Trudeau Tells Blair to Pass New Laws for Mass Gun Confiscations

(Update Dec. 23: Adds mandate letter to Freeland.) — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau officially instructed Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair to pass new laws for mass gun confiscations against hunters, farmers, sport shooters and other safe and responsible firearm users.

Update Dec. 23: He directed Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland to work with Blair.

Trudeau published the instructions today as part of the so-called “mandate letters” to his new Liberal Party cabinet following the Oct. 21 election. The letters are undated.

Trudeau Mandate Letter to Blair (Excerpt)

I will expect you to work with your colleagues and through established legislative, regulatory and Cabinet processes to deliver on your top priorities. In particular, you will:

  • With support from the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, implement our firearms policy commitments, including to:
    • Amend Canada’s firearms laws to ban all military-style assault rifles, with an associated buyback program and two-year amnesty;
    • Work with provinces and territories to give municipalities the ability to further restrict or ban handguns;
    • Update firearms licence requirements for ammunition imports, strengthen safe-storage laws, develop a mechanism for suspending licences for those who pose a danger to themselves or others, continue to build a national system that allows for the flagging of bulk purchases of firearms, impose stronger penalties for gun smuggling, provide the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) with additional resources to detect and stop gun smuggling, and work to limit by regulation the glorification of violence in firearms marketing and sales; and
    • Continue to protect the rights of hunters and farmers. There will not be a return of the long-gun registry.

Source: Trudeau Mandate Letter to Blair

Trudeau Mandate Letter to Freeland (Excerpt)

  • Work with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to introduce a national ban on all military-style assault rifles and work with the provinces and territories to give municipalities the ability to further restrict or ban handguns.

Source: Trudeau Mandate Letter to Freeland


  • Most of the measures are aimed at Canada’s 2.2 million men and women with a federal firearm Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL).
  • Trudeau continues to use the made-up term of “military-style assault rifle” to refer to hunting and sporting rifles.
  • He mentions new “safe-storage laws.” Blair has previously expressed interest in banning home gun ownership via storage laws.
  • Everyone in Canada lives in a municipality, so helping municipalities “to further restrict or ban handguns” targets every lawful and legitimate handgun owner in the country.
  • Trudeau says “to protect the rights of hunters and farmers.” Many of the gun confiscations target hunters and farmers.
  • The prime minister didn’t ask Blair to protect the rights of other firearm users, such as plinkers, competitors, collectors, investors, educators, historians or engineers, or of anyone who wants firearms for personal protection.

Why It Matters

Reasons for Optimism

  • A new bill could take months for the Liberals to push through the House of Commons and the Senate and pass into law. (The House will close this weekend after seven sitting days since June. It resumes from the six-week break on Jan. 27.)
  • Although political parties hostile to firearm users control parliament (Liberals, NDP, Bloc Québécois, Green), there’s a chance the proposed Liberal law will be defeated. The Liberals lost their first vote this week.
  • Every day increases the chance the Liberal minority government will fail, requiring a new election.
  • Even if a confiscation law passes quickly, which remains possible, mounting opposition from provincial premiers, police and firearm owners may scuttle any bans.
  • The government hasn’t said how it will pay for the hundreds of millions or billions of dollars to set up, administer and enforce any surrender order against honest men and women who don’t want to participate.

Correction: Corrects timing of when Liberals lost their first vote.