Ottawa consulting firms, industry heavyweights invited to design federal firearm buyback program

Stock image, for illustrative purposes only.

The federal government is turning to the private sector to design and possibly help run a massive buyback of newly prohibited firearms.

Public Safety Canada has invited 15 consulting firms to come up with a "range of options and approaches" for the planned program to compensate gun owners.

The invited bidders include Ottawa-based firms A Hundred Answers – which merged with MNP in 2016 – Gelder Gingras & Associates, HDP Group and Orbis Risk Consulting as well as well-known firms such as Accenture, Deloitte, IBM Canada, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers, though the department has not ruled out other possible parties.

The Liberals outlawed a wide range of firearms in early May, saying the guns were designed for the battlefield, not hunting or sport shooting.

The ban covers some 1,500 models and variants of what the government considers assault-style weapons, meaning they can no longer be legally used, sold or imported.

In announcing the ban, the government proposed a program that would allow current owners to receive compensation for turning in the designated firearms or keep them through an exemption process yet to be worked out.

Sport shooters, firearm rights advocates and some Conservative MPs have questioned the value of the measures in fighting crime.

The group PolySeSouvient, a leading proponent of stricter gun control, has argued that allowing owners of recently banned firearms to keep them would make it easier for a different government to simply reverse the ban in future.

Mary-Liz Power, a spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, said in mid-May the coming buyback program would be "fair and effective" but she did not provide details.

Blair's office had no immediate comment Wednesday on why it was looking outside the government for someone to design the program.

A spokeswoman for Public Safety Canada said the options that emerge from the selected contractor "may be incorporated into a final program. Costs will be available once a provider is selected."

The first phase of the newly posted federal tender would require the successful bidder to consult with other federal agencies, possibly other levels of government and industry experts to devise options that include:

  • A compensation plan for each affected firearm;
  • Analysis of benefits and risks associated with each compensation model; and
  • Identification of "other considerations" that might affect the feasibility of each approach.

The first phase of the work is expected to be complete by the end of March. The second phase of the contract could involve implementing the chosen options.

– With files from OBJ staff