TORONTO, April 4, 2012 /CNW/ - CAW President Ken Lewenza called today's final vote to pass Bill C-19 and officially kill the national long-gun registry a win for gun industry lobbyists and a loss for Canadians. Bill C-19 aims to fully dismantle the long-gun registry, weaken the oversight requirements for gun purchases and destroy years of records used to track gun ownership.
"Today, I can't help but think of all the victims of gun violence and the families of those victims, past and present, and shake my head at the Harper government's motivations," Lewenza said.
"This registry was an important tool used to protect against dangerous weapons falling into the wrong hands. The Harper government is pushing an agenda of zero accountability for gun ownership. It's shameful and it's unacceptable."
Canada's gun lobby has made it clear that the dismantling of the long-gun registry is only a first step in weakening the country's gun control program. Members of the Public Safety Minister's Firearms Advisory Committee have called for licensing to be weakened, including one member testifying at the Senate hearings that spousal notification should be eliminated, as well as questions screening for mental health problems.
Lewenza said it is shameful that the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs opted not to invite women's safety experts or front-line women's organizations to participate as witnesses during the review process of Bill C-19 - despite the fact many organizations had requested to speak and that it is well-known that this issue disproportionately affects women's safety.
The province of Quebec, who has been a strong proponent for maintaining the long-gun registry, has filed for an injunction with the province's Supreme Court to prevent federal government from deleting the existing registry data. The injunction is expected to be heard after Bill C-19 receives royal assent (anticipated to be this week).
Lewenza said he is encouraged by the Quebec government's efforts. He hopes that other Canadian provinces will speak out and put a stop to the destroying of existing registry data and consider establishing sub-national registries.
"There's an absence of leadership and lack of vision from the top of the house and it's incumbent on our provinces to pick up this ball in the best interests of Canadians."
The CAW has been a long-standing supporter of strong gun control and the national long-gun registry. In 1993, the CAW Council (the union's parliamentary body made up of workplace representatives) voted to support initiatives aimed at stricter gun control in the wake of the 1989 fatal shooting of 14 women at L'Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal.
In 1994, delegates to the CAW Constitutional Convention endorsed Bill C-68, An Act Respecting Firearms and Other Weapons, that called for the licensing of all gun owners and the registration of firearms.
For further information:
CAW Communications: Angelo DiCaro (416) 606-6311