Canada Liberal gun control bill raises questions about NDP support
Liberal gun control bill raises questions about NDP support
OTTAWA — As criticism mounts against the government’s attempts to outlaw scores of hunting and sport rifles, questions are arising as to how the federal Liberals’ gun policy will impact their relationship with the NDP. One prominent New Democrat came out against the policy on Monday, calling it a massive overreach that must be fixed. The Liberals are dependent on the NDP’s support to keep their minority government in power. A splinter in that relationship could cause trouble for the Trudeau Liberals while at the same time the issue is a challenge to the New Democrats’ own party unity, according to one political scientist.
OTTAWA — As criticism mounts against the government’s attempts to outlaw scores of hunting and sport rifles, questions are arising as to how the federal Liberals’ gun policy will impact their relationship with the NDP.
One prominent New Democrat came out against the policy on Monday, calling it a massive overreach that must be fixed.
The Liberals are dependent on the NDP’s support to keep their minority government in power. A splinter in that relationship could cause trouble for the Trudeau Liberals while at the same time the issue is a challenge to the New Democrats’ own party unity, according to one political scientist.
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Meanwhile, the national conversation on gun controlafter Montreal Canadiens’ netminder and avid hunter Carey Price weighed in on the issue on social media.
“I am not a criminal or a threat to society,” he posted to Instagram, along with a photo of him wearing camouflage hunting gear and cradling a shotgun.
“Whatis trying to do is unjust. I support the (Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights) to keep my hunting tools.”
While gun owners and advocates are using Price’s comments to advance their cause, those seeking tighter control on firearms say Tuesday’s 33rd anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre — where a gunman murdered 14 women in 1989 — should serve as a reminder of the lives taken by armed criminals.
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Will the Liberals’ new gun policy shoot the government in the foot? Bill C-21 is a sweeping new law designed to “ eradicate gun violence once and for all ,” in the words of Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino. Originally designed to target handguns, it has been amended to prohibit a wide range of weapons, including any hunting rifle or shotgun that could be fitted with a magazine. This has not only angered the Conservatives, but also the NDP, as well as hunting associations and their supporters. © Provided by National Post Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino rises during Question Period, in Ottawa, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022.
Price’s timing of his announcement so close to the anniversary are also being roundly criticized.
The team’s owner told Radio-Canada on Monday that the 35-year-old Price was not aware of the 1989 massacre.
“He was not aware of the tragic events of Dec. 6, 1989, nor of the coalition’s recent marketing initiatives,” Groupe CH president of sports and entertainment France Margaret Bélanger told Radio-Canada.
Separately, a spokesperson for Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino told La Presse that the firearm Price is carrying in his Instagram post would not be banned under Bill C-21.
“Our bill does not target firearms currently used for hunting and we fully respect the traditions of hunters and Indigenous Peoples,” Audrey Champoux said in a statement.
But as political parties of all stripes consolidate their membership’s views on one of Canada’s most polarizing issues, Queens University political science Professor Kathy Brock said gun control offers a unique dilemma to the NDP, who rely heavily on both inner-city voters and those in rural parts of the country.
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OTTAWA — Cracks are beginning to form in the Liberal caucus over the government’s contentious gun control bill, and the Conservatives were quick to jump on it during question period on Wednesday. Addressing the Liberals across the aisle, Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre wasted no time in bringing up comments made by Yukon Liberal MP Brendan Hanley, who said on Wednesday he won’t be supporting Bill C-21. “Even their own backbenchers are getting the message: Canadians don’t want to stop hunters, they want to stop criminals,” Poilievre said.
“This one is very difficult for the NDP to find a united consensus position on,” she told the National Post.
“They are putting the NDP in a very difficult position that could cause a bit of a schism and tension in the relationship between the NDP and Liberals, but also within the NDP party.”
Veteran NDP MP Charlie Angus who represents Timmins-James Bay, a vast northern Ontario riding encompassing nearly 252,000 sq. km. and a diverse range of rural cities, villages and First Nations communities, is speaking out.
This is a good article on how the Liberal government promise to ban hand guns morphed into a massive overreach including hunting rifles and shotguns.
The 11th hour amendment thrown into Bill C-21 is hugely problematic and must be fixed.— Charlie Angus (@CharlieAngusNDP)
In a Tweet Monday morning, Angus said the government’s gun control measures had “morphed into a massive overreach,” and described the Liberals’ amendment as “hugely problematic and must be fixed.”
The cultural split between urban and rural will always be a concern for the NDP, Brock said.
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Bill C-21 is the latest and the most ambitious gun control legislation tabled by the Trudeau government. Therefore, it is a hugely controversial measure, with both camps entrenched in their usual uncompromising positions. Unfortunately, the government aggravated the situation by bringing forward at the last minute a series of complex amendments that make the bill difficult to understand even for knowledgeable persons. Whether this manoeuvre is the result of incompetence or of cynicism (as my friend Tasha Kheiriddin has asserted in the Post), the government should be condemned for this attempt to bulldoze Parliament on such an important bill.
“If you travel through the north, if you visit people’s homes where there are experienced hunters, they tend to keep their guns very safe,” she said.
“Yes, there are some accidents and there are problems that do happen with guns, but it’s less frequent than people in the urban communities think of and associate with guns.”
Speaking to reporters Monday from Ingersoll, Ont., Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government “made a commitment” to move ahead with “strong, smart gun control,” highlighting his government’s recent move to freeze handgun sales and banning “military-style” and “assault-style” firearms.
Despite the controversial amendment, the prime minister framed the amendment as a “list put forward” by the government for public consultation.
“We’re hearing a lot of feedback around concerns that hunters are saying about guns that they use more for hunting, hunting rifles and shotguns,” he said.
“That’s what we’re listening to feedback on now, to make sure we’re not capturing weapons that are primarily hunting weapons.”
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Brock said it bears comparing to the days of the federal long-gun registry, which saw similar internal opinion shifts.
“At the time, people said this could be a real sleeper issue for the Liberals that they aren’t tracking necessarily, and that it could lose some votes in the Atlantic provinces, as well as the western provinces,” she said.
“The western provinces were less of a concern, but the Atlantic provinces were a concern — and in some swing ridings, you could see people questioning their support for the Liberals over this, so this is always a potentially difficult issue, even for the Liberals.”
During those debates, she recalls fears of rifle owners illegally modifying their firearms to make them easier to conceal — such as sawing-off barrels or stocks.
“That’s a behaviour you can capture under other laws,” she said.
“Then there’s always the bigger issue of if (Bill C-21) really captures the illegal gun market — the guns that are coming into Canada illegally that are being transported across provincial boundaries.”
While Brock has little confidence the rift would impact thethat relies on the NDP to keep the Liberal minority government from collapsing, the effects could be felt later down the line.
“The Liberals are playing out an interesting strategy,” she said.
“ Maybe it won’t have an effect on the supply agreement, but it could have an effect in the next election as a sleeper issue particularly.”
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FIRST READING: All the verifiable untruths Liberals have told about their gun ban .
First Reading is a daily newsletter keeping you posted on the travails of Canadian politicos, all curated by the National Post’s own Tristin Hopper. To get an early version sent directly to your inbox every Monday to Thursday at 6:30 p.m. ET (and 9 a.m. on Saturdays), sign up here. TOP STORY A Canadian government should never be fully expected to tell the truth at all times, but the fight over Bill C-21 has featured an awful lot of instances of MPs and federal ministers saying things that are not true. Bill C-21 started off as a pretty routine bill to codify some earlier Liberal orders banning the sale and transfer of handguns.