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No Appetite for Handgun Ban in Canada’s Senate

On Monday, April 8th, the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence (SECD) reviewed Bill C-71 clause by clause.
Senator Marilou McPhedran, who worked with the Coalition for Gun Control while serving on the government’s Firearms Advisory Committee, is desperate to ram a handgun ban down our throats before the federal election because she fears she will not get the chance afterward.
Senator Don Plett led the charge against the more restrictive aspects of Bill C-71 and successfully added amendments to:
  • leave the current 5-year background check in place instead of expanding them to an applicant’s entire life;
  • repeal the provision requiring a separate Authorization to Transport to border crossings and gunsmiths;
  • repeal the provision stopping the Minister from fixing RCMP classification errors (of which there have been many).
McPhedran first proposed amending Bill C-71 to include a handgun ban on April 3, 2019. Minister Bill Blair’s refusal to tell her what she wanted to hear drew condescending fire from her during Blair’s testimony before the committee.
Asked McPhedran: “Given that the window for Parliamentary action on your yet-to-be-released report is getting smaller every day. Why not add handguns to the definition of prohibited firearms that’s in Bill C-71? Why not take that action now?”
“I know there are people who are saying just do it quickly,” Minister Blair replied. “Frankly, I think we should do it right.”
Unable to get her way with Minister Blair, Senator McPhedran tweeted her intention to amend Bill C-71.
“Today, I will move at #SECD’s clause-by-clause on Bill #C71 an amendment to add handguns to the ‘prohibited firearm’ list in the Criminal Code. Read full news release here:
After presenting both her amendment and a grandstanding speech in support of it, senators took turns shooting it down.
Senator Plett: “We have a minister who tells us he is dealing with it. [a handgun ban] I don’t like the fact that he’s dealing with it but I accept the fact that he’s in government. He got elected to represent and he got appointed to be the Minister… But we are stepping on territory that is not our business to step on.”
Senator Pratte: “I think this amendment is premature because there is this consultation process that is nearly completed now. And there remains the question of what happens to the owners of these firearms. Usually when firearms are prohibited, they’re usually grandfathered. It’s not indicated here. So, while I appreciate the intention and I’m very sympathetic to it, I’ll probably abstain on my vote.”
Senator Gold: “Even though time is running out in this Parliament, I do think it’s appropriate to allow the consultation to be completed, because it’s a complicated issue, so for that reason I think I would abstain as well.”
Senator Boisvenu: “I share the opinion set forth by my collogue across the way. It’s premature.”
Why she issued her press release hours before SECD was scheduled to meet remains a mystery. Was she virtue signalling to her former colleagues at Coalition for Gun Control? Was it an attempt to pressure her fellow “independent” senators into supporting her? Whatever her reasons, her grandstanding at committee did not yield her intended results.
She garnered only a single vote in favour of her amendment, in addition to her own.
The final vote count:
  • Yes: 2
  • No: 6
  • Abstentions: 3
Then came an interesting announcement from the Speaker of the Senate.
“Please note that due to unforeseen circumstances, Minister Goodale will not be attending Question Period in the Senate this afternoon.”
This left some wondering if Senator McPhedran’s failed handgun ban amendment was the cause of Minister Goodale’s sudden “unforeseen circumstances.”
How each Senator voted:
  • Senator Boisvenu: No
  • Senator Gold: Abstain
  • Senator Griffin: No
  • Senator Jaffer: Yes
  • Senator McIntyre: Abstain
  • Senator McPhedran: Yes
  • Senator Oh: No
  • Senator Plett: No
  • Senator Pratte: Abstain
  • Senator Richards: No
  • Senator Wells: No
On behalf of our members and firearm owners across the nation, the CSSA is grateful for Senator Plett’s continued opposition to Bill C-71, and his steadfast defence of Canada’s law-abiding community, our culture of safety and the long, proud history of the shooting sports.

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