Justin Trudeau and the long gun registry

Over the weekend, Justin Trudeau used the word “failure” to describe the long gun registry.

The fact that we have a government, or successive governments, that have managed to polarize the conversations around gun ownership to create games in electoral races when you don’t have to have a … There is no concept, no idea, that gun ownership is ever going to be under attack for law-abiding hunters and farmers across this country. But we need to keep our cities safe and I don’t see that that’s an unsolvable solution but I do see that the long-gun registry, as it was, was a failure and I am not going to rescuscitate that. But we will continue to look at ways of keeping our cities safe and making sure that we do address the concerns around domestic violence right across the country in rural as well as urban areas in which, unfortunately, guns do play a role. But there are better ways of keeping us safe than that registry…

In response, Vic Toews and Candice Bergen tweeted their indignation. Pierre Poilievre and Francoise Boivin are dismayed.

Mr. Trudeau voted against C-391, Mr. Bergen’s bill that would have eliminated the registry, in September 2010. And afterwards he apparently had this interaction with protesters on Parliament Hill.

At the time of that vote, it should probably be noted, the Liberals were promising to reform the registry in response to “legitimate criticisms” of it. (Michael Ignatieff whipped the pivotal vote on C-391, but Mr. Trudeau also voted no at second reading.)

So is this a flip-flop? I’m not sure. It sort of depends on what Mr. Trudeau means by “as it was” and “failure.” In other words, it requires a follow-up question. (Like, “what do you mean it was a failure?”)

His campaign attempted to explain on Sunday (though without quite answering that proposed follow-up).

Trudeau’s spokeswoman, Kate Monfette, said Sunday Trudeau and his party fought to maintain the registry “given the absence of any responsible approach to gun violence by this government.” “We were not successful in that fight, the registry and its data are gone, so we now have to develop a new approach.”

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