When Glenn Thibeault announced his departure from the federal Dipper’s for the Liberal Party of Ontario earlier this week, he cited any number of reasons for quitting federal politics, but one significant omission that neither he nor anyone else among the punditry seemed to bring up, but that I suspect was a factor in his surprise move, was the return of the divisive gun registry issue.
Thibeault’s erstwhile boss in the NDP Tom Mulcair has promised to bring back the controversial registry albeit in a different and less intrusive form from the previous one. He also clearly didn’t check with Charlie Angus before making his declaration, a prominent member of his own party, who formerly favoured the Conservative’s campaign to abolish the registry (along with a handful of other New Democrats). Angus also hails from Northern Ontario (Timmins-James Bay), where the registry is largely reviled as a federal boondoggle, and the timing of Thibeault’s defection, being so close to the NDP’s doubling-down on bringing back the registry, is almost certainly not a coincidence.
Having said that, I doubt very much that Mulcair was playing politics with the issue in the way some in the right wing press like to portray the NPD position. Far more likely, the policy was announced when it was in large part because the 25th anniversary of the Polytechnique tragedy was being marked the very same day. Something Mulcair is reminded of everyday when he steps out of his office and is confronted with a monument to the 13 murder victims across the street from his constituency office.
In any event, the NDP under Mulcair has never wavered in its support for the registry (they’re squarely in the corner of the Province of Quebec as it takes its case before the Supreme Court of Canada to gain control of the data inexplicably being withheld by the Feds) and with good reason. Besides the obvious political advantages as the de-facto party representing Quebec federally, there are plenty of more sensible reasons to propose some new version of a gun registry that have little to do with winning the next election.
For starters, there are the opinions of a huge number of law enforcement officials in this country, at every level of policing, that favour some way of linking legal gun owners to their firearms (naturally, I understand the majority of gun crime in Canada stems from illegal fire arms) as a crime fighting tool. Something Mulcair well understands, with one his two sons’ working as a police officer.
As has been said by many, much more powerfully than I could possibly manage in this blog including Nathalie Provost, a victim herself of the violence unleashed by Marc Lépine, this is no different than asking people to register their cars. Mulcair also makes a valid point when he says that the type of semi-automatic weapon used by Lépine in his rampage should, at least, be heavily regulated if not banned outright for civilians, because no duck hunter or farmer in their right mind needs a weapon this deadly for their purposes. Sadly these instruments of destruction can still be purchased throughout Canada.
Of course, the New Democrat’s were not the only ones to get into hot water regarding the gun registry. Justice Minister Peter Mackay, also incurred the wrath of many including the opposition parties, when he claimed that the reasons for Marc Lépine’s killing sprees would never be known. Prompting both Mulcair and Trudeau to indignantly demand an apology on behalf of the Polytechnique victims (note to political leaders: no one party has a monopoly on this tragedy. Nor should they claim to speak for the victims). MacKay probably regrets the wording of his statement in the House. He clearly needs to be better educated on Marc Lépine’s motives and his remarks were poorly and perhaps too hastily expressed, but I will give him the benefit of the doubt, that he sincerely believes that the murderer’s madness is inexplicable and that he was attempting to show compassion for the women he targeted.
Photo Credit: National Post
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