Ignatieff Takes Aim at Gun Registry Changes

Michael Ignatieff MPOTTAWA – In a speech to hundreds of frontline police officers, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff proposed improvements to the long-gun registry that would address frustrating irritants for rural Canadians while giving our police the tools they need to keep our communities safe.

“You are the frontline of our system of justice, and we’re committed to giving you the tools you need to do your job,” Mr. Ignatieff told of the Canadian Police Association.  “That’s why the Liberal Party proudly stands with Canadian families and Canadian police officers for effective gun control.”

The federal gun registry is a legacy of former Liberal Justice Minister Alan Rock. The original cost was forecast to be about $100,000,000.00 but the overall cost has soared to billions.

The Liberal leader states “In 2009, the long-gun registry was consulted by police 11,000 times per day. The long-gun registry is supported by the Canadian Police Association, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Canadian Association of Police Boards”.

What Mr. Ignatieff didn’t report is that of those 11,000 consultations, they are because the gun registry is tied to the CPIC criminal reporting system, not to specific requests on long-guns.

“It would be wrong to ignore the frustration and legitimate criticisms that we have heard about the gun registry, particularly from rural Canada,” said Mr. Ignatieff. “That’s why, today, we’re announcing what a Liberal government would do to make the gun registry more effective, and to respond to these concerns.”

Mr. Ignatieff announced that a Liberal government would implement the following improvements to the long-gun registry:

•    First-time failures to register firearms would be treated as a simple, non-criminal, ticketing offence, instead of a criminal offence as they are currently;
•    Fees for new licenses, renewals and upgrades would be permanently eliminated; and
•    The registration process – especially the forms – would be streamlined to make  registration as easy as possible.

The Liberal leader allowed a free vote on a private member’s bill on the gun registry last year in the House of Commons. This time Ignatieff vows that the Liberals will whip the vote and force all the Liberal MPs to vote against the bill.

That bill brought forward by Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner passed in the House of Commons by 164-137 last November. Both Thunder Bay MPs, John Rafferty and Bruce Hyer supported the bill, as they promised.

“Canadians want gun control that works, and that treats gun owners fairly,” said Mr. Ignatieff.  “But we won’t abandon gun control. Not when rifles and shotguns are responsible for half the police officers killed in the line of duty in the last few years. Not when the gun registry is a vital tool that law enforcement uses every single day.”

“Let me be perfectly clear: the Liberal Party opposes the Conservative government’s effort to scrap the gun registry altogether and we will vote against the Hoeppner bill at third reading in the House of Commons,” said Mr. Ignatieff.  “Instead, we’re proposing sensible changes that address the legitimate concerns of our rural caucus, while upholding the integrity of the gun registry.”

The Liberal Party has launched an online opportunity to people to support the statements made by Ignatieff. You may visit the page at www.liberal.ca/publicsafety#form