OTTAWA – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that his Liberals, if re-elected in an October ballot, will bring in tougher gun control measures following a spate of shootings in Toronto.
He stopped short, however, of promising a handgun ban called for by Toronto Mayor John Tory after 17 people were shot last holiday weekend, which brought the total number of shootings so far this year in Canada’s largest city to 267. The figure is up from 248 in the same period last year.
“Recent shootings have underscored the need for common sense firearms policy,” the prime minister told a joint press conference with the mayor.
“We need action. But Mayor Tory and I agree that we can’t simply arrest our way out of this problem.”
Most of the shootings have been blamed on gang violence and illegal guns.
Although gun violence in Canada has been far less frequent and impactful than in the neighboring United States, it is still shaping up to be a major election issue with the Liberals and Conservatives — which support tougher penalties for gun crimes — running neck and neck in the polls.
Trudeau noted his government’s recent efforts to combat gun violence, including bringing in enhanced background checks, new record-keeping requirements for retailers, restrictions on transporting guns and measures to stem gun smuggling.
“We recognize that too many families across Toronto have suffered tragedies this summer from (gun) violence,” he said.
“We know there is more to do,” he added. “That’s why we look forward to putting forward a plan that will continue to invest in controlling our guns and keeping our communities safer and that’s exactly the thing we’re going to move forward with with a stronger mandate.”