Trudeau’s “buy back” is a multi-billion boondoggle

Public Safety Minister Bill BlairTrudeau tasks Blair with rifle "buy back" and banning handguns rather than gang violence


In his Mandate letter to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, Prime Minister Trudeau gave the highest priority to prohibiting and confiscating “military-style assault rifles”. Owners who cooperate will be compensated.

Speculation about the cost of this “buy back” has zeroed in on how much owners will be paid for surrendering their guns. CBC reported that Minister Blair claimed the cost for the “buy back” of roughly 250,000 firearms would be between $400 million and $600 million. That is, if owners comply.

The full cost of the “buy back” isn’t just $600 million; it’s much more.

Focusing on reimbursement costs is misleading because it ignores the biggest expense: government staff work. Prohibiting and confiscating 250,000 firearms is a complex undertaking and would involve considerable government resources. It would be impossible to do with the current police resources.


Multi-billion dollar boondoggle

But how much will tax payers be billed for this boondoggle? The government has been silent. No budget for the “buy back” program has yet been announced.

My best estimate for Trudeau’s confiscation plan is in the billions. Remember: all of the firearms to be confiscated were legally purchased by Canadians who the RCMP screened and approved. These firearms are being confiscated because they might be used in violent crime. No firearms in the hands of criminals are involved in this “buy back.”

Here’s a rough outline of the steps involved in the nation-wide confiscation program:

[1] plans need to be drawn up for the entire project and agreement won from Cabinet,

[2] new information processing capacity evaluated and possibly new computer systems developed,

[3] owners must be identified and notified,

[4] organization structures set up for collecting the firearms (e.g., arranging office space for each collection point),

[5] staffing the collection points so that the surrendered firearms may be assessed,

[6] venders engaged to destroy the collected guns,

[7] cheques written to the former owners, and

[8] the collection shipped off to be destroyed.

[9]  Plus, of course, there will be a sophisticated advertising program to persuade the public that confiscating legally purchased and legally used firearms will “make Canada safer.”

Do not forget the entire process requires serious security measures to prevent both theft and corruption. We’ve seen news reports of government-collected knives stolen from government collection points. And government employees are not all honest angels. Or even competent.

It would be surprising if everything went as planned. The gun registry was predicted to cost no more than CAD 2 million and ended up costing CAD $2.7 billion before the Conservatives scrapped it.

A major fly in the ointment is that no one knows how many owners will refuse to surrender their newly prohibited firearms, or if they do decide to submit, how many will simply wait until the deadline and show up in a last-minute tsunami. A previous Liberal government botched licensing and registration back in the 1990s, so it’s not obvious that Justin Trudeau’s “buy back” will be any better organized. It could well be worse than Chrétien’s.

Accurately estimating the entire budget for the Public Safety Minister’s confiscation of thousands of semi-auto rifles is beyond my limited abilities. But I can make a rough estimate of costs for at least one stage in the complex process: the cost of collecting the guns to be surrendered. Hundreds of thousands of firearms will need to be collected from hundreds of thousands of individuals. The experience of the New Zealand Police in 2019 to confiscate scary-looking “military-style” semi-automatic rifles provides a template that Canada might follow. Canadian authorities would be well advised to do so.


My best estimate

Here is a back-of-the-envelope effort to estimate the governmental costs of collecting 250,000 guns required to be surrendered extrapolated from the New Zealand template to Canada. The New Zealand Police set up “collection events” at 524 collection points around their country in order to collect the estimated 175,000 newly prohibited guns in their “buy back” effort.

Since Canada is much larger than New Zealand, both in population and geographic extent, to keep the same ratio, Canada must have many more collection points.  Canada’s population is more than 7 times that of New Zealand’s, and it is geographically 37 times larger.

Guns to be collected2019 PopulationGeographic size (km2)Number of Collection Points
New Zealand175,0004.8 million268,000524
Canada250,00037.6 million10 million4,100 to 19,500

Comparing Canada with New Zealand

If Canadian police want to make surrendering guns practical, they would need to follow the New Zealand model. Canada would require between 4,000 and 19,500 collection points.

Each collection point would need to be staffed – either hiring new police officers or diverting current police personnel away from other, less important, policing duties, such as solving murder cases, arresting violent criminals, or handing out speeding tickets.

The New Zealand Police do not report how the collection points were staffed. At a minimum, collection points might only work one 8-hour shift per day (e.g., noon to 8 pm), so the staffing requirements would range from 1 to 3 people per collection point. Security is vital, so three employees would likely be necessary: a clerk, a manager, and a security guard. Managers will be required to supervise this work force, as well as high-ranking civil servants to oversee the process. This gives a minimum of 4,100 to a maximum of over 58,000 police officers that would be required to staff these collection points.

Because safe handling firearms requires training and a high-level of responsibility, it is doubtful the Public Safety Minister would want to employ low-skilled civilian office workers, but would prefer police officers for these tasks. Statistics Canada reports that in 2017/18, the average police salary was $100,000 per annum (including both sworn officers and civilian employees). This is a lower bound of how much staff members cost taxpayers. If the cost per collection employee is estimated using the operating expenses for Canadian police divided by the number of police personnel (officers and civilian employees both), the cost per staff member is $150,000.


AssumptionNumber of Collection PointsStaff at Each Collection PointTotal StaffCost per EmployeeTotal Cost for Collecting Guns
Minimum4,10014,100$100,000$410 million
Best Estimate6,000318,000$150,0002.7 billion
Maximum19,500358,500$150,000$8.78 billion

Estimating Costs for Government Staff to Collect Guns


Based on these assumptions, I guesstimate it would cost the Canadian taxpayer between $400 million to almost $9 billion in the first year to collect the firearms required to be surrendered. This range is embarrassingly wide due to the lack of information and the numerous assumptions that need to be made. After including compensation costs, and the costs of the remaining stages in this boondoggle, my best estimate is that the cost for this egregious boondoggle will be $3 to $5 billion.

Remember, this is just part of the government’s costs. For example, I have made no attempt to estimate the costs involved with [1] new information processing equipment or systems, [2] sending out notices informing law abiding citizens that their property is to be confiscated, [3] contracting for and destroying the guns collected, [4] arresting and charging anyone who refuses to submit, nor [5] the costs of the inevitable public relations campaigns.


Corruption is always possible in large-scale government projects. The Auditor General found corruption in the Chrétien government effort to licence gun owners back in 2002, what will be discovered if and when the Auditor General turns over the rocks in Justin Trudeau’s government?


Court challenges

Will Canadians willingly surrender their newly prohibited firearms? Firearms that they purchased legally, and have used in a safe and legal manner since they bought them? It will be difficult to refuse to comply. Because many of the firearms are registered, the police have the names and addresses of the owners of most of the semi-automatic rifles scheduled for confiscation. However, a large share of semi-automatic firearms are “non restricted,” and in principle, not registered. Those owners will be difficult to identify. To do so, the police would need to comb through sales records of a large number of retailers. Of course, by the time the police track down the original purchaser, he or she may have sold the firearm to another individual, and private sales do not have to be recorded.

Owners of banned firearms can legally appeal the confiscation order. They may well lose the appeal, but such action would delay the eventual forfeiture of the newly prohibited firearm. If a large number of owners appeal, the costs of confiscation begin to mount up.

Court costs are estimated at between $12,000 – 16,000, including lost wages for those involved, the cost of lawyers, court personnel, judge, sheriff, and clerks.

Approximately 250,000 Canadians own a semiautomatic firearm that meets the criteria for being prohibited and confiscated. Enforcement costs for 10,000 court cases will range between 120 million and 160 million dollars.


To sum up

My calculations illustrate that just one stage of the “buy back” is likely a multi-billion dollar bureaucratic process. A complete costing would include the cost of many more steps, including, sending notices out to owners, IT systems, destruction of firearms, and court costs for dealing with anyone who refuses to submit.

None of this deals directly with gangsters or terrorists. All the firearms will be confiscated from owners who the RCMP has screened and approved. None of the firearms is being confiscated because it has been used in a violent crime. No firearms are being taken away from criminals.

Make no mistake: this is a multi-billion dollar boondoggle. Taxpayers are being billed for an enormously expensive [if useless] governmental project.

Try to imagine what police, immigration, social services, K-12 education, or welfare agencies could do with a few extra billion dollars.

Canadians evidently deserve to get what they voted for — good and hard.

35 Comments on "Trudeau’s “buy back” is a multi-billion boondoggle"

  1. The communist party of Canada cannot grasp all that had been said here. Their leader (sure not my prime minister) will enter annals of history as the first PM who ever divided the country, destroyed all that was once good… Stalin did the same thing, first disarmed the population and then murder 13 million of his own people. But hey, who am I to say that people cannot vote for communist party?

  2. he is so incompetant that he is unable to the can of worms ge about to open on the canadian taxpayer…such a shame that uninformed canadians fell for his lies and then voted for get what you deserve.

  3. It is the most ridiculous thing ever. Punish the innocent. Put us billions of dollars in debt. No idea how many are even out there. The registry was stupid. This is beyond moronic.

  4. yes it is….but we have those who voted him back into office to thank for this mess.

    • And I thought Trump was STUPID!! TRUDEAU makes Trump look like a genius!!! Everything that drops out of his moronic face is a lie and I can’t believe that the majority of so called SMART Canadians buy his Bullshit! We let idiots in this country make gun laws and they don’t know a trigger from a hammer! Justin’s father is probably spinning in his grave!! I’m so disappointed!!!

      • Trudeau isn’t stupid. He’s wisely exploiting the stupidity of urban voters. It works for him. We are collateral damage. He doesn’t care. If we’re smart, we’ll get organized politically.

        Never give up.

  5. Let’s not forget the six billion dollars lost in revenue and jobs lost from mom and pops gun stores. Brilliant!
    Six billion on a lost cause plus six billion less in revenue. Great thinker!

  6. That’s six billion per year revenue by the way.

  7. he’s a brain dead politician from la-la land…what more could i say…he isn’t worried about the situation will have on working class canadians.

  8. New Liberal changes will NOT disarm criminals law-abiding, non-violent Canadians.

    The New Liberal changes will just CRIMINALIZE hundreds of thousand, if not millions of law-abiding, non-violent Canadians who will not allow their private property to be unjustly confiscated.

    Almost one year after the January 31, 2018 deadline has passed, It is estimated that the noncompliance rate for the Quebec Long Gun Registry by [formerly]* law abiding gun owners in Quebec, is between 75 to 80%.

    The noncompliance rate for criminals who were criminals before the law abiding gun owners were criminalized by nanny state overreach, is estimated to be 100%.

    If you don’t want to sell your stuff, and they force you anyways, it’s just confiscation of private property.

    It’s a slippery slope.

    Have too many spare bedrooms in your house? Let’s throw in a couple of “refugees” in there.

    Too much cash in the bank? No problem, we’ll just grab a bit and redistribute it to needy people in Canada and across the world. (Google “Cyprus Haircut”)

    No household needs more than one car, so we’ll take the surplus ones, you’ll just have make do with one.

    Your area is serviced by public transit? Then you don’t need that car either, we’ll take that one too.

    The Libro-fascists may not be targeting your specific private property right now, but if they ever feel it’s in the “public interest” to do so in the future, they will.

    Slippery slope.

  9. Shaun Nicholson | December 23, 2019 at 7:47 pm | Reply

    Here in NZ at the buy-back I was unfortunate enough to have to endure there were roughly 6-8 uniformed police officers and around a similar number of civilian contractors employed to process us. Hope that helps with your calculations. It was a slick organised system by the time I got around to going (I was hoping for a sport exemption that never came). You were greeted at the door by an officer, handed over to another inside who bagged and tagged your firearms and accessories and ensured they were ‘made safe’ you were then handed over to civilians to be processed.

    • Shaun, Thanks for your information. It makes my rough estimates look small. Sad to know.

      It must have been disheartening to have to surrender your firearms. What a disgusting charade.

      And expensive. That’s a lot of staff! 6-8 officers plus a similar number of civilian clerks. The bureaucracy in full display of its power and majesty.

      I can understand [somewhat] why few people understand what government policy is effective, but I can’t see why “normal” tax payers swallow the outrageous costs of such an obvious sham. It must be because the government is adept at hiding the true costs!

      • Steve Falagario | January 4, 2020 at 10:34 am | Reply

        Did we really expect that the masses of Canadians would understand anything about guns of any category? All they see or hear are the shootings in the States, NZ and all the gang related killings in Toronto. They don’t understand anything about the small majority of us and our beloved sport! But unfortunately they (being human) will speak before being properly informed. They don’t think that the Government would EVER lie to them. WE all know that the crap that comes out of this opportunistic bastard’s mouth is made up garbage, but the average Canadian does not…and this makes me sick. I’ve been collecting since 1978. Like many of you I am seriously upset about our Canadian House of Lies. All I can say now is just wait…The violent criminals are just loving this bullshit! Wait until this is all said and done and the government thinks all Canadians are now disarmed.(Never!)
        Crime will now escalate like nothing we’ve ever seen before and we can thank “you know who” Our idiot PM is so corrupt he WILL destroy himself in the meantime…

  10. And I thought Trump was STUPID!! TRUDEAU makes Trump look like a genius!!! Everything that drops out of his moronic face is a lie and I can’t believe that the majority of so called SMART Canadians buy his Bullshit! We let idiots in this country make gun laws and they don’t know a trigger from a hammer! Justin’s father is probably spinning in his grave!! I’m so disappointed!!!

  11. ELLWOOD STEWART PHILLIPS | December 27, 2019 at 9:01 am | Reply

    Disarm Legal Gun owners, and let the Criminals run Rampant with Glee! Most Governments that have done similar end up with an INCREASE IN CRIME and Shootings by Illegal Gun owners!

  12. Jonathan Pridie | December 27, 2019 at 8:39 pm | Reply

    It’s already been said in the comments so what more can I say except an uneducated moron as PM is costing us a lot of money to try to stop gun violence, an unbelievable expensive boondoggle for sure. I wonder what will happen if I tell them that what they are paying me for my gun is not enough!

    • Thanks for your comment. The only way to stop Trudeau’s gun grab is to fight back politically. Contact your MP, repeatedly, work with others to make as big a noise as you can. Who knows: we might be able to stop this ridiculous boondoggle. Even if we can’t, we’ll light a fire under the Opposition that will eventually kick the Liberals out of power.

      Never give up.

  13. THis is why we need people to sign Petition E-2341. Check it out. Fill it out and let’s push back.

  14. ELLWOOD STEWART PHILLIPS | December 28, 2019 at 9:58 am | Reply

    As I previously mentioned – “Disarm Legal Gun owners, and let the Criminals run Rampant with Glee! Most Governments that have done similar end up with an INCREASE IN CRIME and Shootings by Illegal Gun owners!” FYI – There is a town in Montana that has an “OPEN CARRY” allowance for Firearms! I believe they have The Lowest crime rate in the USA! THINK ABOUT THAT – Bill Blair ! – Oh Sorry it seems you have Totally Lost that Characteristic since becoming a LIEBERAL PUPPET!

  15. Hi
    I just got my Restricted training/test yesterday. But… it’s so much restriction already on, a legal, safety trained and tested on restricted firearm owner, that there was no point to get the license. I don’t understand, how a SKS 762X39 is non-restricted and a M&P15-22 is restricted. You almost would need, the Queen ring stamped authorization, to transport that “dangerous 22LR” from your house to a range (on the most possible straight line). Would be the colour of firearm that influence the bureaucrats?
    What else does Mr,Justin and associates want?
    Back in Brazil, under Mr.Lula social/“communist” party, they passed a law declaring all the firearms illegal. They confiscated “most” of them. If you were caught with one, would be prosecuted.
    But nowadays, at the “communities” (favelas/slams) entrances, they have .50 machine guns installed. The drug lords people, all carry semi-auto pistols, long range rifles, machine guns at day light. That they get from the South American drug cartels.
    The police, special forces, army are scared to go inside. I wish Canada don’t get to this point. Some areas of Toronto, are getting a bit scaring to go to.

    • Joe, Thank you for your comments. Unfortunately for Canadian residents, gun laws are irrational but heavily enforced.You are quite right, they make no sense. Law-abiding firearms owners have been scapegoated because it is simple and effective in winning votes.

      The only way to change these non-sensical rules is to get involved politically. I urge you to educate yourself as much as you can and then talk politely to your MP. Tell him or her how crazy these rules are. And that gun laws won’t stop gang bangers. Only police and jails will do that.

      Best of luck. I hope my posts will help you learn how to defend our sport.

  16. Hi
    Please I’ve read that a mediator is checked my comment to publish it.
    Please don’t. Don’t publish it. I was a bit upset, when I read the article. So, I might have written some stuff, that doesn’t belong to this site.

  17. It is clear to me that Blair doesn’t give a wit about stopping crime, this is all optics for the uniformed urbanites who believe gun owners are scary and want to shoot them ,so anything that is perceived as a plan is aokay with them “Freedom be Damed”. Thanks Craig

  18. Will that stupid government allow for exemptions (collectors) like in NZ?

    • Thanks for your comment. The details have yet to be announced. Please write your MP [politely] and say you oppose this legislation.

  19. Simply put I am a tax payer and the Government wants to use our tax money to buy back guns they never sold to me in the first place with my own money. So essentially I am paying to have them take away my property which is something I already purchased to begin with and compensate me with my own money. What about the gear on the FA & potentially the ammo I may no longer be able to use. Is everyone confused yet. A solution looking for a problem.

  20. bill blair is rabidly anti firearm and has prooved it in the past…

  21. Prof Mauser, Thank God for your hard work. One quick comment, however: we need to be very careful how we describe the cancelled registry as this is one area that is continuously misrepresented by unscrupulous politicians and media and not understood by the average Canadian. Whenever we talk about the Harper govt’s cancellation we need to describe it as the non-restricted long gun registry and, if time/space, point out that restricted long guns are still registered and handguns have been continuously registered since 1934.

    We must stay on message with this. Constant repetition is the only way the public can ever possibly learn.


    • Dave, Thank you for your comments. You’re quite correct. Harper government only axed the long-gun registry in Canada outside Quebec. The registry for restricted weapons, mostly handguns and prohibited weapons, remains active.

      Thank you as well for using what I post to educate your friends, neighbours, MPs, and the media.

      Gary Mauser

  22. emerson rhinehart | January 5, 2020 at 8:14 pm | Reply

    what about the first nations do they have to give up there firearms there will more troublewhen comes to treaty intitlement than blair can handle

    • Good point. Gun groups like the NFA or CCFR should reach out to the First Nations to coordinate resistance to the mandatory “buy back.”

  23. i just don’t get it…come down hard on law abiding citizens and don’t touch criminals…how in earth does he expect to obtain support from the people of canada.??? why would canadians vote for a self imposed dictator..?? the best i can come up with is an uninformed populace who are duped by his lies..

  24. If I understand it, most treaties signed off on by First Nation elders gives them the distinct RIGHTS to hunt and fish.Can,t wait for the RCMP to try and start removing firearms from these citizens.
    It appears to me that this and former Lieberal governments do not and never will understand what has transpired prior to their arrival on this planet.
    God help us all.

  25. As I read many of the comments I find it disturbing that too many of us law abiding firearm owners refer to their firearms as weapons. Quit doing that even though they are termed as weapons in some legislation. Nothing is further from the truth when you combine lawful ownership with law abiding firearm owners. Weapons are defined as instruments used to injure, defeat or destroy. A pen can be a weapon if used in the above described manor.

    My point is whenever a law abiding firearm owner is describing his ownership or desire to purchase firearms, the word weapon should NEVER be used. You only fuel the fire with the media and uninformed people when using that word. Please only refer to them as sporting firearms whether or not you are talking about non-restricted, restricted or prohibited firearms.

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