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Canada: : National Post Editorial - Wayne Easter's misplaced pride

Discussion in 'Legal' started by WAGCEVP, Jul 10, 2003.

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    WAGCEVP Member

    May 26, 2003

    > PUBLICATION: National Post
    > DATE: 2003.07.10
    > EDITION: National
    > SECTION: Editorials
    > PAGE: A19
    > SOURCE: National Post Laws and regulations; Canada

    > Wayne Easter's misplaced pride

    > Wayne Easter, the federal Solicitor-General, claims Ottawa's firearms
    > registry has "stood the test." Indeed, Mr. Easter is so proud of the
    > program, he had his officials sing its praises this week at the United
    > Nations, and encouraged other member states to follow Canada's lead. But
    > given the many scandals that have plagued the program, these comments
    > eyebrows back home. Indeed, this month brought a fresh gun-registry
    > Thanks to Ottawa's incompetence, 300,000 law-abiding gun owners were
    > into criminals on July 1.
    > Ottawa's firearms law required all gun owners to have possession licences
    > Jan. 1, 2001, and to register all of their guns by Jan. 1 this year.
    > However, there are at least a quarter-million licensed owners with no guns
    > registered to their names. All last year, Ottawa warned such owners they
    > to have at least one firearm registered against their names by the end of
    > 2002 to avoid investigation: Under the new gun law, it is a criminal
    > to be in possession of an unregistered firearm, for whatever reason. Even
    > mistake on a registration form that causes Ottawa's computers to reject an
    > application can technically make an owner a criminal, and liable for up to

    > 10 years in prison. (Mr. Easter claims the sentence is six months, but
    > Section 92(3)(b) of the Criminal Code says otherwise.)
    > There are still at least 250,000 Canadians in this boat -- in possession
    > a valid owners licence, but without a single gun registered in their
    > By default, Ottawa now considers these duck hunters and target shooters to
    > be criminals. Thanks to the frequent crashes that afflict the clunky,
    > patchwork computer system at the Canadian Firearms Centre, certificates
    > could not be produced fast enough to meet the deadline, but the burden is
    > gun owners: If the system screws up, Ottawa considers them to be criminals
    > -- even if they have done all they can to comply with the silly and
    > draconian registry scheme.
    > Forget the United Nations: Mr. Easter cannot even get Canadian police to
    > enforce his law. A half-dozen members of the Canadian Unregistered
    > Owners Association have been presenting themselves at police stations
    > the country since the July 1 deadline. They have been showing police that
    > they have no registrations and asking officers to charge them. So far, no
    > takers. Why? Because it is hard for anyone -- except Mr. Easter -- to
    > imagine such charges not being laughed out of court.
    > On top of this, Ottawa's compliance numbers are screwy, and seem to have
    > been massaged to make the registry appear a greater success than it is. As
    > recently as May, 1998, for instance, Ottawa estimated there were three
    > million gun owners. But as the deadline for licensing owners approached,
    > Ottawa revised its estimate downward. Now, instead of 3.3 million --
    > a low number based on historic ownership data -- there were suddenly just
    > 2.3 million. Thus does a compliance rate of about 60% become nearly 90%.
    > The same deflationary phenomenon was observed in regard to estimates of
    > number of guns. Earlier federal estimates put the figure at 10-to-15
    > firearms -- again, consistent with historic statistics. But then, 10-to-15
    > million became just 7.9 million.
    > Garry Breitkreuz, the Alliance critic for firearms, estimates a compliance
    > rate for owners' licences of as low as 38%, and very likely no more than
    > 58%. He pegs compliance for registering guns at between 36% and 54%. Why
    > would we take the word of an Opposition pol over that of the government?
    > Because Mr. Breitkreuz has a strong record on the file: For years, he has
    > been warning that the registry was going to cost Canadians $1-billion,
    > as the Liberals assured us the true net cost would be 1/500th of that.
    > December, the Auditor-General proved Mr. Breitkreuz correct.
    > Canada's gun registry has become a sad symbol of government overspending
    > incompetence. The last thing Mr. Easter should be doing is encouraging
    > nations to copy Canada's billion-dollar folly.
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