The Conservative government is relinquishing millions of dollars in gun registry and licensing fees at a time of record federal budget deficits.
Documents obtained by CBC News under access to information show the federal government's decision to waive fees for people licensing their firearms will cost more than $15 million this year alone. Should the fee waiver be extended for another three years, internal forecasts predict an additional $60 million in "projected lost revenue."
But why would a government run by a master economist allow this to happen?
The University of Lethbridge political science professor Peter McCormick said that's unlikely to happen any time soon. By extending the amnesty year after year, he said, the Conservatives are deftly handling a hot-button issue.
McCormick said the strategy allows the government to pacify rural and western voters who oppose the registry as well as urban Canadians who support it.
"Elegant is too nice a word, but this is actually for the government a very nice solution," he said.
"You can keep saying to the westerners, we're amnestying, we're doing what we can. And everyone goes off saying, yeah, yeah and they're nodding their heads and they're happy. Not a bad package for the government."
The balancing act may cost millions, but the political payback is worth it, McCormick added.
"Amnestying fees is not the same thing as abolishing the registry. It's hard for the Opposition to get traction on it. And sure, it costs, what, $10, $15 million dollars a year in forgone revenue for the government, but we're talking $50 billion deficits these days. What's $15 million among friends? For the government, I think it's quite a bargain."
Adding to the deficit, lying to the suckers that form their base and ignoring the preference of a majority of Canadians all for the temporary advantage of the Conservative Party. Dr. McCormick is right. Elegant is too nice a word for it.