PM marks École Polytechnique massacre with pledge to follow through on assault weapons ban

The Liberals have banned some 1,500 models of assault-style firearms but those advocating a total ban says it doesn't go far enough

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government will soon introduce legislation to implement the remaining parts of its 2019 election promise to ban military-style assault weapons.

The PM used a statement released to mark the 30th anniversary of the mass murder of 14 women at École Polytechnique de Montréal in 1989 to make the announcement.

The PM said in the statement released Sunday, December 6 as part of National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women that the government will also be “accelerating investments in shelter and transition housing to help women and children who are fleeing violence.”

He reiterated his government’s commitment “to develop a national action plan to address the national tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, two-spirit, and LGBTQ people.” The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls found in 2019 that Canada continues to engage in “race-based genocide.” 

Trudeau mentioned April’s mass shooting in Nova Scotia in his statement, but it was only a passing reference. “From the École Polytechnique to Portapique, firearms have caused too many tragedies and deaths,” he said.

The Liberals have banned some 1,500 models of assault-style firearms and their components. But those advocating a total ban on assault-style weapons say government officials have indicated they may create a program that would instead allow current owners to keep their banned weapons – although their use, transportation and sale would be prohibited.

In an op-ed for NOW last month, École Polytechnique survivor Nathalie Provost says the federal government’s promised buy-back program for assault weapons may include a grandfathering clause, which would allow some assault weapons to remain in circulation.

Meanwhile, a joint statement released by YWCA Toronto and other women’s shelters across the country, notes that violence against women remembrances this year are taking place as the trial into the 2018 van attack that left eight women and two men dead draws to a close in Toronto.

It is easy to write-off mass murders as the products of a few violent, disturbed men, but we cannot when there is such strong evidence that mass violence is directly tied to misogyny and domestic violence,” the YWCA’s statement says.

The statement goes on to note that the incidence of domestic violence has gotten worse during the COVID-19 pandemic, rising by between 20 and 30 per cent in some parts of the country.

This year’s femicide list published in late November by the Ontario Association of Interval and Transitional Housing, the statement says, includes the names of 35 women and girls who died – 20 of them in the GTA.

The statement calls for more affordable housing and transition programs, low-cost childcare and investment in the frontline services to help women facing violence.


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