Gunning for support
In a field as large as the current Conservative leadership race, it gets hard to differentiate between candidates. In an effort to grab their share of the base, a range of contenders are pitching a range of ideas — from Kellie Leitch’s “if it worked for Trump…” to Kevin O’Leary’s all-over the-map “Hi-I’m-visiting-voteme” drop-in campaign.
You never know which constituency, large or small, is going to be the next target.
But if there’s one thing that should give people a little bit of a pause, it might be Maxime Bernier, and his plan to provide “a fair gun policy for Canada.”
It’s clear that gun owners — from hobbyists to hunters to farmers dealing with pests — are a powerful bloc in this country. You need look no further than the past dissent over the gun registry put in place by a former Liberal government. The promise to get rid of the registry was a huge factor in swaying voters, so it’s understandable that Bernier might want to convince voters that he’d champion a return to past practices of less-restrictive gun ownership.
But it’s hard to decide just who he really wants to garner support from with one part of his fair gun policy. And that’s the plan to remove a restriction on magazine size introduced in in 1993.
Here’s Bernier’s take: “Magazine size restrictions are nonsense. Current size restrictions do not contribute to public safety and criminalize firearms owners for something as simple as a flimsy rivet breaking. I will put an end to magazine size restrictions.”
The laws on magazine size, in rough terms, limit firearms to either five round or 10-round capacity, though some smaller-calibre rifles do not carry that restriction.
Common sense should prevail. Certainly, you can argue that no one should be prosecuted for Bernier’s “flimsy rivet” — though every responsible gun owner should ensure that every part of their firearm is in complete working order.
But stick with the concept of common sense. News stories about the shooting at a Quebec City mosque talked in detail about people fleeing as the shooter stopped to reload. How many more would have died if he had a larger magazine?
After all, it was the École Polytechnique massacre in Montreal that led to the magazine-size restrictions in the first place. The gunman in that shooting, where 14 women were killed, used a semi-automatic rifle with a 30-round magazine.
Bernier talks about the need to judge weapons by their function, rather than their appearance.
Let’s talk about function with regard to magazines, too.
What, exactly, is the function of a 25 or 30-round magazine? Most gun owners in Canada are hunters. From a practical point of view, if you can’t hit a moose or a rabbit with five rounds of ammunition in the magazine, should you even be hunting? So who, exactly, needs a ready storehouse of ammo?
When any government has an enormous annual budget deficit, there are three basic options for solving the problem. The options are: raise taxes, reduce spending or borrow. A fourth, unacceptable option would be default. Unfortunately, that would destroy trust and confidence in government.
Most people assume that the third option, borrowing, is acceptable for small debts but a large deficit over a long time is damaging to the economy.
The main budget debate is usually between options one and two - raise taxes or reduce spending. Reduced spending often results in public-sector job loss.
Was the option to increase taxes, chosen by the Newfoundland and Labrador government, the best choice? Do more taxes really increase revenue enough to fix government budget deficits? Undoubtedly there will be an increase in revenue as a result of the tax increase during the first year. However the following years will see a reduction in that increase because of changes in the multiplier effect as a result of that tax increase.
The “multiplier effect” refers to the portion of a dollar of wages or salary that moves around the larger economy, supporting private sector jobs. To understand the multiplier effect, we need to look at the variables used to construct the concept multiplier effect. Three of the variables which help determine the value of the multiplier effect are: the net income employees have to use for discretionary spending, businesses growth and the number of private sector jobs they create.
When governments increase taxes there is a negative impact on these three variables that weakens the multiplier effect. Because government removes more money from the workers, the workers have less disposable income to spend and distribute through the larger economy. They have less money to spend on housing, food, cars, gasoline and other items. Fewer companies can operate when there is less money moving through the economy. Businesses close and there is a reduction in privatesector jobs. Government income from business tax will decrease and the income tax collected by government will decrease because of private-sector job loss. The result is that the increase in government revenue will be less than what was expected because of the reduced value of the multiplier effect. At the same time, government expenses do not decrease.
The wide gap in the provincial government budget cannot be fixed with attempts to increase income by increasing taxes alone. It will damage the local economy and create continuing problems for the provincial budget. Reducing expenses in the budget is necessary. It is the unavoidable solution if we wish to avoid larger loans and option four - default.