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John Baird: A gun in one hand and a cosmo in the other

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Fourteen of the sixteen most recent police officers to be killed with guns in Canada were shot with long guns.

Overwhelmingly, police chiefs across the country regard the gun registry as a vital tool that protects their officers especially when they are dealing with domestic disputes. Frank Eisner, chief of police for Greater Sudbury, right in the heart of long gun country in northern Ontario, who strongly supports the registry, has made the point that Sudbury police use the registry, in particular, when called out on cases of domestic disputes and violence in the home.

As Mavis Moore, a 72-year-old Saskatchewan woman who has been an avid hunter over the years, told the Toronto Star, the gun registry question is "not a matter of rural versus urban. It's a public safety issue. How many women and children in rural Canada are threatened in their own homes with a gun? More than we want to know, I think."

Moore, who enjoys guns, supports the registry, not least because she can still remain the time she looked up the barrel of a .22 a man was pointing at her and her mother when she was four years old.

A recent Harris/Decima poll found that 47 per cent of rural women want to keep the registry while 40 per cent would abolish it.

Conservative House leader John Baird ignores the concerns of police officers and rural women.

He represents a riding in the west end of Ottawa where not much more moose hunting goes on than in downtown Toronto. But it's the dastardly "Toronto elites," Baird says, who are out to thwart the will of rural Canadians on the issue of the registry. According to Ontario Liberal cabinet minister Glen Murray, when Baird is not out fulminating against "Toronto elites," he's hanging out with them enjoying cosmos -- a cocktail made with vodka, Triple Sec, cranberry juice and fresh-squeezed lime juice or sweetened lime juice -- in the glamorous Byzantium Toronto bar and restaurant. That's where Rusty (Baird's nickname) can just get on with being an unabashed member of the elite he claims to disdain.

Baird and Stephen Harper are well aware that polls consistently show that a plurality of Canadians favour keeping the registry. The Harris/Decima poll found 48 per cent of those polled favouring retention, with 38 per cent supporting abolition. But they refuse to compromise on the issue. Changes could be made to the rules of the registry to ensure that it will always be free, easy to access, and with no threat of criminal charges for non-compliance for the first two violations.

The last thing the Conservative high command wants is a solution on the issue that would suit almost everybody. They only care about it as a wedge. They want to wave the bloody shirt of the nefarious registry during the next election.

Baird's calculation is that even though most of his constituents undoubtedly favour retention of the registry, he won't pay a political price for his abolitionist stance. He figures that those who are passionate about killing the registry are much more likely to make this the issue that will determine how they vote than is the case for the larger number who would keep the registry.

Good for Baird. He can go on being a poseur on behalf of gun owners, while enjoying cosmos in the heart of wicked Toronto, and seeking the support of Ottawa voters.

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