Gun Control: Ottawa’s disappointed activists

Groups representing survivors and families of victims of deadly shootings in Quebec over the past 30 years question the Trudeau government’s commitment to eliminating handguns and assault weapons, while a private consultation is held Montreal, one year from the elections.

Firearms advocates with ties to the École polytechnique, Dawson College and the Center culturel islamique de Québec – all of whom have experienced bloody killings – agreed to meet in camera on Thursday with representatives of the Liberal government. Justin Trudeau. But they fear it’s too late to accomplish anything at this point in the electoral calendar.

Heidi Rathjen, coordinator of the PolySeSouvient, fears that the Liberals will postpone this “controversial issue” after the next elections, when they promised in the 2015 election campaign to ban handguns and guns. ‘assault.

“The last year before the election, we end up with a consultation, notes Ms. Rathjen, who was herself a witness of the Polytechnique massacre in 1989. Yet the bill that was tabled in connection with this promise does not affect legal access to these types of firearms. And it is only after the killings in Fredericton and Toronto this summer that the government is launching a consultation. ”

Bill C-71, introduced last March to amend Canadian firearms legislation, provides for increased background checks before obtaining a firearms license, and the mandatory retention of firearms records. by the sellers. The bill does not prohibit handguns and assault weapons.

“We saw what happened recently at the Quebec City mosque,” says Rathjen. An individual who was the legal owner of handguns and assault weapons, who was a member of a shooting club, decided that for the reasons he had, to hurt a lot of people – six dead and several seriously injured in less than two minutes. ”

“Sufficient tragedies”

Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair announced only in-camera consultations this month, by invitation only. He hopes that these consultations will be completed by the end of the year, and that a report will be published early in 2019 – just a few months before the start of the general election.

For Boufeldja Benabdallah, co-founder of the Quebec City Mosque, where six worshipers were shot dead in January 2017, the ban on handguns and assault weapons is essential. Mr. Benabdallah wrote in May to Prime Minister Trudeau expressing his disappointment with the contents of Bill C-71. He believes that Canada has had enough tragedies for lawmakers to find motives for action.

Mr. Trudeau had asked Minister Blair to consider a possible ban on these weapons after a series of deadly shootings this year, including the bombing of Toronto’s Greek quarter in July, in which an 18-year-old woman and a girl 10 years were killed, and 13 others were injured.

The Montreal and Toronto city councils have asked Ottawa to ban handguns and assault weapons. But opponents of the ban – including the Conservatives in Ottawa – say it would do little to improve public safety.

Ms. Rathjen also indicated that stakeholders were notified about a week in advance of the federal consultation, thereby preventing some experts from participating.

“It’s been 29 years now that we are calling for a ban on assault weapons,” she says. It is hoped that finally, given all the tragedies that have been witnessed in the past – and most recently – the government will take the share of the public interest instead of yielding in front of the equally powerful gun lobby. ”