Toby Barrett On Hunting, Fishing and Outdoors Heritage

Toby Barrett, MPP Column Available Ahead of Print Publication
Support our hunting, fishing, outdoors heritage

Gun owners and those concerned with the waste of money should be glad to see the end of the long gun registry –  an issue that has long frustrated farmers, hunters and recreational shooters.

Ending the registry was part of the federal Conservative platform. It’s expected legislation to that end will be introduced this fall and will be similar to the Private Member’s Bill voted down jointly by the Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecois last year.

I have been a critic of the long gun registry and Bill C-68 since the Chretien Liberals proposed it in the 1990s. I rode the bus to Ottawa with constituents to march on Parliament Hill to protest the then-pending legislation.

Estimates put the amount of money wasted on tracking farmers and duck hunters at more than $2 billion while doing nothing to address criminals. By definition criminals don’t obey the law, so why would they register their guns?

And while the federal gun registry may soon be history, I remain concerned about the potential for a provincial registry.

In Quebec, there is speculation about the provincial government implementing its own registry. And there has been media speculation that Premier McGuinty might take similar measures.

As Official Opposition we are opposed to any long-gun registry, federal or provincial. Can we trust that Mr. McGuinty will not implement a provincial long gun registry?

By way of contrast, Mr. McGuinty asked the federal government for a handgun ban in 2007. The federal Conservatives denied his request, saying it might do more harm than good. The NDP also support a comprehensive handgun ban.

The other piece of legislation affecting gun owners is Ontario’s Ammunition Regulation Act, of 1994. In 1996, I appeared before the Red Tape Commission arguing to scrap the Ammunition Act – it duplicates federal legislation and is redundant. In addition to support in our riding, I was backed by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, the Ontario Handgun Association, the National Firearms Association and the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association. Even the province’s Chief Firearms Officer recommended scrapping the bill, with concerns about privacy. Despite the opposition and a petition I helped organize against the legislation, the Ammunition Act remains to this day.

Several years ago, after purchasing a rifle at a Ducks Unlimited fundraiser, I went to a local gun store to pick up shells. The paperwork and list-making required under provincial legislation kept people waiting. The store owner told me his list hadn’t been checked in two years.

Firearms regulations are just one issue facing those who are concerned about our hunting, fishing and outdoors heritage. Last week, I met with the president of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and heard further concerns – including cormorants, about access in the north, the potential spread of Chronic Wasting Disease and the Endangered Species Act. Sadly, many of these issues haven’t been resolved since I was Parliamentary Assistant to MNR 10 years ago.

A new issue the OFAH is concerned about is the red tape facing volunteer-run fish hatcheries. These operations provide nearly half the fish stocked in the province, but in some cases, they have to go through the same environmental approvals as industrial polluters.

It’s time Government supports, not interferes, with our hunting, fishing and outdoors heritage.

Jeff Helsdon
Office of Toby Barrett
39 Norfolk St. N.
Simcoe, ON
N3Y 3N6
Follow Toby on Twitter @ TobyBarrettMPP

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