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Ralph Goodale Appoints Chair, Vice-Chairs of New Firearms Advisory Committee

On February 10, 2017 Ralph Goodale, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety, announced his picks to head the Firearms Advisory Committee.

Former Supreme Court Justice John Major will chair the new Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee. He is joined by two female co-chairs, Lynda Kiejko and Nathalie Provost.

This is far better than most of us imagined.

Former Supreme Court Justice John Major is a man of immense integrity. Whether he likes or dislikes guns is neither known nor is it particularly relevant. He won’t be making the decisions alone. His integrity lends credibility, we hope, to the entire process.

Daniel Fritter points out in Calibre Magazine that Major was one of the dissenting voices in R. v. Hasselwander and takes the position that he is a good choice for gun owners.

Major argued correctly to define “capable” in a manner to restrict its view to the present firing ability of the firearm in question. Either it is an automatic firearm or it is not in the present moment, not some possible future moment after physical alterations are made. Major’s dissent in Hasselwander was in favour of common sense and rational decision-making, a position unfortunately overruled by the majority in that decision.

Lynda Kiejko is a Canadian Olympic Team competition shooter with experience on the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup circuit, the Continental American Championships and the Pan Am Games. She shoots pistols and air pistols in competition. That a sport shooter will co-chair the committee is a good sign.

“I’m a law-abiding citizen. I lock everything up, I put everything away. I travel with it appropriately. I make sure I don’t have my ammunition stored in the same place, you know the long laundry list of laws that we follow. I follow them because I respect them.

This is precious sporting equipment. It can unfortunately be used in the wrong ways, but usually the people who are using it in negative ways aren’t the law-abiding citizens. Those aren’t the people who are following the rules. If someone has the intent to do something dangerous, having a rule in place isn’t really going to stop them.”

Nathalie Provost’s primary claim to fame is being shot four times by Gamil Gharbi in 1989 at École Polytechnique and her resulting gun control activism. She is a strong proponent of universal gun registration and will fight to re-instate the long gun registry and ban firearms.

“There’s three planks on which we can build a strong gun control system. First is the permit, you have to have people who are able and recognized as able to use a gun. You have to have classification, because there are some guns that are much too dangerous even for hunting and sports. The third is the link between the gun and the owner, because you need to bear the full responsibility of the gun you have. Your guns are linked to you when they’re registered.”

Justin Trudeau disbanded the existing firearms advisory committee immediately after he won the 2015 federal election. He did so in order to presumably focus the advisory committee against guns and gun owners. Therein lies the problem. His election campaign platform was filled with misinformation, disinformation and outright lies and he will expect his new committee to reflect back those same values on firearms issues.

Justin Trudeau and anti-gun activists claimed the Conservatives “stacked the deck” in favour of gun owners. While this perception is undoubtedly true, it neglects to mention that the people in the room were all accredited experts in their fields. They were not put into the positions by politically correctness.

Access to Information requests revealed CPIC, the Canadian Police Information Centre, checks every single licensed firearm owner every single day of every single year. CPIC only tracks licensed firearm owners on a daily basis. That does not happen for convicted criminals, career pedophiles or sex offenders.

Law-abiding firearm owners are Canada’s most law-abiding citizens. We must pass a safety course before we can apply for a firearms license. We are vetted, including background checks by the RCMP, prior to being issued our firearms license. Every time we purchase or sell a firearm we are vetted again.

It all boils down to political agenda as these appointments always do. If you like guns and gun owners you are not averse to taking advice from those who know the most about them. If you hate guns and gun owners then there is no group of people you want to hear from less.

What is interesting about Ralph Goodale’s choices to chair and co-chair the meeting is his appearance of fair play. Whether that appearance will survive the announcement of the remainder of the committee remains to be seen.

The government claims they want Canadians’ views about firearms represented and to that end “the Government of Canada is renewing the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee (CFAC) with a membership that includes law enforcement officers, public health advocates, representatives from women’s groups, civilian firearms users and members of the legal community.”

Will that happen? We remain cautiously optimistic.

Ralph Goodale refused to correct the Ruger 10/22 magazine issue. He refused to correct the CZ-858 Spartan reclassification. He refused to correct the Beowuf reclassification. By allowing those three RCMP decrees to stand he turned tens of thousands of Canadians into criminals and did nothing to protect them.

For obvious reasons we strenuously object to turning gun owners into criminals with the stroke of an RCMP pen.

On the Firearms Advisory Committee he could have selected far more partisan choices. He chose not to, hence our cautious optimism.

The real test is who he selects to fill the remainder of committee seats. That will show whether Minister Goodale intends to play fair with Canadian gun owners or toss them under the bus.

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