Whitehorse Daily Star

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HEARING THE MESSAGE – Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino is seen Friday morning at a news conference in Whitehorse, where he announced a $929,500 grant to the City of Whitehorse to encourage youth to make healthy choices.

MInister gets an earful on Bill C-21

Yukon gun owners told Canada’s Public Safety minister last Thursday that the federal government’s gun control bill goes too far.

By Whitehorse Star on January 23, 2023

Yukon gun owners told Canada’s Public Safety minister last Thursday that the federal government’s gun control bill goes too far.

Bill C-21 proposes a ban on more than 1,500 firearms.

The focus is on handguns – the sale, purchase and transfer of which were frozen nationally in October 2022 – but amendments proposed in December meant a number of long guns could be included in a ban.

This drew criticism from Yukoners who say the ban would take away rifles and shotguns northerners use for hunting, sport and protection from wildlife.

Yukon MP Brendan Hanley said in December he couldn’t support those amendments.

He joined Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino at a roundtable held early Thursday evening in Whitehorse.

A variety of gun owners from around the territory had their chance to ask questions about the bill and say exactly how they feel about it. They included trappers, sport shooters, collectors and hunters.

“Before getting into the details of (the gun policy), I want to say a few words about my respect for you, and for others, who are responsible gun owners; be you hunters, farmers, collectors, trappers, you name it,” Mendicino told gun owners.

“I think far too often, there’s a stigma or stereotype that we don’t value that relationship, and that is simply not true. We do. And that’s why I’m here. It’s to establish a dialogue with you.”

Mendicino was in Whitehorse on Hanley’s invitation, to talk with Yukoners about Bill C-21 and learn more about the role of guns in rural northern life.

The bill is currently under consideration by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, awaiting a third and final reading.

Mendicino said he wants to create “policy that seeks to reduce gun violence or eradicate it if at all possible, but also in a way that reflects your lived experiences.” 

He said he came to the Yukon “to see what it means to not only use a firearm, but to need it in some cases, given the realities of what it means to live up in the Yukon, and elsewhere in North.”

More than a dozen gun owners shared those realities with Mendicino.

Backgrounds and opinions ranged, but all speakers voiced a general opposition to the proposed gun ban.

“I don’t see how that ban is going to make Canada safer,” gun owner Bill Klassen told the minister.

Klassen, a former RCMP officer and Yukon government senior bureaucrat, said a number of guns included in the proposed ban are only used at ranges, not in street crime. He said he won’t be able to pass guns he’s collected on to his children.

Klassen said he disagrees so strongly with the bill as it stands that he would hold onto his Parker shotgun, Weatherby rifle and Ruger as an act of civil disobedience should the proposals pass into law.

“I’ve obeyed the law. I’ve enforced the laws as a former deputy minister at the Yukon government. And I recognize a bad law when I see it,” Klassen said. (See full remarks, p. 7.)

A number of speakers also said they wouldn’t be able to pass on guns to their family members, or sell guns they’d collected as investments, should they be banned.

“There’s many guys out there that have large amounts of money invested in their handgun collections,” said gun owner Donavon Dewis, who runs the publication Canadian Access to Firearms.

He told the roundtable some handgun collections which could become illegal to own are worth tens of thousands of dollars.

He asked if the government would provide adequate compensation for these collections.

Dewis said the government should trust responsible gun owners, as criminal gun owners will continue to break the law even after the ban.

“If you trust us, then you wouldn’t be doing a handgun freeze,” he said.

“You wouldn’t be taking away my firearms is what you wouldn’t be doing. It is very simple. That illegal guy is the problem. Not the legal guy.”

Lewis Wilson agreed.

“Taking guns out of legal gun owners’ hands can’t be about solving gun crime because legal gun owners don’t commit very much gun crime,” Wilson said.

“I’m an Indigenous trapper. I live 110 miles from the nearest city. The only way to get there’s airplane or helicopter,” he said.

“We take it very seriously when a hospital isn’t there, when a conservation officer isn’t there, when an RCMP officer isn’t there to help. We have to have these firearms.”

He said his partner weighs 102 pounds, and a semi-automatic rifle is the only firearm she’s strong enough to handle that has enough power to defend against a grizzly bear.

Wilson also said he’d spent thousands of dollars upgrading a 450 Bushmaster for protection against bears, and he’s worried he’ll never get that money back if that gun is made illegal.

One gun owner, who couldn’t be identified, said his 13-year-old daughter’s dream is to become an Olympic target shooter.

He said he likely won’t be able to pass on his guns to her under the proposed legislation, nor would she be able to practise.

“It broke my heart to watch her come to the realization that she probably will never realize that dream,” the man said.

“In one stroke, we’re destroying the ability of our young folk to get into a sport that has defined Canadian tradition.”

A man who identified himself only as Victor said he’d lost a cousin to handgun violence and his uncle to a hunting accident.

He said he understands the dangers of gun ownership, but doesn’t think such a large-scale ban is appropriate.

“I’m a shooter. I’m a hunter. I don’t think the irresponsibility of those people and the lack of mental health care available to those people should affect me and my children’s ability to enjoy the sport,” he said. 

Hanley ended the roundtable thanking gun owners for their comments, saying the ultimate goal is addressing gun violence, not targeting responsible gun owners. 

Mendicino said money is being spent on international border enforcement and law enforcement to crack down on illegal sales and transfers, but gun crime prevention can’t stop at enforcement.

He said he will take the issues raised back to Ottawa, and the bill will be worked on and adapted before its third and final reading in the House of Commons.

No gun owner supported the bill, with many saying it’s fundamentally wrong in its approach to gun safety, but conversations were civil throughout.

Mendicino met with a number of Yukon groups about gun ownership last week, aside from Thursday’s roundtable. He left the territory Friday afternoon.

Comments (36)

Up 7 Down 0

Jim on Jan 27, 2023 at 4:59 pm

@Davis, while I do agree that most hunters don’t use a semi-automatic for big game hunting, a lot of people use them for a camping and small game hunting. Something light and capable that you can sling over your shoulder and still carry a back pack or fishing gear. People I know use a mini14 that they can throw in the camper or boat, shoot grouse with or in a extreme case fend of a bear or cougar.
I believe our environment officers in the Yukon have just recently been outfitted with a new semi-automatic similar to that which is actually on the banned list and used the excuse as protection from bears. With a bear, unless your hunting them at a distance, you may just want a few shots at your disposal after all other methods of deterrent have failed. By then you are, or should be at very close range. So it is OK for the environment officers to have that luxury, but Joe blow public gets his bolt action one shot. I guess it will make us all sharpshooters or at least thin the hunter herd. They just lose all credibility with the word “assault style” and picking guns that look like an assault rifles. Actual assault rifles have been banned quite some time ago. They are just playing to the urban base back east to show they are doing something. They are spending a mere pittance in comparison on stopping the sale or flow of illegal guns. Mostly hand guns.

Up 26 Down 1

Jim Dandee on Jan 27, 2023 at 1:42 pm

@juniper jackson
That is a rational viewpoint. Licenced gun owners already go through a lengthy vetting and educational process.

Up 28 Down 2

Jim Dandee on Jan 27, 2023 at 1:38 pm

It is the tyranny of the majority. Most people in Canada do not use firearms or are familiar with them. It is so easy for people to say Oh you don't need this type of rifle to hunt, you don't need a handgun, you don't need to own more than one gun.
This is not the point. Most people could do with a lot less of what they have in this world. They will come for you next.... you don't need a big pickup, you don't need a 3000 square foot house, you don't need to eat in a restaurant several times a month, etc. etc. Law abiding responsible gun owners are not the problem, everyone knows this. The data support this fact. Just a with vaccine mandates and lockdowns the Liberals are using this for political purposes and as a wedge issue.

Up 27 Down 0

Apex Parasite on Jan 27, 2023 at 1:02 pm

"When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns...."

Interestingly the government seems bound and determined to generate more outlaws no matter the cost in both money and loss of liberty. If bill c21 passes the final reading in it's current iteration the government will have legislated into existence a plethora of "outlaws" in those who were legal law abiding citizens one minute and criminals the next.

This bill will force so many guns underground if it passes....the guns will still be there largely but will be hidden and become part of a treasure hunt by the authorities via warrant-less search and seizure legislation that already exists. Money will be no object in ferreting out the shiny new criminals generated by bill c21 if it passes.

I would prefer my taxes go to more worthwhile pursuits like affordable housing and mental health endeavours. Making guns hard to come by is not going to is not gonna cure little johnny's black mood while he sits in the basement stewing over the injustice of his existence....he's going to find some other means to make himself heard. It will however force him to become more resourceful...

Up 2 Down 52

Nathan Living on Jan 26, 2023 at 5:58 pm

I believe the hunting community does not need to use semiautomatic guns.
These guns when used by bad people kill many people. I do not see how anyone can argue that they are essential weapons.

Up 31 Down 1

Jay G on Jan 26, 2023 at 12:08 pm

There happens to be quite a few semi auto's used in the hunting community. I do not use them for hunting either but am aware of people who do. Ask yourself this, If the goal of this bill was indeed safety why was the original bill not written to just ban all semi automatics period. It is because there is a legitimate use for them and the government knew there would be backlash therefore they snuck in changes at the last minute. Banning guns because they look scary will do nothing to fix the issue and will cost taxpayers billions of dollars.
The misinformation being spread is that "this bill will eradicate gun violence"Th exact words used by Minister Mendicino. We share a border with the most violent gun country in the world. The billions that this is going to cost , if all put on tightening our borders, would decrease the amount of illegal guns on the street period. Also if Legally owned Handguns were a big problem why are we allowed to keep them until we die? Because they are not the problem! Look up gun related deaths in canada per capita we do not come even close to comparing to the US. why? Because we already have strict gun laws that work. Yet everytime there is a shooting in the US our government is yelling this will happen here and we must act! Gun crime was reduced in 2021 vs 2020 in Toronto which interesting enough happens to coincide with the border lockdowns (less smuggling happening when the borders are closed).
I Understand it is easy to dismiss the needs when a person does not participate however the shooting sports community, Hunting community and collectors have followed our very strict gun laws and have done nothing to deserve our guns being taken away. Why has minimum mandatory sentences for gun offences/drug trafficking (bill C-5) being passed at the same time this bill is being put forth? This bill is nothing more than an easy "fix" so that the governement can say they are doing something to combat gun violence instead of tackling the harder issue of gun smuggling by gangs/drug dealers fed by drug addiction and the lack of Mental Health support.

Up 3 Down 27

EJ on Jan 25, 2023 at 8:13 pm

@UN You seem to be saying that we should ban knives because they are just as lethal as guns.

So using your logic, do you agree that we should take guns away from our police officers and equip them with knives instead? I mean it would be a lot cheaper and according to you just as effective as a weapon.

Maybe we should take guns away from our soldiers as well and just give them knives too!
Or just maybe, do you think there is a reason we give our police officers and soldiers guns and rifles instead of knives and machetes? Think really hard about this one.

Oh and why do mass killings almost always involve guns? If knives, cars etc are just as dangerous as guns then surely there should be just as many mass killings done with those items as well. Pretty odd that 95% of the time, killers choose to use guns. I wonder why that is.

Up 7 Down 66

Davis on Jan 25, 2023 at 12:25 pm

Seems to be a lot of disinformation going around about this Bill. I've looked at it and it doesn't affect any hunting firearms that are typically used in the Yukon. I've hunted my whole life and have half a dozen firearms and none of them would be banned by this new Bill. I don't know anyone who hunts in the Yukon with semi-auto rifles, why would you need that to hunt?
Mainly just sport shooters and collectors that would be affected, doesn't seem to affect hunters.

Up 7 Down 54

Yukoner32 on Jan 25, 2023 at 12:16 pm

To JJ and Bozojoe. You guys think we should let almost everyone have a gun and just go after the 'bad guys'. Please tell me how that is working out for the United States right now? Do you really want to follow their lead instead of the rest of the developed world?

Up 30 Down 3

the clot thickens on Jan 25, 2023 at 11:35 am

Owning firearms comes with great responsibility and is not for everyone.
Ask a starving grizzly bear if owning firearms is right for you.

Up 21 Down 6

Sum Ting Wong on Jan 25, 2023 at 10:52 am

Predators talking about keeping the prey "safe". You have to hand it to them for their sense of humor if nothing else.

Let's think this recent concern for our safety through shall we?
If the hierarchy really and truly desired to keep you safe, would they coerce, mandate and cajole every single Canadian, from birth to palliative care, to accept an experimental endless series of gene-altering physical injections?

The correct answer to that question is no of course they would not. So it follows from that obvious conclusion that this exercise likely has nothing to do with your safety and everything to do with something else altogether.

Up 33 Down 3

UN on Jan 24, 2023 at 4:12 pm


Let's ban knives too. We need to remember all the victims of violence such as those from James Smith Cree Nation. Please go to your nearest RCMP and turn your knife in.

Up 12 Down 1

bonanzajoe on Jan 24, 2023 at 4:01 pm

@Matthew on Jan 23, 2023: It is front page news - after they leave and can't be questioned or challenged.

Up 5 Down 33

stephen on Jan 24, 2023 at 12:35 pm

Bonanzajoe you would not know what a marxist, communist or socialist was it if you read it. Educate yourself before talking about labeling people you know nothing about the labels you post about.

I agree with going after people selling weapons illegal having a minimum sentence if caught, illegal use of weapons in a crime should have a minimum sentence as well. Time to start enforcing the laws. I also agree with stopping the sale of military style weapons for which they were created for to the public or hunting. DO NOT (i served in the armed forces) tell me military weapon which has the bullet tumbling to cause damage and not kill is a weapon used for hunting. That is BS. These military weapons were created to wound and have other soldiers take the wounded soldier off the field, so you reduce the number of enemies against you.

If you want to collect weapons like this or hand guns sure with no firing pin. If you want to fire them go to a rifle range and use their weapons. There is a compromise here and both sides need to work together.

Up 35 Down 2

Are liberal and NDP voters this stupid? on Jan 24, 2023 at 11:47 am

Well are ya?

Do you think a legislation that bans firearms from people who use them for target shooting and hunting will in any way, shape or form affect the shootings caused by gangs, who use smuggled guns from the USA. Seriously, are you this stupid? Or are you just blindly following dear leader? Or maybe you just have a hate on for firearms.

Here is an excerpt from an urban police chief, you know someone who actually deals with gun violence on a daily basis:

"Toronto Deputy Chief Myron Demkiw testified 86 per cent of crime guns were smuggled into Canada.

Blandford said facing the nearly insurmountable task of securing Canada’s porous borders and coastlines, it’s not surprising Ottawa went after low-hanging fruit of punishing gun owners.
“Legal gun owners go through rigorous processes to be vetted to own a firearm,” he said.

“Legitimate gun owners, whether they’re handgun or long-rifle, are probably amongst your most law-abiding citizens in the country.
“They’re not the problem.”


Lastly, actual assault rifles, ie. select fire rifles were banned in the 1970's, something that everyone with a PAL knows.
Bill C21 will make you as safe as taking cars away from sober people to prevent drunk driving accidents and deaths.

Also, there's more to gun use than hunting. 3 gun, IDPA, IPSC, skeet, trap, etc, etc. Most of those sports can and do use semi autos. Go after the criminals, kill Bill C75, C5 and C21 and focus on the real issues.

Up 25 Down 2

Just Sayin on Jan 24, 2023 at 11:31 am

We have more deaths caused by motor vehicles due to impairment and texting while driving, but let's regulate this area more. How about pushing more resources to mental health, and coping mechanisms. Getting rid of guns will not stop senselsess violence.

Up 15 Down 3

Lawless Liberals and Riders of the Storm on Jan 24, 2023 at 10:01 am

Dear Keep it simple on Jan 23, 2023 at 2:27 pm:

There's a killer at the PMO
His brain is squirmin' like a toad
He took a long holiday
To let his children play
If you give this man a vote
Your sweet family will be smote
Killer at the PMO, yeah (By: show him the DOORS).

You understand that this is not about “guns” right? This is simply part of the narrative of control that the L-NDP syndicate are inserting into the minds of those with less mitochondrial brain activity than others.

The most efficient way to take power is to create chaos and you are feeding right into that narrative. This means that you are anti-Canadian because you support Trudeau’s brand of divide and conquer - Guns are not the problem - It is absolutely, 100 percent, a Liberal problem!

F-Trudeau flags, bumper stickers, and statements are deserved by Trudeau and the Liberal cabal of insanity.

Canadians killed every 11 hours, Liberals rule in Canada is the rule of lawlessness:


Up 8 Down 4

Yukoner on Jan 24, 2023 at 8:52 am

@Matthew it might not be the fork but maybe it's crappy food like pop and chocolate bars and chips and endless processed food. Maybe if we banned those people would be a lot healthier. Some people can properly regulate intake of those foods while others can't. The same way some people can responsibly handle a fire arm properly and others can't.

Up 21 Down 2

Groucho d'North on Jan 24, 2023 at 8:27 am

This is all stagecraft to demonstrate Mr. Hanely being seen to be doing only to try and save his seat in the House of Commons. Do you really think a tiny jurisdiction like the Yukon will change the tide of Liberal gun control and eradication? Smoke and mirrors is all it is.

Up 4 Down 27

Townsend Whelen on Jan 24, 2023 at 7:01 am

Mr Wilson makes a specious argument in his statement;
“He said his partner weighs 102 pounds, and a semi-automatic rifle is the only firearm she’s strong enough to handle that has enough power to defend against a grizzly bear”
A semi automatic .223 isn’t going to do a damned thing to protect his “102 pound” partner, and a semi automatic .308 will similarly be of negligible value.
Flinging more lead does not mean more safety. The lead still has to hit the bear, and in a panic situation, firearm accuracy goes out the window with any plans one has for such a situation.
If bear protection is his goal, he would be better served by carrying bear spray. You can’t argue the statistics that bear spray is more effective than firearms in that scenario.

Up 5 Down 1

bonanzajoe on Jan 23, 2023 at 8:35 pm

@Juniper Jackson on Jan 23, 2023: I agree with you. Having a gun course taught in grade school level is a good idea.

Up 6 Down 0

Max Mack on Jan 23, 2023 at 6:40 pm

This "dialog" around C-21 and the handgun ban is nothing more than a circus side-show so that folks feel like they have won something when Trudeau and his flakey government backs down. The Conservatives know this is the play.

The so-called "buyback" program is still on the table. Confiscation of legally acquired firearms by legally licensed firearm owners when no crime has taken place should be a massive red flag for all Canadians. Unfortunately, we cannot trust the judiciary to come to the defense of law abiding Canadians and throw out this tyrannical "law".

Canadians should be in the streets.

Up 6 Down 0

Heathen on Jan 23, 2023 at 4:44 pm

The notion that this bill in any way represents an attempt to end gun violence is complete and utter poppycock.

Gun violence in Canada is almost always a result of gang conflict involving illegal handguns from the US. Law enforcement leaders have stated this again and again. If the Grits were looking to do something about cross-border smuggling on this issue or taking gangs more seriously I’d support it. But what we have here is to all appearances, a dedicated effort to gin up some conflict in the hopes that it drums up some loudmouth right-wing hobgoblins to scare the timid electorate in the urban centres. To their credit this fear mongering has worked pretty well for the Libs so I wouldn’t hold my breath on any policy turn.

Up 2 Down 0

Hobo on Jan 23, 2023 at 4:43 pm

And exactly how are they (Gov, Libs, etc) stop a sick person from making a gun with a 3D printer? Are they going to hack every computer of every canadian web surfing?. I am not giving them any ideas, since I am positive they already thought of that

Up 1 Down 1

Politico on Jan 23, 2023 at 4:31 pm

@Matthew Typical, blame the victim but still no thoughts on how to protect people from gun owners. Your only solution is wait till someone dies then take the guns away. Unfortunately this doesn't work for the victim.

Up 3 Down 0

Dallas on Jan 23, 2023 at 3:58 pm

Hey keep it simple wait till they tell you that you don’t need to spend 3-4 days a week on the land and then listen to you cry the blues…actually I think you are a closet liberal and probably don’t spend anytime in the bush or on the land..sorry xcountry skiing up at mount Mac doesn’t count.

Up 3 Down 0

bonanzajoe on Jan 23, 2023 at 3:55 pm

@Matthew on Jan 23: Yes, had I known in advance, I would have attended. Another example of the Liberal's "transparency".

Up 138 Down 29

bonanzajoe on Jan 23, 2023 at 3:52 pm

@Keep it simple: "Gun owners are going to need to find a compromise they can live with". Here is the compromise, vote out the Marxist communist Liberals and vote in the right wing Conservatives. They will protect law abiding gun owners.

Up 120 Down 16

Juniper Jackson on Jan 23, 2023 at 3:51 pm

Personally, I favor the Swiss way of handling firearms. Every child from kindergarten up learns guns. At kindergarden they learn their dangers and how to lock the gun cabinet. By Graduation, everyone goes into their meager army for training. By 18 years old, they can lock, dismantle, clean, store riflea and handguns. None of them are afraid of guns.

I've never held a gun in my life, and yes, I am afraid of guns. But, I would take a course on how to put safety on a weapon, how to even look and see if there is a safety on it. 3D guns. Some day we will see guns laying on the ground. Our kids will see them. Even now, there may be one left in a park after a shooting.

To sum up? Every man, woman and child should have gun classes, and allowed to have guns if they want them, providing they can demonstrate weapon knowledge.

Up 114 Down 17

bonanzajoe on Jan 23, 2023 at 3:50 pm

Mendicino says, "And that’s why I’m here. It’s to establish a dialogue with you.” What a crock. JT sent him here with a message, "we're going to take away your guns. Like it or lump it".

"he wants to create “policy that seeks to reduce gun violence or eradicate it". Then go after the criminals - take away their guns - by force if necessary. Leave the law abiding gun owners alone.

Up 109 Down 17

Matthew on Jan 23, 2023 at 3:37 pm

Hey @Politico it's quiet simple, the same reason we don't take away forks from overweight people... it's not the fork making them fat it's the person behind it.. just like it's not the gun killing people, I challenge you, put a gun on the table, watch it for years and years, it will NEVER kill anyone.

Up 112 Down 6

Matthew on Jan 23, 2023 at 3:35 pm

Why is it, public is never notified of anyone from Ottawa coming? It should be front page news...

Up 92 Down 14

Crunch on Jan 23, 2023 at 3:30 pm

More Lieberal damage control. It’s turned into the flavour of the day. I’ll bet Hanley would harbour any out of pocket expenses to get out of this one. This is the required criteria and mindset to be a part of this mindless game. Now you understand why anyone with any brains wants nothing to do with this level of incompetence.

Up 20 Down 156

Politico on Jan 23, 2023 at 2:38 pm

Too bad none of these freedom gun lovers give 0 about the victims of gun violence. They also have no suggestions about how to make people safer from guns. All they care about is their "rights". In memory of Maurice Cardinal and Jacob Sansom! Law abiding gun owners took away their rights and instantly became criminals. How do gun owners suggest we stop the slaughter!

Up 26 Down 105

Keep it simple on Jan 23, 2023 at 2:27 pm

Lawful owner and hunter as well. On the land three or four days a week. Was glad to see the initial ban proposed on all semi-automatics and handguns. When the list was expanded to include firearms based on looks and reputation, they lost me.

You can sport shoot, protect your camp and hunt just fine with pump, lever, and bolt action firearms. Semi-automatics and handguns are machines of war designed to kill humans. No need for them, but obviously some want. Gun owners are going to need to find a compromise they can live with, because a stonewalling ‘no’ won’t do the trick either.

Up 90 Down 14

Wilf Carter on Jan 23, 2023 at 2:04 pm

He does not care but just does what he told.

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