Conservatives to gun-grabbers: “we told you so!” RCMP/CFC skulduggery gives new weight to Bill C-391. Think the government can be trusted with your private information? Think again.
Bill to kill long gun registry RCMP released data to polling agency
By: Mia Rabson
Winnipeg Free Press
OTTAWA — Manitoba MP Candice Hoeppner said an accusation the RCMP improperly gave private information about gun owners to a polling firm gives more weight to her quest to get rid of the national gun registry.The timing for Hoeppner couldn’t be better. The Conservative MP for Portage-Lisgar has a private members’ bill before Parliament to kill the registry. The bill is scheduled to come up for its first hour of debate Monday morning in the House of Commons.
Hoeppner said there are many reasons to do away with the registry but the possible breach by the RCMP adds fuel to her fire.
“As Conservatives, we were always worried about the information (in this registry) being misused,” she said.
Earlier this week, gun owners expressed outrage when they began receiving calls from EKOS Research carrying out research for the RCMP.
The RCMP said they hired EKOS on contract and that the staff were put through security checks to clear them to the same level as RCMP.
Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan has asked the federal privacy commissioner to investigate whether this was a breach of privacy.
Hoeppner said the problem is gun owners are already treated like suspects and now information about who owns a gun and what type of guns has fallen into the hands of someone outside the government.
She said the gun registry information was not collected so it could be released to a polling agency.
Hoeppner’s bill would eliminate the requirement for owners of unrestricted long guns to register them. Gun owners would still have to be licensed to own an unrestricted long gun but there would not be a registry of what guns they own.
She said it’s unfair to tag all long gun owners as potential criminals.
“If you own a long gun in this country, you are immediately considered a suspect,” she said.
The gun registry was implemented in 1996 by Jean Chrétien’s Liberal government and was intended as a way to make guns in Canada traceable to help police investigate gun crimes.
However it has long been criticized as a financial boondoggle — it has cost well over $2 billion so far — and ineffective at tracing criminals because most of the guns used in crimes, such as handguns, are illegal and aren’t registered.
“If it did something to protect Canadians, we’d be in favour of it,” said Hoeppner.
Hoeppner introduced the bill earlier this year but as a private members’ bill, it has a longer wait for debate than it would had the government introduced it via a cabinet minister.
However, opposition parties allow free votes on private members’ bills and Hoeppner has said the government doesn’t think the bill will pass unless individual MPs can vote with their conscience rather than under their party’s whip.