As the number of guns appears to be on the rise across Canada, Federal Public Safety Secretary Marco Mendicino was in Windsor on Tuesday to assess the technologies used at the border to prevent gun smuggling and to promote proposed legislation that would allow the purchase of weapons. guns would freeze.
“Last year, in 2021, we seized a record number of illegal weapons, but we need to do more,” Mendicino said. “That’s why I came to Windsor to see how technologies and commercial scanners work. They (scans) can now be done in minutes, while searches used to take hours.
“It is important that we continue to invest in CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency) to prevent illegal weapons from flowing into Canada from the US.”
As the summer travel season kicks into gear, frustrations at Canadian airports, as well as border crossings like the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, have escalated due to lengthy delays, and demands are being made to hire more CBSA officers. .
The union representing customs and immigration officials is in the midst of contract negotiations with the federal government and complained this week that at least 1,000 job openings remain unfilled and workers are not hired quickly enough.
Mendicino said he’s “always in favor” of more funds for CBSA and understands that “more boots on the ground are needed” but also important to ensure adequate funding is spent on “state-of-the- art technologies” at border checkpoints, including at the Windsor Bridge and Tunnel.
When it comes to tackling gun crimes and illegal firearms to Canada, approval of the proposed bill C-21 is paramount, the minister said.
That piece of legislation would freeze the purchase, sale and transfer of handguns across Canada, forcing anyone who owns an assault weapon to sell it back to the government. Anyone who already owns a licensed gun will not be affected by the freeze, but may only sell their gun to an authorized company.
The importation of handguns would also be banned under the law and penalties would be increased for anyone caught attempting to smuggle them across the border into Canada.
“This is a concrete demonstration of our government’s commitment to tackle organized crime at the border,” Mendicino said. “This increases the maximum sentences for illegal arms dealers who terrorize our communities.”
Bill C-21 is currently before the federal government’s public safety commission for debate with Mendicino, with the hopes of getting it through final readings and approval soon.
“I’m hopeful that this will be the first order of business when we come back in the fall,” he said. “I think (the majority of) Canadians support this now that they’ve seen it and understand it.”
During his stop in Windsor, the minister said he also had “productive meetings” with Indigenous leaders on Tuesday at the annual meeting of the Jay Treaty Border Alliance, which unites Indigenous communities from both Canada and the US to tackle border-related issues.