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Bigger issues than registry

In its 15 years of existence, the long-gun registry faced its closest call with death on Sept. 22, and just narrowly avoided elimination by a margin of 153-151 in a House of Commons vote.

In its 15 years of existence, the long-gun registry faced its closest call with death on Sept. 22, and just narrowly avoided elimination by a margin of 153-151 in a House of Commons vote.

Many people of this northeast area of Alberta and the 143 Conservatives, six New Democrats, and two Independent MPs who voted to pass a bill to kill the registry faced bitter disappointment with the defeat.

The private member’s bill to eliminate the long-gun registry had passed a preliminary vote quite handily in November, with the support of eight Liberals and 12 NDPs.

So what happened with last Wednesday’s vote? Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff whipped his party into voting as a block to save the registry, something that may hurt him and his party in the long run as Liberals forced to do a flip-flop may find themselves losing their seats in the next election. NDP Leader Jack Layton walked a fine line with political savvy - he allowed his MPs a free vote, but convinced enough of them to save the registry, arguing that changes to the long-gun registry might make it more effective.

As it stands now, is the long gun registry a waste of money? Yes, probably, and it’s easy to see why rural constituents are frustrated with a scheme that forces them to register their long guns used for hunting or farming, while not doing anything to stop or prevent crime necessarily.

But in the grand scheme of things, $2 billion spent over the course of more than a decade is chump change compared to the annual federal budget. Plus, that money is spent now already, and getting rid of the registry means it really is money spent for no good reason.

The Conservatives are definitely playing politics and have managed to turn this issue into a political hot potato, even though it’s hard to argue the long-gun registry is the government’s most important agenda item, or even as meaningful as questions about the economy, national security, environment, etc.

Before making the registry a wedge issue, and driving a huge and essentially meaningless divide between urban and rural voters and creating further unnecessary acrimony in the House, politicians of all stripes and their constituents should at least see what the possibilities are for coming up with a compromise solution to fix the long-gun registry. If a better alternative can not be found, then let the long gun registry die – or not, as the case may be. After all, there are bigger fish on the national plate to fry.





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