Flumian spins the gun registry

Maryantonett Flumian who was the federal bureaucrat who ran the Canadian Firearms Centre for a year and a half was recently part of a two person panel discussing the early days of the federal gun registry.

Flumian was brought in to take charge of the program when it looked to be in serious trouble and had the potential of being a major embarrassment to her political masters.

Flumian was a pistol with a reputation for taking on tough jobs and making things work. She could be charming when she needed to be, but if you crossed her she could cut you off at the knees and throw your legs away. Talking to people who had worked under her in other departments, I got the distinct impression that it could be a stressful assignment.

For gun owners at the time, next to Justice Minister Alan Rock, she became the face of the gun registry. And it wasn’t a face that they loved.

It would be interesting to hear the inside story of this period in time from someone who had first-hand knowledge, but that is unlikely to happen. My take on it at the time was that Flumian was brought in as a ‘fixer’ and was told to make the program come together come hell or high water and damn the expense. And that is what she did. I don’t think that the Liberal politicians at the time gave a tinker’s damn as to what the registry cost just as long as it was made to work.

But the high cost of success has haunted them ever since.

From Flumian’s comments on the panel she wasn’t too enamoured by the pressure applied by  gun owners.

Canada’s controversial gun registry was the country’s first scandal at the dawn of the Internet age, says Maryantonett Flumian, who ran the Canadian Firearms Centre for 18 months in the late 1990s.

The early Internet allowed average Canadians to express their outrage about the cost and complexity of the gun registry, she said.

But it also allowed a small minority to hijack the issue, sometimes using mistruths, said Flumian.

“Particularly the anti-fire arms registry lobby was very adept at getting their message out,” she said yesterday. “It went viral.”


“It was the first time when you could watch that (Internet) campaign actually play out,” said Flumian. “It (the Internet) both helps democracy and sometimes allows a small group of people, especially in the early days … (to dominate an issue).”

I get the feeling that democracy only comes into play when it agrees with the government’s direction.

Flumian “now runs the non-profit Institute on Governance think tank in Ottawa that helps governments govern effectively”.

For some reason that amuses me.


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One Response to “Flumian spins the gun registry”

  1. Gary Mauser Says:

    I thought the most important aspect of Flumian’s talk was her frank admission of how badly the Liberals bungled the project:

    quote: Flumian does not deny there were problems with the gun registry early on.

    She said it was a combination of poor planning and management, constantly changing requirements of the information technology, political pressure to move quickly and a lack of understanding of the country’s urban-rural divide that put it off the rails at the beginning.


    She said that the early eight-page registration form was so complicated that even senior civil servants and police officers could not fill it out correctly.

    “They made sufficient mistakes that they would have failed,” said Flumian.

    This is an amazing level of incompetence.

    What is also truly impressive is the continual stonewalling that has gone on ever since: neither the opposition nor the civil service will admit that they screwed this up.

    It appears to be true that governments are basically incompetent. I marvel each time I receive my daily mail delivery from Canada Post!

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