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Are Canada’s gun laws being whittled away without debate?

Advocates of gun control said this week's shooting death of an Edmonton police officer illustrates the chill on discussing gun violence and public policy.
Advocates of gun control said this week's shooting death of an Edmonton police officer illustrates the chill on discussing gun violence and public policy. Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Families of victims and witnesses to the 1989 Montreal massacre said Canada’s hard-won gun control laws are being whittled away — and no one seems ready, or even allowed, to talk about it.

READ MORE: Bill casts veil of secrecy over long gun registry’s destruction 

Advocates of gun control said this week’s shooting death of an Edmonton police officer illustrates the chill on discussing gun violence and public policy — even as the Conservatives rush through another firearms bill they suggest weakens gun control.

In the wake of Monday’s shooting, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson suggested the elimination of the federal long-gun registry may be a factor in numerous altercations between police and armed assailants.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay blasted Iveson’s comments as “absurd,” “inappropriate” and “ill-timed” — forcing an apology and retraction from the mayor.

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READ MOREEdmonton mayor concerned with gun violence against police

On the same day, federal Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney was labelling the gunman a “right-wing extremist” and saying the Harper government’s new anti-terrorism bill would prevent such tragedies.

Heidi Rathjen, a witness to the shooting deaths of 14 women at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique, said Conservative politicians and the gun lobby have used intimidation tactics to silence gun control advocates and the media — leaving a complete absence of debate over firearms legislation.

WATCH ABOVE: Heidi Rathjen on Canada’s long-gun registry debate