government news release.
Questions about why the communications material was prepared but not delivered were ignored by Toews’ office this week.
But campaigners on both sides of the yawning divide between sport shooting advocates and the gun control lobby arrive at the same conclusion: The Conservative government no longer sees its pro-gun advocacy as a broad political winner.
“I think the government, if you’ll forgive the bad pun, has gotten gun shy,” said Gerry Gamble, the past president of the Sporting Clubs of Niagara and until recently a member of the government’s firearms advisory committee.
Gamble says there were many puzzled reactions from gun enthusiasts on comment boards last November when the registry data destruction got such a quiet Conservative farewell.
“Gee, this is like somebody slid a note under the door. But I think it’s a situation where they’ve been burned so many times on this that maybe they’re just cautious about anything that’s going to give” ammunition to critics, said Gamble.
“This is only my supposition but I think they have basically decided that the stuff they’re going to do, they’re going to do low-key so that they don’t take heat from the public.”
As Gamble puts it, “The only audience they’re playing to are two million legal gun owners out of 33 million Canadians.”
Michael Bryant, a former Liberal Ontario attorney general who now speaks for the Coalition for Gun Control, framed the same government impulse in less sympathetic terms.
He called the deletion of the registry records “a shameful violation of the public trust — but add cowardly to shameful when it comes to the destruction of the documents by the government.”
Bryant believes the Public Safety minister was big-footed, and says that can only have come from the Prime Minister’s Office.
The Coalition for Gun Control, citing concerns expressed by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, believes that ending long-gun registration — and destroying existing records — will put public safety at risk and make police investigations of gun crimes more difficult.
Bryant argues it’s only a matter of time until some ugly gun incident highlights those police concerns.
“Having video clips of them dancing on the grave of the gun registry and the destruction of documents — as was planned but then cancelled at the last minute — is the last thing they want playing during an election,” said the former Liberal politician.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
While we’re sorting out everyone’s position on the gun registry, here are Marc Garneau’s comments to reporters after QP yesterday.
… the long-gun registry had a lot of very good points and some bad points. On the good side, it was supported by the great majority of police associations in the country, by the RCMP, by victims’ groups and many others. On the other side of the coin, it was opposed by many Canadians in rural communities in this country. There’s no question about it, it was an extremely divisive issue. It’s gone now. The Conservatives have killed it. Let’s move on to other things. It is not my intention to spend more money to bring it back.
However, I will work on measures that will ensure the protection of Canadians such as much more severe penalties for anybody who commits a crime with a gun, particularly a long-gun, prohibiting people who have a history of spousal violence or people who have joined gangs. We’ve got to make sure that they don’t get access to the guns. Strong interdiction at the borders. Taking measures to prohibit certain guns that could easily be turned into assault rifles. Those are the measures that I will put in place.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
While we’re sorting out everyone’s position on the gun registry, here are Thomas Mulcair’s comments to reporters after QP yesterday.
The NDP’s position on the gun registry is that we favor the rgistration of guns. There were irritants in the former system. That doesn’t mean that you roll back public protection. Registration of guns helps protect the public, period. That’s why every policy force in Canada except Calgary’s is in favor of the registration of guns. The NDP favors the registration of guns, especially this week which is the week that contains the anniversary of the terrible tragedy at Polytechnique. We will continue to say clearly that we favor the registration of guns, period…
What we’ve said is that the registration of guns is essential to help protect the public. We would bring back a form of registration. We would be certain to avoid some of the pitfalls of the last version. For example, the police have said clearly that they never asked and it wasn’t necessary that the only possible treatment of an offence was under the criminal code. They said that that went too far. For example, if someone had simply skipped a beat administratively, not only were their guns seized during a hunting trip, they were subject to a huge fine and they had a criminal record. The police have said “You should just give us the option of treating it criminally or administratively”. That’s the type of thing that you could do, but every police force in this country with the exception of one has said that it helps protect the public and it helps protect them. A young police officer going to the door of a home where there’s been a signaling of a domestic dispute should know whether there are guns or not on the other side of that door.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, December 3, 2012 at 3:41 PM - 0 Comments
Finally, he explained why the long-gun registry fit his definition of a “failed” public policy. ”I voted to keep the firearms registry a few months ago and if we had a vote tomorrow I would vote once again to keep the long-gun registry,” Trudeau told reporters. ”However, the definition of a failed public policy is the fact that the long-gun registry is no more… The fact is, because it was so deeply divisive for far too many people, it no longer exists.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, December 3, 2012 at 12:23 PM - 0 Comments
Chris Selley mocks Justin Trudeau’s latest comments on the gun registry.
On Sunday Team Trudeau tried to soften the blow. Liberals supported the registry, a spokeswoman told Sun Media, “given the absence of any responsible approach to gun violence by this government.” Now that they lost the fight, now that “the registry and its data are gone, … we now have to develop a new approach.”
Rubbish. There is no way to square Mr. Trudeau’s previous statements with his current position. The portentous, reverential terms in which Mr. Trudeau, Dr. Bennett and so many other Liberals described the registry a year ago, and before, demand they either support its re-establishment now or explain why they were in error before. Or they would if this was a debating society; in politics, you can change your mind, fudge your reasons outrageously and never have to say you’re sorry.
I’d still like Mr. Trudeau to explain his latest remarks, but Chris is right that the “portentous, reverential terms” in which the gun registry was described don’t really square with the word “failure.” The Liberal position in 2010 and 2011 was that the registry was necessary, but flawed (see page 56 of the party’s platform). And thinking about it last night, my feeling was there was a little bit of wiggle room left by Mr. Trudeau’s qualifier (“as it was”) and the lack of an explanation as to how precisely the gun registry had failed. Failed politically? Failed entirely? (Though I do enjoy pointing out contradictions, I also do tend to fuss over the details.) But maybe I was unnecessarily splitting hairs. Thinking about it now, my feeling is Chris is right: you can’t really say the gun registry “saved lives” and say it was a “failure.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, December 3, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Over the weekend, Justin Trudeau used the word “failure” to describe the long gun registry.
The fact that we have a government, or successive governments, that have managed to polarize the conversations around gun ownership to create games in electoral races when you don’t have to have a … There is no concept, no idea, that gun ownership is ever going to be under attack for law-abiding hunters and farmers across this country. But we need to keep our cities safe and I don’t see that that’s an unsolvable solution but I do see that the long-gun registry, as it was, was a failure and I am not going to rescuscitate that. But we will continue to look at ways of keeping our cities safe and making sure that we do address the concerns around domestic violence right across the country in rural as well as urban areas in which, unfortunately, guns do play a role. But there are better ways of keeping us safe than that registry…
Mr. Trudeau voted against C-391, Mr. Bergen’s bill that would have eliminated the registry, in September 2010. And afterwards he apparently had this interaction with protesters on Parliament Hill.
At the time of that vote, it should probably be noted, the Liberals were promising to reform the registry in response to “legitimate criticisms” of it. (Michael Ignatieff whipped the pivotal vote on C-391, but Mr. Trudeau also voted no at second reading.)
So is this a flip-flop? I’m not sure. It sort of depends on what Mr. Trudeau means by “as it was” and “failure.” In other words, it requires a follow-up question. (Like, “what do you mean it was a failure?”)
His campaign attempted to explain on Sunday (though without quite answering that proposed follow-up).
Trudeau’s spokeswoman, Kate Monfette, said Sunday Trudeau and his party fought to maintain the registry “given the absence of any responsible approach to gun violence by this government.” “We were not successful in that fight, the registry and its data are gone, so we now have to develop a new approach.”
By The Canadian Press - Sunday, October 28, 2012 at 1:35 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The Conservative government that championed the end of what it calls the “wasteful and ineffective” long gun registry can’t say exactly how much the registry’s repeal will save taxpayers.
OTTAWA – The Conservative government that championed the end of what it calls the “wasteful and ineffective” long gun registry can’t say exactly how much the registry’s repeal will save taxpayers.
More than seven months after the registry was officially ended in every province and territory except Quebec, the RCMP is citing a 2008 report — based on a 2004 costing model — to suggest the registry’s repeal will save somewhere between $1.5 million and $4 million a year.
The registry of all firearms cost $7.7 million to operate in 2010-11, the last full year for which information is available. So why are the projected savings so small?
Neither the RCMP nor the public safety minister’s office will offer an explanation, although the ongoing registration of handguns and restricted weapons must account for some of the difference.
“We have nothing else to say on this issue other than what we have provided you,” RCMP spokesman Sgt. Greg Cox responded in an email after almost a week of correspondence with The Canadian Press.
Nor is the RCMP able to provide any cost estimate of destroying the gun registry data, saying only that it will be absorbed within the national police force’s budget.
“The staff who are working on the project to destroy the data are RCMP employees who are also working on other day-to-day tasks,” Cox wrote.
Francoise Boivin, NDP justice critic, believes the government’s inability to provide precise costing says a great deal about years of gun registry spin.
“If your accountant was answering that way you would fire him on the spot,” Boivin said in an interview.
“They’ve got all the information. Problem is, they don’t divulge it because they’re worried it might not prove exactly the point they’ve been stressing over and over.”
Conservatives have claimed for years that the gun registry cost at least a billion dollars, and possibly two.
“I don’t know who’s right on that, but certainly it’s north of $1 billion,” Public Safety Minister Vic Toews told a parliamentary committee last June.
Toews’ accounting only works if the long-run registry is combined with the federal gun licensing system — a matched set under the 1995 Liberal gun control reforms.
And as Toews well knows, and some disgruntled gun owners have learned of late as their renewals came up, firearms licences remain firmly in place under the Conservative government.
In March 2005 the net cost of the entire firearms program was pegged at $946 million, according to the auditor general. That figure included both licensing and registration.
An examination of RCMP annual reports by The Canadian Press shows that in the first five full years of Conservative rule, gun registration cost a total of $48.7 million while “licensing and supporting infrastructure” cost $259.2 million.
Put another way, registration cost less than a fifth as much as licensing.
Firearms licences remain the law of the land for all gun owners, whose individual long gun weapons are no longer registered.
And that’s where the highly polarized arguments on both sides of the gun registry debate start to break down.
Gun control advocates, and many police groups, argued the registry was an indispensable public safety tool because it allowed police to use the registry database to determine whether weapons might be on a premise. It also helped in the tracing of crime scene weapons.
It’s important to note the current licensing system still allows police to search a database to determine whether a licensed gun owner — which equates to weapons — might be on a premise.
Conservatives said the registry was ineffective because it targeted “law-abiding hunters, farmers and sport shooters” and missed the criminals who would never register anyway.
They also argued the registry information was so incomplete and out of date that it was useless for tracing guns.
Yet the same Conservative government that killed the registry recently brought in new regulations to ensure that as of December, all firearms have unique serial number markings.
A release from the Public Safety department earlier this month said serial numbers on guns “contribute to public safety, by facilitating law enforcement investigations when the markings can be linked to information on the last legal owner of the firearm.”
In short, a government that long complained over the cost of Liberal gun control laws has left the most expensive element in place, while stripping out a weapons database that — by its own logic — appears to have some use.
The situation may be less dire than any of the impassioned advocates on either side make out.
Dan O’Donnell, a Toronto-raised English professor at Lethbridge University in Alberta and relatively recent gun enthusiast, offers an interesting perspective.
He has no objection to registering his guns — “It’s not really that burdensome; my car’s registered,” O’Donnell said — but recognizes the cultural and practical issues in regions of Canada where family weapons may span generations.
Licence applications and renewals help screen out inappropriate gun owners and provide police a more reliable database than the incomplete registry, said O’Donnell.
“I would say that the core of the system is that licensing requirement and the basic (gun) storage requirement,” he said. “Personally I think that does work, it’s coherent and is actually really good.”
As for the loud, countervailing arguments and spinning of firearms facts, O’Donnell is unimpressed.
“I think it’s a question of misunderstanding that has been exacerbated for political gain and used as a wedge issue,” he said.
“That scares me a bit. We’ve got people who just seem to want to stoke anger. And it seems to me if you’re going to stoke anger, go stoke anger about something other than guns.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 11:30 AM - 0 Comments
Yesterday afternoon, the Harper government announced it would appeal a Quebec court’s ruling on long gun registry data. Here is the official statement from Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.
We were disappointed with the ruling of the Quebec Superior Court. Today, our Government announced that we will appeal this decision. The will of Parliament and Canadians has been clear. We do not want any form of a wasteful and ineffective long gun registry. The NDP has consistently said that if given the chance they would try and use this data to target law-abiding hunters, farmers and sport shooters in the regions of Quebec . Our Conservative Government will always stand up for the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
By The Canadian Press - Monday, September 17, 2012 at 3:45 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The federal government plans to appeal a Quebec court ruling that blocked the destruction of gun registry records and ordered the data handed over to the province.
OTTAWA – The federal government is making good on its promise to appeal a Quebec court ruling that blocked the destruction of gun-registry records and ordered the data handed over to the province.
The government plans to challenge last week’s decision by Quebec Superior Court Judge Marc-Andre Blanchard, who voided two sections of the Conservative government’s legislation to scrap the long-gun registry.
Minister of State Maxime Bernier made the announcement Monday, on behalf of Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, in response to questions in the House of Commons.
“I’m proud to announce, on behalf of my colleague the minister of public safety, that the government of Canada will be appealing that decision,” Bernier said in French.
Blanchard had ordered the federal government to turn over all records on Quebec-owned rifles and shotguns in the registry to the provincial government within 30 days.
The Conservatives have been adamant about scrapping the long-gun registry and destroying the existing data, saying any province that wants to establish its own registry would be welcome to start from scratch.
Toews later issued a statement expressing disappointment in the court’s decision and vowing to fight it head-on, while also trying to tar the Opposition NDP as the enemy of “law-abiding hunters, farmers and sport shooters” in Quebec.
“The will of Parliament and Canadians has been clear,” Toews said. “We do not want any form of a wasteful and ineffective long gun registry.”
The Sept. 10 court ruling came after the province obtained a series of temporary injunctions safeguarding the Quebec data, which has resulted in long guns continuing to be registered there, unlike everywhere else in the country.
In his decision, Blanchard said that since the federal government didn’t create the registry alone, it can’t destroy it unilaterally.
The registry was created in the 1990s by a partnership that included multiple agreements over how the information would be gathered and accumulated, he said.
“There is a complex web between the federal, provincial and municipal authorities that wove the firearms registry which means that it could not have existed without the close and constant co-operation of everyone,” Blanchard wrote in his decision.
“The implementation of the firearms registry — although under the federal power to legislate criminal law — creates a partnership with Quebec, particularly with regard to the data contained in the registry.”
The bill to end the federal registry came into effect in April, fulfilling a long-standing promise by the Harper government to decriminalize non-registration of long guns.
In Quebec, a hotbed of support for gun control, the provincial government has fought back, claiming a right to the information — hoping to use it as the basis for a provincial registry system — because its taxpayers helped to gather it.
The Harper government is steadfastly opposed to relinquishing any data, which it is determined to destroy. It says Quebec can start from scratch if it wants to build its own registry.
Dean Del Mastro, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s parliamentary secretary, framed the forthcoming court battle as the federal government’s effort to keep its promise.
“I think it’s important that our government keeps its word,” Del Mastro said after question period.
“We provided our word to all Canadians, including Quebecers, that we’d end the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry. That’s what we’re doing.”
Blanchard’s verdict quoted the prime minister directly as saying he wouldn’t help another level of government keep the registry alive — a sentiment the ruling suggested is an affront to the Constitution’s spirit of flexible and co-operative federalism.
“This lack of respect for the jurisdiction of Quebec obviates the principle of co-operative federalism that aims to satisfy the needs of both the country and its components,” Blanchard wrote.
Opponents of the registry called it wasteful and of no value to law enforcement in preventing gun crime or enforcing the law. Supporters — including some police organizations — disagree.
Liberal public safety critic Francis Scarpaleggia said the government was trying “to snub anyone” who wants to control long guns, simply to make an ideological point.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 10, 2012 at 4:14 PM - 0 Comments
As Paul notes, a Quebec Superior Court judge says the Harper government must transfer long-gun registry data to the government of Quebec.
Vic Toews is displeased.
I am disappointed with today’s ruling and will thoroughly review the decision. The will of Parliament and Canadians has been clear. We do not want any form of a wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry. The NDP has consistently said that if given the chance they would try and use this data to target law-abiding hunters, farmers and sport shooters. Our Conservative Government will continue to fight against any measures that needlessly target law-abiding hunters, farmers and sport shooters.
Via Twitter, the Public Safety Minister says the “will of Canadians and Parliament must be respected.”
The NDP is decidedly more enthused about the court’s decision.
“Experts have sided with us, the police have sided with us and now it’s the Superior Court’s turn,” said New Democrat Justice critic Françoise Boivin. “Stephen Harper has to understand he cannot act alone.”
Today’s court decision shows how the Conservative government has failed in its responsibility to protect public safety and ignored thoughtful proposals from the NDP to allow provinces to keep the data, if they wish. “The Conservatives have a decision to make: either respect the Court’s decision, or waste taxpayers’ money appealing this through the courts,” added Boivin. “New Democrats believe these records are an important public safety tool. Conservatives must stop politicizing this issue and start putting public safety first.”
By Paul Wells - Monday, September 10, 2012 at 12:12 PM - 0 Comments
So a Quebec Superior Court judge has ruled that the federal government must hand over data from the long-gun registry to the Quebec government. The decision, which I will now read, is here, in French.
I am reminded that last month our Andrew Stobo Sniderman wrote a story (perhaps at my suggestion) pointing out that the biggest political debates, leading most frequently to political defeats for the Harper government, have been happening in court — Insite, securities regulator, minimum sentences, and more. Now the long-gun registry too. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 4:22 PM - 0 Comments
The Canadian Shooting Sports Association is planning a gun swap to mock the long gun registry.
“The governments and advocacy groups have forced our hand by suggesting the registry data is somehow useful,” Bernardo said. “Shuffling previously registered firearms is totally legal, responsible and appropriate.” Bernardo said that when people partake in the gun swap, “no one will know which owners have which firearms.” ”And that’s perfect, because it’s nobody’s business.”
The CSSA is one of the groups represented on the hunting and angling advisory panel that the Prime Minister announced in May.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 10:28 PM - 0 Comments
“I was telling Laureen before I left the house today,” the Prime Minister quipped, “that these are people who when they say they prefer organic food you know they mean it.”
The assembled attendees of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters’ first National Fish and Wildlife Conservative Congress (featuring a live falcon on display in the hallway) duly chuckled.
On the same day the leader of the opposition was flying to Alberta to make peace (or at least try to avoid total war) with the oil sands, the Prime Minister had crossed the Rideau Canal to a downtown Ottawa hotel to style himself an environmentalist. Or, rather, a conservationist.
“If you were at the federation’s 2009 conference, you may recall that I said conservatives were natural conservationists,” he reminded.
His argument three years ago was actually based on something he’d said four years before that. “It’s also no accident,” he said in that 2009 speech to the anglers and hunters, “as I told you four years ago, that the words conservation and Conservative are derived from the same root. A Conservative is a conservationist.”
Who can argue with such etymology? Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 30, 2012 at 8:30 AM - 0 Comments
Greg Fingas considers Bruce Hyer’s defection in the context of Thomas Mulcair’s hopes for regional outreach. Brian Topp considers Mr. Hyer’s defection in the context of the “bozo eruptions” that apparently hurt Wild Rose’s chances in Alberta.
Our political system tends towards hyper-centralization, and imposes a discipline on elected representatives that, at least some of them sometimes believe, disrespects and disempowers them. A “crisis of surplus consciousness” can result, in which the few at the top end up with too much to do (and therefore cannot do it well), which the vast majority of other team members end up with too little to do (and aren’t happy about it). This, to be precise, used to be said with reference to the hyper-centralized system in place in the Soviet Union. It could also be said of a number of poorly-led, hyper-centralized private corporations. It may be what parliamentary systems inherently drift into.
But as the Alberta election testifies, our political system also brutally punishes political teams who fail to maintain the tightest possible order in their ranks – at least as far as anyone can see – at every stage of proceedings including elections. “Bozo moments,” policy disagreements, strategy debated in public: Any chink of light is seized on as evidence of unfitness for office.
It seems to me there’s a distinction to be made between a candidate saying something that a significant number of voters find offensive and a candidate expressing a different opinion on policy or strategy, but it’s certainly the case that any break in unity is first and foremost discussed as a potential crisis of leadership.
Brian thinks “it is possible to have a respectful, deliberative, democratic political team that then presents a united front,” but the question remains, what does that look like? Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 3:45 PM - 0 Comments
On the occasion of his departure from the NDP caucus, Bruce Hyer and I chatted today via telephone.
Q: So I guess first off, when did you start to think about becoming an independent MP?
A: I first started to think about it under the whipping by Nycole Turmel after Jack’s death … Immediately after Jack’s death, I was very concerned about his—however it came about—choice of interim leader. I knew it would not be good for the party, which it was not. I was concerned for a variety of reasons.
Q: You were concerned specifically about Nycole Turmel’s leadership?
A: I was concerned about Nycole. But it really became very difficult when I and my constituents were muzzled after the long gun vote.
Q: What were your concerns about Nycole Turmel?
A: There’s no point in going there now … although she is still the whip, which I find quite ironic. We’re into an issue about whipping and Nycole has moved from the head whipper to the assistant whipper now.
Q: So just to clarify, you had two concerns: one, you were concerned about her leadership in general and two, you were bothered by the fact that you were punished after the long gun registry vote?
A: Absolutely. And it’s not about me or my ego, it’s about many things. It’s about my ability to do my job to which I was elected. And so my effectiveness was curtailed during that very long period. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 12:29 PM - 0 Comments
Charlie Angus, last month, announcing his departure from Twitter. “Free at last. Free at last. Great God almighty free at last.”
John Williamson, last week, celebrating the end of the long-gun registry. “Free at last. Free at last. Law-abiding Canadians are finally free at last.”
That the latter doesn’t appear verbatim in Hansard is odd.
By Colby Cosh - Monday, February 27, 2012 at 10:10 AM - 0 Comments
Thought gun advocates would be celebrating the demise of the gun registry? Think again.
The final House of Commons vote to end the federal firearms registry was greeted Feb. 15 on Parliament Hill with a low-key cocktail party. Long-time opponents of the 1995 Liberal gun control bill, still spoken of hissingly out West as C-68, gathered to celebrate with the Prime Minister. Perhaps surprisingly, there was little visible jubilation on the Prairies about the end of a nearly 20-year fight. The streets of Alberta and Saskatchewan did not live up to Torontonian fantasies of whooping cowboys discharging riﬂes into the air like Pashtuns at an Afghan wedding.
Gun owners, sellers and political advocates know the private member’s bill to end the registry must still traverse the Senate. Quebec has promised litigation to prevent the destruction of the information in the database. And while the registry radicalized a generation of sportsmen, the gun control debate did not begin with C-68; with a vast array of social networks and institutions now in place for the political defence of gun ownership, it won’t end there, either.
“The vote against the registry was a historic day, no two ways about it,” says National Firearms Association spokesman Blair Hagen. “But we’re still opposed to a licensing system that makes paper criminals out of peaceful ﬁrearms owners.” The NFA’s ongoing complaints with guns laws range from “possession-only” certiﬁcation introduced in 1998—which forced all gun owners to acquire a licence, when previously you just needed a licence to purchase a gun—to still-standing provisions in C-68 for warrantless searches of homes by ﬁrearms inspectors. “We’re not so much celebrating the defeat of part of a particularly hated law, as we are coming to the realization that reform is possible,” says Hagen.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 2:04 PM - 0 Comments
Speaking in the House before the vote to eliminate the long-gun registry last week, Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner recalled how she had introduced similar legislation in the last Parliament. She then proceeded to gloat.
Unfortunately, some individuals on the other side of the House broke faith with their constituents. They told their constituents they would vote to end the long gun registry but they did not. Instead, they voted in the interests of their party bosses. However, every cloud has a silver lining. We decided that we might have lost a battle but we were determined that we would not lose the war. We made an effort to get out and talk to Canadians. We knew that we needed a majority government. We needed a mandate from Canadians in order to end the wasteful long gun registry, and that is exactly what we received.
Listening to Michael Ignatieff’s demands that all Liberals vote to keep on criminalizing law-abiding gun owners meant that we exchanged Liberal Larry Bagnell for the Conservative member for Yukon. It meant that we exchanged Liberal Anthony Rota for the Conservative member for Nipissing—Timiskaming. It meant that we exchanged Liberal Mark Holland for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, the Conservative MP for Ajax—Pickering. They were great trades.
It was not only the Liberals who lost. Listening to the big union bosses in the backroom of the NDP did not work out so well for some of those members either. The good people of Sault Ste. Marie made what some would call an MP upgrade from Tony Martin to the Conservative member for Sault Ste. Marie.
This is an interesting version of recent electoral history. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 8:28 AM - 0 Comments
A second video purported to be from Anonymous has been released.
The Canadian Association of Chiefs Police, on the other hand, apparently supports C-30, but it’s unclear how either side will be able to use this to bolster their respective arguments. The Harper government might appreciate the endorsement of its legislation, but it previously chose to ignore the CACP’s support for the long-gun registry. The opposition might disagree with C-30, but it still champions the CACP’s support for the long-gun registry as an important consideration.
Meanwhile, Michael Geist again offers some solutions.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 10:15 AM - 0 Comments
The Harper government’s bill to end the long gun registry passed the House last night by a count of 159-130. Two NDP MPs—John Rafferty and Bruce Hyer—voted with the Conservatives, as they had on second reading. Mr. Hyer explains his vote.
The reasons that I have voted this way include: Jack Layton and the NDP knew my position over almost a decade and 4 elections, and allowed me to run on that promise to my constituents; The NDP has never had an official policy on the registry. Then Leader Audrey McLaughlin, and all but one NDP MP, voted against the registry when it was introduced by the Liberals; This bill will maintain the registration of restricted firearms; and The most effective part of the remaining legislation is the requirement that every legal firearm owner must be licensed, and that the police will continue to know who they are. Before anyone can be licensed they must take a safety course, pass a difficult test, have spousal approval, pass a Canada-wide police screening, and wait at least 28 days for approval.
By John Geddes - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 4:56 PM - 0 Comments
There’s not much point prolonging the argument about the government’s determination to scrap the registry for rifles and shotguns. But as Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act, comes up this evening for a final vote in the House—its passage assured by the Conservative majority—Canadians on both sides of this bitter debate should consider the practical implications of the outcome.
One important matter is what will now happen when guns are bought and sold by individuals. After the gun registry’s introduction in 2003, any transfer of a gun’s ownership had to be approved by the federal firearms registrar, since the gun changing hands had to be registered by its new owner.
When the Tories shred the registry, of course, that obligation will disappear with it.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, February 13, 2012 at 1:13 PM - 0 Comments
Last Tuesday, Conservative MP Larry Miller compared the long-gun registry to Hitler. He quickly apologized, but a day later he stood by the merits of his comparison. Irwin Cotler subsequently demanded he be sanctioned and so Larry Miller rose in the House this morning to once again clarify his Hitler analogy.
Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I believe that some members in this House and the media misunderstood the point I was making last week during debate when I argued that the confiscation of firearms is often the first thing that authoritarian governments do. While calls and e-mails of support from my constituents and from Canadians across the country indicated that they understood the point I was trying to make, and I do stand by my beliefs, but because of my respect for the House, I want to reiterate my withdrawal of the remark and apology for referencing two individuals in the way I did.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 5:57 PM - 0 Comments
“While I retracted my comments, the similarities between the two are very clear and you can’t convince me of otherwise. But it’s obvious the media didn’t have much to write about yesterday because that was the hot-button issue. So just in order to take the buzz off and what have you, I partially retracted the statement in the house,” he said …
“While the similarities between the gun registry and what Adolph Hitler did to perpetrate his crimes are very clear and obvious, it was inappropriate for me to point those out in the House of Commons,” he said Wednesday. “And I went on to say that I apologized to anyone who was offended, but the truth is the truth and what he (Hitler) did at the time was his men went around and collected all the guns from the Jews. So I was just pointing out the similarities. That didn’t happen in Canada, but it could have and that’s one of the reasons there’s been such an uproar against the gun registry in this country. So that’s the end of it.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at 2:30 PM - 0 Comments
Larry Miller makes sure the last hours of debate on the long-gun registry don’t pass without a Hitler reference.
It appears the quote he cites is also in some dispute.
Update 4:23pm. After QP, Mr. Miller rose with the following point of order.
Mr. Speaker, earlier today in this House I was speaking on Bill C-19 and I referred to and used the name Adolf Hitler. While the references to the gun registry and what this evil guy did to perpetrate his crimes are very clear, it was inappropriate to use his name in the House and I apologize to anybody it may have offended.