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Yukon Party pitches firearms plan

Opposition wants act similar to those passed on the prairies. Premier discusses guns with feds
Yukon Party MLA for Lake Laberge Brad Cathers addresses reporters in the lobby of the Yukon legislature on Oct. 31, 2023. (Dana Hatherly/Yukon News Files)

The opposition Yukon Party is agitating for the creation of firearms legislation at the territorial level, similar to steps taken by Alberta and Saskatchewan last year. Territorial government leadership is not shutting the door on the possibility of taking a more active role in firearms regulation.

“The Yukon Party Official Opposition is calling on the Yukon Liberal government to take action to protect the rights of hunters and other firearms owners by developing a Yukon firearms act. In concert with the act’s development, the Yukon Party is also calling for the establishment of a territorially-appointed chief firearms officer position for the Yukon.”

The demand from the opposition, issued in a Feb. 12 press release, says these actions are seen as a necessary response to Bill C-21, firearms legislation passed by the federal government last year. The release states that the vast majority of gun violence in both Canada and the Yukon involves illegally obtained guns and most of it is in connection to organized crime.

Yukon Party justice critic Brad Cathers argues that the confiscations or buy-backs of certain legally-obtained models of firearms set out in C-21 is unjust and will do nothing to address the real causes of gun violence.

The opposition wants a hypothetical Yukon firearms act to tailor the laws passed in Alberta and Saskatchewan to the Yukon’s needs, but to follow the prairie provinces in territorially licensing firearms agents as a way to prevent the implementation of the federal buy-back. They also want such an act to create a territorially-appointed chief firearms officer with jurisdiction over a range of firearms regulations.

On March 16, 2023, Premier Ranj Pillai speaks to reporters in the cabinet office. (Dana Hatherly/Yukon News Files)

In a response to questions from the News, cabinet communications staff stated that the Yukon is working with the federal government to explore the possibility of a Yukon-based chief firearms officer. They stated that the Yukon is studying the legislation put forward by Alberta and Saskatchewan but also said it would be too early to comment on the sort of tone or tactics the Yukon might employ and if they would share similarities with the approach being taken on the prairies.

Premier Ranj Pillai has been in correspondence with federal Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc on the topic of firearms regulation. A letter from Pillai to LeBlanc in January deals with exploring the benefits of having a chief firearms officer who lives in the territory rather than regulatory services from the one in British Columbia as the Yukon currently does. The letter also discusses providing input from the Yukon to the Senate as it reviews Bill C-21.

Cabinet communications says there was a follow-up meeting on the topic this week.

They added that Pillai is a lawful gun owner and an avid hunter who has raised concerns about Bill C-21 in the past.

Contact Jim Elliot at

Jim Elliot

About the Author: Jim Elliot

I’m a B.C. transplant here in Whitehorse at The News telling stories about the Yukon's people, environment, and culture.
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