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• The Langley Times • Wednesday, September 1, 2010

opinion

The

Published Wednesday and Friday at 20258 Fraser Highway, Langley, B.C., V3A 4E6 by Black Press Ltd.

Langley Times

Sales agreement No. 3298280. Contents copyright of Black Press

we say

they say

The politics of guns

Don’t jump to conclusion

I

T

he political posturing over a private member’s bill on the infamous long gun registry is a classic example of how the federal government is not working, at least partially because of perpetual minority governments. A bill which would lead to the abolition of the registry is set to come to a vote later this next month. The Conservatives are rallying behind the bill, sponsored by one of their Manitoba MPs. The Liberals, even though eight of their MPs voted for the bill at an earlier stage, are being “whipped” into voting against it by their leader, Michael Ignatieff. The NDP is leaving it up to individual MPs to vote as they choose. Several plan to support the bill — perhaps as many as 12, mostly from rural ridings, where the gun registry is seen as a heavy-handed bureaucracy that wastes money and does little to catch criminals. All Bloc Quebecois MPs plan to vote against the bill — somewhat surprisingly, as many Bloc MPs represent rural ridings where the registry is as unpopular as it is in other rural parts of Canada. The registry remains very unpopular with those who actually get caught up in its bureaucracy, and can’t see the point in filling out forms and spending money to register guns, which they use as tools in everyday life. NDP leader Jack Layton, who plans to vote against the bill, is suggesting that there needs to be more compromise. He says the registry has some good points, but it is foolish to make failure to register guns a criminal offence. Layton, unlike many big-city politicians, actually appears to have listened to the genuine concerns that many people have with this unwieldy government program. It is important to note a couple of crucial facts — facts which are often glossed over by the Liberals, who brought in the registry under thenJustice Minister Allan Rock. First, no criminal will ever register a gun. Second, all legal handguns in Canada have been registered since the 1930s. Third, handguns are used in almost all crimes committed with guns. Fourth, almost all handguns used in those crimes are smuggled into Canada from the United States. While police chiefs support the registry, knowing that it is a tool which gives them some additional information, its practical applications are very limited, and do nothing to stem the flow of guns into the hands of criminals.

Mufford overpass a potent issue Farmland preservation has long been a hot topic

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he Mufford overpass, which ing on Monday. Mayor Rick Green was the subject of a public and Councillor Mel Kositsky have meeting by the Agricultural opposed the Mufford overpass, so Land Commission on Monday night, From their attendance at what turned out the Editor has the potential to be the centreto be an anti-overpass rally was not piece of the 2011 Langley Townfrankbucholtz surprising. Green even received a ship election campaign. spontaneous standing ovation after It is most likely to be a major election issue he was thanked by farmland preservation activif the commission approves the overpass and ist Donna Passmore. the alienation of some of the best farmland in Councillor Steve Ferguson, who has supported the western half of Langley. That is not a given. the overpass, was also present and was obviThe commission turned down a similar proposal ously willing to hear what the public has to say. about six years ago, and there is a good chance None of the other five who back the project it will do so again. were there, to the best of my knowledge. Many of the speakers at Monday’s meeting If the ALC does give the overpass its blessing, made some very powerful arguments as to why this issue will not only be front and centre in the overpass should not proceed. These included the next municipal election, but Langley will the fact that it does nothing to ease traffic conalso become a farmland preservation battlegestion where the rail line crosses major roads, ground, as happened in Delta in the late 1980s such as Langley Bypass; its potential to increase with the Spetifore lands. traffic on rural roads; and perhaps most imporGreen knows that very well — he sat on Delta tant from the ALC perspective, its effect on curcouncil at the time. When council held public rent farms and on the future of farming in much hearings on the proposal to rezone the Spetifore of the Milner valley. lands, it became the longest public hearing in Several Milner farmers had a private meetCanadian history — a record that still stands. ing with the ALC on Thursday. They expressed Almost all the council was turfed out at the concerns on Monday that the overpass will go next election — and the Spetifore lands remain ahead, no matter what the ALC decides, because undeveloped, more than 20 years later. the province will ram it through. The preservation of good agricultural land I’m not sure that would take place. While I has been a potent political issue in B.C. since don’t know what was said at that meeting, the the late 1960s, and when the Agricultural Land Liberals would be going strongly against a signif- Reserve was created by the NDP government of icant portion of the public if they made such a Dave Barrett in 1972, it became a front burner brazen move. Given that their hold on power is issue. tenuous, due to the HST fiasco, I’m not sure they Barrett was urged to bring in the ALR by Richwant to go that route right now. mond MLA Harold Steves (who was at the LanIt was telling that only three members of gley meeting Monday), and preserving farmland Langley Township council attended the meethas stayed a potent political issue ever since.

t has been a month since Wilbert Bartley was shot and killed by police in North Kamloops. The 50-year-old left a convenience store on Tranquille Road, jumped into an SUV and was approached by two plainclothes Mounties. Something happened that resulted in Bartley being shot and killed. It is now the subject of an investigation by the Calgary Police Service. Until that investigation is completed, it is presumptuous and unfair to jump to any conclusion that infers or declares the two Mounties involved did anything wrong. It is just as unfair to assume Bartley was doing something illegal that day that led to him being shot and killed. The point is: We don’t know what happened on July 30 in the parking lot of So Espresso and Bistro and Robo Car Wash, aside from the fact something occurred that led to a police shooting and a death. To label the officers “killer cops” and to claim there was “no reason” for the shooting — as was proclaimed on signs of friends and family members of Bartley during a march to the RCMP’s Battle Street detachment — is premature in the extreme. The Mounties, in general, have had a rough public-relations ride in the past few years. The Kamloops Mounties, however, have bucked the trend. Under the command of Staff-Sgt. Jim Begley and guidance of Insp. Yves Lacasse, the local RCMP serves as an example for police forces across Canada. The local detachment is effective (witness plummeting crime rates), transparent (witness its proactive approach in dealing with two officers recently charged with assault) and accountable to residents. Lacasse has asked for patience until the investigation is done. Our criminal justice system is predicated on the belief an accused person is innocent until proven guilty. Those who rush to condemn the Mounties in this incident would be wise to adopt that belief. —Kamloops This Week The Langley Times is a member of the British Columbia Press Council, a self-regulatory body governing the province’s newspaper industry. The council considers complaints from the public about the conduct of member newspapers. Directors oversee the mediation of complaints, with input from both the newspaper and the complaint holder. If talking with the editor or publisher does not resolve your complaint about coverage or story treatment, you may contact the B.C. Press Council. Your written concern, with documentation, should be sent within 45 days to B.C. Press Council, 201 Selby St., Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 2R2. For information, phone 888-687-2213 or go to www.bcpresscouncil.org

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