Dec 14, 2022
“The amendment came out of nowhere. This was a handgun bill."
Alberta’s Minister of Justice, Tyler Shandro, held an online media conference on December 9 to discuss the Alberta government’s response to Bill C-21.
Bill C-21 is “an Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments” regarding firearms according to the document. What originally stated as a handgun bill has now come to encompass hunting rifles used across Canada.
Shandro started the discussion by addressing the “overreach” the province has seen from the federal government “criminalizing so many Canadians” with the proposed Bill C-21 amendments.
“We're definitely looking at what Saskatchewan is doing with their proposed firearms legislation,” he said.
Shandro explained they always had concerns with the federal government going after hunters. Shandro said Bill C-21 includes a “bunch” of firearms used primarily for hunting are set to be banned.
“The federal government is trying to make it sound like these are guns that were lawfully obtained by somebody who's licensed and is now using it in a crime. That's not the case,” he added.
Even so, Shandro admitted there is more that can be done for the illegal firearms that are known to be used in gun crimes, such as those coming across the US border.
“The CBSA is doing a fantastic job at protecting us at ports of entry,” said Shandro.
He explained that part of the confusion comes from who has jurisdiction in the recovery of illegal firearms once they have already crossed the border.
“I think the federal government has to make it clear whether this is CBSA or whether it's police services... and start working towards addressing the guns that are coming across the border illegally,” said Shandro.
Shandro said he thinks the majority of Bill C-21 focuses, not on the safety of Canadians, but on politics and law-abiding Canadians who have legally obtained their firearms. He said they should instead be focusing on those who are committing gun crimes. He also believes the money for “buy back” programs could be better spent on securing the border.
“I think they’re playing politics to ban firearms, thinking that this is going to be a solution to reducing gun crime. It's obviously not,” said Shandro.
As opposition to the bill continues to grow, Prime Minister Trudeau said on December 6 that the government is “moving forward on a ban on assault-style weapons.” Shandro said this is not a partisan issue involving Liberals and Conservatives, but opposition against a “gigantic mistake” by the federal government. With the amendments to C-21, there are members of the NDP also speaking out against the changes.
NDP MP Charlie Angus, with a riding covering a large part of northern Ontario that includes many remote First Nations, echoed concerns about the impact to gun owners if the bill were to pass in its current form.
“The amendment came out of nowhere,” said Angus, “This was a handgun bill. We suddenly saw this other legislation that has a lot of people who are legitimate gun owners worried. I think they overreached.”
The full proposal involved with Bill C-21 is available at www.parl.ca/legisinfo/en/bill/44-1/c-21 with more detailed information from individual meetings deliberating the specifics of the bill.