Commentary by Mac Olsen
Gun control advocacy and Bill C-68 type legislation could once again become a fact of life in Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Government are going to restore the RCMP’s authority to make the final decisions for the classification of firearms. It will reverse a policy decision by the former Stephen Harper Government to be able to override the RCMP’s authority.
As per an Edmonton Journal article from Feb. 11, the issue stemmed from the RCMP’s decision in 2014 to reclassify Swiss Arms rifles and Czech-made CZ-858 rifles from restricted or non-restricted to prohibited. The former Harper Government passed Bill C-42, the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act, which included a provision giving Cabinet the ability to remove restrictions after getting “independent expert advice.”
Now, that legislation will be effectively repealed by the current Prime Minister and returning that power to the RCMP. The same article highlighted concerns by the Canadian Shooting Sports Association.
“How can a bureaucrat wave a pen and criminalize hundreds, thousands of people,” said Tony Bernardo, the association’s executive director. “We elect parliamentarians to make our laws. … We would not tolerate police making law in any other segment of society.”
However, the Journal article continues, “Scott Bardsley, a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, said in an email Friday … Police are the ‘experts’ in these matters. ‘We know of no other Western democracy,’ he added, in which a cabinet or government department has the authority to override firearms classification rules set out in legislation.”
But to me, it will turn into political theatre with changes for the firearms advisory committee. The Liberals have promised to add public health advocates, representatives from women’s groups and lawyers to the committee so it isn’t stacked with gun industry representatives, says the Journal article.
Bernardo, a former committee member, worries non-firearms experts will outnumber members of the firearms community: “We wouldn’t take a committee meant to (examine) surgical procedures and put plumbers on that committee.”
In this, I can agree with him. When it comes to screening of first-time restricted firearms applicants, measures are already in place for the RCMP to conduct reviews for things like criminal records, violence against women and so on. That is where the RCMP can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the applicant. So adding non-firearms ‘experts’ to that committee is unnecessary – and it could be a way for gun control advocates to carry out their own agenda.
Moreover, I see this as the first step to reintroduce Bill C-68 type legislation, passed in 1995, which required every single firearm to be registered with the RCMP, including non-restricted firearms. But Bill C-68 did nothing to prevent firearms crime and it wasted $1 billion.
Beware of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government and gun control advocacy. Beware of anything smacking of a hidden agenda to take away the rights of safe, responsible and law-abiding firearms owners.