The Current

Handgun bans, social programs, more police powers: Three candidates on what they'd do to fight gun violence

After a fatal shooting in Mississauga, Ont., over the weekend, we ask a panel of federal election candidates what their parties are planning to do about gun violence.

Teenager killed and 5 injured in shooting this past weekend in Mississauga, Ont.

Police believe multiple suspects fired semi-automatic handguns indiscriminately outside an apartment complex in Mississauga on Saturday evening. (Michael Rich/CBC)

A panel of Liberal, Conservative and NDP candidates agree that steps need to be taken to curb gun violence in Canada — but their approaches to the problem are at odds.

"We're talking about restrictions on firearms, which will make them far more difficult for criminals to gain access to," said Bill Blair, Liberal candidate for Toronto's Scarborough Southwest riding.

Blair served as chief of police in Toronto for 10 years, from 2005 to 2015.

He told The Current's interim host Laura Lynch that new gun control measures could include "additional restrictions on where a firearm can be possessed or stored," to make theft more difficult.  

Blair stopped short of calling the measure a handgun ban, but said the Liberal party is "prepared to take the steps" to  "make sure that that handguns are first of all difficult to get, that those who do acquire them and use them illegally are far more likely to get caught, and that there are real consequences."

Leaders of the federal parties spoke out after another burst of gun violence in the Greater Toronto Area at the weekend.

Jonathan Davis, a Grade 12 student, was killed in a shooting in Mississauga, Ont., Saturday. Police described him as an innocent bystander. (Supplied by Selma Alincy)

Jonathan Davis, 17, was killed and five others were injured in a shooting in Mississauga, Ont., on Saturday. Police, who described Davis as an innocent bystander, believe multiple suspects fired semi-automatic handguns indiscriminately outside an apartment complex.

While the Liberals say they're exploring the idea of a handgun ban, Conservative candidate Tom Dingwall said that it wouldn't solve the problem.

We're being very ineffective at preventing crime because we are understaffed we are underfunded.- Conservative candidate Tom Dingwall

"The real issue is illegal guns coming across the border. It's gang violence. It's violent crime and it's [an] inability of our current government to address those issues," said Dingwall, who is running in the riding of Ajax. He is currently on leave from the Durham Regional Police Service while he campaigns.

"Having a handgun ban will not prevent guns from coming across the border. These people are already breaking the law," he said. 

He told Lynch that the Conservatives would provide the necessary funding "to our police agencies so that they can be proactive in investigating and preventing crime, rather than being very good report takers, which we have right now." 

"We're showing up after the fact and we're taking reports. We're being very ineffective at preventing crime because we are understaffed we are underfunded."

NDP candidate Andrew Cash agreed that border control officers need "the best resources to stem the flow of illegal firearms." He said an NDP government would provide "better technology, more officers — whatever we need."

We need long-term, focused, systemic change.- NDP candidate Andrew Cash

Cash, a candidate in the Toronto riding of Davenport, told Lynch that "we need to listen to the communities that are suffering from this scourge of gun violence."

"More often than not they are talking about the lack of affordable housing, the lack of access to programming for their youth, the lack of decent jobs," he said.

"We need long-term, focused, systemic change."

Written by Padraig Moran. Produced by Max Paris, Idella Sturino and Cameron Perrier.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.