Wildlife Federation disavows Peoples Party shooting contest

Gun groups worried about government’s ability to trace guns to owners Instructors in short supply as firearms license waiting list grows longer: SWF Government can’t access gun dealer record without warrant: Goodale Upcoming by-elections a test for fledgling PPC: Bernier The Saskatoon Wildlife Federation wants nothing to do with a proposed shooting contest between two People’s Party of Canada candidates, and says it won’t allow the event to take place at its new range east of the city.Announced this weekend, the “rifle range skill battle” was intended to determine whether Mark Friesen or Guto Penteado would represent Maxime Bernier’s party in a debate hosted by the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce.Friesen and Penteado were supposed to take part in the contest Tuesday afternoon, but SWF past president and fundraising chairman Robert Freberg said it won’t happen at the only large-bore range within an hour’s drive of the city.In an interview, Freberg said neither Friesen nor Penteado is currently an SWF member — Friesen’s membership lapsed in February — and the organization was not consulted on the proposed rifle match until early Tuesday morning.Moreover, Freberg said, the People’s Party’s plan to livestream the event on social media would contravene the SWF’s “absolute prohibition” on photography at the range, a policy intended to protect its members’ privacy.“This is not the way our federation wants to be seen by the public,” Freberg said, adding that while the SWF supports gun rights, it is non-partisan and must work with whatever political party forms government in October.Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.Referring to a recent CBC News story in which Penteado described himself as a “redneck,” Freberg said that does not align with the SWF’s mandate, which includes bringing people together to celebrate hunting and fishing.That includes a major education effort, as well as partnerships with local Indigenous organizations, he said.Friesen and Penteado said in separate interviews that they are disappointed with the SWF’s decision, and were making arrangements to relocate the shooting contest to another unspecified rifle range near Saskatoon.Both candidates went on to question why the federation would shut down what they characterized as a private contest between two individuals unrelated to politics. “We didn’t make it political,” Penteado said, adding that it was an “internal PPC event.”The top of the advertisement for the event features the PPC logo. The bottom line reads “Watch the gunsmoke (sic) on Facebook Live streaming.”“I’m disappointed in their decision. It flies in the face of what we’re trying to do,” Friesen said of his pro-gun views before adding that he tried to renew his membership Tuesday afternoon and was told it was under review.Penteado said he does not want to be portrayed as a redneck, but chose to take it as a compliment when social media commentators began using the term to refer to him and Friesen, in an apparent attempt to offend.“Here in the west, we’re all good with hunting and responsible gun ownership. It’s part of our way of life,” he said.At a press conference outside the SWF range on Tuesday afternoon, Friesen and Penteado — whose campaign staff arrived in a camouflage-painted RV — said they plan to reschedule the event at a private home later that evening.They declined to say where or when the shooting match would be held, but promised it would be streamed on social media.Not every pro-gun activist agrees that the competition should have gone ahead at the SWF range.Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights vice-president Tracey Wilson said Tuesday on social media that the event was a “stupid publicity stunt” and the best candidate should attend the debate.—With StarPhoenix files from Zak Vesceraamacpherson@postmedia.comtwitter.com/macphersonaRelated

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