Trudeau calls long-gun registry 'a failure'

Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau called the long-gun registry "a failure," during a campaign stop in the Conservative riding of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell on Friday.

"The long-gun registry as it was, was a failure and I'm not going to resuscitate that," said Trudeau while visiting the DART Aerospace plant in Hawkesbury.

"We will continue to look at ways of keeping our cities safe and making sure that we do address the concerns around domestic violence that happen right across the country, in rural as well as urban areas in which, unfortunately, guns do play a role."

"But there are better ways of keeping us safe than that registry which is, has been removed," said Trudeau.

The Liberal leadership hopeful made the comments after he was asked for his view on the now-defunct long-gun registry.

"I grew up with long-guns, rifles and shotguns," explained the son of former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

"Yes, the RCMP guarding me had handguns and I got to play with them every now and then," said Trudeau, quickly adding that the RCMP was "very responsible" around him and his siblings.

Trudeau went on to say, "I was raised with an appreciation and an understanding of how important in rural areas and right across the country gun ownership is as a part of the culture of Canada. I do not feel that there's any huge contradiction between keeping our cities safe from gun violence and gangs, and allowing this important facet of Canadian identity which is having a gun."

Trudeau, who worked as a high school teacher before jumping into politics, said he once took a school group hiking across Greenland armed with a gun.

"It was one of the only times that I ever taught with a loaded 30-06 slung over my shoulder. You don't usually think of teaching with a heavy duty rifle on your shoulder, but when you're in polar bear country, you have to be aware of that."

Trudeau blamed not only the Conservatives but also previous governments for polarizing the gun debate.

"We have a government, or successive governments, that have managed to polarize the conversations around gun ownership to create games in electoral ways — when you don't have to have a conflict," the MP from Quebec said.

"There is no concept, no idea that gun ownership is ever going to be under attack for law-abiding hunters and farmers across this country. But we need to keep the cities safe. And I don't see that that's an unsolvable solution," said Trudeau.

The federal long-gun registry was first created by the Liberal Party in 1995, in the wake of the 1989 massacre at École Polytechnique, where a gunman shot and killed 14 women, mostly engineering students.

The "$2 billion boondoggle" registry was loathed by much of rural Canada and opposed by the Conservatives, who after several attempts, finally abolished it in April after passing Bill C-19, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code and The Firearms Act, in a final vote of 159-130. Trudeau voted against the abolition of the federal long-gun registry.

The Quebec government went to court to preserve its share of long-gun data and in September, a Quebec Superior Court judge sided with the province.

While the federal government has destroyed millions of records of registered long guns, it is currently appealing the Quebec court ruling blocking it from destroying the data from Quebec's portion of the federal long-gun registry.

No stranger to public scrutiny, Trudeau said his biggest challenge is getting Canadians to know what he does and doesn't stand for.

In an exclusive interview airing on CBC Radio's The House — his first national English broadcast interview since entering the Liberal leadership race — Trudeau told host Evan Solomon "my biggest challenge is getting people to know everything that I am and everything that I'm not."

"I'm someone who is driven by my values, my sense of wanting to contribute to a build better country and people come at me with certain pre-conceptions."

More to come

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