Ont. working on deal to limit cross-border guns
Ontario wants to negotiate a deal with border states to keep drugs from heading south and stem the flow of guns coming into the province, Premier Dalton McGuinty said Tuesday as he reiterated his call for Ottawa to ban handguns outright.
As Toronto continues to mourn an 11-year-old boy killed in gang crossfire, McGuinty said he's interested in bringing the governors of border states together to help eradicate the growing number of guns on city streets.
But, in return, Ontario will have to address the concern expressed by state governors that the province is "sending illegal drugs" across the border, McGuinty said.
"I think they've got a point," he said after touring a hospital in Guelph, Ont. "We need to find a way - province and state - to come to terms with this. We need to be honest about this being a two-way street and we need to find a way to better enforce existing laws."
At the same time, McGuinty said the federal government has to do its part by banning the gangsters' "weapon of choice" - handguns. While the federal Conservatives have said handgun laws are already tough enough, McGuinty said handguns are only good for one purpose.
"People don't hunt with handguns," he said. "It is the weapon of choice for our gangsters. It is easily concealed. It's very easy to use. It's time to get them off the streets and it's time to make them illegal."
McGuinty joins a growing number of leaders calling for tougher measures to fight gun violence after it claimed the life of 11-year-old Ephraim Brown, who was attending a family birthday party when he was shot in the neck in a shootout between two rival gangs.
His death comes two months after Grade 9 student Jordan Manners, 15, was shot to death at his high school and after 19-year-old Jose Hierro-Saez was killed in a gun fight that erupted while children enjoyed the weekend sunshine in their Toronto neighbourhood.
Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said he's watching the escalating violence with growing concern. While guns are seized at the nearby Michigan border every day, Bradley said he also sees a wave of gun violence moving out of Toronto and into cities across Ontario.
"We're seeing a deterioration out there," Bradley said, adding his city's officers are coming across more weapons on the streets. "It may start in a major city like Toronto but close-by . . . we're seeing more and more gun issues."
But Bradley said negotiating side-deals between individual provinces and states isn't the best way to go. Gun violence affects everyone, whether they live in Ontario or British Columbia, he said.
"The federal government has the ability to negotiate for everyone," he said. "It's not just an Ontario problem."
Conservative Leader John Tory said he doubted McGuinty's sincerity in fighting gun violence since he's only now talking about tightening up the border following another tragedy and on the eve of a provincial election.
The province could be better equipping its border guards with sniffer dogs if the Liberals were serious about getting rid of smuggled guns, Tory said.
"We probably have more dogs trained to sniff out cigars at the Toronto airport," he said. "This is an indication that we haven't even, in our own jurisdiction, really decided to apply ourselves to this huge crisis."