As we look to the legislative calendar in Ottawa in 2023, one of the pieces of legislation I’ve heard a lot about from local residents over the past several weeks is the government’s last-minute amendments to Bill C-21, which would ban many hunting rifles.
In tandem with this, are continued concerns about the impact of the government’s soft on crime approach and the “catch and release” bail system for violent repeat offenders.
The government's amendments to Bill C-21 shocked Canadian hunters, farmers and sport shooters, who saw their firearms suddenly referred to as "weapons of war", with no consultation.
It also caused confusion in the very government that wrote the amendment and presented it at the 11th hour at the Public Safety committee. Liberal ministers declared the government had not banned hunting rifles, despite that intention being clear with the amendment that was presented.
The Liberals accused Conservatives and others of spreading "disinformation”, however, experts and registered firearms users started coming forth. The government's overly broad firearms regulations seems to have captured everything from Airsoft rifles to antique cannons on display at historic sites.
The results of the last-minute amendments display a clear lack of knowledge and understanding of the facts by the government.
As we know, law-abiding hunters, farmers and sport shooters are not the cause of firearm violence in Canada.
The Canadian Association of Police Chiefs pointed out restrictions on legal firearms would not “meaningfully” address the real issue about gun violence, as it is illegal weapons that have led to the gun violence. That violence is primarily related to illegal guns smuggled into Canada by gangs and organized crime groups, most of whom do not purchase their weapons legally or are registered and trained firearms owners.
The Assembly of First Nations came out opposed to Bill C-21, saying it infringes on their treaty rights.
Unfortunately, rational calls by legal firearms owners have not changed the mind of the prime minister, who, in an end-of-year interview, said his government would still seek to ban many firearms used by Canadian hunters.
For years, Conservatives have called on the government to focus on illegal firearms and gun smuggling, uphold public safety and protect the rights of victims.
Related to this, the government’s Bill C-5 in this parliament removes minimum sentences for many serious crimes, including those involving firearms.
Bill C-75 which became law in 2019, included provisions for bail reform, including for violent repeat offenders. In part it reads, “A peace officer, justice or judge shall give primary consideration to the release of the accused at the earliest reasonable opportunity and on the least onerous conditions.”
Conservatives opposed both those bills and have called for a reverse of the government’s soft on crime approach and for a reverse of the bail system’s “catch and release” approach for repeat violent offenders.
Since the fall, five police officers in Canada have been tragically slain in the line of duty. This past year, violent crime was up 32%. Since (Prime Minister) Justin Trudeau’s government has been in power, gang related killings have gone up by 92%. The facts speak for themselves.
As a local hunter recently pointed out to me, while the government says its new laws are to get firearms off Canadian streets with Bill C-21, his legal firearms have never been on any streets. Divisively defaming law-abiding Canadians as perpetrators of violent crime is not factual. The legal possession of safely stored personal property, often passed down as family heirlooms, should not be criminalized.
I will continue to stand up for the rights of hunters, farmers, sport shooters and for the victims of crime, while advocating for policies and legislation that focuses on prosecuting criminals, especially violent repeat offenders.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.