OTTAWA: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday promised tougher action on gun control if he is re-elected next month after a recent string of deadly shootings near Toronto, Canada`s biggest city. "Far too many communities and families are facing terrible tragedies because of gun violence and it is really important that a government show leadership on that," Trudeau told reporters during a campaign stop outside Toronto. Canadians head to the polls on Oct. 21.
The Toronto area has been rocked by recent gun violence. On Saturday, a 17-year-old was killed by gunfire in the community of Mississauga and five other people were wounded. Another person was killed early Monday morning in a shooting on a major highway in Brampton. All parties are aiming to make gains in and around Toronto in the election. Toronto mayor John Tory has repeatedly called for a handgun ban to help reduce gun violence in the metropolitan area.
Trudeau has so far refused to say if his Liberal Party would impose such a ban. But he vowed he would have more to say about gun control later in the campaign. In a radio interview on Monday, Trudeau accused the Conservative Party, his main opponent, of being "in the pocket of the gun lobby."
Conservative Party spokesman Simon Jefferies, in statement on Monday, said party leader Andrew Scheer and the Conservative Party will always defend responsible, law-abiding firearm owners. "We believe that we must take a thoughtful, serious approach to this issue and pursue measures that actually reduce crime," he said.
Last year, Scheer promised to put more police officers on the streets, crack down on gangs, and develop tougher background checks for new gun owners and better information-sharing to track guns used in crimes. Trudeau`s comments marked the start of what is expected to be a full week of campaign announcements by all five political parties in an election where polls show the Liberals are facing a tight reelection battle.
Trudeau, who first came to power in 2015, also promised in his comments that a re-elected Liberal government would create up to 250,000 more spaces for before- and after-school childcare while reducing parents` fees by 10%. On Sunday, the Conservatives, who plan to focus their campaign on the economy and affordability, promised Canadians a "universal" tax cut. The tax rate for those with an annual income under C$47,630 ($35,958) would be progressively reduced to 13.75% from 15%. Such a tax cut would cost more than C$7 billion per year starting in 2028, according to estimates from the Parliamentary Budget Officer.