Monthly Archives: September 2009

Bill C-391 Must Pass


Regardless of personal opinions on gun control, everyone in Canada should be hoping and praying that Bill C-391 is passed.  This Bill was put forward earlier this year by Candice Hoeppner (Portage – Lisgar) before Parliament recessed for the summer.  The aim of this Bill is to dismantle the travesty known as the Long Gun Registry. The Bill is slated for Second Reading in the House of Commons tomorrow, on September 28.

What is the Long Gun Registry?

The Registry is a component of the convoluted Firearms Act.  The Act is so verbose that most Law Enforcement Officers couldn’t even begin to explain it to you, but that’s an entirely different topic in its own right.  By law, all legally purchased firearms in Canada must be registered to their owner.  Information held in the registry includes (but is by no means limited to):

  • Name, address and phone number of firearms license holders (regardless of whether or not they actually own any firearms)
  • Marital status of firearms license holders
  • Make, model and serial number of all firearms registered to a license holder

It has been the law in Canada to register all handguns since the 1930s.  However, it was not necessary to register rifles and shotguns until 1998 when the Firearms Act was created.  This new portion of the registry is what is being referred to when people say Long Gun Registry.  When Bill C-391 is passed (I’m thinking positively!), Canadians will still be required to register handguns; but they will no longer be required to register their hunting rifles and shotguns.

I don’t own any guns.  In fact, I don’t even LIKE guns.  Why should I care about this Bill or the Registry?

I really struggled with how best to answer this question.  There are so many different directions that I could take that I found myself overwhelmed and unsure where to start.  What it all boils down to though, is that the Liberal politicians who pushed this legislation through and the powerful Gun Control lobby who pulled their strings, lied to us all.  The registry does nothing to stop criminals from getting guns and it turns honest citizens into criminals.

The likes of Alan Rock and Wendy Cukier promised us that this registry would reduce gun crime and remove illegal guns from our streets.  They promised us that the database would be efficient and secure and be of minimal cost to the taxpayer.  And they promised us that the registry would never be used to confiscate firearms from private citizens.

Well, the registry is none of these things.  As mentioned in my previous entry regarding the RCMP’s blatant disregard for the security of gun owner’s information, the database is far from secure.  The risk to public safety is immeasurable and could have far-reaching consequences (see this gentleman’s blog for a breakdown of the potential security threat) After more than a decade, it is still incomplete (some estimate that as many as 70% of all firearms in Canada are still unregistered), and it is so full of errors that the information it contains is inadmissible in court.  Additionally, despite what the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) would have the public believe, the overwhelming majority of front line Law Enforcement Officers do not trust the information contained in the registry and think that it should be dismantled.

In fact, the Attorney General conducted two audits of the Canadian Firearms Centre and the registry (in 2002 and 2006) and found the entire thing to be woefully mismanaged.  Not only are there massive cost overruns – the registry was originally estimated to cost taxpayers only $119 million, but has since ballooned to roughly $2 billion – but they could not account for where most of that money was going. In addition, there are absolutely no systems in place to demonstrate how licensing and registration are performing.  In other words, there are no performance standards in place to determine whether or not the program is even remotely effective in its stated aims.

To make matters worse, just this last week, in Toronto, the police have started going door to door confiscating firearms using the flawed information contained in the registry.  They are targeting people who allowed their firearms license to lapse.  These are paper crimes, determined by looking at the information in the registry.  But as we’ve already determined, there’s no way of knowing if the information the police are using is even correct.

Most troubling of all though, is this quote from Wendy Cukier, founder of the Coalition for Gun Control and perhaps the most vocal proponent for gun control in Canada (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003070516_canguns19.html):

“Although it doesn’t directly address the problem of illegal handguns, the registry helps create a culture that believes guns are dangerous and owners must be held accountable.”

Even the Gun Control Lobby themselves admits that the registry does not address illegal firearms.  According to the Gun Control Lobby, the purpose of the registry is to create a culture of fear, not to prevent crime.  They want to hold gun owners accountable…for what?  The actions of criminals?  You see, that’s the thing about professional lobbyists, no matter how emotional their pleas, at the end of the day their only interest is the limelight and their own political careers.  Unfortunately for us, fear is a very powerful currency in the game of politics, and it’s to their benefit to keep the public afraid.

Breaking it down to the simplest idea, the key flaw of this database is that it’s designed to keep track of the wrong people.  Instead of wasting $2 billion and 10 years making a list of everyone who was fit to own a firearm, they should have been making a list of everyone who was unfit to own one.  Wouldn’t that make more sense?  It would definitely be a much shorter list.

I’m not asking anyone who dislikes guns to change their mind.  I’m not trying to convince anyone that guns aren’t used during the commission of crimes.  I am asking that people open their eyes and see that the registry is not the right path. 

Take a moment and just imagine what a difference $2 billion and 10 years of effective crime prevention strategies could have accomplished in our cities.

Please contact your MP and tell them to support C-391.  Tell them that this gross waste of taxpayer’s money and government resources needs to be dismantled.  Tell them that the risk to public safety is unacceptable.  Tell them that if they really want to tackle the issue of crime that maybe, just maybe, they should focus on the criminals.

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RCMP Gives Confidential Information to a Private Company


This week the Canadian Shooting Sports Association released an alert regarding a poll that is being conducted by Ekos Research Associates.  This poll is supposedly a “client satisfaction survey” regarding the Canadian Firearms Centre (CFC).  The CFC is the call centre that administers the controversial firearms registry.  It is part of the Canadian Firearms Program (CFP) which is run by the RCMP.  According to information available so far, this survey was commissioned by the RCMP. In order to conduct this poll, Ekos was granted access to confidential information without permission from the people involved or any type of oversight.

There’s so much wrong with this situation that I’m really not sure where to start.  I guess the RCMP’s own words regarding privacy and sharing of information is as good a place as any:

Does the CAFC share personal information collected for the Firearms Program with other agencies or the private sector?

Relevant Firearms Program information is disclosed only to federal and provincial public safety business partners that have legal authority to collect this information consistent with their public safety responsibilities. Program business partners include local and provincial police, the Canada Border Services Agency and International Trade Canada. The Privacy Act requires that those agencies must have a use consistent with the purpose for which the information was collected. In turn, those non-federal agencies to which firearms information is disclosed are bound by similar requirements under their jurisdictional privacy laws.

Furthermore, firearms information is not shared with any private sector agencies. Some private companies, however, can have access to personal information while under a contracted arrangement for software administration or records management procedures. Under the terms of those contracts, these companies cannot use or disclose information. Also, employees of private companies are thoroughly screened for security clearance to ensure that personal information is protected at the same level as federal requirements.

If someone can explain to me how a “client satisfaction survey” falls under either software administration or records management procedures I would really love to hear from you.  It would appear that not only has the RCMP blatantly violated the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), they have also acted in contravention of their own policy!

To add insult to injury, only 4 of the questions being asked have anything to do with “client satisfaction” (see the end of this entry for the full list of questions).  The remaining questions request information that is: already documented in the registry database, irrelevant and inappropriate, and/or nothing more than a thinly disguised fishing expedition.

Apart from the obvious and appalling privacy issues, one of my immediate concerns is public safety.  What security clearance do the pollsters have?  What type of confidentiality agreements are in place?  Who is accountable if this confidential information ends up in the wrong hands?  You see, we’re not just talking about names, phone numbers and addresses (which is bad enough in its own right!).  We’re talking about names and addresses in conjunction with a list of firearms stored at that address. 

The security of the registry database has been a bone of contention with firearms owners since its inception.  In the wrong hands, the information held in that database amounts to a detailed inventory and shopping list.  Criminal access to the registry database puts the safety of both firearms owners and the general public at serious, and unnecessary, risk.  The registry has, in fact, been hacked more than 300 times in the last decade, with several dozen of those cases still unsolved.

Riddle me this: if the RCMP can’t even keep my confidential information secure in their own databases, why would they think that a private company would be able to?  Or, for that matter, even care to?

If the privacy and public safety concerns regarding this issue weren’t enough, there is a third factor at play here too: politics.  The two points that are catching my attention are:

  • Bill C-391, a controversial private members bill seeking to abolish the long gun registry, is slated for its second reading in two weeks.
  • The Gun Control lobby launched an aggressive worldwide campaign (spearheaded by IANSA) over the summer in which they attempted to link legal firearms ownership to domestic violence.

I just can’t help but wonder at the timing of it all.  Especially when this survey asks questions about things like marital status, children in the home, types and numbers of firearms owned, and plans for future firearms purchases.  Add in the fact that the Gun Control lobby in Canada is funded by tax-payer money (courtesy of the Liberals) and that Michael Ignatieff seems to be hell-bent on toppling the minority Conservative government as soon as possible.  It’s definitely enough to make a person pause.  And if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that there’s no such thing as coincidence, particularly in politics.

While I can only speculate as to the political reasons for this survey, there is no room for debate on the issues of public safety and the RCMP’s violation of the Privacy Act.  The Conservative government has already launched an investigation into the matter, and the CSSA and National Firearms Association (NFA) are contemplating criminal charges against those responsible.  There is even talk of a class action lawsuit, although at this stage that is little more than rumour.

I know that some readers are thinking, “What’s the big deal?  It’s just some innocent questions.”  The issue is not the questions being asked.  The issue is how Ekos came into possession of the list of people to whom they posed those questions.  The bottom line is this:  the RCMP intentionally distributed confidential information to a private company without permission or oversight, and in contravention of The Privacy Act and their own policies.

Given the nature of the information at the centre of this firestorm, and the history of security violations pertaining to that information, it is not at all unreasonable to be concerned about the safety of gun owners and the public at large.  This breach may well result in an innocent gun owner being killed, or his/her guns being stolen to kill someone else.

Someone is purposely playing with life and death, and likely for political gain.  People in positions of authority need to be shown that, even though the majority of Canadians would rather watch Big Brother than stand up to Big Brother, there are still those of us who are willing and able to hold them accountable for their actions.

 

As promised, here’s the list of questions being asked in the poll:

  • How do you contact the CFC?
  • How many times in a year do you contact the CFC?
  • What do you call about?
  • How satisfied were you?
  • What classification is your firearms license? (Restricted/Non-Restricted/Prohibited)
  • Do you own any firearms?
  • What’s your reason for owning firearms?
  • Will you renew your license?
  • When will you renew your license?
  • How do you renew your license?
  • Have you ever had a gun verified?
  • How was it verified?
  • Do you plan on updating your address?
  • Do you plan on transferring firearms in the future?
  • Do you plan on destroying firearms?
  • Do you plan on changing your license status?
  • Do you plan on deactivating a firearm?
  • Do you transport firearms?
  • Do you plan on acquiring more firearms?
  • What’s the best way to communicate with you? (E-Mail, Advertisement, Mail)
  • When looking for information about firearms how likely are you to contact (Between 1-7)
    • CFC, Friend and Club?
  • Are you married, single or common law?
  • Do you have children in the home?
    • How many under 18?
  • What is your highest level of education?
  • What is your annual income?

Bill C-6: Enough is enough!


The problem with a government passing laws in the “best interests” of its citizens is that there is the presumption that the government actually knows what is in the “best interests” of its citizens.

This new Bill was passed by the House of Commons and had its first reading before the Senate in June of this year.  Debate in the Senate is slated to continue when Parliament returns this month.

So what is it?  Bill C-6 is meant to strengthen our consumer safety and protection laws.  The intent is to increase powers granted to Inspectors to prevent unsafe products from being sold to consumers.

Sounds okay to me.  What’s the problem?  In its current form, the Bill is so poorly worded that it gives Inspectors the right to enter a person’s home and seize any consumer product that it deems “unsafe”. 

For the full text of Bill C-6, look here.  Read on to find out which parts I find most worrisome.

Consumer Product is defined as: a product, including its components, parts or accessories, that may reasonably be expected to be obtained by an individual to be used for non-commercial purposes, including for domestic, recreational and sports purposes, and includes its packaging.

Under Schedule 1 of the proposed bill, consumer products include: explosives, cosmetics, food, pest control products, vehicles, fertilizers, vessels, firearms, ammunition, cartridge magazines, cross-bows, prohibited devices, plants, seeds, controlled substances, aeronautical products, and animals.

I’d wager that there isn’t a household in Canada that doesn’t own at least one of those consumer products.

20. (1) Subject to subsection 21(1), an inspector may, for the purpose of verifying compliance or preventing non-compliance with this Act or the regulations, at any reasonable time enter a place, including a conveyance, in which they have reasonable grounds to believe that a consumer product is manufactured, imported, packaged, stored, advertised, sold, labelled, tested or transported, or a document relating to the administration of this Act or the regulations is located.

What household doesn’t “store” or “transport” one of the consumer products listed above?

Under what circumstances would a product be deemed “unsafe”? As defined by the Bill, a Danger to Human Health or Safety” means any unreasonable hazard — existing or potential — that is posed by a consumer product during or as a result of its normal or foreseeable use and that may reasonably be expected to cause the death of an individual exposed to it or have an adverse effect on that individual’s health — including an injury — whether or not the death or adverse effect occurs immediately after the exposure to the hazard, and includes any exposure to a consumer product that may reasonably be expected to have a chronic adverse effect on human health.

I have a very huge problem with the word “unreasonable”.  It’s vague.  Its meaning is variable depending on the circumstances and the person interpreting the law.  Call me silly, but when a law is going to infringe on my Charter Rights, I’d really rather not have any “gray areas” included in it.  Ambiguity just makes it that much easier for the law to be abused.  This is, of course, not touching on the fact that if a law infringes on our Charter Rights it shouldn’t even be a law at all.

Here’s a few more relevant sections for your reading pleasure:

20.(2) The inspector may, for the purpose referred to in subsection (1),

(d) seize and detain for any time that may be necessary

            (i) an article to which this Act or the regulations apply that is found in the place, or

            (ii) the conveyance;

20.(4) An inspector who is carrying out their functions or any person accompanying them may enter on or pass through or over private property, and they are not liable for doing so.

21. (1) If the place mentioned in subsection 20(1) is a dwelling-house, an inspector may not enter it without the consent of the occupant except under the authority of a warrant issued under subsection (2).

(2) A justice of the peace may, on ex parte application, issue a warrant authorizing, subject to the conditions specified in the warrant, the person who is named in it to enter a dwelling-house if the justice of the peace is satisfied by information on oath that

(a) the dwelling-house is a place described in subsection 20(1);

(b) entry to the dwelling-house is necessary for the purposes referred to in subsection 20(1); and

(c) entry to the dwelling-house was refused or there are reasonable grounds to believe that it will be refused or to believe that consent to entry cannot be obtained from the occupant.

23. An inspector who seizes a thing under this Act may

(a) on notice to and at the expense of its owner or the person having possession, care or control of it at the time of its seizure, store it or move it to another place; or

(b) order its owner or the person having possession, care or control of it at the time of its seizure to store it or move it to another place at their expense.

What does all this legal mumbo-jumbo mean? In plain English all of this means that Government Inspectors can arbitrarily deem a consumer product “unsafe”, enter your home with or without your consent, seize your property, and make you pay for the privilege of having it seized.

I had hoped that a Conservative government in this country would (at least temporarily) put an end to the Liberal tendency to Nanny Statism.  Unfortunately, it seems that my hopes were in vain.  It would appear that Canada has been set on a path that it cannot (or will not) deviate from. I can only ask: how much longer before stories like V for Vendetta are more truth than fiction?

The puzzle starts to make sense


Michael Bryant is the former attorney general of Ontario and was tipped to become the next leader of the Ontario Liberal Party.  Note, I said was.  That was before he was involved in a road rage incident last week that left a 33-year old bicycle courier dead.

Bryant is perhaps best known as the author of several controversial pieces of legislation.  He’s the King of the Ban in Ontario.  Problems with aggressive dogs?  Ban dogs.  Street racing an issue?  Ban speed.  Gang crime getting you down?  Ban legal shooting sports.

I’m not going to go into the details of any of these laws.  Instead I’ll invite you to take a wander with me through some of my random thought processes:   

  • Bans of any form are nothing more than a fear response.  Period. 
  • Projection: Projection is a form of defense in which unwanted feelings are displaced onto another person, where they then appear as a threat from the external world. A common form of projection occurs when an individual, threatened by his own angry feelings, accuses another of harbouring hostile thoughts. [emphasis added by Jayde]

What is Michael Bryant afraid of then?  Following on with the two points I made above, the pieces slowly start to come together. 

  • Bryant decided it was was best to ban aggressive dog breeds rather than punish the owners who don’t take responsibility for their pets.  Not too much of a leap to assume that Bryant doesn’t think he would be able to handle a more aggressive dog.  And since he can’t do it, nobody else could possibly do it either.
  • If you’re caught speeding excessively you immediately fall under the purview of the new street-racing laws in Ontario.  Your car is impounded and your license is suspended on the spot.   Perhaps Bryant has difficulties driving in a safe manner, and could only be stopped from driving this way by having is vehicle and license revoked.  Again, because it’s true for him, it must be true for everyone else.
  • Working to enact a gun ban to reduce gang crime is actually the easiest to peg out of these three examples.  Bryant is one of those types who think that owning a firearm automatically makes a person a killer.  He’s afraid that because he wouldn’t be able to control his temper/emotions and shouldn’t be trusted with a firearm, that nobody else should be trusted with one either.

Now let’s go back to the main story.  I’m not going to discuss the likelihood of a Liberal politician getting off scot-free in Liberal-dominated Ontario.  I’ll leave alone the probability that even after this incident Bryant will still go on to lead the Liberal Party.  I’m not going to go into why Bryant chose to hit the accelerator rather than the brakes with a person hanging off the side of his car.  I don’t know the details of what happened on that road, and I honestly don’t care.  It’s irrelevant. 

The key is this: Bryant was involved in a road rage incident that involved aggressive driving.  Once again, let’s take a look at two of his fears from above: an inability to drive in a safe manner or to control his temper.  Hmmmm.  Pattern? 

What’s my point?  Politicians are not immune to human emotion and psychoses, and projection is one of the most common human defense mechanisms.  So the next time you hear someone calling for any type of a ban, pause and ask yourself a couple of questions. Who and What are they really afraid of?  Is society at large really the problem?  Or are they?