Mr. Jagmeet Singh, M.P.
Leader, New Democratic Party
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Dear Mr. Singh,
The #Women4GunControl Coalition is comprised of 33 national and regional women’s and feminist organizations who have come together to work toward securing a ban on assault firearms in Bill-C-21. The coalition was formed after it became clear that disinformation and partisan politics were recklessly distorting the current firearms control debate in Canada. Unfortunately, disinformation has since continued to rise, including through statements made by MPs during committee hearings, as we have explained in a recent op-ed.
It is in this context that we are reaching out to you today to ask you to support the swift implementation by the federal government of the Mass Casualty Commission’s recommendations, especially the ban on assault-style firearms.
- That you give weight to your statement urging the federal government to implement the Nova Scotia mass shooting inquiry recommendations, which include a call for stricter gun control laws, by strongly supporting the reintroduction of amendments to ban assault-style firearms as well as a freeze on new handgun sales in Bill C-21.
- That the NDP work with a sense of urgency to ensure Bill C-21 passes third reading in the House of Commons before Parliament adjourns for the summer.
- There is no more important responsibility of a national party leader than protecting the safety of Canadians, including from gun violence. However, throughout the process during which the Liberal amendments to ban assault weapons were tabled, misunderstood and withdrawn, NDP MPs did nothing but address the faulty process of their introduction, sidestepping any responsibility to Canadians for your own party’s position on the substance of the amendments, and failing to provide constructive and concrete suggestions to improve them.
For this reason, we were pleased to see your public statement urging the federal government to swiftly act on the Mass Casualty Commission’s findings which concluded that a priority “should be placed on reducing access to the most dangerous, high-capacity firearms and ammunition”.
Your support for the Mass Casualty Commission’s recommendations is also consistent with findings of a poll recently commissioned by the National Association of Women and the Law on behalf of the #Women4GunControl coalition, which found that NDP supporters were the most likely to oppose civilians owning assault-style firearms.
- We also wish to express our grave dismay that throughout the parliamentary hearings on Bill C-21, the NDP has consistently sided with the gun lobby on the issue of handguns. The NDP’s Public Safety Critic has repeatedly argued in favour of exempting members of the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC), which acts out hostage taking or self-defence scenarios, from the freeze on new handguns purchases.
It is unacceptable to see the proposed freeze on new handgun acquisitions in C-21 weakened by exempting “practical” or “elite” shooters. Exempting “elite” shooters would weaken any proposed measure, as any citizen who wants to acquire new handguns could suddenly develop a passion for “elite” shooting.
In truth, we cannot think of any legislative or regulatory framework that could remedy the fact that anyone can claim to be a “beginner” in the process of eventually becoming an Olympic competitor. Indeed, in relation to Olympic competitions, the Canadian Shooting Sports Association told the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security that those who train usually start as young as eight, nine or ten.
Respectfully, Mr. Singh, true leaders have the courage to do what is morally right, rather than what is politically expedient. While we recognize that some NDP Members of Parliament represent rural and northern ridings, where constituents who hunt have expressed vocal opposition to a ban on assault-style firearms, these protests are largely based on disinformation from gun advocates.
We would also like to underscore that we fully respect the aboriginal and treaty rights of all Indigenous Peoples and have encouraged the Government to engage in meaningful dialogue with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities on gun control matters.
The amendments which were withdrawn would not have prohibited the hunting models showcased by opponents to the amendments. As well, women in rural and remote communities, where access to communications technology, transportation and emergency help can be limited, are particularly vulnerable to firearm-related intimate partner violence.
By stepping up to provide leadership on gun control at this critical juncture, you will be acting to make communities across Canada safer, and taking concrete action to reduce intimate partner gun violence and femicides.
The #Women4GunControl Coalition:
National Association of Women and the Law | L’Association nationale Femmes et Droit
Fédération des femmes du Québec
Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund | Fonds d’action et d’éducation juridique pour les femmes
Ending Violence Association of Canada | L’Association canadienne pour mettre fin à la violence
Canadian Federation of University Women | Fédération Canadienne des Femmes Diplômées des Universités
Women’s Shelters Canada | Hébergement femmes Canada
Canadian Council of Muslim Women
Fédération des maisons d’hébergement pour femmes
National Council of Women of Canada
Luke’s Place Support and Resource Centre for Women and Children
Canadian Women’s Foundation | Fondation canadienne des femmes
Persons Against Non-State Torture
West Coast LEAF Association
Association féministe d’éducation et d’action sociale
Action ontarienne contre la violence faite aux femmes
South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario
South Asian Women’s Community Centre | Centre communautaire des femmes sud-asiatiques
Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic
SOS violence conjugale
Québec contre les violences sexuelles
Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale
Regroupement québécois des centres d’aide et de lutte aux agressions à caractère sexuel
Ontario Association of Interval & Transition Houses
Service d’Entraide Passerelle
Centre Victoria pour femmes
Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters
Newfoundland & Labrador Sexual Assault & Crisis Prevention Centre
The Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies | L’Association canadienne des sociétés Elizabeth Fry
Network of Women with Disabilities NOW
Halton Women’s Place
Informed Opinions | Femmes Expertes