Public Safety Minister Vic Toews sought to assure Canadians on Monday that his government is doing the right things to protect citizens from the horrific gun violence that took place last week in Connecticut.
Toews said he was "horrified" by the slaying of 20 schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn. The Provencher MP — and Manitoba’s lead federal cabinet minister — is a father of a five-year-old.
"I can only imagine how horrifying it must be for parents to leave their children in what they believe is a safe environment and... then to be faced with the reality of that horrendous act," he said.
Toews spoke to the media after participating in a housing announcement in Winnipeg. He said the Harper government has taken a strong stand on gun violence. "In fact in Canada today... we have the lowest firearms homicide rate in 50 years," the federal minister said.
Homicides committed using handguns have dropped 30 per cent since 2008, he added.
Toews said Canada has "a very strong licensing regime," which ensures "only those who are qualified to legally own a firearm actually do that... ."
He said declining Canadian homicide rates involving firearms in recent years show that "we are on the right track."
Toews also noted that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made it clear that Canada will not relax laws governing the ownership of prohibited firearms.
"We made (it) very clear that there are certain types of firearms that simply should not be in the hands of civilians. They have a very specific police or military purpose, but we believe that they should not be in the hands of ordinary citizens," Toews said.