In 2002, the federal Government of Canada, endured harsh criticism after it was revealed that program spending on the federal firearms registry had become a boondoggle, spiraling up toward 1 billion dollars. Auditor General Sheila Fraser issued a report in December 2002 that showed the gun registry would cost taxpayers $1 billion by 2004. Original estimates of the cost in 1995 were that the government would have to spend a mere $2 million, net of registration fees paid by gun owners. These cost overruns were seized by the opposition as symptomatic of poor governance on the part of the Liberal Party of Canada and by critics of gun control as evidence that the policy was a failure.
gun control, governance, firearms registry, boondoggle
OTTAWA - Some members of the Liberal caucus are outraged that the cost of the federal gun registry has ballooned to $1 billion, enough so to call for heads to roll.
* INDEPTH: Gun Control
That has even Liberals saying people need to be fired, beginning with Industry Minister Allan Rock, because he was the justice minister who created the registry.
"Ministers are responsible for their actions and he's shown a total lack of respect for members of Parliament," said Liberal MP Ben SerrÃ©, "and he's shown that he could not handle that file and he's cost the treasury about a billion dollars unnecessarily."
Reporters asked the prime minister on Wednesday whether Rock should resign and Jean ChrÃ©tien replied with one word: "No."
The registry was supposed to make it easier for police to keep track of the millions of firearms in Canada. Critics have said all along that criminals won't register their guns and the system would only hassle law-abiding gun owners.
* FROM DEC. 3, 2001 Ottawa accused of hiding true cost of gun registry
Fraser said her report might not show the whole picture of the registry, because all the information couldn't be found and her office had to give up.
"What's really inexcusable is that Parliament was in the dark," she said while delivering her report on Tuesday.
Alex Shepherd, a Liberal who opposed the registry, says Canadians deserve an explanation for the cost overrun.
"I think there is a valid concern there among the public," he said. "I represent the people in my riding, I came here to represent them. They're the taxpayers of this country and I would think there's some owning up here to do."
Tory MP Peter MacKay says Anne McLellan, the current health minister, needs to do some of that owning up. She succeeded Rock in the justice portfolio and oversaw the gun registry as its costs began to balloon.
"There was an effort made to back-door this wasteful and incompetent management of this system," MacKay said. "Anne McClellan, I suggest, was the chief beneficiary of that little chicanery and ruse."
Canadian Alliance Leader Stephen Harper says not only does the registry show a mismanagement of taxpayers dollars, it simply doesn't work.
"We would scrap the universal registry," he said.
But the registry, critics say, is only the latest in a series of examples of government mismanagement costing taxpayers money, beginning with the "billion-dollar boondoggle" at Human Resources Development Canada.
Written by CBC News Online staff