NDP ‘compromise’ on gun bill mimics failings of Liberal plan
Proposed private members bill will create inequality and may spawn court challenges
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The recent announcement by NDP Leader Jack Layton of plans for a ‘compromise’ bill designed to alleviate opposition to the long gun registry is nothing more than a rehash of a previous ineffective proposal made by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff. Neither provides a solution to the longstanding grievances against a badly flawed system that has cost taxpayers of Canada in excess of $1 billion dollars, continues to eat up millions more each year, and according to the Auditor General, has not been demonstrated to save lives or enhance public safety.
“Clearly, Mr. Ignatieff and Mr. Layton lack the courage of their convictions. They are pandering to the rural and outdoor communities by proposing alternatives that do nothing to address the problems with the current system,” said O.F.A.H. Manager of Government Affairs and Policy, Greg Farrant. “The fact that they are scrambling for options in the run up to a vote on Bill C-391 is evidence that they realize the bill has strong support. Unfortunately, the changes they propose do not respond to the basic problems associated with the registry, and may in fact, spawn constitutional challenges. Even if the Criminal Code was amended to provide for a ‘non-criminal, ticketable’ offence, there is no guarantee that provinces would enforce the law uniformly. Since three provinces and one territory have already come out in support of scrapping the long gun registry through Bill C-391, amending the code could result in a patchwork of enforcement, inequality, and court challenges under the constitution.”
Bill C-391 was introduced by Candice Hoeppner, M.P. Portage-Lisgar, Manitoba, and received Second Reading in November 2009. It is expected to be debated at Third Reading this fall. In the meantime, a motion by Liberal M.P. Mark Holland that would squash the bill will be debated in Parliament on September 21 and voted on the following day.
Despite recent efforts by opponents of the bill, support for Bill C-391 remains strong, with several members of the NDP expected to continue the support they showed for the bill last fall. Unlike the Liberal leader, Mr. Layton is respecting parliamentary process and allowing his members a free vote. The eight Liberal members who voted for the bill at Second Reading will not be afforded the same opportunity for Third Reading, as Mr. Ignatieff is forcing his members to vote the party line, something that is largely unheard of on a private members bill.
“The tens of thousands of legal, licensed, law abiding firearms owners in Canada are appalled at the misinformation and rhetoric being used by the opposition leaders under the guise of fact. Instead of recognizing that criminals don’t register firearms, and that the use of illegal handguns is responsible for the carnage on the streets of our communities, they continue to aim at the wrong target and make farmers, hunters and recreational target shooters the subject of an onerous system that has failed to control gun crime,” Farrant added.
With over 100,000 members, subscribers and supporters, and 670 member clubs in Ontario, the O.F.A.H. is the voice of anglers and hunters. For more information, visit www.ofah.org.