, 05.05.2020 08:02 PM

My latest: Trudeau had no choice

After Nova Scotia, Justin Trudeau really didn’t have much choice.

It was the worst mass-murder in Canadian history.  Offering thoughts and prayers, as he had often noted, just wasn’t cutting it anymore.

Besides: in the 2019 election that returned him to power, Trudeau had unambiguously promised to ban weapons like the AR-15 rifle, which the Liberal Party said was “specifically designed to inflict mass human casualties.” 

There’d be a buyback program for assault-style weapons that had been legally purchased, Trudeau said in Toronto’s Greektown in September, and there’d be a two-year amnesty while the program was being set up.

Canadians then trooped to the polls in October, and gave Trudeau more seats in the Commons than his nearest rival.  They voted for his gun control plan.  So, now he’s going to implement it.

It won’t be easy.  For starters, Trudeau isn’t taking his changes to Parliament – he’s implementing them via Order-in-Council: a cabinet vote.  No public debate.

Doing so in the middle of the pandemic, too, provides more fodder for Trudeau’s critics: they’ll say he’s using a massive crisis as political cover.  They might not be wrong about that.

History provides a cautionary tale, too.  Two decades ago, this writer was an assistant to Jean Chretien – and, later, one of his candidates – when the Liberal Party made its last serious attempt to legislate gun control.  

We mostly failed, for ten reasons.

Mistake #1: Our lead proponent was Allan Rock, a downtown Toronto lawyer who literally embodied the constituency we already had, not the constituency we needed.

Mistake #2: We let conservatives frame the narrative – we kept trying to argue the issue on their terms, and not ours. Most days, we were astonished that we even needed to make the case for gun control.

Mistake #3: We underestimated the degree to which the other side would (a) organize themselves and (b) fundraise and recruit off the issue. We also underestimated how sophisticated they were at networking – even pre-Internet.

Mistake #4: We had rural and Indigenous members in caucus and within the party – and we simply assumed they’d all fall in line. They didn’t.

Mistake #5: We weren’t specific enough. We let the proposed changes be defined by the opposition before we could define them ourselves.

Mistake #6: We assumed the constituencies who most favoured gun control – women, Quebeckers, young people – would automatically rally to our side. They didn’t. They, like all constituencies, have a myriad number of issues which motivate them. Not one.

Mistake #7: We made gun control a loyalty test. By vilifying/shunning Liberals who opposed the proposals, however, we made it easier for them to step outside the tent and organize – or vote Conservative.

Mistake #8: We didn’t move fast enough. In the US, in places like Connecticut, they were successful in making changes because they acted right after atrocities like Sandy Hook, when memories were fresh.

Mistake #9: We thought we were making the case for a country that would never become like the United States. And we discounted the possibility that most Canadians (correctly) knew that we would never, ever become as bad as the United States.

Mistake #10: We were Liberals. We got cocky. We got arrogant. We assumed we knew the country best. We didn’t.


Will Justin Trudeau’s gun control meet the same fate? Will he learn from our long-ago mistakes?


We shall see.  Unlike us, he has moved swiftly, and made his announcement just days after the Nova Scotia massacre.  He’s clearly trying to frame the narrative, and he isn’t waiting for key demographics to ride to his rescue. He’s acting fast, while public opinion is still on his side.


But those who oppose gun control seem to be far more organized, now (although doing so during the coronavirus lockdown will present a challenge for them).  And Trudeau has handed a ready-made issue to his Conservative opponents, in the middle of their leadership race.


So, will Justin Trudeau prevail, in the way that we did not?  Time will tell.


But after Nova Scotia, and after his election promise, he had no choice.  


He had to act, and he did.



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    Robin says:

    Gun control is just a distraction for Trudeau’s grand plan to transition Canada to the UN’s Agenda 2030. He now has a new and agreeable Governor of the B of C to purchase $5 billion per week or more of zero interest bonds, the money earmarked to fund Trudeau’s grand Agenda 2030 transition. Will Canadians buy in? We shall see.

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    Ken says:

    How bout the fact that the Nova Scotia incident was done by someone who had an unregistered gun?? All of the gun control in the world would not change this incident from happening.

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    Ronald O'Dowd says:

    I don’t want semi-automatics used in hunting or for sport shooting, period.

    But where this goes absolutely wrong is if there is no vigorous debate and vote in Parliament before the final implementation date. Failing that, it’s almost guaranteed to blow up in this government’s face.

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      Dan Blackstone says:

      I’m a hunter. An indigenous hunter. Not that that should matter, but apparently it does.

      What you want or don’t want me to use is irrelevant, I will use the best tool for the job, be it a semi-auto, bolt, or lever action.

      I may not want you to own a car that can do 0-60 in < 8 seconds, but again, what I don't want you to have is irrelevant.

      This goes for "need' as well. When we start letting government dictate what we can't have because we don't "need" certain things is when we've started down that dark slippery slope.

      Nobody "needs" a high performing car when a Corolla will do just fine, nor do they "need" a flat screen 4K 75" TV when 27" LCD is perfectly suitable. See where I'm going here?

      This undemocratic gun ban is 100% about optics & politics and 0% about safety of Canadians. Unfortunately a majority (it seems) of Canadians are too dense & ignorant to realize this.

      Here's an example, lets take the Springfield M1A:
      30-06 Calibre
      Semi Automatic Gas Operated
      24" barrel
      5 Round Capacity
      Open sights

      Now let's look at the similar Browning BAR:
      30-06 Calibre
      Semi Automatic Gas Operated
      22" barrel
      5 round Capacity
      Made for using magnified Optics

      One of these is banned, one is not. It's the Springfield, and it's not even a "scary looking assault weapon", in fact it's quite innocuous in appearance, it's wood stock & forearm make it look more like a WW2 Enfield era gun along side the more sleek Browning.

      Many other examples like this, guns with same or similar calibres, magazine capacity, barrel length etc. are banned while others with same specs are not. Most, but not all, just "look scarier" because they're all black, have vented sights, pistol grips etc. A 308 bullet coming out of a 24" barrel gives zero shits what the gun attached to that barrel looks like, it's muzzle velocity is the same, period.

      And since when is a Ruger mini 14 Ranch Edition a "military grade" weapon? A gun designed to take out small game & varmints etc.

      The absurdity & ignorance of the statements Trudeau & Blair are making is unbelievable, but a large portion of the public is gullible enough to buy it, which is what they count on.

      What's really sad though, is the useless compliant sycophantic media not calling them out on it.

      I've never belonged to any Canadian firearms organizations before, but I am joining all that are available now, as well as encouraging all other hunters & sport shooters to do the same.

      And, like many others, I will NOT comply.

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        Darwin O'Connor says:

        ” A 308 bullet coming out of a 24″ barrel gives zero shits what the gun attached to that barrel looks like, it’s muzzle velocity is the same, period.”

        This is true, but if you are the kind of person who seeks to be intimidating, it does make a difference. That if the kind of person who shouldn’t be getting the kind of guns he wants.

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          p says:

          Maybe we should ban tattoos as well. I find them intimidating on some people.

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            Fred from BC says:

            He’s NDP…he’s scared of his own shadow…

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        Andy Kaut says:

        The Garand you mention above (Springfield) isn’t banned. 1500 guns and you had to pick one that wasn’t on the list.

        Either way, what is banned should matter a whole lot less than how it was done, and how it will continue to be done.

        He is a corrupt (possibly the most) tin pot dictator by this. And so was Harper when he moved from Parliament to his cabinet for supreme power without discussion. It’s bullshit and you know it.

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          Dan Blackstone says:

          Look on page 35 of the banned list, pretty well all of the M1A models are on it.

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            Dave says:

            The term “M1A” is a proprietary title for Springfield Armory’s M14-pattern rifle. Early M1A rifles were built with surplus G.I. parts until Springfield Armory, Inc. began manufacturing their own.

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        Fred from BC says:

        Very well put, Dan. Agree 100%.

        Every time some man-bun wearing left wing nerd smugly trots our the tired old “nobody NEEDS” argument, I just want to tell them the same things (after I get over the urge to slap that silly smirk off their face, of course). Nobody NEEDS a ski boat or jet ski. Nobody NEEDS a 100 horsepower motorcycle. Nobody NEEDS to drink alcohol or smoke pot. Nobody NEEDS a smart phone, an Ipod or an electric toothbrush. Nobody NEEDS an Ebike.

        Half of those things (like the performance cars you mentioned) are statistically hundreds of times more dangerous to me than my guns are to you, and the other half are just unnecessarily hard on the environment. My question to these selfish, self-centered people is this: what are YOU willing to give up to make ME feel safer? Let’s trade, shall we?

        (I don’t expect any takers)

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    Lee Hill says:

    “Mistake #2: We let conservatives frame the narrative – we kept trying to argue the issue on their terms, and not ours. Most days, we were astonished that we even needed to make the case for gun control.”

    This applies not just to gun control, but other battle grounds liberals, social democrats and people like me, who just want to listen to their old Nichols and May albums, need to heed if we are ever to seriously beat Trump, Johnson, Putin, et al.

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    Matt says:

    Nice article Warren.

    I know you are Liberal and a gun owner, so it’s a fine balancing act that you must perform and you did it well.

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    Michael Teper says:

    The decision to ban 1,500 firearms by regulation rather than by law, with Parliamentary debate, was a huge mistake. Canadians deserve to make their own laws, through their elected representatives. The order-in-council conceded that there were no consultations with the general public or stakeholder groups when the list of banned firearms was prepared. Nor were firearms merchants given notice or an opportunity to be heard before large portions of their inventory were instantly made unsaleable. When laws such as the Firearms Act delegate the authority to effectively confiscate property to Cabinet, and the government chooses to exercise that authority rather than go through Parliamentary debate, Parliament becomes superfluous. Canada is supposed to be a free and democratic country, not a commonwealth under the guidance of a wise and virtuous Lord Protector.

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    J.H. says:

    Hard not to be suspicious that this is just preying on the dead and the grief of their loved ones, for money and votes for the LPC.
    Plus Blair’s incompetence is already on display;
    Never forget that this guy, while head of the Chiefs’ Assoc. was out defending the CGI group run gun registry, that cost us billions. The same registry that their own rank and file cops were calling ‘useless’.

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    Dave says:

    Canada’s a huge country and most of the firearms on that list are not traceable so unless he offers full market value it is not going to be a banner day for Justin. Ghost guns? AR 15 80% receivers and the means to complete them have been around for 35 years. The RCMP just banned them about 4 years ago. The more logical route would have been to restrict them like a hand gun and then once registered to start cleaning out the herd. Now who knows where this stuff will end up.

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    WestGuy says:

    He acted politically, but not smart.
    To act smart the first thing he’d need to have done was to really understand the issue and the federal government continues to show that it doesn’t. Legal guns aren’t the problem, illegal ones are. If the vast majority of shootings are committed with illegal guns (and the vast majority are), then banning legal guns will have little or no impact. All you’re really going to see is social media erupt with “so how’s that gun ban working out” posts after every shooting committed with an illegal gun (which, as stats show, are most of them). That, and undo any goodwill built up by the government over the past few months from rural Canada.
    To act smart, the government should go after those who supply the guns, hard. And that’s not legal gun owners in major urban centres but the gangs in major urban centres. Years ago a Quebec judge declared the Hell’s Angels a criminal enterprise, so anyone who was a member could be arrested. So it’s not like there isn’t legal precedence to make the same declaration against other gangs.
    But, for whatever reason, there seems to be a culture of protection around those gangs. I’m amazed when I see someone on a broadcast tout the importance of banning guns to protect the public in one breath but then say we help gang members, not jail them, in the next breath. It would seem, in their mind, a legal gun owner from Alberta (as an example) is more to blame for gun deaths in Toronto than the gang members that supplied the guns used in the shoortings in Toronto.
    To me, going after the smugglers and gangs is the “smart” choice, so why isn’t that what the government is focussing on?
    One reason, obviously, is political. It’s not about gun control, it’s about placating voters who want gun control. This government has presented numerous examples of differential treatment based on political calculation. it’s what they do.
    Another reason is just my theory and it’s a dicey one. The Hell’s Angels are mostly white guys. Urban gangs, not so much. I wouldn’t be surprised if police and politicians are fearful of the protests that might erupt if they start doing regular perp walks with dozens of “gangbangers of color”.

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    Yet Another Calgarian says:

    Just to add extra layer of absurdity and idiocy to this if you have the proper licence class from the last go round of changes to firearms laws from the nineties you can actually still purchase and sell versions of all these weapons that have been legally converted down from fully automatic to semi-automatic.

    Admittedly a much smaller pool of people since that class of licence is no longer available and the pool of weapons is also much smaller but kind of bypasses the concept of a ban. And makes our firearms laws even more convoluted and ridiculous.

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    joe long says:

    If you commit a crime using a gun, how fast are you out on the street?

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    Mark D says:

    If the Liberals want to get off on the right foot this time, they should probably address reports circulating that they have banned 12-gauge shotguns with removable chokes, commonly used for hunting duck, geese, and other waterfowl.

    This concerns me, if true.

    I am a hunter with my non-restricted PAL. Meaning I do not own any handguns or assault rifles. In fact, I don’t even own any semi-automatic firearms.

    However, I do own three pump-action 12-gauge shotguns that could be banned if this rumour is true. The first is the one I actually use for hunting, the second is a family hierloom that belonged to my grandfather, and the third is more of a “showcase” shotgun that I purchased in support of a well-known national charity for hunters and wildlife conservationists.

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    Gilbert says:

    Why is there an exemption for indigenous Canadians? We need to treat all Canadians the same.

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    joe long says:

    In 2015 Trudeau promised effective gun control. He failed to deliver.

    In 2019 Trudeau again promised gun control. Has he actually delivered? Or has he re-banned many guns that were already banned? Now we have a double ban! I’m sure those who use guns to commit crimes are really worried. Plus they know if they use a banned firearm in a crime they’ll get a little slap on the wrist.

    For Trudeau gun violence is the gift that keeps on giving. He takes no effective action because he can use gun crime as an election issue. And the maim street media largely lets him play this game. Meanwhile the Conservatives have yet to come up with an effective counter to Trudeau’s strategy.

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    Paige says:

    American semi-automatic “assault style” weapons BAD
    Chinese semi-automatic weapon styled after Chi Comm actual assault weapon GOOD
    How the hell can the Liberal think tank justify this?? they are going to look so flat footed. I wonder how big a grease spot Blair will leave when Justin backs the bus over him?

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      Fred from BC says:

      “The ban, announced late last week, does not include the Chinese-made Norinco Type 97, for example, a semi-automatic version of the standard-issued rifles used by the People’s Liberation Army of China. Nor does it include the Russian-designed SKS rifle, the precursor to the popular AK-47; the Israeli-made Tavor .223, a semi-automatic rifle developed with the aid of the Israeli Defense Force, or the Canadian-made WK180-C, which gun publication CalibreMag said “functions much like an AR-15”, a firearm Justin Trudeau was at pains to highlight.”

      TOTAL INCOMPETENCE, right from the start.

      (oh, and a number of bolt-action hunting rifles favored for bear and moose may also be ‘banned’ by this ridiculous attempt at legislation)

      Funny how the Chinese-made Norinco gets a pass, huh? Almost like Trudeau was trying to curry favor with them…

      Brian Lilley says it best:


      It’s so bad that even Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Balnchet has made critical comments about Trudeau’s list of banned guns targeting hunters and his exemption for any First Nations’ gun owner.

      “You don’t need an AR-15 to bring down a deer,” Trudeau said on Friday.

      That was moments before his justice minister announced that First Nations would be exempt from the ban if they wanted to use these particular rifles for hunting.


      (seriously? Race-based gun control? Whose idea was this?)

      This is exactly what the term “knee-jerk reaction” is intended to describe. The very LAST thing you want to do when a tragedy like this happens is rush though poorly-prepared and utterly ineffective “gun control” legislation…especially if you choose to *bypass Parliament* to do so.

      Did it escape everyone’s notice that the AR-15 has NEVER been used in a mass shooting in Canada? How about the desperate attempts by the Liberals and the RCMP to avoid answering the question of whether or not the Nova Scotia was a licensed gun owner. HE WAS NOT. No amount of additional “gun control” and no ban on any types of rifles could possibly have have prevented this, and THE LIBERALS KNOW IT. They just hope you don’t know it, because otherwise you won’t fall for their transparent attempt to buy your vote.

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        Ronald O'Dowd says:



        I would start by having incredibly knowledgeable people like you advising the government on which guns should be in and which out.

        Secondly, I support a sales and manufacturing ban. But where the rubber really hits the road is about current ownership. I favour a voluntary buyback with generous financial incentives to bring in as many weapons as possible. I’m TOTALLY against any involuntary requirement to turn in your weapon by x date. In other words, I don’t want law enforcement required to go and seize weapons. IMHO, done right, the glass can get to two-thirds full and I imagine most Canadians will be fine with that.

        I absolutely don’t want to see semis used for hunting but am open to arguments that persuade about responsible gun ownership, safety, and usage on a secured and restricted firing range.

        Finally, in this instance, I don’t favour a FNs exemption but again, I’m against mandatory involuntary enforcement used against anyone.

        In short, prohibition didn’t solve prohibition and gun bans won’t solve gun problems. But at least they will exclude further sales of these designated weapons and prohibit manufacturing. However, smuggling across the border by criminals can never be adequately addressed by this or any other measure.

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          Fred from BC says:

          Why aren’t YOU running for the CPC leadership, Ron?

          Please. We need you.

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            Ronald O'Dowd says:


            Your too kind. Maybe in the next life. Thanks.

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            Ronald O'Dowd says:

            And of course, the other thing is that I go out of my way to take on my leader, regardless of which party I happen to be in at the moment, when I judge they are either stupid, politically foolish, too doctrinaire or their own worst enemy. Funny, none of them seem to like it? LOL.

            I really don’t give a shit what people think of me or my opinions — but they’re there and I promptly dish ’em out.

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    Montrealaise says:

    I feel that the Trudeau government took advantage of the mass shooting in Nova Scotia to push this through, calculating that Canadians would think it was a way to prevent similar tragedies in the future. Except that it does nothing of the sort – the shooter did not have a permit, he purchased the guns illegally, and it’s reported that they were smuggled over the border from the US. Simply banning or restricting guns would not have made any difference.

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    Yet Another Calgarian says:

    Re: First Nations exemption.

    To be fair this exemption does actually appear to sunset in two years giving people time to transition to something else.

    Although if you’re using a high calibre bolt gun to hunt moose for subsistence its not exactly practical to replace it with a 22lr.

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      Fred from BC says:

      “To be fair this exemption does actually appear to sunset in two years giving people time to transition to something else.”

      I may have read it wrong, but my interpretation was that the two year grace period referred to .50 cal sniper rifles…and speaking of them, what possible purpose can be served by banning a specialty rifle that costs 5 thousand dollars, weighs 40 pounds, is 4 feet long and cannot be fired except with a bipod and rest? That’s as idiotic as the last round of gun confiscations, where they sent the RCMP around to seize and destroy *without compensation* people’s two thousand dollar specialty shotguns (a weapon with the seemingly horrifying ability to operate as both a pump and as a semi-automatic, both of which are COMPLETELY LEGAL) and other expensive, legally-purchased firearms. It was a real eye-opener for those who never paid any attention to the “registration leads to confiscation” warnings…

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        Yet Another Calgarian says:

        Copy paste of the actual OIC wording below. My to be fair comment was in reference to the fact it does sunset for even first nation members and that it wasn’t a you can use them forever exception. First nations members still end up in the same boat as everyone else that owns these firearms.

        Also puts the lie to “you can’t hunt with these weapons” comments. You can, its just not socially acceptable to do so. For some people.

        But here’s the actual law in question:

        (i) if the specified firearm was, on the day before the day on which this Order comes into force, a non-restricted firearm, use it to hunt in the exercise of a right recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 or to sustain the person or their family — until they are able to obtain another firearm for that use — and, for that purpose, transport the firearm in accordance with section 10 of the Storage, Display, Transportation and Handling of Firearms by Individuals Regulations; and

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          Fred from BC says:

          Thanks, YAC.

          They shouldn’t be using an Order In Council for this, either….it’s a complete misuse of the privilege One of the times they tried to do so ( Kim Campbell, I think?) it was shot down by the courts , so hopefully that will happen again here.

          You want legislation? Play by the rules: run it through Parliament.

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    Jim R says:

    It was a no-brainer that the Bloc and NDP would support the legislation (at most they’d have said it doesn’t go far enough), so Trudeau would have taken no risk in having a Parliamentary vote.

    Instead, Trudeau decided to make Parliament irrelevant. The only real reason for doing this that I can think of is he didn’t want the CPC or Bloc asking about the exemption for FNs. There’s no real justification for the exemption other than the government being afraid of having to have to enforce it against, say, the militant and armed Mohawks.

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      Fred from BC says:

      Apparently they are unhappy that many of these guns will be ‘grandfathered’…they want them seized and destroyed right away.

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    Andy Kaut says:

    They haven’t banned anything I own anyway. All they’ve done is prove, yet again, that one motivated politician can ruin people’s lives and livelihood with the following fall-out :

    1. Crickets from a bought and paid for press.

    2. The ever-constant agreeing in principle while being uncomfortable with the means by which it took place. And therefore tacit approval from more and more Canadians that before too long, all guns will be banned from LAGOs, and all that will be left are the criminal guns.

    Someone on cross country checkup said it last week, Sunday. “Law-abiding gun owners follow the law until they don’t.” She was content to label millions of Canadians as potential criminals. This action has had that exact effect, and it pains me to know that I stand against an overwhelming tide of my friends and neighbors that will soon return to take my property away.

    The very nature of Canada is a strong and free. A drama teacher-turned dictator has now threatened that, again. But whatevs.

    Someday they’ll come for yours, too.

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    Walter says:

    Trudeau had a choice.
    1) pass laws and clamp down on illegal gun trade and criminals that actually use them – which actually reduce homicides., or
    2) pass laws against honest law abiding citizen which will likely increase homicides because it diverts police resources.
    Yes – Trudeau had a choice – do the right thing to reduce crime or do the easy thing to appeal to the ill-informed.

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      Fred from BC says:

      “Yes – Trudeau had a choice – do the right thing to reduce crime or do the easy thing to appeal to the ill-informed.”

      I’ve never seen a Liberal government even consider doing the right thing when they can exploit it for political gain. I had hopes that the CPC would keep their promises and roll back some of the more onerous and punitive ‘gun control’ laws passed by the Liberals, but they turned out to be too cowardly to even try. ALL Canadian politicians are liars, it seems.

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      lyn says:

      Walter: Trudeau could pass Laws that would be a deterrent as the Laws as they stand don’t seem to deter anyone from killing someone! Laws as you say for illegal gun trade and criminals that use them!COVID-19 Right they are to busy chasing people who have 10 people or more in the home phoned in by neighbour!
      My thought is that PM Justin Trudeau doesn’t like the PEOPLE that like guns!!
      My thought is that Diversity in Canada has destroyed Canada as we knew it!! OUR FREEDOMS being taken away bit by bit…taking guns away is just another way of Control!!

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        Ronald O'Dowd says:


        The problem is the psychological makeup of the average individual.Most people think the warm weather arrives, COVID-19 disappears and we automatically, as if by rote, return to a so-called good economy.

        Thing is, if you use the United States as your example, the economy started to seriously weaken in January 2019 — that’s why The Fed reversed course and stopped hiking interest rates. The next time bomb took place in September, when all the investment and money-centre banks became technically insolvent during the Bank Repo Crisis.

        Fast forward to now when governments are tacitly admitting that this current Great Recession (really a Depression) will end badly with a Bond and Stock Market disaster, massive permanent job losses, plenty of small and medium sized businesses bankrupt or out of business, tons of personal bankruptcies, countless millions who will be foreclosed on their homes, etc. That’s what’s coming, most especially for one-trick provincial economies who failed to diversify over decades…so of course, the feds see massive hunger, unrest, increased crime, etc. ahead so they are using the so-called pandemic crisis as an excuse to become more authoritarian. Happened right after 9-11-01 and happening massively again now. They need to control and keep taps on everyone in society to supposedly reduce crime and maintain law and order and that’s exactly what’s coming for Canada, the United States and so many other countries. It’s Law And Order Big Brother Time in spades.

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    dave says:

    He has a minority government, only 31% voted for his party. I don’t understand his legislation or his use of borrowed money he’s throwing around.

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      Ronald O'Dowd says:


      He’s buying his re-election. I agree with MacKay. We need a good leader and the sooner the better. That’s the only way to take the wind out of this Prime Minister’s sails.

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      Darwin O'Connor says:

      The legislation for the emergency funding passed by uniminous consent. The gun ban was a regulation change, which didn’t need Parliamentary approval.

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