The Coalition for Gun Control/Pour le Controle des Armes

From CBC.CA: Gunning for the Gun Registry

Posted by cgccanada on November 3, 2009

November 2, 2009 4:32 PM
By Alison Crawford
CBC.CA

According to my own informal survey of rural opposition MPs, it looks like Candace Hoeppner’s bill to abolish the long gun registry is well on its way to becoming law.

The vote on second reading is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 4.

And because C-391 is a private member’s bill, it’ll be a free vote. That means MPs are freed from the usual requirement of voting along party lines.

Despite holding almost all of northern and rural Quebec, a spokesman for the Bloc Quebecois says every one of its MPs will vote against Hoeppner’s bill.

But a number of Liberal and NDP MPs from rural ridings say they’re in favour of ending the registration of all shotguns and hunting rifles, as well as destroying the records of roughly seven million people who had previously registered their non-restricted weapons.

Among those supporting Hoeppner’s bill are New Democrats Nathan Cullen, Dennis Bevington, Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton, and Carol Hughes, and Liberals Larry Bagnell, Wayne Easter and Anthony Rota.

Even so, the Conservatives have targeted several of those “friendly” opposition MPs through an agressive lobbying campaign.

New Democrat MPs James Rafferty and Bruce Hyer were among the first politicians to publicly support Hoeppner’s bill,  tabled last spring.  Nevertheless, the two Thunder Bay-area ridings have been swamped with 10-percenters — flyers on any topic that MPs can mail to any riding in Canada — with the postage paid by taxpayers — as long as they aren’t sent to more than 10 per cent of the households in the riding.

Then there are the radio ads.  This has led some, such as Wendy Cukier of the Coalition for Gun Control, to theorize that Hoeppner’s private member’s bill is “private” in name only, and is actually coming straight from Prime Minister’s Office.

The rationale is that the private member’s bill has a greater chance of success as a free vote when MPs to vote with their concience or on behalf of their constituents.

Cukier has also done her own math and come to the same conclusion about the Wednesday vote.  In a news release that all but begs for support, she asks how the gun registry could be scrapped just months after a majority of MPs supported a BQ motion to defend the registry.  In answering her own question, she credits the polls, four vacant seats in the House of Commons and the Conservative ad campaign in rural Canada.

Cukier says firearm deaths such as suicides and murders of women have declined with the registry.  She also points to unwavering support of the registry from the Canadian Chiefs of Police as well as the Canadian Police Association.

On the flip-side, anti-registry advocates say the database has been a waste of money, done little to reduce crime and needlessly targets hunters and farmers.

If Hoeppner’s bill passes on Wednesday, it then goes to committee.  However, unlike previous attempts to ditch the registry, this bill is very simple.  The opposition will find it hard to alter the bill without changing the spirit of the proposed law — under parliamentary rules, amendments must respect the original intent.

Once through the Commons, the bill would then move to the Senate, home to the goverment’s official gun registry bill, S-5 or the “Long-Gun Registry Repeal Act.”

It was introduced on April Fool’s Day 2009, and is almost identical to Hoeppner’s bill.

Introducing S-5 in the Senate initially appeared to be a mystifying strategy — after all, the Conservatives never cease to complain about the “Liberal-dominated Senate.”

But by January, after a new round of retirements, the Senate will be the Red Chamber in colour-scheme only.

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