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1 May, 2020 19:37

Trudeau’s GUN GRAB shows why Canada is ultimately nothing like the US

Trudeau’s GUN GRAB shows why Canada is ultimately nothing like the US

While the US and Canada have much in common and even seem similar enough to an outsider, the ‘assault guns’ ban by PM Justin Trudeau marks the biggest distinction between them since the US declared independence in 1776.

An overseas visitor to both countries, such as I was in 1996 and many times since, could notice only minor visual differences between countries north and south of the 49th parallel, even though Canada uses the metric system and the US is one of the three remaining nations that do not. Beneath the superficial similarities, however, were fundamental differences going back to the British colonial era – from the concept of free speech to gun ownership.

Nothing has made those differences more clear than Trudeau’s announcement on Friday that he would outlaw 1,500 models of “military-grade assault weapons,” ranging from most rifles to rocket launchers and grenade throwers.

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Trudeau justified the ban by citing last month’s rampage by a Nova Scotia man, who killed 22 people in what was reported as the worst mass shooting in Canadian history. The Angus Reid Institute released a perfectly timed opinion poll claiming that 65 percent of Canadians strongly support an “assault weapons” ban, “giving federal policy makers a clear mandate to go forward.”

Never mind that nine of the 22 Nova Scotia victims died not of gunshots but of fires set to their homes – according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police – or that the attacker impersonated a RCMP officer and used weapons illegally purchased in the US, or that his motive is still a mystery. Pay no attention to the fact that the ARI polled its members, of which 73 percent never owned a gun of any kind.

Trudeau did this because he used gun control to win re-election, because there’s a pandemic on so no one can stop him, and ultimately because, in Canada, he can.

In what surely has to be an ironic twist, the very Canadian PM literally recycled the rhetoric of US gun control advocates, from declaring that the weapons he was banning “were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time” to proclaiming that “Canadians deserve more than thoughts and prayers.” 

Not surprisingly, this elicited a simping response from some Democrat US senators, who have long campaigned for similar bans south of the 49th parallel.

Leader of Canada’s opposition Conservative party, Andrew Scheer, also responded with US rhetoric, channeling Republican gun rights activists to proclaim that “Taking firearms away from law-abiding citizens does nothing to stop dangerous criminals who obtain their guns illegally.”

Yet the reason Trudeau can do this and Scheer can’t do much to stop him is that, beneath the thin veneer of surface similarities, Canada is not the United States of America. It has no Second Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees private arms ownership. Neither does it have the First Amendment protecting near-absolute freedom of speech, of which Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is but a pale shadow.

The reason the US does is simple: back in 1776, armed colonists rose up against British troops sent to suppress their tax revolt, and won the ensuing war for independence. Private gun ownership was eventually written into the US Constitution in recognition of its essential role in this struggle. This explains how the US has three and a half times more guns per capita than Canada (120 to 34.7), according to official statistics from 2018.

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Canada, meanwhile, evolved politically from those colonies to the north that stayed loyal to the crown, only becoming fully independent from the UK in 1982 – though Queen Elizabeth II is still its official head of state. Canadians successfully defeated an early US attempt at conquest (the War of 1812) and have coexisted peacefully with their rebellious cousins for the next two centuries, along the longest demilitarized border in the world.

As an aside, Trudeau’s gun grab may well result in that border getting more restrictive once it eventually reopens, having been shut in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

While Canada is larger than the US in terms of territory, it has barely ⅛ of the US population, and has long been in the political, cultural, military and economic orbit of its southern superpower neighbor. Many of Trudeau’s policies, from nationalized health care and accelerated immigration to gun control, mirror not just British policies but the wishlist of Democrats in the US. 

Due to Canada’s divergent political evolution, however, he can enact them without restraint – while in the US, Democrats would need to either amend the Constitution or try an end run around it via executive orders or an activist Supreme Court. As you can see, 1776 has made all the difference.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.