House votes to kill long-gun registry

OTTAWA — Federal Conservatives erupted in cheers Wednesday after finally securing House of Commons approval to scrap the controversial long-gun registry.

OTTAWA — Federal Conservatives erupted in cheers Wednesday after finally securing House of Commons approval to scrap the controversial long-gun registry.

The Harper government used its majority to pass the bill by a vote of 159-130, with the support of two maverick New Democrats — John Rafferty and Bruce Hyer.

All other NDP, Liberal, Bloc Quebecois and Green MPs voted against it.

The vote effectively puts the registry on life support; all that remains is for the Senate to pull the plug. Since the Conservatives enjoy a commanding majority in the upper chamber as well, the registry’s fate is sealed.

“They’ve got the majority and unless something extraordinary happens, it will pass,” acknowledged Liberal Senate leader James Cowan.

Cowan said Liberal senators will ensure the bill is examined thoroughly at committee and that both supporters and opponents of the registry are given sufficient time to be heard one more time. But he said Liberals will not “delay, obstruct or filibuster” the bill.

However, Quebec served noticed that the moment the bill is enacted, the province will launch court action to prevent the registry records from being destroyed.

Since taking office in 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has repeatedly vowed to kill the long-gun registry. But he’s been thwarted until now by the opposition parties, which held the upper hand in the Commons until Harper captured his coveted majority in last May’s election.

“Many of us have waited for this day for a very long time,” Public Safety Minister Vic Toews told a news conference earlier Wednesday.

He said it’s the end of a campaign that began for him 15 years ago, when he was attorney general of Manitoba. And he called it an important day for Conservatives, who have opposed the registry for years.

Toews said the registry — created by Jean Chretien’s Liberal government following the massacre of 14 women at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique on Dec. 6, 1989 — is “a billion-dollar boondoggle” that does nothing but penalize law-abiding hunters and farmers.

“It does nothing to help put an end to gun crime, nor has it saved one Canadian life,” he argued.

However, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has argued strenuously in favour of keeping the registry, calling it an essential law enforcement tool. The association says police consult the registry, on average, more than 10,000 times a day, often to determine the possible presence of a shotgun or rifle in a home where they’ve received a domestic violence call.

While the Tories were congratulating themselves, the end of the registry was being mourned by others.

“This is a sad day for victims of violence,” said interim NDP Leader Nycole Turmel.

Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae slammed the Tories’ “triumphalism” and said the more they celebrate the registry’s demise, “the more they distance themselves from where most Canadians are on this question.”

Women’s groups and victims of gun violence expressed outrage.

The Coalition for Gun Control reiterated its complaint that the bill goes beyond simply ending the registration of shot guns and rifles, including the semi-automatic Ruger Mini-14 used at Ecole Polytechnique.

The lobby group said gun dealers will no longer have to record information on the guns they sell and to whom, “severely crippling the ability of the police to trace firearms recovered in crime.” Moreover, it said individuals will be able to acquire unlimited numbers of long guns without having to prove they have valid firearms licences.

The Tories were planning a reception on Parliament Hill following Wednesday’s vote to celebrate the end of the registry.

News of the celebration drew condemnation in Quebec, where support for the registry is strong.

The leader of the separatist Parti Quebecois began question period in the National Assembly by reading off the names of the 14 women gunned down at Ecole Polytechnique.

“After creating an online countdown clock announcing the end of the registry, we hear Conservative MPs will celebrate their victory tonight like it was a hockey match,” said PQ Leader Pauline Marois. “It’s shameful, disgusting and revolting.”

Quebec is ready to go to court to block the Conservative plan to destroy the existing registry records once the legislation becomes law.

“We can’t launch a suit to get the data before the law receives (royal) assent,” Public Safety Minister Robert Dutil said.

“Our people have been duly advised that, the moment that assent occurs, legal action will be tabled in order to preserve the data.”

Toews was adamant that the information will be erased as soon as possible after the bill becomes law.

He said the government can’t shoot down the registry while keeping the records, the essence of the registry, in existence.

He said Quebec can start its own registry, but can’t expect any federal help.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The expansion of the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre has been discussed for over a decade. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer hospital expansion gets about $6 million in 2021 provincial budget

According to the government’s three-year plan, the project will get $60 million by 2024.

Sylvan Lake's Winter Village lured many visitors to the town this winter. The town has launched a new contest to attract a new business.
(Black Press file photo)
Sylvan Lake offering rent-free storefront space to lure new businesses

Winning business proposal will get a storefront space rent-free for a year

Red Deer Rebels forward Josh Tarzwell is hoping to pick up where he left off last season as the 2020-21 WHL season kicks off Friday in Red Deer against the Medicine Hat Tigers. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Rebels set to host Tigers in WHL season opener

24-game WHL Alberta only season kicks off night Friday at the Centrium

Alberta reported an additional 399 cases of COVID-19 Thursday, on 9,217 tests, for a test positivity rate of 4.3 per cent. (Image courtesy CDC)
Red Deer down to 562 active COVID-19 cases

8 new COVID-19 deaths, 399 additional COVID-19 cases

Whistle Stop Cafe east of Mirror was open for sit-down dining in defiance of health restrictions earlier this year. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Whistle Stop Cafe owner’s legal battle continues

Government stopped closure order legal action but Public Health Act breach still a live issue

An arrest by Red Deer RCMP is facing online scrutiny. No charges have been laid and the incident is still under investigation. (Screenshot of YouTube video)
Red Deer RCMP investigating violent arrest caught on video

Police say officer ‘acted within the scope of his duties’

Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa holds up water collected from Neskantaga First Nation, where residents were evacuated over tainted water in October, during a rally at Queen's Park in Toronto on Friday, Nov. 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Feds didn’t supply enough resources to end water advisories on First Nations: auditor

Feds didn’t supply enough resources to end water advisories on First Nations: auditor

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal's Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Quebec starts COVID-19 vaccination bookings for seniors; those in Ontario must wait

Quebec starts COVID-19 vaccination bookings for seniors; those in Ontario must wait

The corporate logo of Pembina Pipeline Corp. (TSX:PPL) is shown. Calgary-based Pembina Pipeline Corp. says it is "doing what is right for the country and fellow Canadians" by shipping unit trains full to propane to Quebec. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
Pembina Pipeline posts $1.2 billion loss on petrochemical, LNG project impairments

CALGARY — Pembina Pipeline Corp. is reporting a $1.2 billion net fourth-quarter… Continue reading

Rode
College esports league off to a good start

RDC hockey Kings veteran Jacob Wozney has been involved in esports for… Continue reading

This combination photo shows the cover of "Later," left, and author Stephen King. Readers may know him best for “Carrie,” “The Shining” and other bestsellers commonly identified as “horror,” but King has long had an affinity for other kinds of narratives, from science fiction and prison drama to the Boston Red Sox. (Hard Case Crime via AP, left, and AP)
Stephen King talks about crime, creativity and new novel

Stephen King talks about crime, creativity and new novel

A Loblaws store is seen in Montreal on March 9, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Loblaw’s discount stores on upswing after ‘flight to conventional’ stores: president

Loblaw’s discount stores on upswing after ‘flight to conventional’ stores: president

Butter and sourdough bread is shown at a house in Vernon, B.C. on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. A Quebec dairy farmers' group is calling on milk producers to stop feeding palm oil or its derivatives to livestock as controversy churns over how these supplements affect the consistency of butter. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jesse Johnston
Dairy farmers lobby asks members to stop using palm oil in feed after ‘buttergate’

Dairy farmers lobby asks members to stop using palm oil in feed after ‘buttergate’

Canadian actor and director Sarah Polley poses for a photo as she promotes "Alias Grace," at the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on Wednesday September 13 , 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Oscar-nominated screenwriter Sarah Polley to release first book in March 2022

Oscar-nominated screenwriter Sarah Polley to release first book in March 2022

Most Read