SURREY (NEWS 1130) – It’s an attempt to crack down on gun and gang violence across the country. The feds are planning to spend $327 million over the next five years to address ongoing crime problems.
The announcement was made this morning in Surrey.
After the initial $327.6 million over five years, the plan is to spend $100 million per year to help support several initiatives aimed at reducing gun crime and criminal gang activity.
Priorities will be determined at a summit to be held in March.
“We will be making appropriate decisions about distribution. What we want to make sure of is we’ve got a continuing stream of funding… not something that’s on-again, off-again,” says Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, who adds there will be a particular focus on intercepting guns at at the border.
“We’re looking for the best practices and the most practical solutions. Getting this right will require that everyone be at the table and work well together.”
Across the country, the federal government says there was an increase of 30 per cent when it comes to gun violations last year, compared with 2013. It also points out gang-related homicides continue to involve guns at a “significantly higher” rate (76%) than non-gang-related murders.
“The situation is deeply troubling in many parts of Canada, with lives lost or forever changed due to gang-related gunfire,” says Goodale.
“The victims include innocent folks who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And the consequences affect the wider community.”
Federal opposition’s public safety critic questions how money will be spent
Meanwhile, Conservative MP Glen Motz says while his party is committed to anything that helps reduce gun and gang violence, he’s disappointed the federal announcement didn’t have more detail about how the money will be spent.
“The devil’s in the details, the minister doesn’t elaborate on the specifics,” says Motz. “He says it’s going to go to training, and research how to dislodge people from gangs, and reinforcing interdiction at the border. All potentially great initiatives, but we don’t know how exactly that will happen.”
Referencing the Conservatives’ tough-on-crime stance, Motz doesn’t know if the funding will tackle what he calls a balance between rehabilitation and holding the people accountable in the justice system.
“The Conservative process was you put money into resources to deal with organized crime and then the justice system needs to play a role in ensuring that the offenders are taken and they are held accountable for what they do,” he explains, adding Canadians have been vocal about this.
“They certainly made that loud and clear in my riding and across the country is, if you have any complaint from any member of the public about the justice system, is that it’s a revolving door.”
He adds he wants to give the Liberals the chance to explain the plan in details, but he’ll have some tough questions when he’s back in the House of Commons next week.