Liberals 'limit' debate on Bill C-21, claim Conservatives filibustered public safety committee

Ottawa hopes to get the bill through committee promptly for readings in the House of Commons and Senate while accusing the Official Opposition of 'obstruction tactics' that 'bogged down' the committee with 'unnecessary delays.'

Liberals 'limit' debate on Bill C-21, claim Conservatives filibustered public safety committee
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
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Ottawa is attempting to limit debate on Bill C-21 as they try to expand its scope and fast-track the passing of the gun 'buyback' scheme legislation. 

"The Liberals have just moved on extraordinary powers to shut down the debate on the bill that is the next step in their hunting rifle ban," said Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre Monday evening.

"The democratic discussion we've been having will impact 2.3 million gun owners and hundreds of millions of dollars for our economy. [This legislation] is the largest attack on hunting rifles in Canadian history," added Public Safety Critic Raquel Dancho.

"The problem is violent gun smugglers and gangsters — the real criminals — not hunters," added Poilievre. 

"What [we need to do] is to stop the hunting rifle ban, use the savings to bolster the border, and put repeat violent [offenders] behind bars."

On Monday, the Trudeau Liberals renewed their fight against gang violence and gun crime.

In November 2017, the federal government allocated $327 million to tackle violent gun crime and gang activity over five years. Québec and B.C. tapped into the fund to bolster efforts to disrupt firearms smuggling and organized crime.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said Monday they earmarked $390 million over the next five years to support police and crime prevention programs.

"These federal funds will be distributed to the provinces and territories to give law enforcement the additional people resources and support that they need to get the job done, and to get the job done safely," Mendicino told reporters.

However, the feds also tabled a motion to expand the scope of Bill C-21 and clearly define 'assault-style' firearms to be prohibited in the future. They also want to limit debate on each clause or amendment.

"Canadians have suffered too many horrific events in recent years," according to Tony Bernardo, Executive Director of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA).

"Illegal guns were used to murder 22 Canadians in Nova Scotia. Mass stabbings in Saskatchewan. A vehicle used to mow down Canadians on a Toronto sidewalk. Murders are committed by drug dealers and gangs almost every week in every major Canadian city," Bernardo told Rebel News.

"It's obvious to us and most of our fellow Canadians that the only way to stop this madness is to stop the people responsible for the carnage. That crackdown must focus on the violent offenders responsible for the death and destruction they unleash upon us," he added.

As of Monday, Ottawa defines an 'assault-style' firearm as a gun — not a handgun — that discharges centrefire ammunition in a semi-automatic manner and that was initially designed with a detachable magazine with a capacity of six cartridges or more. 

First introduced in May 2022, the legislation sought to freeze the sale of handguns, crack down on gun smuggling from the U.S. and revoke firearms licenses from domestic abusers. But the plan hit some hurdles, with Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick opposing the federal government's "misguided" plan.

Ottawa later backtracked on their pilot project in P.E.I. to test the firearms' buyback' scheme. Public Safety spokesperson Audrey Champoux said the pilot was "one of many options on the table" but is now "out of date."

Bill C-21 initially targeted handguns, but in late-stage amendments, Ottawa expanded the proposed legislation to target 'assault-style' rifles on November 22. 

Tabled in two sections, it included a list of thousands of banned firearms and language that would automatically ban future weapons before they come on the market if they constitute 'assault-style' firearms. The feds pledged the amendments would not affect hunters — but later acknowledged they would. 

"Under this Liberal government, hunters, sport shooters, firearm historians, and collectors are blamed for every heinous crime because the government needs their scapegoat," claimed Bernardo.

"They know taking guns out of the hands of drug dealers and gang members is dangerous, so they don't do it. They come after us instead."

After facing incredible pushback, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino met with stakeholders across Canada in January, including hunting groups. 

On February 3, they withdrew the amendments and lauded the debate on Bill C-21 following multi-partisan opposition to the gun-control legislation.

Now, Ottawa hopes to get the bill through committee promptly for readings in the House of Commons and Senate while accusing the Official Opposition of "obstruction tactics" that "bogged down" the committee with "unnecessary delays."

"It's been clear since the bill was first introduced that the Conservative Party had no interest in advancing this transformational legislation," Liberal MP Pam Damoff told the House in support of Monday's motion.

"Rather than asking relevant questions to officials last week, Conservative committee members spent over three hours parroting speaking points of the gun lobby," she added.

However, Dancho pushed back against the claim they filibustered the committee. She pointed to the approval of a reworked prohibition on 'assault-style' firearms that Conservative MPs voted against but passed owing to support from the NDP.

The bill would continue reinforcing the handgun freeze and removing gun licences from people committing domestic violence or engaging in criminal harassment, such as stalking. It also bolsters maximum penalties for gun smuggling and trafficking from 10 years to 14.

"We join with the majority of our fellow Canadians who are extremely disappointed with our government and our courts because they continue to choose political correctness over public safety," the CSSA Executive Director said.

"This Liberal government used the Order in Council to attack our community the last time an evil man used illegal guns to commit the atrocity that outraged our nation. Will Justin Trudeau's government introduce another Order in Council to ban more guns while ignoring violent criminals in our society?" he posed.

"If they do, they'll confirm our belief that Liberal government years are the years we must strenuously defend our rights, freedoms, and property from our government." 

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