With the Government's omnibus crime legislation, C-10, having passed the House, and the Conservatives now turning their attention to abolishing the long-gun registry through bill C-19, one may wonder if the Government has a consistent strategy with respect to its crime and punishment agenda.
Regrettably, upon analysis of both proposals, the one common feature is that both initiatives ignore, marginalize, and mischaracterize the evidence. Indeed, the Government's approach to and justifications for both bills are arguably polar opposites, much like the two cities of which Dickens writes in his seminal work.
First, whereas the organizing motif of Bill C-10 (the omnibus crime bill) is the protection of public safety -- which we all support regardless of party -- Bill C-19 will endanger that very public safety. Indeed, countless studies and expert witness testimony assert time and time again how the registry and its data save Canadian lives.
Second, whereas C-10 purports to speak in the name of the victims, C-19 ignores the very voices of the victims themselves who oppose this legislation. Indeed, while the Government's refrain on C-10 was to characterize those in the opposition offering critique as being "anti-victim," victim groups have spoken out en masse against the abolition of the long-gun registry and deletion of the records therein.
Third, whereas C-10 was intended to combat violent crime, C-19 ignores the evidence that the long-gun registry protects precisely against such violent crime. In particular, it protects against domestic violence, community violence, workplace violence, and violence against women. Indeed, while the Government claims to be protecting with C-10, it is putting Canadians at risk through C-19.
Fourth, whereas C-10 purports to rely on support of police associations -- and we are asked by the Government to heed them on this -- C-19 is opposed by those very same police organizations. Indeed, at committee hearings just last month, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police spoke in favour of maintaining the registry as is.
Fifth, whereas C-10 purported to consult with provincial and territorial attorney-generals prior to its introduction and Quebec Justice Minister Jean-Marc Fournier's disappointment and disapproval of the legislation is widely reported -- C-19 has been tabled without any consultation with provincial and territorial attorney-generals, and again ignores the views of Quebec, which is initiating legal action to retain access to the records in the long-gun registry.
Sixth, whereas C-10 will offload costs of the Safe Streets Act legislation on the provinces that must enforce it, C-19 seeks to eliminate all the data that would enable the provinces such as Quebec to initiate their own registry -- an enormous waste of public investment by a government that professes concern about the registry's waste.
Indeed, the only points of similarities are on issues of evidence wherein both pieces of legislation ignore the facts. For example, whereas C-10 advances mandatory minimum penalties -- punishments proven to be ineffective deterrents -- C-19 scraps a registry that has been proven to be effective at saving lives.
In summary, C-19 is essentially just another Conservative policy that is ideologically inspired with a willful and reckless disregard for the evidence, much like C-10. Certainly, there is no requirement that legislation in Canada be based on facts and evidence, but one would hope, at a minimum, a Government would at least have a consistent approach to its crime and justice agenda -- let alone one anchored in the evidence.