4 min

The registry survives

By now you’ve heard (ad nauseum, probably), that the long-gun registry survived by a vote of 153 to 151. Stephen Harper and his chief apple polisher Candice Hoeppner are vowing that the issue isn’t dead (even though it can’t come back in this current session, according to Parliamentary procedure), and that those MPs who changed their votes will pay the price.

And it’s not like the rhetoric didn’t get cranked up to 11 either. For days it’s been “You’re not standing up for your constituents” from the Conservatives, and so today, the Liberals hit back and deconstructed some of the Conservative rhetoric. Where the Conservatives will continually go back to this meme of “You’re criminalizing law-abiding farmers and duck hunters,” the Liberals took one of Hoeppner’s comments and torqued it just that little extra bit.

The result? That the Conservatives are soft on domestic violence, since they don’t apparently believe that it’s a crime. After all, the gun registry has proven to have a huge impact on suicide prevention and intimate partner violence in this country. And during Question Period, Marlene Jennings took one of Vic Toews’ talking points about the registry not stopping criminals being on the streets, to which she heckled, “So if the crime’s committed in the home, then I guess that’s okay?”

There were other distractions along the way, like the “leaked” tale of Liberal MP Scott Simms, who ended up changing his vote on the registry, in part because of his father’s suicide by long gun during the summer. And then the vote came and went.

What amazes me is that the one message the police organizations kept emphasizing was virtually ignored by everyone involved – politicians, victims' groups, gun control lobbyists and hunters' groups. That message was that the registry was more valuable as a means of ensuring that gun owners take responsibility for the guns in their possession, and it was more valuable to solve crimes that have already happened than it was in terms of preventing gun crime. Yes, there are the statistics on suicide and domestic violence, but that key phrase – taking responsibility – was continually drowned out. A gun owner was responsible if that gun was used in a crime – which is why charges were laid in the Mayerthorpe incident, because the registry traced the guns to those two individuals. Now whether that’s because “saving lives” is considered a sexier sell in politics, or because nobody likes to take responsibility for anything in this current age of entitlement, well, I will leave for others to decide. But it was something that continually struck me as the rhetoric flew from all sides. And it was rhetoric for the most part.

Much of the rest of Question Period focused oddly on Flaherty’s partisan rant at the Economic Club on Tuesday, rather than, say the Sean Bruyea case from Veterans' Affairs. (Incidentally, David Akin tracks down the dubious sources of Flaherty’s claim that the Liberals would kill “400,000 jobs.” Scott Feschuk reads between the lines of said speech, and Ignatieff mocked it after caucus.)

Nevertheless, Ignatieff took all five top Liberal spots during QP, which was unusual – the first three on Flaherty, the next two on the registry. The Bloc and even Jack Layton’s first two questions were on Flaherty’s rant, and it wasn’t until that third NDP question that Bruyea came up, and then again not until the supplemental of Marc Garneau’s repeated question from the day before on the retroactivity of the new funds announced for veterans. And just what did Harper have to say about the Bruyea case? That it was the bureaucrats’ fault and also the Liberals in government before him. Jean-Pierre Blackburn told Garneau he couldn’t comment on cases before the courts (this is before the courts?) and later told the media that employees shouldn’t be able to go into files. But what about ministerial responsibility? Doesn’t that mean that you need to take the fall for this? Oh, wait – ministerial accountability apparently only means what they want it to, when it’s convenient for them.

The rest of QP was still a bit fraught – stimulus funding deadlines (to which Chuck Strahl responded that municipalities signed agreements that said they would get the work done by March 31, so apparently delays that are outside of their controls, like material shortages, are too bad for them), the HST, the F-35 fighter jets, the long-form census (for which Tony Clement accused the questioners of trying to change the channel from the registry debate), and just what the government was going to do about the damage caused by Hurricane Igor (which is apparently work with provincial and municipal officials).

Sartorially speaking, snaps go to Alexandra Mendes’ black jacket with the white triangular grid patterns. And Cathy McLeod’s grey patterned jacket with the well-cut white top makes three for three for good days. Not so good was Tilly O’Neill-Gordon’s dusky rose overshirt with a black and pink floral dress, or Marc Lemay’s garish red-patterned tie with an otherwise autumnal brown suit and orange shirt. And the Megan Leslie outfit watch reports a white top (perhaps a bit oddly cut), with cropped black trousers and fuchsia shoes, which was a pretty decent look.

The Toronto Star has come across documents that don’t exactly match up with what Rahim Jaffer said about his relationship with Nazim Gillani. Imagine that.

Vic Toews says thanks but no thanks to the Commons public safety committee on appearing before them to discuss prison farms. But wait – weren’t ministers supposed to be appearing more before these committees as a commitment to “ministerial responsibility”? Oh, right. Only if it suits them, and only if they can try to derail the committee. How silly of me to have forgotten.

On the subject of prisons, it looks like the government put some $50 million into dealing with mentally ill prisoners – but didn’t have any plans or programming in place, so it all just kind of dispersed into the system with little accountability. But hey, they spent the money, so everything must be a-okay.

And finally, Libby Davies writes the Russian ambassador to ask for the release of queer activist Nikolai Alexeyev.
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