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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.

Time to get the NDP house in order and vote with the Liberals on the rifle and shotgun registry

| September 3, 2010
Jack Layton aboard HMCS Halifax

One can feel a certain sympathy with the predicament federal in which New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton finds himself on the rifle-and-shotgun registry issue, whipsawed between the successful wedge politics of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the effective machinations of Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.

But so what? That’s politics. And while politics may be the art of the possible, there’s also a place for principle in public life.

Fighting to save the rifle-and-shotgun registry -- without which undoubtedly the lives of ordinary citizens and peace officers alike will needlessly be lost -- is a political hill worth dying on.

Who would have thought it, but thanks to this issue a lot of principled New Democrats who live in urban areas are thinking pretty seriously that they may have to hold their noses and vote for the Liberals in the next federal election. This goes beyond "strategic voting," too, because the Liberals are taking the right position on this important issue and the New Democrat caucus, to be blunt about it, is not.

The Conservative position on the registration of rifles and shotguns, of course, is pure hypocrisy -- driven by the unhealthy gun culture that prevails in their rural heartland and their tendency to worship any American idea, as long as it's a bad one. The only knocks these clowns can actually come up with against the registry is that it cost too much to create and that it "burdens law-abiding gun owners with paperwork."

Well, the first point is true, but so what? That horse has left the barn. Closing it down just wastes more money. As for the second, well cry me a river. The requirement to have plates, a driver's license and insurance "burdens law abiding car owners with paperwork" too. So get used to it!

"Conservative" MPs like to pass themselves off as tough law'n'order hombres, and rare is the day some Conservative somewhere isn't flapping his or her gums or pounding out a press release about getting tough on crime, being good friends to victims of crime and even better friends to the police.

But where the hammer hits the cartridge, as it were, they're big phonies.

It's the police, for crying out loud -- the police -- who are begging to keep the registry. (And please don't bring up that highly dubious poll in a magazine for cop wannabes that supposedly showed support among police for scrapping the registry.)

Here's what the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police said last year about the registry: "We believe the elimination of Canada's national firearms licensing registration system for rifles and shotguns will make Canada less safe. We believe it will compromise the ability of law enforcement to deal effectively with gun violence. We believe law enforcement will lose access to information that helps us keep our officers and our communities safe."

Here's what Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said in Edmonton last month when the chiefs got together in Harper's heartland for one last attempt to drum a little sense into those thick Harperista skulls.

"Our support for the long-gun registry is because we use the information contained in that registry virtually every day -- we use it over 11,000 times a day," Chief Blair told local reporters. "Our police officers use that information to conduct criminal investigations, they use it to keep communities safe, and they use it to keep themselves safe."

During their Edmonton meeting, the chiefs also usefully put an end to the myth that these so-called long guns -- that is, rifles and shotguns -- are benign and that all crimes are committed with handguns. As the local newspaper reported: "Of the last 16 officers shot to death in Canada, 14 were killed with long guns (and) long guns represent the majority of guns seized by officers nationwide."

The Conservatives and their gun-nut supporters know perfectly well that this is the truth, but these great friends of law'n'order don't give a … hoot.

After all, there’s votes in them-thar hillbillies! Not to mention, perhaps, a deeper and more troubling possibility. As Umberto Eco put it in Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt: "Since even sex is a difficult game to play, the Ur-Fascist hero tends to play with weapons -- doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise."

When sexual inadequacy and long-guns come together, of course, the results can be deadly and tragic, as Canadians found to their horror on Dec. 6, 1989, when we lost another 14 innocent daughters and sisters who shouldn't have had to die.

Layton needs to get his NDP caucus under control, to quit playing silly buggers with private members' bills and abstentions, and to support the Liberals on this important issue.

If he can't or won't, it will make it all the harder for those of us who generally support the NDP platform to support the party behind it. This is especially true for those of us who live in cities and care about reducing gun violence, which our so-called Conservative government obviously does not.

As for the incorrigible gun nuts, if these supposedly law-abiding souls can't abide the burdens of registration and can't produce evidence of a spavined horse in their barn or a coyote in their chicken house, perhaps next time we should justify their paranoid fantasies and just take their rifles and shotguns away from them forever.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.



Quoting Bil Blair really is a desperate act. The man is a shill for self interest and offers no substantive proof for any of the 'supposed' benefits of the long gun registry. Nothing has changed since the Auditor General condemned the registry saying it failed in all respects. Blair and his supporters have ramped up their pro-registry propaganda simply because they have no science on which to base their claims. What we have seen is that his Chiefs Association lacks ethics. Just check out the History of their donors!

By the RCMP's own admission about half the long guns in Canada have 'disappeared' and have NOT BEEN REGISTERED. That is not likely to change. I have yet to speak to ANY front line police who support the registry. Typically they rail against the waste of resources and lack of real usefulness.

To date, keeping a long gun registry is akin to masturbating without a climax! Believing in registration of firearms is akin to religion for one takes it on faith without requiring proof.

Registration has not been documented as actually, solving crimes, preventing crimes or lowering the suicide rate.

Wishing for a safer society does not make it so but that is the bottom line for gun registration - wishful thinking.

No documented results = no value for dollars. The Liberals ignored their own Treasury Board rules in refusing to carry out a cost/benefit analysis of the long gun registry. They misled Parliament and Canadians about the true costs of the registry by making the costs a Cabinet secret.

This stinking boondoggle is what a majority of Canadians want to see ended as being ineffective, outrageously expensive and wasteful of tax dollars. The NDP is right to let it's MPs vote in line with the wishes of the majority of their constituents who want the long gun registry ended.

I agree! "A terrible article" (see Mr. Phil above) and "so much verbal diarrhoea" (see CYS above). Both educational commenters. Thank you!

How can anyone quote Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair as providing a basis for any discussion on guns, or anything else, after Police State G20? He and those who signalled his "legal right" to assault every aspect of OUR fundamental and legal rights (see Charter for the long list) will be held accountable! This article proves that the author is totally ignorant of world history in the 20thC when ~130,000,000 people were killed by their own authoritarian governments, which is why the G20 needs to be thoroughly investigated (independent, public inquiry), a first step leading to charges and political dismissals. Demanding accountability would show bold leadership by the NDP.

The author seeks to divide and conquer! In this case he stereotypes - city (hand guns) vs country (rifles), in an incremental globalist agenda (see twisted barrel hand gun, a U.N. sculpture). For a 20thC refresher, history course on defenseless populations, see Endgame by Alex Jones. For a video summary of the G20, see this site (Rabble.ca) and The Real News with Paul Jay and Press for Truth with Dan Hicks, whose latest movie is United We Fall (about the NAU).

Showing bold leadership by the NDP means supporting the Canadian population against being adversely impacted by agents of a corporatist state in a criminalized pre-crime scenario, which the gun registry leads into (see 1st paragraph by CYS above for further info exemplified).

Another example would be during Hurricane Katrina, when those living in houses (the wealthy parts) that were untouched by flooding and businesses whose owners  remained to protect their property were raided by storm troopers (who looked and behaved just like the ones at the G20) and their guns were confiscated/stolen, and all while people were drowning and being left in stadiums (for days) without food and water, having been left to fend for themselves in the first place, thereby proving the state's overwhelming care and concern for populace safety.

Mr. Phil (see above) mentions a brain disabling (also sterilant), organ damaging toxin in the drinking water. NDP should also boldly lead by demanding a ban on forced medication of the populace by putting toxins in our water, e.g. fluoride, to which I would add bold leadership to remove the myriad toxins in our food, which also amounts to forced medication, and look up - the skies (chemtrails/heavy metals) being artificially clouded to reduce global warming - a known hoax (see IPCC fraud). Another bold leadership example by the NDP would be to resist giving vaccine manufacturers freedom from liability issues the next time the WHO and PhRMA get together to scam a pandemic (see vaccine deaths, i.e. H1N1 flu hoax). 

Shine ON*




So much verbal diarrhoea...just where to start?

For people who aren't aware of the difference between the Firearms Act and auto registration, here's a quickie primer. If you let your auto license lapse, you can park your car in the garage and keep it. If you let your firearms license lapse, the police can show up at your door, without a warrant, and confiscate your guns. Failiure to get a firearms license (for people who inherited firearms, or bought them under the old FAC regime) can land you five years in the slammer. Recently, Toronto Police and firearms officers whent on a blitz of warrantless searches of homes, including those of senior citizens and war vets, looking for evidence of 'unsafe storage' and lapsed licenses, as well as unregistered long guns. Yet there is no database for people prohibited from owning firearms, like those nice fellas who murdered Jane Creba.

There has been a handgun registry since 1935. Like the current universal firearms registry, the handgun registry has NOT SOLVED, OR PREVENTED A SINGLE CRIME, something which the Registry's boosters admit. However, they like to cite the "10,000 hits per day" figure, which is generated, as Mr. Phil mentioned, from any use of police computers. And the RCMP's report, stating that the Registry 'only' costs around $4M per year to operate, is a gross case of cooking the books. Even treating the licensing portion of the regime as sunk costs, the Registry's bureaucracy and IT expenses would run into the tens of millions. Remember that the Firearms Centre was one government department that somehow spent $13.5M IN ONE YEAR on 'travel expenses.' Clearly, the Auditor General needs to have a look at RCMP accounting procedures.

There is big money behind the Gun Registry. Registry IT contractors Honeywell and CGI donated massively to the Chretien Liberals' campaign. CGI also sponsors the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police--an amazing conflict of interest that seems to be lost on people. CGI is also owned by Bell-Globemedia, parent of The Globe And Mail and CTV, leading to very biased news coverage. Coalition for Gun Control maven Wendy Cukier has been under investigation for a nearly $400,000 grant she received from Allan Rock's office, for lobbying the Liberal government for gun control. (Just think about that for a minute--the government giving someone money to lobby them.) Cukier also owns Telecon Consulting, an IT firm which has benefitted from Registry-related IT contracts. For an 'anti-corporate' news source, Rabble.ca certainly seems to be toeing the corporate line.

And your slanderous, dismissive and patently false comment about "cop wanabees" isn't really worth addressing. Suffice to say, not only the majority of rank-and-file officers, but also police brass like Calgary's Chief Hansen and the OPP's Fantino consider the Registry worthless. For an online publication that calls police officers 'pigs,' complained about the G20 arrests, and dismisses the recent arrests of terrorist suspects as some sort of CIA-initiated smear campaign, you sure take corporate-funded police propaganda about the Gun Registry seriously.

Let's also quit pretending that the Firearms Act, licensing and Gun Registry was ever about saving lives. The Liberals scrapped the Ports Police, which was a useful tool in the interdiction of arms smuggling, citing 'cost reasons.' They also refused to arm Canada's border guards, also an important bullwark against gun-runners, for--surprise!--'cost reasons.' Then, the Liberals planned to close two RCMP crime labs for (you guessed it) 'cost reasons.' Yet Chretien and co. happilly threw $2B at their corporate benefactors, over the Firearms Centre. And the NDP and, yes, Rabble.ca are throwing their support behind the Registry for no more an altruistic reason than to save the 200-odd jobs of their PSAC union sponsors.

There is, indeed, the question of why Ghamil Gharbi (AKA, Marc Lepine) murdered those women. However, the answer is to be found in his abusive father's mysogenistic cultural background--something that Progressives can't bring themselves to discuss. Or, the fact that Jane Creba's killers were the product of a vicious gang culture imported from Kingston. Clearly, cultural and immigration-related factors are at play, here. Also, the Allan Rock era built on Trudeaupian and Mulroneyist reforms to the justice system, with cost-cutting to the penal system that dumped violent offenders back onto the streets. Jane Crebs's killer should have been behind bars...or better yet, not in the country. These problems, however, are too painful for Progressives to address. Rabble.ca would much rather ape their favorite regimes, like Cuba and North Korea, and disarm civilians.


Terrible article. There are no numbers to show how many lives have been saved, there never is. There are no hard facts, just anecdotal comment, and retrospective statements about past events.

Why does Mr. Climenhaga just not come straight out and say he does not like guns? But to associate libido with gun ownership is so unbelievable.....it would be amusing except he seems serious !

It would be a great mistake to cowtow to the Police Chiefs especially since they are totally out of synch with thier rank and file, as has been well researched. The Police chiefs will always want more power, and more rules and regulations

The 11,000 hits a day is toitally meaningless. It represents the numbers from an automatically generated computer search. If you have ever been pulled over , the liklehood is that you were automatically checked out for gun ownership.

At the end of his diatribe Mr. Climenhaga makes the suggestions that all guns should be confiscated. A truly Orwellian concept, from a very troubled individual.But, hey, maybe there should be valium in rural drinking water too.!

Convince the NDP brass that they will get more votes and they might do it. Since political expediency supercedes principle with the NDP, don't count on it.

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