Ottawa promises over $40M to tackle gun violence in Quebec

Ottawa promises over $40M to tackle gun violence in Quebec
Ottawa promises over $40M to tackle gun violence in Quebec 4 August 2022 08:49 PM: The federal government announced Thursday that it will be committing close to $42 million to fight growing gun violence in Quebec.

It comes as Montrealers woke up to the news that three people had been fatally shot this week, in what seemed to be random attacks.

"There are too many young people falling victim to gun violence," said Pablo Rodriguez, a member of Parliament for the Montreal riding of Honoré-Mercier, at a news conference in Montreal.

"We've had enough. All the violence, seeing lives torn apart, hearing the cries of parents, the citizens living in fear for their children, it's enough."

It will be up to the province to decide how to split the money between police services, community organizations and municipalities — especially the city of Montreal — that are trying to deal with an influx of firearms.

Federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said the money will provide police with the resources they need to slow the trafficking of guns.

"This starts with action at our borders," Mendicino said.

The $41.8 million is coming from the Building Safer Communities fund, a fund of $250 million to be distributed over the next five years to cities struggling with gun violence, he said.

Mendicino also pointed to Bill C12, currently before the House of Commons. It proposes raising maximum sentences for firearm offences, a countrywide freeze on handguns, a "red flag" law that would help victims of domestic violence connect with police if they fear for their life and the banning of over 1,500 assault rifles.

Montreal police are working with the Sûreté du Québec on a case that saw a suspect killed after three fatal shootings within less than 48 hours in the Montreal area. (Charles Contant/CBC)

'Cannot arrest our way out': Mendicino

But the public safety minister emphasized this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to addressing the violence.

"We need to focus on stopping gun violence before it starts," he said. "We cannot arrest our way out of the problems in our streets."

A large part of the $41.8 million will also go toward community organizations across the province that work with teens and young adults, so they can make "good choices that set themselves up for success," Mendicino said.

"It is a very targeted and grassroots approach," he said. Access to sports teams, after school programs and other services are what keeps youth out of crime, Mendicino said.

It will ultimately be up to the province to decide which community organizations get the funds.

Indigenous communities, including Kahnawake, Akwesasne and those in Nunavik, are also expected to benefit from the funding, according to a news release from the federal government.

The funding announcement is the latest step by the federal government to slow gun violence in the province. 

In April it invested $5 million in four violence-prevention projects in Montreal aimed at youth.

That funding came just days after Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante announced the city would be spending $7 million for similar projects and infrastructure geared to supporting youth, such as sports facilities and urban agriculture initiatives.

At the end of 2021 the Quebec government also announced $52 million toward combating gun violence. Close to 40 organizations that focus on art, sports and cultural programs aimed at keeping youth away from crime will benefit, Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault said then.

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