Ontario Liberals pledge to ban handguns within 1st year in office, if elected
NDP calls out Liberals for not implementing measures during 15 years in government
The Ontario Liberal Party has announced a promise to ban handguns across the province within his first year in office, if elected in June.
The campaign promise was announced in Scarborough Tuesday, though Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca did not offer details of how the ban would work.
The plan would see a ban on sale, possession, transport and storage of handguns across the province, he said.
"An Ontario Liberal party will be proud to work closely with all our municipal partners including Toronto City Council and to work with the federal government to tackle this issue head on," Del Duca said Tuesday.
The Liberals are also promising to participate in a federal buyback program and partner with the federal government to stop guns being smuggled over the border, though Del Duca also didn't offer specifics on how that pledge would be accomplished.
Premier Doug Ford has signalled opposition to banning handguns and while Del Duca says violence using those weapons is 'spiralling out of control" under Ford's government, Toronto Police statistics show a decrease in shootings and handgun crimes over the past couple of years.
"I've had it with Doug Ford's open for business policy for guns." Del Duca said.
A spokesperson for the Office of the Solicitor General responded to the comments.
"The statistics are clear, over 80 per cent of guns being used in crime are obtained using illegal means — including from across the border — and half of the gun-related deaths in Ontario are gang related," said Hannah Jensen in an email to CBC Toronto.
"That's exactly why our government has invested a record $185 million to combat gang violence fueled by these smuggled guns. This included reversing the Del Duca—Wynne Liberals' cut of millions per year in anti-gang intervention programs."
NDP calls out Liberals for not implementing when in office
Asked how the party will deliver on the promise, Del Duca said he would work with the federal and municipal governments and will "examine every option" to be able to get it done as quickly as possible.
"I want to be clear, there is federal funding on the table. I believe Ontario should be leading in this regard," he said.
The announcement comes as five men were injured Saturday morning in Scarborough when a person opened fire on a group of men who had just finished midnight prayers.
"We don't want to hear any more stories of people here in Scarborough or elsewhere in this province who have lost their lives, who've lost loved ones because the Ford Conservatives chose to stand with the gun lobby instead of defending the people of this province."
The NDP says party leader Andrea Horwath has long called for similar measures and criticized the Liberals for not implementing them during the 15 years they were in government.
"Today, the Liberals announced that in fifteen years in government with the tools to address gun violence and its root causes, they were unable to take real action to fix the problems," the NDP said in a news release Tuesday.
With files from The Canadian Press