Quebec mayors band together to demand 'clear and firm' gun control from federal leaders

The mayors of Montreal's five largest cities are calling on leaders of federal parties to make a “clear and firm” commitment to fighting gun trafficking.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume, Laval Mayor Marc Demers, Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin, and Longueuil Mayor Sylvie Parent issued the call during a press conference Tuesday in Montreal’s Old Port.

Meanwhile, Erin O’Toole has found himself in hot water after reversing a platform promise on gun laws.

O'Toole broke with the party's platform in recent days, explicitly saying he would maintain a May 2020 Liberal cabinet order that banned 1,500 makes of semi-automatic firearms, promising instead to review the classification of those weapons.

In its list of demands on federal parties, Montreal called for a country-wide ban on the private possession of handguns and assault weapons in order to tackle “the source” of the rise in gun violence in the city.

A bill tabled by the Liberal government in February put handgun management in the hands of municipalities, sparking uproar among city officials and gun-control advocates alike.

Survivors and family members of the victims of the 1989 massacre at the École Polytechnique de Montréal warned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that they would not accept his presence at future memorial events.

The Liberal Party is now promising to give provinces the power to legislate on handguns.

Pablo Rodriguez, co-president of the Liberal’s Quebec campaign, called the plan a “demonstration of flexible and cooperative federalism.”

The Bloc Québécois is in favour of allowing Quebec to ban handguns outright in the province. The policy does not appear in Conservative or NDP platforms.

Among other measures from both parties, the Conservatives want to expand the Criminal Code to make sentencing harsher for firearm smugglers while providing more support for the RCMP and restricting access to certain ways gun smugglers could import firearms. The NDP vows to “keep assault weapons and illegal handguns off our streets,” and strengthen community programs to prevent gang violence.

Gun violence has increased sharply in recent years in Canada. According to Statistics Canada, the number of such offenses rose from 3,544 in 2019 to 4,137 in 2020, up 15 per cent in the sixth consecutive annual increase.

-- This report was first published by The Canadian Press in French on Sept. 7, 2021

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