OTTAWA – The federal government says it will introduce a mandatory buyback of assault weapons, an expanded list of banned “assault-style” firearms, and give provinces the power to ban firearms after failed efforts to deliver that power to cities.
And he’s asking provinces like Ontario to come to the table.
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino acknowledged Wednesday that Prime Minister Doug Ford has resisted calls from cities like Toronto to ban firearms.
“My message is, let’s work together. Let’s find ways to get guns and other weapons off the streets, ”Mendicino said.
“This is a government that is prepared to take the necessary steps. We have already implemented some additional restrictions and bans for assault weapons. We ban 1,500 of them and are prepared to do more. We need to do more. “
The speech at the government throne on Wednesday said that “gun violence is increasing in many of our largest cities” and promised renewed action.
But the liberal government will not propose a national ban on firearms, instead promising to “go ahead with any province or territory that wants to ban firearms.”
Mendicino said he is ready to work with all levels of government to make that happen.
“My door is open. If the Québec government wants to work with the federal government to take additional strong action against arms extraction from our communities, we will be there. “
The problem, says gun control advocate Heidi Rathjen, is that no province has demanded the power to ban firearms and many oppose the ban.
Even after a recent series of shootings in Montreal, Quebec Prime Minister François Legault has been unclear whether he would ban the handguns, said Rathjen, founder of the Poly Remembers group.
Cities experiencing gun violence want a national ban, not a piecemeal province-by-province approach, he said.
Rathjen was one of the students who survived the 1989 Polytechnic shooting in Montreal. She was in a nearby study room when Marc Lepine opened fire there, killing 14 women.
“The refrain of wanting to ‘work with any province that wants to take firearms off the streets’ is basically that the federal government says that it does not intend to legislate to counter the proliferation of legal firearms and that it will depend on the provinces to do the heavy lifting, even though no provincial government has shown an interest in doing it, “Rathjen said.
“From our perspective, insisting on pushing the local / provincial approach pretty much guarantees that nothing will happen.”
A senior federal government official admitted that the previous offer to give power to municipalities, which are under the jurisdiction of the provinces, had not worked to promote the ban on firearms.
Mendicino insists that he is willing to speak to all levels of government.
However, a spokeswoman for Ontario Attorney General Sylvia Jones said she recently met with Mendicino and pledged to work with Ottawa on “shared priorities when it comes to addressing gun and gang violence, including more investment. and tools for law enforcement and prosecutions, as well as other tailored legislative reforms. “
But Stephen Warner made it clear that the province of Ontario is not considering a ban on firearms and said the progressive conservative government’s focus is “on action that makes a real difference” in reducing gun violence and gangs.
“The statistics are clear, 80 percent of the weapons used in crime are obtained through illegal means, including from across the border, and half of the gun-related deaths in Ontario are gang-related,” he said Warner.
Mendicino, a former federal Crown prosecutor, said he raised the issue of greater joint collaboration with the United States in the fight against arms smuggling.
The liberal electoral platform made several other promises to toughen gun control laws, including requiring owners of prohibited assault weapons to “sell the firearm to the government for destruction and just compensation or to make it full and complete. permanently inoperative in government. ” expenses.”
The latest measure was not explicitly included in the throne speech, but the top federal official told the Star if and how to do it, and how much it would cost, is a “live discussion” within the government.
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