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Interview: MP Bob Zimmer on the Trudeau govt.'s firearm and resource legislation

Updated: Oct 1, 2020

We at The Buffalo Tribune had the good fortune to interview Bob Zimmer, MP for Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies in northeastern British Columbia. A stalwart conservative, Mr. Zimmer is a committed firearms activist and commanded the most considerable CPC support of all ridings (by a significant margin) in his province in both the 2015 and 2019 elections.

TBT: Mr. Zimmer, as a committed advocate for firearm ownership, can you fill us in on the Trudeau government's record so far? In recent memory, our readers are probably most familiar with the 2019 decision from the federal government to overhaul the background check system and restrict the transportation of firearms, as well as the 2020 decision to make specific gun models illegal by categorizing them as 'prohibited firearms' in the wake of the Nova Scotia shootings.'

Zimmer: Gladly. First of all, the former constitutes Bill C-71, an amendment to the Firearms Act. The second, also regarding gun ownership, was an Order in Council "made" under the Firearms Act section's authority. Let's think of both of these as being wrapped together, as they occurred one after the other in such a brief period of time. Although Mr. Trudeau didn't label it as such, C-71 essentially consolidated a 'backdoor gun registry' on long guns, whereby gun sellers must now report the name and personal information of buyers. Even more onerous is the bill's transport provision. Under the Conservative administration, once you attained your gun permit, you didn't need a separate one for transport; it was made part of the license. If you bought a gun, you could transfer it to a range, and it was as simple as that. C-71 completely did away with this automatic transport provision. The Prime Minister's subsequent move to wrap over 15,000 firearms in a ban is perhaps even more grave. In addition to trampling on Canadians' personal liberties, this ban does utterly nothing to combat illegal firearms, although it certainly treats lawful firearm owners as if they are would-be criminals. Despite this move, shootings remain on the rise in Toronto. It's well-known that cities like Chicago, with stringent firearm laws, have not curbed high gun violence levels in the United States. I wish Mr. Blair and the Prime Minister would stop attempting to legislate on this issue; there's much better places for Canadians to put their money.

TBT: How have your constituents reacted to the federal gun legislation of the last two years?

Zimmer: You can say I have two categories of constituents! The former is the 110,000 people in the riding I represent. Many of them have reached out to me, expressing their concern about future access to hunting firearms. They're legal now, but many of them wait with fingers crossed that there won't be any more anti-firearm legislation that'll curb gun ownership further. In addition, many have approached me on the topic of 12-gauges; recently, several models have been banned, although Mr. Blair initially stated this would not be the case. As the big firearms advocate in Ottawa, I also have to represent gun ownership for all Canadians—including gun rights organizations and other associations like the CSSA. Many of the members of these groups and myself utilize firearms safely and want to continue to do so. Unfortunately, the Liberals want to keep taking more and more rights away, implementing arbitrary permissions for where we can and cannot firearms. Even the Prime Minister's recent Throne Speech illustrated how the party is stuck going in the wrong direction. Mr. Trudeau made it clear that the government will not only continue implementing firearms commitments, but will give their blessing to municipalities to restrict handgun ownership therein. Although this is totally beyond their reach of jurisdiction, specific left-leaning communities will likely implement this. It's very troubling.

TBT: Mr. Zimmer, you attempted to pass a private bill in the House back in 2017. Can you tell us what it entailed?

Zimmer: Bill C-346 was an attempt to get rid of the expiry of firearms licenses, and by extension, the fear that people could be made into 'administrative criminals.' The last thing on many older peoples' minds, like my own dad, is the need to renew their gun licenses; many simply don't have the time. Unlike if you have a car without a license plate in your driveway, having an expired license while possessing firearms makes you a criminal. This was an attempt to fix legislation so that innocent people wouldn't be captured. Although I'm certain many rural Liberal backbenchers who hunt and shoot as I do supported the bill, the pushback came from the urban Toronto liberals—you know who I mean—who started fighting it with an 'argument of safety.' I knew then and there that the bill would fail.

TBT: Deputy Conservative leader Candice Bergen has recently criticized the Liberal government's speech from the throne for failing to include mention of oil and gas workers out West. It's also worth mentioning that Jay Hill, now running his party on a Western separation campaign, used to occupy your riding. Will the throne speech translate into more frustration in the West with the federal government? How does this relate to indigenous communities?

Zimmer: Unfortunately, I see no other possibility. Despite Mr. Trudeau's 'million jobs promise,' almost nothing has been said about natural resources. This is particularly troubling to my riding, which not only has a large oil and gas sector but forestry as well, in addition to other resource jobs. It's worrisome, to say the least, that natural resource development isn't part of the plan to stimulate job creation. Without it, I see no way that Canada will be able to pay the bill for our ever-increasing debt, as the Liberals appear to have zero understanding of where this money is going to come from. On Page 11 of the Throne Speech, the government mentions direct investments in the social sector and funding training, but there's no mention of resource projects. This was a huge opportunity to pivot to be on the right side of things, but unfortunately, Mr. Trudeau has chosen to remain narrow-minded.

This government seems to want our resource sector to collapse. They only ever speak to opponents of oil and gas, never the proponents. I seriously doubt they pull off the million [jobs], especially considering the overregulation that creates impediments to doing so. For example, the Liberals have promised more land and ocean closures at 25%. This doubles our current amount of closures; all this looks like it's going to do is put a giant wet blanket over resource development.

Now, this also affects indigenous communities. Suppose Minister Bennett chose to have an honest survey. In that case, she'd see that the vast majority of indigenous people in the West support resource projects, but they continue to talk to the limited few that oppose them. Indigenous communities are frequently rural, meaning projects and businesses relating to resources projects are reliable way in which jobs can be created, and by which they can put food on the table and a roof over their head. If the Liberals want to support indigenous communities, they need to support resource development.

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