Blair says prohibited gun list coming 'as quickly as possible'
Liberal government promising ban on 'military-style' assault weapons, other gun control measures
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says a list of military-style assault weapons that will be prohibited in Canada will be released "as quickly as possible," although he did not offer a more precise timeframe.
Answering questions about the Liberal government's plans for tighter gun control measures on the 30th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, Blair said the government is committed to ending gun violence.
Blair said he's developing a list of prohibited weapons that will include specific makes, models and descriptions. He added, however, that he did not want to say yet which guns are going on the list, to avoid a spike in sales before the ban takes effect.
"What I do not want to precipitate is individuals going out and acquiring those weapons before the publishing of that list," he said, adding that a "very clearly articulated list" of prohibited weapons will be coming "as quickly as possible."
Blair, who served as the government's point man on gun control before he was promoted to oversee Public Safety Canada, said during the election campaign that about 250,000 of the guns to be banned are now legally owned in Canada, with an average value of about $1,500 each.
The federal government is planning a buyback program to get the guns out of circulation; it's expected to cost between $400 million and $600 million, he said.
Gun control advocacy group PolySeSouvient wrote to Blair after his cabinet appointment to call for an immediate halt on sales of military-style assault weapons — and to warn that there could be a "rush" of people purchasing them before they're prohibited.
During the campaign, the Liberals pointed to the AR-15 as an example of the weapons to be prohibited, describing it as a gun designed to inflict mass human casualties.
'Incremental steps' forward
PolySeSouvient is calling for a ban on the Ruger Mini-14, the weapon used in the École Polytechnique massacre.
The organization's coordinator, Heidi Rathjen, said there has been little movement on gun control in the last 30 years, which she blamed in part on the "cycle" of Liberal governments making incremental steps toward new controls and Conservative governments later pulling them back.
"Now we have again a government elected on the basis of a gun control promise, and opposition parties like the Bloc Québécois, the NDP and the Green Party that all support a ban on assault weapons and other measures too," Rathjen said in an interview with CBC Radio's The House airing Saturday with host Chris Hall.
"So if they can't get it done now, if they keep trying to please everybody and give concessions to gun owners, then we lose the fight. So our message is it's now or never.
"Get it right ... put the public interest first. Call out the gun lobby's ridiculous American NRA-style arguments that don't apply here and pass and do what New Zealand did. Pass bold, decisive gun control measures. And the bolder they are, the more likely they're going to be protected from future governments."
'We will fight this'
The National Firearms Association said attempts to label gun advocates as a lobby are "ideologically driven and disgusting."
"We expect this minority government to once again develop and introduce legislation targeting the rights and property of Canadians, and we will fight this with every political and legal means at our disposal," said the association's executive VP Blair Hagen in an email.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marked the 30th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre by paying tribute in the House of Commons to the 14 young women killed, and calling for stronger action to curb gun violence.
Opposition leaders joined Trudeau in condemning violence against women and honouring the 13 students and one employee killed by Marc Lépine at École Polytechnique on Dec. 6, 1989.
MPs stood in the Commons and marked the event with a minute's silence. The anniversary is also being marked in various ceremonies across the country.
Trudeau said "hope and prayers" are not enough to stop gun violence, and that stronger actions are long overdue.
"The reality is that, in the 30 years, things haven't changed enough. Women, girls and people of diverse gender identities still face unacceptable and preventable violence," he said.
"Violence that destroys lives, families and communities. It is more than time for change."
Trudeau said the government will strengthen gun laws and ban "the type of weapons used at Ecole Polytechnique," which are designed to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time.
'Unthinkable act of hatred'
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called the massacre 30 years ago an "unthinkable act of hatred and spite."
"It is completely unacceptable that violence against women remains an issue to this day, " he said. "That is why we must all resolve not to be content simply respecting women. We must call on all Canadians to be proactive and demonstrate with our actions how much we value the safety, the dignity and the value of every life of every woman."
Speaking for her party in the House on Friday, Bloc Québécois MP Andréanne Larouche said the anniversary is an opportunity for a renewed commitment to fighting misogyny and violence against women, and for stronger gun control measures.
"They will always be the standard bearers in the fight against violence against women," she said. "They will always remain in our minds as inspiration to use to do better and to be a better society."
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called on men to become "feminist allies," and for all Canadians to call out sexist language and offer more support to female victims.
"There is no such thing as an isolated incident of violence against women," he said. "There are only choices that we make as Canadians, and today we say that one death is one too many. The toxic masculinity hurts us all."
As tribute to the victims of the Montreal Massacre, Parliament Hill will beam 14 purple rays of light between 5:10 p.m. and 6:10 p.m. ET today to coincide with the time of their deaths.
With files from the CBC's Raisa Patel