Government Wrote Firearm Laws With Coalition for Gun Control: 1996 Memo

(Update Oct. 19: Adds Department of Justice comment.) — Canadian government staff wrote the country’s firearm laws with the prohibitionist Coalition for Gun Control, according to internal notes obtained by Dennis Young.

A Department of Justice memorandum dated 14 Aug. 1996 to “All lawyers working on Firearms Act regulations” shows work was scheduled around the anti-gun activist coalition:

  • “Timetable: Due to the availability of CFO’s and the Coalition on Gun Control, the time frame will likely be extended,” said the memo.
  • Two lines later, in outlining the schedule: “Sept 12 – 13 meet Coalition on Gun Control (copies of drafts)”

The three-page message from Wendy Gordon, a lawyer for the justice department, doesn’t mention any other outsider involved in drafting the listed regulations.

Why It Matters

  • The memo provides new evidence of how Canada’s policy framework for hunters, sport shooters and firearm collectors was developed with people hostile to gun owners.
  • The biased regulations, initiated by the governing Liberal Party in the 1990s and still in force today, enabled the party to order its newest mass criminalizations and confiscations on May 1 this year.

Department of Justice Memo, 14 August 1996

Seeking Context asked the Department of Justice in Ottawa about drafting legislation with activist groups in general, and working with the anti-gun coalition in particular.

Update Oct. 19: Ian McLeod, a spokesman, responded by e-mail on Oct. 19:

The development of legislation and regulations can be informed by a range of sources, including jurisprudence, international trends, the views of the provinces and territories, the legal community and stakeholders. At times, the Government may undertake a formal consultation process to hear the views of Canadians. Stakeholders are also frequently invited to provide their perspectives when legislation is being examined by Parliamentary committees. We have no specific comment on the memo from 1996, or on the process that was followed to develop the regulation referenced.

Department of Justice, Response to, 19 October 2020

An e-mail to Gordon came back with an automatic reply saying she had retired. She recently worked in the House of Commons drafting legislation, according to her listing in the government directory and a January ad in the Ottawa Citizen. We couldn’t confirm if she is the same person who prepared the 1996 memo.

‘Part of the Consultation Process’

John Dixon, a former Department of Justice employee, said in a 2003 opinion article in The Globe and Mail that the anti-gun coalition “had been part of the consultation process” for new legislation.

Dennis Young ATIP

The 1996 memo is among almost 11,000 pages of internal government drafts, notes and e-mails published this week by Dennis Young, an Alberta-based independent researcher.

The former House of Commons staffer obtained the documents from the government under Access To Information and Privacy (ATIP) laws.