Updated: Mar 21, 2022
Conservative leadership candidate Jean Charest said last week he wouldn't alter Canada's existing gun restrictions -- including when it comes to a ban on "assault-style" firearms passed by the Trudeau administration.
In the interview, he said that when it comes to gun control he believes the focus should be on stopping the flow of handguns coming into Canada from across the border. He pointed to the volume of shootings that have happened in Montreal and Toronto.
"I don't own a firearm, but I've enjoyed hunting. And I think that there should be just a common-sense approach brought to this."
Asked specifically about the Liberal government's ban on 1,500 models of "assault-style" firearms, he said, "I'm not seeking to change the laws as they are."
"That's not on my program."
By contrast, Patrick Brown expressed a different opinion in a recent interview:
"I'm a GTA mayor. From first-hand experience I know the billions Trudeau will spend on taking legally owned firearms is better spent on police resources we desperately need," he tweeted.
Furthermore, Poilievre team member Jenni Byrne attacked Charest on Twitter by calling him a Liberal for having opposed former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper's decision to end the long-gun registry, which occurred after Harper won his majority in 2011.
The Liberals first began promising a ban on the AR-15 and Ruger Mini-14 during the 2019 federal election campaign. However, the amnesty period for those who own the firearms has recently been extended until 2023.
"I'm still waiting for any sort of evidence that shows that spending billions to confiscate lawfully obtained property instead of stopping the smuggling of illegal firearms will reduce firearms violence in Canada," tweeted Michelle Rempel Garner, also a Conservative MP from Calgary.
Tony Bernardo, executive director of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, called Charest's position “appalling,” adding he “does not possess the slightest recognition that his Liberal cohorts have denigrated these lawful people with their demonizations and allegations.”
“Does Charest know he’s running for the wrong political party? Maybe he’s trying to stand out from the pack and, if so, he ‘s succeeding. He is the darling of the totally untrustworthy mainstream media and the ultra-left of the party,” Bernardo said.
Charest's record on firearms is nothing new. In 1991, he supported then-Justice Minister Kim Campbell’s Bill C-17, which gave the government the power to prohibit any firearm deemed undesirable. Four years later, after having been appointed interim P.C. party, Charest wasn’t even present in the House for the vote on Bill C-68, now the Firearms Act. After running for the leader of the Quebec Liberal Party in 1998, he also campaigned on harsher “gun control” measures.
"Canada's National Firearms Association does not agree with Jean Charest's positions, and lack of support for much needed firearms law reform legislation," commented Blair Hagen, President of the NFA.