Last year I mentioned in this column that I was worried a bottle of bubbly I had purchased some time before would be flat before I could drink it to celebrate the end of the long gun registry in Canada.
“Well, was it flat?” some readers are now wondering, assuming I consumed it on Feb. 15th to celebrate when Bill C-19, “The Ending the Long Gun Registry Act,” easily passed third and final reading in the House of Commons, by the substantial margin of 159 to 130.
No, it wasn’t, when, as flatness insurance, I chilled and killed it over New Year’s Eve and Day, then got a new bottle on sale to celebrate when “The Ending the Long Gun Registry Act” actually becomes the law of the land, perhaps in six months or so, if we’re lucky.
In Canada we have to remember it’s never over t’til it’s over. I remember the cautionary joke that when PM Diefenbaker announced plans to build the PEI Causeway, several citizens were drowned the next day, driving off the highway ends on both sides of the strait.
Bill C-19 must pass the Senate before it becomes law, and the opposition minority there, led by the Liberals, promises (threatens?) to hold lengthy hearings of witnesses we have already heard too much from. No filibuster is threatened by any Senate member, just the pledge to give the bill the “sober second thought it deserves.”
Liberal Senate leader, James Cowan said the Tories took five months to move Bill C-19 through the House, taking their time with an issue that pleases their base and is a good fundraising tool. “But certainly it won’ be in Senate longer than in the House.”
Even some slightly tipsy first thought, some paying of attention to fact and science rather than raw emotion, in either the House of Commons or the Senate, back in 1995 when the Liberals hastily enacted the long gun registry, would have saved the country going-on three billion dollars for a flawed and useless boondoggle that has never been shown to have saved even one life.
What it did do is insult, criminalize and politically activate countless thousands of lawful Canadian long gun owners, collectors, hunters, target shooters, farmers and ranchers, and probably cost the Liberals countless thousands (at least they have never counted them) of supporters forever, of which I became one, when I finally woke up in 1995.
Back when I was Firearms Committee Chairman for the Canadian Wildlife Federation, I constantly had to oppose the anti-firearms forays of Warren Allmand, the dizzy twit who was Solicitor General of Canada from ’70 to ’76. Starting about then, in columns, articles and speeches, I opposed much federal government anti-gun legislation and regulation (but not owner licencing, training and safe storage requirements).
Those public civil liberties — individual freedom — efforts cost me, I have several times been reliably informed, an appointment to Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench. Am I bitter? No. I understand, as a former occasional political hack, that loyalty always trumps independent honesty.
Such thoughts one has at the New Year while sipping some bubbly before it goes flat! What never ceases to amaze me is that the most ill-considered and hastily enacted laws are the hardest and take the longest to get rid of. It seems that the bigger the mistake, the harder it is for politicians to admit and correct it.
At the provincial level, in Alberta, it probably will take forever to get rid of some great errors that were enacted in haste and by totally ignoring science: game ranching, mandatory barbless hooks, and imposing zero limits on brown trout streams that were already at their carrying capacity.
Amazingly, the anti-gun faction was hurt, disappointed, and found it deplorable that, after the passage of Bill C-19, some Tory MPs and some lobbyists who had been fighting the long gun registry for 17 years and still counting, popped some bubbly and celebrated the passage in the House of “The Ending the Long Gun Registry Act.” Yet, the anti gunners somehow seem to expect the rest of us to celebrate the non-sequitur of the wonderful registry on each anniversary of 1989’s tragic Montreal Massacre.
To their credit, the Tories understood the long gun registry was not just about uselessness and horrendous cost; it was also about human rights, civil liberties and individual freedoms. The Liberals, who never understood any of that, now seem to understand that the Conservative’s current draconian anti-crime measures — more prisons, mandatory minimum sentences, government hacking into the computers of the nation — are human rights and civil liberties issues and matters of individual freedom.
Respect for the civil liberties and individual freedom and rights of ordinary citizens is too slippery an eel, it seems, for any one political party to grasp, head to tail.
Anti-gunners and politicians both be damned; I’ll exercise my freedom to pop the cork on my bottle of bubbly to celebrate, whenever Bill C-19 passes the Senate.
Bob Scammell is an award-winning outdoors writer living in Red Deer.