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The CBC recently announced the Liberal government’s intention to move forward with the next steps of their planned gun ban “in the coming days” by creating new (and as yet unannounced) requirements for owners of newly prohibited firearms, and introducing legislation supporting the proposed buyback of those same firearms.

Parliamentary Scheduling Conflict

However, while this minority government obviously does have the right to regulate within the legal confines of government, those confines do not extend to budgetary matters such as firearm buyback legislation.

As of this writing, just 61 days remain in the House of Commons regular calendar before parliament breaks for summer, and the likely dropping of a much-expected election writ by fall at the latest. Such a writ would of course nullify all incomplete business before that particular parliament. And given the length of the average legislative process, to say nothing of the inherent complexity of such legislation as this, to say it would be unlikely for such a bill to pass in 61 days or less under the best of circumstances would be to understate the situation. A beleaguered minority government mid-pandemic is obviously not the best of circumstances.

Furthermore, according to the contract awarded to IBM for the buyback program’s creation, the buyback’s development is to occur over a two-phase timeline, beginning thusly:

“Phase One will require the Contractor, by no later than February 8, 2021, to consult with other government departments, potentially consult with other levels of government, as well as additional experts in the industry to create compensation model options that include, at a minimum, the following:

 

  • Identification of a proposed compensation structure for each affected firearm;
  • Analysis of benefits and risks associated with each compensation model; and
  • Identification of other considerations that may impact the feasibility of each approach and/or model.”

 

The contract continues, stipulating a formal conclusion to Phase One on March 31st, 2021, at which point the government may exercise an option to extend the contract two additional years with Phase Two, which “will include the review and revision, where required, of the program design steps and processes to align with the decision made at the end of Phase One. This phase will also include the implementation of the selected process options, associated controls and system improvements, if required.” 

Notably, the current amnesty protecting owners of these firearms from being charged comes to a close roughly halfway through Phase Two, on 30 April, 2022. 

Conclusion 

According to the CBC report, Blair’s presentations to the various Liberal caucus groups began recently, so it seems likely the catalyst for his action would be the completion of IBM’s initial report on compensation model options and potential risk identification. However, completed just five weeks after the contract was awarded, it seems highly unlikely anything actionable in a legislative way could have been produced and even less likely that actual actionable legislation could possibly pass before we drop ballots in boxes.

So, we expect to see the hinted-at additional regulations put in place around the possession of newly restricted firearms, but any legislation being introduced to commence the buyback seems unlikely to have time to pass. However, having taken a well-deserved beating for his mismanagement of the COVID response and vaccine procurement files, the Trudeau government undoubtedly feels pressure to close out their half-baked, half-done so-called “assault weapons ban,” and it stands to reason they’d be eager to use opportunities such as these to take the temperature of the proverbial room.

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