'This is not a theoretical problem'

After meeting with Rob Ford, Stephen Harper challenges the courts.

Reporter: Just changing the topic slightly, a lot of discussion in recent days about the most recent Toronto gun shootings, coming … Sorry. Most of the guns involved in the recent Toronto shootings come from the US. Border … the union representing border officials are saying that government cuts will make it harder to stop illegal guns from entering the country. How would you respond to that?

Stephen Harper: In fact, quite the opposite is the case. This government, through particularly our Beyond the Border action plan with the United States is literally investing hundreds of millions of additional dollars in security along our border. It is one of three principal things that we are doing as a government to try and deal with crime, and in particular, gun crime. One is of course much tougher penalties for gun offences. As you know, we’ve passed a number of things through the federal Parliament. Some of those things are before the courts. Some courts have been attempting to strike down some of the tough sentences we’ve imposed. I think these events in Toronto underscore why these penalties are essential, why it is essential to have tough and certain penalties for gun crime. I’m pleased that all three levels of government have supported those kinds of initiatives, and I certainly call on the courts to take these penalties seriously. This is not a theoretical problem. That’s one of the things we’re doing. Also, of course, on the enforcement side, we’ve got a bill before Parliament right now, C-43, to make it easier to deport those who, non-citizens who involve themselves in criminal activity in this country. I also mentioned, of course, that we do have increasingly integrated law enforcement programs with the United States to try and deal with the gun problem. As you know, most of the illegal guns that are used here do come from south of the border, and that is a number one priority of our cross-border initiative with American authorities. The third thing we’re doing, of course, is we also do invest in young people and in communities, and in programs that will try and encourage alternatives to gun and to gang activity.

Here again is Colby Cosh’s look at the details of the two cases in which judges have declined to follow the mandatory minimum. And here is John Geddes’ look at gun and weapon smuggling.

Below is Mr. Harper’s response when asked specifically about his meeting with the Toronto mayor.

Well, we obviously discussed the recent events and our continued and I think joint determination, and one shared by the province, to tackle gun crime directly. And I certainly encouraged the city and the province to continue to work together. We have been working together on enforcement measures. We’ve also been working together at trying to make sure we can make some of these new gun penalties stick before the courts. So we discussed a range of enforcement measures, a range also of the criminal justice measures that are before Parliament, and the necessity of making those stick. I made some specific suggestions to the mayor as he did to me, and we’re both going to look into some additional measures we can also take.