Shoot­ing from the hip

The Compass - - EDITORIAL -

There’s some­thing distinctively hol­low about a pledge by Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper to scrap the gun reg­istry. On one hand, any­thing that re­sem­bles do­ing away with red tape and pa­per­work is some­thing all Cana­di­ans, not only gun own­ers, would wel­come.

By the same to­ken, when the prime min­is­ter pref­aces his pub­lic com­ments on the gun reg­istry with po­lit­i­cally-in­spired pokes at the Lib­er­als, you re­ally have to ques­tion whether his pro­nounce­ment is a mat­ter of pub­lic pol­icy, or the lat­est skir­mish be­tween a party that’s cling­ing to power and a party want­ing to un­seat the in­cum­bent.

This is what we’ve come to ex­pect from the Con­ser­va­tive ad­min­is­tra­tion. Its tac­tics are aimed at achiev­ing its agenda through a com­bi­na­tion of bul­ly­ing, de­ceit and de­flect­ing.

So what are we sup­posed to make of a pri­vate mem­ber’s bill tabled by Saskatchewan MP Gerry Bre­itkreuz? He says the things Cana­di­ans want to hear, when he notes the long gun reg­istry has been a colos­sal black hole of un­lim­ited spending.

The lat­est es­ti­mate by the Au­di­tor Gen­eral put the price tag at $2 bil­lion in 2005, if you fac­tor in the di­rect and in­di­rect costs. He also con­tends the reg­istry has failed mis­er­ably in re­duc­ing crime or pre­vent­ing firearms from be­ing used in crim­i­nal acts.

There are two prob­lems with this ap­proach. One is the bill is be­ing brought for­ward by a back­bench Con­ser­va­tive MP from a ru­ral rid­ing in West­ern Canada.

MP Gerry Byrne says if the gov­ern­ment was se­ri­ous about abol­ish­ing the long gun reg­istry, why didn’t the Con­ser­va­tives in­tro­duce the bill? Wouldn’t that ap­proach be a more cred­i­ble and se­ri­ous at­tempt to end a pro­gram that went off the rails a long time ago?

With all due re­spect to Mr. Bre­itkreuz, he doesn’t sound all that con­vinc­ing when he talks about pos­si­bly get­ting all of his gov­ern­ment col­leagues on side, and if he could get a few more ‘ru­ral’ MPs on side from the Op­po­si­tion benches, he just might get his bill passed.

The sec­ond prob­lem has to do with the prime min­is­ter’s own words on the sub­ject. He just can’t say he op­poses the gun reg­istry be­cause there have been nu­mer­ous cost over­runs and he’s lis­ten­ing to the pleas of law-abid­ing gun own­ers.

He has to re­sort to a crutch he uses far too of­ten – that is, blam­ing the Lib­er­als for in­tro­duc­ing the gun reg­istry in the first place.

It’s true the Lib­er­als were mind­ing the store when the reg­istry came into ef­fect a decade ago, and have to shoul­der part of the blame for the mess it’s in. How­ever, it’s po­lit­i­cally crass for Harper to adopt a ‘I told you so’ stance when he says shoot­ing in­ci­dents such as the one that occurred at Daw­son Col­lege in Que­bec would never have hap­pened if the Lib­er­als weren’t the gov­ern­ing party.

So the prime min­is­ter and the Con­ser­va­tives con­tinue to bash the Lib­er­als, and Cana­di­ans are left won­der­ing why they’re still hear­ing talk of abol­ish­ing the gun reg­istry, when the idea was first raised while the Con­ser­va­tives were in Op­po­si­tion.

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