Our Gun-Owning Neighbors To The North Are In For It

The Liberal Party headed by political legacy Justin Trudeau just ousted the Conservative Party of Prime Minister Stephen Harper in nationwide elections yesterday. The Liberal Party took 184 seats out of 338 which gives them a working majority. They will not have to try and form a coalition government with other smaller parties. The Conservatives retain only 99 seats or 29% of the seats in the Canadian Parliament’s House of Commons.

So what does that mean for Canadian gun owners? First, let’s remember that the Conservative government under Stephen Harper did away with the ineffective and outrageously expensive gun registry. Second, there is this from the Liberal Party platform:

We will take action to get handguns and assault weapons off our streets.

Over the last decade, Stephen Harper has steadily weakened our gun laws in ways that make Canadians more vulnerable and communities more dangerous.

We will take pragmatic action to make it harder for criminals to get, and use, handguns and assault weapons. We will:

  • repeal changes made by Bill C-42 that allow restricted and prohibited weapons to be freely transported without a permit, and we will put decision-making about weapons restrictions back in the hands of police, not politicians;
  • provide $100 million each year to the provinces and territories to support guns and gangs police task forces to take illegal guns off our streets and reduce gang violence;
  • modify the membership of the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee to include knowledgeable law enforcement officers, public health advocates, representatives from women’s groups, and members of the legal community;
  • require enhanced background checks for anyone seeking to purchase a handgun or other restricted firearm;
  • require purchasers of firearms to show a license when they buy a gun, and require all sellers of firearms to confirm that the license is valid before completing the sale;
  • require firearms vendors to keep records of all firearms inventory and sales to assist police in investigating firearms trafficking and other gun crimes;
  • immediately implement the imported gun marking regulations that have been repeatedly delayed by Stephen Harper; and
  • as part of our investment in border infrastructure, invest in technologies to enhance our border guards’ ability to detect and halt illegal guns from the United States entering into Canada.

We will not create a new national long-gun registry to replace the one that has been dismantled.

We will ensure that Canada becomes a party to the international Arms Trade Treaty.

The only thing positive in that list is the claim that a Liberal government will not create a new long-gun registry.

I hate to say it but the next five years are not going to be good ones for Canadian gun owners. Or the rest of Canada for that matter.

Oh, Canada! Please Keep The Liberals As The Loyal Opposition

I would think most people would want important decisions left in the hands of elected representatives and not in the hands of faceless bureaucrats. After all, a politician can be turned out of office while the bureaucracy lives on forever.

Not so the Liberal Party in Canada. They are quite upset that Stephen Harper and his Conservative government want to remove the power of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to make determinations on which firearms should be prohibited. As can be seen in the poster they put up on Facebook, they consider it “unacceptable”.

The Liberal Party is the official opposition in the Canadian Parliament and is led by Justin Trudeau. His father, the late Pierre Trudeau, was Prime Minister of Canada from 1968-1979 and from 1980-1984. While serving as Justice Minister, the elder Trudeau introduced Bill C-150 which established a good deal of the gun control in Canada including the non-restricted, restricted, and prohibited categories of firearms.

Their official statement in opposition to Bill C-42 says, in part:

“First, it eliminates the need for owners of prohibited and restricted firearms to have a transportation license to carry those guns in their vehicles. This means they could freely transport handguns or automatic weapons anywhere within their province, whether to a grocery store or a soccer field.

“Secondly, it would take the power to classify firearms out of the hands of the police – the experts in keeping Canadians safe – and put it in the hands of politicians like Stephen Harper. And it would allow those decisions to be made without Parliamentary approval or oversight.

“We think Canadians will agree that this is wrong.

Somehow I doubt Canadian gun owners would consider this wrong.

Bill C-42, the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act, was introduced in October by Minister for Public Safety Steven Blaney (middle picture in the poster).  The bill had its Second Reading on November 26th.

Here is a quick outline of what Bill C-42 would do from the Canadian Shooting Sports Association.

  • Create a six-month grace period at the end of the five-year licence period to stop people from immediately becoming criminalized for paperwork delays around license renewals;
  • Streamline the licensing system by eliminating the Possession Only Licence (POL) and converting all existing POLs to Possession and Acquisition Licences (PALs);
  • Make classroom participation in firearms safety training mandatory for first-time licence applicants;
  • Amend the Criminal Code to strengthen the provisions relating to orders prohibiting the possession of firearms where a person is convicted of an offence involving domestic violence;
  • End needless paperwork around Authorizations to Transport by making them a condition of a licence for certain routine and lawful activities;
  • Provide for the discretionary authority of Chief Firearms Officers to be subject to limit by regulation;
  • Authorize firearms import information sharing when restricted and prohibited firearms are imported into Canada by businesses; and,
  • Allow the Government to have the final say on classification decisions, following the receipt of independent expert advice.

This bill is, from what I can gather, a start. Neither the Coalition for Gun Control nor the National Firearms Association are altogether happy with Bill C-42. The former opposes the bill because it relaxes some gun control measures. The latter has decided not to endorse the bill because it doesn’t address what they consider the many significant problems with Canada’s firearms regulation. These include decriminalizing firearms possession, addressing regulations that classify firearms by their appearance, and eliminating the punitive safe storage requirements from the criminal code.

Like all bills reforming existing gun controls, it doesn’t go far enough. However, if passed, at least Canada can say it is no longer the New Jersey of the North when it comes to firearms transport.