Justice Minister David Lametti says imposing harsher bail conditions and longer sentences for gun violence in Canada is “definitely an option” as the government sees further reforms in the gun law.
At the same time, he suggested that helping provinces and territories to ban guns was a “major” priority.
Lametti spoke West VolN Mercedes Stephenson after the government gave notice on Friday that it intends to introduce a gun law. This comes in the wake of another horrific mass shooting of school children in the United States – last week in Wolde, Texas.
The attack comes just days after a shooting at a grocery store in the densely populated community of Buffalo, NY police say.
“I grew up near the buffalo, so it’s a tragic event, and then what we saw in Texas … your heart goes out to the people who are experiencing those tragedies. Of course we are united as the people of Canada,” Lametti said before being asked about the Toronto Police request for gun law reform.
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The Toronto Police Association issued a statement on May 2 calling on the Toronto Police Services Board to support their demand for bail reform, including “creating a new criminal law for violating conditional release.”
At present, violating the bail conditions is not a criminal offense, the association said in a letter.
The letter added that such changes surrounding the bail conditions would “help curb gun and gang violence”.
Lametti was asked if he would consider such changes and harsher penalties for things like gun trafficking.
“I am certainly transparent,” he said, adding that the government is still studying how the previous 2018 law to reform Canadian bail conditions works through the legal system.
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While expanding the maximum penalties for gun violence and gun crimes, Lametti said that although the gun reform law C-21 did for some crimes, “of course that option is still moving forward”.
He will not say whether there are any such changes as part of the gun laws amendment law that will be introduced soon on Monday. In a statement listed in the order paper, Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino was named as the minister to file the bill.
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According to Mendicino’s decree issued in December 2021, there are several possibilities.
He is tasked with implementing a plan to forcibly repatriate “banned assault weapons” to Canadian owners.
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He was also tasked with forcing all long gun magazines to permanently “hold no more than five rounds” and “prohibit the sale or exchange of magazines capable of holding more than the legal number of bullets”.
Also, Mendicino has been asked to work with Lametti to bring in what are known as the Red Flag Laws.
These are laws that allow the immediate removal of firearms from persons who are considered a threat to themselves or others “especially their spouse”.
He also called for an increase in “maximum fines for firearms and kidnappings” and for provisions and territories to work together to “enforce a ban on handguns throughout their jurisdiction.”
Lametti said the letter was “a very serious commitment.”
“Again, I do not anticipate what Minister Mendicino has to say and the confidence of the Cabinet, but I think it is fair to say that this is a priority on the Prime Minister’s agenda,” he said. “It’s on top of Minister Mendicino’s agenda.”
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