Volume 94, Issue 83

Wednesday, February 28, 2001


Prof may have cheated - Quits under suspicion of academic fraud

Crime linked to abuse: study

Eight Trent protesters hole up in VP's office

Investigation continues into U of T grade-change charges

Gun registry asks biz sector for help - Advocacy group says gov't shooting itself in foot


His Royal Mintiness

Gun registry asks biz sector for help - Advocacy group says gov't shooting itself in foot

By Wes Brown
Gazette Staff

Concerns over the privatization of Canada's gun registry have arisen, following a government request for input from the private sector on how the nation's gun-tracking system could be improved.

Public Works Canada, the federal branch of government handling the registry, has posted a request on their Web site, soliciting input from businesses on how to make the task of tracking guns more effective, said Fran Gershberg, communications officer for Public Works Canada.

"The goal was to elicit feedback on various types of services that the private sector could offer," Gershberg said. "There was some definite interest in the [tracking process] and it will be up to the Justice department to make the next step."

Still, Sheila Ayala, public relations officer at the Humanist Association of Canada, said she questioned Ottawa's call for input, adding that the end result could leave the government out of the loop.

She said if the program is out of the government's hands, any problems, such as the proper identity of gun owners, would be difficult to pinpoint.

"There needs to be strict guidelines handed down if the private industry is to be trusted with [the gun-tracking service]" she said, of the difficulties of monitoring the private sector. "Responsibility comes first in a [program] like this."

Canada's Minister of Justice, Anne McLellan, said she denied suggestions the firearms licensing and registration system was headed for privatization.

McLellan said she would remain fully accountable and responsible for the program, no matter what its composition was.

Tracey Davis, communications officer at the Canadian Firearms Centre in Ottawa, said she supported the stance taken by McLellan, adding fears of privatization are unfounded.

"This was an exploratory exercise to see if there are certain ways that the registry could be more cost-efficient in their service," she said. "Private aspects of the registering and licensing service are not new to this program, as the processing of firearm applications is already conducted by the private sector."

Davis said she believes people hear the word 'privatization,' and automatically become worried for-profit businesses will mishandle sensitive programs like gun control, but she said public safety is the top priority for the service and will remain that way.

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