Many hunters and farmers have been concerned with Bill C-21 from the federal government. It's a bill addressing firearms. Portage la Prairie's MacDonald's Sporting Goods owner Wade Duncan says he's concerned that hunting will change in a negative way if the Liberals continue.
"There are lots of concerning changes coming there," says Duncan. "You know, some of the guns they're wanting to get rid of are along the black gun style, but there's a real trend on this latest round of legislation to get rid of a lot of the traditional hunting guns we've used in this country for a long time, unfortunately."
He notes it seems to look as though a significant percentage of the rifle stock in his store may no longer be on the shelves if what he's thinking the legislation involves goes through. Duncan acknowledges that he's reading through many pages of the proposed legislation, and there may be more clarification required to properly assess exactly what's going on.
"For a lot of the guns that we've had forever and people have been using for generations, there are changes," continues Duncan. "Again, we don't know 100 per cent what's going to happen, but they're looking at reducing a lot of the availability of these firearms in Canada."
Duncan admits he leans toward the availability of guns, seeing as that is his business, and sympathizes with hunters who are heavily involved in that field. However, he notes, many are definitely concerned that it may be a stepping stone used by Ottawa to take more privileges away.
"The Liberals have seemed to want it to go this way for a number of years with the help of the NDP," notes Duncan. "It's been very difficult to combat them when they get together. So, it's a stepping stone that, maybe, where they keep on going and going and going, and I think that's why so many people are worried about it."
He explains it's on the shooting community and hunting community to make their voices heard.
"We can't give them any ammunition to go further," says Duncan. "We have to be respectful and be safe in how we use these things, and things like that should help our cause. It hasn't in this case, obviously. But you know, maybe they'll see some common sense. It should be that the bad guys will be the ones in jail and give the basic law-abiding guy a break. But we'll see how that goes."
Duncan says the real battle is making a distinction between those who abuse firearms and commit crimes as opposed to law-abiding citizens who require firearms for hunting and farming needs.
"He (Trudeau) says he wants to reduce crime, but in the same token, he eliminated the mandatory sentencing for use of a firearm in a crime," says Duncan. "So, he's saying one thing and doing another. He's giving the people that are in trouble, such as the criminals, a break, and again putting the screws to the basic law-abiding firearm owner. And it's just not the way it should be. It's too bad, and it's unfortunate."
Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa MP Dan Mazier just left Ottawa left week stopping in at PortageOnline. We asked him about the issue.
He explains Bill C-21 deals with firearms, and he notes that he feels it's sneaky how the Liberals introduced it.
"They actually tabled it at a Committee level," says Mazier. "It didn't even come into Parliament. They said, 'These are the hunting rifles we're going after.' And it is hunting rifles. They have a picture of a duck gun and there are shotguns in there, and there are 22s. There are military assault rifles, and they're all mislabelled. Basically, it's a ban on hunting guns. They've shown their hand and we're going to fight that tooth and nail."
He explains, however, they seem to be waffling on that step now.
"It's because of all this pressure. Even the other parties are kind of going, 'Whoa!'," continues Mazier. "At first, they were kind of saying, 'Yeah, you Conservatives are kind of just being, the way you are,' but they are really getting a lot of pushback. Phone the Liberals and phone the NDP and MPs, especially the rural ones. This is not good. Just for law-abiding hunters that are out there, it affects their way of life. I'm a farmer. I have a firearm for shooting varmints. We all had that skunk in there underneath our bins, or in there somewhere. Our last problem was with raccoons when we had an infestation of them."
Mazier says there is a reason that farmers have firearms that are not even used for hunting, but for the protection of their livestock.
"We get it, in rural Canada, and it seems like the Liberals don't," adds Mazier. "They just want to stop all firearms, and it's not right. So, we'll keep on fighting that one and, hopefully, they'll back off from that schedule -- the list of firearms that they say they want to ban -- which are rifles -- hunting rifles."
He says they'll throw plenty of resources at the effort to ensure it does not go beyond the issue of assault rifles.