WATCH ABOVE: Gun control doesn’t appear to be a front and centre issue for Canadians and the long gun registry has been gone since 2012. But, Stephen Harper and the Conservatives love to resurrect the issue and warn supporters the NDP and Liberals want to bring it back. Mike Le Couteur reports.
OTTAWA — At a Wednesday campaign stop in rural Lancaster, Ont., Conservative leader Stephen Harper turned to a favourite subject: the gun registry.
He told the crowd how his party “stopped treating farmers and duck hunters like criminals and got rid of the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry,” to loud applause.
But he had a warning too: “And just a brief word, friends, you know the NDP and the Liberals have fought us on that, they continue to fight us on that, they would love to bring it back. But I can promise you that is never going to happen on our Conservative watch.”
It’s true the NDP and Liberals have fought the cancellation of the long gun registry in the past. Both parties voted against ending it in 2012, saying at the time that it was a good tool for law enforcement.
But neither party plans to bring it back.
The NDP pointed to what Tom Mulcair said in a scrum in July: “We have no intention of bringing back a gun registry.”
And the Liberals emailed Global News a statement, which read: “We have laws in our country, upheld by law enforcement, that ensure the protection and safety of all Canadians.”
“The Liberal Party will not bring back a gun registry, but we are committed to keeping Canadians safe with smart and well-crafted gun control.”
The Conservative Party tried a similar tactic earlier this summer, when they said that they were against a Netflix tax – even though nobody had proposed one.
University of Ottawa criminology professor Irvin Waller said that if a government wanted to reduce gun crime, it could try many proven strategies aside from the long gun registry. One example would be to adopt the United Nations convention on marking firearms.
“The government information says it would cost about $20 to put an identification number on guns like you have on the windows of your car, parts of your car and this makes it much easier for the police or Canadian Border Service Agency to trace the origins of guns,” he said.
“This will make it a lot easier to trace the sort of guns that are being smuggled across borders, the sort of guns that get into the hands of the mafia and street gangs.”
UPDATE: The Conservative Party sent a comment after this story was published, disputing the Liberal and NDP position on the gun registry and saying that the parties had said the opposite in the past.
“If either of the Opposition party leader’s position has changed, they need to clearly say that and should explain to voters why that is the case. They have not done so, and as such we can only conclude that is because they are not serious about their commitment, or that they are trying to be all things to all people…again,” they wrote.
The Conservative statement pointed to a 2012 article about Justin Trudeau‘s stance on the gun registry, in which he stated that he supported the long gun registry – but also called it a “failed public policy” and that it would be too divisive to bring it back.
As late as December 2014, Tom Mulcair said that his party is committed to ensuring that police have the ability to track firearms. “We will bring in something that allows the police to track every gun in Canada,” he said. But, said the party a few days later, they would not bring back the registry.
And, when Global News asked them on Wednesday, both the Liberals and the NDP denied that they would bring back the long gun registry.
With files from Mike Le Couteur