Gun registry not ready until 2007: 12 years after bill passed
by Tim Naumetz


PUBLICATION:  National Post
DATE:  2004.12.02
BYLINE:  Tim Naumetz, with files from Robert Fife
Gun registry not ready until 2007: 12 years after bill passed
OTTAWA - The federal gun registry won't be fully operational until 2007, 12 years after it was approved by Parliament and at a price tag the Conservatives say will now reach more than $1.4-billion. The registry was announced in 1995 and was to cost no more than $85-million.

The Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness disclosed the new readiness date this week in response to a written question Saskatchewan Conservative MP Garry Breitkreuz tabled in the House of Commons.

"It is anticipated that all components of the firearms program now planned or under development will be fully implemented by December 31, 2007," the department said. The new timetable means the firearms program will have cost a minimum of $1.4-billion by then, said Mr. Breitkreuz, who represents Yorkton-Melville.

"That is 12 years after the legislation was passed," Mr. Breitkreuz said in an interview. "They have always made commitments to us about timelines, and it's never happened. I'm not a bit sure they are even going to keep their 2007 commitment."

Shortly before the election in June, the federal government said it would cap spending on the registry portion of the program at $25-million a year beginning next year. He said it will likely be impossible to keep that commitment. He noted the government originally promised the firearms program would cost no more than $85-million.

"The cost overruns have been absolutely horrific," he said. "If we would have known back in 1995 when we were debating this that it was going to go over even that, it would never have been approved."

The government also tabled figures showing, contrary to earlier claims, the licensing portion of the firearms program takes up only about one-third of the scheme's annual cost. The licensing portion cost $40.2-million in 2002-03 and $59.6-million in 2003-04. From 1995 to 2002, the licensing portion cost a total of $396-million, the government said.

The Canada Firearms Centre has always insisted the majority of the firearm program costs went toward the licensing provisions, not the registry portion that has caused most of the resentment from gun owners.

In July, it was revealed the registry is being cited by an American publication as a case study in incompetence and financial mismanagement.

Baseline, a U.S. magazine which conducts case studies on information technology, published an analysis of the gun registry titled Canada Firearms: Armed Robbery. ''What was supposed to be a relatively modest information technology project ballooned into a massive undertaking. At last count, the program had amassed more than $1-billion in costs, and the system has become so cumbersome that an independent review board recommended that it be scrapped,'' Baseline wrote.

Costs soared out of control as a result of bureaucratic errors, poor planning, unforeseen expenses and an increasingly complex computer system, Baseline noted.


The Author can be contacted at clive(at)

Copyright 2005