Saturday, February 18, 2006

Mr. Ed makes up a new conspiracy theory

The cheetos commander over at the Steering Gear Compartment is at it again. This time it's on the Firearms Registry. No matter what your position is on the Canadian Firearms Registry (CAFC), Morrissey produces some interesting fantasy.

Canada's new government has begun scrapping their controversial gun-registration program, and the incoming minister of Public Security warns his countrymen that the total cost of the program will shock them.

The RCMP did not get the full funding necessary for the registration program, in part because the Liberals kept insisting that it didn't cost as much as it did. In order to run the registry, the RCMP had to eat up internal resources to keep up with the registry's mandate.
So which is it? Either the money was spent, as Day says it was, or it wasn't, as Morrissey is telling us. The truth is, the Auditor-General, in 2002 clearly showed the money had been spent and that it was nearing $1 billion. The RCMP not only got full funding for the program, it went to the Solicitor-General for more. The result was the Solicitor-General pushing through Supplementary Estimates for about 70% of the cost of the registry up to the time of Sheila Fraser's audit. Interestingly, the opposition was made up of the Reform/Alliance who sat across the Commons and didn't say a word to the public about the amount of money that was going out in SuppE. I guess they were busy.... with something.

Why is that so significant? Americans may not relate to this, but in Canada's parliamentary system, the government only gets checked by the Commons and the RCMP, which has the power and resources to investigate government malfeasance -- under normal circumstances.
Well, there's a new one. I guess I had better go back to grade 11 and ask for a re-do. The Canadian government answers to Parliament as a whole. That's the House of Commons and the Senate. The RCMP is not a part of the equation any more than the FBI is considered a part of the check on the US Government's executive branch. The RCMP is charged with the investigation of criminal complaints and the apprehension of suspects in relation to possible charges arising from an investigation. Morrissey is suggesting the RCMP is permitted to conduct "fishing expeditions" on government, which simply isn't true. It sounds like the captain of the heads has been taking Canadian civics lessons from some prairie air-brush artist.

However, the government exists because it controls either a majority of seats or the support of a coalition of parties that comprise a majority. Unless and until that majority decides that the government has acted so egregiously that MPs are willing to throw their own party or coalition out of power, the only political check comes at mandated election times.
Well, yes and no. Morrissey has an overly simplistic view of the Westminster parliamentary system. For one thing, no government with a parliamentary majority would ever be brought down by it's own hand in parliament. (That is like saying George Bush would resign because he got caught lying again.) A government with a parliamentary minority does live with the possibility that it can be brought down by the House of Commons, but Morrissey's suggestion that such votes of non-confidence are as a result of "egregious" acts is deliberately misrepresenting the truth. Most minority governments fall as a result of losing a Commons vote on a money bill, such as a budget. "Mandated election times" is a hash-up of what actually occurs. The Governor General is required to call an election every five years but may do so, usually on the advice of the Prime Minister, at any time sooner than that, which is typically the case.

The RCMP, as the national law-enforcement agency, can act independently to investigate corruption and malfeasance.
Only on receipt of a complaint or when provided probable cause. Again, Morrissey is suggesting the RCMP can go "fishing" for wrongdoing and he is completely incorrect.

A government that wanted to avoid having the RCMP looking into its actions -- say in Adscam or other hidden scandals -- could handicap the agency by burdening it with a populist but massive new program, selling it as a low-cost civic safety program, and then underfunding it so that it ate up all of the agency's resources. That would leave the agency with no time and no people for other efforts, including political investigations.
Don't step in that. It's difficult to get off your shoes. My gawd, what a load of bovine scatology. The RCMP was no more "handicapped" than they wear scarlet all day long. At the time of the so-called Adscam (or other of Morrissey's hidden scandals) the RCMP was not responsible for the Firearms Registry. It hasn't been since 2002, at which time it also dumped the handgun registry which it had been managing since 1932. The CAFC is an independent body which has been outside the responsibility and the funding envelope of the RCMP since before the Sponsorship scandal was exposed and the RCMP would have had no reason to investigate. What Morrissey doesn't point out, (because it doesn't fit his ridiculous conspiracy theory), is that the RCMP was asked to investigate as soon as possible wrongdoing came to light.

There is little doubt that Stockwell Day is in a rush to bring the Firearms Registry to an end. Whether you view that as good or bad is irrelevant. But you can count on one thing for sure. The kids at Powertools will be crediting the call-center manager for single-handedly bringing it down. Hope they have lots of kleenex.

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