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OTTAWA — The president of Quebec City’s Islamic Cultural Centre appealed to a parliamentary committee Tuesday to include a ban on assault weapons in proposed gun control legislation.
“Please, please. Help us, help us and help society so that this type of assault weapon, of war, is no longer in this country,” Boufeldja Benabdallah said. “It’s for the good of all society.”
Bill C-71 does not contain any measure that would prohibit assault weapons in Canada.
Six people were killed in a shootout during prayers at the Quebec City mosque on Jan. 29, 2017 and Benabdallah told members of the public safety committee the death toll could have been much higher if the shooter’s weapon had not jammed.
He insisted the type of firearm that was used simply should not be in circulation in Canada.
“Everyone was dumbfounded that this individual had an assault weapon,” Benabdallah said, inviting MPs to put partisanship aside and unanimously support a ban on such weapons in Canada.
“It’s an appeal that I make to all of you here . . .and I will keep hammering at that until it happens; God willing,” he added.
At his side was Heidi Rathjen, co-ordinator of the lobby group PolySeSouvient, which includes students, families and victims of the shooting at Montreal’s Ecole polytechnique in 1989 when 14 women were gunned down.
Rathjen also called for a ban on assault weapons.
She said the proposed legislation “barely” respected promises made in the Liberals’ electoral platform, but, according to her, it was not a very robust framework.
When Rathjen left the committee, she said she had hope — even though it was slim — that the Trudeau government would agree to the request.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale reiterated Tuesday when he arrived at a cabinet meeting he is open to suggestions from the different groups that will appear at hearings on the proposed legislation.
When it comes to the classification of firearms, Bill C-71 gives the final word to the RCMP and not to politicians, as was the case in previous Conservative legislation.
Melanie Marquis, The Canadian Press