I'm a bit tired of the gun registry debate. As an issue, it's importance has been far superseded by the amount of attention it has received. An up or down vote, an acknowledgement that the issue has completely different resonance for those in urban areas and those in rural and the perhaps a compromise bill that recognizes and acknowledges those differences -- then on to other issues!
In politics however, perception is everything and so this will played up as a major defeat (and deservedly so) for the Tories who have been trying to play wedge politics with the issue. Harper has been acting as if he will take the failure to abolish the registry this time around as cause for a personal vendetta against everyone who disagreed with him even though early in his career he was in favour of the registry. People wonder why the discourse can`t be more civil during the daily question period? Based on the course of this debate I`d hazard to guess it`s because the majority of the players have hyper-sensitive and over-inflated egos -- kind of like the adolescent high-schoolers they're often compared to.
To make my point for me today, Candice Hoeppner the Manitoba MP who originally sponsored the bill to kill the registry, rolled up to the Commons in an SUV decked out with signs advocating killing the registry and proceeded to have a snit over word the NDP MP Peter Stoffer had changed his mind on how he was going to vote. The MP from Nova Scotia has decided that even though he personally is against the registry that since the majority of his constituency are for keeping it, he is obliged to vote their wishes. That prompted this response from Ms. Hoeppner, `...if Mr. Stoffer’s decision wasn’t so sad, it would be laughable.” Actually if you like the idea of representative democracy it's rather admirable but I'm digressing.
Believe it or not there are arguments to be made for abolishing the registry that could be made without engaging in this style of politicking -- but even those who stand to benefit from that are unwilling to disengage from the us vs them rhetoric over the issue. American style politics is truly making inroads in Canada.
As you may or not be aware, Canada currently maintains a registry of all legal gun owners in the country through its acquisition licensing system. That database is more complete and up-to-date than the long-gun list because gun owners need to prove they are in it every time they buy basic supplies such as ammunition. So rather than checking the long-gun registry to see whether a specific weapon is registered, police can always check the more complete acquisition list to see whether anybody has the right to even own a gun legally.
Still, here in urban Canada there is a widespread consensus that we have our own set of concerns and want to see the registry maintained -- should someone from Portage-Lisgar Manitoba be dictating to us on this issue? Frankly, I would like to see Candice Hoeppner roll up to UQAM or Dawson College here in Montreal and try that kind of grandstanding.
More to the point though, the Liberal leader and Mr. Layton have both proposed changes aimed at satisfying the large numbers of rural Canadians who are opposed to the registry, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper has indicated no willingness to take them up on it. So, enjoy the bitter defeat if that's what you wish to achieve Mr. Harper -- it's all your own doing.