Archive for October, 2010

Charlie Angus and his bill to ‘fix’ the long gun registry

October 26, 2010

Let’s see how it works.

Charlie Angus, NDP Member of Parliament for Timmins-James Bay, was an opponent of the long gun registry.

In a vote in the House of Commons today, Charlie Angus supported the move to end the long-gun registry. Angus says this is a position he promised constituents he would take since first being elected in 2004.

“I made a promise to my constituents on this issue and today I fulfilled that promise. I have heard from across the region the overwhelming frustration with how the long gun registry has been implemented and maintained. I expressed this frustration on behalf of my constituents in the House of Commons.”

Charlie Angus voted for Bill C-391, which would have scrapped the long gun registry, on 1st and 2nd readings.

Then Charlie Angus voted for a motion brought forward by Liberal MP Mark Holland to kill Bill C-391 before it could even come back for 3rd reading.

NDP leader Jack Layton said that his party supported the registry but would work to ‘fix’ it. He also said that the NDP party was in favour of banning handguns.

Now Charlie is no longer opposed to the registry but thinks it will now be a good thing with his ‘fixes’.

So was Charlie Angus lying all these years when he said he actually opposed the  long gun registry? Or was it simply that the strength of his convictions weren’t sufficient to stand up against pressures from his party leader.

So now out of the blue Charlie Angus comes forward with a private member’s bill, Bill C-580, which he says will ‘fix’ the long gun registry just like – surprise, surprise – his leader Jack Layton promised.

Actually, I would be more interested to know why Charlie, of all of the vote switchers, was picked to float this turkey.

Possibly he was so desperate to try and salvage his credibility with his constituents that he signed on to a bill knowing next to nothing about what it really was about.

Which brings us to the question: What is Bill C-580 all about?

The Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA) has done an analysis of the bill and found that in reality that the bill, if passed, would tighten the screws even further on honest Canadian gun owners.

There are lots of cute little sections in the bill, but one that should make every gun owner nervous is this one:

Gun bans – fasten your seat belt!

4. Section 117.15 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (2):

(3) The Governor in Council may make regulations requiring a manufacturer or importer to provide information for the purpose of establishing that the thing in question is reasonable for use in Canada for hunting or sporting purposes.

This section is a Canadianized version of the infamous British “Sporting use test” where all firearms are subject to bureaucratic interpretation as to what justifies a hunting or sporting firearm. This has been used to prohibit most of the firearms in Great Britain. It places enormous power in the hands of the bureaucracy to ban firearms. It is obvious that this is the intent of this section. Charlie Angus spoke of “closing the loopholes” in order to prohibit the popular Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle, a common sporting and hunting firearm used by tens of thousands of Canadians. As the Mini-14 is no different than many other hunting rifles, this would be the start of wholesale confiscation.

Charlie Angus should be bloody well ashamed of himself.


Divine intervention in Chile

October 22, 2010

There has been a lot of talk about miracles in the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners. Granted it was an incredible story and an amazing feat to get the whole crew out safe and sound. But a miracle? I don’t think so. Unless you want to talk about the miracle of technology.

We’ll never know, but I wonder if those 33 miners would be alive today without the worldwide media attention their plight generated.

Without the wall-to-wall media coverage would the outside technology have become available to make the rescue possible? Would the mining company have spent the time and the money necessary to effect the rescue? Would the Chilean president have been front and center at the rescue operation for the duration?

I don’t know about the first two, but I would bet the last one wouldn’t have happened.

Of course everyone wants to take credit for the rescue.

It is the race within the race: while rescuers inch towards the trapped miners rival churches tussle over the miracle in the making. Evangelical, Adventist and Catholic clerics are vying to stamp their own particular faith on a surge in religious fervour as the drama nears a climax in Chile‘s Atacama desert.

The three Christian denominations have each claimed credit for what they say is divine intervention in the survival – and expected imminent rescue – of the 33 men who have spent 67 days beneath the earth.

There was also a report that when the information became available that the miners were had been located and were still alive that there was an attempt to withhold the information from family members until Chilean President Pinera could arrive and deliver the message personally. Proving once again that the political need for a photo op overrides all other sensibilities.

To put things in perspective, while the world became emotionally attached to the drama of the Chilean rescue, 4 miners died in a mine collapse in Ecuador and 26 miners were killed and 11 trapped in a mine explosion in China.

No miracles there.

Bill C-391: The aftermath

October 18, 2010

As anyone interested in the subject knows, Bill C-391, Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner’s private members bill to scrap the long gun registry, went down in flames on September 22nd to a 153 to 151 vote. Although it had passed at 1st and 2nd readings, it never even got a chance to go to 3rd reading as the vote to scuttle the bill came from a motion tabled by Liberal MP Mark Holland.

The scene was set for the failure of Bill C-391 when Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff set a precedent by whipping his caucus’ vote rather than allowing the traditional free vote for private members’ bills.

That brought into line all of the Liberal MPs who had previously voted in favour of scrapping the long gun registry through its 1st and 2nd readings.

NDP leader Jack Layton chose not to whip his caucus’ vote and had his MPs who had supported the bill on the previous votes stayed true to their principles we would have seen an end to the registry.

But having made the choice to let his MP’s supposedly vote their beliefs, Layton then applied serious moral suasion to coerce them to change their vote this time around.

I assume that it will never be known what promises were given, what threats were made or what pressure was applied, but in the end 6 of the 12 New Democrats who swore that they opposed the registry flip-flopped on their vote when the crunch came.

Probably the most egregious turnabout was made by NDP MP Peter Stoffer who had almost to the end stated his unwavering opposition to the long gun registry and promised that he would continue to vote for its demise.

Then the rumours started to fly that Stoffer was about to switch and two days before the vote Stoffer confirmed that the rumour was true.

This was a stunning turnaround in the eyes of many, as Mr. Stoffer was on record in the House of Commons as telling the House that…

“All I ever asked for in my 12 1/2 years was bring a bill that was very clear; end the long gun registry and I will personally stand up and support that.”

Well, his opportunity came to the floor of the House in the form Candice Hoeppner’s private member’s bill, C-391, and Peter Stoffer, for whatever reasons, folded like a cheap suit.

If you ever needed a moment to contemplate on how cynical and sleazy politics can be, this was one to remember.

Unfortunately, all of the blame for the defeat of Bill C-391 doesn’t lie with the Liberal’s undemocratic whipping of their vote, nor with the desertion from their publicly stated values by the NDP MPs.

The Conservatives, instead of quietly encouraging those opposition members who opposed the registry and working with them beneath the radar chose instead to use the moment as an opportunity to make political points, taking out attack ads even in the ridings of those MPs who had initially voted in favour of C-391.

This lost them considerable amounts of goodwill and was used by a number of those who switched their vote as part of their rationale for why they had changed their minds.

In the end, the real losers were all of the firearm owners across Canada: The hunters, ranchers, farmers, recreational shooters, collectors, etc.

Will we get another chance to rid ourselves of the registry?

Sure as hell not if we see the Liberal party back in power. Ignatieff, true to his ilk, while saying he wants to ‘fix’ the registry has already spoken of a ban on all handguns in the country. As has NDP leader Jack Layton.

So Mr. Ignatieff’s concept of a ‘fix’ is to make the firearm ownership laws more restrictive  and confiscate what we already legally own.

Aren’t we regularly accused of being totally paranoid when we speak of the fact that registration precedes confiscation? How did the media miss this?

Golf is a mind game

October 17, 2010

As I have said before (probably too many times), golf is a funny game, played to a large degree in the head.

I was again reminded of this by the play of Brittany Lincicome in the LPGA‘s CVS/Pharmacy event this week.

Lincicome shot a 61 on Thursday, to put her at the top of the leaderboard at 11 under and then went out on Friday and beat her way around the course to finish the day with a 4 over par 76.

We high handicappers have a tendency to look at our best scores as our benchmark and then beat ourselves up when our next game balloons into the stratosphere.

But when you see a top ranked professional in the game take a 15 shot swing from one game to the next it puts the whole process in its proper perspective.

More on the decline of the English language

October 8, 2010

Having recently blogged on the subject, I feel compelled to mention the latest attack on English grammar that I read in the September issue of Golf Canada.

The writer of the article describes the start of a golfing trip as follows:

Having played the Quail and the Bear on previous trips, myself and three pals headed 25 minutes north of Kelowna ….

Myself has done that very same trip. Although myself hasn’t done it recently.

Ryder Cup 2010: Great theatre

October 8, 2010

The 2010 Ryder Cup finished a day late (Monday) due to weather delays on the first day, but the conclusion was well worth watching.

Unfortunately, as in every sporting event there has to be a winner and a loser. In this case the winner was the European team, but it came down to the last group of the final day to determine that fact.

It was a big moment for Graeme McDowell who won his match against Hunter Mahan on the 17th hole, giving the Europeans 14 1/2 points to the USA team’s 14 points. A great year for McDowell, having won the US Open earlier in the year and then wrapping up the Ryder Cup for his team.

I did bleed a bit for Hunter Mahan who was short with his shot into the 17th green and then muffed his chip on his next shot to lose the hole and the match. My first thought was that the press would brand him as the goat for this Ryder Cup, although from what I’ve seen that didn’t happen.

I’m sure that Mahan will relive that chip in his mind for a long time: that’s golf. The pressure was intense and shit happens in this game. But the reality was that Mahan was 2 down at that point and needed to win the last two holes just to get a half on his match (which would have left the cup in the hands of the US team). All McDowell had to do was win or tie one of the last two. Which probably didn’t feel that easy to him at the time, knowing what was at stake.

I was pleased to see Tiger Woods playing well, especially on the final day in his singles match. Maybe he is ready to put his personal problems behind him and return to his old form. But I must admit that I am amazed by the anger that some people I have talked exhibit when Woods’ name comes up. Almost an visceral reaction.

There were some great performances by a number of players on both teams and some disappointments for others.

Now they can start thinking about doing it all over again in two year’s time.