VANCOUVER — Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said Sunday he would maintain a Liberal ban on “assault-style” firearms if he forms government, a change in course the Liberals say they don’t believe will las
O’Toole has faced days of questions about his party’s gun policy after repeatedly saying he would maintain a ban on “assault weapons,” while remaining evasive about whether he was talking about a 1977 ban on fully automatic weapons or a more recent Liberal cabinet order.
On Sunday, he said a Conservative government would keep both.
“It’s critically important for me to say to Canadians today that we’re going to maintain the ban on assault weapons, we’re going to maintain the restrictions that were put in place in 2020 by the order-in-council,” O’Toole told reporters in Vancouver.
It was a change from the day before, when O’Toole said people who were confused on his position could look to the party’s platform to “fill in the blanks.”
That document promises to repeal the Liberal measures, which were introduced through a May 2020 order-in-council and banned some 1,500 firearm models, including the popular AR-15 rifle and the Ruger Mini-14 used to kill 14 women at Montreal’s École polytechnique in 1989.
“We’re maintaining the status quo that’s in place right now,” he said, however he would not say whether he would maintain the Liberal ban permanently.
O’Toole has also promised to conduct a “public, transparent” review of Canada’s gun classification system, a step he said will depoliticize gun regulation.
“Our intention is to take the politics out of this, because Mr. Trudeau has divided rural versus urban, he has demonized, in some cases, farmers, hunters, sport shooters and actually ignored the real problem of rising smuggling and organized gang activity,” he said.
At a rally in Toronto, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said he believes the O’Toole will use the review of the classification system to legalize currently banned guns.
“What he’s says now is, and listen for it is, ‘OK, we’ll hold onto that order-in-council if we get re-elected, but we’ll start a reclassification system for all the guns and work with the gun lobby to make sure that we get the right guns reclassified,” Trudeau told supporters. “If he’s going to reclassify them, it’s his way of saying, ‘maybe we can bring them back.’”
Some Conservative candidates appeared to not be aware the party’s position would be changing.
Earlier Sunday, Battle River-Crowfoot candidate Damien C. Kurek posted on Facebook that “a Conservative government will stand with hunters, farmers and sport shooters — law-abiding firearms owners — and will repeal C-71 and the May 2020 Liberal Order in Council.”
In March, Kurek wrote an opinion piece for the Bashaw Star in which he slammed the Liberals for not defining what “assault-style firearms are.”
“Assault” or “assault-style” firearms are colloquial descriptions, and what falls into either category is debated among gun users.
The Conservative platform also promises to scrap Bill C-71, which expanded background checks for people seeking gun licences as well as record-keeping requirements for gun sellers.
Asked about whether repealing that bill remains a promise, O’Toole repeated that he would maintain the bans on assault and “assault-style” weapons.
PolySeSouvient, a group that pushes for more stringent gun control laws said it doesn’t believe O’Toole’s new stance is a dramatic change from his previous position.
“Yes, he said he would maintain those prohibitions, but he also promised a review of all firearms classification. It is not hard to predict how such a review would play out, as he has repeatedly stated that farmers, hunters and sport shooters ‘have been unfairly caught up’ in the Liberals’ 2020 ban,” Nathalie Provost, a spokeswoman for the group and a survivor of the 1989 Polytechnique massacre, said in an email.
She said O’Toole is now “offering a more convoluted stance that sounds good to the general public, but which can clearly be construed as a dog whistle to sports shooters and collectors of assault weapons.”
Rod M. Giltaca, the CEO and Executive Director of the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights, said his group agrees with O’Toole’s position “that the classification of firearms should not be a political process.”
“This election is about the future of Canada. Our focus is replacing a failed Liberal government with one competent to lead whether on the pandemic, the economy or firearms,” Giltaca wrote in an email.
The National Firearms Association, meanwhile, seemed convinced O’Toole’s backpedal wouldn’t change the policy laid out in the Conservative platform.
“Canada’s National Firearms Association is confident a Conservative government will keep its commitment to protect the rights and property of Canadians,” said Blair Hagen, the association’s executive vice-president.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 5, 2021.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press
NewsAlert: Canada should align with allies on Olympic diplomatic boycott: Trudeau
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it is important for Canada to align with its allies on a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Trudeau says Canada has been talking to allies for “many months” about the issue and an official announcement is expected later today.
The United States was first to announce a diplomatic boycott Monday, meaning American athletes would still compete in Beijing but no U.S. political officials would attend.
Australia and the United Kingdom have both now followed suit.
They cite human rights concerns including allegations of genocide against the Muslim Uyghur minority in China’s Xinjiang province.
China denies those allegations and is accusing the United States of upending the political neutrality of sport.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2021.
The Canadian Press
Canadian Press NewsAlert: Bank of Canada keeps key interest rate on hold
Health policy expert says trust needed for Alberta overdose response app to work
Cargill workers in Alberta vote 71 per cent in favour of contract offer
Olympic champion Goggia wins 6th World Cup downhill in row
‘All our margins are gone’: Supply chain challenges squeeze small businesses
COVID-192 days ago
Ivermectin and Molnupiravir: How does the widely used drug compare to the new drug in treating Covid-19?
Also Interesting1 day ago
Important Financial Advice That You Need To Know
City of Red Deer1 day ago
City Council to hear arguments for and against extending homeless shelter at Cannery Row for 2 more years
Top Story CP1 day ago
Canadian traveller forced to stay in quarantine facility after negative COVID-19 test
Alberta1 day ago
Enbridge raising quarterly dividend, approves $1.1 billion in new capital projects
Alberta1 day ago
Global energy transition could be a $61B opportunity for Alberta, new study finds
Alberta22 hours ago
Alberta's chief medical officer says most of 11 Omicron COVID cases were vaccinated
Alberta1 day ago
African community group says Canada's new travel rules are an example of racism