Canada: "PM set to shoot down gun-registry foes"


March 19, 2003, 08:00 AM
from the Globe News site

PM set to shoot down gun-registry foes

Liberal MPs voting against $59-million outlay could face disciplinary action


Wednesday, March 19, 2003

OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Jean Chrétien is expected to lay down the law to his caucus today, warning that next week's controversial vote requesting more money for the embattled gun registry will be a vote of confidence.

His edict is part of a vigorous lobbying effort to ensure the request for another $59-million in funding is approved and the gun registry remains intact.

His warning means that any government MP voting against the estimates request could face disciplinary action, including being removed from caucus.

It comes, too, after Solicitor-General Wayne Easter told reporters yesterday that the vote would be one of confidence.

"Of course estimates are a vote of confidence. There is no question about it. It's money," Mr. Easter said.

This is the second attempt by the government to request more money for the registry. Last December it was forced to back down on its initial request for $72-million after outrage and pressure by the opposition and some of its own backbenchers.

"If we lose it, it's disastrous," a Liberal official said.

But there were indications yesterday that some Liberal backbenchers are not backing down.

Sarnia MP Roger Gallaway and Senator Anne Cools distributed a strongly worded eight-page missive urging their Liberal colleagues to vote against more money for the "disastrous Firearms Program."

"We believe that the question of granting the minister more money for this program has now become a moral question and is reaching a moral crisis, perhaps even reaching a constitutional crisis," the letter says. "Voting to grant the minister more money would be an immoral act."

The letter also criticizes reports about musings from the Prime Minister that he would call a snap election if a confidence motion was voted down.

The letter writers refer to this as a "tool of coercion of his own Liberal members."

The document, which includes a letter and detailed reasons outlining why the funding should be opposed, was signed by Mr. Gallaway, Ms. Cools, Senator Herb Sparrow and Liberal MPs John Efford, Joe Comuzzi and Lawrence O'Brien.

This heated debate that has developed over the gun registry is the result of a stunning report delivered last year by Auditor-General Sheila Fraser.

Ms. Fraser found that the program, which was to have cost only $2-million, had now cost $700-million. Her estimates were that by 2005 it would balloon to more than $1-billion.

Outraged by the bloated program, Liberal MPs then forced the government to back down on its first request last December for more funding.

Though it is expected that only a handful of Liberal MPs will oppose the motion, and that it will pass, the government is leaving nothing to chance.

Earlier this week, Solicitor-General Wayne Easter met with a small group of Liberals in Parliament, including Mr. Gallaway, Ms. Cools and Mr. Efford. Mr. Easter, who takes over responsibility of the program in April from Justice Minister Martin Cauchon, did not change their minds on the issue.

Mr. Gallaway said that Mr. Easter was asked what his plans are for the program, but he" had no answer." The MP is also miffed that this has suddenly become a matter of confidence.

"It was not a confidence matter on Dec. 5 [when the government first tried for $72-million in funding] -- but now through the mystery of Parliament it has become a confidence matter on March 25," he said.

"If estimates are always a confidence matter then Liberal MPs have no role here other than to be a rubber stamp."

Meanwhile, members of the Coalition for Gun Control have been calling MPs and urging them to vote for the estimates.

Coalition president Wendy Cukier accused some MPs of pretending they support gun control but not additional funding.

"Well, I'm sorry. If you don't support funding for the program you're killing it," she said.

© 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc

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March 19, 2003, 08:57 AM
Prime Minister Jean Chrétien

Is that last name pronounced "kreet-in" ? ? ? :evil:

sorry, couldn't bad

March 19, 2003, 12:23 PM
Hey, all you THR guys in Canada.
Now is your chance to ring up your representatives(MP's?) and suggest strongly that they give the PM a vot of no confidence. It would seem that $700 million to $1 billion would go a long way toward helping the military get some updated equipment.

Get the word out and get out and vote!


March 19, 2003, 12:37 PM
I've been on the phone about this too many times to count over the last 5 years, but it hasn't done any good; we've got two main problems up here. One, our political system makes the idea of democracy a joke, because politicians are essentially forced to vote in party blocks; a politician who doesn't vote with their party can be punished in any number of ways, up to and including expulsion, or the party leader's refusal to sign their nomination papers for the next election. This ties in with problem number two; politicians (and most other people for that matter) will value their security more than their principles, so they're only too happy to go along to get along. Sure, they'll make all sorts of promises about "representing you in Parliament", but when it comes down to it, all that they're really there for is to represent Parliament to you. Since the British parliamentary system is what we're stuck with (at least until someone gets the balls to scrap it, and replace it with something that works), people end up having to choose the party or party leader that they dislike the least, and if that means they get screwed on one issue or another, so be it. Every day that passes, I look towards the US as what Canada MIGHT have become, and emigration is looking more and more like a good idea.

March 19, 2003, 01:17 PM
Well, I don't have any confidence in Cretien. :D

I've also found it very profitable to call bluffs.... :rolleyes:

March 19, 2003, 01:24 PM
What would you expect from a french cretin? (The word "french" not capitalized intentionally)

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