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Squeezed in during the debates about whether or not Canada should get into Iraq (and how), Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney recently introduced the amendments to firearms legislation he previously announced in July. Throughout the summer, Blaney stated that Canadians wanted firearms legislation to make sense and now, with his amendments, they can. These amendments will (with commentary):

– Grant a six month grace period to those who let their licences expire. (Will he do that for doctors, teachers, and drivers next?)
– Include authorization to transport restricted firearms in restricted firearms licenses. (After eight years of gun toting Tory rule, it’s about time they streamlined that little bit.)
– Cut the authority of provincial firearms officers. (I thought the Tories were all about protecting provincial rights—it’s the Liberals and the NDP who like to step on the toes of the provinces.)
– Reclassify certain firearms, like the Swiss Army Green Carbine, that had previously been placed on the prohibited list.

The initial transfer of the Swiss Army Green Carbine from the restricted list to the prohibited list earlier this year created a firestorm of controversy. Way back in February, Stephen Blaney raged about how he was “troubled to learn of a decision made by unelected bureaucrats to prohibit a number of rifles imported from Switzerland.” I didn’t know that the Swiss even had guns! Blaney promised amnesty to the affected firearm owners and swore he would attempt to change legislation to ensure that an unelected bureaucrat could never again do something so terrible with the stroke of a pen.

The bureaucrat in question, one Bob Paulson, is the current commissioner of the RCMP. One should be reminded that the Commissioner reports directly to the Minister of Public Safety. Paulson can’t do much without notifying the government first. In fact, the RCMP is so manhandled by the government they can’t even chose which hats to wear; Leona Aglukkaq does that for them.

 

The Gun Caucus always says: Politics is like a shotgun, you never know what will backfire till you shootChris Wattie/Reuters

The Gun Caucus always says: Politics is like a shotgun, you never know what will backfire till you shoot
Chris Wattie/Reuters

 

If Paulson needs to inform the Harper government of his every action, why did he just swipe his pen without notice? In sooth, he didn’t. On June 7th 2013 (almost a half a year before Blaney got into his little snit), the RCMP sent a briefing to then Public Safety Minister, Vic Toews, detailing the reclassification process and the studies that the RCMP had done on the rifles in question. This was before Blaney’s time—perhaps Toews used the memo to clean his infamous mustache.

In July, when Blaney was appointed Minister of Public Safety, the RCMP sent the report again to brief him. The version they sent this past February, which has inspired the current ruckus, was merely the same document with a little more research and the offer to have a discussion about it before any announcements were made. Blaney’s office refutes that they ever received said document. This is potentially due to the cuts his government made to Canada Post, though I could hardly speculate.

This past September, Prime Minister Harper dove into the fray of gun laws while bashing Justin Trudeau and Tom Mulcair over their lack of support for his “law and order reforms” (called such with a great generosity of spirit). He promised that he would protect all the gun owners in Canada from a future “stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen.”

Guess he forgot that he had appointed said bureaucrat back in 2011. Not only that, he also answers to Harper’s Minister of Public Safety, who had to have known about the decision to reclassify those rifles about seven months in advance. I suppose after eight years in office a powerful NDP, and a resurging Liberal Party, fatigue is setting in for Harper. Lets hope his caucus don’t decide to take him out behind the barn in his current state.