O’Toole flip-flops on guns, vows to keep Liberal ban on assault-style firearms

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Published September 3, 2021 at 11:54 am


MONTREAL — Conservative leader Erin O’Toole promised Friday to maintain a ban on assault-style firearms, a move that could anger many of his party’s supporters.

In May last year, the Liberals banned some 1,500 firearm models, including the popular AR-15 rifle and the Ruger Mini-14 used to kill 14 women at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique in 1989. It means they cannot be legally used, sold or imported.

The Conservative election platform says the party would scrap the order-in-council that banned the wide variety of guns and review the Firearms Act with input from police, gun owners, manufacturers and the public.

But O’Toole, who has previously spoken out against the ban, including during his run for the Conservative leadership last year, told reporters in Montreal on Friday: “We will maintain the ban on assault weapons.”

The Conservative leader first said during a French-language debate on Thursday that the Conservatives would not repeal the Liberal ban.

O’Toole did not respond directly Friday to a question about what he would tell Conservative supporters opposed to the ban, saying: “Canada has an effective system of screening, training and licensing for people that are hunters and are sport shooters.”

He instead went on to tout his party’s plan to crack down on gangs and gun smuggling.

That includes making it easier for prosecutors to prove that people accused of crimes are members of criminal organizations and making it harder for accused people who have previously been convicted of crimes linked to criminal organizations to get bail.

The Conservatives are also promising to impose mandatory minimum sentences on some gun smugglers and people convicted of firearm crimes previously found guilty of another offence involving a gun.

O’Toole said he would work with the private sector to create programs to help people leave street gangs. “I will focus resources on where it keeps communities safe and stop this process of dividing Canadians.”

The Canadian Press

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