Wednesday, April 7, 1999
I want to congratulate the columnists and editorial writers who wrote and commented on the spin doctoring by Justice Minister Anne McLellan and her bureaucrats when she introduced Bill C-68, the Youth Criminal Justice Act on March 11th. A couple of headlines caught my attention: "Reporters were suckers for federal flim-flam" and "Scoop fever: just what the spin doctor ordered."
As I read these articles, it reminded me of another "federal flim-flam" that suckered the media big-time. Maybe it's just a coincidence that on both occasions the legislation being debated in the House of Commons was numbered Bill C-68. In 1999, it is Bill C-68, the Youth Criminal Justice Act. In 1995, it was Bill C-68, the Firearms Act.
Here are a few of the ways the Liberals suckered the media on Bill C-68 - the 1995 version:
- The Department of Justice said that the registration of all rifles and shotguns would only cost $85 million over five years. The government has admitted that the actual costs have now reached $200 million and will cost $50 to $60 million a year to operate. This huge cost overrun has only been reported by a few newspapers. The total cost will exceed a billion dollars and the economic impact has never even been studied or calculated - a couple of other facts the media has failed to report to the Canadian people.
- The Department of Justice said that no money would be taken from actual police work to implement the new firearms registry. But the number of police officers per capita has been dropping for the last seven years in a row while the number of criminal incidents per police officer has been rising. RCMP operating budgets have been severely cut and the $200 million desperately needed to upgrade the computers in Canadian Police Information Centre is nowhere to be seen. The media fails to report any connection between the overspending on the firearm registry and the drop in numbers of police on the street, the reduction in funding to the RCMP to fight organized crime and smuggling of guns and drugs, and the lack of funding for higher priority public safety issues.
- The Department of Justice conducted a flawed poll and concluded there were only 3 million firearm owners and 7 million firearms in the country. The government ignored expert testimony and previous government estimates, which put the actual number of gun owners closer to 7 million and the number of firearms over 20 million. Most media reports still trot out the discredited government numbers without ever mentioning the flaws in the polling methods or that the numbers are in dispute.
- The Department of Justice conducted more flawed polls and concluded that 80% of Canadians support the new gun registry. The media ignores other more comprehensive polls which show that support for the registration of all rifles and shotguns drops to under 50% when respondents are made aware of the true cost and the impact that the legislation will have on their rights and freedoms.
- The Department of Justice has repeatedly stated that the police support the registration of all rifles and shotguns. The media accepts this incorrect statement as fact and fails to report that every poll ever taken of front-line police officers has found the exact opposite. In Saskatchewan for example, the registration of all rifles and shotguns is opposed by 100% of all police chiefs, 91% of serving RCMP officers and 76% of all members of the Saskatchewan Federation of Police Officers.
- The Department of Justice conducted a seriously flawed study and concluded "that rifles and shotguns were involved in 51% of violent firearm crimes." This study was widely reported by the media without any mention of the fact that Statistics Canada reported only 6.9% of violent firearms offences involved rifles and shotguns. The Commissioner of the RCMP even wrote to the Department of Justice complaining about misrepresentation of RCMP crime statistics in the report, "We determined that our statistics showed that there were 73 firearms involved in a violent crime compared to the Department of Justice findings of 623 firearms involved in violent crime. Furthermore, the RCMP investigated 88,162 actual violent crimes during 1993, where only 73 of these offences, or 0.08%, involved the use of firearms." Fortunately, some newspapers did report the RCMP's concerns, however, the general public is still relatively unaware of these facts.
- The Department of Justice states repeatedly that the registration of millions of rifles and shotguns will reduce the criminal use of firearms. The media dutifully reports this Liberal mantra but fails to report that Statistics Canada found that 74% of all violent crimes have been committed with handguns which the government has required all Canadians to register since 1934. The media also failed to report the fact that in all these years, the RCMP has never even bothered to keep statistics about whether handguns used in crime were registered, unregistered or prohibited. It's like the government and the media don't want the public to know the truth - registering and prohibiting firearms doesn't keep them out of the hands of criminals.
I could go on but think I've given your readers enough examples to prove my point that the government flim-flam artists easily dupe the media. It is true that a number of newspapers and columnists across the country have seen through the Liberal government's charade on the 1995 version of C-68. I also appreciate the fact that a number of newspapers, have taken strong editorial positions opposed to the new firearms registry. But this bogus bill will only be corrected if the public is properly informed. In this task the media has failed to discharge its primary duty to the people of Canada. It's not too late to start.