OTTAWA – At a committee hearing Tuesday, Conservative MPs accused Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino of targeting the wrong gun owners with the Liberals proposed program for the expropriation of certain weapons, arguing it is a waste of resources and money.
Mendicino appeared before the Commons Public Safety committee Tuesday to defend the Liberals’ proposed handgun freeze, which is contained in legislation currently working its way through Parliament.
However Conservative MPs focused mostly on the proposed “assault-style” rifle ban, which the Liberals passed through regulation and is scheduled to culminate in a program that would see those weapons taken from gun owners in exchange for a payout beginning as early as this fall.
The governments of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan have all called on the government to abandon the mandatory buyback program and have said they do not want local police resources used to enforce the program.
Conservative MP Raquel Dancho said Mendicino should be focusing on rising crime rates instead of diverting resources that police need.
Mendicino didn’t provide a specific cost for the program, but said it would be worth it.
“We plan to be very transparent about the costing around the buyback program. but I also want to be clear with you and all members of this committee, that there is no way to put a price on a life lost,” he said.
On the “assault-style” rifle ban, he said there is no good reason for the weapons to be in private hands.
“Those guns were designed with one purpose in mind, and that is to kill.”
Conservative MP Dane Lloyd charged that the program was entirely political and there was no public safety justification.
“Have you or your department commissioned any studies that demonstrates that this buyback plan is an effective use of taxpayer dollars to enhance public safety?”
This summer, the Liberals denied claims they had tried using the 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia for political gain in promoting their ban on “assault-style” weapons. An RCMP senior officer testified in the inquiry into the shooting that the force faced pressure from Ottawa to time the release of the details of the weapons used to help the Liberal government. The guns used in the shooting were all illegally obtained.
Lloyd argued a program targeting illegal firearms would be much more effective.
“Why don’t you have a program to buyback illegal firearms from criminals on the street. Why aren’t you putting a program like that in place?”
Mendicino said with gun crime on the rise, the government believes it has no choice but to bring in new legislation and this is the Liberals’ solution to the problem.
“We’ve looked at the data and the data says unequivocally that gun crime is going up, that handgun crime is going up. And my response to you is that the status quo is not acceptable.”
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