Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sportsmen’s Show returns to the Ex as council debates gun issues

The Toronto Sportsmen’s Show will return to Exhibition Place after city council gave it an exemption from a decision made by David Miller’s administration to ban any event that promotes firearms on city property.

The council debate quickly turned to domestic violence and gun crime, to the annoyance of Councillor Josh Colle, who seconded the motion. “I guess I naively thought this was an economic development issue,” he said. “To make this some debate about how we’re saving the city from guns is so disingenuous.”

The Sportsmen’s Show will bring $750,000 to $800,000 in profits for Exhibition Place and overall estimated benefits to the city of $6 million.

The show has taken place at the Ex from 1948 to 2009. Councillor Mark Grimes’s approved motion will exempt the grounds from the policy.

Walter Oster, chair of the Canadian National Sportmen’s Shows, said he was delighted, but disappointed with councillors who tried to suggest the show inadvertently promotes gun crime.

Meanwhile, Toronto is urging the province to ask Ottawa for records on local gun owners from the soon-to-be destroyed long gun registry.

By a 39-5 vote Wednesday, council reaffirmed Toronto’s support for the federal registry, ordered city lawyers to look for ways to prevent the deletion of records of more than 287,000 registered firearms in the GTA, and to ask other cities to do likewise.

Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam’s motion got a thumbs-down from Mayor Rob Ford. Councillor Doug Ford voted for it, but later said he erred and backs the federal Conservative government in wanting the records destroyed. Mississauga passed a similar motion in December, while Quebec is challenging Bill C-19 in court.

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