CHARLOTTETOWN — The Liberal government has no plans to resurrect the controversial long-gun registry, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau insisted Monday as Canadians struggled to come to terms with a deadly shooting last week that killed four people, including two police officers.
Trudeau, who spent the day visiting Prince Edward Island as part of an ongoing tour of Atlantic Canada, found himself fielding the same questions that often follow such tragedies — including whether Ottawa is prepared to consider additional restrictions on firearms.
The federal Liberals have already moved forward with “common-sense gun legislation” that will deepen background checks and impose “reasonable limits” on the transport of weapons, Trudeau said. The legislation, known as Bill C-71, will also require retailers to keep inventory and sales records for longer periods of time.
What it won’t do, he said, is bring back the widely hated gun registry, long a sore spot with farmers and gun enthusiasts after it was introduced in 1993 by Jean Chretien’s government — and even after it was dissolved in 2012 by the Harper Conservatives.
“We will not be bringing back a long-gun registry — it’s not part of our plan and has never been,” Trudeau said after a town hall meeting with seniors in the community of North Milton, P.E.I.
“There are lots of conversations going on about what next steps might be taken. We’re listening to people and talking to experts about what we can do to keep our communities safe.”
Over the weekend, Trudeau was in Fredericton where he offered condolences to the families of the victims of the shooting, which claimed the lives of police officers Robb Costello and Sara Burns, as well as civilians Bobbie Lee Wright and Donnie Robichaud.
Trudeau was joined by newly appointed Seniors Minister Filomena Tassi, and also had his young son Hadrien in tow.
“I do this job because I have kids,” he said on his way into the venue. “One of the things that I learned from my Dad was that if I just do this job and don’t bring my kids along with me every now and then, I won’t see them enough.”
He moved on to Charlottetown later in the day to visit the Old Home Week fair at the city’s harness racing track, before delivering remarks at a strawberry social.
Throughout the afternoon, Trudeau focused on his son as they hurried through an amusement park, going down the “Super Slide” and other amusement rides together as citizens took photos and selfies with the pair as they enjoyed the August sunshine.
At the strawberry social in the centre of the provincial capital, Trudeau urged the crowd of several hundred people to celebrate Canadian diversity.
“If there’s something I know whenever I look out over a crowd anywhere in Canada, it’s that the different ages, the different faces, the different backgrounds — those are incredible sources of strength and resilience for our community,” he told the crowd in Connaught Square.
“These are things that make us strong. Our differences are always a source of strength in Canada.”
Trudeau’s emphasis on “optimism,” coupled with spending the day with his young son at his side, stood in stark contrast to the melancholy that has been hanging over the Maritimes ever since Friday.
Costello, 45, was a 20-year police veteran, while Burns, 43, had been an officer for two years. Robichaud, 42, had begun dating Wright, 32, earlier this month.
Ten children lost a parent Friday morning — Burns was married with three children, while Costello was a father of four, and Robichaud had two teenage sons and an older daughter.
Matthew Vincent Raymond has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 27. He was shot by police on Friday and was being treated in hospital. Police have not disclosed the severity of his injuries.
Two investigators with Nova Scotia’s Serious Incident Response Team, a police watchdog agency, were dispatched to Fredericton on Friday to investigate police involvement in Raymond’s injuries.
Police did not say if the suspect and victims were known to each other and a motive was not yet known.
Both Robichaud and Raymond were residents of the apartment complex where the shooting took place, but lived in different buildings, the landlord has said.
Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press