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Quebecers alone in wanting to save gun registry: poll

OTTAWA - Quebecers are alone in wanting to save the long-gun registry, a new poll suggests.

OTTAWA - Quebecers are alone in wanting to save the long-gun registry, a new poll suggests.

Outside the province, most Canadians aren't convinced the registry has done much to reduce gun crime and appear content to abolish it.

The survey by The Canadian Press Harris-Decima was conducted Nov. 5-8, just after the House of Commons gave approval in principle to a private member's bill aimed at killing the controversial registry.

The bill, sponsored by a Conservative MP with the wholehearted endorsement of the Harper minority government, passed its first hurdle with help from 12 New Democrats, eight Liberals and one Independent.

The Bloc Quebecois voted unanimously against abolition and the survey results help explain why.

In Quebec, a majority of respondents - 56 per cent - said they're opposed to abolishing the registry. And 50 per cent said they believed the registry has helped reduce gun crime.

Outside Quebec, it was a different story.

Majorities in Atlantic Canada (50 per cent), British Columbia (51 per cent), Alberta (64 per cent) and Manitoba-Saskatchewan (61 per cent) said it's a good idea to get rid of the registry.

Ontarians were split on the issue, with 42 per cent favouring abolition and 40 per cent opposed.

Almost 61 per cent of Canadians outside Quebec said they believed the gun registry had made no difference in reducing gun crimes.

"Outside of Quebec, there doesn't seem to be very much of a force that would say, 'Please don't abolish this gun registry'," said Doug Anderson, Harris-Decima senior vice-president.

Anderson said Canadians still generally feel that "too many guns in society is a bad thing." But persistent controversy over the long-gun registry seems to have persuaded them that this particular measure is not the best way to go about it.

In particular, he said, they've likely been influenced by vocal critics who contend the registry is a billion-dollar waste that targets law-abiding hunters and farmers rather than gun-toting criminals.

"Other than police ... there don't seem to be a lot of champions for it," Anderson said.

"It seems to me that the case against in this particular situation has been more convincing for more Canadians."



Anderson said Quebecers have been most supportive of the registry since its introduction in the wake of the 1989 massacre of 14 women at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique.

He noted that the latest survey was conducted at "a time of heightened sensitivity" - a month before the 20th anniversary of the massacre and a month after the third anniversary of another shooting at Montreal's Dawson College. That may partly account for the disparity between the results in Quebec and the rest of Canada.

Still, Tory support for abolition of the registry didn't stop the Conservatives from snatching a rural Quebec riding from the registry-supporting Bloc in a byelection on Monday.

Indeed, the poll suggests there'll be little political fallout from the issue. Only 29 per cent of respondents said their vote will be affected by the way in which their MP votes to keep or abolish the long-gun registry.

"Fundamentally, what I saw in the numbers was it didn't seem to have the political clout to necessarily be a deciding factor for very many people," said Anderson.

"As emotional as it may be, it's likely that Canadians also have other concerns that might be more pressing or relevant to their vote decision."

The telephone survey of just over 1,000 people is considered accurate within a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times in 20. The margin of error is larger for regional sub-samples.

 
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