Buying from a retailer does not include having to actually speak to a Law Enforcement officer while you're buying the gun and completing the transaction.
Bringing a gun across the border and declaring it means you are talking to a Law Enforcement officer while you are importing it. This is the key difference.
Ask Red Tiger about prosecution for weapons trafficking for selling an AEG to another individual. He'll tell you all about it.
The LE in Canada has in the past taken a "don't be stupid and force me to prosecute your ass" approach. They have enough manpower and funding problems going after real guns, drug and gangs to waste on adults with toy guns. That being said, don't ever think for a second that they won't arrest you and haul your ass into court if you are using your gun in the commission of a crime for example.
Now CBSA agents are tasked with enforcing the law, one person at a time, at their leisure. You wait for them, however long it takes. Their policies are not in-fact law, but rather their interpretation of existing statutes. They can decide what is prohibited, and you have to take then to court on your nickel to fight them. Who's going to do that for a $500 gun?
I don't even see why this is a discussion. Read the freakin' FAQ and live by it. Or GTFO off ASC. You do the community no service by promoting what has been known to be illegal for 9 years now.
Age verifier Northern Alberta
Democracy is two wolves and a sheep discussing what's for dinner.
Freedom is the wolves limping away while the sheep reloads.
Never confuse freedom with democracy.