Minister Blair refuses to say if Marc Lépine’s weapon will be banned
OTTAWA – On the 30th anniversary of the killing at École Polytechnique, the Trudeau government underlines its promise to ban military-style assault weapons but refuses to say whether the upcoming ban will apply to the weapon used by Marc Lépine.
In Commons on Friday morning, it was time for commemorative speeches. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took advantage of his time to point out that his government intends to ban “the kind of weapon used at École Polytechnique”.
“Our actions speak louder than our words,” Trudeau first noted in his speech. “These weapons designed to kill as many people as possible in the shortest possible time have no place in our communities, on our streets, in our country,” he added.
All the MPs then applauded him, except the conservative elected officials. There was, however, an exception in the official opposition benches. One of the 10 Conservative MPs from Quebec, Chicoutimi-Le Fjord elected Richard Martel, took part in the applause.
A few hours later, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair tried to clarify the message.
“What (the Prime Minister) said … is that we are doing the work necessary to ban weapons similar to those used in this tragic event 30 years ago,” said the minister.
There is no question of identifying the Ruger Mini-14 by name, despite the insistence of journalists.
“What I do not want to provoke as a phenomenon is that individuals go to buy these weapons before the list is published (weapons eventually banned),” finally released the minister in a hurry to questions.
And he insisted several times that when this list is published, he will announce the criteria used to train it.
For the Bloc opposition, the message from Mr. Trudeau’s speech seemed clear.
“I thought I heard (…) that the Prime Minister had indeed said that he would ensure the banishment of this weapon,” said the leader of the Bloc Québécois, Yves-François Blanchet.
The caution of Minister Blair does not please his Liberal colleague from Brossard-Saint-Lambert, “disappointed” that we have not yet banned this weapon, 30 years after the killing.
“It leaves us in good caucus debate,” said Alexandra Mendès, describing the Liberal caucus “in the image of the country,” that is, divided on the issue of gun control.
“Minister Blair is (…) very committed to reaching a decision but that’s the way, I think, that is currently the most difficult,” she still offered.
Ms. Mendès thought it worth recalling the political price paid by her party when it set up a long gun registry.
The Polytechnique massacre had given birth to a campaign for gun control, a campaign that after many years of struggle had convinced the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien to set up the registry. The Conservative government of Stephen Harper destroyed it.
Last week, Polysesouvient reminded the Liberals of their promise to expand gun control. And reading the letter signed by Heidi Rathjen and Nathalie Provost, we understand that the group believes that the Liberal promise covers the Ruger Mini-14.
“We are finally anticipating the banishment of the Ruger Mini-14, the weapon used to kill fourteen of our girls and sisters and wounding as many others in less than 20 minutes,” said the letter to Minister Blair.
Excerpts from speeches in the Commons
Andréanne Larouche, Bloc MP: “The anti-feminist attack at Polytechnique did not do more than 14 victims. He did a lot more: thousands, millions. The whole of Quebec, 30 years later, still lives with this burden, this unpleasant feeling of getting dirty. ”
Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the NDP: “Thirty years after Canadians have said” never again “in the aftermath of the École Polytechnique tragedy, we must collectively recognize that we have a long way to go to respect this commitment. ”
Andrew Scheer, Leader of the Conservative Party: “It is totally unacceptable that violence against women is topical. That is why I propose and I propose to all Canadians not to be content with being respectful of women. Let us also be proactive and demonstrate with concrete actions how much we care about the safety and dignity of every life, every woman. ”
Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister: “Our actions speak louder than our words. (…) These weapons designed to kill as many people as possible in the shortest possible time have no place in our communities, on our streets, in our country. ”
Jenica Atwin, Green Party MP: “It was not an isolated act, but rather a direct consequence of rampant misogyny in our society. This violence that specifically targets women has still not been eradicated in our communities. “