The Canadian Shooting Sports Association has supported the Conservative Party in its various incarnations for the past 25 years.
Our loyalty to the party has been steadfast, unwavering and tied to their firearms policy. After the firearm policy flip-flops of the past few days, we’ve had to question if that loyalty is now misplaced.
On September 2nd at the French-language leaders’ debate, CPC Leader Erin O’Toole said:[i]
“We will maintain the ban on assault weapons. We will also work with police on gang violence and target the illegal smuggling of firearms.”
On September 3rd, O’Toole reiterated that claim.[ii]
“We will maintain the ban on assault weapons and we will develop a transparent process when it comes to training and licensing for guns, because we need to target street guns and smuggling.”
And that same day a Conservative Party spokesperson said an O’Toole government would repeal the May 1st, 2020 Order in Council gun ban on 1,500 semi-automatic rifles, just as their election platform document stated.[iii]
So far so good, even if O’Toole ignored questions from the press to clarify his party’s position on firearms for almost two full days.
Then, on September 5th at his Vancouver press conference, Mr. O’Toole pre-empted the media’s questions with this statement.[iv]
“I want to make my position on firearms perfectly clear. First, the ban on assault weapons will remain in place. Second, the present ban on a number of other firearms that were reclassified in 2020 will remain in place. Third, we will conduct a transparent review of the firearms classification process to take the politics out of this process and engage the public in decisions with respect to public safety.”
Unfortunately for anyone who read and believed the Conservative Party’s election platform document (we did), it now seems that reversing published positions is ‘just part of the game.’
Within our community – a cohort that truly values honour, integrity and honesty – the ripples were seismic.
Our phones, text and email lit up like a Christmas tree (should that be “holiday tree?”) from furious firearms owners berating us for supporting the Conservatives instead of the People’s Party or the Mavericks. And to be truthful, we asked ourselves the same question.
As frustrated as we are with this development, it does not change the fundamental facts of this election.
1) Neither the Peoples Party nor the Maverick Party has any chance of forming a government.
2) We have been the whipping boys of the left for the last 25 years. The fact that we are lawful Canadians that abide by their constantly changing rules is totally irrelevant. For whatever reason, the 2.2 million licensed Canadians are truly hated by the left and we can expect more abuse.
3) On September 21st, one of two men will be sitting in the Prime Minister’s chair.
If it’s Justin Trudeau, we’re screwed. He’s already promised $1 BILLION to confiscate our handguns during this campaign and he will do worse if he is re-elected.
If it’s Erin O’Toole we potentially get a stay of execution.
Every item in the Conservative Party’s firearms policy – with the exception of rescinding the OIC gun ban – requires passing legislation.
That legislation can only be passed if the Conservative Party wins a majority government.
Will this policy flip-flop cost the Conservatives at the voting booth?
We’ll find out that answer on Election Day but, despite our deep disappointment with the Conservative Party this week, we truly hope it does not.
The scenario today is the same as it was in the 2019 election.
We must elect a Conservative majority government.
Anything less and we’ll see more gun bans and restrictions on licensed firearm owners while the Liberals will continue to decrease penalties for violent criminals, drug dealers and gangs.
But, win or lose, there is a lesson to be learned if – and it’s a big IF – anyone inside the Conservative Party is willing to learn it.
Before locking-in an election policy document, it would be prudent for the Conservative Party and its leader to consult with their friends who are experts on firearms issues before publishing a set of policies that cannot withstand the scrutiny of gun owners, let alone that of opposition parties and their media hacks.