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Liberals introduce buy-back program for banned firearms but price tag unclear – CBC.ca

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The federal government introduced new gun control legislation today that would introduce a buy-back program for barred firearms, allow municipalities to ban handguns and increase criminal penalties for gun smuggling and trafficking.

Bill C-21, introduced this morning, comes nine months after the Liberals announced a ban on the use, sale and importation of more than 1,500 makes and models of what the government refers to as military-grade “assault-style weapons.”

A two-year amnesty period has been in place since May to give people who already own the targeted firearms time to comply with the ban. The amnesty period will last until April 30, 2022. 

WATCH | Trudeau is asked why gun buy-back program is not mandatory

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to a question about why he has not made the buy-back program mandatory. 1:34

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that the government will move forward with legislation to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act to introduce a fleet of gun measures — including the long-anticipated voluntary buy-back program — in the coming months.

Today’s announcement didn’t offer concrete details of how the program would work. During the 2019 federal election campaign, the Liberals pegged the cost of the program at between $400 million and $600 million.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said the government will have a better picture of the cost when it gets a sense of how many firearm owners might seek compensation.

“If we take the estimate, for example, of 150,000 to 200,000 of these weapons that would be surrendered and for which compensation would be paid, on an average price … of approximately $1,300 per firearm, the estimate is somewhere between $300 and $400 million dollars,” he said.

“But it really depends on knowing exactly how many of these firearms and what is currently possessed in Canada.”

Those who keep their blacklisted weapons would have to abide by strict conditions. They would have to agree not to use the weapons, to import or acquire any more of them or to bequeath them to anyone else.

“We are not targeting law-abiding citizens who own guns to go hunting or for sport shooting.The measures we’re proposing are concrete and practical,” Trudeau told a news conference in Ottawa.

“And they have one goal and one goal only — protecting you, your family and your community. Because the victims are real. The pain of their families is real.”

Increasing trafficking penalties

If passed, the bill would create “red flag” and “yellow flag” laws which would allow individuals — such as concerned friends or relatives — to apply to a court for the immediate removal of someone’s firearm.

Blair said these laws could be used in cases of domestic violence and concerns about mental health.

Trudeau said his government also plans to increase criminal penalties for gun trafficking, smuggling, possession of a loaded prohibited or restricted firearm or possession of a weapon obtained by the commission of an offence — from 10 to 14 years in prison.

The legislation also would create new offences for altering the magazine of a firearm, introduce tighter restrictions on importing ammunition and allow municipalities to ban handguns through bylaws restricting their possession, storage and transportation, said the prime minister. 

“We’re backing up the cities with serious federal and criminal penalties to enforce these bylaws, including jail time for people who violate these municipal rules,” said Trudeau.

WATCH | O’Toole is asked if he supports a firearm buy-back plan:

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole spoke with reporters ahead of the prime minister’s announcement of his planned firearms buy-back legislation. 0:58

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said earlier today that he doubts the program will curb gun violence. 

“I think Mr. Trudeau misleads people when he tries to suggest that buying things back from hunters and other Canadians who are law-abiding is somehow going to solve the problem of shooting and criminal gang activity in the big cities,” he said.

“It’s ignoring the real problem and it’s dividing Canadians.”

Pro gun-control group PolySeSouvient said it’s disappointed to see the government fail to make the buy-back program mandatory, as New Zealand and Australia did.

“This is a total betrayal,” said Suzanne Laplante Edward in a media statement. Her daughter, Anne-Marie Edward, was shot and killed during the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre.

“My family and I have fought for three decades to ban these weapons. We thought we had won in the fall of 2019 when the Liberals announced with much pomp and circumstance that they would ban and buy back all of these killing machines.”

New Zealand program questioned 

In 2019, after a mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand left 51 dead and dozens injured, the New Zealand government banned semi-automatic weapons and instituted a buyback and amnesty program.

More than 56,000 weapons have been withdrawn from circulation in New Zealand and the government has paid $87 million dollars in compensation. The Council of Licensed Firearms Owners, however, estimated the number of semi-automatic weapons in circulation at 170,000 at the program’s inception and called the program a failure.

The Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights, a group that represents gun owners, said last week that it would oppose any measures that lead to the “confiscation of legal guns from RCMP-vetted gun owners.”

WATCH | Blair says new firearms bill will contain red flag provisions 

Federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair spoke with reporters about the new firearms legislation introduced on Tuesday. 2:34

“Canadian gun owners have owned these firearms safely and without issue for decades,” said coalition spokesperson Tracey Wilson, whose group is engaged in a court challenge of the Liberal gun legislation.

“Along with most Canadians, we were hoping the Liberals would address the actual crime and violence we see committed in our streets by criminals.”

The term “assault-style” has no legal definition in Canada under the Firearms Act. Generally, “assault-style weapon” is used to describe a semi-automatic firearm with an ammunition magazine, built to fire quickly. There is already a legal limit — five rounds — on the maximum size of a magazine.

The initial firearms ban was announced less than two weeks after the Nova Scotia gun massacre, the deadliest mass shooting in the country’s history.

The federal government has moved to ban the sale and importation of several types of semi-automatic firearms in Canada. (CBC News)

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Biden and Putin to hold video call on Tuesday, will discuss Ukraine

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U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a video call on Tuesday to deal with military tensions over Ukraine other topics.

Biden wants to discuss U.S. concerns about Russia’s military buildup on the Ukraine border, a U.S. source said on Saturday, as well as strategic stability, cyber and regional issues.

“We’re aware of Russia’s actions for a long time and my expectation is we’re going to have a long discussion with Putin,” Biden told reporters on Friday as he departed for a weekend trip to Camp David. “I don’t accept anybody’s red lines,” he said.

The two will also talk about bilateral ties and the implementation of agreements reached at their Geneva summit in June, the Kremlin said on Saturday.

“The conversation will indeed take place on Tuesday,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters. “Bilateral relations, of course Ukraine and the realisation of the agreements reached in Geneva are the main (items) on the agenda,” he said.

More than 94,000 Russian troops are massed near Ukraine’s borders. Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Friday https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/large-scale-russian-offensive-possible-january-ukraine-says-2021-12-03 that Moscow may be planning a large-scale military offensive for the end of January, citing intelligence reports.

Biden will reaffirm the United States’ support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, the U.S. source said. The exact timing of the call was not disclosed. The White House declined to comment.

The U.S. president on Friday said he and his advisers are preparing a comprehensive set of initiatives aimed at deterring Putin from an invasion. He did not give further details, but the Biden administration has discussed partnering with European allies to impose more sanctions on Russia.

Moscow accuses Kyiv of pursuing its own military build-up. It has dismissed as inflammatory suggestions that it is preparing for an attack on its southern neighbor and has defended its right to deploy troops on its own territory as it sees fit.

U.S. officials say they do not know yet what Putin’s intentions are, adding while intelligence points to preparations for a possible invasion of Ukraine, it is unclear whether a final decision to do so has been made.

U.S.-Russia relations have been deteriorating for years, notably with Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, its 2015 intervention in Syria and U.S. intelligence charges of meddling in the 2016 election won by now-former President Donald Trump.

But they have become more volatile in recent months.

The Biden administration has asked Moscow to crack down on ransomware and cyber crime attacks emanating from Russian soil, and in November charged https://www.reuters.com/technology/us-seizes-6-mln-ransom-payments-charge-ukrainian-over-cyberattack-cnn-2021-11-08 a Ukraine national and a Russian in one of the worst ransomware attacks against American targets.

Russia has repeatedly denied carrying out or tolerating cyber attacks.

The two leaders have had one face-to-face meeting since Biden took office in January, sitting down for talks in Geneva last June. They last talked by phone on July 9. Biden relishes direct talks with world leaders, seeing them as a way to lower tensions.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Russian Foreign Minister ” https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/blinken-urges-russias-lavrov-take-diplomatic-exit-ukraine-crisis-2021-12-02 Sergei Lavrov in Stockholm earlier this week that the United States and its European allies would impose “severe costs and consequences on Russia if it takes further aggressive action against Ukraine.”

(Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in WashingtonEditing by Heather Timmons and Alistair Bell)

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Meet the recipients of the new Women in Politics scholarship – The Signal

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Dalhousie award created to encourage more women to enter male dominated field

Having more women at the decision-making table is important for Claire Belliveau.

“If we have male dominated rooms, we’re going to have male dominated issues, as easy as that,” said Belliveau.

Belliveau, along with Charlotte Bourke, are the first recipients of the new Women in Politics scholarship at Dalhousie.

Belliveau is in her fourth year at Dalhousie, studying political science and law, justice and society. She has been involved in politics since she was 18, working for Environment Minister Tim Halman. Belliveau is the community outreach co-ordinator at Halman’s constituency office.

Being a young woman in politics has not always been easy for Belliveau. She recalls instances where people questioned her abilities due to her age and times when male peers would take credit for her ideas.

Despite these challenges, Belliveau has found support among other women in the field. One thing she found interesting was how women in politics support each other despite party alliance.

“It’s so nice to see how much these women want to see other women succeed, in a male dominated field,” she said.

Belliveau would like to pursue a career in government as an analyst, contributing to policy development in education and the environment.

Bourke is also a fourth-year political science student with an interest in environmental politics. Her main research interests are social and environmental policies and she is studying ways to create fairer climate adaptation plans.

Bourke is unsure about her plans after graduation, but she knows it will involve politics, social issues and the environment.

Charlotte Bourke walks up the steps to the Henry Hicks Building, where the political science department is located, on Nov. 13, 2021.   Gabrielle Brunette

The scholarship serves to encourage, support and inspire young women in their political aspirations. It was established by Grace Evans and Sarah Dobson, co-authors of On Their Shoulders: The Women who Paved the Way in Nova Scotia Politics.

The book addresses the gender gap by showcasing the first and only 50 women at the time, to have served as MLAs in the province. The book highlights the importance of female representation in municipal politics and all proceeds go towards funding the new scholarship.

In 2021, women and gender-diverse people make up only 36 per cent of the legislative assembly in Nova Scotia.

Of 55 MLAs, 19 are women, one is gender-diverse and 35 are men.

“People often don’t want to enter a realm where they can’t see themselves reflected. I think it’s hard for young women to become interested in politics if they don’t see their peers there,” Evans said.

The scholarship will run for as long as there is funding. Every year, two students will be awarded $1,000 each.

“There’s not a lot of scholarships, to my knowledge, geared specifically towards poli sci students, let alone women in poli sci,” Bourke said.

Evans said they are looking to expand the scholarship beyond funding to create a network of people. She and Dobson have been working in politics for a few years and have made many connections they would like to share with the recipients.

Receiving the scholarship was rewarding for Bourke, who felt like all her hard work was being acknowledged.

“It’s kind of just like a relief and a push forward to be like, oh wow I am being recognized, this is really cool, people actually think that I’m good enough, or they actually want me here. It feels sort of welcoming,” she said.

Charlotte Bourke is a fourth-year political science student, minoring in environmental studies.   Gabrielle Brunette

Belliveau was honoured to receive a scholarship designed to encourage women, like herself, who want a career in politics.

“It was just really motivating, especially from Sarah and Grace, knowing how much they care about young women in politics, knowing how much they care about the history and seeing more young women join the field,” she said.

“They’re acknowledging how important it is to have those voices at the table.”

For both women, winning the scholarship has given them a boost of confidence.

Belliveau said it has pushed her to apply for other opportunities, something she hopes other young women in politics will be encouraged to do as well.

“Apply for every scholarship, apply for fellowships, apply for the jobs you don’t think you qualify for because … men are doing it and they get them all the time, so why shouldn’t you?” she said.

“So, take advantage of everything you can and just enjoy the ride, stand your ground and don’t be afraid to speak up.”

Gabrielle Brunette

Gabrielle is a journalist for the Signal at the University of King’s College. She completed her BAH in political studies at Queen’s University.

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Playing Politics With Democracy? – Forbes

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On December 9 and 10, President Biden will host the first of two Summits for Democracy to “set forth an affirmative agenda for democratic renewal and to tackle the greatest threats faced by democracies today.” How do Americans see the threat to democracy in the US now? And do partisans see the health of our democracy differently?

In October, Grinnell College asked them this directly. Fifty-two percent said American democracy was under a very serious threat and 29% under a minor threat. Only 14% perceived no threat. Other polls with differently worded questions produce similar impressions of a democracy in need of serious rehabilitation. In a November poll, Monmouth University pollsters found that 8% thought the US system of government was basically sound and needed no improvement, 35% basically sound but needing some improvement, 26% not too sound and needing many improvements, and 30% not too sound and in need of significant changes. And a late October–early November poll of 18–29 year olds from Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP) finds that 7% of them describe US democracy as healthy, 27% somewhat functioning, 39% as in trouble, and 13% as failed.

In 2018, 2019, and again in 2021, Public Agenda, as part of the Daniel Yankelovich Democracy Initiative, asked people identical questions about democracy’s health. In the May 2021 poll, 14% said American democracy was doing well, 50% facing serious challenges but not in crisis, and 36% in crisis. The results were similar to their 2018 and 2019 polls.  

In all of these new polls, Democrats were more positive about democracy’s health than were Republicans. In the 2021 Public Agenda survey, Democrats were less likely to see a crisis than Republicans, 25% to 48%. However, in their 2018 and 2019 polls taken during the Trump years, far more Democrats than Republicans said the system was in crisis. In the October 2021 Grinnell poll, 71% of Republicans compared to 35% of Democrats saw the threat as major. In the Monmouth poll, partisans in both parties thought improvements were necessary, but twice as many Republicans as Democrats (38% to 15%) said the system was not sound at all and needed significant changes. In the Harvard IOP poll, 18–29 year old Democrats were more optimistic about democracy, too. There is a clear disconnect between Democratic elites in the media and academia who regularly opine about a US democracy’s decline and the views of rank-and-file Democrats.

This pattern is reversed when we look at questions about the events of January 6 and subsequent investigations as the new edition of the AEI Polling Report shows. Democrats profess much more concern than Republicans about what happened that day and are more eager to see the work of the January 6 congressional committee continue. In a mid-October online Morning Consult/Politico poll, 81% of Democrats compared to 18% of Republicans approved of the special congressional committee to investigate the events that occurred at the US Capitol on January 6. And in a mid-October Quinnipiac University poll, 40% wanted to hear more, but 56% said enough was already known about what led to the storming of the Capitol. Fifty-nine percent of Democrats wanted to hear more compared to 22% of Republicans and 38% of independents. Still, it is significant that nearly four in 10 (38%) Democrats said enough is known already, indicating some fatigue with the investigation.

There are some obvious reasons Democrats would feel better about our democracy than Republicans. They control both chambers of Congress, there’s a Democrat in the White House, and expressing confidence in American democracy is a way of showing support for the party and the president as the polls above suggest. And Democrats will continue to hammer away at anything to do with Donald Trump.

The polls suggest that concerns about democracy have not diminished people’s willingness to participate in the system — at least in terms of voting. Eighty percent in the Grinnell poll said they would definitely vote in the 2024 election for president and other offices and only 7% said they probably would not. What’s more, 91% of Democrats and 88% of Republicans in the survey said that it was very important for the United States to remain a democracy. Five percent nationally said it was fairly important, 4% just somewhat, and 3% not important. When you care deeply about something as Americans do about democracy, you worry at its erosion. But today, this concern has a deep partisan overlay.

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