Ottawa withdraws controversial amendments to firearms law
The Liberal government has withdrawn a series of controversial amendments to pending firearms legislation, Bill C-21, that some firearms owners say would have unfairly targeted hunters and farmers.
Faced with fierce opposition from Conservative, NDP and Bloc MPs and firearms rights groups, Liberal MP Taleeb Noormohamed said Friday the government is withdrawing a long list of guns that would have been classified as “prohibited” as part of a push to ban “assault-style” weapons.
The amendments, which were quietly tabled by a Liberal backbench MP in November, would have banned these weapons under the Criminal Code, rather than through regulation. That change would have made the prohibition much more difficult for future governments to reverse.
The government is scrapping clauses that effectively would have banned any rifle or shotgun that could accept a magazine with more than five rounds — whether it actually has such a magazine or not.
The government also intended to ban long guns that generate more than 10,000 joules of energy, or any gun with a muzzle wider than 20 millimetres — two rules that would have rendered many firearms illegal.
These amendments would have had the effect of banning a number of long guns in wide use by hunters.
C-21, as originally drafted, was designed to ban handguns. The amendments expanded its scope.
Because the amendments strayed so dramatically from how the bill was initially written, opposition parties questioned whether the changes were even admissible under parliamentary rules. Those concerns are moot now that the government has backed down.
The government will still push ahead with C-21, which enacts a handgun sales ban, cracks down on gun smuggling and automatically revokes firearms licences held by domestic abusers.
While backtracking on some of the more contentious elements, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said Friday the government would try to revive some parts of the now-defunct amendments package.
Among other changes, the withdrawn amendments would have defined “assault-style firearm” — a term often used by the government that has no definition in law.
In an interview with CBC’s Power & Politics, Mendicino said the government will pursue some sort of ban on firearms “designed for the battlefield that have no place in our communities.”
What’s needed in this minority Parliament, Mendicino said, is support from either the NDP or Bloc — parties that withheld support in the face of backlash from rural dwellers and some Indigenous peoples.
Mendicino conceded the government bungled the process.
“We’ve got to accept responsibility from where we’re at. The step we’ve taken today is about resetting the narrative,” he said, promising the Liberal government still intends to ban firearms used in mass casualty events, like the semi-automatic weapon used in the Quebec City mosque massacre.
Mendicino had defended the amendments before Friday, saying the changes were necessary to reduce gun violence in Canada.
Critics said a ban on popular hunting rifles would do little to make Canadians safer when many crime guns are handguns illegally smuggled over the U.S. border.
Mendicino said the proposed amendments prompted “considerable discussion about the best way to move forward” and “legitimate concerns” were raised by critics “about the need for more consultation and debate.”
“We hear those concerns loud and clear, regret the confusion that this process has caused and are committed to a thoughtful and respectful conversation that is based on facts, not fear,” he said.
Mendicino said the government didn’t draft the amendments to punish rural Canadians, hunters or Indigenous people who rely on these firearms.
“As we’ve said time and again, the government’s intent is to focus on AR-15s and other assault-style weapons. Hunting isn’t just a proud Canadian tradition, it’s a way of life for communities across this country. Bill C-21 isn’t about targeting hunters. It’s about certain guns that are too dangerous in other contexts,” he said.
PolySeSouvient, a gun control group, said it was “shocked” by the government’s decision.
“It is clear that the misinformation propagated by Conservative MPs and the gun lobby has won,” said Nathalie Provost, a spokesperson for the group.
Provost said she wants the Liberal government to work with the NDP and Bloc Québécois to table legislation to deliver on its promise to ban assault weapons.
The Liberal government has already banned what it calls “assault-style” firearms through an order-in-council — a directive from cabinet enacted in May 2020 after the Portapique massacre in Nova Scotia.
The intent of the now-withdrawn Bill C-21 amendments was to codify that assault ban in law (an order-in-council can easily be revoked by another government) and add many more makes and models to the list of illegal firearms.
Government House Leader Mark Holland said the government “needs more time” to consult with the firearms community before reviving some of the amendments that were scrapped — including a section that would have banned “ghost guns,” which can be bought online and assembled at home.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights, a firearms lobby group, called the Liberal reversal “a small win in a bigger battle.”
“It’s imperative we crush #C21 in its entirety. The Liberals are retreating, now is the perfect time to push forward and #ScrapC21 altogether,” Tracey Wilson said. “Good work. Now, let’s refocus and scrap it all.”
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said Friday he “forced Trudeau into a temporary and humiliating climb down.”
“He desperately wanted to ban hunting rifles — it was a sucker punch to our lawful and licensed firearms owners,” Poilievre said of the amendments. “He’s doing this because he got caught. We will not let up. Conservatives will never allow Justin Trudeau to ban hunting rifles.”
Poilievre said he described the Liberal backtracking as “temporary,” adding he expects Trudeau will be back with another plan to target rural Canadians, Indigenous peoples and sport shooters who used these firearms.
“God forbid if he ever got a majority — he’d ram it through,” Poilievre said.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he supports both a national handgun ban and a move to restrict “assault-style” weapons, but he described the government’s management of the file as a “failure.”
“It is clear that the Liberal government did not do the necessary work and they mismanaged the entire issue. That is clear,” Singh told reporters, adding the government bungled Indigenous consultation on the issue.
“They endangered the work we need to do to protect our communities.”
Canada: Fatal stabbing in Vancouver leaves city shaken – Hindustan Times
An Indo-Canadian has been arrested and has been charged with second-degree murder. The victim has been identified by the Vancouver Police Department as 37-year-old Paul Stanley Schmidt
Toronto: The city of Vancouver in British Colombia was left shaken after a person at Starbucks cafe was fatally stabbed, with an Indo-Canadian arrested for that alleged murder.
The incident occurred on Sunday, around 5.40pm and followed a brief altercation outside the outlet between two men.
The victim was identified by the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) on Monday as 37-year-old Paul Stanley Schmidt. Meanwhile, Inderdeep Singh Gosal, 32, has been charged with second-degree murder.
Police continue to seek additional witnesses to the crime. “We believe this homicide was witnessed by dozens of bystanders, and there may be people with information who have not yet come forward,” VPD Sergeant Steve Addison said, in a release.
“We particularly want to hear from anyone who was present in the moments before the stabbing, or anyone who has cell-phone video of the incident.”
Investigators don’t believe the victim and suspect knew each other. The release added that the “the circumstances that led up to the fatal stabbing remain under investigation”.
A police constable patrolling the area was flagged down “moments after” the stabbing occurred. The suspect was arrested at the crime scene. Officers attempted to save the victim’s life but he did not survive and succumbed to the injuries sustained after being rushed to hospital.
Raw footage of the incident posted online have gone viral throughout Canada, as they show the victim lying outside the Starbucks, surrounded by his own blood, and also the alleged murderer, walking in and out of the glass doors to the establishment. Another video shows Gosal being arrested and taken into custody by police.
Schmidt was the city’s sixth homicide victim of this year.
The apparent random act of violence attracted criticism of the law and order situation in Vancouver, among the major cities in Canada. Filmmaker Aaron Gunn tweeted, “Things are not getting better. They are still getting worse.”
Is femicide in Canada's Criminal Code? – CTV News
Advocates are pushing for the term femicide to be added to Canada’s Criminal Code, saying it would help raise awareness on the issue.
In 2020, a report by the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability found that one woman or girl is killed every two and a half days in Canada. Femicide refers to homicides that target women and girls because of their gender.
Understanding the violence females face specifically, advocates are hoping for more awareness of femicide at the federal level.
“It’s really important that we name femicide,” Jennifer Hutton, CEO of Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region, Ont, told CTV’s Your Morning on Tuesday. “There are some unique traits about femicide. It’s really about men’s violence against women.”
Hutton believes femicide should be in the Criminal Code to prevent tragedies through better understanding.
“Until we name it, then how can we change it?” she said.”When it’s a separate part of the Criminal Code, then we have better data to track it, so we know just how prevalent it really is.”
Femicide can include instances when a woman or girl is killed by an intimate partner, a non-intimate partner, or in an armed conflict. The term can also include women who are not the intended victim, but are killed in the femicide of another woman, too.
For Indigenous women and girls, Hutton says they are killed at six times the rate of non-Indigenous women and girls.
Hutton is partnering with Jenna Mayne, who hosts the podcast “She is Your Neighbour” focusing on femicide in Canada.
“We hear from survivors, we hear from family members who have lost women to femicide, and we hear from experts,” Mayne said. “I think these stories are difficult to hear, but they’re so important to hear too.”
To listen to the full interview click the video at the top of this article.
Grocery rebate coming in federal budget 2023
The 2023 federal budget will include a one-time “grocery rebate” for Canadians with lower incomes who may be struggling with the rising cost of food, CTV News has confirmed.
According to sources, the new measure will be unveiled in Tuesday’s federal budget and will help nearly 11 million lower-income Canadians.
The new measure would see eligible couples with two children receive a payment of up to $467, a senior would receive $225, while a single person would receive $234 dollars.
The benefit will be rolled out through the GST rebate system, once a bill implementing it passes in the House of Commons, according to sources. This move is essentially re-upping and re-branding the recent GST rebate boost.
The amounts expected to be offered are exactly what the Liberals offered through last fall’s doubling of the GST credit, a boost that was estimated to cost $2.5 billion and got all-party backing. It’s not expected that there will be a requirement to spend the rebate on groceries.
According to Statistics Canada’s latest inflation report, food prices rose 11.4 per cent year-over-year in January, nearly double the rate of inflation of 5.9 per cent and up from 11 per cent the previous month.
The increased cost of food has been the focus of a parliamentary study that’s seen grocery CEOs, including Loblaw chairman and president Galen Weston, grilled over grocery profits.
“I’ve been talking with Canadians from coast, to coast, to coast over the past many months hearing directly concerns around affordability, around the high cost of food, of rent, of so many different things. That’s why a big part of the budget will be focused on measures to help Canadians in targeted ways,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on Parliament Hill on Monday.
“Groceries will certainly be part of it but, there’s other things as well that we’re going to continue to do to be there for Canadians…I look forward to a great budget tomorrow.”
The NDP had been calling for the Liberals to double the GST tax credit. Reacting to the news, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said this measure “looks very much like… what we’ve been asking for, for a long time.”
Both Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland have been hinting for weeks that the 2023 budget would include targeted affordability measures to directly help those feeling the pinch of inflation the most.
“This support will be narrowly focused and fiscally responsible. The truth is, we can’t fully compensate every single Canadian for all of the effects of inflation or for elevated interest rates,” Freeland said last week in a pre-budget speech signalling her priorities. “To do so would only make inflation worse and force rates higher, for longer.”
On Monday afternoon, the finance minister took part in a long-standing tradition of picking out a new pair of shoes to wear on budget day.
This year, Freeland opted for a pair of black heels that were on sale at Canadian retailer Simons, from the store’s in-house brand. She placed them in a reusable tote bag after purchase.
WHAT ELSE TO EXPECT IN BUDGET 2023?
With the economy expected to continue slowing in the months ahead, potentially leading to a recession, Freeland is facing calls for the massive fiscal document to include a plan to promote economic growth.
Amid Bank of Canada’s interest rate hikes, inflation cooled to 5.2 per cent in February. That’s down from 5.9 per cent in January, after 40-year record highs over the summer, reaching 8.1 per cent in June.
“What Canadians want right now is for inflation to come down and for interest rates to fall. And that is one of our primary goals in this year’s budget: not to pour fuel on the fire of inflation,” Freeland said in her pre-budget positioning speech.
At the same time, she signalled the 2023 federal budget will still be prioritizing “two significant and necessary investments”: the $46.2 billion in new funding included in the $196 billion federal-provincial health-care funding deals, and new measures to boost Canada’s clean industrial economy.
It’s the latter that government officials have signalled will get some attention in tomorrow’s budget, with several news outlets reporting there will be sizable—30 per cent, according to Reuters— new clean technology-focused tax credits to generate growth in the electrical vehicle supply chain and in critical mineral extraction and processing.
The November 2022 fall economic update had telegraphed that these kinds of credits and investments were ahead.
“Tomorrow…we’re bringing forward a budget that is focused on affordability and supporting Canadians… and creating great jobs for the middle class in a clean and growing economy. Those are the focuses that we’ve been laser focused on over the past many years,” Trudeau said in the House of Commons on Monday, fresh off of U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit, where the green economy was a central piece of discussion.
Canada’s clear focus on the clean transition comes in part out of a need for these sectors to remain competitive in the face of the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, which offers billions of dollars in energy incentives south of the border.
The Canadian Press has also reported that Tuesday’s budget will include an increase to the withdrawal limit for a registered education savings plan (RESP) from $5,000 to $8,000; and a plan to go after hidden or unexpected consumer fees known as “junk fees” that inflate the overall cost of a product or service.
Finance Canada officials, who for some time have been parsing the stacks of pre-budget submissions from various industries and sectors, will also have to factor in the Liberals’ commitments to the New Democrats, with key planks of the two-party confidence deal due to come to fruition this year.
“We still want to see confirmation of the dental care expansion to include seniors, people living with disabilities and kids 18 and under. We really want this budget to save money for people, and that’s something really important for us,” Singh said.
With this budget, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has called on the federal government to lower taxes, end “inflationary” spending, match new spending with savings, and improve housing affordability.
“He wants to take away everybody’s money, centralize it in his own hands, and promise that it will trickle down through his mighty bureaucracy… And there will maybe be a few little drops that get down to the people who actually earned it in the first place,” Poilievre levelled at the prime minister during Monday’s question period. “Will he cap government spending and put an end to the inflationary deficits, tomorrow?”
The fall economic statement issued in November 2022 projected the federal deficit at $36.4 billion in 2022-23, down from the $52.8 billion forecast in the April 2022 federal budget. Freeland also forecasted that federal coffers could be back to balance by 2027-28.
The 2023 federal budget is coming just ahead of a two-week break in the House of Commons, allowing Liberal MPs to then descend on their ridings to promote it to their constituents before coming back to the capital to work on getting the budget implementation legislation passed through the minority Parliament.
With files from CTV News’ Chief Political Correspondent Vassy Kapelos, and CTVNews.ca’s Michael Lee and Spencer Van Dyk
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