Saskatchewan approves of feds withdrawing 'controversial' Bill C-21 amendments

'Whenever there is a drive-by shooting in Toronto, they tend to make law-abiding gun owners, particularly in Western Canada, the scapegoats,' says CPC MP Michael Kram.

Saskatchewan approves of feds withdrawing 'controversial' Bill C-21 amendments
The Canadian Press / Sean Kilpatrick
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After the Trudeau Liberals axed controversial Bill C-21 amendments to the pending firearms legislation, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe rejoiced as firearms owners and gun shop owners in the province breathed a sigh of relief.

In a surprising move by Ottawa, they withdrew controversial amendments Friday to Bill C-21 that targeted rifles and shotguns popular with hunters, sport shooters, and gun collectors.

Liberal MP Taleeb Noormohamed announced the decision during a public safety committee meeting, taking MPs present by surprise. However, the committee of MPs gave unanimous consent to revoke the amendments.

"Pleased to hear the federal government has withdrawn their amendments to Bill C-21," said Moe in a statement.

"Thank you to all those who made their voice heard and for the work done by our Chief Firearms Officer in protecting the law-abiding firearm owners in Saskatchewan."

Saskatchewan is among many provinces criticizing the amendments for wrongfully targeting "law-abiding firearm owners."

Moe urged the feds to speak with Saskatchewanian firearms owners as part of its consultations on the proposed controversial legislation.

Conservative MP Michael Kram articulated that the Trudeau Liberals should prioritize gun violence, not law-abiding gun owners.

"Whenever there is a drive-by shooting in Toronto, they tend to make law-abiding gun owners, particularly in Western Canada, the scapegoats," said Kram.

Statistics Canada data shows that 80% of homicides were committed with an illegally-owned gun from 2018 thru 2020. 

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 firearms in 2020, handguns killed 135 people, while a rifle or a shotgun killed 84.

The province's Chief Firearms Officer, Robert Freberg, called the buyback program a "confiscation program" and said the provincial government would not spend any money to support the initiative.

Instead, the province would focus on criminals using firearms and getting illegal or smuggled guns off the streets, hoping to reduce gang violence through the Saskatchewan Firearms Act — legislation it intends to invoke to protect residents from creeping federal overreach into provincial jurisdiction.

Liberal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino stated Friday that the federal government decided to revoke the amendments after weeks of "considerable discussion."

"There have been legitimate concerns raised about the need for more consultation and debate on this vital part of the bill," said Mendicino.

"We hear those concerns loud and clear, regret the confusion this process has caused, and are committed to a thoughtful and respectful conversation based on facts, not fear."

At a recent Yukon town hall, former deputy minister Bill Klassen told Mendicino he would purposely indulge in civil disobedience and not surrender his Parker shotgun, Weatherby rifle, or Ruger. 

"I intend no offence, Minister Mendicino, but I can't agree with your description of the laws," said Klassen. "I've obeyed the law."

"As a former deputy minister at the Yukon government, I've enforced the laws. And I recognize a bad law when I see it."

Despite the rollback, the public safety minister said the feds remain committed to reviving its ban on assault-style rifles, adding, "Canadians are counting on them to get it right."

According to Procurement Canada, the Trudeau Liberals intended to commence their buyback program in the spring of 2023. However, the recent failure of the feds to begin its PEI pilot leaves that timeline in the air.

"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 came days after Mendicino planned to use PEI as a training ground for his government's confiscation scheme. His spokesperson informed the pilot it was "one of many options on the table" but is now "out of date."

The feds added 1,500 firearms to the prohibited schedule on May 1, 2020, a few days after the deadly Nova Scotia mass shooting that claimed 23 lives.

In May 2022, the feds introduced Bill C-21 — just days after the mass shooting at a Texas elementary school. 

The legislation intended to freeze the sale of handguns, crack down on gun smuggling from the US and automatically revoke firearms licenses from domestic abusers. 

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