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Liberals, Tories announce duelling plans to combat guns and gangs

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  • 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 community-based 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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    Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press



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    National

    Feds poised to bolster RCMP accountability

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  • OTTAWA — The federal government is poised to try to improve RCMP accountability by placing some external eyes on the national police force.

    Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki are expected to announce the plans at a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday.

    The long-anticipated move is the latest attempt at rebuilding the force following years of sagging morale over internal bullying and harassment.

    Insiders say the measures to be announced Wednesday are the beginning of a process that involves several steps to ensure the force benefits from independent advice and scrutiny.

    The announcement will represent the Liberal government’s response to two critical 2017 reports.

    In the first, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP said the force lacked both the will and the capacity to address the challenges that afflict its workplaces.

    The commission urged the government to usher in civilian governance or oversight for the paramilitary-style police force.

    The second report, a review by former auditor general Sheila Fraser of four harassment lawsuits from female members, also called for substantial reforms.

    At the time, Goodale said both reports described “similar serious and long-standing concerns” and would “inform further action” to ensure that the RCMP is a healthy and respectful employer.

    Lucki became the RCMP’s first permanent female boss last year when she took over the commissioner’s post from Bob Paulson.

    Before he left, Paulson delivered an apology to hundreds of current and former female officers and employees who were subjected to discrimination and harassment dating back as far as four decades.

    The words of regret came as the Mounties settled class-action lawsuits stemming from allegations that cast a dark pall over the force.

    The Trudeau government has directed Lucki to modernize and reform the RCMP’s culture, protect employees from harassment and workplace violence, and foster reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

    Goodale’s mandate letter to Lucki, issued last year, also asked her to make the force representative of Canada’s diverse population by embracing gender parity and ensuring that women, Indigenous members and minority groups are better reflected in positions of leadership.

    Another priority is implementing measures to improve health and wellness after an auditor’s report found the force was failing to meet the mental-health needs of its members due to a lack of resources, poor monitoring and meagre support from supervisors.

    Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press


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    National

    Feds poised to bolster RCMP accountability

    Published

    on

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  • OTTAWA — The federal government is poised to try to improve RCMP accountability by placing some external eyes on the national police force.

    Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki are expected to announce the plans at a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday.

    The long-anticipated move is the latest attempt at rebuilding the force following years of sagging morale over internal bullying and harassment.

    Insiders say the measures to be announced Wednesday are the beginning of a process that involves several steps to ensure the force benefits from independent advice and scrutiny.

    The announcement will represent the Liberal government’s response to two critical 2017 reports.

    In the first, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP said the force lacked both the will and the capacity to address the challenges that afflict its workplaces.

    The commission urged the government to usher in civilian governance or oversight for the paramilitary-style police force.

    The second report, a review by former auditor general Sheila Fraser of four harassment lawsuits from female members, also called for substantial reforms.

    At the time, Goodale said both reports described “similar serious and long-standing concerns” and would “inform further action” to ensure that the RCMP is a healthy and respectful employer.

    Lucki became the RCMP’s first permanent female boss last year when she took over the commissioner’s post from Bob Paulson.

    Before he left, Paulson delivered an apology to hundreds of current and former female officers and employees who were subjected to discrimination and harassment dating back as far as four decades.

    The words of regret came as the Mounties settled class-action lawsuits stemming from allegations that cast a dark pall over the force.

    The Trudeau government has directed Lucki to modernize and reform the RCMP’s culture, protect employees from harassment and workplace violence, and foster reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

    Goodale’s mandate letter to Lucki, issued last year, also asked her to make the force representative of Canada’s diverse population by embracing gender parity and ensuring that women, Indigenous members and minority groups are better reflected in positions of leadership.

    Another priority is implementing measures to improve health and wellness after an auditor’s report found the force was failing to meet the mental-health needs of its members due to a lack of resources, poor monitoring and meagre support from supervisors.

    Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press


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