Days before Quebec's political parties kick off their official election campaigns, several party leaders are speaking out about gun violence in Montreal and criticizing Premier François Legault's methods of addressing it.
Leader for Quebec's Liberal Party (QLP) Dominique Anglade spoke to media Thursday morning outside the Montreal pizzeria where a man was shot and killed on Tuesday — one of two fatal shootings in the city that day.
She said gun violence in Montreal has reached a crisis level, but Legault is not taking it seriously enough.
"You're not sending the message that you're taking this issue seriously if you're sitting at your desk on a Zoom call and saying we will fix this," she said.
"You have to come on the ground, see what the organizations are saying and bring up solutions."
On Wednesday, Legault tweeted a photo of himself on a Zoom call with several participants, including Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault, and vowed to take the necessary steps to "restore order and protect the citizens."
"We will not accept, as a government, that Montreal becomes a shooting range for gangs," he wrote.
Montreal police are still investigating the shootings. The first left 44-year-old Maxime Lenoir dead after he was shot in the parking lot of Rockland Shopping Centre in the Town of Mont Royal (TMR).
The second shooting took place inside a pizzeria on St-Denis Street, in Montreal's central Latin Quarter, about 40 minutes later. The victim was Diego Fiorita, age 50.
If elected premier, she said she would increase the number of police officers on the ground and increase funding for community groups who she said don't have the resources to meet the demand for their services.
Anglade said a Liberal government would also review its financing agreement with Montreal to provide more money to the city for crime prevention.
"It's $90 million that should be invested in prevention," she said.
In a statement, Québec Solidaire (QS) co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois was also critical of the premier's response to the frequent gunfire across the city during his term.
"Where was François Legault's CAQ during his entire mandate in the National Assembly? Montreal is not, and has never been, a priority for François Legault," Nadeau-Dubois said.
He said the shootings that occurred in the last few days "are the straw that broke the camel's back" and he wants to see action.
Nadeau-Dubois is proposing hiring more psychosocial workers in the community to free up police officers to focus on the fight against organized crime.
Both the QLP and QS said if elected, their government would put more pressure on Ottawa to speed up a ban on handguns.