The House

The House: Is Ottawa ready to ban handguns?

This week on The House, we talk about how far the federal government is ready to go to tackle gun violence with new cabinet minister and former Toronto police chief Bill Blair. Then, guest-host David Cochrane sits down with former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge to talk about how Canada's economy is stacking up with the U.S.
Bill Blair is sworn in as Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction during a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. (Patrick Doyle/Canadian Press)

The government's new minister in charge of organized crime reduction says Ottawa is open to considering banning the sale of handguns in Toronto to help tackle gun violence in the city.

"I think it's important that we be open to every consideration," Bill Blair told The House.

Toronto city councillor Joe Cressy filed a motion in council this week asking for the federal and provincial governments to step in and ban handguns and ammunition sales. Council overwhelmingly supported the motion.

It came just days after a young girl and a young woman were shot and killed when 29-year-old Faisal Hussain opened fire in the city's Greektown neighbourhood. Thirteen others were injured.

The city has seen about 230 shootings so far this year, and gun deaths have accounted for 29 of Toronto's 58 homicides in 2018.

Mayor John Tory said he didn't see why anyone in Toronto, besides law enforcement, needed to own a firearm.

Blair, a former Toronto police chief, said the federal government is committed to talking to municipalities and provinces about the best way to reduce gun crime across the country.

However, banning one type of gun won't fix the problem entirely.

"I know its complexity," Blair said. "A ban in and of itself is not the entire solution."

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4 years ago
Duration 6:00
The processing time for forensic gun analysis has quadrupled in four years, piling more delays onto a justice system coping with an increase in gun-related violence. The RCMP are blaming those longer wait times on staffing challenges driven by a Harper-era cost-cutting decision.

A ban doesn't address issues like organized crime, because gang members are already not obeying the law, Blair explained. He added that introducing another piece of policy won't target the crux of the issue.

The minister said to reduce gun violence you have to target the supply and demand, including reaching out to youth going into gangs to halt the behaviour before it starts. Many of the illegal guns on Canadian streets can also be traced back to the U.S.

In March, the Liberal government tabled Bill C-71,  new gun legislation which includes provisions to "enhance" existing background checks for those seeking a firearms license.

The bill also proposes changes to how vendors document the sale of firearms. If passed, retailers would be required to maintain adequate records of all inventories and sales.

We talk about how far the federal government is ready to go to tackle gun violence with new cabinet minister and former Toronto police chief Bill Blair.

It's time for Canada to fix its competitiveness problems: former Bank of Canada governor

Former governor of the Bank of Canada David Dodge says it's time for Canada to take steps to become competitive again after being hurt by U.S. tax cuts. (Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)

Canada has lost its competitive edge and needs to make some adjustments to keep up with the U.S. economy, according to the former governor of the Bank of Canada.

There's no question in David Dodge's mind: Canada has a competitiveness problem.

Investment in the U.S. is booming, fuelled partially by the uncertainty President Donald Trump is creating over the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and partially by his tax plan that cuts the top corporate tax rate from 35 per cent to 20 per cent beginning this year.

Last year, U.S. investment in Canada was nearly half of the $40.6 billion recorded just four years earlier, according to a report from Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.

Over the same period, Canadian investment south of the border more than tripled.

Despite numerous calls to match the U.S. corporate tax rate, Finance Minister Bill Morneau has maintained he doesn't want to react too quickly to Trump's approach, but he's also made it clear he wants to address the issue of competitiveness in his fall fiscal update.

Canadian productivity compared to the U.S. has fallen because we haven't kept up with the appropriate level of investment to keep the economy moving forward, Dodge said.

"The question is, how do we tackle it," he told The House.

While there are external factors outside of the control of the government, policies, regulations and legislation can be changed.

Over time, Canada has created processes that make it very unattractive for private investors to move their capital here, Dodge said.

Issues with moving goods and services around the country freely have posed large, expensive challenges to investors.

"We've been creating this problem for ourselves for a number of years," he added. "Our real challenge is to stop shooting ourselves in the foot."

Dodge explained fixing the problems doesn't just fall on the shoulders of the federal government, but also on provinces, municipalities and individual citizens.

Legislative adjustments at all levels of government will help curb the economic free fall, he said, and it's time to do damage control.

"We've made that process very much more complicated and that has really hurt our productivity."

We sit down with former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge to talk about how Canada's economy is stacking up with the U.S.

Canada and Mexico prepare to return to the NAFTA table

Mexico's Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, left, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, center, and Mexico's Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo pose for a photo during a joint news conference about ongoing renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in Mexico City, Wednesday, July 25, 2018. (Marco Ugarte/Associated Press)

NAFTA negotiations have seemed an uphill battle for Canada from the outset, but Mexico has also faced struggles in dealing with the U.S. administration. 

A new president will take over on Dec. 1, and talks were suspended earlier this summer partially in anticipation of that Mexican election. 

Canada's ambassador to the United States told The House he expects talks to resume in the coming weeks, but where do things stand for Canada and Mexico? 

Guest host David Cochrane asked Dionisio Pérez Jácome, Mexico's ambassador to Canada, about NAFTA. 

What was the message of the outgoing Mexican administration — and the incoming one — to the Canadian ministers when they met?

"It was a very productive meeting. The message was very clear in the sense that we want a trilateral agreement and we are working to achieve a trilateral agreement in NAFTA. It really was a very positive meeting between the Canadian representatives and the Mexican president — the Canadian ministers also met with [Andres Manuel] Lopez Obrador, the elected president, and what was reported was that it was also a positive meeting."

Mexican officials were in Washington this week for bilateral talks. Is Mexico committed to a trilateral NAFTA deal?

"This is a trilateral negotiation, it is a trilateral agreement and also it makes sense that it should be a trilateral deal and we are working in that direction.  The method in which the process is right now includes some bilateral meetings, we are meeting now with the U.S., but the idea is to aim for a trilateral agreement.

"We believe it is possible to reach one. Mexico was also very clear in saying it's possible to reach an agreement soon, the sooner the better. It would require flexibility certainly ... but it is possible to get it."

'We remain committed in continuing negotiating trilaterally'

4 years ago
Duration 7:14
Mexican Ambassador to Canada Dionisio Pérez Jácome tells Power & Politics that his government intends on moving forward to achieve a trilateral NAFTA deal, despite the U.S. administration saying Donald Trump wants to split NAFTA into two deals.

We know that Canada has some deal breakers, like the sunset clause. What are Mexico's red lines?

"Progress has been made in an important way in the negotiations so far. Nine chapters have already been agreed on. It has been commented on recently by the negotiators that we are close to finalizing 10 more chapters. Now, of course there are more complex issues [like] the sunset clause, the dispute settlement mechanism, both are also very important for Mexico just as they are for Canada. 

"The idea is to work through all of them, but for Mexico it's very important to have a predictability in the business sector so we need certainly to know that the agreement is going to be there and not expire after five years. So it's also a key demand that Mexico is making."

Significant issues have arisen between the U.S. and the two other countries. Where do things stand between Canada and Mexico in these negotiations?

"We are going through one of the best periods in the bilateral relations between Mexico and Canada. I can tell you from a political, from an economic, from an investment point of view, academic, cultural, we are going through a great moment.

"We have permanent communications between Mexican officials and Canadian authorities. We don't have any major problems. All the regular issues, we solve them through the formal process."

Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

NAFTA negotiations have seemed an uphill battle for Canada from the outset, but Mexico has also faced struggles in dealing with the U.S. administration. Guest host David Cochrane asked Dionisio Pérez Jácome, Mexico's ambassador to Canada, about NAFTA.