Posts Tagged ‘Bill C-301’

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.

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.

More Political Cynicism and Disappointment

March 25, 2009

The other day I felt as though I had a sharp knife thrust between my shoulder blades.

The reason? A posting on Yorkton-Melville MP Garry Breitkreuz‘ webpage.

FROM GARRY BREITKREUZ

March 19, 2009

Like many Canadians, I oppose the failed long gun registry as unfairly targeting law-abiding farmers and hunters, while not addressing the criminal use of firearms.

At the time of its introduction in 1995, the Liberal government estimated the net cost to taxpayers would only be $2 million. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation now estimate the cost to be in excess of $2 billion – an unprecedented waste of taxpayer money.

I have recently introduced a Private Member’s Bill (C-301) in the House of Commons to repeal the failed long gun registry. Bill C-301 contains a handful of other measures not directly related to the long gun registry itself. I do not see these measures as central to my long-standing goal of ending the long gun registry. When Parliament resumes, I will seek changes to remove these sections from my bill.

This coming after some early euphoria that this private members bill had a fairly decent chance of getting passed providing the opposition parties allowed a free vote for their members. It now appears that in order for Breitkreuz’ bill to be favourably received he is being forced to strip his bill down to its bare bones which means that the only thing left will be the section that speaks to getting rid of the long-gun registration.

The problem is that the “handful of other measures” that will be removed from Bill-301 includes a number of amendments that would alleviate some of the nastiness of the Federal Firearms Act.

Aside from the firearms registry, there are five other changes written into the original legislation.

  • Merge Transport to Carry and Licence (PAL/POL)
  • Combining the POL and PAL.
  • 10 year licencing (change from the current 5 years).
  • 12/6 grandfathering dates.
  • Auditor General cost/benefit analysis every 5 years.

None of these items in any way affect public safety although the usual suspects immediately screamed to the media that this was the case – and the media unquestioningly reported it as so. In fact they are common sense items, some of which would actually save costs in the program, at the same time addressing some of the inequities built into the Firearms Act.

The catalyst for this turn of events was Mr. Breitkreuz’ acceptance of an invitation to speak at the annual general meeting of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, which in itself was no problem until it was discovered that – horror of horrors – the CSSA (a sports shooting group that has many handgun shooters in its membership) was going to raffle off a handgun at their event.

This immediately became an opportunity for the anti-gun crowd to spew their rhetoric to the media.

“We have got to be finding ways to get (handguns) off the streets, not handing them out as prizes,” Liberal MP Mark Holland (Ajax-Pickering) said yesterday.

“It really is an insult to a community that has seen so much gun violence and where so many people have been killed … to give that away as a (raffle) prize.”

and

A spokesperson for Toronto Mayor David Miller said giving away a handgun is “outrageous, inappropriate and insensitive, frankly, to all the families of victims of gun crime in Toronto and the GTA”.

Stuart Green, speaking for the vacationing mayor, said the so-called prize could easily find its way to the streets, as many privately owned handguns do.

“Statistics show that between 30 and 40 per cent of handguns that end up in the hand of criminals are obtained through one-time legal ways and are stolen and sold through the black market,” he said.

Green said the federal government should not be a party to an event where a handgun is being raffled off.

The raffle has left others in disbelief, including an official at Montreal’s Dawson College, where a gunman carrying a Beretta semi-automatic carbine opened fire on Sept. 13, 2006, killing one student and wounding 13 others.

“As someone who has seen first-hand the wounds – physical and mental – of people who have been victims of gun violence, (a gun giveaway) has no place in my Canada,” Donna Varrica, Dawson’s director of communications, told the Star.

NDP Leader Jack Layton (Toronto-Danforth) said he could not believe that any group would be so “callous” as to give away a handgun in the GTA, which has been plagued with gun problems.

Last year, there were more than 60 gun-related deaths in the GTA.”It’s the kind of thing you expect to hear south of the border … the fact you could pick one up in a raffle prize sends exactly the wrong message,” Layton said.

Just a question, but when did it become immoral or wrong or something evil for a law abiding Canadian citizen who is legally licenced – by the Canadian government no less – to buy, win or otherwise legally acquire a handgun for his or her own personal use? As I say, it’s just a question for which I doubt the dipsticks quoted above have a rational answer.

But, as they say, I digress.

Then it was reported that Prime Minister Stephen Harper was to attend the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) AGM where they were (more screams of outrage from the perennially outraged) raffling off 2 rifles.

However, apparently that was OK according to a spokesperson from the Prime Minister’s office as they were raffling off rifles and not a handgun.

For its part, the Prime Minister’s Office said it did not endorse the raffle. But Kory Teneycke, the prime minister’s chief spokesman, said Friday there is “clearly a distinction” between raffling off a handgun and a hunting rifle.

“There’s a serious problem with gun violence connected to drugs and gangs in some major Canadian cities, but that is really not a problem of people using hunting rifles or shotguns designed for duck hunting,” said Teneycke. “There’s no issue pertaining to the silent auction, from our perspective.”

That’s right, I forgot. Rifles and shotguns are good (or in the eyes of our usual suspects, merely misguided) and handguns are evil. Apparently even the PMO subscribes to that notion. And possibly the reason that we don’t hunt with handguns in Canada is because THE FRACKING FIREARMS ACT DOESN’T ALLOW FOR IT!

If Mr. Teneycke knew anything about the subject he would know that hunting with handguns is allowed in most of the US States. He would also know that at one time handgun hunting was allowed in the Province of Ontario and is another thing that we let slip away.

Which is to say that we would hunt with handguns if we were given the opportunity and that for all of the calls for handgun bans because they have no practical use, trappers, prospectors and guide-outfitters in British Columbia can carry handguns for survival and protection as can others – except for individuals who pack into the  wilderness and who would have good practical reasons to carry a handgun except for the fact that the Federal Firearms Act denies them that opportunity.

I think I’ll go pound my head against a wall.

No, wait – just one more rant.

This from the Association of Chiefs of Police:

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, which supports the long-gun registry, said Breitkreuz’s bill, up for second reading vote on April 22, “would seriously compromise” public safety.

The police association warns it relaxes the control on machine guns by allowing the transport of fully automatic and semi-automatic assault weapons to civilian shooting ranges and relaxes the current restrictions on handguns, semi-automatic assault and tactical weapons.

“We are proud of Canada’s international reputation as a country with effective gun control legislation, and strenuously oppose any weakening of Canada’s current firearms control regime,” president Steven Chabot said in a March 9 letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“All guns are potentially dangerous, all guns owners need to be licensed, all guns need to be registered and gun owners need to be accountable for their firearms.”

Chabot described Breitkreuz’s bill as a “retrogressive proposal that cannot, in any way, benefit the safety and security of Canadians.”

With an eye on full disclosure I have to admit that I have never had much respect for the Association of Police Chiefs, having always considered them to be a bunch of political hacks, at least at the upper level of the organization. Unfortunately, statements such those made above by their president, Steven Chabot, only serve to solidify that opinion.

I suspect that the good Chief has not read a word of the bill and if he has, I would love to know where in the bill he finds the language that is going to allow machine guns (full-auto) on civilian shooting ranges.

Surely the Chief would know that the use of full-auto firearms is restricted to Department of National Defence (military) shooting ranges and not at all on any civilian shooting ranges. As well it’s not as though civilian ownership of full-auto firearms – or machine guns, being the word picture the Chief likes to draw – is on the upswing as there have been no new licences issued to individuals for the acquisition of full-autos since 1977, so there is no large pool of civilian full-auto owners  chomping at the bit to demolish some targets at their local gun range. Just a very small number of aging collectors who, if they eventually wish to dispose of those guns, will either have to donate them to a museum, have them destroyed or try and sell them into the diminishing pool of other aging collectors.

And as to his scare words about “semi-auto assault rifles”, if the Chief or anyone else can explain to me the functional difference between a semi-auto hunting rifle such as a Remington Mod. 742 or a Browning BAR and what he calls an “assault rifle”, other than looks, I would love to be so informed.

There was also this authoritative statement reported in the Toronto Star.

“As it’s written right now I certainly couldn’t support it,” said Liberal MP Mark Holland, the party’s public safety and national security critic, who also contends the bill would gut the registry.

But then a couple of days ago on a radio show he candidly admitted that he hadn’t read the bill.

Maybe he and the Chief could sit down and read it together.

Maybe now I’ll go bang my head on the wall.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.