Conservative candidate blasts Liberals over gun registry

Liberals understand northern needs, Karetak-Lindell responds



The federal gun registry will be a pivotal issue in the federal election, despite the Liberal government’s recent adjustments to the controversial program, according to Nunavut’s Conservative Party candidate.

Duncan Cunningham, the territory’s first candidate under the merged Conservative party banner, took direct aim at the gun registry after the federal government announced on May 20 that gun owners no longer have to pay for their licence and registration.

Cunningham’s opposition joins a chorus of Nunavut politicians, who have attacked the gun registry for years, arguing that the Firearms Act violates the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. Article five of the treaty guarantees Inuit the right to subsistence hunting without the need for a licence.

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. recently won a temporary injunction against the gun registry in Nunavut, effectively exempting all Inuit in Nunavut from the registry. The Government of Nunavut is backing NTI in a lawsuit against Ottawa, to permanently veto the registry for Inuit in Nunavut.

The federal government’s waiving of registration fees across the country, including Nunavut, doesn’t go far enough, says Cunningham.

He wants to scrap the entire program.

“Inuit have the right to have guns without a permit,” Cunningham said. “This is, for me, a primary issue in this upcoming election. It impacts virtually every Nunavut community and household.”

Under the court injunction, an Inuk in Nunavut cannot be fined for having an unregistered gun. However, stores cannot legally sell ammunition to anyone unless they have a permit, nor can a person with an ammunition permit buy ammo for someone else.

Nancy Karetak-Lindell, Liberal MP for Nunavut, declined to comment on whether she wanted the government to exempt Inuit in Nunavut from the program altogether.

But she said the recent changes show that the federal government is adapting the legislation to fit Nunavut concerns.

In particular, Karetak-Lindell pointed to a part of the registry changes that pledges to continue negotiations with Aboriginal groups across Canada.

“How we use guns up North is completely different [than in the South],” she said. “[The federal government] wants something that makes sense to people up here.”

Manitok Thompson, who is running as an independent candidate, said she wasn’t impressed with the recent changes to the gun registry, and maintained it should be scrapped completely.

Moreover, Thompson suggested the federal government should re-invest money set aside for the gun registry into a different sort of registry – health records.

Thompson said Nunavut needs to modernize its health records for patients traveling South, before it spends any money on keeping track of guns.

“If they want to work with us, they should be asking how can we make better use of this money in your territory,” she said.

Thompson said Nunavut could ensure gun safety instead, by providing gun boxes with locks to be distributed to every hunter in every hamlet in the territory.

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