I have found it puzzling that the Commissioner of the RCMP, the federal top cop, is writing letters to provincial chief firearms officers (CFOs) warning them not to start setting up provincial long gun registries.
First of all, isn't this a matter for the guy who oversaw the scrapping of the federal long gun registry, Vic Toews? If Toews doesn't like what they're doing, don't we have courts to handle that sort of complaint?
I'm not sure Toews would succeed if he took it to court and I'm guessing he's got his doubts too. When the feds chose to legislate provisions for the registration of long guns, the courts upheld the federal power concluding that the act had a valid criminal law purpose because control of firearms had traditionally been a criminal law purpose. In that case Alberta was arguing the jurisdiction was theirs, not Ottawa's, under the "property and civil rights" power.
But what's never been tested, certainly not to my knowledge, is today's situation in which the federal government has specifically chosen not to legislate controls over ownership and registration of long guns. In other words, those matters are no longer what could be termed an "occupied field" which might then give rise to a right on the part of provinces to maintain their own long gun registries along the same lines as the federal registry only without the same criminal law sanctions. There are other ways to skin that cat.
Yet that's for our courts to decide if Vic Toews really believes he's right. To me, there's something eerily politicized in the federal top cop jumping into this fray. It's his job to enforce the law, not meddle in laws that have ceased to exist.
We've had enough politicking by the RCMP going back to Zaccardelli's apparent gambit to skew the election against Martin by smearing Ralph Goodale in mid-campaign. The level of confidence and trust in the RCMP in my province is at rock bottom, coming in around 30%, and for very good reasons. Maybe the Commissioner should concentrate on restoring some integrity and public respect in his own force and forget about being Vic Toews' water boy.