Once again, the firearms debate is making headlines. The reason for this is simple: when the Liberals need to change the narrative on their failures, including the rising crime rates Canadians are facing, they resort to a tried-and-true wedge issue—attacking law-abiding firearms owners.
Let’s unpack this….
The Justin Trudeau of 2015 and the Justin Trudeau of today are unrecognizable from each other. This is another one of the many issues Trudeau used to build up the credibility he needed to win his first and only majority government. That said, his message has changed as he has become more focused on appeasing special interest groups and has sacrificed his previous stance just to stay in power.
Contrary to Justin Trudeau’s current position, he was quoted as saying in 2015, “the long gun registry, as it was, was a failure and I’m not going to resuscitate that” and “I respect gun culture.” The Prime Minister knows full well that law-abiding citizens respect firearms and the responsible use of firearms is a part of our culture. This is as true in rural Alberta as it is in rural Quebec. This is also true of a surprising number of folks in urban centres, who also responsibly own and use firearms.
Shortly after Trudeau’s second election, and then especially in his third, he changed his tune and took advantage of tragedies to further his political aims. The votes he believed he needed to win took priority over cogent public safety legislation which would have protected Canadians and respected the rights of firearms owners who obey the law. The Liberals have underestimated the negative impact of their crusade against law-abiding firearms owners, as indicated by the growing number of backbench Liberal MPs and their coalition partners in the NDP who are opposed to their actions (including some saying so publicly).
As they have done in the past, the Liberals over the last few months have pointed to a “bad looking” gun, used ambiguous language to describe what they are doing, and hope that no one questions them. Serious questions do need to be asked, especially as our nation has experienced a massive increase in violent crime. Since last fall, 5 police officers in Canada have been tragically murdered in the line of duty. Violent crime has gone up 32% in the past year, and gang-related killings have gone up by 92% since Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister. And as rural residents, we can all point to friends and neighbours who have witnessed the dramatic increase in rural crime rates.
The Liberals have attempted to distract from a problem they have helped create; they have promoted justice reforms that prioritize offenders over victims and other policies that have led to increased crime rates (Bill C-75 in 2018 and Bill C-5 in 2021 to name a couple). And ironically, they have even lessened penalties regarding serious crimes committed with illegal guns.
The Liberals have resisted addressing the root of the problem, pivoted to blaming law-abiding firearms owners, and resorted to labelling their opponents as extremists. The problems are growing with their most recent reforms, especially by means which are fundamentally flawed and undemocratic. Even other opposition parties, and Liberal backbenchers are signalling they may not support the changes. They are now not only attacking Conservative politicians but the indigenous, provinces, and many people and groups who aren’t usually vocal on firearms. It is obvious neither the Prime Minister nor his Ministers responsible for the file understand the consequences of their policy decisions.
Those who follow the rules are not the problem… those who are already breaking the rules are. Canadians deserve facts—not fiction—when dealing with policies related to firearms and crime. It’s time for a responsible Government that takes this seriously.