Par­ti­san­ship on a smok­ing is­sue

Sackville Tribune - - FRONT PAGE -

he sides are lin­ing up as the time nar­rows for a vote on the long-gun registry. It’s turned into the pre­dictable par­ti­san is­sue – with the ex­cep­tion of the NDP – but it mer­its open, un­bi­ased de­lib­er­a­tion.

Par­lia­ment will vote to­day (Wed­nes­day, Sept. 22), on the pri­vate mem­ber’s bill, Bill C-391, pre­sented by a Con­ser­va­tive that calls for scrap­ping the long-gun registry. As ex­pected, the Tories are squarely be­hind the bill. Lib­eral Leader Michael Ig­nati­eff has called on his cau­cus to vote against it. NDP Leader Jack Lay­ton has said he’s al­low­ing his MPs a free vote.

With Lib­er­als vot­ing as a team, the Bloc Que­be­cois against scrap­ping it and pres­sure on NDP mem­bers, it’s shap­ing up to be close.

What is im­pos­si­ble to ig­nore - al­though the Con­ser­va­tives are do­ing just that - is the call by the RCMP to keep the registry. They say they rely on it con­stantly to do their job.

This makes the Tories’ po­si­tion puz­zling. They’ve been all about law and or­der in their get-tough-on-crime leg­isla­tive agenda. To con­tra­dict those in charge of keep­ing the law makes lit­tle sense in that con­text.

This has long been por­trayed as a ru­ral-ver­sus-ur­ban is­sue - aimed at duck hunters and farm­ers rather than gun-tot­ing crim­i­nals, who typ­i­cally don’t reg­is­ter arms. Po­lice counter that when they re­port in­ci­dents of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence in­volv­ing guns and peo­ple who had no crim­i­nal record.

Health pro­fes­sion­als run­ning emer­gency rooms have also added their plea to main­tain the registry to help counter do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

True, Cana­di­ans are di­vided on this is­sue. But many of those who have voiced crit­i­cism in the past were those shocked by rev­e­la­tions of the ‘boon­dog­gle,’ with set­ting up the registry – what was pro­jected then by the Lib­er­als to cost a cou­ple of mil­lion ended up in the $1 bil­lion-plus range.

If lawkeep­ers value it, shouldn’t the dis­cus­sion be about ways to stream­line it, make it more ef­fi­cient and min­i­mize costs? Ad­di­tion­ally, why do the Con­ser­va­tives con­tinue to put on blin­ders to any com­pro­mise?

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