Shot full of holes
So ... late last year, when the Cons, the Minister of State for the Status of Women and their gun lobbyist pals were claiming that the long-gun registry was a useless Liberal boondoggle that did nothing to prevent crime or violence against women, there were rumblings that some relevant -- and contradictory -- RCMP stats were being covered up.
Well, guess what? reports my Star colleague Tonda MacCharles.
OTTAWA–The release of an annual firearms report last fall was delayed by testy officials in the public safety minister's office who demanded to know, among other things, details about an employee "celebration" of the program's 10th anniversary.
That was just one of a series of questions posed to RCMP officials after the 2008 Commissioner of Firearms Report was delivered to the minister's office for tabling – a full seven weeks before it was released publicly.
Emails obtained by the Star show then-public safety minister Peter Van Loan's office sat on the report for weeks until after a contentious parliamentary vote that saw 12 NDP and eight Liberal MPs succumb to political pressure and support ending the long-gun registry.
Afterwards, Van Loan told reporters he had the report in hand for "several days." He went on to accuse firearms staff of inflating numbers in the report to justify the existence of the gun registry.
In fact, the document trail shows the RCMP – as required by law – submitted the report to the minister's office on Sept. 18. The RCMP anticipated it would be released within the usual 15 sitting days.
But it was held until Nov. 6 while Van Loan's staff pored over the statistics within and tried to parse data that showed the firearms registry's use and popularity is on the rise.
Unhappy with the contents of the report, ministerial staff asked for further explanations of statistics that showed a rise in police queries to the firearms registry, and greater satisfaction with service provided over the Internet or telephone.
The minister's office demands an explanation for "why the minister has been presented with an inked, bound and printed final draft not long before the document needs to be tabled," and appears to challenge why a report was produced at all, since the minister hadn't issued a direction or instruction on it.
The RCMP says it views the language of the firearms act, which requires a report, to be "permissive, in other words, the minister may or may not decide to give direction."
It says "six (firearms) commissioner's reports have been produced (2003-2008), and have always been initiated by the commissioner without specific direction from the minister with respect to form or content."
It says previous reports were always provided to the minister "in final form."
"It has not been the practice in the past to share a draft copy of the report with the minister's office."
The email trail shows the 2008 firearms report was received on Sept. 18, but "apparently reviewed by the office of the liaison to the minister for some time. The minister's office is now saying that because they did not receive the report until Oct. 9, they have until Nov. 6 to table it."
The 2008 report was a largely positive review of the gun control program, and confirmed growing police use of the gun registry database. The 2009 numbers are even more pronounced.
The Stephen Harper Conservatives. Soft on crime. Loose with truth. Tough on womenfolk.
UPPITY WOMAN DATE: Pogge has more.
Incidentally, for those who may think that Van Lying Loan will be called to account for this when Parliament resumes, think again. Parliamentary protocol is that a minister never has to account for anything that is not under his or her current aegis.
Because Harper shuffled his cabinet last month, that lets Van Loan off the hook.
Vic Toews, the former Treasury Minister who announced the redirection of funding for UNRWA last month while in Israel, now has the Public Safety post -- which means he need not explain the UNRWA thing.
Cool how that works, eh?