End of gun registry in sight
by Les MacPherson
I can only guffaw at the bitter-enders who are trying to thwart Parliament and forever preserve the long-gun registry, like Lenin in his tomb.
It’s not going to happen. On the strength of ridiculous technicalities, they are trying to stop the sun from going down.
Before we go on, let’s clear up some terminology. The so-called database that bitter-enders want to preserve is the registry by another name. Whatever you call it, this is the record, compiled under threat of criminal prosecution, of shotguns and rifles owned by Canadian farmers, duck hunters and target shooters. Stephen Harper’s majority Conservative government campaigned on a very clear promise to abolish this registry.
I don’t know what abolish means to Liberals and New Democrats, but to me, abolishing something is not consistent with its eternal preservation. To me, and to just about everyone else on the list, abolishing the registry means shredding it, burning the shreds and then scattering the ashes from long-range aircraft flying over an undisclosed tract of the North Atlantic. That’s what we voted for. That, or something very much like it, is what the Conservatives promised to do. But now we are told at the last minute by its diehard defenders that the registry can never be abolished, that it must be forever preserved?
Please. If the registry was somehow immune to abolition, you’d think someone might have mentioned it during the election campaign just this spring when the Conservatives were loudly promising to do exactly that. Only after the issue is decided are we now told the issue can never be decided. It is the last, desperate gasp from a lost cause.
Quebec, imperious as ever, wants Ottawa simply to hand over the registry, thus allowing the continued persecution of duck hunters, farmers and target shooters in that province. Sorry, but abolishing the registry does not mean turning it over to another jurisdiction. For farmers, duck hunters and target shooters in Quebec, that would be more like the opposite of abolishing the registry.
That Quebec would expect the Harper government simply to betray these people reveals a level of arrogance approaching the pathological.
Now we are told that the government is required by law to hang onto the registry, apparently forever. To shred, burn and scatter it would supposedly violate the Archives Act and the Access to Information Act.
When opposition members raised these legal concerns the other day in question period, Conservatives reportedly responded with laughter.
They scratched and clawed for years to build a democratic mandate to abolish the registry. Now, within sight of the finish line, they were to be blocked by the Archives Act? How could they not laugh?
When the registry is abolished, its defenders forever more will accuse the government of acting illegally. Such is the nature of bitter-enders. What they won’t do, however, is take the government to court, the customary forum for determining what is illegal. They know as well as the Conservatives that legislation to abolish the registry, backed by a democratic mandate, trumps even the almighty Archives Act.
By long-standing tradition, government cannot bind the hands of subsequent governments. The Harper government cannot make it illegal, for example, for some future government to reinstate the long-gun registry. That is a decision for future governments to make, if they want to get turfed out of office just like the Liberals did.
In the meantime, the registry is as good as dead. We don’t need anyone snooping through the remains to see which guns are owned by what duck hunters. The idea now is to stop this, not to perpetuate it.
Let the shredding and burning and scattering begin.
Original web source: Regina Leader-Post