Canada's Gun Control Lobby Makes New Post-Election Demands On Trudeau

AP Photo/Aaron Favila

When Justin Trudeau scheduled snap elections a couple of month ago, he was hoping that he’d be able to secure an outright majority in Parliament for his Liberal Party. Instead, voters maintained the status quo when they cast their votes earlier this month. Liberals picked up four seats, but are still far short of the 170 members needed for a majority government, and Trudeau has been widely criticized for wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on what amounted to a failed vanity project.

Still, the Liberals are expected to maintain their working coalition with elements from other parties (the Conservative Party not included), which is enough for Trudeau to declare the election a success. And since he’s going to be in charge for a while longer, the Canadian gun control lobby is making some new demands of the prime minister.

An influential voice on gun control says it is time for a new cabinet minister to usher in the re-elected Liberal government’s promised firearm measures.

In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the group PolySeSouvient calls for the appointment of a minister who “truly supports gun control.”

PolySeSouvient has frequently expressed frustration with Liberal efforts to strengthen gun laws, led in recent years by Bill Blair, a former Toronto police chief, as public safety minister.

The group includes students and graduates of Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique, where a gunman killed 14 women in 1989.

As Trudeau assembles a new cabinet, PolySeSouvient says any MP who publicly defended Bill C-21, sponsored by Blair earlier this year, “would not be trustworthy” to deliver on gun control.

The issue with Blair, as far as the anti-gun advocates are concerned, is that he hasn’t done enough to implement the ban on so-called assault weapons that was put in place by Trudeau last year. They’d prefer the Canadian version of David Chipman; someone who’d be a reliable toady for the gun ban crowd. But that’s not the only change they’re calling for. Now that the Liberals have maintained their control of the federal government, PolySeSouvient believes its time to revisit some of Trudeau’s other gun restrictions.

Bill C-21 also would have given municipalities the power to ban handguns. The Liberals promised during the campaign to expand that authority to entire provinces or territories, a plan that still falls short for those, like PolySeSouvient, who want a truly national ban to avoid a patchwork of handgun laws.

“We are convinced that the Canadian public, whose votes were clearly influenced by the issue, expects, as we do, swift and bold action to strengthen our gun laws,” says the Sept. 24 letter to the prime minister.

A nationwide ban on handguns has long been one of the fundamental goals of the gun control lobby, both here in the United States and in Canada. And unlike the U.S., the Canadian gun prohibitionists don’t have to worry about the right to keep and bear arms, because Canada largely views gun ownership as a privilege. Still, given that the next Parliament is going to look suspiciously like the last one, is there really the political appetite to impose a full-scale handgun ban? PolySeSouvient’s Nathalie Provost says there is.

PolySeSouvient says a clear mandate, public support and backing of the NDP and Bloc Quebecois should enable the government to meet the expectations of Canadians on gun control.

“All that remains is to appoint a minister who is up to the task.”

Well, that and an actual vote.

Provost said there has been “no real progress” on gun control in the last six years because Liberal measures have been too timid, unlike the Chretien government’s comprehensive legislation of a quarter-century ago.

“This is what needs to fundamentally change,” she said. “And for that to happen, we need a minister who is not afraid to act boldly, something we have not seen since Allan Rock was justice minister in the 1990s.’”

Rock is the rock star of the Canadian gun control movement; an ardent opponent of gun ownership who once said, “[t]here are very few countries in the world that, like Canada, live on a 5,000 km border with a culture awash in guns that saturates us with their entertainment, that tries to seduce us with their values, and that puts us next to 200 million-plus handguns and rifles in private ownership.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m amused by the fact that the next Alan Rock (whoever that might be) will get to complain about living next to a country with 400 million-plus handguns and rifles in private ownership. And while we’ve been acquiring all those firearms since the 1990s, the nation’s violent crime rate plunged by nearly 50-percent, which goes to show the fallacy that more guns automatically equates to more crime.

That fallacy is at the heart of the gun prohibitionist movement, and Canadian gun owners have been paying the price for decades. With Trudeau continuing on as prime minister, that’s unfortunately going to be the case for the foreseeable future, even if the prime minister decides to take a few intermediate steps before trying to impose a nationwide ban on handguns as the country’s gun control lobby is demanding.