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Trudeau, Poilievre Spar in House Over Rising Violent Crime Rates

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre sparred in the House of Commons on March 28 over rising rates of violent crime across Canada, with Poilievre blaming Liberal policies and Trudeau pointing the finger at Tory opposition to Liberal gun control measures.

Poilievre made reference to a recent fatal stabbing that happened in a downtown Vancouver Starbucks on March 26, for which the city’s police department has charged a 32-year-old man with murder.

The stabbing took place just after 5:30 p.m. on a Sunday evening, and a video of it posted online shortly after showed there were multiple witnesses who watched the murder unfold.

Poilievre said there has been a “32 percent increase in violent crime” since Trudeau first took office in 2015.

“Will he reverse the policies that caused that?” the Conservative leader asked.

Trudeau said in response that Canadians are “deeply concerned with some of the very heinous crimes we’ve seen over the past number of days” and also with the general rise in violent crime, especially directed toward police officers.

Trudeau added that his government has also taken steps to tighten gun restrictions across the country through Bill C-21, which he said will contribute to overall public safety.

“If [Poilievre] was really serious about moving forward on keeping communities safe he’d back our upcoming Bill 21 at reading,” he said.

Poilievre responded by criticizing the gun control bill saying it targets the guns of “law-abiding citizens” and will not reduce violent crime.

He also took aim at the Liberal government’s bail system policies, which he said allow “repeat violent offenders back on the street again and again.”

“Will he replace bail with jail for repeat violence?” Poilievre said.

Justice Minister David Lametti said earlier in March that the Liberal government will be moving forward quickly with a “targeted reform” of Canada’s bail system, which comes several months after the government passed legislation removing 20 mandatory minimum sentences from the Criminal Code.

The Liberal government has faced mounting pressure to reform the bail system from opposition parties, provincial governments, and regional police chiefs and departments ever since the murder of Ontario Provincial Police Const. Greg Pierzchala while on duty. The primary suspect in the case is a repeat offender who was out on bail.

Marnie Cathcart and Andrew Chen contributed to this report. 

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