Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hello, Conservative base? It's me, Stephen

Last week, Stephen Harper hinted a debate would soon begin on scrapping the gun registry. More developments today on the re-connecting with a Conservative base annoyed with all the crazy spending front:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will give the keynote address at the 81st annual general meeting of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters next month.

The conference of the Peterborough-based federation will be held in Mississauga, Ont., from March 19 to 21.

Harper will deliver his remarks on the conference's final day.

The conference includes speakers on a number of topics including the moose program review, hydro power and the demographics of anglers and hunters.

Oh, and speaking of the gun registry (h/t Warren):
On Monday February 9th an elated Greg Rickford, MP for Kenora, stood proudly in the House of Commons to support Saskatchewan M.P. Garry Breitkreuz as he introduced a Private Members’ Bill to scrap the decade-old Canadian long-gun registry -- Bill C-301. “Gary has been working on this issue for a long time and I’m very pleased to see he is getting the chance see it through and get the long-gun registry dismantled once and for all.” Mr. Breitkreuz is near the top of the list for introducing a Private Members’ Bill which is typically difficult to pass through the house. “This Private Members’ Bill is special and may be different” said a hopeful Rickford.

Elated, that's cute. Interesting though that this isn't a government bill. Rather, it's a private member's bill sponsored by a backbench MP. Which has to make one question the Harper government's seriousness on the issue. It seems to my biased eyes like the Conservatives are making a rather half-assed attempt to assuage their base. Action if necessary, but not necessarily action.

The Conservatives have made no effort in three years to scrap or seriously modify the gun registry, despite it being supposedly an important party policy. Now, with their base upset over the budget, we get some vague promises of a future debate from Harper and a private member's bill from a backbench MP.

Will this half-hearted action mollify anyone in their party? I can't say but if I were them, I'd be asking why not a government bill? Are you serious or not? Maybe a more serious push will come. We'll see. But in the mean time, it seems like the Conservative strategy is more likely to just piss everyone off: their base will be annoyed with a lack of seriousness, and the left will be annoyed with an attack on gun control.

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burlivespipe said...

Yes, let the back benches do the work. It seems Harper doesn't want to get his hands dirty and all.
Which reminds me, I hope we Liberals are plowing into the government and its invisible 'tough-on-crime' actions that have done nothing to curtail gang violence, especially as it blossoms here in the Lower Mainland. Where are those extra police Harper said in 2006 he was going to hire? Why did he continually throw his crime omnibus bill on the barby (ie proroguing parliament, a time honoured Harper event) just when it was entering the final stages of passing? What are they doing to crack down on illegal guns, which apparently by police reports, are coming across the border in staggering numbers?
This is 'their issue' that seems to be open to criticism...

WesternGrit said...

This will be one of those "wedge" issues that galvanizes their "nut-job" base, while jelling our support in urban areas. We're back to 1997. This is nothing but good for us.

Burl: Didn't know you were "Lower Mainland". I'm with you on the illegal handguns. Conservatives keep talking about stolen guns being the reason for crime (which is true for gangs, but not in the case of a majority of gun crime - domestic violence), but don't ask where those stolen guns come from (many stolen from local homes - which a registry can help with - and DOES according to Police Chiefs).

We need real "tough" on guns laws. We cannot have a safe society without it. For Conservatives to blame "across border" stolen guns for everything is akin to passing the crime issue over to the US. If they're serious about fighting it, why don't they start lobbying the US and the NRA for tougher gun laws down there - the same way the US is always lobbying Canada and Mexico on the "war on drugs"...

A BCer in Toronto said...

I added CNKW and CBCBC to my twitter feed and it seems every story on my twitter now is about stabbings or shootings. What the heck is going on in BC? Or is this media sensationalism?

WesternGrit said...

Media sensationalism. We hear more about crime because of the plethora of networks and web nowadays. Years ago - when crime rates were higher - people were murdered in greater numbers, but it was relegated to pg3 news in the local paper, or covered on one of two channels. Now we have 24 hr news.

I will say, however, that the "gansta worshipping" culture in the youth nowadays has something to do with the brashness and "movie style" of these murders. But, in the end, they are just that - murders.

To continue lowering crime as we have over the past decades, we need to work WITH youth, and with the families (who bear much responsibility for their actions). This takes time and takes resources.

G said...

You fail to see the brilliance of this strategy. The reality is that many members of the opposition parties support the notion of scrapping the registry. The NDP have widespread roots in rural communities, and at last count 11 NDP MP's have voiced their support. Likewise, the Liberals are in the same boat; they can not help but admit that the failure of bill C-68 is their own and every time the $2-billion figure is mentioned, its a millstone around their necks. Ingnatieff himself has acknowledged how "the failed registry has angered rural residents".
The fact that this has been proposed as a Private Member's Bill, affords opposition MP's the ability to "vote their conscience" in supporting the bill, without compromising their official party position. In fact, the only party to appose C-301 with consensus, may be the Bloc. This, despite the fact that Quebec is one of the most populous hunting provinces for long-gun ownership.
The facts are clear and well documented, Bill C-68 is a universally acknowledged failure. It has cost upwards of $2 Billion dollars to operate over the past 10 years, it has not documented one-single life saved as a result, and most importantly it has spent valuable resources monitoring and persecuting citizens who have taken the trouble to comply fully, 100% with the law, rather than stopping those criminals who ignore firearms laws, property laws as well as laws against violent crimes against persons.
Hunters, Sportsmen, Target Shooters and Olympians are not the problem in this country; Criminals who don't obey ANY laws are.

WesternGrit said...

It's funny how people can say "criminal" and affix that label while not realizing that at one time "criminals" were "law-abiding" citizens too. Very often their crime was picking up a rifle or shotgun and using it in a "domestic" dispute, or "hunting accident" - which means they were just like any of us before that point. Keep in mind that "domestics" and killings between people who know each other (work acquaintances, school, or family) are THE PREDOMINANT gun-related murder types.

"Not a single case of a life being saved"... Are you f'n blind? Ask the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs how many times the registry has been used BEFORE going into a situation which is potentially dangerous to police. Ask the Police Chiefs how many times the registry HAS saved lives.

Very often the gun lobby brings the argument back down to "peaceful rural types" who need their guns for hunting. Did you know that that is the biggest breeding ground for gun violence? Guess where there are more grow-ops per capita than the cities? Ever been to Drayton Valley Alberta? Indian Head Sask.? Estevan Sask? These "rural" areas are hotbeds for drugs, drug abuse, and gun culture. The difference (and I was a small town denizen, so I know) is that people don't talk about it. People keep it "in the family".

Let's look at the "cost" for a moment. A government program that cost $2 Billion. Oh Lord... say it ain't so.

Sure there were cost overruns which should be quashed, and fixed the next time. But look at it this way: if you build a bridge, and the cost goes way over what was originally thought, should we tear it down and start from scratch again? This is the argument the gun lobby is using. For those of us who WANT some form of gun control, consider that we MUST HAVE some sort of registry, and some sort of control. The 2 Billion breaks down to $200 Million per year over 10 years. Hmmm.. I can point to a LOT more government projects that cost more than that. And Harper shouldn't complain - considering his $80 BILLION DOLLAR boondoggle of a budget...