Municipal handgun bans an option ‘we’ll look at,’ Manitoba premier says after meeting with prime minister

By | November 8, 2019

Allowing Manitoba municipalities to ban handguns is one possible response to a recent wave of violence in Winnipeg, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said Friday, following a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“Certainly we’ll look at that,” the premier told reporters Friday morning in Ottawa, when asked about his position on the potential bans.

During his re-election campaign, the prime minister promised to work with provinces to empower local governments to “further restrict” or outright ban handguns on their own, but said his Liberal government wouldn’t create a countrywide prohibition on handguns.

Violent crime was one of the issues that came up during the Manitoba premier’s Friday morning meeting with Trudeau.

“I won’t make policy on the fly. I’ll only say that obviously we’re concerned and we’re looking for measures that we can pursue,” said Pallister, who is the first of the western provincial leaders to meet with Trudeau since the Oct. 21 federal election.

Winnipeg has recently experienced a wave of violence that saw 11 homicides in 30 days. Victims have included a 14-year-old girl who was stabbed at a Halloween party and three-year-old Hunter Straight-Smith, who was stabbed in his sleep.

“It’s on our minds, all of our minds, lately,” the premier told reporters in Ottawa.

“Overall, violent crime is down in Manitoba, I should emphasize that. But homicides are up, and there was recent tragedies involving young Manitobans that hit the hearts of all of us.”

Violence was also the subject of a phone conversation between Trudeau and Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman on Thursday evening. The mayor later wrote in a tweet the two agreed to meet in person “as soon as our schedules can accommodate.”

The mayor had previously called for a meeting between himself, the premier and Trudeau to talk about crime.

On Friday, Pallister called violence a “shared jurisdictional issue” and said he wants to see Ottawa involved in efforts to address it.

“I’d like to see the federal government partner with us to make our streets safer,” he said.

“I think we’re all on it, and we’ll continue to be.”