Poilievre pledges to 'protect hunters' from Bill C-21 at Yukon rally

'Until your Liberal MP leaves the Liberal caucus and withdraws his support from [Prime Minister] Justin Trudeau, he is supporting Trudeau’s ban on your hunting rifles,' said Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre.

Poilievre pledges to 'protect hunters' from Bill C-21 at Yukon rally
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Spencer Colby and THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
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Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre is upping the temperature in Yukon with a stern warning to its lone Liberal MP: support the federal gun grab and you may very well lose your seat.

At a Conservative rally in Whitehorse, Poilievre suggested the territory could be in play next election with polls calling it a potential swing riding.

As many as 500 supporters turned out for the Tory at Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre, including a few Yukon Party MLAs.

In 2021, Yukon MP Brendan Hanley took Yukon with 6,471 votes over Conservative Barbara Dunlop at 5,096 votes. Former Conservative-candidate-turned Independent, Jonas Smith, followed up with 2,639 votes. 

At the rally, Poilievre continued his pledge to “protect hunters” in his condemnation of Bill C-21 — a gun grab targeting hunters, sport shooters, and gun collectors instead of criminals.

“Until your Liberal MP leaves the Liberal caucus and withdraws his support from [Prime Minister] Justin Trudeau, he is supporting Trudeau’s ban on your hunting rifles,” he said.

One person in the crowd jeered the prime ministerial hopeful. He replied: “So, there’s one person in all of Yukon that wants to ban hunting rifles.”

Poilievre jokingly called the heckler a CBC reporter, earning him triumphant cheers from the crowd. 

In January, Hanley hosted roundtable discussions on Bill C-21, where residents broadly expressed their dissatisfaction with the feds over the legislation.

Fifteen Yukoners told Canada's then-public safety minister, Marco Mendicino, that they disagreed with banning long guns.

Long-time Yukon resident Bill Klassen told Mendicino he came to the territory in 1966 as a young RCMP constable. “I worked as a game guardian and a wildlife technician [...] and in those three roles, I carried a sidearm," he said.

Klassen, an avid firearm collector, informed the minister that pieces in his collection would be unjustly vilified by the ban, adding, "I recognize a bad law when I see it." 

While Hanley opposed his party on Bill C-21, he has remained quiet on the matter since the roundtable.

"I intend no offence, but I can't agree with your description of the laws," said Klassen, telling Mendicino he would purposely indulge in civil disobedience and not surrender his Parker shotgun, Weatherby rifle, or Ruger.

Indigenous hunter Lewis Wilson also took issue with the proposed amendments, adding that "firearms are a way of life."

"I live 110 miles from the nearest city," said Wilson, who resides in rural Yukon with his partner. 

He told Mendicino that the amendments would take away the ability for people to defend themselves, referencing that a grizzly bear mauled a mother and her infant child at their trapping cabin in 2018.

"We take it very seriously," said Wilson. 

"My partner is 102 pounds. We have a 45-70 lever action rifle, but she can't use it. A semi-automatic rifle is the only one she can shoot that is strong enough [for her] to defend herself."

Yukon Premier Ranj Pillai released a statement following the roundtable, clarifying he would oppose the legislation in its current form.

"Yukoners respectfully shared their positions on Bill C-21 at a roundtable with Minister Mendicino, who has committed to engaging and making appropriate changes to Bill C-21 after hearing from Yukoners and others living in more rural and remote parts of Canada," he said.

This story is still developing.

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