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Deputy Prime Minister’s remarks on new firearms measures

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Good morning.

Today is a historic day for Canadian women, for the prevention of femicide in Canada, and for progress toward a society that is safer for all Canadians.

With Bill C-21, we are fulfilling our commitment to take the most dangerous guns off our streets and out of our communities.

It’s about time we did this. Frankly, it is long overdue.

And it is in no way coincidental that we are doing this during a pandemic, when so many families are isolated in their homes, and reported cases of domestic violence have spiked.

Let me share with you some painful facts.

Intimate partner violence accounts for 28 per cent of all police-reported violent crime in Canada. Twenty-eight per cent. In eight out of ten of these cases, Statistics Canada confirms, women are the victims.

One woman or girl is killed in Canada every other day, on average, according to the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability. Once each week here in Canada, a woman is killed by her male partner.

Faced with this violence, and given the opportunity to take steps to prevent it, it would be wrong not to do so.

And please, let’s set aside, once and for all, the emotive argument that banning assault weapons, or assault-style weapons, in some way imperils the rural way of life. That is simply not true.

I grew up on a farm in northern Alberta. We had guns on our farm, as did our neighbours. If there were bears around, my dad would keep a gun in his pickup. And sometimes, he’d hunt prairie chickens on the way home for supper. And you know what? Neither my dad, nor any other farmer I knew then or have known since, owned an assault rifle or an assault-style rifle.

That’s because those weapons are not for hunting. They aren’t for shooting a prairie chicken or scaring a bear. They’re designed for just one purpose: to kill people, and to look like they can kill people.

Gun violence, all too often aimed at women and girls, is an ugly reality of our society. We have to face it and we have to do everything in our power to end it.

We do that by tightening gun control, as we propose to do with this legislation.

In doing so, we will make Canadian women and girls safer. We will make all vulnerable populations, including trans and two-spirited people, racialized Canadians and Indigenous people in Canada, safer.

We will make Canada a safer place to live, for all of us.  

Thank you.