Archive for April, 2009

Politics, Breitkreuz and Bill C-301

April 25, 2009

Perhaps someday when I am older and even more follically challenged I will come to fully understand what actually happens when events enter the political realm.

Is there a virus that eventually infects those who enter politics that stimulates some previously unknown gene and causes politicians and bureaucrats to become devious and if not openly dishonest, at least veracity challenged?

Or, more likely, it is directly linked to the irrefutable rule of politics that once you get elected your sole purpose of being in the Halls of Power is to get re-elected. Thus you spend your elected term trying to take credit for everything good that happens and distance yourself from anything that might generate blame or even controversy in the hope that in the next election the electorate will look upon you with favour.

I ask the question because of events that have taken place in the Canadian parliament with respect to getting rid of the long-gun firearms registry; Garry Breitkreuz’ private members bill to do just that, the PMOs attempt to cripple that bill and the subsequent presentation of a Senate bill that says it does the same thing but doesn’t.

Breitkreuz, the Saskatchewan MP from Yorkton-Melville, has been the linchpin within the federal Conservative party with regards to fulfilling their promise and policy to reform the federal firearms legislation and specifically get rid of the long-gun registry. But the federal Liberals and New Democratic Parties have been just as adamant that the firearms legislation that the Chretien Liberals passed in 1995 will stay to haunt us forever, even though they have numerous rural MPs who would vote for a bill that would eliminate the long-gun registry if they were given a free vote by their party leaders.

Thus the Conservatives had no chance of fulfilling their promise while they were in opposition and have argued that they have had limited opportunity to do so even after they formed a minority government.

But when Breitkreuz tabled his private member’s bill there was a glimmer of hope that partisan politics would take a backseat and there would be some honest and (god forbid) intelligent debate on the proposed legislation and at that point the leaders of the opposition parties would allow their members a free vote and let the chips fall where they may.

Unfortunately that appears to have gone by the wayside, with the Prime Minister’s office apparently trying to deep-six Bill C-301, firstly by attempting to strong-arm Breitkreuz into amending his bill so it would only retain the section removing the registry and then by tabling Bill S-5 in the Senate, a piece of legislation that purports to eliminate the long-gun registry but in fact devolves the registry to the provinces and the territories so we will end up with 12 de facto registries.

As a point of information, Bill C-301 has six parts to it:

  1. Elimination of the long-gun registry.

    This item speaks for itself.

  2. Combines the Possession Only (POL) and Possession & Acquisition (PAL) licences.

    This is a common sense change. Those persons who opted to apply for a POL rather than a PAL back in 1995 and who currently are still holding POLs have now owned their firearms for 14 consecutive years post C-68 with no threat to public safety. It is pointless to maintain the two separate licence systems and it is time to grandfather the POL holders and convert their licences to PALs.

  3. Merges the Authorization to Transport for restricted firearms with the owner’s licence.

    Another no-brainer. The fiream’s owner is already licenced to own that class of firearm and must now apply for a transport permit (ATT) to take their firearm to a shooting range, plus they have to be renewed every 3 years. As the ATTs are issued automatically to a holder of a firearms licence, it makes little sense to continue them as a separate form.

  4. Extends the licencing renewal period to 10 years from the current 5 years requirement.

    This would make even more sense as a lifetime provision, but once licenced initially, there is no need for an individual’s status to change unless some breech of the regulations occurs. Changing the renewal period to a 10 year period at least eliminates a significant amount of unnecessary paperwork.

  5. It changes the grandfathering date for owners of 12/6 firearms which was originally passed with Bill C-10A, but never passed into law.

    This just reiterates legislation that was previously passed in xxxx through Bill-xxx but never made it into law due to bureaucratic failure.

  6. Calls for the Auditor General to conduct a cost/benefit analysis on all aspects of the Firearms Program every five years.

    No comment needed.

Now none of these legislative changes would impact public safety in any manner or form. But this has not stopped organizations such as the Coalition for Gun Control, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police or even spokespersons for the Liberal party from making those hysterical statements to the media. And this hasn’t stopped the media from broadcasting those statements without questioning in any way whether they are factual or not.

Other than making some changes that that would be of considerable benefit to Canadian firearm owners, what Bill-301 would do is save the government and taxpayers money. By eliminating the registry, the required issuance of ATTs and changing the license renewal requirements from 5 to 10 year intervals, there would be significant savings in staffing and paperwork.

In difficult financial times wouldn’t you think that something that would save the government money, make a large constituency of voters happy, while having no negative impact on public safety be something that federal MPs could support wholeheartedly.

Maybe if they would look at the facts and not the rhetoric they might be so inclined.

RCMP Spin

April 24, 2009

I was listening to the radio a couple of days ago and they were interviewing the new RCMP communications officer about the information that the Force had issued immediately after the tasering and death of Robert  Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport. The officer was pushing the story that the information the RCMP had initially issued to the public was an honest mistake and was insistent that even if the video hadn’t been made of the incident that the true story would have eventually come out, reiterating numerous times that “truth would out”.

It was not a very convincing interview – at least not from my point of view. The police are well known for protecting their own. The ranks close.

But even if it was an honest mistake the decision was made to not issue a correction.

An RCMP spokesman said Wednesday that top police brass made a
deliberate decision not to correct misinformation the Mounties had told
the media about Robert Dziekanski’s death, and also admitted the RCMP
didn’t want a damning bystander video of the Tasering released.

and that

the misinformation about Dziekanski wouldn’t be corrected until the file was closed.

The media spokesman that I listened to on the radio said that it was important for the police to be truthful and factual about information that they give out to the public in order to maintain their credibility and the trust of the public. Unfortunately they seem to be recognized this truism a little late in the game.

However it appears that what police may have learned from the Dziekanski affair is more about making sure that no one is allowed to take any pictures where they are involved in an incident.

In this case seizing equipment from a professional photographer working for the Province newspaper:

Vancouver’s chief of police has apologized for the seizure of a newspaper photographer’s camera following a police shooting on Sunday, and clarified his department’s policy for seizing cameras and video equipment.

And this from a man using his cellphone to film the police shooting of a Vancouver homeless man:

Smolcic said he was across the street when he saw Hubbard slowly pull a knife from his backpack, and then one of the two officers on the scene pulled out their gun and shot the man.

Smolcic said he did not see Hubbard advance toward the officer before he was shot.

“No, absolutely not. He was very shaky, but he wasn’t making any moves toward the police at all that I saw,” he told CBC News.Maybe a different lesson was learned.

Smolcic said he continued to film the incident after Hubbard was shot, until he was approached by an officer.

“He saw me filming and he came up to me and he asked to see my cellphone. He had my cellphone for a few minutes, and it appeared as though he was previewing the film. He gave me back my cellphone, probably about four or five minutes after he took it, told me to get lost, and of course, I did.”

MP Garry Breitkreuz: A man of integrity

April 19, 2009

I am attending the Canadian Shooting Sports AGM in Mississauga this weekend where Yorkton-Melville Conservative MP Garry Breitkreuz  was the featured speaker at the Saturday evening banquet.

Breitkreuz spoke about how when Kim Campbell brought in her firearms bill, C-17, he was originally in favour of the legislation because he believed what he was being told; that the bill would improve public safety across the country. But then he went to a riding meeting one night, with weather in the -30 degree Celsius range and found the hall full of his constituents who were concerned about the ramifications of the bill and they tasked him to go back to Ottawa and research it and determine the truth.

Garry took this message and went back to Ottawa and with his assistant of the time, Dennis Young, they did research on Bill C-17 and found that his constituents were right: It was bad legislation and did not do what the government said it was supposed to do. It was a political lie. A revelation to a green MP.

When the Chretien Liberals came forth with Bill C-68, a punitive piece of legislation that took the control of guns and gun owners to a new level, Breitkreuz and his staff were well prepared to continue the fight.

Since those days Breitkreuz has stayed true to his principles.

Garry Breitkreuz now has a private member’s bill, C-301, which has passed first reading and which would eliminate the federal long gun registry, among other things. It is a good, intelligently written piece of legislation, and one that should be supported by at least every MP that represents a rural riding and in actuality, every MP that hasn’t been compromised by the misinformation and outright lies that opponents of the bill have disseminated.

But then Breitkreuz was blindsided by competing legislation that his own party leader placed before the Senate, Bill S-5, which purports to eliminate the long gun registry but in fact will devolve it to 12 provincial/territorial registries (Nunavut is exempt from the registry). So the government can proclaim that they have eliminated the long gun registry while simply moving it to the provinces and territories. This also enables them to give Quebec what it has been pushing for; its own provincial firearms registry.  Integrity does not emanate from the PMO.

Opponents have tried to attack Bill C-301, saying that it would impact public safety. This is simply not the truth. But it did spook the PMO which told Breitkreuz he was not to attend the CSSA AGM and that he had to amend Bill C-301 to remove all of the non-registry items.

Breitkreuz originally  acquiesced to these demands but when the PMO had Bill S-5 tabled in the Senate it became apparent that the Prime Minister was reneging on his Party’s policy and on statements he had made in the past against Bill C-68 when the Liberals pushed it through the House. At that point he decided that he would not amend the Bill as he had previously stated and that he would attend and speak to the CSSA AGM.

Which brings me back to the main point of this blog before I ranted myself off topic.

Breitkreuz gave an honest and passionate speech about integrity and veracity in politics and spoke of other members of his caucus who are dedicated and concerned and he gave me some hope that all is not lost in Ottawa. It was an inspirational speech that was met with enthusiasm by the attendees at the supper.

Maybe good enough to make me actually consider voting in the next federal election. We’ll wait and see.

Golf Club board meeting video

April 17, 2009

An inside video of a golf club board meeting. The trees on seven are fucked!

Thanks t0 Geoff Shackelford for the pointer.

Cabrera wins the 2009 Masters

April 12, 2009

Well no storybook ending for the 2009 Masters, except for Angel Cabrera.

Mickelson and Woods faded at the end, but even if they hadn’t they wouldn’t have caught Perry, Campbell and Cabrera for the playoff.

Chad Campbell left the game after the 1st playoff hole on the 18th. Then on the 2nd playoff hole on the 10th, Kenny Perry failed in his attempt to win his 1st major and at the same time be the oldest player to win a major. Perry missed the green and chipped 15 feet past the hole, missing the par putt coming back. Cabrera was on the green within birdie range, missed that putt and dropped his second putt for a par and the green jacket.

Big disappointment for Campbell but it must be a huge disappointment for Kenny Perry and his family as it was probably his last opportunity to win a major on the PGA tour. Would have liked to have seen him put the jacket on.

But that’s the way it is with sports – only one winner and everyone else is a ‘coulda been’.

Some drama at the Masters?

April 12, 2009

Just tuned in to watch the Masters Tournament and Tiger and Phil, playing together, have obviously been putting on a show.  After the completion of the 8th hole Tiger is 3 under par and sitting at -7 and Phil is 6 under for the round at -10 under and just 1 shot off the lead.

Now that would be a story if either Mickelson or Woods were to come from that far behind on Sunday and win the tournament.

Another great story would be Kenny Perry maintaining his lead and winning at the age of 48.

Mickelson just parred the 9th and set a new front nine record for the Masters and Cabrera made a bogey in the final group and left Perry in the lead all on his own.

Who said that Master’s Sunday would have no drama?

The diminishing RCMP image

April 9, 2009

mountie

Haggard and Kristofferson in concert

April 5, 2009

I had the opportunity to see Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson this past Friday at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle. The Paramount is not a big theatre and we  had seats right up front which was a real plus, A great venue to see a performance.

Haggtard is 72 years old and his voice is still amazingly strong, Can’t say the same for Kristofferson who never had a great voice to begin with and doesn’t even have much of that left. But he wrote some great songs over the years and sang them with enthusiasm and looked like he was having fun, even when he messed up on the delivery a couple of times.

The musicians in Haggard’s band, The Travelers, were excellent and we were particularly impressed by his young lead guitarist. It turns out that he was Haggard’s 16 year old son. Hard to believe that anyone that young could be that good. Amazing.

The show started at 8:00 PM and the whole crew was onstage for a solid two hours. No encores, but what the hell.

All in all it was a great show and worth the money just to watch a seasoned professional like Haggard, up close and personal, do his job on stage.

They played to a full house and an enthusiastic crowd. Some a little overly enthusiastic. There are always a number of people who come, apparently not to watch the show, but to insert themselves into the proceedings. Obviously fortified by a little alcohol, recognized by Haggard when he dedicated one of his songs to the drunks in the crowd.

Nice to see that the good old boys are still hummin’ and strummin’.

Ghost Creek Golf Course at Pumpkin Ridge

April 3, 2009

I played the Ghost Creek golf course a few days ago at Pumpkin Ridge, just east of Portland, Ore. The Ghost Creek course is the public access course at the Pumpkin Ridge site, the other being Witches Hollow which is a private members’ course.

I lucked out an got a pretty decent day to play for this time of the year, meaning it didn’t rain while I was out on the course. I also got in the last day of the winter rates, $50 US. The next day – April 1st – the rates jumped to $90 a round. Good planning on my part.

The only problem with golfing there this time of the year is that the course is pretty wet and soft, although the greens were surprisingly swift.

I had read about Pumpkin Ridge since it opened in 1992 and had wanted to play the Ghost Creek course since that time. It has also had a number of important tournaments played on site, so it has developed a reputation.

It is a nice course, quite walkable and quite pretty and well treed but it didn’t  leave me wanting to come back first chance and play it again.

Maybe I was expecting too much or maybe we are just spoiled in British Columbia with so many really good-looking and well designed courses that we need something really spectacular (or different) to stand out. Then again, maybe if I had been playing better the course would have given me a more favourable impression. Funny how that works.

As a final qualification to my opinion, I have found that when you get to play a course a 2nd, 3rd or 4th time you begin to see things about it that were outside your consciousness the first time around. I suspect that Ghost Creek might fit into that category. Play it on a sunny day, with the course in firm condition and the clubs working reasonably well and it might elicit a totally different mind set.

But for the $50 fee it was good value and the course was virtually empty – I only saw one other golfer on the course – a lone walker like me playing a hole or two behind me.


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