Feds un­veil plan to com­bat gun vi­o­lence

The Prince George Citizen - - Local - Teresa WRIGHT

OT­TAWA — As the Lib­er­als be­gin to roll out spend­ing on a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar plan to com­bat a rise in gun and gang vi­o­lence in Canada, Con­ser­va­tive Leader An­drew Scheer un­veiled his own plat­form pledge to crack down on gangs, in­clud­ing tougher crim­i­nal penal­ties for gang mem­bers.

In du­elling news con­fer­ences Thurs­day, the Lib­er­als and Con­ser­va­tives each tried to paint their own mea­sures to com­bat guns and gangs as the most ef­fec­tive.

The Trudeau gov­ern­ment an­nounced a plan to spend $86 mil­lion on ex­panded in­tel­li­gence and bor­der-se­cu­rity mea­sures for the RCMP and Canada Bor­der Ser­vices Agency – part of a five-year, $327-mil­lion fund­ing prom­ise made ear­lier this year to stop crim­i­nal gun and gang ac­tiv­i­ties.

Pub­lic Safety Min­is­ter Ralph Goodale said gun vi­o­lence and or­ga­nized crime are se­ri­ous prob­lems in Canada and that the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment’s ap­proach is to fo­cus on pre­ven­tion, ways for gang mem­bers to get out, and en­force­ment – be­ing “smart on crime” ver­sus soft on crime.

“It takes a mul­tidi­men­sional ap­proach and we all have to pull to­gether as a co­her­ent team,” Goodale said.

“You need the com­mu­ni­ty­based ac­tiv­ity. You need the en­hanced po­lice ac­tiv­ity. You need the stronger ac­tiv­ity at the bor­der. It is a com­pre­hen­sive, co­her­ent plan, plus you need the backup of leg­is­la­tion like Bill C-71,” he added, re­fer­ring to the Lib­er­als’ anti-firearms leg­is­la­tion, which is still mak­ing its way through Par­lia­ment.

Scheer, mean­while, said he wants more puni­tive mea­sures against gang mem­bers. He wants to im­pose tougher jail sen­tences and limit pa­role and bail op­por­tu­ni­ties for gang mem­bers who are re­peat and vi­o­lent of­fend­ers.

“Con­ser­va­tives will take ac­tion to make it eas­ier for po­lice to tar­get gang mem­bers and put them be­hind bars, where they be­long,” Scheer told re­porters in Bramp­ton, Ont. “We’re go­ing to put an end to the re­volv­ing-door prison sys­tem and take th­ese vi­o­lent thugs off of the streets for good.”

The an­nounce­ments came hours af­ter a mass shoot­ing in a Cal­i­for­nia bar Wed­nes­day night, in which a gun­man killed 12 peo­ple and then him­self.

Canada has ex­pe­ri­enced a rash of deadly gun in­ci­dents this year, in­clud­ing a mass shoot­ing on Toronto’s Dan­forth Av­enue in July that killed an 18-year-old woman and a 10-year-old girl and in­jured 13 oth­ers.

This has led to calls for Ot­tawa to ban hand­guns and as­sault weapons, in­clud­ing from both Mon­treal and Toronto city coun­cils.

Fed­eral con­sul­ta­tions on a pos­si­ble ban are on­go­ing, Blair said, and he ex­pects to de­liver a re­port on the idea by the end of the year.

Scheer firmly re­jected a hand­gun ban, say­ing Thurs­day it would amount to sym­bol­ism over sub­stance.

“It’s lazy gov­ern­ment to ask law-abid­ing peo­ple to fol­low more laws. It’s harder, more chal­leng­ing to get real crim­i­nals off the street,” he said.

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