Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford is shooting down Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca’s promise to ban handguns in Ontario.
With official start of the June 2 election campaign a fortnight away, Ford on Wednesday fired back at the Liberal pledge.
“I’ve been very clear on my stance. We put $185 million in fighting gangs and guns. That’s what we need to do … continue to invest (and) support our police,” the PC leader said in Thornhill.
“We know where the guns are coming from, the police know where they’re coming from — they’re coming illegally across the border,” said Ford, urging longer sentences for gun crimes and help for customs officials.
“When we catch these people, it goes in front of a (justice of the peace), they can’t have a slap on the wrist … in two days these guys are running around on the streets,” he said.
“We need to work collaboratively with the federal government to toughen up any gun laws that we have.”
On Tuesday, Del Duca accused Ford of “putting the interests of the gun lobby ahead of the Ontario victims of gun crime they swore an oath to protect” and promised handguns would be banned everywhere in Ontario within a year of the Liberals winning power.
“The choice on handguns is clear — more handguns and gun crime under the Ford Conservatives or a ban on handguns under the Ontario Liberals,” he said.
But NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who has long called for such limits on handguns, reminded Del Duca the Liberals did not enact such measures when they were in power from 2003 until 2018.
Mayor John Tory noted that Toronto city council has been asking for such a prohibition since 2018.
“A province-wide handgun ban would be a step in the right direction towards a national handgun ban,” Tory said Tuesday. “I continue to believe in the position city council has endorsed.”
Ford’s comments came at a campaign-style announcement where he touted his government’s support for housing construction, new transit lines and transportation projects, like the controversial Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass.
“Others may tell you they have to choose between transit and highways. They’ll give you all sorts of reasons why we shouldn’t build more homes for this growing region. They’ll find any reason to say no, folks. That’s not me,” he said.
“Instead, our government is keeping costs down for families by building more homes and tackling gridlock head-on by building subways, Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass.”
While the Liberals, New Democrats and Greens support public transit expansion, they oppose the new highways, citing environmental concerns.
But the Tories believe the two highways are popular in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area and will campaign on their construction even though neither project has been fully approved or costed.
The governing party is also promoting transit-oriented communities to encourage more housing and business density astride new subway stations.
In Toronto, Queen’s Park is working with the city and private developers to build five such communities along the forthcoming Ontario Line, which will run from Ontario Place to the Ontario Science Centre.
The hope is that will lead to 7,000 more homes in the city.
Ford said there could be an additional 40,000 homes built in York Region along the Yonge North subway extension.
Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney stressed it is vital “to build reliable, modern rapid transit that will connect communities across York Region and beyond.”
“The Yonge North subway extension will unlock people’s access to housing and jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and help build Ontario’s economy,” said Mulroney.
Meanwhile, Green Leader Mike Schreiner implored the Tories to scrap their highway dreams.
“Highway 413 will pave over 2,000 acres of farmland and 400 acres of the Greenbelt, cut across 85 waterways, destroy 75 wetlands, disrupt the habitats of 10 species-at-risk and pump over 17 million tonnes of climate pollution into the air by 2050,” said Schreiner.
“It’s time to stop Doug Ford’s expensive pro-sprawl, anti-climate agenda.”
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