Saturday, May 29, 2010

Gun registry politics from the week

First on this, there was Shelley Glover's shameless performance at the parliamentary committee this week. She suggested that Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, who was testifying as head of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police in support of the registry, has engaged in some kind of misconduct in suppressing police officers from coming forward because of their opposing views. She did so while Blair was in the room and could not respond. Here's what she said:
“There were officers who did suffer consequences at the hands of chiefs, like Mr. Blair, who did transfer them out when they spoke out against it. That is why they are silenced today and are afraid to come forward,” said Glover.

“I’ve received thousands of phone calls from people in Toronto, from people in Montreal, from across this country, police officers who are afraid to stand up because they fear consequences in their job. I’m ashamed of that. I’m ashamed as a police officer. I’m ashamed as an elected official.”
And Blair's response:
“Quite frankly, I interpreted it as an accusation, a false accusation of course, because it’s never happened, but the suggestion that there was some vast number of police officers that I had somehow suppressed from expressing themselves is simply not true,” Blair told the Star.

“Overwhelmingly, my colleagues hold the view that the firearms registry needs to be retained.

“I was disappointed by the very disrespectful tone, even bordering on contempt, in which some of the comments were made and questions were asked.”

Blair took particular offence to Glover’s suggestion that “I and other of my colleagues have engaged in misconduct — a completely baseless allegation . . . I have been before parliamentary committees in the past and I have always been treated with respect.

“I would hope that all parliamentarians would value the experience and the input of police officers, police chiefs, police unions, police boards who are remarkably united in their support of retaining this information.”
Head shaking time...the disrespect of an MP to treat a witness like this, any witness, is just remarkable. So there's the lack of civility pervading this little episode that's there.

There's also this abhorrent tactic they're deploying throughout this gun registry battle of dividing the police rank and file from the leadership. What kind of government actively seeks to foster division in the police forces of the nation in order to get a political win for the base? You'd think that the craven, naked, self-interested partisan obsession might relent on some things, that there'd be some sense that certain lines shouldn't be crossed. You know, restraint. Not with these folks who have the nerve to parade themselves in front of Canadians as the law and order party all the while engaging in such tactics, attacking police chiefs.

Also this week, it was quite the scene when the Quebec Justice Minister showed up to express support for the registry. It was occasion for the Conservatives to play with the federalism card for their own partisan purposes. How can you support a federal gun registry when you don't want a national securities regulator, one Conservative MP asked. Not caring a whit that such an argument worked against their own position. Why don't you have your own Quebec run registry asked a Conservative Senator, seeming to endorse the Parti Quebecois position on the registry. Great federalists that these Conservatives are.

Word too that favourable reports on the gun registry's operation are being withheld once again, as they did in the lead up to the second reading vote on C-391 in the fall:
Deputy RCMP Commissioner William Sweeney and Toronto Police Chief and President of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police Bill Blair, in their testimony before the House of Commons Public Safety and National Security Committee, revealed the existence of a recent RCMP report and internal audit which demonstrate the efficiency of the Canadian Firearms Program, including the long gun registry.
Can't have that stuff getting out, in the off chance that there's a vote by the end of next month.

Whatever works, no matter the cost on the issue. Quite the performance from the Conservatives this week.