Skip to comments.Liberals cooked books on gun registry: auditor
Posted on 05/16/2006 1:21:15 PM PDT by Clive
Ottawa — Federal officials engaged in a frantic search for legal loopholes to jiggle the books in 2004 so that the controversial gun registry would not exceed spending caps yet again, after their briefings for Liberal ministers changed their plan to ask Parliament for more money, Auditor-General Sheila Fraser reported today.
The revelations that the government sought ways to delay reporting sizable sums is likely to add to controversy surrounding the registry — just as the Conservative government plans to use the timing to push through its plan to scrap the registry of rifles and shotguns.
Although all the spending was eventually recorded, the government twice broke accounting rules by pushing sizable amounts in the next year to avoid breaking the spending limits they had promised Parliament — once during the tenure of former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, and another time under his successor, Paul Martin.
In the second case, as Mr. Martin's government was preparing to call an election in early 2004, officials at the Canadian Firearms Centre warned they were going to exceed their authorized spending, and needed Parliament to authorize more money.
But after senior government officials briefed Liberal ministers — Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan was responsible for the registry at the time — the government decided not to ask Parliament for more money, but instead asked accountants and lawyers to find a way to shift $21.8-million in costs to the next fiscal year.
Ms. Fraser called that "very, very serious." "Our whole system relies on the fact that Parliament authorizes a certain amount of expenditure within a year," she told reporters.
A 2002 report by Ms. Fraser sparked heightened calls for the registry to be scrapped when she reported that the costs of the gun-control program would balloon beyond the government's initial spending plans to about $1-billion by 2005, and that the Canadian Firearms Centre had misreported the costs, making it impossible for Parliament to control.
She reported today that the Centre, which issues licenses for owners and registrations for each gun cost $946-million between 1995 and 2005, roughly $100-million a year.
Although the Auditor-General found that the Centre had in general made "satisfactory" improvement on reporting on the costs of the centre, she cited two major instances of cost overruns for a new computer system as examples of moves that misinformed Parliament.
Ms. Fraser reported that the new management of the Centre that came in when Firearms Commissioner Bill Baker was appointed in 2003 has rectified a lot of mismanagement, but the Centre still takes too long to process applications, and doesn't know how many of its records have outdated addresses or incorrect names.
It also does not adequately verify transfers to new owners or the description of the registered firearms — information crucial to making the registry useful for tracking guns.
Ms. Fraser's 2002 report had made gun registry spending controversial — placing pressure on the government to stick to its promised limits.
A $39-million "error" made during Mr. Chrétien's tenure allowed the registry to stay within the maximum $100-million spending that then-justice minister Martin Cauchon promised for the 2002-03 fiscal year. Mr. Cauchon had made that promise after MPs balked at approving more money for the registry.
Ms. Fraser reported that there were no records of why the Justice Department made such a large error in such a routine accounting matter — recording the costs of contracts signed for additional work needed on the second automated registry system.
Fixing the $39-million error the next fiscal year, 2003-04, meant that the gun registry then faced a financial squeeze. After Mr. Martin's government took power in December, 2003, the Centre faced cost overruns on its new computer system caused by delays in passing new legislation — and the $21.8-million cost was going to exceed the limit set by Parliament. But the Liberal government decided it did not want to ask for more money in "supplementary estimates."
"In February 2004, as the deadline for Supplementary Estimates was approaching, senior officials briefed ministers. It was decided that Supplementary Estimates were not desirable," Ms. Fraser's report states. "At the same time, [Treasury Board] officials were asked to look for an accounting treatment that would avoid having to record all of the [computer-system] costs in 2003-04…."
Ms. Fraser said it was not clear from officials' e-mails which ministers were briefed. Ms. McLellan, also deputy prime minister, was responsible for the gun registry, and Reg Alcock was Treasury Board President.
When the accountants said it could not be done, lawyers were asked to find a way — although the government refused to waive solicitor-client privilege so that Ms. Fraser could report what they advised. At any rate, the Auditor-General concluded their decision broke accounting rules, the Financial Administration Act, and possibly the standing orders of the House of Commons.
Ms. Fraser's officials said there was no written record of which ministers were briefed in February, 2004, or whether they instructed officials to use the improper accounting method. The official decision was made Mr. Baker.
Now is this a surprise??? :-)
Gun controllers lie? I just refuse to believe that. They only have the interests of the children at heart.
"Now is this a surprise??? :-)"
Beat me to it!!!!
costs "roughly $100-million a year..."
And doesn't seem to work.
Well surprise, surprise. A liberal would tell a lie? Darn, don't tell me it is so. /scalding sarcasm on.
I am sure they'll do away with all the names previously collected, too.
Only criminals, tyrants and liberals fear the armed citizen.
Once again we see just how mentally deranged are those of liberal political views. How many crimes have been solved by use of the registry? Gun registries are good only for one thing: eventual confiscation. This one may be so screwed up that it won't even be good for that!
Please FReepmail me to get on or off this ping list.
Liberals lie??? I can't believe that. I don't think liberals know HOW to lie. < / sarcasm, before face explodes >
LOL, the very definition of cruel and unusual punishment. Maybe the US should hire Landslide Annie to go give long speeches to inmates at Gitmo.
That's because all the gunz in kanuckistan are there because of their southern neighbor..... (roll eyes)
One can only hope that lawsuits are forthcoming. This only bodes well for the new natural governing party of Canada, the Conservatives.
Yikes, during lunch break I read stories about Mexico, Venezuela, Iran, the Netherlands, and Saudi Arabia. What will cause this nonsense to stop?
Well, at least Canada is becoming stronger and a bit more of a straight shooter....
Okay, let's think a minute. How expensive is it to have a gun registry? How did this cost A BILLION DOLLARS! Even in Canadian money??? I can set up an Excel file that we can put every gun owner's name into for a mere fraction of that.
I am anti-registry, of course, but isn't it obvious that they must have used this politically correct program to STEAL a lot of public money? This isn't just about gun rights -- that money just disappeared, and who knows what they did with it?
Another great liberal program. They have so many wonderful success stories.
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