The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) was let off a possible charge of contempt of parliament in connection to provisions of Bill C-71 yet to come into force.
The issue focused around the designation of certain models of CZ-858 and Swiss Arms rifles, which have been the centre of controversy involving the RCMP’s ability to restrict individual gun models.
Owners of these guns have had to deal with multiple rule changes over the last five years. The RCMP changed the status of these guns from non-restricted to prohibited in 2014 without notifying gun owners or stores.
Following an outcry, the former Conservative federal government reversed the decision and gave the ability to classify guns to the Firearms Advisory Committee. After being elected, the Liberals gave that authority back to the RCMP.
Bill C-71, if passed, will change the status of these guns to a special class of prohibited. However, the RCMP posted a bulletin last April that stated these guns would be prohibited as outlined in the bill.
Since the bill still was not in effect, and is before the Senate at the time of writing, Conservative MP Glen Motz raised the point that the RCMP were in contempt of Parliament.
The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs considered the matter and issued a report on March 20 saying no contempt occurred.
“They basically said that shouldn’t have happened but it wasn’t contempt, it was an accident,” said Liberal MPP Larry Bagnell, chair of the committee, regarding its decision. “They said the department should be careful when they are working on upcoming legislation, and should have said it is pending.”
Conservative members of the Liberal-dominated committee disagreed with the decision.