PolySeSouvient fears easier access to firearms and assault weapons for Canadians if the September 20 federal election leads to the Conservative Party’s victory, threatening the country’s slim gains in control of these in recent years.
“A vote for the conservatives is a vote for the gun lobby,” PolySeSouvient coordinator Heidi Rathjen said Thursday morning at a press conference held in a marquee on the site de Polytechnique Montréal, where 14 women were killed in a shooting incident on December 6, 1989.
Almost 32 years later, some gains have been made in gun control. In particular, the Liberal government last year banned around 1,500 models of military-style assault rifles and implemented a voluntary buy-back program for them. The formation of Justin trudeau is also committed in the current electoral campaign to make compulsory the return of these weapons by their owners, in addition to banning high capacity magazines.
The Conservative Party, for its part, has planned in its electoral platform to cancel the ban on assault weapons covered by Bill C-71 and the decree of May 2020, a commitment that was then contradicted on several occasions by its leader, Erin O’Toole. “All firearms currently banned will remain so,” said a footnote since added to the party’s platform. An about-face that leaves Heidi Rathjen skeptical.
“Unfortunately for Canadians, when it comes to gun control, the Conservatives are keeping their promises. […] They even go further, ”she said at the microphone, in the presence of more than a dozen students and relatives of survivors of the Polytechnique massacre. Ms. Rathjen recalls in this regard the decision of the former government of Stephen Harper in 2012 to abolish the long gun registry, against all odds.
“Instead of continuing to rebuild our law, a next Conservative government will continue to destroy it further, to the point where it will no longer be salvageable. The pro-arms lobby will have control, as it has in the United States, ”apprehends the survivor of the Polytechnique tragedy Nathalie Provost, who is worried about the prospect that assault weapons will become more easily accessible in the country.
In this context, she urges Canadian voters to vote for the Liberal Party in view of the September 20 election.
“The Liberal Party is the only party that is in a position to strengthen gun control. Today, we are convinced that at the very least, a Liberal government will deliver the ban on accessories and military-type weapons, ”she added.
Mrs. Provost, who accuses the New Democratic Party and the Green Party for lacking “leadership” on the issue of gun control, also welcomes the positions taken by the Bloc Quebecois in this regard. The Nationalist Party notably lobbied the outgoing Liberal government for a mandatory buy-back program for owners of military-style assault weapons, in addition to calling for a ban on high-capacity magazines. “These are all solid and long overdue measures,” says Rathjen.
“We are very confident that the Bloc Québécois will remain a strong and reliable ally for gun control, as it has been from the start,” said Ms. Provost.
The Premier of Quebec, Francois Legault, for its part prompted Thursday the “Quebec nationalists” to be “wary” of Justin Trudeau, a position statement that Heidi Rathjen preferred not to comment, while recalling that her organization directs its support in this electoral campaign solely on the basis of the fight against violence by firearms.
Keep hope, despite “fatigue”
In recent years, PolySeSouvient has however repeatedly criticized the measures taken by the Liberal government in terms of gun control. This is also the case with several municipalities, including Montreal and Quebec, who deplore the fact that Ottawa is relegating to them for the moment the task of banning handguns on their territory instead of applying a nationwide ban.
Despite everything, Ms. Provost remains hopeful that a re-elected Liberal government would go ahead with the measures it is proposing to tighten gun control, in particular because of “all the interest that has been shown. by Canadians on this issue ”in the past few weeks.
“We are surprised at the extent that the file has taken in the context of the elections,” has also raised Heidi Rathjen.
A survey conducted at the end of August by the firm Léger on behalf of the Association for Canadian Studies, notably reports a rate of 51% of voters who would more support a federal party intending to strengthen gun control. This percentage drops to 9% among Canadian respondents who would like the rules in this area to be relaxed. Others polled said they either support the status quo or do not see gun control as an important issue in this election.
“The Liberal government gives us hope that things will get done. But I would point out that we have been disappointed a few times by the Liberal promises, so we have reason to think that we can be disappointed again ”, for his part raised Serge St-Arneault, met by The duty on the sidelines of this event. Her sister died during the Polytechnique massacre in 1989.
More than thirty years after this event, we are still debating the importance of banning assault weapons, exasperated Mr. St-Arneault, who nevertheless remains hopeful.
“Of course, physically and mentally, there is fatigue. The years go by and we see that we do not yet know very well where we are going. But there, the signs are promising, ”added the priest, who draws the motivation necessary to continue his efforts in favor of better control of firearms in the love and“ attachment ”that he retains for his life. sister. “I don’t think I’ll ever give up until the end of my own life. “
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