Public Safety Minister Vic Toews tried to assure Canadians 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 school children 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. The federal and provincial governments are investing $14.7 million in a building renovation at Isabel Street and Pacific Avenue that will see 60 large apartments created for newcomers to Manitoba. The project, sponsored by the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM), is expected to be completed by this time next year.
Toews said the Harper government has taken a very strong stand on gun violence. "In fact in Canada today ... we have the lowest firearms homicide rate in 50 years," he said.
Homicides committed using handguns have dropped 30 per cent since 2008, Toews added.
The minister said Canada has "a very strong licensing regime" that 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 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.