THUNDER BAY - A Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate said hunters and outdoor enthusiasts should feel safe when out in the bush and be permitted to carry concealed firearms to protect against animal attacks.
Rick Peterson, a candidate in the race to lead the federal Conservative Party, was in Thunder Bay on Saturday where he spoke at Lakehead University.
Peterson, who is running on an economic platform of cutting corporate income tax to zero per cent, was asked in Thunder Bay about his policy on firearms.
He responded by saying he believes people should be able to protect themselves while in the outdoors, which could include carrying a handgun.
“An outdoorsman or someone who is fishing I would say qualifies,” Peterson said. “Someone who is hunting with a bow, would qualify. I don’t think it would be difficult to come up with categories. What we need to do is take the RCMP away from making those decisions and putting them in the hands of MPs and having the RCMP enforce them.”
Peterson said it should be up to Members of Parliament to determine the categories of who can be permitted to carry a concealed firearm.
“We are not saying anyone can carry a concealed weapon,” he said. “If you have a license to carry concealed weapons in the course of your business as a policeman or a safety officer, you should be able to carry concealed weapons when you are off duty.”
“In terms of the other categories of concealed weapons, carrying and conceal is not for every person on the street,” Peterson continued. “Let’s make that clear. We are talking about people who have the ability to carry concealed weapons in their current employment.”
When it comes to categories such as hunters or anglers, Peterson said a weapon like a handgun would provide better protection than other deterrents such as bear spray.
“The new categories would be for a fisherman, a hunter, a tree planter, who as we heard here are quite often open to danger while they are in that course of work,” he said. “But that is not a case of carrying when they are back at home, it is when they are in the bush or in the forest.”
When asked what defines an outdoorsmen, Peterson said he did not know.
“We will have to wait and see what we come up with,” he said.
Peterson also spoke to his main leadership policies, which involves cutting the corporate income tax to zero, raising consumption taxes, and introducing a flat 15 per cent federal personal income tax rate, which he says will spur growth and create jobs. He also supports increasing immigration to support a growing economy.
“If the job situation grows to the point where we can’t fulfill them here, we have to have increased levels of immigration, only when there are jobs that Canadian’s can’t fill,” he said.
Peterson also supports developing private health care options alongside the public system that he said will stimulate innovation.
“It’s inconceivable to think that innovation and advances in health care can’t take place in Canada because we are locked into a system that won’t allow a private sector role,” he said.
Peterson also called the Paris Agreement on Climate Change is unattainable and said he is against a carbon tax.
“On climate change, there is climate change,” he said. “It happens over time. Man has some role in it. That is disputed as to what extent it is. There is no correlation between increased tax and reduced CO2 emissions. And there is no such thing as a revenue neutral carbon tax.”