A provincial Liberal government would target all handguns if elected on June 2.
In a campaign-style ad in Scarborough, Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said if he ousted Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford, handguns would be banned within a year.
“I’m sick of Doug Ford’s open-to-business gun policy,” Del Duca said Tuesday from behind a podium, reading, “We’ll ban handguns.”
“The Ford Conservatives are putting the interests of the gun lobby ahead of the Ontario victims of gun crime they are sworn to protect. The result is that handgun violence spirals out of control,” he said.
Del Duca said handguns would be banned across Ontario within a year of taking power.
“The choice on handguns is clear, more handguns and gun crime under the Ford Conservatives or a ban on handguns under the Ontario Liberals.”
Noting that the Ford government has “blocked municipal and federal efforts to ban handguns in Ontario,” Del Duca pointed out that the Premier himself opposes such bans.
“This is unacceptable,” the Grit leader said.
Solicitor General Sylvia Jones’ office said the Conservatives are working with police and municipalities to reduce gun crime.
“The statistics are clear, more than 80% of firearms used in crime are obtained through illegal means – including across the border – and half of Ontario’s gun deaths are related to gangs,” Jones’ office said in a statement. .
“That’s exactly why our government has invested a record $185 million to combat gang violence fueled by these contraband weapons. This included reversing the Del Duca-Wynne Liberals’ cut of millions a year from anti-gang intervention programs,” the office said, apparently referring to the government of former Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne who let a $600,000 annual program expire in 2016.
With the election campaign officially due to begin in two weeks, all parties are reviving political rhetoric and seeking to highlight their political differences.
Liberals believe Ford’s stance on guns could help them with urban voters.
Two years ago, when Ottawa announced a ban on military-grade assault weapons, the Prime Minister said that was the wrong way to go.
“Let’s toughen up the penalties rather than slap the knuckles on these wicked criminals, the gangsters,” he said in 2020.
“Do you think the violence will go down in Toronto? I don’t believe it’s going to go down in Toronto because of the legal removal of guns from gun owners.
After Toronto council sought a ban on the sale of handguns and ammunition within city limits in 2018, Ford said, “I would not support a handgun ban.”
“There are a lot of legal and responsible handgun owners out there. We need to refocus all of our resources on the bad guys, not the good guys,” he said at the time.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said Tuesday that “a provincial handgun ban would be a step in the right direction toward a national handgun ban.”
“I continue to believe in the position that City Council has approved,” Tory said, calling for increased efforts against gun smuggling, tougher penalties and bail conditions for gun offenders, and to “continued investment in children and families to address the roots of gun violence.”
Del Duca said a Liberal government would accept Ottawa’s offer to fund a buyback program and work with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reduce smuggling from the United States.
“We will work with our partners and lead on this … within a year of taking office,” he said, adding that the Liberals would also push other provinces for a similar ban.
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