Local MP Nathan Cullen found himself again having to clarify his own position as the drama surrounding the repeal of the Long Gun Registry continues to unfold in Ottawa.
In the past, Cullen has broken ranks with his party to support the repeal of the registry which has been a consistent goal of the ruling Conservatives since they took office. Now the Tories want to destroy all the records from the registry which would effectively prevent the provinces from establishing their own. This has caused anger on the part of some provinces like Quebec, which is now planning to sue the Federal Government for access to the files.
Cullen says he still supports getting rid of the long gun registry in principle, but says the approach the Tories are using to go about it is excessive.
“This is just turning into a mess. The government had a clear mandate to end the Long Gun Registry, and I support that declaration. But nobody in this last election from the Conservatives talked about burning it . . . I feel quite conflicted now that they’ve put this poison pill in the bill,” says Cullen.
Cullen accused the Conservatives of wanting to destroy the registry data “out of spite” to prevent the provinces from creating their own. The Tories have argued that the data should be destroyed because it contains personal information on gun owners who have registered.
On Tuesday, the Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, damaged that justification when she determined that Canadian privacy law does not prevent the Federal Government from sharing information with with the provinces or the police for use in law enforcement.
Cullen says that with no privacy concerns and at least one province determined to create its own registry, he feels that the Tories are running out of justifications for shredding the documents. Cullen says that smaller jurisdictions with actual problems with gun violence should be able to set up their own registries to deal with it.
“For people in northwestern BC, if the city of Vancouver or Montreal wants to have greater restrictions or access to registry data for their citizens, I don’t see the problem. I don’t think hunters and farmers up north care if people in Quebec still insist on some form of a registry which is legal under Canadian law. It’s where they’ve chosen to live and that’s the government they voted in,” says Cullen.