The $2 Billion Boondoggle

Paul Martin and the federal Liberals are not having a good week.

CBC News reports today that the cost of Canada’s national gun registry has soared to $2 Billion. Critics of the Liberal boondoggle have only recently pegged this figure at about $1 Billion dollars. Conservative MP Bill Casey’s website at gunregistry.ca compares the billion dollar pricetag of the program, which has been largely ineffective, to what else could be bought for $1 Billion. Mr. Casey, you’ll have to double that figure today.

The program was introduced in the mid-1990’s under the fiscal eye of then finance minister Paul Martin. The now Prime Minister has declared that he will not scrap the wasteful program. As always, the Prime Minister has stated that he will ‘review’ it and then make some changes. Mr. Martin, as some psychologists would declare, suffers from entrapment bias which is defined as an increase in commitment to a failed course of action to justify the investments that were already made. The original cost of the program was estimated, by Mr. Martin’s department, to be $2 million. Now, the program’s costs have burgeoned 1000-fold. When’s the last time that you spent 1000 times more on a purchase than you originally intended? In a hypothetical comparison, no Canadian would finance a $25,000 car at a cost of $25,000,000.

The program itself isn’t an effective measure for crime prevention; gun registration requires compliance. Most of the guns used in crimes are largely unregistered illegal weapons. Meanwhile, every farmer and hunter in this country is being told to register their rifles.

If we are to update the figure on Mr. Casey’s website, we’d be astonished to learn that in the realm of crime prevention (which is the intent of the program), $2 Billion dollars could buy: 66,666 police cruisers at $30,000 each or it could pay for the salaries of 2000 police officers forever ($2 Billion invested at 5% interest). Alternatively, the money could have paid the tuition for almost every single university student in this country for 2 years.

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