Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is attacking his main rival over gun control and safety on the twenty-second day of the federal election campaign as he pledged tighter controls on guns already banned by his government and funding for provinces to prohibit guns locally.
Trudeau targeted Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole over a proposed repeal of a Liberal ban on 1,500 firearms — a position the Tory leader reversed on Sunday.
During a Sunday morning campaign stop in Markham, Ont., Trudeau outlined Liberal plans to strengthen the existing rules if re-elected.
“These guns have no place in our communities and have no place anywhere in Canada,” Trudeau said.
The Conservative Party’s election platformed promised to repeal the Liberals’ 2020 ban on some 1,500 firearms branded by the government as “assault-style weapons.”. But O’Toole said Sunday that he would keep those measures in place and review them if elected on Sept. 20.
On Sunday, Trudeau highlighted the Liberals’ campaign promise to offer owners of weapons affected by the ban the option of selling them to the government or having them rendered inoperable. Those include the AR-15 rifle and the Ruger Mini-14, which was used in the deadly Ecole Polytechnique massacre of 1989.
“You can’t buy these guns, you can’t sell these guns, you can’t use these guns. And even if you own one today, no one gets a pass,” Trudeau said.
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He also accused O’Toole of making unspecified “secret deals” with “the gun lobby” and making promises to “the far-right elements of his party.”
O’Toole has argued that hunters and sport shooters have been unfairly caught up in the Liberal ban. He also delayed clarifying his position on the ban since suggesting he would keep it in place earlier in the week.
Another Liberal gun campaign promise, outlined by the leader on Sunday, aims to limit the number of rounds high-capacity gun magazines can hold.
Also on the table is a $1 billion pledge to help provinces and territories ban handguns.
Trudeau noted that legislators in Quebec have already indicated interest in banning handguns, and said his government would be open to helping other provinces do the same.
He didn’t directly answer why his party’s policy on handguns is only optional and not mandatory for provinces to enforce, saying his Liberal government has “step-by-step” increased gun control in the country over six years.
Trudeau was scheduled to spend the day making stops with candidates in the vote-rich Toronto area.
He made his firearms-related announcement alongside two Liberal candidates who are former police officers — Markham_Unionville’s Paul Chiang and Bill Blair, the former Toronto police chief who is running for re-election in Scarborough Southwest.
Both men spoke about their experience in law enforcement and desire to cut back on gun violence in Canada.
The Liberal leader also commented Sunday on the removal of another Ontario Liberal, Raj Saini, who is facing allegations that he harassed a staff member. The party said Saturday Saini was no longer running as a candidate after new, unspecified information came to light.
Trudeau said Saturday it was a “far from ideal situation” to no longer have a candidate in Saini’s Kitchener, Ont., riding.
“I understand people being angry about it. I’m pretty frustrated about the whole thing myself,” Trudeau said, adding that he’s “driven” in his political roles to stand up for people facing harassment and intimidation.
Trudeau faced criticisms on the issue earlier in the day from NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who accused Trudeau of doing nothing to address the controversy surrounding Saini.