Bill Blair to hold talks with US on handgun ban and Safe Third Country Agreement

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this week has tasked Bill Blair, the new minister in charge of border security and organized crime to engage with his US counterparts on the issue of irregular migration and examining whether Canada should ban handguns and assault weapons.

In a freshly minted mandate letter made public Tuesday, the prime minister asks Blair to lead conversations with the United States on the Safe Third Country Agreement, working closely with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen.

The agreement stipulates that asylum seekers are required to make their refugee claims in the first “safe” country in which they arrive — meaning those who come into Canada at an official land border crossing are sent back to make their claim in the U.S.

Blair’s work will be supported by the departments of Public Safety, Immigration and Foreign Affairs, the letter says. Blair will report to Public Safety.

Trudeau is also ordering Blair to examine a “full ban on handguns and assault weapons in Canada” while taking care not to impede the lawful use of firearms.

But there are some sceptics who wonder whether Bill Blair is up to the job of having complex negotiations on these issues with the US given his specialty was law enforcement in Toronto. -CINEWS

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