OTTAWA — A new poll suggests two-thirds of Canadians favour stricter gun-control laws — and more than half believe that should include a mandatory buyback program for prohibited firearms.
The poll, conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, was conducted March 26-28, amid controversy over the federal Liberal government's latest gun legislation.
Bill C-21 proposes a buyback of many recently banned firearms that the government deems to be assault-style weapons, but owners would be allowed to keep them under strict conditions, including that they be registered and securely stored.
Fifty-two per cent of poll respondents said the buyback program should be mandatory, with the threat of fines for gun owners who don't participate — in line with what a leading gun-control group, PolySeSouvient, advocates.
Sixty-six per cent said there should be stricter gun-control regulations in general.
The online survey of 1,523 adult Canadians cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered to be random samples.
Bill C-21 has been denounced by PolySeSouvient, which maintains the legislation is too weak to salvage and is urging MPs to vote against it.
The group wants a mandatory buyback of recently outlawed firearms to ensure they cannot be misused. It also wants a national handgun ban to avoid a patchwork of laws across the country.
Instead, the bill would give municipalities discretion to ban handguns, if they choose, through bylaws restricting their possession, storage and transportation.
Just 35 per cent of poll respondents agreed that the buyback program should be voluntary, as the government is proposing.
The survey did not ask about respondents' views on banning handguns.
In general, however, a strong majority (66 per cent) supported stricter gun-control laws, while just 10 per cent said control measures should be relaxed and 19 per cent said they should remain as is.
Support for stronger measures was highest in Quebec, where 62 per cent of respondents favoured a mandatory buyback program and 75 per cent favoured stricter gun control in general.
PolySeSouvient is associated with the survivors and families of victims of the 1989 mass shooting at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique, which left 14 women dead.
Several family members of women killed in the massacre recently said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would no longer be welcome at annual commemorations unless his government strengthens Bill C-21.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2021.
Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press