It seems that slowly but surely the voices of Canadians are being heard. We aren’t being heard because we are important, and not because we matter, at least not to the folks in Ottawa. We are being heard because of a change of heart and direction that only an impending election could cause. Now the ruling party has started to talk about minimum sentencing and a tough new stance against the thugs who hold us hostage in our own neighbourhoods. If this move had come months ago, it would have been appreciated. Now, it is just another slap in the face by a government on the ropes. It is one last ditch effort to buy our votes.

In several of Conservative Joe’s columns, and in scores of other columns in the media, we have been pleading with and demanding of our elected officials to get tough on those who feel free to open fire while on our streets. The latest such column was “Get Tough Already.” Instead, we get politicians who go out and blame American gun companies for the carnage that is a direct result of our lax laws and our wrist slapping court system. These are the same companies that, in many instances, provide our own police forces with their firearms. All the while, the real problems lay untouched.

Justice Minister Irwin Cotler has suggested that tougher legislation is needed. Way to come on board, Irwin. I don’t know what part of the country you have been staying in, but the rest of us have been aware of that need for a long time now. “We have to send a strong message with respect to those who would wish to engage in gun-related crime,” he said. That would be a pleasant change, because, until now, we have been sending a strong message to those people. It has been “Come to Canada.”

In an interview Monday, Justice Cotler said that he is prepared to bring down tougher sentencing for gun crimes if his provincial and territorial counterparts are in agreement. Since when does a federal justice minister need the approval of his provincial counterparts? I have never seen a group of legislators so afraid to legislate before. These laws are needed, they are wanted, and they are long overdue. We have spent billions messing around with a useless gun registry. A registry that has penalized law abiding citizens, and a registry that has not saved the 44 people gunned down in Toronto this year, nor did it save the four RCMP officers last year in Alberta. In fact, the only thing that will save anyone is to start locking the criminals up. Since we are too squeamish to deal with these murderers on a permanent basis, we should at least be willing to remove them from our midst.

Perhaps we could solve part of the problem by electing our judges. It seems that the one’s we have are not doing the job. Time and again we are told of ludicrous sentences, and time and again we find out that someone who is to stand trial for murder is out on bail, walking the same streets as we are.

Not to be left holding an empty bag, our Prime Minister showed up in the Jane-Finch corridor today to announce increases in minimum sentences for certain gun crimes. “Violent crime and gangsters have no place in our society,” Mr. Martin said. No kidding, Mr. Martin. Canadians have been saying that for more than a decade.

Why does it take saving their own skin for politicians to hear us? Why are children dying on account of inaction that has stretched over so many years? Once again, the Liberals are using us for political pawns. They are again crying that bringing down their government will stall this important piece of legislation. No, my friend, it won’t be the fault of the opposition. The fact is that your party, Mr. Martin, has been sitting on its hands for 13 years. That is the real problem.

I think that perhaps we should have 2 year terms for our governments, as we seem to get a great deal done when the threat of an election is looming. This is so sad. We deserve so much better. We deserve to see justice done. That is, after all, why we have a Ministry of Justice, isn’t it?

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