Western Arctic MP Michael McLeod remains non-committal on whether he would vote in favour of a national handgun and assault weapon ban in the House of Commons.
McLeod, the NWT’s Liberal MP, cited the need for more information when asked if he would vote against a national ban on handguns and assault rifles if the Liberals decided to put a bill forward.
“I wanna see the information before I make that comment. You’re trying to get me to make a commitment and I’m not ready at this point,” said McLeod.
The federal government began public consultations to study a ban on handguns across the country in the wake of a Toronto shooting in July that killed two people and injured 13 more. After the shootings, city councils in Toronto and Montreal both began to lobby the federal government to ban all handguns in the country. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau instructed Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to “lead an examination of a full ban on handguns and assault weapons in Canada, while not impeding the lawful use of firearms by Canadians.”
Now, Robert Anderson, a gun rights advocate and member of the Yellowknife Shooting club, is calling on McLeod to bring those public consultations North.
“Are you going to hold a town hall here in Yellowknife or Hay River? Are we gonna have a voice on this? Well there’s been nothing but crickets,” said Anderson. “There’s a huge firearms community, hunters and sport shooters and so on and so forth and for (McLeod) to just go along with the party line, that’s wrong, you have constituents that you have to represent.”
Anderson said he has heard very little in return after reaching out to McLeod to ask if Northerners would have input into the gun ban, as so far, the federal government has only announced consultations in southern provinces. McLeod told Yellowknifer he has held informal talks with Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair and has been told there will be a consultation session in at least one territory.
“I have talked to Minister Bill Blair about it just informally and the government is under some pressure to respond to some of the bigger cities, Montreal and Toronto specifically,” said McLeod. “He’s indicated that he’s coming North but at this point I don’t know where he’s going, I’m hoping it’s going to be the NWT, but it might be the Yukon.”
McLeod also noted there is currently an online survey that NWT residents can fill out and Blair is accepting written submissions as part of his consultations.
While Anderson is pushing for more a stronger Northern voice on the issue, not everyone in the territory believes a handgun ban would be an issue in the North.
“I can’t think of a legitimate use for a handgun so I would be just as happy if they were banned,” said Lyda Fuller, executive director of YWCA NWT. “I know for the clients we see, it’s long guns that have been the problem but I would be just as happy to have handguns banned, because they definitely can cause problems.”
Fuller previously spoke in favour of gun control in 2010 when the Conservatives scraped the national long gun registry.
Dennis Bevington, Western Arctic MP at the time, abstained from voting against the Conservative bill, going against the wishes of the NDP party, stating the territorial government should be able to make the decision on imposing a registry.