It’s a good question. All that occurred on September 22, 2010—when the Canadian Parliament voted to kill a private member’s bill (C-391) that would have ended the registration of long guns in Canada—was that the status quo was maintained. We law abiding firearms owners will continue to register our guns, and criminals will continue to choose whether to use registered or non-registered firearms in their crimes. The registry itself will continue to receive about 185 million taxpayer dollars a year for its care and feeding. As well, many Canadians will continue to have a false sense of comfort that the registry is actually doing something to prevent gun crime. Is that good money for value? I obviously don’t think so but I’m also obviously in the minority.
That said, what the defeat of Bill C-391 has accomplished is that both sides are now more entrenched than ever; and I believe that means we will continue to have minority governments. First of all, the Liberal official opposition, by whipping their Members of Parliament (MPs) to vote against the bill, has reinforced its image of arrogance (and indeed ignorance) about the west, rural voters and the diversity of this country. It no longer can claim to be “the natural governing party” of the country. Until they understand what it means to be a true national party, I believe it will be a long time before the Liberals ever seat a majority government, especially with the presence of the Bloc Québécois in Quebec.
On the other hand, it could also be a long time before the Conservatives form a majority government. By politicizing the issue (they too ‘whipped’ their MPs and chastised those opposition MPs who had previously voted to kill the registry…?), they also entrenched both their core supporters and those who oppose them.
Now, many conservatives in the firearms community erroneously believe that most people oppose the registry, and therefore claim the vote to support the registry will ensure a conservative majority at the next election. No, I’m afraid most people support the registry and by the time the next election rolls around (probably this spring) other issues of concern (like Afghanistan, the economy and the environment) will dominate.
What the gun registration debate illustrates to me is the lack of political leadership we have in this country. No party leader has yet to create a vision for the country that takes into account the diversity of lifestyles we have, as well as our history, our culture and our natural heritage. To me, that diversity should be celebrated and not used to alienate and polarize. When that visionary leader appears, perhaps we voters will be willing to bestow a majority government. I’m not holding my breath.
So, what’s wrong with that?