By Jason Menard
In order to keep the title he so dearly covets, Prime Minister Paul Martin is taking his best shot – by making it harder for Canadians to shoot. In doing so, he’s drawn the line in the sand and showing just which Canadians he’s targeting in his bid for re-election.
Essentially, by suggesting that guns should be restricted in Canada, Martin knows that he’s released an opinion that’s not going to fly in Alberta. But, the politically savvy Prime Minister knows that it’s a winning formula for B.C., Quebec, and – most importantly – Ontario.
Toronto is being subjected to daily stories of gun violence, in large part perpetrated by gangs, and the citizens are fed up. And, as Toronto goes, so too does a large part of our Hogtown-centred media. In smaller communities, such as London, any gun violence gets tied directly to the rise of crime in Toronto – and the fear-mongering begins.
As evidenced by the past few elections, Ontarians are looking for a reason to vote Liberal. No matter what the scandal, the citizens of Canada’s most populous province are apparently willing to forgive all transgressions in order to ensure the Liberal influence remains dominant in the House of Commons. Overall, Ontario can be categorized as centre-left, and restricting guns and getting tough on crime will be well received here.
If there’s one issue that Canadians are passionate – and polarized – about, it’s the issue of gun control. While Conservative Leader Stephen Harper tried to exhume the long-cooled body that is the gay marriage debate, Martin decided to take just as strong of a stance against another polarizing issue – but one that’s more appealing to the swing voters which both parties covet.
This election is going to be won down the middle. The idea of rescinding rights on marriage that have already been given remains the domain of the right. By bringing the gay marriage issue up, Harper released the spectre of the “hidden agenda” to rule over this campaign. Those wavering around the centre are generally not the type to be opposed to granting rights to all Canadians.
Gun control is just as polarizing, but without the spectre of treading on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In large part, we Canadians aren’t prone to bringing up the ol’ Right to Bear Arms argument that our friends to the south will trot out. And those that will are so set in their ways that they’ll search for any excuse to keep their beloved firearms.
Whether it’s the farmers demanding the right to bear arms against critters in their fields or sport shooters who use handguns for recreation, there will be those whose opposition to this idea is set in stone. Martin knows this and he’s aware that people that hold this ideal generally are going to vote Tory regardless of his stance. So, instead of appealing to the right, Martin’s wooing the far left by introducing a policy that will appeal greatly to Liberal and NDP supporters alike. And, more importantly, it will appeal to those undecideds wavering between Red and Orange.
But since the opportunity’s at hand, let’s make this a gun law with some teeth. Ban outright all handguns. Create strict penalties for anyone found possessing an illegal firearm in this country. And, most importantly, ensure that anyone caught using a firearm during the committing of a crime is sent to jail for a very, very long time. A firearm offense should result in a minimum 10-year sentence automatically tacked on to any punishment levied for the original crime.
If a criminal thinks they can get two years for robbery, that’s not much of a deterrent. But if they know that sticking up a store with a firearm’s going to add a dime to their ride – then the situation changes.
There can be no opposition to this. Guns kill. It’s their sole purpose. Rifles, while not much better, have their use in hunting, culling, and sport. Handguns don’t. They’re designed to kill. In a civilized society, we don’t need the spectre of handguns hanging over us. It’s time to do the right thing and remove them from society.
The people of Toronto will agree – and that’s exactly what Martin’s counting on. Ontario’s the key battleground. And while Harper’s policies have missed the mark on this vote-rich province, Martin’s anti-gun rhetoric is right on target.
2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved