Nathalie Provost poses for a photograph following a news conference at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal on November 28, 2014. Mass-shooting survivor Nathalie Provost has quit the federal firearms advisory committee in frustration, saying she is extremely disappointed with the Liberal government’s failure to crack down on assault-style rifles. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Shooting survivor quits panel over ‘timid’ Liberal record on assault-style guns

Nathalie Provost was shot four times during the 1989 spree by a gunman at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique

Mass-shooting survivor Nathalie Provost has quit the federal firearms advisory committee in frustration, saying she is “extremely disappointed” with the Liberal government’s failure to crack down on assault-style rifles.

Provost, who was shot four times during the 1989 spree by a gunman at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique, says she feels used by a government unwilling to take the steps needed to make Canadians safer.

The Canadian Press obtained a copy of Provost’s resignation letter sent Monday to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the cabinet members responsible for firearms issues — Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair.

Provost, who served for more than two years on the advisory committee, says the government repeatedly ignored her calls for an overhaul of the firearms-classification system — a move that could tighten restrictions on some semi-automatic rifles.

She claims the committee contributed nothing to the Liberal firearms bill, C-71, recently passed by Parliament — legislation she considers very timid.

Provost was not granting interviews Monday, letting her letter speak for itself.

She has long been active with PolySeSouvient, a group that pushes for stricter gun control and includes students and graduates of the Polytechnique engineering school.

In late 2016 the Liberals made Provost vice-chair of the firearms advisory committee, which counsels the public safety minister on Canada’s gun policies, laws and regulations. At the time, the committee was chaired by a former Supreme Court justice and has counted a police chief, a competitive sport shooter, an emergency physician and a farmer among its members.

Provost says she saw the appointment as an opportunity to take concrete action to improve public safety. But she was surprised in early 2018 when Goodale introduced Bill C-71 “without any discussion” with the advisory committee, putting members in a difficult position.

The legislation expanded the scope of background checks on those who want to acquire guns, strengthened record-keeping requirements for sales and required purchasers to present valid firearms licences.

Some firearms owners accused the Liberals of targeting law-abiding hunters and target-shooters, while gun-control advocates said the bill did not fulfil a Liberal vow to get assault-style rifles and handguns off Canadian streets.

Scott Bardsley, a spokesman for Goodale, said Monday the government was grateful to Provost for her service. He also defended the government’s ”substantive action” to fight gun violence, including Bill C-71, $86 million to combat smuggling and $214 million for community-level prevention and enforcement efforts.

“And we will seek a mandate from Canadians to strengthen public safety,” Bardsley added.

Last August, Trudeau asked Blair to study the possibility of a ban on handguns and assault-style rifles after a deadly shooting in Toronto. A summary of federal consultations said Canadians were divided on the idea.

In her letter, Provost blasts the exercise as a scientifically discredited and “obviously useless” consultation that delayed any further legislative action until after the fall election.

Blair said last month that more must be done to address gun violence, but he also signalled no new measures would be coming soon.

Future steps could include efforts to prevent theft, illegal diversion and cross-border smuggling of handguns. The government is also open to the idea of allowing municipalities to decide exactly where, or even if, firearms can be stored within their boundaries, Blair said.

However, any additional gun-control initiatives are expected to be planks in the Liberal election platform. Goodale and Ottawa-Vanier MP Mona Fortier are co-chairing the party’s national platform committee in advance of the October ballot.

The Liberals could immediately ban a range of rifles by regulation, Provost says.

By limiting efforts ”to timid measures or half-measures,” the government provokes the fierce opposition of the firearms lobby without delivering worthwhile improvements, she adds.

“In fact, the pro-gun lobby will oppose any tightening — be it modest or daring — so why not move quickly to prioritize public safety?”

READ MORE: Canadians divided on banning handguns, assault-style firearms

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Province begins restricting water use on Koksilah River

Fish under threat due to low water flows

CVRD wants feds to take closer look at freighter anchorages

Board concerned about pollution and lack of oversight

Sculpture relocation plan works perfectly in Chemainus

Heavy lifting required to place Cline’s work into Heritage Square

Clean the house, prep for your next trip: Tips to nix the post-vacation blues

48 per cent of travellers are already stressed about ‘normal life’ while still on their trip

Vancouver Island senior found safe with help from six search and rescue teams

Wayne Strilesky found safe in thick brush in north Nanaimo

More women may need breast cancer gene test, U.S. guidelines say

Recommendations aimed at women who’ve been treated for BRCA-related cancers and are now cancer-free

Couple could go to jail for taking 88 lbs. of Italian sand

Pair said they didn’t know it was illegal to take the sand, which is protected as a public good

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft: RCMP

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

VIDEO: RCMP unveil new, state-of-the-art forensics lab

The laboratory is expected to handle thousands of forensic services from across Canada annually

Scheer promises EI tax credit for new parents if Conservatives form government

The government currently taxes employment insurance benefits for new parents

Most Read