Federal 'buyback' scheme cost taxpayers $42 million without confiscating a single firearm: report

The federal government has spent $41,094,556 on its 'buyback' scheme without confiscating a single firearm to date. Alberta Premier Danielle Smith told Rebel News, 'I wish them continued success at being able to achieve zero with their program.'

Federal 'buyback' scheme cost taxpayers $42 million without confiscating a single firearm: report
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson and THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government has splurged $42 million on its firearm ‘buyback’ scheme without confiscating a single firearm to date.

Public Safety Canada, in response to an order paper question filed by Conservative Senator Don Plett last September, uncovered the federal government spending $41,094,556 without any results.

“This is a boondoggle, and it hasn’t even begun,” said Plett during the Senate question period on Friday. 

Over the past four years, the feds assigned 60 department employees to work on the project, in addition to 15 from the RCMP, reported True North.

Public Services and Procurement Canada assigned “the equivalent of 5.825 full-time employees,” while Service Canada devoted two employees to oversee the program.

“$42 million spent, 83 people employed full time in Ottawa … for what?” Tracey Wilson, vice-president of the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights (CCFR) told True North

“This government has … no idea how to get the job done,” she added.

On Wednesday, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith told Rebel News she has no intent on complying with the program should the feds get their act together.

“We believe that the issue is the illegal firearms getting into the hands of gangs and organized crime coming across the border,” she said.

However, law-abiding citizens have become the scapegoat for violent crime, and are being unduly punished by the federal government.

“I wish them continued success at being able to achieve zero compliance with their program,” Smith told the publication. 

According to the 2021 estimate by the budget officer, compensating firearms owners would cost between $47 million and $756 million. In February 2021, then-Public Safety Minister Bill Blair pegged costs between $300 million and $400 million. 

However, these figures exclude planning and program administration costs, consultation fees, firearm collection and evaluation, storage and destruction of collected firearms, and business losses due to prohibited inventory. 

Industry assessments suggested a costlier price tag is on the horizon for taxpayers, in excess of $6.7 billion on the high end, according to criminologist Gary Mauser.

However, the ‘buyback’ scheme is not scheduled to begin until later this year, after its P.E.I pilot stumbled out of the gate last January.

Additionally, licensed owners received an extended amnesty until 2025 to sell their firearms to Ottawa after dialogue with stakeholders broke down.

Wilson noted that Trudeau is focusing his efforts not on law-abiding citizens, but retailers left with costly storage bills on inventory they can no longer sell.

In May 2020, Trudeau’s Cabinet signed an Order in Council (OIC) banning over 1,500 models of previously legal firearms. Backed by punitive legislation, it froze the purchase, sale, transfer, and import of handguns in October 2022. 

The feds reached a $700,000 agreement last year with the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association to confiscate “assault rifles” from retailers.

Public Safety Canada estimates businesses own between 10,000 to 15,000 prohibited firearms, according to the order paper disclosure. Another 125,000 to 200,000 firearms, barred under the OIC, are owned by licensed individuals. 

“Trudeau [is] telling Canadians that the guns he banned were simply too dangerous to own by the people who’ve owned them safely and without issue for decades,” Wilson spoke to the ridiculousness of Ottawa’s crusade.

“He could easily have those guns liquidated but can’t get that done either,” she noted. 

Ottawa also tried to restrict the purchase of shotguns and rifles commonly used by sport shooters, hunters and farmers, but failed to reach a consensus with the provinces and stakeholders last year.

“This wasted time and resources would have been better spent fighting smuggling at the border and organized crime, if we had a government who was serious about public safety,” continued Wilson.

“The federal government should be focused on [prohibited firearms smuggled into the country from the United States], not focusing on taking guns away from sport shooters, hunters, and farmers,” added Smith.

When asked if the province would invoke the Sovereignty Act over the issue, she did not directly answer.

Should the federal government breach this division of powers, Alberta’s UCP government will “take all measures” to protect the constitutional rights of Albertans, clarified Solicitor General Mickey Amery. Bill 8, the Alberta Firearms Act, reiterates provincial jurisdiction over firearms, proposing a provincial license for gun seizures in Alberta.

"The constitution lays out the division of powers between the federal and provincial levels of government,” said Amery. “It ensures that provinces possess the right to manage public safety, property rights and security within their borders, a responsibility that inherently includes firearms regulations."

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