Destroying records a ‘mean spirited’ move

The federal Conservatives have a comfortable majority, as of the spring election, the government has begun to put in place the mechanisms to repeal the laws by which rifles and shotguns are registered with a federal agency and so the famous “long-gun registry” is as good as dead.

Like the registration law or not, this will hopefully put to rest over 15 years of debate, often rancorous debate, among factions on both side of the issue.

The gun registration process was initiated by the Liberal government under the leadership of then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien and it, in turn, was a response to the 1989 massacre-style killings of 14 female engineering students at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique by a deranged man who was unhappy with his lot in life.

In 1989, the national horror at this event was palpable and the anniversary of this massacre is noted nationally in communities large and small in Canada every November, including Manitoulin Island.

On Manitoulin and elsewhere, this heinous killing is also deemed a representative and appropriate occasion to also recognize and memorialize women from individual communities who have died violent deaths, most often at the hands of a spouse or partner.

No matter what has long been the position of the Conservatives and many rural Canadians, the federal government of the early 1990s was under considerable pressure to ensure Canadians’ safety in light of the unprecedented Montreal massacre and the long-gun registry was the result.

The government has given notice that it will give no assistance to any provincial jurisdictions that may wish to carry on some version of long gun registration within their own boundaries and the Conservatives have extended their position on this matter to include the destruction of gun registration records collected over the past decade and a half.

The Province of Quebec, where, we must remember, the Montreal Massacre took place and whose citizens, presumably, were the most horrified of any demographic in the country, has sent signals that it would like to carry on its own long-gun registration and would like to have the records of Quebec gun registrants made available to them to build upon.

So far, the response of the federal Conservatives has been the same: all existing records will be destroyed or deleted so Quebec, or any other province, would be starting from scratch should they want a similar, but local, registration program.

Of course the current political administration in Quebec is Liberal, under Premier Jean Charest’s leadership so in this particular case politics may influence the federal Conservative government’s decision to be unhelpful to a provincial government, Quebec’s, where there will in all likelihood be political pressure to proceed with long-gun registration.

The federal Conservatives will have their way once the bill is proposed, debated and voted on in the House of Commons.

But to deny a particular province, any province, access to files on long-gun registration within its own jurisdiction, should they wish to carry on the process on their own, is beyond political correctness. It smacks a dog-in-the-manger attitude.

It is mean spirited.

If a particular province is prepared to fight the long-gun registration battle on its own turf, then that should be its option. Should a particular province want to go down this road, and since the information has been collected for 15 years, the federal government should feel it is morally bound to make the records available to a particular jurisdiction, like Quebec.

Certainly in memory of the victims of the Ecole Polytechnique shootings in 1989 in Montreal, good sense should trump both political posturing and political ideology.