Public Safety Minister Bill Blair went through a media grilling Tuesday over regulations the government finally tabled to enforce measures in gun legislation the Liberals passed through Parliament in 2019.
The Liberal government tabled the legislation, Bill C-71, in 2018 and invoked opposition from Conservatives as the Liberals beefed up sections that the Harper government’s 2011 majority had adjusted.
C-71 went further, bringing in new lifetime back-ground checks for gun licences and mandatory record-keeping for purchases of non-restricted rifles or shotguns by firearm retailers. Firearm retailers will have to keep records of sales for all firearms, including non-restricted rifles,.
The Harper government had introduced language in the Firearms Act that appeared not to require even production of a licence as the Harper government ordered destruction of the former Liberal government’s long-gun registry.
Blair revealed Tuesday that the regulations, which he tabled in the Commons on Monday, will not be fully in force until next September. Other regulations will have to go through consultations through the Canada Gazette–the official newspaper of the government of Canada– through to July after the Commons has adjourned for a summer recess and possible fall election.
“At the conclusion of that consultation, it is my intention to bring those regulations into force in the fall of this year and we are targeting for September,” Blair said. The mandatory lifetime background checks will be effective by July.
Fending off media questions about the delay with regulations, Blair blamed a legislative logjam in the final months of the Commons sittings. “I very much hope to have all of the elements of Bill C-71 fully implemented before the end of September of this year,” Blair repeated.
The reaction from gun control advocates was generally favourable, despite the delay. “Better late than never,” said the headline on a statement from PolySeSouvient, a group formed in the wake of the 1989 mass shooting of 14 women at the Polytechnique engineering school in Montreal. “As always, but especially in this case, the devil is in the details,” said Heidi Rathjen, a coordinator of PolySeSouvient.
A founder and president of another prominent gun control advocacy criticized the pace. “There is no excuse for further delay,” said Wendy Cukier, a founder and president of the Coalition for Gun Control. Cukier told iPolitics the current Liberal government of Justin Trudeau is restoring regulations on the sales of rifles and shotguns that were established by Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal government in 1977. “This is not complicated,” Cukier told iPolitics. ”They have had ample time to ‘consult’ and they need to post the regulations for the required review and get on with it.”
Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns welcomed the announcement, focusing on extended background checks. “Expanding background checks is a critically important strategy in reducing gun violence,” said Dr. Najma Ahmed, co-chair of the lobby group.