Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Harper's Trigger Happy Gun Panel
Harper's Gun Advisors are Trigger Happy Wackos
OTTAWA – The Conservative government's firearms advisory committee, appointed and operating in virtual secrecy, is made up almost entirely of pro-gun advocates opposed to the firearms registry.
Its dozen members include a man who argued that more guns in the hands of students would have helped in the recent Virginia Tech massacre, in which 32 people were killed, and another shooting aficionado who described a weapon used in last September's Dawson College killings in Montreal as "fun."
The committee's pro-gun tilt lends to the perception that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government is out of step with urban concerns on firearms violence – especially in Toronto. Jordan Manners, 15, was killed last week in a school shooting, days after philanthropist Glen Davis was gunned down.
Over the Easter weekend, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day quietly extended a long-gun amnesty program to allow those firearms owners yet more time to register their weapons – pleasing registry opponents but angering those fighting for tougher laws.
In background research obtained and confirmed by the Star, members of the Conservatives' committee have shown themselves to be vocal proponents of gun use.
"If even 1 per cent of the students and staff at Virginia Tech had been allowed to exercise their right to self defence, then this tragedy would have been stopped in its very beginning and dozens of lives would have been saved," Dr. Mike Ackermann, a Nova Scotia physician, wrote in a letter to the Ottawa Sun in April. "There are never any mass killings at shooting ranges; only at schools and other so-called `gun-free zones.'"
Gary Mauser, a Simon Fraser University professor renowned for his work opposing gun laws, wrote an opinion piece in the Vancouver Sun in February: "Firearm laws divert scarce resources from alternative approaches that might actually improve public safety."
The Public Safety Minister's office recruited the panel members but did not, as has been the practice in previous governments, issue any public announcement about the appointments. Nor does it seem to have included any panel members with expertise on suicide or sociological factors behind gun crime, as previous governments have attempted to do.
The only apparent acknowledgment of the committee's membership was found in a letter by MP Garry Breitkreuz (Yorkton Melville) to constituents in which he pointed to the makeup of the panel as evidence of the Tories' intent to be more gun friendly.
"In October, the minister's new firearms advisory committee met in Ottawa for the first time. The difference between the Liberal government and the Conservative government is obvious by the people that make up the committee," Breitkreuz wrote in the letter dated Dec. 15, 2006. He named Ackermann, Mauser and 10 other members:
Tony Bernardo, Canadian Institute of Legislative Action.
Linda Thom, Olympic gold medallist in pistol shooting.
Alain Cossette, Quebec Wildlife Federation.
Greg Farrant, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters.
Linda Baggaley, firearms expert and dealer from Alberta.
Stephen Torino, Quebec firearms expert and dealer.
Louis D'amour, New Brunswick firearms expert.
Gerry Gamble, Sporting Clubs of Niagara.
Robert Head, former RCMP assistant commissioner.
John Gayder, Niagara police.
Murray Grismer, Saskatoon police.
Mauser, reached by the Star, said panel members do have disagreements, though he did not want to elaborate on their discussions or advice they've given Day after their meetings, which he said occur every few months. Panel members are not paid but travel expenses are covered.
"I can't tell you what that advice is ... and I certainly can't tell you whether they followed it or not," Mauser said in a phone interview.
At least some committee members have ties to the National Rifle Association in the U.S.
NRA president Sharon Froman spoke at an annual gathering of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association last November, for instance, noting her admiration for Torino.
Torino was also on the committee when Liberals were in power. At that time though, as when the panel was set up by former prime minister Kim Campbell, there was more of a balance between pro-gun and anti-gun advocates.
"Steve was one of the beacons of hope in a room full of enemies determined to eradicate your gun rights," Froman told the conference as she described working with Torino at a United Nations meeting on limiting the spread of firearms.
Froman praised Bernardo in that same speech, recalling work they have done together on the international stage. Bernardo appeared in a Canadian Press story, discussing the type of weapon used by Kimveer Gill in the Dawson College shooting.
"It's very accurate. The firearm is just one of those firearms that's just a lot of fun to spend a day at the range with."
Inquiries to Breitkreuz and the Public Safety department were referred to Day's office, but Day was travelling and his officials responded with only general information.
- A Fair Share For Canadian Farmers!
- Brian Mulroney Vs Stephen Harper? Mulroney Nostalgia
- Can Canada's industrial base survive Asian Competition?
- Canada eZine
- Canada's Fallen Soldiers in Afghanistan
- Canadian Business & Politics
- Canadian Tax Reform
- Canadian Unity Vs. Quebec Separatism
- Election 2007 in Canada - Liberals Vs Conservatives
- Environment hurt by Quebec Separatism?
- Environment trips up Tories
- Garth Turner Goes Green?
- Harper Flip Flops on Same Sex Marriages
- Harper shakes hands with Terrorist Warlord
- I AM CANADIAN
- Liquor store rakes in Canadian Tire Money
- NAFTA II - Expanding the North American Free Trade Agreement
- Neo-Conservative Budget in Canada: 2006
- Ontario Goes Nuclear
- Par in sight for Canadian Dollar
- Politics of Canada Webring
- Quebec's Political Woes
- Stephen Harper Vs Kyoto and the Environment
- The Canada & USA Webring
- The Canada Webring
- The Canadian Culture Webring
- The Canadian Politics Webring
- The Canadiana Webring
- The Conservative Party of Canada
- The Reform Party is Gone
- Tim's a Hit in Afghanistan
- Tory Green and the Oil Industry
- True North, Strong & Free
- Will Canada go Penny-less?