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McCOLL: Military weapons are on the Liberal banned firearms list, just not the ones they bragged about

Padding the list with modern military equipment that is already heavily controlled, and antiques from the Second World War, does not change the fact that there is not a single real military assault rifle on the list.

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The new “List of prohibited assault-style firearms” has been released by the Trudeau government and it names 1,500 “military-style” and “assault-style” weapons that are now prohibited. Much has been written about the hunting and sporting rifles that have been banned, and the politics at play

As the Western Standard’s defence columnist, I checked to see if any of the firearms listed are legitimate military grade assault rifles. The firearms section is just page after page of different versions of the semi-automatic sporting rifles that the government summarized on the main page. The AR-15 family goes on for 30 pages from the “2 Vets Arms 2VA-10” to the “Zombie Defense Z-4.” 

The previously non-restricted and restricted firearms that are now prohibited include: the AR-15 family, all Ruger Mini-14s, the Czech Vz58 series, the M14 rifle, the Beretta CX4 Storm carbines, the American XCR rifle, the Czech Scorpion Evo 3 carbine and pistol, the Sig MCX/MPX carbine and pistol, and the Swiss Arms SG-550/SG-551 family. While many of these hunting and sporting rifles share some design heritage with their military counterparts, they are not capable of full-automatic firing and are thus different weapons.

Despite the Liberals claim that these are “military-style assault rifles,” no military in the world uses any of them as a standard issue infantry weapon. 

To get to the real military weapons, you need to scroll down to the two other categories of prohibited weapons: “Firearms with a bore 20mm or greater” and “Firearms capable of discharging a projectile with a muzzle energy greater than 10,000 Joules.” 

It is unclear if big game hunting rifles that are not listed but do surpass 10,000 Joules are now prohibited, although it is safe to assume that any rifle that fires the .50 BMG (Browning Machine Gun) round is now banned. The M2 Browning Machine Gun itself was included in this section along with a few Second World War era anti-tank rifles. 

Source: CBC

The truly eyebrow raising issues can be found in the 20mm section as the language of the regulation bans common shotguns used for duck and goose hunting, and for including a ridiculous list of heavily regulated military weapons. 

The problem with shotgun regulation wording is that while 12 gauge (18.53 mm) and 10 gauge (19.69 mm) shotguns should technically remain legal, the sloppy wording of the regulations neglects that many (or most) of these shotguns have muzzles that are larger than 20mm when measured. This is either by design for a wider spray of shot for waterfowl hunting or because the shotgun was designed to have removable chokes (so that the diameter of the muzzle can be modified for different types of hunting).

To use a highly exaggerated illustration, think of a 17th century blunderbuss “shotgun” and answer the question: what is the diameter of the barrel? If you measure at the base where the gun powder and shot is packed, then it is likely less than 20mm; but if you measure at the trumpeted muzzle, then the answer could be over 50mm. 

According the wording of the regulations, most 10 and 12 gauge shotguns are now illegal. This appears to have been an embarrassing oversight by Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, who has contradicted his own regulations to state that these shotguns are not in fact, banned. 

With this kind of ambiguity, there is serious risk of police overreach and wildly inconsistent application of the law. The regulations need to be amended to clearly protect the rights of law-abiding Canadian waterfowl and big game hunters. Minister Blair’s assurance that police will not overreact to this ambiguity in unacceptable, especially when you consider the violent response of Lethbridge Police to complaints of a teenage girl dressed like a Stormtrooper on May the Fourth.

The German Panzerfaust 3 anti-tank rocket, recently added to Canada “prohibited firearms” list

While police might bloody your nose for carrying a plastic Star Wars blaster, some of the military grade weapons on the 20mm prohibited list – already subject to strict regulations – could take down an Imperial TIE Fighter or AT-ST Walker. Reading the list reminded me of a scene from the film Charlie Wilson’s War where a CIA expert tells the congressman what weapons the Afghans will need to fight the Russians: “Soviets didn’t come into Afghanistan on a Eurail pass, they came in T-55 tanks. The fighters need RPG-7 anti-tank grenade launchers…” The RPG-7 is banned in section 95(z.192) of the new regulations.

The regulations also ban numerous historic weapons from the Second World War. The German Panzerbüchse was prohibited in this section, sad news to anyone who still has 80-year-old 28/20mm tungsten anti-tank rounds they were saving for a special occasion. 

Fans of 1940s era Dodge 4x4s with the optional 37mm anti-tank cannon package will also be sad to see the M6 on the list. Jokes aside, military collectors and museums would be advised to double-check their collections against this list and seek legal advice. The weapons they have on display may not be sufficiently disabled to remain legal.

The Russian 9K111 Fagot anti-tank missile, recently added to Canada’s “prohibited firearms” list

Modern weapons include a long list of stand-alone and rifle mounted grenade launchers, rocket launchers, the approximately $200,000 (USD) FGM-148 Javelin infrared guided anti-tank missile, wire-guided anti-tank missiles, multiple man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS), and a host of recoilless rifles. There are also several large mortars – some as large as 120mm that are typically mounted on vehicles – included in this section. Even before the new regulations, if you had visited General Dynamics Land Systems Canada with $5 Million (USD) in a duffle bag and asked to drive away in a new 120mm Stryker MCV-B; then they would have politely declined your offer, and immediately reported you to the RCMP. 

The Liberals argue that all we need is more prohibition and policing to win the war on guns, but the bulk of these new regulations target law-abiding hunters and sport shooters.  A fair-market buyback could waste billions of taxpayer dollars (for those gun owners even willing to surrender their guns) while doing little to improve public safety or reduce gang related gun violence. 

Padding the list with modern military equipment that is already heavily controlled, and antiques from the Second World War, does not change the fact that there is not a single real military assault rifle on the list.  

Alex McColl is the National Defence Columnist with the Western Standard and a Canadian military analyst

Opinion

WAGNER: The hopeless task of reforming Canada

Considering all of the attempts to reform confederation over the last four decades, what other option is there?

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Many Albertans and other Westerners are justifiably angry about how the West is mistreated within Canada. The federal government has been deliberately thwarting the development of the West’s energy resources, thereby suppressing economic growth and prosperity. The Liberals plan to maintain this ruinous course in their effort to fight climate change. 

Despite this – and the West’s constitutionally entrenched second class status in the constitution – most Westerners are still patriotic Canadians and want the country to work. They’re willing to give Canada another chance and try to improve the country to rectify the injustices against the them. Constitutional reform is often suggested as a way to achieve this goal.

From an abstract perspective, it is very reasonable to want to try to fix Canada before giving up on it altogether. Historically, Canada has accomplished many great things and offered freedom and a superior way of life to millions of people. Who wouldn’t want to save that?

But from an historical perspective, there is a problem with trying to reform Canada: in the post 1992 (Charlottetown Accord) era, there has been a multi-partisan consensus that constitutional reform is verboten, for fear of offending Quebec. Those who have tried to break this consensus have been ignored or written off. If these people haven’t been able to achieve the kinds of changes necessary to get a fair deal for the West, what makes others think they could achieve them now?

To state this point most bluntly: if Preston Manning and the Reform Party of Canada were unable to make the kinds of changes Western Canada needs, then it can’t be done. 

The Reform Party was the West’s best chance of getting a better deal within Canada. Many of the region’s best citizens were involved. Thousands of well-meaning Westerners put all kinds of time and money into getting the party off the ground and sustaining it for a decade. It was the dominant federal party in Alberta and most of the West until it folded into the Conservative Party of Canada. There is nothing like it in Western politics today, and even if all of the groups calling for constitutional reform were amalgamated, their efforts would look miniscule beside the old Reform Party.

Many readers of the Western Standard likely recall the Reform Party fondly. They know that the initial impetus for the party was rectifying the subordinate place of the West within confederation.

In his introduction to Act of Faith, a book published in 1991 to chronicle the initial rise of the Reform Party, Ted Byfield describes the historical injustices done to the West, making a new party necessary. As he points out, during the Liberal government of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, it increasingly “began to look as though Canada was a mere con game, being played out by Ontario and Quebec at the expense of the West.” 

But instead of turning to independence, most Westerners at that time just wanted fairness within Canada. So, with the Reform Party, he writes, “No longer would the West talk about ‘getting out of Canada.’ Instead the slogan became, ‘The West Wants In,’ a phrase coined by Alberta Report columnist Ralph Hedlin. It means that the West wants constitutional changes that will enable it to play a more equal role in Canadian affairs, notably a Triple-E Senate.”

The Reform Party made a tremendous effort, but ultimately got nowhere.  

The fact is that fighting for a better deal for the West within Canada has been going on, in one form or another, for decades. Besides the Reform Party, there were various other advocates for Senate reform at least since the early 1980s. Especially noteworthy is Bert Brown and his Canadian Committee for a Triple-E Senate.

Despite such great efforts, their goal was never achieved.

These people should be applauded for their efforts. It makes perfect sense to advocate reform before proposing more drastic solutions. But they worked hard, did their very best, and central Canada offered them what Central Canada will always offer discontented Westerners – nothing. 

Does anyone really think that a new Western political movement can be organized that could equal the Reform Party, let alone improve on its achievements? Because that – at minimum – is what it’s going to take to accomplish the kinds of changes necessary for the West to get a fair deal. 

In sum, over the years there have been plenty of proposals and attempts to improve the situation of the West within Canada. They have all failed for the same reason – central Canada is not interested. Central Canada is satisfied with the status quo and knows that the West is powerless to do anything about it. 

Albert Einstein defined insanity as, “doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” I am reminded of this statement when I hear calls for a new deal for the West within Canada. Again, such calls are completely reasonable and should be heeded by the Laurentian elite, but hat’s not going to happen. We’ve seen this movie before many times, and the ending is always the same.

What then, is the answer? Albertans and Saskatchewanians should be thinking about the independence option. Some of us have already concluded that’s the route to go. According to a recent poll, 45 to 48 per cent of Albertans already are. 

For others, it will be very difficult to reach the same conclusion because of their love for Canada – and that’s understandable. But considering all of the attempts to reform confederation over the last four decades, what other option is there? Central Canada is not going to accept constitutional reforms giving more power to the West. Whatever our attachment to Canada, the failure of reform leaves pursuit of independence as the only remaining viable alternative to the status quo.

Michael Wagner is columnist for the Western Standard. He has a PhD in political science from the University of Alberta. His books include ‘Alberta: Separatism Then and Now’ and ‘True Right: Genuine Conservative Leaders of Western Canada.’

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Opinion

CLEMENT: Alberta’s new vape laws will discourage smokers from making the switch

For every vape pod not purchased, 6.2 extra packs of cigarettes were purchased instead.

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Alberta’s new vaping regulations are a huge step backwards for harm reduction, and ultimately public health. This week, Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced that Alberta – in an attempt to curb youth vaping – will move to regulate vaping in the same manner as cigarettes, which includes age restrictions, restrictions on where consumers can vape, where advertising can be displayed, and possibly a ban on flavours.

It should be clearly said that vaping products are harm reduction tools for adult smokers, and that curbing youth access is a noble and worthy cause. That said, beyond the age restriction, Alberta’s approach to vaping is bad public policy.

First off, the provincial government has now shown that it is incapable of regulating based on the risk associated with a product. We know from credible public health agencies like Public Health England that vaping is at least 95 per cent less harmful than smoking. Because of that, vaping should be regulated in a different manner, one that recognizes the continuum of risk. Regulating vaping like smoking is problematic because it sends the wrong signal to adult smokers, primarily that vaping and smoking are of equivalent harm. By sending this false message to consumers, it can be expected that fewer smokers will make the switch to vaping, which is a net negative for public health, society at large, and more importantly, adults who are trying to quit cigarettes or consume nicotine in a less harmful way.

Take in store displays for example. In Alberta, cigarettes are purchased (mostly) at convenience stores where they are behind a screen so that products cannot be seen. Unfortunately, Alberta’s new regulations apply that same restriction to vaping products. Allowing for modest forms of in-store display will help prompt and inform adult smokers that reduced risk products exist, and will increase the likelihood of them making the switch. In order to encourage smokers to make the switch they have to know that these products exist, and the best way for them to acquire that information is at the point of sale where they traditionally purchase cigarettes. By placing all vaping products out of view, they will largely be out of mind for the 15.8 per cent of Albertans who currently smoke.

The same goes for the prospect of a flavour ban, which Alberta is now paving the way for with its new regulations. A ban on flavours, while done under the banner of curbing youth access and use, would hurt adult ex-smokers the most. Harm reduction research on the usage patterns of adult vapers – who were former smokers – shows that the availability of flavours is a significant factor in their decision to switch from smoking to vaping. In evaluating the purchases of over 20,000 American adults who vape, researchers concluded that prohibiting non-tobacco flavoured vapes would significantly discourage smokers from switching.

While these arguments may seem like hypotheticals to some, figures from the UK have shown us in real time, the impact a harm reduction approach has on smoking cessation. The United Kingdom is arguably the leader in embracing vaping as a harm reduction tool and as a means to steer adults away from smoking. So much so that over1.5 million people in the UK have completely switched from smoking to vaping. In addition to that, 1.3 million people in the UK used vaping as a means to quit smoking, and no longer vape or smoke. Because of the UK’s harm reduction approach, 2.8 million British have switched away from cigarettes, or quit altogether.

These regulations are further compounded by Alberta’s misguided 20 per cent vape tax, which further discourages smokers from switching. Supporters of the tax will argue that an increase in the price of vape devices will reduce the amount of people who vape. This is true, however it also has the consequence of increasing the amount of people who smoke cigarettes.  Research from the National Bureau of Economic Research, evaluating 35,000 retailers, showed that every 10 per cent increase in vaping price resulted in a 11 per cent increase in cigarette purchases. In terms of product sales, this means that for every vape pod not purchased, 6.2 extra packs of cigarettes were purchased instead. This is exactly the opposite of what public health officials should be encouraging via public policy.

While youth vaping is a problem – and one that needs to be addressed – it is important that the government doesn’t sacrifice adult smokers trying to switch or quit in the process. Regulating vaping like cigarettes ultimately means that more Albertans will continue to smoke, which certainly isn’t anything worth celebrating.

David Clement is the North American Affairs Manager of the Consumer Choice Center

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Opinion

RICK STRANKMAN: It’s time to break the cycle in Alberta

Albertans will soon have an opportunity to figure out what kind of a future we want: a dependent one, or a free one.

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For the past decade, Alberta’s leadership have chosen their battles on our behalf very poorly. In that time, Alberta’s lot in Canada has not improved. On the contrary, their neglect has only exacerbated an already unfair and intolerable situation.

Albertans have been led by what can only be described as “leadercentric” organizations that inevitably become top down. It’s time to break that cycle. The power to determine the path we take resides with Albertans. We must take the bull by the horns or we’ll just get more of what comes out the other end.

For decades, Equalization payments in Canada continued without change to the detriment of all Albertans; and now that Albertans could use a hand up – not a hand out – Ottawa has essentially turned its back on us. If we haven’t figured out yet that we need to look after ourselves and start putting our needs ahead of Ottawa’s, we never will.

The proposed Energy East pipeline would have benefitted every Canadian, but rather than a mutual buy-in from Eastern Canada, we have encountered legislated and, at times, illegal road blocks when trying to move our Canadian revenue-generating energy east.

The reality is that due to the unprecedented events that have taken place around the world recently, a financial storm is blowing that Alberta will not be sheltered from. It’s important that we batten down the hatches and properly prepare ourselves to take control of our future.

It’s time for some accountability and soul searching. We have the power to not let ourselves be put in the position we’ve been in for decades. We owe it to ourselves and future generations to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. Alberta is not only a place where I carve out a living from the land; it’s my home. It’s a place where generations of our families have spent our entire lives; a place that’s being unfairly stolen from us along with many of our freedoms.

There are two ways to look at the current situation: it can be the excuse we all use to blame our misfortunes on, or we can look at this as an easily justifiable reason to correct our trajectory before we fly vertically into the ground.

Henry Ford once said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” 

Ford created a corporation that has been an industrial leader for over a century. Henry Ford along with the Ford Motor Corporation encountered many failures along the way. In spite of these failures, they took the lessons learned and moved into the future with a keen eye on the ditches of failure.

Older readers will recall the old bumper sticker we used to see that read, “Please God, give me one more oil boom. I promise not to piss it all away next time.”

Albertans will soon have an opportunity to figure out what kind of a future we want: a dependent one, or a free one. In the face of all the imminent changes that are about to take place, positive opportunities exist. Let’s take that opportunity and carve the words into the tablets that determine the future, and not continue to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Rick Strankman is the former Wildrose and UCP MLA for Drumheller-Stettler

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