The Trudeau government committed $ 1 billion to help provinces, and perhaps cities, get rid of firearms.

OTTAWA – The Liberal government will take action early in the new year to establish a $ 1 billion fund to help provinces ban firearms, Star learned.

The funds will go to the provinces to help them implement and enforce a ban, but the government is not ruling out allowing municipalities access to the money as well, a government source told the Star.

The news of the fund comes as past promises by liberals to address gun violence in Canada are about to come under intense scrutiny in the House of Commons.

On Thursday, the heads of the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency, as well as the Minister of Public Security, Marco Mendicino, will appear before a committee focused on the issue of gun control, illegal arms trafficking and crimes with Firearms.

The House of Commons study was fueled by an increase in gang and gun violence in Montreal specifically; In mid-November, a 16-year-old boy was shot and killed in Montreal, the third teenager killed this year.

There have been more than 100 shootings in the city in 2021, prompting Quebec Prime Minister François Legault and Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante to urge liberals to fulfill their original promise to ban firearms.

Gun-related deaths in Toronto are also on the rise, according to Statistics of the Toronto Police. So far this year, 42 people have been killed in shootings, up from 39 last year. Firearm-related injuries have dropped to 156 this year from 173 in 2020.

Liberals have long promised to find a way to ban firearms, first by trying to work directly with municipalities to establish local bans and then by introducing a bill to that effect in the last Parliament. The bill died when elections were called in August.

Northern Ontario mayors were among those who argued that it wouldn’t work, given the patchwork of rules and regulations that would be required to enforce.

And some provinces also quickly acted against the idea; Saskatchewan and Alberta passed legislation that prohibits towns and cities from unilaterally imposing gun bans.

In Ontario, the Doug Ford government has also signaled that it has no interest in a ban.

The liberal government is aware of the opposition it could face, but is reserving the money for those willing to sit at the table, the source told the Star, speaking confidentially because the matter had not yet been resolved in cabinet.

The idea of ​​working directly with the provinces on a ban was on the Liberals’ electoral platform this year, along with a $ 1 billion spending commitment.

The throne speech that kicked off this Parliament also emphasized that addressing firearm crime was a priority on the government’s new agenda, and working with the provinces on a ban would be one route it would take.

“My message is, let’s work together. Let’s find ways to get guns and other weapons off the streets, ”Mendicino said after the speech.

However, that claim was criticized by opposition conservatives this month when liberals reintroduced a bill to lift mandatory minimum penalties to address systemic racism in the judicial system.

Some of the mandatory minimum sentences they are lifting include those for some gun crimes.

“If you want to fight gun crime, go after people who commit gun crime,” Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen said earlier this month.

“The message this is sending is, of course, in line with what liberals do: go after law-abiding gun owners and set criminals free.”


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