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Canadian commandos to get new pistol but exact type is secret — except for anyone with access to the internet

Ottawa Citizen logo Ottawa Citizen 2022-07-05 David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen
Canadian special forces are getting a new pistol but its leaders claim that details about the gun are secret despite previous declarations it was the Sig Sauer P320 pistol. This photo shows the P320 in use by the U.S. military. © Provided by Ottawa Citizen Canadian special forces are getting a new pistol but its leaders claim that details about the gun are secret despite previous declarations it was the Sig Sauer P320 pistol. This photo shows the P320 in use by the U.S. military.
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Canada’s commandos are getting a new pistol but the exact type is now considered a state secret.

Except to anyone, that is, who has access to the internet and can read details about the Canadian special forces’ $680,425 purchase of the SIG Sauer P320 handgun.

The ongoing saga of the now secret pistol started in November 2020 after a member of the counter-terrorism unit, Joint Task Force 2, accidentally shot himself with an SIG Sauer P320 during training in Ottawa. Taxpayers had already spent $680,425 to buy the new guns and the commandos were in the process of familiarizing themselves with the weapons.

The incident, which resulted in a flesh wound, prompted a temporary halt to Canadian special forces training with the P320, a development reported by CBC in February 2021. At the same time, SIG Sauer issued a statement noting it was “working with Canadian Special Operations Forces Command to resolve an incident involving the unintended discharge of a P320.”

The gun in question had been extensively tested and found to be safe, the firm noted. “The investigation revealed the use of an incorrect holster not designed for a P320,” SIG Sauer added in its statement.

Fast forward to last week when Canadian Special Operations Forces Command released a statement announcing it was now proceeding with bringing its new pistol into service. It acknowledged the original shooting incident but an investigation had deemed the new pistol to be safe and functioning properly.

However, in a new twist, the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command declared the exact type of gun to be secret, despite statements and news articles identifying the pistol as the SIG Sauer P320. In response to questions from this newspaper about the decision to now claim secrecy over the P320, the special forces said it has a policy not to disclose specifics about its weapons or capabilities.

That claim, however, is false as Canadian special forces leaders have not only discussed with the news media specific equipment purchases but the command has released photos of that gear to the public.

It’s not the first time, however, that Canadian special forces has invoked secrecy in a bizarre way. In the late 1990s, JTF2 unsuccessfully tried to claim that if this newspaper revealed the unit had purchased silverware for its dining facilities at its Dwyer Hill base then the security of Canada would be threatened.

Defence insiders are puzzled at why Maj.-Gen. Steve Boivin, head of Canadian Special Operations Forces Command, is now claiming the SIG Sauer P320 pistols are secret when details of the purchase are public. Some suggest it could be a result of wanting to limit publicity over the embarrassment of a JTF2 soldier accidentally shooting himself.

Canadian special forces has been in the news recently. In May, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced questions in the House of Commons when it was revealed special forces operated an aircraft equipped with surveillance equipment over the so-called “Freedom Convoy” protests in Ottawa despite a military directive prohibiting such activities. Military sources, concerned that Canadian Special Operations Forces Command was trying to conceal its activities, revealed details of the flight to this newspaper. National Defence eventually confirmed the special forces flights.

Earlier this year, this newspaper revealed that two serving members of JTF2 had taken part in the convoy protests. Military personnel alleged that some serving members of JTF2 had openly voiced anti-vaccination and anti-government views while at work at the Dwyer Hill counter-terrorism training centre. Some of those anti-government views were directed specifically at Trudeau and have centred particularly on Liberal government gun control policies, they alleged. The sources said they decided to come forward because Canadian Special Operations Forces Command knew about the anti-government activities within some parts of JTF2 but had done little to counter it. A military investigation was launched but it is unclear what actions were taken, if any.

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