Feds give nearly $42 million in funding to prevent Quebec gun violence
Hours after Montreal police shot and killed a suspect they believe was responsible for a killing spree, the federal public safety minister came to the city to announce new funding in the fight against gun violence in Quebec.
Minister Marco Mendicino announced Thursday the Canadian government is providing $41.8 million to the Quebec government under the Building Safer Communities Fund (BSCF). The money will go to local organizations and Indigenous communities across the province that work in prevention and intervention initiatives related to gun crime and street gangs. It will be up to the province to decide which organizations receive the federal funds for "community-led initiatives."
"We all know that we cannot arrest our way out of the problems that are in our streets and are in our communities and that's why ... we're zeroing in on the root causes of gun violence," Mendicino said, alongside Quebec's Public Safety Minister Geneviève Guilbault and Quebec Lieutenant Pablo Rodriguez.
The announcement comes just hours after police fatally shot a gunman at a motel who is believed to be behind three apparently random killings that happened in the Montreal area within about 24 hours. The minister's announcement was scheduled for 8:45 a.m. Thursday but was postponed to 11 a.m.
Two men, aged 64 and 48, were killed 65 minutes apart in Montreal's Saint-Laurent and Ahuntsic-Cartierville boroughs Tuesday evening. On Wednesday evening, just over 24 hours later, a third man was gunned down on a boulevard in Laval.
"Our thoughts go out to the families of the victims, and I represent myself a community in Toronto that has been impacted by gun violence," the minister said. "It is far too often the case that we come to know the members of the community who have been directly and profoundly impacted by gun violence. Also, in my capacity as the minister of public safety, I've had the privilege to come to know some of the advocacy groups who represent victims who have been who have suffered indescribable loss."
The federal government announced the $250-million BSCF last March. The new funding for Quebec will also help strengthen the provincial government's CENTAURE strategy to combat gun crime in the province. Funding is based on two criteria: crime severity (homicide by firearms or gang-related crime) and population density. Quebec is prioritizing the new funding for Montreal and Laval, according to a news release.
Workers at Espace Jeunesse, an organization that works with at-risk youth where the announcement was made, said the funding will have a "direct impact" on their outreach efforts.
Kingslyne Toussaint, an employee at the centre, said the money will help with intervening with marginalized youth early on.
The announcement is also welcome news to Concordia University professor Ted Rutland, whose research focuses on policing in Canada.
"It's the first time we’ve seen a major announcement in the last year where the emphasis has been on those kinds of community interventions that can really lead to a safer city for everyone," he said.
Rutland said throwing more support behind community organizations will ultimately help police with their work.
"There's a kind of synergy there where the community organizations are doing really important work, [and] ideally leave much less work to the police to clean up after the fact," he said.
LISTEN ON CJAD RADIO: $41.8 million is coming to Quebec to prevent gun violence