Yesterday I received a letter from Public Safety Canada replying to one I sent to Bill Blair last May about gun violence. 

Eight months is a long time to wait for a reply. But I count myself fortunate.

I’ve written to the Public Safety Minister, Bill Blair, a number of times before, in pre-COVID days, always about firearms, but he has never bothered to get back to me. Personally, I think that’s bad form – particularly from someone as elevated as Mr Blair. So I was pleasantly surprised when I received an answer of sorts even if it came from Talal Dakalbab, a senior civil servant in the Ministry, rather than the great man himself.

I wanted to know:

(1)          What estimate the Minister has made of the cost to Municipalities of (a) implementing and maintaining a local ban on handguns or (b) restricting access to handguns?

(2)          If the Minister will make it his policy to collect statistics on the number of people who have been left permanently disabled as a result of a handgun assault, specifying in each case the nature of the injury?

(3)          How many persons under the age of 18 have been (a) fatally shot and (b) wounded in each of the last 10 years by someone using a handgun?

One year ago to the very day (on 26 January 2020) I wrote to my MP, Tony Van Bynen, asking if he would table these questions in Parliament. But nothing happened. No acknowledgement. Just silence.

Then, three months later, on 26 April 2020, in the wake of the terrible massacre in Nova Scotia, Van Bynen stirred himself, telling me he would submit my email correspondence to Minister Blair.

If he did, my questions were lost somewhere along the way.

But the helpful Mr Dakalbab tells me that if I would like a reply to my questions I should resubmit them.

Which is precisely what I intend to do.

mrgordonprentice@icloud

These are increasingly dangerous days in Newmarket. Here Newmarket Today covers the latest outrage. And why I believe the Liberal Government will not ban handguns.

Update on 28 January 2021: From the Globe and Mail: Quebec City Mosque co-founder decries lack of Federal progress on handgun control. And from the CBC - four years after the slaughter in Quebec.

Update on 30 January 2021: From the Montreal Gazette. Events to mark anniversary of mosque massacre begin with calls for gun control. See also Justin Trudeau blames Provinces for Canada's inaction on Municipal handgun bans (from Peterborough Examiner 13 November 2020)

Click "Read more" below to read my emails to Tony Van Bynen MP and the Minister, Bill Blair. And the letter I received from Mr Dakalbab.

 

By email and Canada Post: 29 April 2020

Dear Mr Blair

We are all shocked to the core by the terrible tragedy in Nova Scotia – the deadliest mass shooting in Canadian history. We hope the Government will do everything it can to minimise the possibility of such a brutal, cold-blooded slaughter ever happening again.

My MP, Tony Van Bynen, believes as I do that there should be a nationwide ban on handguns. He made his position clear during last year’s Federal Election campaign. 

I wrote to Mr Van Bynen on 26 January 2020 asking for his views on a Toronto Star editorial that day which described proposals to give municipalities powers to ban handguns on their patch as an “unworkable and ineffective idea” which defied logic.

Mr Van Bynen replied to my letter on 26 April 2020 after the full horror of the massacre in Nova Scotia became known. He wrote:   

Thank you for writing to me regarding banning handguns in Canada. The Prime Minister’s position with respect to gun control is clear. For ease of reference I am attaching a link to his most recent statements: https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/news/canada/trudeau-promises-swift-action-on-gun-control-in-light-of-nova-scotia-shooting-439870/

The matter is also reflected in Hon Bill Blair - Minister of Public Safety’s Mandate Letter and his approach is largely captured in the following article. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-ottawa-to-implement-gun-control-strategy-in-multistep-process-bill/  I will submit your email correspondence to Minister Blair.

Tony Van Bynen MP

Newmarket-Aurora

Although Mr Van Bynen did not make it explicitly clear, I am bound to assume that in forwarding my correspondence to you he is inviting you to address the points I raised with him concerning (a) the feasibility and workability of a partial handgun ban and (b) the questions I had asked him to table.

Are you in a position to comment on the point made in the Toronto Star editorial about the impracticability of a partial handgun ban? And would it be possible for you to answer the questions I asked Mr Van Bynen to table? 

Can I ask you to acknowledge receipt of this email and indicate if I can expect a substantive reply to the points I raise?

I am very grateful.

Yours sincerely

Gordon Prentice

__________________________________________________________________

From: Gordon Prentice <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>  
Sent: Monday, April 20, 2020 5:32:45 PM
To: Van Bynen, Tony - M.P. <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Subject: The Massacre in Nova Scotia

By email and by Canada Post

Good afternoon Tony

In the light of the terrible massacre in Nova Scotia and your Tweet #NovaScotiaStrong I am writing to ask you again what steps you are taking to advance a ban on handguns, a policy you favour.

I should also be grateful if you would address the points made in my letter of 26 January 2020.

Gordon Prentice

__________________________________________________________________

By email and by Canada Post 

Tony Van Bynen MP

House of Commons

Ottawa K1A 0A6

26 January 2020

Good afternoon Tony

Banning handguns

I am writing to you again because we share a common objective to see handguns banned in Canada.

This morning’s Toronto Star editorial calls for a ban on handguns and says the Prime Minister’s mandate letter to Bill Blair in December only mentions assault rifles.

“On handguns, it speaks only of working with provinces and territories “to give municipalities the ability to further restrict or ban handguns” — the position the Liberals campaigned on last year.

This is an unworkable and ineffective idea. The idea that individual cities can usefully impose bans on handguns defies logic…”

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2020/01/26/banning-assault-rifles-is-fine-but-handguns-are-the-problem.html

What are your thoughts on this?

At the bottom of page 4 of this morning’s Star there is a short piece about a fatal shooting last night in Scarborough – Bill Blair’s own patch. One man was shot in the chest and died and another was shot in the head and is in hospital with life threatening injuries. A woman was shot in the hand.

This kind of gun violence is becoming normalised with stories which would once have appeared on the front page being found deep inside the paper.

As Parliament returns this coming week after the Christmas break, would you (a) raise this issue of gun violence at the next Liberal caucus and (b) seek a meeting with Bill Blair to ask how he intends to respond to the plague of handgun violence. How will the plan to give individual cities the right to impose bans on handguns work in practice? 

I wrote to Bill Blair twice during the Government’s consultation on firearms.

I should also be grateful if you would table these written questions:

(1)          What estimate the Minister has made of the cost to Municipalities of (a) implementing and maintaining a local ban on handguns or (b) restricting access to handguns?

(2)          If the Minister will make it his policy to collect statistics on the number of people who have been left permanently disabled as a result of a handgun assault, specifying in each case the nature of the injury?

(3)          How many persons under the age of 18 have been (a) fatally shot and (b) wounded in each of the last 10 years by someone using a handgun?

On 16 December 2019 I wrote asking if you would support the class action lawsuit brought by victims of the Danforth shooting against gun maker Smith and Wesson. The story is set out here in the Globe and Mail:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-toronto-danforth-shooting-victims-lawsuit-gun-maker-smith-wesson/

Can I ask when you are likely to be in a position to respond?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Your sincerely

Gordon Prentice

 

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