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Opinion, Dave Dale: Shooting both feet

It’s like they’re trying to pump oxygen into the Conservative Party of Canada as fast as Tory Leader Pierre Poilievre can deflate his chances to lead

The Federal Liberals are truly their own worst enemy and best friend to the lowest of opposition. The ill-conceived amendment to Bill 21, the so-called ban on handguns, after second reading in the House of Commons last week offers more evidence to the Gritty circus in Ottawa. They slipped in an exhaustive list of long guns, most often used for hunting, at the 11th hour because … I’m still wondering why.

It’s like they’re trying to pump oxygen into the Conservative Party of Canada as fast as Tory Leader Pierre Poilievre can deflate his chances to lead beyond his home decorated with reclaimed wood.

It’s like the Liberals are hell-bent on dividing up their own supporters and pushing out anyone with the will and ability to discern dung from donuts.

Here’s a quote that is both wrong and inaccurate:

"We have a plan to eradicate gun violence once and for all," Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told the House of Commons on Friday. "We are not going to target those guns which are used conventionally for hunting."

The second part is obviously a lie or Mendicino didn’t read the amendment brought forward by MP Paul Chiang, elected to represent the Markham-Unionville riding – a stereotypical bastion of hunters.

The first part of Mendicino’s quote is classic progressive bluster with a 10/10 rating for political hogwash. You will never eradicate gun violence. Criminals, by definition, don’t follow laws. I’d think a Public Safety Minister would understand that when every prosecutor in the land makes a living trying to enforce legislation.

The National Police Association doesn’t even like Bill 21, calling it a missed opportunity to address criminal activity while draining resources to enforce laws on those who normally follow them – if they are not dung.

"Bill C-21 does not address criminal activity, illegal firearms proliferation, gang crime, illegal guns crossing the border or criminal use of firearms," the NPA submitted to Parliament.

Unless, of course, he’s talking about gun violence to non-human species i.e. taking guns from hunters – and that’s not going to happen either. The failed gun registration laws already taught most people to just keep their unrestricted duck and deer firearms under the radar – just in case the Liberals came knocking at the door down the road.

The over-reaching amendment for Bill 21 is that knock at the door. As an example, they are proposing to target any firearm that has a removable clip (including the slower bolt action ones and not just faster semi-automatic), currently restricted to five but potentially fit larger clips. It’s so over the top, it makes me wonder if they want to parlay the threat of a ban to then impose a reclassification to include hunting rifles with clips to a restricted class requiring additional licensing (registry).

Is the amendment a negotiating tool or just political suicide?

Regardless, the Liberals are circling the wagons on the issue and standing with bloody toes shot off, saying their intent is to protect Canadians.

I don’t hunt at the moment, it just doesn’t make economic sense to spend several thousand dollars on hunting safety training, licences, gear and bushels of organic bait to maybe bag a furry bag of meat. Greedy grocery stores gouging Canadians are changing that equation slightly but still, it’s not a feasible activity.

It would be cheaper for me to hang around my front yard on Highway 17 and wait for another deer to get hit (two killed back to back last month).

But I have a lot of family and friends who do hunt and they should have that right as well as the ability to legally use guns they’ve had for decades. It’s nobody’s business if they want to tramp around in the soggy undergrowth or get cold feet sitting up in a tree stand for long shifts of regretting their life choices.

Poor Carey Price, the Montreal Canadiens’ hall-of-fame-level goalie, got sucked out of position on this one. He took a stand for the right to use his hunting firearms and that’s perfectly acceptable. Good for him, we need more athletes getting involved in political movements. It’s unfortunate he did so by siding with a political lobby group that’s cozy with an American-style gun lifestyle and not exactly sensitive to those who fear gun violence.

The timing couldn’t have been worse, although that’s the fault of the Liberals as much as anyone. They choose for political reasons to make these moves right before the anniversary of the Dec. 6, 1989 mass shooting where an anti-feminist male killed 14 and wounded 10 more females at Ecole Polytechnique. The day is commemorated as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. 

It’s uncanny how the Liberals find a way to hit that target with gun legislation and anybody debating the details of proposed laws are shot down as insensitive and/or misogynist.

Of course, when Price aligned himself with the Canadian Coalition of Firearm Rights, he didn’t give it enough thought. While he didn’t know they had just used ‘Poly’ as a disgusting discount sale, he has said he regrets the timing of his social media post and doesn’t agree with their crude marketing gimmick.

His point is valid, though, and it is echoed by many – including borderline Liberals and soft Conservatives.

Perhaps this is a good time for the NDP to stand up against the notion they are Liberal lap dogs right now (yes, I know the coalition with the Grits achieves some good).

I like how NDP MP Charlie Angus, represents northerners in an area with many Indigenous communities.

"The amendment came out of nowhere. 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."

They certainly did, they reached into their holster and shot themselves in both feet for no good reason I can see. Maybe they can get a vaccine to prevent such poor decision-making.

Dave Dale is a veteran journalist and columnist who has covered the North Bay area for more than 30 years. Reader responses meant as Letters to the Editor can be sent to [email protected]. Contact the writer directly, email: [email protected] or check out his website