The evil knife: a Canadian historical perspective

I have rapped the Brits several times for their silliness in talking about knife control – in some cases the banning of “pointy knives”. However, while sorting through some old files I came across a news clipping from 1989 that reminded me that Canada did not lag far behind in calling for legislative silliness.

In this case it was British Columbia Police Chiefs, backed of course by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, calling for legislated prohibitions against carrying a knife.

Ottawa stuck in drafting knife laws, says Blais

By: Kim Westad
Times-Colonist staff
Victoria B.C.

February 24, 1989

Solicitor General of Canada Pierre Blais said Thursday there is little the federal government can do regarding curtailing the carrying of knives.

Blais, who addressed a one-day meeting of the B.C. Police Chiefs in Victoria, said that while he understands concerns about the carrying of knives, there is “nothing we can do for the moment.

“I understand the concerns because it is related to violent crime – I’m very concerned about that myself,” said Blais. “I’ll look at this. I don’t have a specific comment on that but I understand the concerns.”

police have been lobbying the federal government for tighter controls on the carrying of knives for over a year, and have been joined by numerous police forces, citizen’s groups and municipal councils.

In Victoria, the use of knives in violent crime and assaults has more than doubled in the past two years.

Currently, carrying a knife is not a criminal offence – unless it is concealed.

“Over the past few years, there has been an increase in serious assaults using knives,” Victoria police Supt. Doug Richardson said. “This association, along with the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, have lobbied for tougher legislation regarding the possession of knives.”

Provincial legislation prohibiting possession of knives in licensed premises was enacted last year.

“But we have to go one step further and ensure people frequenting the downtown area are prohibited from carrying knives simply for the purpose of self protection, because it usually turns out they are used in an offensive manner.

Richardson acknowledged there is a problem because some people carry knives for their occupation.

“It may require some sort of regulation through the issuing of permits for the legitimate use of knives.” (snip)

The Solicitor General of the day could obviously see the pitfalls in trying to legislate something that would have a large percentage of the country up on charges at some point or another and pussyfooted around issue. As far as I can recall nothing further came from this lobbying by the Police Chiefs’ association.

Probably, sitting in his office in the bowels of a major city, the idea may have made sense to the Victoria police chief; just as similar ideas are thrust upon us from officials in Toronto who look to their local problems being solved on the backs of the rest of the citizens in the country.

But while such restrictions may have made sense to some who were dealing with violence in localized areas of large metro centers, they would have been a severe imposition on people living in rural areas, who carry a knife on their belt on a daily basis. That would include farmers, ranchers and hunters, just for a start.

Actually, this 1989 call for legislation against knives is no different than the current call by Toronto’s Mayor and Police Chief for a blanket, country-wide ban on handguns in the desperate hope that it will solve their local problem of gang violence.

Although this idea went nowhere in 1989, you can bet your boots that it is still floating around in the head of someone, somewhere as a “good thing to do”.



One Response to “The evil knife: a Canadian historical perspective”

  1. Now the threat of U.S. knife ban courtesy of their Customs agency « Totalrecoil Says:

    […] threat of U.S. knife ban courtesy of their Customs agency By totalrecoil I’ve written a few times about proposed knife bans – usually in the UK, and unfortunately also in Canada – […]

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