By Kalinowski, Tim on November 22, 2018.
Lethbridge MP Rachael Harder is hitting back at federal Border Security and Crime Reduction minister Bill Blair for criticizing a local Conservative Party fundraiser held at the Lethbridge Fish and Game Association Sport Shooting Facility last weekend.
Blair, in comments to the Toronto Star on Tuesday, said Harder’s “Guns and Guinness” event was “deeply disappointing” at a time when Canada is “seeing record levels of tragic homicides involving guns.”
Harder dismissed Blair’s criticism as a desperate attempt to draw attention away from her leader Andrew Scheer’s well-received guns and crime policy announced earlier on Tuesday, and to distract away from the Liberal Party’s own deeply flawed Bill C-71.
Harder noted Blair had absolutely nothing to say about Scheer’s policy because he couldn’t argue with her party’s objectives to get guns and criminals off the streets and to protect Canadian borders.
“Instead,” she said, “Bill Blair had to look at Lethbridge and come and attack me as an individual, and those in my riding who rightfully and lawfully own and use their firearms. I’m sorry; we are talking about federal policy that’s going to take guns, gangs, criminals and violence off the streets, and we want to focus on the riding of Lethbridge and a group of responsible individuals that used their firearms lawfully? What he is telling me, as the minister, is that he has no criticism toward our policy we just put forward, and instead he has to come after me. I say, let’s focus on policy. Let’s focus on Canadians and their safety and well-being.”
Harder further stated Blair’s attack on her could just as easily be chalked up to ministerial incompetence, she supposed.
“I guess in this what’s revealed is Bill Blair’s ignorance because I have PAL, which is a licence of acquisition,” declared Harder. “I have that. I’ve been highly vetted. I have had my family vetted and I have been granted a licence by the Government of Canada to possess and use that firearm in a legal manner.
“On Saturday, I got together with others who have gone through a similar process, and who also use their firearms in a responsible manner. If Bill Blair thinks that is somehow unethical, then he probably needs to do some further research with regards to Canada’s (firearm) policy and his own portfolio. That’s really the problem here – that perhaps we have a minister that is inept to do his job well.”
Harder confirmed the funds raised at the “Guns and Guinness” event were for her re-election campaign, but stressed the group first went clay pigeon shooting at the LFGA range, an activity which was overseen by qualified instructors, and then held the barbecue later in the day. At no time, she said, was alcohol being consumed at the same time as the firearms were being used.
“It was very closely monitored,” Harder confirmed, “and safety and security was looked after. It was meant to be a fun event where individuals came out and did some clay shooting and learned how to use their firearm responsibly, and did so. And then after the event, we put our firearms away lawfully, you might note, and then we travelled 20 minutes away where we engaged in a barbecue where some people had a Guinness or two.”
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