Politics

Public safety minister to unveil 'substantially different' firearms advisory committee

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale is days away from unveiling an overhauled Canadian firearms advisory committee, led by a "distinguished Canadian jurist."

Ralph Goodale says he'll announce new committee members soon

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale tells CBC News he is almost ready to unveil an overhauled Canadian firearms advisory committee. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale is days away from unveiling an overhauled Canadian firearms advisory committee, led by a "distinguished Canadian jurist."

The body that provides advice and expertise to the government on firearms issues has been vacant since the Liberals came to office in 2015.

Although reluctant to name the new committee members before they've all received their security clearances, Goodale said the two vice-chairs are women.

"In addition to representatives of agriculture, hunting and the sporting community, (we made) sure that women, law enforcement, the public health sector were all properly represented in the mix, so that the committee can offer very strong, very qualified advice to the government," Goodale told CBC News.

During the 2015 election campaign, the Liberals committed to changing the makeup of the committee's membership, which they had claimed the previous government had stacked with firearms enthusiasts who lobbied hard to loosen restrictions on guns.

"This is the defect that we identified in the committee in the course of the election campaign and explicitly put in the platform — that it needed to be a more balanced, more representative group going forward," said Goodale. 

Even former prime minister Stephen Harper acknowledged the group needed "re-examination" after it advised the government to reclassify a number of prohibited weapons and extend the duration of firearm license from five to 10 years.

That comment led to the government dumping three gun enthusiasts from the committee and replacing them with police officers. Even so, the remaining members were all white, and only one of them was a woman.

The Liberals argued for the inclusion of experts on family violence and mental health. 

Despite the delay in getting the committee up and running, Goodale said he's pleased with the progress so far.

"Sometimes the procedure for getting that done takes longer than you anticipated," he said, before adding that the full committee could be announced as early as next week. 

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