Two of the big issues making headlines as of late have been pipelines and gun control First I will discuss the Transmountain Pipeline, which has led to an escalated conflict between BC and Alberta. The second will be on gun control in Canada, and why as a moderate conservative I support tougher gun laws, not more lax ones.
I support the Transmountain Pipeline and ultimately hope that it is built. Full disclosure: I live in BC, but have family in both provinces and both of my parents were born in Alberta. The pipeline building would mean more jobs as well as more revenue for governments. Kinder Morgan has got the majority of First Nations’ whose territory the pipeline will pass through on board, which will provide both jobs and money to them as well. I believe Rachel Notley is taking the right approach here, despite my strong disapproval of her fiscal policies. I also think the pressure from opposition leader Jason Kenney is helping push Notley in the right direction on the issue. Trudeau made the right call by approving the pipeline, but now it is time to walk the walk and declare it being in the national interest so the pipeline can be pushed through despite BC’s objections. Provincially, like he did with Site C and LNG, John Horgan should stop obstructing the Transmountain pipeline. Yes, the Greens may oppose it, but the BC Liberals support it, so with his support, there will be the numbers in the legislature to approve it. Many environmentalists claim oil needs to stay in the ground if we want to meet our climate change targets, but I believe this is unrealistic. We should move towards a greener economy, but that will take time, and it is demand, not supply that drives oil production, after all. In all practical terms, it will make zero difference in whether we meet our climate change targets or not if oil continues to be in demand. As a potential national unity crisis, the pipeline will be a real test for Justin Trudeau; as much as I want to see him lose in 2019, I hope he is up to this challenge, because if he isn’t, all Canadians will suffer.
The federal Liberals have recently made some minor changes to our gun control laws. However, unlike many conservatives, I believe these changes don’t go far enough. Some will say this makes me a liberal in disguise, but I would like to point out both Australia and the UK brought in tougher gun laws in response to mass shootings, and both were by centre-right governments at the time. Outside of the United States, it is possible to be both a conservative and in favour of tougher gun laws; most societies don’t regard owning a gun to be a fundamental right, and neither should we as Canadians. Below is a summary of the changes to gun laws, my thoughts on these changes and some additional recommendations. Changes are highlighted in bold, with my thoughts following them.
1. Require all gun dealers to keep records of sales and only allow RCMP to see these if they have a warrant: I fully support this and believe it is quite reasonable. I also support the concept of the gun registry, and it was the cost, not the idea that I didn’t like.
2.Extend background checks to a person’s entire life instead of just past five years: I fully support this measure.
3.Bring back authorization to transport rules for restricted weapons: I support this in general, but would add taking a gun to the repair shop as another authorization required aside from the range and the home.
4.Have the RCMP classify weapons, rather than parliament: I tend to like the idea of experts (and those who cannot be influenced by the gun lobby) in making decisions like this, so generally agree here, even though I know this might upset gun owners.
Some additional changes I would like to see are as follows:
1. The only area where I would support relaxing rules is with those who renew their licence late; I would suggest they only get a fine, not jail time, as long as their renewal is within a year of the licence expiring.
2.Limit magazine sizes to five rounds. Anything above that should be classified as prohibited.
3.Make the default position for all weapons prohibited, and only move to restricted or non-restricted if they have a legitimate use, such as hunting or target shooting, so that gun owners, not the government, need to justify why they should be permitted
4.Allow doctors, spouses, or ex-spouses to request an individual be banned from using and purchasing firearms
5.Hand guns should be required to be left at the range; only those in competitive shooting events would be allow to take them off range, and only to and from home and to events.
I believe these changes are all reasonable, but the gun lobby in Canada is sounding increasingly like the NRA. In Canada owning a gun is a privilege, not a right, and hopefully it stays that way. Those who claim these changes only go after law-abiding citizens, not criminals are wrong; 60% of all murders are committed with legally purchased guns (this includes legally purchased ones that are stolen). Likewise, spouses in abusive relationships are three times more likely to be murdered when a firearm is present in the home. To say gun control doesn’t work is completely false considering the US has by far the highest murder rate of the developed countries. In terms of gun murders, the US has 12,000 a year, Canada has 220, the UK only 35, and Japan only 6. The UK and Japan have greater populations than Canada, so there is overwhelming evidence that less guns means fewer murders and stricter rules reduce murder rates. It is possible with increased gun control that murders with other weapons may rise, but you cannot kill multiple people at one time with a knife, and a person has a much greater chance of surviving a knife attack than gun. If saving lives is our goal, we should reduce access to firearms. I realize that due to our wilderness and hunting culture, we probably won’t get our gun ownership rates in Canada down to the same levels as the British or Japanese, but we should at least be moving in that direction.
Some might argue that since I am not a gun owner,I should shut up, but I totally disagree. Canada is not a libertarian country, and unlike the US, we base our laws on common good as opposed to absolute individual rights. On a basic level, the statistics demonstrate how more guns is bad for society, so I resolutely believe all Canadians have a stake here. The 93% of Canadians who don’t own guns matter, so I hope if the Conservatives win in a future election, they are not beholden to the 7% minority who own guns. Groups like the CCFR and NFA are becoming increasingly vocal, and it is important the Conservative Party of Canada ensures they don’t take them over in the same way the NRA has taken over the Republican party in the US.