No gun fee irks Reformer
But Rock's office says no break for aboriginals

by P.J. Harston
Northern News Services

NNSL (NOV 22/96) - Aboriginal people who carry out traditional hunting or are subsistence hunters may not have to pay any gun licence fees, a Reform Party MP says.

Fraser Valley West MP Randy White said a document that shows the federal government has looked at excluding some natives from paying firearm licence fees is unfair to all gun owners.

The British Columbia politician is angered by the draft copy of proposed licensing fees for the federal government's controversial firearms registry.

"It's crazy. It's just not fair," he said in a telephone interview Monday.

The document says no fees would be charged to an "aboriginal engaged in traditional hunting practices and (who) is a member of (an) aboriginal community."

"You can't say aboriginals shouldn't pay and everybody else should. There's no rhyme or reason to that approach," White said.

But federal justice officials said the table of fees is only a consultation paper sent to various groups early in the legislation development process.

A spokeswoman for federal Justice Minister Allan Rock said Monday the document White quoted from was used in the registration scheme's initial consultation phase "quite a long time ago."

The information was made available to people who were consulted on the fee levels. They were provided the information on the basis it was no more than a discussion proposal.

Rock will have final say on whether aboriginal people pay a licensing fee.

Some sources in Ottawa have speculated Rock will table the regulations enforcing the licensing and registering of firearms by Dec. 6.

A spokeswoman at his office couldn't confirm that date, but said more information should be available later this week.

A national gun registry was a cornerstone of Rock's gun control legislation, passed last November. The law also imposed harsh new penalties for some gun-related crimes.

Earlier this year Rock proposed gun owners would pay $10 for a five-year possession licence for all guns they already own. That fee would rise to $60 by 2001, the last year of a phase-in period.

Owners would pay $10 to register non-restricted firearms. This fee would rise to $18 by the year 2003.