The Trudeau Liberals are backtracking on their pilot project in Prince Edward Island to test its firearms buyback program.
Public Services and Procurement Canada said on its website on December 29 that the confiscation scheme's pilot phase would commence in December 2022. However, Public Safety Canada and PEI's Department of Justice and Public Safety did not confirm the news at the time of writing.
A PEI's Department of Justice and Public Safety spokesperson told Saltwire the province had been informed of the buyback pilot last summer.
"Prince Edward Island will be used as a pilot and will be the first point of collection based on the smaller number of firearms," reads a note. "As a result, lessons learned, gaps analysis, and risk assessment would inform the phase 2 national roll-out."
But the reversal now comes mere days after Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino planned to use PEI as a training ground for his government's confiscation scheme, per Saltwire. His spokesperson Audrey Champoux informed the pilot was "one of many options on the table" but is now "out of date."
Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandro fired back at his federal counterparts, tweeting: "It's time to push [them] back from going after all Canadian firearms owners," adding: "The federal Liberals have already backed down."
According to the Procurement Canada website, the Trudeau Liberals would commence its program in the spring of 2023. The feds added 1,500 firearms to the prohibited schedule on May 1, 2020, a few days after the deadly Nova Scotia mass shooting.
"We have seen the federal government go even further than we could have imagined with the proposed amendments to Bill C-21," said Shandro. "These amendments ban hundreds of new models of legally-owned shotguns and rifles."
The Trudeau Liberals are attempting to increase the number of prohibited firearms by amending Bill C-21, earning condemnation from Alberta's justice minister, opposition parties, First Nations, and interest groups for targeting hunters, farmers and sport shooters, who collectively own hundreds of thousands of firearms that could soon be prohibited.
"Ottawa's actions will criminalize hundreds of thousands of Canadians overnight, most of which reside in western Canada," said Shandro. "It's becoming increasingly clear that the federal Liberal government is pursuing a strategy to ban all legal firearms ownership."
Alberta previously said it would not cooperate with Ottawa's plan to confiscate firearms in the province, as has Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Jordan Vandenhoff, communications director to the National Firearms Association (NFA), told Rebel News that, as an organization, they "respect any province's decision they make" as "the NFA does not endorse the confiscation program of this Liberal government."
"They simply don't have the resources to do it themselves," said Vandenhoff. "Taking those officers off the streets ... is going to remove the resources from the police to do their day-to-day business only to take away the private property of law-abiding citizens."
Lawful gun owners participating in the confiscation scheme can either deliver it to the police for destruction, export it legally, or sell it back to the government. The feds are also in the process of creating an 'evergreen' definition to capture all "assault-style" firearms.
The Trudeau Liberals claimed removing the weapons from circulation would address gun violence. However, the NFA doesn't buy the federal government's reasoning and cites their lack of definitions as "concerning."
"They haven't defined 'assault-style' weapons yet, and they keep saying weapons, but these are firearms that law-abiding Canadians have gone through the process of getting an operator's license, and going through red tape to appease the government to possess [them] legally," continued Vandenhoff.
The NFA condemned the Trudeau Liberals for failing to define 'assault-style' and devising a scheme that demonizes law-abiding firearms owners and targets their firearms that the feds claim are designed to 'kill the most amount of people in the least amount of time.'
Statistics Canada data shows that 80% of homicides with a gun from 2018 thru 2020 were illegally owned. In 2020, only 18 of 160 owners (11%) of firearms used in homicides committed the crime with a valid license, down from 18% in 2019 and 17.7% in 2018.
Of the 277 Canadians killed with a firearm in 2020, handguns killed 135 people, while a rifle or a shotgun killed 84.
Vandenhoff added that those who are against firearms "don't want to talk" to the NFA and other like-minded individuals. He said this was exemplified by gun owners not receiving an invitation to speak against Bill C-21 during committee deliberations.
"They diverted their time by talking about something completely different because what we are saying makes sense. We should be focusing on criminals — not gun control."