(Ottawa) The co-founder of the great mosque of Quebec, Boufeldja Benabdallah, recently sent a letter to some fifteen senators urging them to pass Bill C-21 on gun control. The legislative text has been stalling in the Upper House since May 18.
“Bill C-21 is awaited by all of Canadian society, because it is about saving lives,” he wrote at the request of the office of Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino, who is trying to lobbying the Senate for a few weeks.
“For all these reasons, Bill C-21 deserves our support and I humbly ask the Senate to pass it before it retires for the summer recess. »
He also signs a press release issued by a coalition of twenty groups, including PolySeSouvient, which urges the Senate to speed up the pace. Mr. Benabdallah and PolySeSouvient made no secret of their disappointment and anger in May when the government presented its new amendments to ban assault weapons in order to obtain the support of the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Québécois.
“In everything, we want the ideal. We did not achieve the ideal, ”he admitted in an interview.
The definition of prohibited weapons that would be included in the Criminal Code through Bill C-21 is prospective, meaning that it will apply to new weapons entering the Canadian market and not to those that are already in circulation. Adding a list would have removed existing assault weapons.
The bill does, however, contain a handgun freeze and provisions to protect victims of domestic violence by prohibiting the possession of firearms for individuals under protective orders.
In his letter Mr. Benabdallah recalls, among other things, the tragedy of January 29, 2017 at the great mosque of Quebec which left six dead, five seriously injured, one of whom became a paraplegic orphans and “a whole city and a troubled country by the mere fact of possession and use of firearms by an individual whose lives of his fellow citizens mattered little. »
His hopes will be dashed since the leader of the Conservatives in the Senate, Don Plett, promises “very extensive public consultations in the fall”, which will delay its passage. The legislation is expected to pass second reading this week before being sent to committee just before the summer recess. His study will then resume in September.
“We are going to make sure that there are going to be farmers, hunters, indigenous groups who are going to give us their opinion on the bill and if they can suggest any amendments to make it better, we will absolutely try to change it,” he said the Manitoba senator in an interview.
He accuses the government of being “far from tackling crime and going after legitimate gun owners”. Conservatives who have opposed the bill since its introduction voted against its passage by the House of Commons.
Minister Mendicino recently accused Senator Plett of delaying Senate work on C-21. “This is a bill that languished in the House of Commons for a long time,” thundered the Conservative leader in the Upper House. “They can’t send it to us and expect us to rubber stamp it. »
This piece of legislation has been in the works for more than a year. Bill C-21 was the subject of intense controversy last fall when the government tabled two amendments after public consultations were completed in parliamentary committee to add a ban on assault weapons. They contained a long list of banned assault weapons, including the SKS used by hunters, which caused an outcry.
Minister Mendicino had backed down before coming back with new amendments which were the subject of a broader consensus.