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Alberta Diary

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David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. His 1995 book, A Poke in the Public Eye, explores the relationships among Canadian journalists, public relations people and politicians. He left journalism after the strike at the Calgary Herald in 1999 and 2000 to work for the trade union movement. Alberta Diary focuses on Alberta politics and social issues.

Toews an ill-timed Johnny-on-the-spot justifying imposition of U.S.-style gun-show anarchy

| December 21, 2012
Victor Toews

What a perfect way to throw a little red meat to your gun-nut money machine!

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's so-called Conservatives -- of whom it cannot be said too many times are radicals bent on remaking Canada in the image of the worst aspects of the United States -- managed to hit on a moment of worldwide horror at the slaughter of 20 small children and six grownups in the United States to further weaken our country's gun laws, which are already crumbling thanks to this government's avarice and cynicism, by allowing more chaos to reign at Canadian "gun shows."

The decision was published Wednesday in the Canada Gazette, just five days after the massacre in Connecticut that left decent people everywhere reeling.

Given the opportunity for a little public decency and respect for our neighbour's tragedy and the chance to raise a few more shekels from our country's firearms fanatics, I guess, there was really no choice for these Harperites. Or maybe it was just the deadline of the Canada Gazette. Whatever, it's powerfully symbolic.

So Harper sent out Victor Toews -- the country’s Minister of Public Insecurity and the target of one of MP Pat Martin's final, well-placed Tweets -- and his tame, pro-gun "advisory" committee to justify the repeal this country's sensible regulations governing gun-show sales of firearms.

This will please the hysterical gun-nut lobby in their tireless campaign to introduce sufficient chaos to Canada's firearms sales regime to cause the entire regulatory edifice to collapse, in return for which the Harperites hope to create an issue capable of wedging rural votes away from the New Democratic Party and directing a stream of cash from the gun lobby into the Conservatives' coffers.

Interestingly, late in the day, apparently too late to pull the Gazette off the press, even buffoons like Toews must have realized just how horrific were the optics of their timing -- and the government now claims to want to "take another look" at the committee of toadies it set up to help it dismantle Canadian gun laws. This is about as persuasive as this government's fable that it has pushed the reset button on the F-35 see-through-fighter boondoggle.

As is well known, anarchic American gun shows are a favoured way for that unfortunate country's tens of thousands of irresponsible gun owners to purchase weapons without background checks and to circumvent other local attempts to control the misuse of weapons.

Ironically, and as the Harper Conservatives know very well, U.S. gun "shows" are carnivals of criminality. Indeed, that is why they are one of the key areas being eyed by President Barack Obama for action in the wake of the Sandy Hook horror. Most Canadians wish President Obama well in this effort, even as we question his chances of success.

Thankfully, we have hitherto avoided such a situation in Canada -- although this cynical government, like their Republican brethren in the United States, is prepared to sacrifice our safety for the most craven of reasons.

Even the Globe and Mail, the government's well-trained poodle on most issues, mildly tapped the Harperites on the wrist for this travesty -- although it worked hard as usual to let them off the hook for its timing.

The Globe's editorial on the topic concluded: "Gun shows are a legitimate target for some measure of control. We just don't live in the same world we did prior to the Sandy Hook tragedy." Although, count on it, Canada's gun nuts will soon work themselves into a hysterical frenzy insisting that in fact nothing at all has changed.

Today we will finally hear from the National Rifle Association, who like the cowards they are have been keeping their heads down and their lips zipped since last Friday's massacre. Count on it that Canada's Anti-Gun-Control Rage Machine will flood the Twitterverse with the NRA's defence of responsible nerve gas ownership or whatever talking points they manage to come up with.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary. The reimagining of Victor Toews is by Edmonton artist William Prettie, used with permission.



Hold on, that's a gross misrepresentation. Federal Acts and Regulations ARE Laws. More specifically, Acts create or modify Laws while Regulations are the rules that address the details and practical applications of the law. Regulations have the full force of Law. 

You claim that in repealing SOR 98-211 a "chaotic and unregulated situation that exists at US gun shows" will occur in Canada. Prior to 1998 Canada had no such law/regulation/policy, call it what you will, yet we still managed to avoid said situation. Since SOR 98-211 was never enforced, enacted, implemented, call it what you will, we still managed to avoid such situation. 

In practical terms nothing has changed. Why then should a "chaotic and unregulated situation that exists at US gun shows" suddenly arise from NO PRACTICAL CHANGE to the regulatory regime? People who want to conduct chaotic and unregulated US-style gun shows in Canada have had, well, FOREVER, to do so and for some reason just haven't found the wherewithall, conspiracy theories notwithstanding.

These are regulations, not a law, so they are not enacted. What Mr. Ramjet means, I think, is that they were never enforced. This is really irrelevant to the discussion since the message from the Harper Conservatives is one of encouraging the chaotic and unregulated situation that exists at U.S. "gun shows" to happen here in Canada. The goal of this, in turn, is pretty obvious, to further subvert the ability of future Canadian governments to ensure the peace, order and good government of our Dominion. Why would any government do such a thing? In the case of this one it's pretty obvious: to raise money from a group of people determined to engage in an anti-social activity, to get the power of the U.S. based gun lobby onside and to practice wedge politics among communities that view unregulated firearms possession as a right on the same level as our Charter-guaranteed right to "life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice," which it self evidently is not. That, in turn, will assist this ideology-driven government in undermining the independence of Canada and the rights of Canadians, the better to impose its ideological framework on our society. In other words, they put their fundamentalist ideology, and their ability to remain in power, ahead of the rights of citizens and the sovereignty of their country. There is a word for this.

Since this law was never enacted, what possible change could ensue?

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