Quebec pushes Ottawa to act on handguns after Montreal teen murdered

·2 min read

QUEBEC — Ottawa needs to do more to get guns off streets, Quebec authorities said Wednesday, following the murder of a 16-year-old Montreal boy on the weekend, the latest in a series of gun-related crimes this year in Canada's second-largest city.

Premier François Legault implored the federal government to address the issue, adding that Montreal is becoming increasingly violent.

"It's terrible; I don't recognize Montreal," Legault told reporters on his way into a cabinet meeting in Quebec City.

Thomas Trudel, 16, was killed late Sunday in Montreal's St-Michel district, not far from his home. Police have said the suspect had a brief exchange with the teenager — who wasn't known to police — before shooting him. Police have not made any arrests.

Earlier on Wednesday, Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault told reporters the federal government needs to be an essential partner in a complicated fight that goes beyond what the province and cities can do alone. She said Ottawa should impose tougher penalties for gun smuggling violations and tighten borders where illegal weapons are being brought into the country.

"The federal government has to take its responsibility and the borders from which those illegal guns come is the responsibility of the federal government, as is the Criminal Code," Guilbault said. "If we want to have more severe punishments for those very, very gravecrimes, the federal government has to change the Criminal Code."

She said she disagreed with a recent federal government bill that would have delegated the authority to ban handguns to municipalities. The federal Liberals had promised during the last election campaign to expand that authority to entire provinces and territories.

But gun control advocates have called for a national handgun ban so there aren't different rules across the country.

"We are of the opinion that we must go further," Guilbault said about the nation's gun laws. "But to what degree, who will have to proceed in what context, it is up to the federal government to make a proposal and we will comment on it."

She also asked the federal government to maintain funding for the guns and gangs program, through which the province is partly funding its own anti-gun trafficking unit, dubbed Centaure. Guilbault said police are getting results, adding that the province is planning to spend more money to fight gun crime, notably on prevention. That investment will be included in next week's economic update, she said.

“There are no quick fixes," Guilbault said. "We have to work on all fronts and, above all, everyone has to assume their responsibilities, including the federal government."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 17, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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