(BC Wildlife Federation (BCWF) Press Release, October 27,2010)
The Canadian Outdoors Network says Parliament’s decision to keep the long gun registry will not end the national debate on firearm ownership.
“This is just one battle in a long war,” says Dr. Robert Bailey, Chair and National Coordinator of the Canadian Outdoors Network, the country’s largest coalition of outdoors organizations. “This is about competing visions driven by differing ideologies. For us, the fight is about preserving our hunting, fishing, trapping and shooting lifestyle.”
Members of Parliament narrowly defeated a Private Members Bill September 22nd to scrap the registry---153 votes to 151. The vote followed weeks of intense political maneuvering by the federal Conservative, Liberal and NDP parties.
Bailey says the debate over the registry has polarized two very different parts of Canada; the urban majority, desperately looking for a solution to gun violence, and a rural minority where long guns play an important role in a way of life.
“There are tremendous implications for the future of our rural culture,” says Bailey, who is also Delta Waterfowl’s Vice President of Policy. “The registry paints legitimate gun owners as people who are inherently a threat or a risk to society and that’s simply not the case.”
Bailey says the Outdoors Network, representing 500,000 outdoors enthusiasts from 28 organizations, will continue its campaign to scrap a program plagued by cost overruns and controversy. Since 1995, the registry has cost taxpayers more than $1 billion with no demonstrated reduction in gun crime.
“If public safety was the primary objective, the current national debate would be about crime control, not gun control,” says Bailey. “It’s time we refocused these funds, and our efforts, on more appropriate programs that actually target crime, such as the smuggling of illegal firearms.”
Bailey says the divisive registry debate underlines a lack of tolerance for a lifestyle largely misunderstood in urban centres. Hunting, he says, is about more than taking the life of an animal. It’s about better connecting with nature, appreciating what it offers and helping make sure it’s there for the future. He believes attacks on legitimate gun owners demonstrate a lack of tolerance that is “un-Canadian”.
“Any barriers we put to this lifestyle is not serving nature and wildlife conservation well. The gun registry is certainly a barrier which is unnecessary. It should be removed.”
The Outdoors Network will continue to push for change as the country prepares for an anticipated federal election. The Network plans to target ridings where opposition MP’s first voted to abolish the registry, then changed their minds.
“It’s important that these MP’s know exactly what they’ve done,” says Bailey. “They were elected on promises to get rid of the registry, then flip-flopped for political reasons. They let their constituents down, and they have to be held accountable.”
The Outdoors Network was created in 2007. With network participants, it has successfully lobbied to protect the Canadian Wildlife Service, maintain duck stamp revenues for waterfowl habitat, and to support changes to achieve greater protection for animals under federal animal cruelty legislation, while maintaining the legal basis for hunting, fishing, trapping and farming.
CANADIAN OUTDOORS NETWORK:
Alberta Fish and Game Association
Alberta Outdoors Coalition
BC Wildlife Federation
BCWF Political Action Alliance
Canadian Institute for Legislative Action
Canadian Section of the Wildlife Society
Canadian Shooting Sports Association
Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association
Delta Waterfowl Foundation
Fédération Québecoise des Chasseurs et Pecheurs
Fur Institute of Canada
Friends of Fur
Hunting for Tomorrow Foundation
Long Point Waterfowl
Manitoba Wildlife Federation
National Wild Turkey Federation
New Brunswick Wildlife Federation
Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation
Northwestern Ontario Sportsmen’s Alliance
Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters
Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters
Prince Edward Island Chapter Delta Waterfowl
Prince Edward Island Trappers Association
Prince Edward Island Wildlife Federation
Ruffed Grouse Society
Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation
Yukon Fish and Game Association
Wildlife Habitat Canada