Handguns: Tories filibuster, say Liberals

OTTAWA – The federal Minister of Public Safety accuses the Conservatives of filibustering to delay the freeze on the sale of handguns in the country.

Handguns: Tories filibuster, say Liberals

OTTAWA – The federal Minister of Public Safety accuses the Conservatives of filibustering to delay the freeze on the sale of handguns in the country.

• Read also: [IN PHOTOS] Rush on handguns in Canada before a possible sales freeze

• Read also: Gun control: a step in the right direction, according to Plante

Under a bill introduced in the House 10 days ago, the purchase, sale, transfer and import of handguns would be banned across the country starting next fall.

But the study of the bill is stalled in parliamentary committee, deplores the Minister of Public Security Marco Mendicino.

"The Conservatives must stop the bickering," he said in an interview with the Journal. This bill must be studied, debated and passed as soon as possible. It's urgent."

The smuggling blind spot

"Contrary to the government's claim, C-21 is not about getting tough on crime and it does not target gang members who are shooting our streets," Ontario MP Larry Brock criticized on Monday at the time of the Questions.

The Conservatives criticize the government for attacking legal weapons rather than contraband. They call for improving the ability of border agents to prevent the entry of illegal weapons into Canada.

The minister replies that his government is investing to equip border entry points with X-ray detectors to detect illegal arms shipments. He also says he is working closely with his American counterpart to stop the trafficking of American arms to Canada.

For him, the freeze tackles another problem: preventing about 55,000 new handguns from entering the market each year, just as gun violence is flaring up, in Montreal in particular.

In the past year, the Montreal Police Service (MPS) recorded 144 discharges of firearms, one every two and a half days, twice as many as the previous year. A total of 19 people were killed by a firearm in 2021 in the metropolis, compared to six for the year in 2020.

Lots of work, little time

But Kristina Michaud, spokesperson for the Bloc Québécois in terms of public security, deplores that in its current form the bill does not remove “not a single (handgun) from our cities”. His party is therefore calling for significant changes to the text.

“Several measures represent advances in gun control. However, Ottawa will have to correct the many holes in this bill that will not make our communities safer in the short and medium term,” she said.

There is very little time left for the parties to come to an agreement before the parliamentary proceedings adjourn for the summer holidays which will begin on June 23.

“The Liberals waited until the end of the session to introduce the bill, which shows that it is not a priority for them. All bills must be studied,” stings Axel Rioux, from the office of the Conservative leader.

“On our side, on the government side, we are ready to work 24/7”, assures Minister Mendicino, while stressing that the bill is “the product of extensive consultations” and already has the support from victim advocacy groups and the City of Montreal.

The leader of the Bloc, Yves-François Blanchet, proposed Tuesday the tabling of a motion with the aim of speeding up parliamentary debates by reducing them from 30 to 10 days. Its purpose is to impose an immediate freeze on the sale and purchase of handguns, to prevent those who can from building up stocks while waiting for the law to come into force in the fall. The adoption of such a motion would nevertheless require the unanimity of the chamber.

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