by Roslyn Kunin
The bill to dismantle the gun registry has been defeated in Parliament and, according to Prime Minister Harper, this controversial and divisive issue has now been raised to become fodder for the next federal election campaign.
Among all the heated discussions that have been aired there has been one too frequently overlooked concern—one that should be of great importance to every Canadian taxpayer: is the gun registry the best use of our tax dollars?
Everyone who watches these things knows that the federal government is in a tight fiscal situation. Government expenditures are exceeding income and debt is accumulating. As is true for ourselves and our families, this situation cannot continue over the long run. And the only solutions are to raise taxes, cut government expenditures or both.
With the economy still fairly fragile and unemployment still relatively high, raising taxes is not a very viable option at this time. This means that the government is going to have to cut its spending. So, where shall it cut? It could squeeze the provinces, but that would impact both healthcare and education. Canadians already have an on-going rant about wait times, lack of doctors and drug costs in healthcare. We are also concerned about our children and ourselves if we face a career change, being able to get the education and training we need to be productive workers, providing for our families and keeping our economy moving.
If we look at most other components of government spending, similar objections can be raised as to reducing what the government provides. We are even altruistic with most Canadians supporting the prime minister in encouraging more foreign aid spending to help the really poor in the less developed world.
So where can expenditures be cut to have the least negative impact on Canadian society and on Canada’s role in the world? One of the only other areas where the current budgets are big enough so that their elimination or major reduction would be large enough to make a difference is the billion dollars spent annually on the CBC.
So the question that needs to be asked is not just should we have a gun registry or not. It is a much bigger issue. Given that the government is spending beyond its means, given that we as Canadians do not want—and at this time probably cannot afford—to pay more taxes; sooner or later the government services that we receive are going to have to be significantly reduced. Which cutbacks would make us least unhappy: healthcare, education, foreign aid, some other services, the CBC or the gun registry? Looking at this list, what would you cut?