Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Colleagues, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. I'd also like to acknowledge that I'm speaking to you today from the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.
On April 18 and 19 of 2020, an unthinkable tragedy unfolded in Nova Scotia. All Canadians were shaken by these horrific deaths and mourned alongside the affected communities. I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate my support for and condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in these violent attacks and our commitment to ensure that they get the answers they need.
We know that Canadians deserve a full accounting of what happened over those 13 hours on April 18 and 19 in 2020. That is why we established an independent inquiry, the Mass Casualty Commission, which is mandated to look into some of the most pressing questions that were raised into how this occurred and how future tragedies can be prevented. We are all looking forward to the inquiry's fact-based findings, which I understand are due to be released later this year.
As the commission conducts its work, I remain committed to the fundamental principle of operational independence for law enforcement in this country. I want to make it very clear: At no point 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 for 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.
What I would like to emphasize for you all today, however, is that during the years I've had the honour to serve as Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, one of my top priorities has been addressing gun violence in Canada. This was a key item in my mandate letter, which directed me to keep our communities safe by implementing new gun control measures, including a ban on assault-style firearms. Work on this issue had been under way for quite some time. We first made a commitment to get assault-style weapons off our streets in the very first Speech from the Throne in 2015. We repeated that commitment in both our platform and our throne speech in 2019. As part of that work, while I was Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, I supported Minister Goodale in public consultations on reducing violent crime that involved both handguns and assault-style weapons.
Just within these few years, we have seen far too many examples of the kinds of harms these firearms can cause, such as at the shooting at the Quebec City mosque. Another gunman killed two police officers and two civilians in Fredericton. Within our neighbour to the south, the AR-15 alone has been used in mass shootings at the Pulse nightclub; in Sutherland Springs; at Stoneman Douglas High School; and, perhaps most tragically, at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
From the outset, we understood the importance of preventing assault-style firearms from getting into the hands of people who do Canadians harm. The tragedy that occurred in Nova Scotia only deepened our resolve to move forward with this critically important work. That is why on May 1, 2020, we announced an OIC prohibiting over 1,500 models of assault-style firearms and their variants. Firearms affected by this order in council cannot be legally used, sold or imported into Canada. We created a time-limited amnesty order to give law-abiding gun owners time to come into compliance.
The OIC on May 1 was the result of many years of hard work on the part of government, including public servants, and was developed based on public consultations that were open to all Canadians. Let me be very clear: These are weapons designed for the battlefield, intended to kill the maximum number of people in the least amount of time. They have no place in Canada.
The measure is, and continues to be, an incredibly important part of our overall approach to combatting gun violence, but it is not the only step we have taken. We have introduced expanded background checks and enhanced screening for those seeking a firearms licence, and we've made significant investments in helping provinces and territories tackle gang violence. Earlier this year, my colleague Minister Mendicino tabled further relevant legislation that I believe will be coming before this committee in short order. Combatting gun violence is a complex and continual process, an issue that requires a multi-faceted approach, and we will continue to keep Canadians safe by implementing stronger gun controls.
Mr. Chair, I would conclude, if I may, by reiterating that at no time have I ever interfered operationally or given operational direction to the RCMP in my role as the Minister of Public Safety.
I thank you all. I look forward to the questions that you may have.