Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More signs of panic in the Conservative ranks

You have to wonder. They're under fire on a couple of fronts already -- the war and the census. So what do they do? They draw our attention to the gun registry:

The senior Mountie in charge of the controversial long-gun registry is being replaced on the eve of a vote about its future, the RCMP has confirmed.

Both Liberals and New Democrats are accusing the Conservative government of trying to silence dissent as a result since the officer is strong proponent of the costly program.

CBC reported the move Tuesday night, saying that RCMP Chief Superintendent Marty Cheliak, head of the Canadian Firearms Program, is being “bounced” from his post to French language training.

NDP justice critic Joe Comartin said this sends a “terrible message” about democracy. “If you in any way challenge them you’re gone,” he told The Globe on Wednesday.

The Grits agree. “I think it’s pretty clear it’s deliberate. This is a pattern,” Liberal public safety critic Mark Holland said. “Any time somebody stands up to them, any time they have a differing opinion, they are either fired or moved somewhere where they won’t make as much noise.”

Now to be fair, I'm less sure about the gun registry than I am about most other issues; I do recognize that the cost is a significant hit on rural Canada. Depending on who you listen to, the registry either has or has not been shown to save lives. But what seems clear is that most police officers like the idea. And as Antonia Zerbisias (h/t pogge) points out, the timing of Cheliak's transfer is rather convenient for the government:

As a result of the move, Supt. Cheliak will not be able to attend the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police annual meeting in Edmonton next week. He was to present a major report at that meeting that was expected to underline the effectiveness of the registry.

Supt. Cheliak presented part of his findings to a Commons committee in spring. The committee was examining the private members’ bill by Manitoba Tory MP Candice Hoeppner, which is aimed at scrapping the registry. But the senior officer’s remarks bolstered the opposition’s case for keeping the registry.

Can't get more blatant than that, can you? (Well, yes you can, but let's hope we don't have to go there). When you combine this with the way they've responded to criticism on other issues, you are left with a picture of a PM and cabinet who are increasingly under fire, and must by now have some suspicion that they will never get their coveted majority. So they're panicking, which hopefully will hasten their downfall. I'm sure Iggy is suddenly feeling really good, because Harper may be making him electable.

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