Olivia Chow promises handgun ban, measures to reduce youth crime

Olivia Chow is promising to ban handguns in the city if elected mayor, she announced on Monday morning.

Mayoral candidate releases crime platform

Olivia Chow calls for a handgun ban within Toronto. 2:16

Olivia Chow is promising to ban handguns in the city if elected mayor, she announced on Monday morning.

The mayoral candidate and former Toronto NDP MP released a four-pronged platform on crime and guns which had an emphasis on handguns and young people.

"There is no reason someone would need to have a handgun in the city of Toronto," she said. "We don't want to see more pain and suffering from parents or loved ones who lost their children or partners through senseless violence. We need to get rid of these handguns in every which way."

The handgun ban would build on former mayor David Miller's efforts to remove the weapons from within the city limits.

Chow said there has not been a voice from city hall on the issue for the past four years. In one of several shots at current mayor Rob Ford, Chow said he "justified' the use of guns in the city.

She praised the city's youth outreach workers, and noted that Ford has voted against adding more.

Chow said she was impacted by the recent death of teacher Abshir Hassan, who was gunned down outside his apartment building in what police say was not a targeted shooting.

"We have to do more," she said.

To round out her platform on crime, she promised:

  • to introduce better after school programs and youth employment opportunities, because "providing hope in the neighbourhood is so important."
  • to enhance community policing efforts, such as a better flow on information from schools and community workers to police.
  • better training for police when it comes to dealing with people with mental health issues. She cited 20,000 incidents with police and people with mental health issues, and the need for better deescalation tactics.

The initiatives mostly relied on training programs and community work — Chow said she had no plans to add more patrols on the streets or police spending.

"It doesn't cost much for people to come together and work together, it just takes a bit of coordination," she said.

Rob Ford responded by questioning Chow's commitment to safety.

"When Olivia Chow had the opportunity to make a real difference by supporting tougher laws for illegal handguns, she voted against it," Ford said via a press release. He is referencing the Safe Streets and Communities Act in 2012, a Conservative omnibus crime bill the NDP voted against, including Chow.

"On her proposed handgun ban, Olivia Chow is doing what she does best, political grandstanding," said Ford.