Archive for March, 2007

Ontario politician wants to ban handgun ammo

March 29, 2007

Now we have another dumbass provincial politician, this time an Ontario MPP from Scarborough (you had to know it would come from a Toronto politician) who has put forward a private members bill to ban handgun ammunition.

In his media release, this bright light says:

“You can’t fire a handgun without a bullet.  Today, if police come across a criminal or gang member in possession of handgun ammunition
(having already dumped the handgun) there is nothing they can do but let him go.  They can’t even confiscate the ammunition knowing that
it may well be used in a shooting any time in the future.  That’s simply not right and needs to be addressed.”

The release also notes that this harebrained idea has the support of the Toronto Police Chief, Bill Blair.

Of course this twit has no idea that most ammunition used in a handgun has a counterpart rifle that shoots the same stuff. Not that it’s anything new. In the 1800s they were chambering the 44-40 and the 45 Colt for both rifles and handguns. In more modern times we have made handguns chambered to shoot rifle ammunition. And of course the ubiquitous .22 rimfire.

I can only wait for their definition of “handgun ammunition”.

This is right up there with banning pointy knives.

Isn’t it about time that we started to give intelligence tests to political candidates?

More info at the Canadian Shooting Sport Association website.

News story at Canada.com .

Problems in the RCMP hierarchy

March 29, 2007

It appears that problems in the RCMP start right at the top.

The Commons public accounts committee is holding an emergency in-camera session today after testimony yesterday on Parliament Hill about corruption, cronyism and cover-ups at the force’s highest levels concerning the RCMP pension plan.

Five RCMP officers and a whistle-blower who lost her job accused the force’s senior management, led by former commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli, of corruption, and of derailing an investigation into the misappropriation of funds from the Mounties’ pension plan. One MP, Liberal Borys Wrzesnewskyj, said in an interview that the Liberals will be calling for a public inquiry into the allegations.

Last night, officials said the Mounties’ acting commissioner, Beverley Busson, announced deputy commissioner Barbara George had stepped down as head of RCMP human resources, as well as the senior executive committee. At the same time, an RCMP deputy commissioner has resigned her post as head of the forces’ human resources department.

Not that this is a really big aurprise. This story has been on the backburner for a while.

They alleged the investigation was dogged by foot-dragging and obstruction at the most senior levels — including Mr. Zaccardelli. They argue the case is a textbook example of why the RCMP’s top brass shouldn’t investigate themselves and need an outside body to handle investigations into complaints of wrongdoing against senior management.

Well, ‘duh’. It has always seemed pretty obvious (at least to my cynical little brain) that police forces shouldn’t be investigating themselves or their members for any suspected wrongdoing. But that’s just me.

Crime is in the eye of the politician

March 28, 2007

The USA Today had an interesting column on the proliferation of laws that treat everything as a criminal offense.

Across the USA, legislators are criminalizing everything from spitting on a school bus to speaking on a cellphone while driving. Criminalizing bad behavior has become the rage among politicians, who view such action as a type of legislative exclamation point demonstrating the seriousness of their cause. As a result, new crimes are proliferating at an alarming rate, and we risk becoming a nation of criminals where carelessness or even rudeness is enough to secure a criminal record.

There was a time when having a criminal record meant something. Indeed, it was the social stigma or shame of such charges that deterred many people from “a life of crime.” In both England and the USA, there was once a sharp distinction between criminal and negligent conduct; the difference between the truly wicked and the merely stupid.

Legislators, however, discovered that criminalization was a wonderful way to outdo one’s opponents on popular issues. Thus, when deadbeat dads became an issue, legislators rushed to make missing child payments a crime rather than rely on civil judgments. When cellphone drivers became a public nuisance, a new crime was born. Unnecessary horn honking, speaking loudly on a cellphone and driving without a seat belt are only a few of the new crimes. If you care enough about child support, littering, or abandoned pets, you are expected to care enough to make their abuse a crime.

Then I come across this:

A House of Commons committee has recommended making it a crime to “glorify” terrorism, a proposal critics fear would erode freedom of speech and alienate Muslims.

The recommendation would bring Canada in line with a number of countries, including Britain and Spain, that have enacted similar legislation.

In the British case, glorification is defined as “any form of praise or celebration.” The offence is punishable by up to seven years in jail.

Oh yeah, Britain is a good example to follow.

The article goes on:

Forcese (University of Ottawa) warned the provision could ensnare individuals in Canada with tenuous links to terrorism, such as people expressing support for an aboriginal protest.

But Conservative MP Gord Brown, who chaired the subcommittee that reviewed the act, played down the risks of such abuses.

“Nobody’s talking about using it for that type of charge,” he said. “This is to deal with terrorist activity.”

That’s always the problem. They write legislation  and maybe even convince themselves that it won’t be used for anything but what they narrowly propose. But once it hits the streets, the police and the lawyers and those on some particular crusade interpret the wording in black and white. No one ever says, ” Well this isn’t exactly what the law was meant stop”. Then we have another law on the books that is both dumb and dangerous.

Now I’m waiting for someone to propose a bill making it illegal to question global warming. Come to think of it, that’s probably already happened somewhere.

Barred from US travel?

March 23, 2007

I am a strong supporter of firearms ownership and a strong opponent of most of Canada’s gun laws, but this guy gets little sympathy from me.

In an ironic twist, a city man may find himself barred from travelling to the U.S. for driving around Calgary with a loaded handgun, his lawyer said yesterday.

Defence counsel Andre Ouellette said Ali Mohamed Ayyazi’s conviction on two firearms offences could prevent him visiting his parents, who now reside in Texas, which has more liberal gun laws than Canada. 

 Then the story unfolds a little further.

Crown prosecutor Robert Bassett said Ayyazi was arrested last July 5, during a “high risk” traffic stop by police Canine Unit members.

Officers pulled Ayyazi over on Deerfoot Tr. N.E., after he’d left the residence of his wife, Essence Hohn, Bassett said.

“The accused was arrested and a loaded, cocked, 9 mm handgun was located underneath the seat in the vehicle,” Bassett told Erb.

The prosecutor stayed seven other charges after Hohn failed to show up in court after being subpoenaed to testify.

Among the dropped charges were breaking into Hohn’s Huntley Cl. N.E. residence, pointing a firearm at her and using a gun in the commission of an offence.

The latter charge carries a minimum one-year sentence, consecutive to any other term given. Three unrelated assault charges were dismissed last Oct. 31, when Hohn didn’t appear to testify.

This jerk gets no sympathy from me.

Iraqi children murdered

March 23, 2007

This story literally makes me ill.

Police said Wednesday that children were used in a weekend car bombing in which the driver gained permission to park in a busy shopping area after he pointed out that he was leaving his children in the back seat.

The account appeared to confirm one given Tuesday by a U.S. general. He said children were used in a Sunday bombing in northern Baghdad and labeled it a brutal new tactic put to use by insurgents to battle a five-week-old security crackdown in the capital.

Maj. Gen. Michael Barbero, deputy director for regional operations on the Joint Staff, said the vehicle used in the attack was waved through a U.S. military checkpoint because two children were visible in the back seat. He said it was the first reported use of children in a car bombing in Baghdad

“Children in the back seat lowered suspicion, (so) we let it move through, they parked the vehicle, the adults run out and detonate it with the children in the back,” Barbero told reporters in Washington. “The brutality and ruthless nature of this enemy hasn’t changed.”

Can they really justify this in the name of religion or is this the case of psychopathic terrorists that hide their true nature behind a sick interpretation of their religious teachings?

Airport internal security sloppy

March 23, 2007

A Senate report now confirms what many people long suspected: While airport security was checking out the passengers and worrying about nail clippers and tooth paste in our bags, they weren’t watching their internal operations for security problems.

Major security problems have been allowed to fester unchecked at Canada’s airports despite ample signs of safety gaps, according to a Senate report that recommends responsibility for security be taken away from Transport Canada.

“The folks at Transport Canada simply appear to be insensitive to the realities,” said Liberal Senator Colin Kenny, chairman of the Senate’s national security committee.

“Frankly, [airport security] looks to us a lot like it’s a PR show,” he said. “The fact is, most Canadians have the impression that this is a problem that’s well in hand and what we’re simply saying is the underside of it isn’t.”

Of course the Minister in charge had a different take.

Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon said the report twists reality and his department has taken major steps to improve airport security. “It’s misleading to say that our airports are not safe places. They are indeed very safe,” Mr. Cannon said.

He was so busy making sure that Canadian airports were safe that he probably missed the story out of Orlando a few days ago where baggage handlers were arrested for smuggling guns and drug on a commercial airliner bound for San Juan.

The Senate report is refreshingly blunt.

Among problems highlighted in the report is the lack of daily screening for most airport employees, who can wander in and out of secure areas and even aircraft without being checked for dangerous goods.

Although about 2,300 airport workers are screened on a random basis every day, according to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, that represents just 2% of the 110,000 airport workers in Canada, says the report.

“This is nothing short of blatant stupidity,” it says. “Once again, we have good reason to argue that Transport Canada should not be in charge of security at Canada’s airports.”

I’m not sure that the RCMP would solve all of the potential security problems but it seems to me that they would have more incentive to do a thorough job than Transport Canada.

Gun Laws and Quebec election stupidity

March 22, 2007


Jean Charest, who as the leader of the (then) federal Progressive Conservative party supported getting rid of the firearms registration program, has changed philosophies along with parties. Now the premier of the governing Quebec Liberal party and in the middle of a provincial election, Charest is fighting Prime Minister Stephen Harper to maintain that very same registry he campaigned against back in 1997.

Dumont (ADQ party leader) countered by recalling that Charest, then leader of the federal Progressive Conservative Party, campaigned in the 1997 election against the gun registry, introduced in response to the Montreal shooting.Paraphrasing Charest’s 1997 remarks,
Dumont said yesterday he said of the Polytechnique shootings, “We should not get too emotional about this.”
In fact, in an excerpt the ADQ handed reporters, Charest is quoted as saying in 1997 that gun control “is an emotional issue in Quebec” and the shooting is a “very tragic incident,” but then calling for an end to the “costly, bureaucratic (gun) registry.”

But in the wake of the Dawson College shooting, Charest has gone even further over to the anti-gun side. An article in La Presse – Boucherville (article in French) details comments that Charest made regarding his plans for owners of semi-auto firearms.

(Translation from French to English)

Monday, Feb. 26, 2007
Public Safety in the Liberal Party’s Sights
Denis Lessard, La Presse – Boucherville

If re-elected, the Charest government will take a harder line on public safety issues.  Semi-automatic firearms enthusiasts will have to leave their toys at the firing range; Quebec plans to impose strict controls on the transportation of non-hunting weapons.

“People want us to get tougher on public safety issues.  We can feel this,” Jean Charest explained in an interview with La Presse on board his campaign bus.  Two well-known former police officers, Guy Ouellette and Yves Prudhomme, are in fact running as LPQ candidates in Chomedey and Rousseau, on the weekend.

Will the LPQ become the “law and order” government?

Charest just smiles.  “Public safety,” he insists, “is an important issue.  The situation has changed, and people have legitimate concerns.”  On questions like parole, to take an example, people are more hard-line, less indulgent, than 20 years ago.

“Society expects us to take firmer action.  It isn’t that Quebecers feel more threatened, but they quite rightly want to feel that the government is making public safety a top priority,” Charest believes.

A recent example is the debate about reasonable accommodation: Quebecers had no problem approving of rules allowing a woman police officer to deal with a male accused, even a Hasidic Jew.  “To them, public safety should not come second to anything,” he went on to say.The public is also more sensitive to the state’s obligations to victims, and particularly to women; “This has changed in the last 20 years, and rightly so,” the Liberal leader observed.

With voters looking for more protection, better gun control makes sense.  Particularly at a time when the Harper government is going in the opposite direction and proposing to make its firearms registry more flexible.

The spread of firearms, which is often associated with organized crime, is a matter of concern.

Even in the case of firearms as sporting equipment, used to practise shooting, there should be greater control over possession.  “We are concerned about this; the incident at Dawson College were painful, it really upset me,” said the Liberal leader.

After the shooting in September 2006 in which 20 people were wounded, one of whom died, a number of groups both in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada called on Ottawa to tighten controls on these very dangerous weapons.  Kimveer Gill used a semi-automatic Beretta 9 millimetre rifle, which had arrived on the Canadian market two years earlier.

In practice, gun control – which comes under the Criminal Code – is under federal jurisdiction.  The Harper government still expects to pass its bill to relax the rules for the firearms registry – to exempt hunting weapons from any controls, for example.

Jean Charest thinks that is a bad idea.  “We must not start going backwards, I do not want to revisit this question.  I want Quebecers to be able to have their say on controlling these weapons here.

If Ottawa goes ahead and narrows the scope of its registry as planned, Quebec “will propose an alternative; we will deal with transporting firearms, as a public safety measure; that will allow us to have effective control, within our own jurisdiction,” he explains.

The Sûreté du Québec will be responsible for enforcing the legislation that the Liberals are promising to announce later in the election campaign.  Even if Stephen Harper’s bill dies on the order paper, the government “will examine the possibility of tightening controls,” Charest promises.

Quebec would tighten the rules a notch by requiring enthusiasts to buy these semi-automatic weapons through their shooting clubs.  After purchase, the weapon would have to stay there, with storage being the club’s responsibility.  “The gun could no longer be moved from there, as a matter of what we have the constitutional right to do,” Charest explained.

He also sees another possibility: negotiating the delegation of responsibility for firearms control within Quebec, with
Ottawa.  “We have not got to that point, there is a minority federal government, but that should not mean that we don’t prepare for it.”  There need not be a “one size fits all” solution, if the open federalism proposed by Harper is genuine.

Jean Charest avoids criticizing Stephen Harper on the firearms question.  “That is a campaign promise he made, he put it in his platform, and he keeps his promises, he says.  But Quebec does not agree with it,” he cautions.

The weapons used by Kimveer Gill in September were all registered, as present federal law requires.  But that did not stop the young man in Laval – who had a veritable arsenal in his basement – from going to Dawson College armed to the teeth.

Later, Charest was to attend the nomination meeting in Saint-Roch de l’Achigan where Yves Prudhomme, the former president of the police brotherhood, the SQ police union, was to be named the Liberal candidate in Rousseau, a PQ stronghold.  Last Sunday, he went to
Laval, to welcome another police officer into the line-up of Liberal candidates: Guy Ouellette, a retired SQ analyst who is well known to the media on biker gang issues.

In the Audet budget last week, Quebec allocated another $34 million to deal with street gangs.  Giving the SQ more control over firearms will not call for any more money to be budgeted, according to Charest.

I wonder if anyone has pointed out to Charest just how stupid and how unenforceable his ideas are.

He obviously doesn’t know (or care) about the many bird hunters who carry semi-auto shotguns into the game fields. He doesn’t know or care about the farmers and small game hunters that carry .22 calibre semi-auto rifles. (How many Ruger 10/22s are out there?) Or the big game hunters who carry semi-auto centre fire rifles.

He and his advisors have obviously given absolutely no thought to the fact that forcing gun owners to store their equipment at a central storage is simply an invitation to criminals to target those facilities.

Or maybe they do know all of that and they are cynically more interested in pushing what they think is a platform that can help them get re-elected regardless of the flaws in their ideology. Alternatively are they just flat-out stupid? (The same can be said of the federal Liberals and their gun banning resolutions at their 2006 convention).

Is it any wonder that politicians today, with some notable exceptions, are increasingly being held in complete and total contempt?

Helping cat lovers

March 22, 2007

Is your cat ownership environmentally sustainable? A very funny post from small dead animals.

Stupidity or arrogance: Your choice

March 19, 2007

When I read stories like this I wonder if it’s even safe to leave the house. It certainly makes me believe that one should avoid law enforcement officers at all cost.

Bryan Roddy, 45, of Norwalk, was hunting in Laura and Bob Feghali’s North Stamford back yard Dec. 30 when an officer responding to a neighbor’s report of a “man with a gun in a tree” approached and demanded he drop his weapon, according to the police report.

Roddy, a contractor working on the Feghalis’ house, had permission to hunt deer on their 1-acre property at 68 Saddle Hill Road, off Rockrimmon Road.

Roddy was reluctant to drop the bow, saying it would be damaged it if fell to the ground, but complied after Officer Glenn Coppola drew his gun, according to the report.

“Only after several stern commands did this male drop his bow and arrows,” Coppola wrote in his report.

Roddy said he tried to lower the bow to the ground with a rope but Coppola ordered him to drop it.

“The officer, at gunpoint, made me drop the bow about 30 feet,” he said.

Roddy filed a claim against the city for $469.56, the cost of repairing the BowTech compound bow.

When you read reports like this you have to wonder if there is something that they aren’t telling you in the article. Surely the police officer couldn’t be so obtuse and such a jerk. But then I hear local stories that make me realize that these things happen, not just “somewhere else”, but right where you live.

It’s not that a lack of common sense is found solely in law enforcement officers. It’s just that when you do encounter it there it comes with the force of authority behind it. And in this particular case, a drawn gun.

It’s tough for Politicians to ignore even the crappy science of climate change

March 16, 2007

I am almost hesitant to post an article on climate change. At least one that doesn’t repeat the mantra that the sky is falling. There are those that take serious umbrage with anyone who doesn’t toe the party line that the world is doomed unless we park our vehicles, remove the jet planes  from the skies, shut down our power plants and stop eating meat. Well maybe not the meat thing, but then if we got rid of all of the cows there would apparently be a decrease in the production of methane gas which they say would be a good thing, although I would miss my ribeye steaks.

The major environmental activists need this climate of fear (is there a pun there?) to ensure that continuing pressure is applied to politicians in order to turn them green. Like it or not, it is a tactic that appears to be working.

Schwarzenegger has gone green in California. In British Columbia the Campbell government is talking environment. And even Prime Minister Stephen Harper has seen the light and is pumping a green agenda.

Now politicians have always said they loved the environment. It’s just that they have never put the money where their respective mouths were. Environmental promises given in the heat of an election more often than not quickly cool down to ashes in the aftermath.

So the enviros are quite happy to have them running scared on global warming and would rather muzzle any discussion to the contrary than give the politicians and the industrialists an argument against making major changes to how we do business.

That is a tactic that is common to the environmental movement. In British Columbia we saw the attack on the grizzly bear hunt fueled by statements that there were only 4,000 grizzlies in the province. This while every population study that was done only served to prove that there were more grizzlies in the province than previously predicted. The last estimate I remember hearing was 18,000 bears and the figures may be higher than that by now. Now they are arguing that Polar bear populations are decreasing, this time with the goal of forcing environmental assessments in the Arctic. This again in the face of population studies showing that Polar bear populations have not been decreasing, but in fact have been increasing in most areas.

Science is a continuing process and what we think we know today about climate change may be totally different than what we will know a decade from now with more information available and more scientific work undertaken. So I fear that if the demonization of contrarian thinking on climate change is accepted by the media, government and the public that there is a distinct possibility that studies that do not support the popular theories will not be funded and those scientists who go against the popular flow will be shunned and ignored. And that would be a bad thing.

But the other side of the argument as articulated in this article is that you can’t wait until all the evidence is in before you take some kind of action.

That science is an unfolding process of discovery is fairly self-evident. The more we seem to know, the more questions we seem to need answering. Some avenues of scientific inquiry may close off, but many new ones open up. We know a lot more about climate change now than 17 years ago when the first IPCC scientific assessment was published. And no doubt in another 17 years our knowledge of how the climate system works and the impact that humans have made on it will be significantly different to today.

Yet it is important that on big questions such as climate change scientists make an assessment of what they know at key moments when policy or other collective decisions need to be made. Today is such a time.

Even if I scoff at the 100 year projections of catastrophe I won’t know if my scepticism is justified until maybe 50 years down the road. And unfortunately (barring some radical medical breakthrough) I won’t be around to say “I told you so” or even “Damn, you were right. Sorry you had to relocate Vancouver”.

Regardless of the mixed bag of information that we now have before us, some real, some false and some frivolous, governments cannot ignore the public perception of global warming.    In the ensuing battle between political parties to determine which one is truly “for the environment”, we can only hope that the politicians and bureaucrats find intelligent and real solutions and not the convenient political ones. The obvious one I would suggest being carbon credits. Or the close second, a carbon tax, where the government once again transfers money from my pocket to the black hole of general revenue.

Thanks to small dead animals for the link to this article. Also worth a read for a more critical analysis of the overall content of the article.


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