Bill Blair (right), federal minister of border security and organized crime reduction, and Mayor John Tory attend a press conference in Toronto on Friday, August 3, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Gun violence a ‘significant concern’ for Canadians, Bill Blair says

The City of Toronto now has $11 million in its coffers from the federal government to pay down some costs it has incurred dealing with an influx of irregular border crossers.

Canada’s handgun laws are effective, but the federal government will consider additional restrictions in certain parts of the country along with any other measures to help reduce gun violence, says the new minister of border security and reducing organized crime.

Bill Blair is acknowledging that the latest rash of shootings — most recently in Toronto — has touched off a sense of urgency among the public for the government to do more to keep deadly firearms out of the wrong hands.

“This is a significant concern for Canadians,” Blair told The Canadian Press in an interview.

“The concern that currently exists in places like Toronto, Surrey, B.C., and other parts of Canada requires that we examine the issue and deal with it in a comprehensive way.”

The former Toronto police chief, elected to the House of Commons for the first time in October 2015, earned his first senior cabinet post last month after helping to stickhandle the controversial Liberal cannabis bill between three separate departments to its ultimate approval earlier this year.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has now tasked Blair with conducting a “deep analysis” across government to examine what additional steps could be taken to tackle the scourge of gun violence — a subject with which the veteran of the Toronto police is intimately familiar.

“Because I’ve got decades of experience, the prime minister has asked me to provide that focus for our government, to look at every aspect in every ministry so that we address all of the issues related to gun violence and that will enable us to take effective action in addressing it,” he said.

He said the government’s work will include looking at “any measure which will be effective.”

Related: Feds looking at ways to tackle wave of gun violence in Toronto: Minister

Related: No magic wand to end Toronto gun violence: Mayor John Tory

In the wake of a deadly shooting in Toronto last month, Toronto city council passed a motion urging the federal government allow the city to forbid the sale of handguns in the city and for the province to outlaw the sale of handgun ammunition within city limits.

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh wrote to Trudeau last week urging him to heed Toronto’s call to do more.

The federal government has already said it would consider a number of different ways to crack down further on handguns, including empowering municipalities to do so — a commitment Blair reiterated this week.

He also cited measures already included in Bill C-71, which proposes to tighten certain regulations on gun ownership laws, including expanded background checks on would-be gun owners, stronger record-keeping by retailers and requiring buyers to first present a firearms licence.

“We are quite prepared to look at how — in certain parts of the country perhaps — greater restrictions might be implemented. But in addition to that, you have to recognize that in and of itself is not the sole solution,” Blair said.

“You have to look at a number of different things and we want to make sure that what we do is what works, and works for Canadians. But we also respect the perspectives that exist right across this country, so it’s not just the consideration of a single place but the consideration of the whole country.”

Blair said he believes many of the current rules are working as they should. He also noted he knows many responsible firearm owners who follow all the rules.

“If you look at the difference between gun violence in this country compared to other countries that have less restrictive handgun control, I think it demonstrates that certain aspects of it can work,” he said.

“At the same time, I think we all share a concern when those firearms get into the hands of violent criminals who are prepared to commit violent acts in our communities and we need to do everything we can do keep those guns out of their hands.”

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Giants draw first blood in Western Conference championships

In Game 1 of the best-of-seven series between Vancouver and Spokane, the G-Men emerged triumphant

VIDEO: Multiple people injured after Aldergrove deck collapses during celebration

UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

Championship action kicks off tonight at Langley Events Centre

Giants prepare to do battle in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals Friday on home ice

PHOTOS: Langley RCMP volunteers ‘represent the best of our community’

Dozens were honoured Thursday night during the 27th annual Langley RCMP’s volunteer dinner

Langley MP describes most recent diagnosis as a ‘miracle’

Tory Member of Parliament Mark Warawa doesn’t have pancreatic cancer, but operable colon cancer

VIDEO: Alberta man creates world’s biggest caricature

Dean Foster is trying to break the world record for a radio show contest

B.C. RCMP receive application for Police Cat Services

RCMP announced the launch of the Police Cat Services unit as an April fools joke

Rats available for adoption in Vancouver

In a social media post the City of Vancouver says you can adopt a rat for $5.

Kirkland Signature veggie burgers recalled due to possible metal fragments

Recalled products came in 1.7 kg packages with a best before date of Apr. 23, 2019

Chaos at the ferry terminal for people heading from Vancouver to the Island

Easter crowds create backlog at Tsawwassen ferry terminal

Parents of 13 who tortured children get life after hearing victims

One of their daughters fled their home and pleaded for help to a 911 operator

Crews battle Burnaby blaze; 2 people sent to hospital

Emergency Support Services helping residents displaced by fire

Flooding, climate change force Quebecers to rethink relationship with water

Compensation for victims of recurring floods limit to 50% of a home’s value, or a maximum of $100,000

Storms blast South, where tornadoes threaten several states

9.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia at a moderate risk of severe weather

Most Read