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Canadians divided on banning handguns, assault-style firearms: consultation

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OTTAWA — Canadians have wildly diverging views on banning handguns and assault-style firearms, says a newly released summary of federal consultations.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair to study the possibility of such a ban shortly after a shooting spree in Toronto last July.

The federal report released Thursday says opinions expressed during in-person discussions and through written submissions both opposed and supported outlawing handguns and assault-style firearms. In contrast, most people who responded to a questionnaire were against a ban.

Many participants felt strongly that a ban would target law-abiding owners, rather than illicit firearms, and would not reduce gang violence, the report says. As a result, many called for beefing up police and border services, as well as tougher penalties for firearms-trafficking and gun-related crime.

“A wide range of approaches and ideas were discussed, which suggests that a multifaceted approach is needed to address this issue rather than implementing a ban in isolation,” the report says.

There was consensus on the need to address the underlying social conditions that can lead to gun violence, such as poverty, lack of education and employment opportunities, poor mental-health supports and social isolation, the report adds.

Participants also supported better collection and sharing of data on gun crime, especially on sources of illicit firearms and the types of offences being committed.

In addition, many people active in the firearms community said they wanted to work with the federal government to come up with solutions.

New Zealand recently banned military-style semi-automatic weapons after 50 Muslims were brutally gunned down in Christchurch.

Blair said Thursday there are “opportunities to take measures that will make Canada safer,” though he declined to provide details or speculate on timing.

Blair said he has been looking at the data, the experience in other jurisdictions, Canada’s regulatory environment and how firearms get into the wrong hands. “And as a result of that work, I believe that there are some things that we can do to create a safe environment, reduce gun violence in our communities and make it far more difficult for people who would commit crimes.”

Participants at a series of eight in-person roundtables in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and Moncton, N.B., last October “were divided in their views on a ban,” the summary says.

There was also a range of opinion among 36 written submissions. Opposition to a ban came from shooting clubs, retailers, academics, wildlife associations, a territorial government, an association representing rural municipalities and a group of LGBTQ firearms owners.

“You are reacting to a crime wave, no question, but not a firearms problem,” said one submission.

Support for a ban came from some health associations, victims’ organizations, women-focused groups, a provincial ministry and an organization that deals with municipal affairs.

“As these firearms have no legitimate use in hunting, current owners may only legally use them for target shooting or collecting,” said one such submission. “This is not a compelling enough reason to justify the risk they pose to public safety.”

However, about four in every five of the almost 135,000 responses to an online questionnaire objected to doing more to limit access to handguns or assault-style weapons.

A federal bill introduced in March last year, and currently before the Senate, has proposed expanding the scope of background checks on those who want to acquire guns, strengthening record-keeping requirements for sales and requiring purchasers to present valid firearms licences.

But the government has long been eyeing additional measures.

The government thinking evolved further after a July 2018 shooting in Toronto that killed two people, injured 13, led to the gunman’s death and left a neighbourhood deeply shaken.

Two days later, Toronto city council passed a motion calling on the federal government to outlaw the sale of handguns in the city.

— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

National

Federal Court approves settlement agreement for Indian Day Schools

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OTTAWA — The Federal Court has approved a settlement agreement for survivors of so-called Indian day schools.

Under the terms of the settlement, survivors will be able to apply for individual compensation for harms, including physical and sexual abuse, linked to attending one of the federally run institutions.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett says the court’s decision marks recognition of the hard work undertaken by all sides toward finding a lasting and meaningful resolution for former students and their families.

A 90-day opt-out period and a 60-day appeal period will begin now that the settlement has been approved, meaning that any class member who does not agree with its terms can choose to remove themselves from the process.

Nearly 200,000 Indigenous children attended more than 700 Indian day schools beginning in the 1920s, often enduring trauma that in some cases included physical and sexual abuse.

The schools operated separately from the residential school system and were not included in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement approved in 2006.

 

 

The Canadian Press

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U.S. secretary of state to meet with Trudeau, Freeland ahead of G7 summit

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OTTAWA — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Canada later this week to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Their meeting comes in advance of the G7 summit of the world’s seven big economies, which gets underway later this week in Biarritz, France.

Freeland’s office says she will host the meetings Thursday in Ottawa, where discussions will focus on Canada-U.S. co-operation on various domestic and international issues, including key security and foreign policy matters.

The meeting is being billed as an opportunity to build on the outcomes of Trudeau’s June visit to Washington, D.C., where he met with U.S. President Donald Trump and discussed relations with China, as well as the continued arbitrary detention of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.

Trudeau spoke with Trump by telephone on Friday, where the Canadian detentions in China came up again, as did the ongoing unrest in Hong Kong and the shared support of the two leaders for the ratification of the new North American trade deal.

Trump and Trudeau also discussed challenges in the global economy, with an expectation they would further those discussions together in person at the G7 summit later this week.

 

 

The Canadian Press

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august, 2019

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