Recently, John and Matthew Hipwell of Wolverine Supplies, located in Virden, appeared as expert witnesses before Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. The Committee is currently studying Bill C-71, the Liberals new gun legislation that has been widely criticized for doing nothing to take guns out of the hands of criminals and for unfairly targeting law-abiding firearms owners.
The Hipwell’s were invited to appear as witnesses as they both have extensive knowledge of the current firearms legal framework. Wolverine Supplies is a fully licensed firearms business and is now one of the largest independently owned firearms businesses in Canada, employing twenty-two full time staff. They import and retail all classes of firearms to customers, law enforcement agencies and to the Department of National Defence. I was extremely impressed with the briefing they provided to the Committee and how they systematically went through all the flaws in the Liberal legislation. Without a doubt, the Liberals are once again targeting law-abiding Westman firearms owners.
Our Conservative caucus has been steadfast in our opposition to the bill. Many of my colleagues have spoken out against the legislation as it will do absolutely nothing to address gang and gun violence, or rural crime. There are also serious concerns that the “registrar” the legislation would create, is eerily similar to the billion dollar boondoggle that happened when the Liberals introduced the long-gun registry.
In the proposed Liberal legislation, C-71 would eliminate any Parliamentary oversight on the classification of firearms. This would result in the RCMP Special Firearm Support Section having the first and last word on the classification of a firearm, regardless if there were questions about their decision. This was one of the main concerns the Hipwell’s stressed at Committee and they provided an extensive background on the confusion surrounding the definitions the RCMP use to clarify a firearm. They also highlighted the fact that there would be zero appeal process if the Liberals eliminated Cabinet’s ability to reclassify a firearm if an error has occurred.
John Hipwell said during Committee, “If the definitions that were used to classify firearms were clearly defined, I would have no objection … anybody in this room could classify a firearm if they were given certain criteria.”
Wolverine Supplies has had many difficulties in getting firearms classified in order to be imported into Canada. This has resulted in lost sales and endless delays. Much of the blame is due to the uneven application of the criteria used to classify firearms and the fact that it is not written in law, therefore allowing for personal interpretations and opinions.
Since the Liberals tabled C-71, many constituents have written to me to voice their opposition to the bill. Many have outlined how there is zero evidence to suggest that there is a need for the government to eliminate automatic authorization to transport firearms. Particularly as the Liberal government has not provided any rationale for why law-abiding firearms owners need to contact the RCMP every time they transport a firearm.
If the Liberals think that removing automatic authorization to transport firearms will make our streets safer, they have failed at every opportunity to outline the rationale. Worst of all, it looks like the Liberals were exaggerating Statistics Canada numbers to create a false flag to justify this legislation. According to the Ontario of Federation of Anglers and Hunters who appeared at Committee, the Liberals misrepresented statistics to create a post-2013 Canadian firearms crisis that simply isn't true.
Mr. Matt DeMille, the Manager of Fish and Wildlife Services with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters said, “Long-term trends actually show overall firearms-related crime is on the decline.” In response to the Liberals cherry picking data to bolster the case, he noted that whether deliberate or not, this tactic has “sown skepticism in the need for such sweeping changes to firearms legislation.”
In the previous Parliament, the Conservative government worked hard to regain the trust of firearms owners who felt betrayed by the Liberals. For example, the Conservatives eliminated the long-gun registry and passed the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act, which simplified the firearms licensing regime, while strengthening firearms prohibitions for those convicted of domestic violence offences. They also passed the Tackling Violent Crime Act, which provided for stricter bail provisions for those accused of serious offences involving firearms.
In the weeks ahead, our Conservative caucus will continue to oppose the legislation and stand up for law-abiding firearms owners. We cannot trust the Liberals when it comes to the firearms legislation. Rather than cracking down on criminals who use weapons to commit violent crimes, they are treating law-abiding gun owners like criminals.