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Senator refuses to back gun bill (Globe and Mail)

Globe and Mail
November 27, 2002

Kim Lunman


Senator refuses to back gun bill


KIM LUNMAN

OTTAWA A Liberal senator wants Inuit people to be exempt from Canada's controversial gun-control laws and said he will refuse to "rubber-stamp" a new firearms bill. "Our right to life is not being recognized," Senator Charlie Watt, an aboriginal from northern Quebec, said in an interview. "It's a different world where we are."

Mr. Watt, who was a hunter before he was appointed to the Senate in 1984, is among a group of senators opposing Bill C-10 (a), amending the Firearms Act.

Mr. Watt said the Liberal government "wanted us basically to rubber-stamp [the legislation] and send it back to the House of Commons."

Among other things, the amendments would create an Office of the Firearms Commissioner to administer the national gun registry and would also stagger firearm licence renewals.

Mr. Watt says aboriginal people cannot afford the cost of registering all their guns.

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"The Inuit people are making a living from hunting," Mr. Watt said. "That's the only way for them to put bread and butter on the table. The people up here in the North have 10 or more rifles. It costs money they don't have for them to register their firearms."

He is joined in his opposition to Bill C-10 (b) by Liberal Senator Willie Adams, of Nunavut territory, and Liberal Senator Anne Cools of Toronto.

"Bill C-68 has shown itself to be catastrophic," Ms. Cools said. "There's a host of unanswered questions. Senators want answers and senators are not going to accept being dismissed."

Progressive Conservative Senator Terrance Stratton, of Red River, Manitoba, has also voiced his opposition to Bill C-10 (a).

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