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LETTER: Liberals on 'slippery slope' in fast-tracking gun ban

'Now the government proposes to enact a regulation to carry out the intent of a statute that has not even passed the second reading. How can that be?' letter writer asks
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is flaunting Parliamentary procedure by trying to fast-track a gun ban, says Doug Lewis, a former government house leader.

MidlandToday welcomes letters to the editor (andrew@midlandtoday.ca). Please include your full name, daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to a story titled 'Government to use regulation to ban handgun imports in two weeks,' published August 5.
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I read with amazement the article in MidlandToday concerning the federal government's plans to fast-track a ban on the import of handguns into the country without the approval of Parliament. I write this letter from the standpoint of a former Progressive Conservative Opposition house leader and, after that, a government house leader.

Much as I sympathize with the intent of the motion, I believe that it flies in the face of Parliamentary procedure and smacks of “the end result justifies the means.”

A 'regulation' in Parliamentary terms is “a rule used to carry out the intent of statutes (Acts) enacted by the Parliament of Canada.” 

The current Liberal minority government introduced gun control legislation in Parliament in May and began the debate. When the House of Commons rose for the summer, the legislation had not been passed.

When it passes the second reading, it still has committee study, returns to the House for final approval and then proceeds to the Senate for their approval. Once that happens, it is signed off by the Gov. General and becomes law.

I know that sounds tedious, but it works. It is a rare piece of legislation which isn't changed for the better during that process.

Now the government proposes to enact a regulation to carry out the intent of a statute that has not even passed the second reading. How can that be?

If we start using that as a legitimate Parliamentary process, we are on the slippery slope of the Parliamentary process. 

I make no partisan comment on this situation. However, I would say that there are many ways to speed up the process of approval. One of them, which has been used by all governments in power, has been to introduce draft regulations to accompany the legislation as it passes through the various processes in Parliament. That way, legislators know what the rules are intended to be to carry out the intent of a statute once it is enacted.

Surely, Parliamentarians from all parties will see that it is not a sound Parliamentary process to have a regulation that carries out the intent of a statute that is only at the debate stage, no matter how urgent the statute. That would result in government by regulation, enacted by the party in power, not Parliament.

Doug Lewis
Orillia

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