Quebec mayors call on federal parties to commit to ban on assault rifles, handguns as election looms
Federal party leaders set to square off in debates on Wednesday and Thursday
With the federal election less than two weeks away, the mayors of the five largest cities in Quebec are banding together to call for a ban on the possession of assault rifles and handguns.
On Tuesday, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante was joined by Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume, Laval Mayor Marc Demers, Longueuil Mayor Sylvie Parent and Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin.
The joint news conference comes as the topic of assault rifles has dominated the federal campaign and party leaders prepare to square off in two debates this week.
However, the mayors say the talk on the campaign trail should be on handguns as well, not just assault rifles.
In addition to calling for the ban, they asked each federal party to commit "clearly and firmly" to presenting a plan to better control the flow of guns across Canada.
In recent weeks, a string of fatal shootings in and around Montreal — including last month's triple homicide in the city's east end — have preoccupied local officials and police forces.
In her opening statement, Plante called on federal leaders to crack down on gun trafficking.
"Even if we can do all we can at the municipal level, we do what we can, we do what we have to do," the Montreal mayor said.
"But each time police seize a weapon, ten others get in. It's like swinging a sword in the water. We'll never get there. And that's why the federal [government] needs to assume its responsibilities."
Don't dump problem on provinces' lap, Labeaume urges
According to Plante, the positions of each of the party leaders on issues pertaining to gun control have been, so far, underwhelming.
In recent days, Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole's has reversed course on a platform promise to overturn a ban on some 1,500 makes and models of what the government describes as "military-grade weapons."
The Liberal government introduced the ban in May 2020, and the Conservative platform promised to repeal it.
The Liberal platform includes a plan to strengthen gun-control measures, which includes a buy-back program for barred firearms and a promise of $1 billion to support provinces and territories that implement handgun bans.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet also wants Quebec and other provinces to have the powers to legislate bans.
On Tuesday, Quebec City Mayor Labeaume said it doesn't make sense for provinces to deal with outlawing handguns. According to him, it would lead to an ineffective patchwork of laws across the country that would do little to address the problem.
"Even with all of the good will of certain [provinces], it's impossible unless each province adopts the same legislation," Labeaume said.
The federal party leaders will take part in a French debate on Wednesday, and an English debate on Thursday.