It was a disgusting display by Jack Harris of the NDP talking over Vic Toews answering questions. Harris also repeatedly brought in irrelevant issues to the questions, licensing for instance. Several times he accused the government of doing away with “gun control” and licensing of firearms but the bill before committee was only about doing away with the registry. The NDP repeatedly talked about “feeling” safe instead of being safe. The registry has nothing to do with safety. Criminals don’t register firearms.
Fortunately the committee decided to admit into evidence previous deliberation on the issue from the previous session of parliament and limit meetings to five in number. The cancellation of the last meeting was due to votes in the House of Commons.
Presentations were by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, a The Canadian Labour Congress, an instructor of Canadian Firearms Safety course and a defence lawyer who sees lots of cases.
The CLC opposes C-19 on the grounds that somehow the firearms registry protects workers. I could not follow the logic. They brought up the murders of police officers and violence against women which has nothing to do with the registry and of course they brought up L’ecole Polytechnique and spousal murders neither of which would be affected by eliminating the long-gun registry. They also brought up suicide. Nothing about safety of workers and nothing to do with the registry.
The OFAH supported the bill because the registry is a failure and commented that the basis of the registry was inspired by the Coalition for Gun Control, gun-haters, and did not address violent crime. The OFAH mentioned that firearms crimes have been falling since the 1970s long before the registry existed. The OFAH also contradicted the CLC because social workers etc. who visit home do not have access to the registry so it is irrelevant to work-place safety. The OFAH also pointed out other fallacies in the opposition’s position.
Solomon Friedman a criminal defence lawyer pointed out that the criminal law is applied to innocent violations of the registration provisions of the Criminal Code. He has seen the registry being used to subject the law-abiding citizen to less constitutional protection. As a lawyer he finds the law overly complex even for him. He sees the old law as punishment of the innocent and a wedge between gun owners and the police.
A sergeant of the Saskatoon police, and firearms expert, Murray Grismer stated that as a spokesman of police officers he could say that a poll of officers found 99.4% opposed to the registry. Legislation cannot prevent random acts of violence. Police do not trust the registry and see it as a waste of time and a risk to police officers. In a question Jack Harris attempted to impeach sergeant Grismer who has 25 years of experience in policing and assists prosecutors and courts. Jack Harris tried to put words in his mouth and ridiculed his position on smuggling. Sergeant Grismer said that handguns are smuggled largely and rarely long guns.
Candice Hoeppner asked Grismer whether or not he would ever get a warrant for arrest or search on the basis of the registry. He said not because he knew that there are too many errors in the database to swear before a judge that the information he has is correct. The OFAH expressed anger that two NDP MPs were punished by the NDP for supporting elimination of the registry in accordance with the wishes of citizens.
I hope this thing gets done ASAP. It’s just crazy to apply criminal law to peaceful ownership of property, ordinary tools of life by those who go on the land.
see coverage on CPAC