Pierre Poilievre Is Going On The Offensive Against Justin Trudeau On Firearms Issues

Written By Wyatt Claypool, Posted on January 25, 2023

During the 2021 federal election, the Conservative Party seemed almost queasy about supporting law-abiding firearms owners. It’s as if the Conservative Party leader at the time, Erin O’Toole, felt like firearms and gun owners were toxic and weighing down his chances of becoming Canada’s next prime minister.

Erin O’Toole ran as a strong advocate for gun owners in the 2020 CPC leadership race, but indications his commitments were a little hollow were foreshadowed early.

O’Toole promised to scrap the list of around 1,500 “assault-style” firearms Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had banned in his 2020 Order In Council (OIC) on May 1st, 2020, but O’Toole wouldn’t say much on scrapping other pieces of anti-firearm legislation, let alone expand the rights of responsible firearms owners. During the course of the 2021 federal election, O’Toole would even back off of his commitment to scrap the OIC ban, effectively making his position on firearms the same as Trudeau’s.

Maybe O’Toole feared being dogged by the issue like Andrew Scheer had been in 2019 for taking a strong pro-gun ownership position, but O’Toole proved that it is far less popular to ditch gun owners than it was to stand with them. This was evident by the Conservative’s substandard election performance and the bleeding of support to Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party. 

The good thing to come out of the O’Toole era of the Conservative Party is that the current CPC leader, Pierre Poilievre, has seemed to have learned the right lessons. Poilievre has taken a strong stand in favour of firearms rights while also expanding the image of what responsible gun ownership looks like.

Whereas Scheer would often protect responsible firearm ownership in Canada in an abstract way, Poilievre is extremely specific and personal in how he talks about the issue.

Poilievre makes statements in Parliamentary Question Period like “Why won’t they go after criminals instead of targeting Grandpa Joe’s hunting rifle in Cape Breton?” and highlight that Trudeau’s Liberals are trying to take guns away from rural Canadians, First Nations, and Canadians’ law-abiding family members.

For non-gun owners who may be naively supportive of gun control, it makes it harder to approve of the government taking guns away from other Canadians when you put faces and names on those who would have their firearms confiscated from them.

This is exactly what Poilievre did in a new video with Canada’s recent female sports shooting champion.

Poilievre is smartly pushing the idea that Trudeau’s gun control measures aren’t just going to take away guns from an abstractly defined set of responsible gun owners out there across Canada, it’s taking away guns from people like Joy whose passion is sports shooting. 

This is the type of rhetoric that even the reddest of Red Tories will be able to unify around. 

The National Telegraph reached out to the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights (CCFR) to get their reading on how Poilievre is doing on the issue of firearms. 

CCFR’s VP of Public Relations Tracey Wilson agreed that the CPC strategy on guns had greatly improved, stating that:

Since 2015, the Liberals have weaponized the gun debate in Canada, inciting fear among average people and manipulating tragedies for their benefit. We saw in the 2021 election how Trudeau used the threat of “putting assault weapons in our streets” against former CPC leader Erin O’Toole. This is so false and hyperbolic that it’s shocking, but worked perfectly as he intended. He consistently had O’Toole up against the ropes, trying to defend the simple truth that legal gun owners don’t represent a disproportionate risk to public safety.

 The new CPC leader, Pierre Poilievre takes a very different approach. Rather than holding a defensive position against these attacks, he’s openly and aggressively on the offensive on this file. In the weeks leading up to the Christmas break at the House, more times than not Poilievre would open QP with questions slamming the Liberal leader for his targeting of legal gun owners, soft-on crime policies, and rising gang crime and violence, despite 3 gun bans in 3 years. 

Wilson also pointed out the absurdity of letting the Liberals take the initiative on the issue of firearm, noting: 

The Liberal record speaks for itself with a 92% increase in gang crime and an overall 32% increase in violent crime. We see Poilievre reaching out and meeting with stakeholders like hunters, target shooters and northern and indigenous communities. Videos, events and social media posts are plentiful and bring awareness to this issue for Canadians who’ve been lied to for so long.

The gun debate in Canada shouldn’t be a wedge issue. Canada has one of the strictest gun control regimes in the world, and for the most part, it works. I think Canadians recognize the truth – we need leadership that will focus on reducing actual crime, violence and gun smuggling.

Wilson ended off her comments to TNT, noting that Poilievre is currently delivering the type of leadership that the CCFR is looking for. 

As much as Canadian gun owners would like non-gun owners to understand the underlying property rights issues that come along with banning guns, or read long studies showing lawful gun owners commit far fewer crimes than the average Canadian, Poilievre’s approach of personalizing lawful gun ownership is likely the best approach to defeating Justin Trudeau’s anti-gun agenda. 

Trudeau has already personalized the issue, best flip the script on him by forcing him to own the fact he wants to disarm ‘Grandpa Joe’ and Joy the sports shooter, and it won’t have any impact on protecting Canadians from gang shootings. 

Wyatt Claypool

Wyatt is a student at Mount Royal University, where he is the president of its Campus Conservative club. In his writing, he focuses on covering provincial and federal politics, firearms regulation, and the energy sector. Wyatt has also previously written for The Post Millennial.

2 responses to “Pierre Poilievre Is Going On The Offensive Against Justin Trudeau On Firearms Issues”

  1. Don Kuehn says:

    When Chretien’s infamous anti- gun control bill, C-68, was passed in 1996 the Canadian homicide rate was 2.06 per 100,000 people. Today, after two full years of a complete ban on modern sporting and hunting rifles plus another ban in 2020 when no handgun could be legally used anywhere in Canada because all the certified gun ranges were closed due to COVID, Canada’s current homicide rate stands at….2.06 per 100,000. Exactly where it was in 1996! Legal gun owners are not the problem and never have been.

  2. Kyle Berry says:

    If you were going to invest several hundred million, perhaps even up to a billion dollars, in some project would you not want a good idea of what that project is going to produce and when before you proceed?
    What reduction in violence should we expect for our tax money? How soon will those forced to give up their expensive property be able to see an demonstrably safer Canada? Surely our government has hired experts to prove the National Police Federation and Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) wrong when they say it will have no effect.