With Public Safety Minister Bill Blair assigned to establish a new firearms regime to tackle so-called assault rifles in Canada, the Liberal government still has a long way to go to complete gun-control measures stemming from legislation it passed in the last Parliament.
Public Safety Canada and the RCMP confirmed this week cabinet orders have not yet been passed to put into effect renewed controls over firearm sales, license verification and other restrictions that were contained in Bill C-71 when it received Royal Assent last June.
Public Safety Canada said other steps have yet to be taken to put the Firearms Act amendments from C-71 into force — including funding approval for new systems and regulations for Parliament to review before they go into place.
On top of that, Blair has yet to table, possibly even to receive, an RCMP report on the state of Canada’s firearm regime for the 2018 calendar year.
“The provisions in former Bill C-71 related to licence verification, eligibility, vendor record-keeping and transportation will come into effect once the necessary changes have been made, funding has been approved and the associated regulations have been tabled in Parliament for review,” Public Safety spokesperson Tim Warmington told iPolitics.
Warmington did not confirm it, but the funding approval would likely come in the new Liberal government’s first budget that could be released sometime in March.
An RCMP media relations officer told iPolitics another key measure from Bill C-71, concerning a more restrictive classification for imported semi-automatics that the previous Conservative government relaxed in 2015, is also awaiting a cabinet order to be put into force.
“Although Bill C-71 has now received Royal Assent, most of the provisions of the legislation require an order-in-council (cabinet authority) before they can take effect,” said RCMP Cpl. Caroline Duval.
Duval also addressed the delay in the RCMP Commissioner’s annual report on the operations of the Canadian Firearms Report, required under the Firearms Act.
Former public safety minister Ralph Goodale was to receive and then table the 2018 report last year, but was possibly delayed by the appointment of a new RCMP commissioner, Brenda Lucki, in April 2018.
“Tabling of the annual Commissioner of Firearms report is a parliamentary process and the decision on when to table the report is made by the Minister of Public Safety,” said Duval.
“The 2018 report tabling is delayed this year due to the federal election,” she said.
The executive director of one of Canada’s senior firearm associations said the firearms community is unaware of the delay in cabinet orders and the annual RCMP report.
“Everybody is in the dark, I have no explanation,” said Tony Bernardo, spokesperson for the Canadian Shooting Sports Association.
The founder and chief executive officer of the relatively new Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights (CCFR) said a new regime for verifying licences through a system involving registration of licence verification by the Canadian Firearms Centre and vendor maintenance of sales records, will require costly infrastructure.
“The easiest answer to most of these questions is that the transaction registry, the registration of the now prohibited rifles, and other aspects of C-71, there’s a substantial amount of infrastructure that doesn’t exist and that has to be built,” said CCFR’s Rod Giltaca.