OTTAWA -- In the wake of the violent events in Nova Scotia, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government is pushing ahead with strengthening gun control in the country.
"In regards to gun control, we took very serious commitments in the election campaign and have moved forward -- and are moving forward on them -- to ensure that we’re strengthening gun control in this country," Trudeau said from the front steps of Rideau Cottage on Monday.
The RCMP says at least 18 people are dead, plus the shooter, after a man went on a rampage across Nova Scotia Saturday night and into Sunday. As the investigation into the violence continues, authorities have warned the death toll may rise.
Police have not said what kind of weapon the shooter used or whether it was legally obtained.
Trudeau's Liberals campaigned on a promise to ban assault rifles, which they said in their platform are "designed to inflict mass casualties and have no place in Canada." The plan would include a buyback program for all military-style assault rifles purchased legally in Canada.
"I can say that we were on the verge of introducing legislation to ban assault-style weapons across this country, it was interrupted when the pandemic caused Parliament to be suspended," Trudeau said.
"We have every intention of moving forward on that measure and potentially other measures when the Parliament returns."
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, speaking in a press conference Monday afternoon, said the government intends to bring forward both "regulation and legislation" to prohibit military style assault weapons. He also reiterated the government's pledge to put other preventative measures in place, such as stronger rules for gun storage and laws to ensure firearm access is suspended for those who present a risk to themselves or others.
"There have been far too many incidents of gun violence in our country and we are working hard to make sure that we put the measures in place that significantly reduce those incidents and keep people safe," Blair said.
The public safety minister said the timeline for this legislation remains uncertain due to the constraints the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on parliament's usual process.
"I think we've made very clear our commitment to strengthen gun laws in this country and we are working on doing that. The actual schedule for bringing forward that legislation, that is still to be determined simply because we are in uncertain times in Parliament, but it doesn't in any way imply that we are any less committed to taking the steps that are necessary to keep Canadians safe," Blair said.
Meanwhile, as Canada reels from the news of this tragedy, politicians took to their podiums today to express their heartfelt condolences.
"This day is made all the more difficult because of the precious lives lost and the senseless act of one person," Trudeau said.
"Just how could this happen? We may never know why. But we do know this. No one man's action can build a wall between us and a better day -- no matter how evil, how thoughtless or how destructive. Canadians are kind and generous. We are there for each other and we look out for one another. As families grieve the loss of a loved one, all Canadians are standing with them," Trudeau said.
In the wake of the violent events in Nova Scotia, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government is pushing ahead with strengthening gun control in the country.