The Canadian Shooting Sports Community is the most inclusive and diverse sporting community in the country. It consists of 2.2 million licensed individuals marching in unison with a concise message and empathy towards differing opinions with their fellow hunters and competitive and recreational target shooters.
Only part of that statement is true. Just the first part. The rest is a goal to be achieved - and we’re a long way off.
As the Conservative Party of Canada’s 2020 Leadership Race has demonstrated for those who are members and licensed firearm owners, the community continues to be divided. In some instances, even derogatory towards one another based on their preferred choice for the one to lead the charge in the next election and oust the current governing party and as a result, the current Prime Minister.
Infighting is nothing new in politics, whether it is Conservative politics, Liberal politics or even NDP politics, as the ousting of Thomas Mulcair after the 2015 Federal Election demonstrated. The split caused in 2017 when Maxime Bernier stomped off to create his own political party and name himself leader proved that ‘The Big Blue Tent’ requires members with varying opinions to dig in and hold up the sides during times of strife while those lacking the will to compromise make a run for the door.
The high stakes of the next election for the Canadian Shooting Sports Community has affected the tone within the community greatly. It has, at times, become vitriolic. This might be attributed in part to stress caused by May 1st’s Order in Council. Subsequent changes to the Firearm Reference Table by the RCMP can also be a contributing factor. But, it reoccurs ad nauseam whenever a matter of political importance arises.
We have do better.
If you are a member of a firearm community focussed social media group and believe that everyone in the group is on the same side, think again. There are those that disagree with lawful firearm ownership in Canada who enjoy watching the division that is occurring and watching those who are like-minded in many ways fight with one another.
If you are a member of a firearm-related organization and believe that the 2.2 million licensed firearm owners in Canada are also a part of that organization and that we are united on all fronts, think again. Some of the organizations in Canada are doing fantastic work that has pushed the community into the mainstream media. However, they all fall well short of 2.2 million members. Not one will tell you otherwise.
If you are a member of the Conservative Party of Canada and believe that all firearm owners are also members, think again. Although it is the only viable Federal option for those of us who want to keep our lawfully-obtained personal property that we have invested our hard-earned dollars in, many others vote differently and for many different reasons beyond firearm ownership.
Social media has been one of the greatest means of coming together for the Canadian Shooting Sports Community, but, at the same time, it has caused great division. The ‘Fed Up’ rally held in September of 1994 on Parliament Hill in opposition to Bill C-68 was attended by 10,000+ people (organizers estimated the number to be closer to 20,000) and was organized by grassroots communication. The Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights is organizing a similar rally to be held on September 12th. What the outcome will be regarding attendance remains to be seen, as the demonstration is occurring during a pandemic. Social media is playing a key role in organizing responsible, licensed Canadian Firearm Owners to attend.
Whether the attendees at the rally will be a reflection of what has been occurring on social media the past few months as many joust over the CPC leadership race should be top of mind. It will only take a handful of demonstrators that are not representative and reflective of the Canadian Shooting Sports Community as a whole, much like what happened in 1994, to spoil the good intentions of the organizers. That will be all the fodder the media will require to form its narrative on who firearm owners are in Canada.
At the time of the rally, the Conservative Party of Canada will have a new leader. There will, most likely, be a lot of disagreement regarding who that leader is, much like what happened in 2017. No matter who the leader may be, the Canadian Shooting Sports Community, at least those who want to keep their lawfully-obtained personal property, will need to unite behind them.
There is no time for political experiments and fringe parties. The Canadian Shooting Sports Community is facing its biggest challenge and biggest threat in the next election - a possible third term of Liberal governance, clearing the way for further restrictions and guaranteed confiscation of lawfully-obtained personal property from some of Canada’s most highly-vetted citizens.
The Conservative Party of Canada needs a leader that resonates with Canadians from coast-to-coast and can carry the banner to boost local candidates in ridings in key battlegrounds where seats need to be picked up. Just holding on to current seats will make no difference.
A strong caucus is the true backbone of a Federal or Provincial political party in our Westminster Parliament and, no matter who is leader, many of the current influential members of caucus will remain.
Conservative Party of Canada members who sit on Policy Committee at the local Electoral District Association level and attend Policy Convention to vote on party policies have formed the party’s philosophy for leaders to adhere to.
So while many in the Canadian Shooting Sports Community have been bickering over who should lead, referring to some of the candidates in a derogatory manner and spreading mistruths, the reality is that whoever leads has caucus support behind them if they nourish it. Coupled with thousands of individuals involved in their local EDAs, any leader has a large network to be accountable to that has a watchful eye and long memories.
If you’re a Derek Sloan supporter, your local CPC candidate needs your vote and your support.
If you’re a Peter MacKay supporter, your local CPC candidate needs your vote and your support.
If you’re a Leslyn Lewis supporter, your local CPC candidate needs your vote and your support.
If you’re an Erin O’Toole supporter, your local CPC candidate needs your vote and your support.
And no matter what happens at the conclusion of the Conservative Party of Canada leadership race, ‘The Big Blue Tent’ needs you holding up the sides and not making a run for the exit.
The very future of our lawfully-obtained personal property, our sport and our community depends on it.