A boondoggle is work or activity which is wasteful or pointless, but gives the appearance of having value.
The long-gun firearms registry boondoggle was budgeted to cost $2 million and ended up costing over $2 billion before being scrapped.
It was completely ineffective, and it went over budget by 1000%.
Can you even imagine another federal program going over budget by 1000%?
It might have seemed unimaginable, but then the Trudeau Liberals announced their unbudgeted plan to purchase newly reclassified firearms.
An unbudgeted Liberal firearms program sounds like a boondoggle in the making, and the Fraser Institute even predicted this impending boondoggle 6 months ahead of the announcement.
This will definitely be a boondoggle, but it is worse than the run of the mill Liberal boondoggle.
This one is built-in.
Canada’s First Built-In Boondoggle
We have to invent the term “built-in boondoggle” to describe this bad policy because the budgeting disaster is built right into the policy.
In June, I wrote to Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair, asking that he release the budget submission his department would have prepared for his so-called “buyback”.
His failure to respond is unsurprising, but even with the government trying to cover-up the costs for as long as possible, we know enough to see how this policy is built for budget overruns.
We know what the government has announced so far, and we know the model the government is following.
What they have announced so far is bad, but if they adopt the New Zealand “buyback” model it could surpass the Liberal long-gun firearms registry as Canada’s biggest budgeting boondoggle.
Scenario One: Unlimited Listed “Buyback”
What the Liberals have announced so far is a plan to purchase the firearms which have been newly re-classified as prohibited under their May 1st, 2020 Order-In-Council (OIC).
To understand the creation of built-in boondoggle we need to focus on “newly re-classified”, and “under their May 1st, 2020 Order-In-Council (OiC).”
In this scenario, the government is proposing to purchase any firearm on a list.
The problem is the government does not control the list.
The list is made up of all the firearms which have been re-classified as prohibited, or will be classified as prohibited, under the criteria set out in the May 1st OiC.
Under a law forced by the Trudeau Liberals, the RCMP is ultimately in charge of the final list, not the elected government.
The government only has the power to change a firearms status from unrestricted to restricted or prohibited.
The government can never reclassify a prohibited firearm as a restricted or unrestricted firearm.
The Liberals announced 1500 types of firearms were re-classified as prohibited on May 1st.
Since then, the RCMP has re-classified hundreds of additional types of firearms.
Since the government does not know in advance the number and types of firearms to be on the list of banned firearms, how can a budget be calculated?
Minister Blair repeatedly testified before a Parliamentary committee that no shotguns would be re-classified under his OiC.
The very next day, the RCMP listed a type of shotgun as being reclassified.
Even if Bill Blair wanted to avoid contempt of Parliament accusations for lying, he can’t, he doesn’t control his own policy.
The three parts to this budget are the administration costs, the number of firearms eligible for purchase, and the number of firearms owners are willing to surrender their property for less than market value.
The Liberals will try to hide the administration costs in the RCMP operations budget, re-directing funding from stopping and solving crimes.
The Liberals do not control the number of firearms eligible for purchase.
They don’t even know how many illegal firearms there are.
Just from what the government has announced, we can see this policy is designed for cost overruns.
Unfortunately for anyone who cares about their tax dollars being wasted, an Unlimited Listed Purchase program is the best case scenario.
It will be a massive waste of billions of dollars in administration costs alone.
That is the best case we can hope for from the Trudeau Liberals.
Scenario Two: Unlimited Universal “Buyback”
The Liberal Firearms Confiscation Plan has been modelled on New Zealand’s recent firearms purchase program.
The Fraser Institute used the administrative costs of New Zealand’s plan to estimate the cost to Canadians to administer a similar program to be in the range of $1.64 billion and $4.92 billion.
Following the election, Bill Blair also used the amount New Zealand paid out to the former owners of the firearms to estimate similar payouts to Canadians between $400 million and $600 million.
The difference between what the government announced and what happened in New Zealand, was New Zealand had a universal firearms surrender program.
The Liberals have only announced their intention to purchase firearms under the original list, but they will face intense pressure from the gun control lobby to include all firearms types in the purchase program.
The Liberals might even fear the liberal media will paint a limited purchase program as a failure if the trends from New Zealand are repeated.
In New Zealand, only 16% of the firearms purchased by the government were of the type which scare Liberals.
The other 84% of firearms were old hunting rifles, as the New Zealand Herald wrote:
“The amnesty and payout [was] being taken advantage of by law abiding citizens, retired farmers, ex-hunters, ex duck-shooters and collectors who realised that the one-off price offered, would never be achieved, nor repeated again.”
The New Zealand government estimated between 56,000 and 173,000 firearms they described as military-style semi-automatic were in circulation prior to the amnesty and the start of their purchase program.
Even based on the lowest estimate, the program left 4 out of 5 of the firearms, which look scary to liberals, in circulation.
The Liberals have estimated they arbitrarily re-classified 250,000 firearms.
Having told the media and their gun-control allies their purchase program would be effective, will they really risk failure and political embarrassment or will they simply adopt the New Zealand policy of collecting any type of firearm, no questions asked, in order to inflate the statistics?
Despite the initial announcement, the political math is clear. The Liberals are more likely to adopt a New Zealand-style universal firearms purchase program to avoid the embarrassment a limited program would entail.
Given the current debt and deficit the Liberals have already accumulated, they are not going to be overly concerned about budgeting for a universal purchase program.
The Liberals have linked the issue of firearms with the pandemic, by it being the only non-covid-19 policy announced since the start of the pandemic.
In linking the issues, the Liberals will feel entitled to use the extraordinary spending power granted by Parliament for measures related to the pandemic.
When you combine the emergency pandemic spending power and the Liberal desire to avoid political embarrassment by adopting a universal firearms purchase program, you create a built-in boondoggle.
Fundamentally, Canada is not New Zealand.
Canada is next door to the United States, and we already struggle to stem the flow of smuggled firearms.
A universal firearms purchase program combined with an amnesty will create a gold rush for gun smugglers.
Every firearm used to commit a crime in the U.S. will be smuggled up to Canada for gangs to turn into cash.
Without Parliamentary oversight, billions of dollars could be out the door before it is too late.
Built To Fail
The Liberals’ Firearms Confiscation Plan is built as an expensive failure.
The Liberals can exploit the pandemic to cover up a policy failure.
If they stick with a limited listed purchase program, they surrender control of the budget to the RCMP.
If they adopt a New Zealand-style universal program and combine it with the emergency spending powers, the costs could reach into the tens of billions by incentivizing firearms smuggling.
The Liberals’ Firearms Confiscation Plan may not be able to achieve the 1000% cost overruns of the Liberals’ Long-Gun Firearms Registry to become Canada’s Biggest Boondoggle, but it has earned the distinction of being Canada’s First Built-In Boondoggle.