Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to the committee for their invitation to once again appear before this committee on this matter.
Let me begin by once again acknowledging the profound tragedy at the heart of this discussion. The events of April 18 and 19, 2020, were the worst mass shooting in Canada's recent history. Twenty-two people lost their lives, and their families and loved ones continue to mourn them. This senseless act of violence continues to reverberate throughout Nova Scotia and across Canada. We cannot begin to fathom the grief and the loss caused by this event.
On the matter before this committee today, I will begin by repeating part of my opening remarks from when I last appeared on this issue in July. At no point, Mr. Chair, did I direct the RCMP in any operational matter, including on public communications. I did not ask them to release any specific information, nor did I receive a promise from them to do so. As you will find in all of my public statements from that time, I confirmed that identifying the weapons used was a decision wholly within the purview of the RCMP.
My testimony on this point from July 25 continues to stand. The independence of police operations is a principle that I have not only respected but also vigorously defended over my nearly four decades in law enforcement and throughout my subsequent career as a federal member of Parliament and minister.
I would not and I have not ever directed police to release information pertaining to an investigation, nor did I do so in this case. I do understand the recording of a call between the commissioner and her subordinates has been identified by the RCMP and subsequently released by the Mass Casualty Commission. Neither I nor my office were participants on this call. My conversations with the RCMP during that period, and generally throughout my time as Minister of Public Safety, were with the commissioner directly.
I understand that Commissioner Lucki will be appearing in the second hour of today's meeting and she will be far better placed to speak to specific details of what occurred between her and her subordinates.
The order in council that was announced in May 2020 had been the result of many, many months of work. I was in fact leading consultations across Canada alongside my former colleague, Minister Goodale, on the question of assault-style firearms and handguns as early as October 2018. As a government, we first signalled our commitment to get assault-style weapons off our streets in the 2015 Speech from the Throne. Work on the OIC began almost immediately after I became the Minister of Public Safety, as it was one of the priorities given to me in my mandate letter from the Prime Minister.
To put these regulations together, we needed to invest the time to get it right, and so this work was undertaken throughout the fall of 2019 and the spring of 2020. Through this OIC, Mr. Chair, we banned 1,500 plus of some of the most dangerous weapons that were at that time still legal in Canada. These are weapons that were designed to kill people and to do so efficiently. Weapons that were captured in the OIC were used in the polytechnique massacre, in the Fredericton shooting of two police officers, in Moncton, in Mayerthorpe and at the Quebec City mosque. The AR-15 alone has been used in some of the most deadly mass casualty events in the United States within the last decade, including most profoundly and concerningly the horrific murders of little kids at Sandy Hook.
Mr. Chair, gun violence is a complex problem and combatting it requires complex solutions. The order in council was a significant and positive step forward for the safety of Canadians, but that work, as you know, is not done. Just over a week ago, the Prime Minister announced a freeze on the sale, purchase and transfer of handguns. I also understand that your committee is currently examining legislation from my colleague, Mr. Mendicino, on this very issue in Bill C-21.
Mr. Chair, we continue with this work as a government because we know that effective gun control regulations can save lives. Our first priority has been and will always be to ensure the safety of all Canadians.
I thank the committee for their attention. I look forward to your questions.