First, they take the gun registry ...

Lana
Lana Payne
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In less than a month, Canada will mark the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.

And instead of renewing government and societal efforts to end violence against women, the federal Conservatives, with help from the Liberals and the NDP, will kill the long-gun registry and deal gun control a mighty blow in our country.

It was the families of some of the 14 women murdered by a lone gunman at a Montreal university on Dec. 6, 1989 who successfully lobbied for gun control and the registry.

In less than a month, Canada will mark the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.

And instead of renewing government and societal efforts to end violence against women, the federal Conservatives, with help from the Liberals and the NDP, will kill the long-gun registry and deal gun control a mighty blow in our country.

It was the families of some of the 14 women murdered by a lone gunman at a Montreal university on Dec. 6, 1989 who successfully lobbied for gun control and the registry.

But after years of maligning the registry, the federal Conservatives are about to get their way - thanks to Canada's very own Sarah Palin.

Rural MP's bill

Candice Hoeppner - a Conservative MP from Manitoba - has been leading the charge. It's her private member's bill that will result in the eventual demise of the long-gun registry, destroying records on millions of guns and who owns them.

The registry has the support of police forces, women's groups and victims' rights advocates across the country. So you'd think a tough-on-crime government would actually want gun control. Not so. And not so in the United States either, where the Republicans and the gun lobby have been successful in curbing any gun control measures.

Police opposed

Yves Francoeur, head of Montreal's police union, said last week that the registry is a useful crime-fighting tool that had assisted with the recent seizure of six firearms and 40,000 bullets from the home of a suspect in a violent crime.

Francoeur also told the media that Canada's police departments use the registry more than 10,000 times a day. In addition, Montreal police Chief Yvan Delorme pleaded with Ottawa politicians to vote to keep the registry.

Toronto police Chief Bill Blair also called for politicians to support the gun registry, saying it is an issue of public safety and "public safety is everybody's issue."

The mother of one of the young women gunned down in the Montreal massacre also pleaded with politicians.

Suzanne Laplante-Edward, mother of Anne-Marie Edward, said in a letter to the editor that shoulder firearms kill just like handguns. She also lobbied for the registry after her daughter and 13 other women were murdered. It was a long gun, not a handgun that killed the engineering students that December day 20 years ago.

But these cries have fallen on deaf ears.

That's because the Conservatives may as well have a majority.

The bill had the prime minister's support and the support of an expensive media campaign in ridings where the Conservatives felt pressure could be bought to bear on the opposition Member of Parliament.

Free vote

Both the Liberals and New Democrats allowed their MPs to vote as they wished, freely rather than whipping them into line, as they would be forced to do if it was a government bill rather than a private member's bill.

This is despite the fact that the Liberals and NDP voted in favour of a Bloc motion back in April supporting the registry.

Some of those MPs who were targeted by the Conservative campaign in their ridings felt they had to vote against the registry in order to save their political hides. Sad but true. Principle, it seems, and politics are often at odds.

There is a lesson in this. Persistence clearly pays off. At least it has for the Conservatives who have kept this issue alive for the past 14 years since the registry was first enacted.

So what is next? The passing of Hoeppner's bill will eliminate a wedge issue in many rural ridings in the country, meaning future candidates will have to find another hot-button issue. So what's next for the Conservative backbenchers? Abortion? Same-sex marriage? And how many times do we need to have these debates in our country?

If they can turn back the clock on gun control efforts without a majority government, imagine what they will do a real majority.

Why not guns?

And perhaps the real question should be what is wrong with asking law-abiding citizens to register their guns. We have to register our cars, so why not our guns?

Priscilla de Villiers is a victims' rights advocate.

Perhaps her words about this Conservative attack on gun control said it best: "It is incomprehensible that after all these years we should still be held hostage by a relatively small group of citizens, gun owners, who demand the right to possess, exchange or use weapons without the same restrictions that we, in a civil society, demand from owners of vehicles and animals."

Lana Payne is president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour. She can be reached by e-mail at lanapayne@nl.rogers.com. Her column returns Nov. 21.

Organizations: Conservatives, NDP, Montreal Massacre Montreal university Republicans Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour

Geographic location: Canada, Montreal, Manitoba United States Ottawa Toronto

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Recent comments

  • ³
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    Since when does a registered long gun make it incapable of hurting someone ?


    When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns. Outlaws care NOT about registering their guns.


    The best protection we have as a society is registering the person owning the long guns, and this is already the case because one requires a Possession Acquisition Certificate (P.A.L.) to purchase and possess long guns (with their VERY limited magazines) and ammunition for them here in Canada.


    The registry has been mismanaged from the get go and has cost a staggering amount of money and involved thousands of desk-chained police officers who could be on the streets doing something.


    It's a big city urban problem, especially those close to the U.S. border where people from different lawless countries emmigrate to. The focus should be put there. Let the problem areas handle their own problems themselves, and not impose themselves upon others in different regions with different cultural backgrounds. Freedom is being able to live the way we always have and not letting other miscreants force us into living in fear or paranoia and changing our lifestyles. It's the same fight we have against terrorism. Don't let it change us.


    Weapon = anything used to harm people, ie - assault rifles, machine guns, grenades, knives, cars, pencils, baseball bats, and apparently verbal useage as well nowadays.

    Firearm = a tool which sends a projectile over 500 f.p.s. from the muzzle intended to be used safely for sport shooting or hunting (eating non-hormone injected, chemical-laden, caged animal super-fatty meat.)

  • Mark
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Actually Lana - there was no expensive media campaign against this bill. The problem with gun control is that the advocates who claim to support gun control do absolutely nothing to support the election of the only government that ever did anything about it, while the opponents of gun laws do absolutely everything to support the only government that would undo everything about it.
    There's nothing surprising here.

  • Jerome
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    So what's next for the Conservative backbenchers? Abortion? Same-sex marriage?
    Lana, I'm afraid it will go much farther than those issues.
    Within a year of achieving majority status, the Conservative government will raise, for the first time in 30+ years the death penalty debate. It will probably be through another private members motion so it doesn't appear to be government pushing the issue.
    The Liberals and New Democrats who supported this private member's bill on long gun registry have lost all credibility. When facing a majority government, they can go back to their ideological positions without fear of repercussions, thus vehemently opposing any thoughts of bringing back the death penalty.
    When politicians from the left, right and center continue to ignore the electorate in a political expedient way, it's no wonder that barely half of electors bother to vote.

  • ³
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    Since when does a registered long gun make it incapable of hurting someone ?


    When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns. Outlaws care NOT about registering their guns.


    The best protection we have as a society is registering the person owning the long guns, and this is already the case because one requires a Possession Acquisition Certificate (P.A.L.) to purchase and possess long guns (with their VERY limited magazines) and ammunition for them here in Canada.


    The registry has been mismanaged from the get go and has cost a staggering amount of money and involved thousands of desk-chained police officers who could be on the streets doing something.


    It's a big city urban problem, especially those close to the U.S. border where people from different lawless countries emmigrate to. The focus should be put there. Let the problem areas handle their own problems themselves, and not impose themselves upon others in different regions with different cultural backgrounds. Freedom is being able to live the way we always have and not letting other miscreants force us into living in fear or paranoia and changing our lifestyles. It's the same fight we have against terrorism. Don't let it change us.


    Weapon = anything used to harm people, ie - assault rifles, machine guns, grenades, knives, cars, pencils, baseball bats, and apparently verbal useage as well nowadays.

    Firearm = a tool which sends a projectile over 500 f.p.s. from the muzzle intended to be used safely for sport shooting or hunting (eating non-hormone injected, chemical-laden, caged animal super-fatty meat.)

  • Mark
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    Actually Lana - there was no expensive media campaign against this bill. The problem with gun control is that the advocates who claim to support gun control do absolutely nothing to support the election of the only government that ever did anything about it, while the opponents of gun laws do absolutely everything to support the only government that would undo everything about it.
    There's nothing surprising here.

  • Jerome
    July 01, 2010 - 20:07

    So what's next for the Conservative backbenchers? Abortion? Same-sex marriage?
    Lana, I'm afraid it will go much farther than those issues.
    Within a year of achieving majority status, the Conservative government will raise, for the first time in 30+ years the death penalty debate. It will probably be through another private members motion so it doesn't appear to be government pushing the issue.
    The Liberals and New Democrats who supported this private member's bill on long gun registry have lost all credibility. When facing a majority government, they can go back to their ideological positions without fear of repercussions, thus vehemently opposing any thoughts of bringing back the death penalty.
    When politicians from the left, right and center continue to ignore the electorate in a political expedient way, it's no wonder that barely half of electors bother to vote.