As the Tories prepare to introduce legislation to to scrap the long-gun registry as early as this Thursday, a mother whose child was slain by gun violence says the Conservatives may claim to support victims but have consistently ignored the real victims of crime who are fighting to keep the registry alive.
Elaine Lumley’s son Aidan was killed outside a bar in Montreal in November 2005.
The 20 year old, a top athlete at Trent University who had just made the Ontario swim team and was training for a chance at the Olympics, was in town for a friend's birthday party.
He was grabbed and shot in the back leaving the Vinyl Lounge, a club on de Bleury street, after his friends had an altercation with another group of guys in the bar.
"It doesn’t matter how many years go by, time moves in a certain way when your child gets killed," his mother told HuffPost Wednesday.
"Aidan was studying physics and he was an A student. He's my only child," Lumley said. "We had just gotten out of the teenage years, where he was becoming human again, and he was so funny. And he was 6'2" and he was blonde and so beautiful and he was always smiling."
His murder was never solved, although police, she said, believe they know who killed her son, they have no eyewitnesses and chose not to press charges.
"In a sense, maybe I needed to put my anger somewhere, so directing it towards the Government was very easy because, you know, they never took the time to address us," she said.
Lumley joined the Coalition for Gun Control, a group that includes many women whose children have been killed by guns.
She acknowledges Aidan was more than likely killed by an illegal gun, but that doesn't stop her from campaigning to keep the registry alive.
"I became an advocate for safety, for trying to get the guns off the street in Canada," she said. "Losing the database would be huge, huge, setback for us."
She wholehearted believes the long-gun registry provides a useful investigative tool for police officers — a position echoed by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the Canadian Police Association (CPA) — and can help save lives.
"It’s been frustrating because people will not listen to us," she said, that sense of exasperation evident in her voice.
"Every politician of every group will speak with us, the mothers’ who have lost children, except for the Conservatives. Not one Conservative (MP) will speak with us."
Lumley doesn't believe the Coalition for Gun Control is being ignored but, rather, that Tory MPs and the Prime Minister don't have the guts to face the women.
"They don’t know how to speak with us. I think that there might be a type of shame involved with sitting down with us because most MPs have children, and most MPs have mothers, and to actually look us in the eyes, I think they can’t bring themselves to do that. And I think (that's why) they can’t sit down with the children of Dawson College. I think, in a sense, it is easier just to push us aside.”
Instead, she said, the Tories champion the gun lobby.
"I'm not a political person but it has been very interesting seeing all of this play out. Because I realize just how powerful the gun lobby groups are in Canada. And they are loud! And they make you believe that every hunter and every farmer wants to get rid of the gun registry," Lumley said.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews' office stressed the Tories campaigned on a platform this spring that included ending the long-gun registry "once and for all" and that was exactly what it intended to do.
"Our Conservative Government does not support treating law abiding hunters, farmers and sport shooters as criminals. We have consistently opposed this wasteful and ineffective measure, which does nothing to keep guns out of the hands of criminals," Toews' spokeswoman Julie Carmichael said in an email.
Hunters, farmers and outdoors men portray themselves as victims, Lumley said, "but yet they have no clue what a victim is."
"The mothers that have lost children, we are the victims. Our children had a right to live and someone decided to kill them," she said.
"It's emotional for me but, yet, I am able to think straight. A lot of times people say, 'well you know, you're an emotional mother, obviously you are going to feel this way,' " Lumley said in a patronizing tone. "We are emotional but it doesn’t mean that we cannot think straight, that we cannot be rational in our decision to support this (keeping the registry)."
It's been pretty disappointing, she said, of the Tories’ numerous efforts to eliminate the long-gun registry.
Lumley was in Ottawa last September when Tory MP Candice Hoeppner’s bill to scrap the registry was just narrowly defeated in the Commons by a vote of 153 to 151. She praised then Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and then Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe for their support but, said she was sympathetic to the dozen or so rural NDP MPs who were being targeted and pummelled by advertising from gun lobby groups to kill the registry.
Although CPA President Tom Stamatakis told HuffPost his group recognizes the Tories won a majority and will now work with the government to "mitigate any of the negative impacts on public safety and any investigative tools that are important to the police," Lumley vows to fight on.
"It's been frustrating but I'm not going to give up. Until it actually happens, I'm not going to believe that we have completely lost yet. I'm going to keep believing," she said.