Mr. Justin Trudeau
Member of Parliament for Papineau
I must say I was a little taken aback when I read that you had described the long-gun registry as a "failed policy," especially since you voted against its abolition in the House of Commons. Although you later attempted to clarify what your remarks, your stand on gun control is still not crystal clear. Unfortunately, your clarification sounded a bit like damage control to me. The truth is I am extremely disappointed in your comments. As an advocate of strict gun control, I had hoped that you would stand squarely and unequivocally with those who want to preserve restrictive gun control laws in Canada.
When you used the term "failed policy," most people immediately interpreted that to mean you opposed the policy and that you are pleased that it "failed." Canadians should not have to wait for a clarification. If you are to become the Prime Minister of Canada, you will need to communicate more effectively. What really disappointed me, however, is that you described gun ownership as "part of the culture of Canada." You went on to say that you "do not feel that there's a huge contradiction between keeping our cities safe from gun violence and gangs, and allowing this important facet of Canadian identity which is having a gun."
Maybe I'm missing something, Justin, but since when has owning a gun been an "important facet of Canadian identity?" I've always thought our stringent gun control laws are a source of Canadian pride, something that differentiated us from the large number of gun-toting, gun-loving Americans. We don't have a National Rifle Association here and we don't have millions of people devoted to a constitutional amendment guaranteeing them the right to bear arms.
What has gotten into you, Monsieur Trudeau? Are you under some kind of spell? Will you next say that guns don't kill people, people kill people? Have you been possessed by the spirit of Charlton Heston? Is this the same Justin Trudeau who just last year, on the anniversary of the tragic shooting of 14 women at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique, told The Globe and Mail that the Conservatives "have tried to separate the gun registry from the issue of violence against woman in a way that is not just unethical, but also completely counter to factual evidence." You then declared, "The gun registry saves lives. They are eliminating it."
Perhaps you are practising political pragmatism. The Liberal Party needs support in rural areas and in Western Canada, especially Alberta. Could that be the reason for your remarks? Now, don't get me wrong. It's not that I think the concerns of Western Canadians and rural voters should be ignored or that their views merit little consideration. I just think that hunters and people who live in rural areas should be willing to accept some red tape and some delays before they obtain permission to possess a firearm.
What's so terrible about filling out some forms and undergoing some background checks before acquiring a weapon? It's those measures that prevent guns from falling into the hands of violent and mentally unbalanced individuals. If hunters and country folk are truly law-abiding, why should it bother them so much to wait.a bit. They don't complain about having to pass a road test in order to drive a car, do they? They wouldn't want an incompetent or dangerous driver behind the wheel of a car, would they? Furthermore, urban dwellers are not the only victims of gun violence. Citizens in small towns and rural areas must also be protected from the abuse of firearms.
Canada's police chiefs supported the long-gun registry as a key tool in policing and no one can describe them as "bleeding heart liberals." Now that the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has destroyed the long-gun registry, it is setting its sights on further weakening gun control. In their usual insidious manner, the Conservatives are relaxing gun control legislation. They are doing it in a piecemeal fashion in the hope that not too many Canadians will notice and protest. Slowly and steadily, they have been turning Canada into a different country from the one I know and love. They continue to remove environmental regulations and now they are taking aim at gun control (pun intended). The abolition of the long-gun registry is not the end of it - not by a long shot.
Yesterday, on the 23rd anniversary of the Ecole Polytechnique massacre, the Toronto Star reported that the federal Conservatives are considering loosening firearm restrictions. According to the Star, "the proposed changes include getting rid of the 'prohibited' category and reclassifying weapons such as certain handguns and assault weapons as 'restricted only, and extending the duration of owner licences from five to 10 years - a move the RCMP warns would strip away an important safety check." How is this supportive of hunters and rural dwellers, I'd like to know? How many more gun tragedies need to happen?
The Tories must be laughing with glee right now, Justin, because you've given them plenty of ammunition (pun intended).to use against you. I'm sure they are already planning some vicious attack ads if you should become leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. It's a safe bet that they will be rerunning your remarks on gun control over and over again. I can already hear the background voices on their negatives ads: "Justin Trudeau voted against eliminating the long-gun registry. Now he's calling it a failed policy . . ."