Poilievre Criticizes Mass Casualty Commission for Ignoring Victims and Details Around Firearms

Poilievre Criticizes Mass Casualty Commission for Ignoring Victims and Details Around Firearms
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre holds a press conference in the foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Jan. 25, 2023. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Matthew Horwood

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre on Thursday accused the commission that investigated the 2020 Nova Scotia mass shooting of ignoring both the victims of the crime and the details surrounding illegally smuggled firearms used by the shooter.

“The commission is really an outrage, the way they ignored the victims of the crime that happened,” Poilievre said during a press conference late Thursday.

Poilievre’s comments were made in response to a question on the Mass Casualty Commission (MCC)’s recommendations on firearms. Contained in the commission’s 3,000-page report—which examined the events of April 18–19, 2020, that left 22 people dead and three injured—are 130 recommendations for the RCMP, as well as provincial and federal governments.

The MCC’s report recommends that Canada’s Criminal Code be changed to prohibit all semi-automatic handguns, semi-automatic rifles, and shotguns that discharge centre-fire ammunition or can accept detachable magazines with capacities of more than five rounds.

The commission also recommends the prohibition of transferring ownership of firearms through estates when someone dies, as well as more cooperation with United States authorities to prevent illegal weapons from entering Canada through that country. The guns that Gabriel Wortman used in the mass shooting were obtained illegally and smuggled in from the United States.

Poilievre, who had been speaking about rising crime and the need for bail reform during the press conference, responded that the federal government needed to “stop going after hunters and start going after criminals.”

“The shooting that you referred to was done with smuggled guns, not legal firearms,” he said.

The Conservative leader said that his focus would be to secure Canada’s southern border to “stop the flow of illegal guns coming from the United States.” He also said he would reinstate mandatory jail time for repeat gun criminals “so that we take those criminals off the streets and put them behind bars where they can no longer do harm.”

Poilievre also pointed out that banning hunting rifles will not stop knife crimes. Earlier in the press conference, Poilievre listed a number of recent crimes that had been committed with knives.

“Banning a rural hunter from carrying out a great Canadian Heritage of the outdoors is not going to stop stabbings on the LRT system in Calgary or Toronto. Let’s go after the problem and stop with the distractions,” he said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that his government will adopt many of the report’s recommendations, which include extensive suggestions for reforms to the RCMP.

“Canadians deserve to feel safe in their communities, whether it’s around gun control, whether it’s around community policing, whether it’s around supports for mental health challenges and communities. There is a lot that we need to do and we'll be there as a federal government doing it,” Trudeau said on April 3.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh welcomed the commission’s recommendations on gun control, saying they should be implemented immediately.

“The report highlights the urgent need for stronger gun control measures, as well as better tracking and reporting of assault weapons. We urge the federal government to implement these recommendations without delay,” Singh said on March 30.