The Election: Day Ten

Paul Martin grabbed the headlines today with his announcement in Toronto that handguns would be banned.This was done in the context of escalating homicides in Toronto where firearms were used. People have been calling for tough action to deal with the senseless killings.

Martin said that his government would immediately introduce a ban on handguns, with narrowly defined exemptions for target shooters and allowing collectors time to sell or dispose of their weapons. Collectors would have to sell or surrender their weapons over five years or become target shooters.

Handguns are already prohibited but people are allowed to possess a restricted firearm for target practice, target shooting competitions, to form part of a collection or, in rare cases, for employment purposes or to protect your life.
Currently Canadians legally own 520,000 handguns.

Although Martin portrayed it as a ban, in fact provinces could opt out of the program. It is widely anticipated that Westerners, who own 40 per cent of Canada's handguns, will not sign on.

Meanwhile Stephen Harper, campaigning in northern Ontario, was addressing postsecondary education. Harper announced that a Conservative government would offer grants and tax cuts to tradespeople, apprentices and post-secondary students.
The plan includes giving workers a tax deduction of up to $500 for tools. As well, there would be a $1,000 grant for apprentices in their first two years, and a tax credit of 10 per cent of an apprentice's wages for two years, to a maximum of $2,000. Post-secondary students would get a tax credit of up to $500 to help cover the cost of textbooks. Harper also said the first $10,000 of a student scholarship or bursary income would be exempt from taxation.

Campaigning in Nova Scotia, Jack Layton announced a plan to raise the level of care available to seniors across the country. The NDP's plan involves spending $1.5 billion a year on long-term care and home care. The NDP plan would include an annual transfer to the provinces of $1 billion for home care, and another $500 million a year for long-term care. Layton estimated that the money would provide home care for about 100,000 people.

Unlike last week, Martin was in command of the headlines today. But critics quickly emerged to say that the proposal would have little impact since essentially handguns are already banned and the Liberal proposal would do little to deal with the traffic in illegal handguns smuggled across the border from our gun-loving neighbours to the south. By nightfall it appeared that by promising a ban on handguns Martin had in fact offered the proverbial "sleeves off his vest". Issues were also being raised about Liberal credibility on this matter given the gun registry fiasco of recent years.

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