(This column was published in the North Shore News on Dec. 18, 2002)


Gun registry was ill-conceived from start

 By Leo Knight

With the latest billion-dollar boondoggle, freshly exposed by Auditor General Sheila Fraser, the former Justice Minister Anne McLellan finds herself between a Rock and a "head" case.


In 1995, then justice minister Allan Rock decided what this country needed was a great big new registry so law abiding citizens of Canada could spend some pocket money not already stolen by the federal government filling out forms registering Uncle Dan's squirrel gun.


And he said it would only cost us taxpayers $2 million to administer. That was then.


Well, needless to say, before anyone could sing Send in the Clowns, the price tag shot up to a billion dollars.


The prime minister is now overseeing virtually a minority government as he meanders aimlessly to a retirement date well over a year away. While his party has over 170 seats in the 301-seat House of Commons, he only controls somewhere around 120. He could be toppled at any time by the anointed one, Paul Martin.


Ah yes, the Next One. Weaned in cradle-to-grave national nannyism by daddy, Paul Sr., Junior is only masquerading as a moderate. Martin has had a front row seat at every economic decision the Chrétien government has made. Why the mainstream media is giving him such an easy ride is simply beyond me.


And, I might add, he has been along for every dime misspent on the profoundly stupid long-barrel gun registration program sired by Rock, nursed into obscene obesity by Anne McLellan and finally sheltered by current Justice Minister Martin Cauchon, the designated government cheerleader following Sept. 11 for his unbelievably banal comments in the House and out.


But I despair for our country. Really I do. Never mind the Human Resources Development Canada missing billions, the laughable grants program vigorously defended by Minister Jane Stewart, long a Chrétien disciple. There was the millions siphoned off to alleged advertising contracts to pals of the Liberals. Perish the thought those companies had to actually do anything meaningful for the money.


The gun registry program was ill-conceived and ill-fated from day one. From its origins when Rock claimed it would cost a mere $2 million to his successor, McLellan, pegging the total at $87 million only two years later, this mess has bloated in a manner that only a bureaucracy run amok can.


All designed to achieve what? Facing withering fire since Fraser launched her first fusillade two weeks ago, Rock has claimed the registry has saved anywhere from 124 to 1,240 lives since its inception. The wildly vacillating numbers seemingly only related to whichever audience is on the receiving end of this bovine scatology.


Rock, McLellan, Cauchon and the PM himself, all deride critics saying if you are not for the gun registry you are not for public safety. With the spin doctors working overtime to deflect the damage, even the RCMP are saying the registry database is between 20 and 40 per cent inaccurate. Not too mention that only somewhere between 60-70 per cent of long barrel weapons have been registered and a Dec 31 deadline looming large lest citizens find themselves on the wrong side of the law, this mess has yet to see the worst of the news.


Add to this the fact that Government House Leader, Don "Binder Boy" Boudria had to withdraw a Parliamentary request for an additional $72 million, one wonders how that bloated bureaucracy is going to complete the registry.


To underline the foolishness of all this, one need only look to the street war being fought on the streets of the Lower Mainland among the Indo-Canadian gangs. To date, there are 64 murders associated with the tit-for-tat killing spree. The gun registry has been in effect since the war started and has not prevented one solitary murder nor has it assisted the police in the investigation of the brutal murders. The weapon of choice has been semi-automatic pistols which have been subject to registration laws in Canada since 1934.


I wonder how many of those murders might not have occurred and how many of the gang members might be in jail had the government allocated even a tenth of the money wasted on the registry to the Organized Crime Agency of B.C. (OCABC), which still functions with the same paltry budget the former Co-ordinated Law Enforcement Unit had in 1998.


To put it in perspective, one tenth of the wasted money would be more than five times the current budget of OCABC.


Instead of dealing with the problems that are really facing us and giving the police the resources to have an effect, the Liberals defend the bloated bureaucracy and Cauchon talks about decriminalizing marijuana. A priority maybe for the owners of the head shops and other potheads, but really, is this where this government should be focusing their attention?


This is a government mired in mediocrity and systemic corruption. And then on Sunday we learned of a ship carrying 6,000 Russian-made assault weapons destined for Vancouver intercepted by the Italian authorities. Good thing too. Had the Italians missed them, the guns would have arrived for use by whichever organized crime or terrorist group ordered them. The government you see, won't let the Coast Guard leave the dock for patrols.


There's no money for such things apparently.






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