Canada's opposition chief, marketing campaign chief, underneath hearth for gun management

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Conservative Party leader Erin O & # 39; Toole speaks during a campaign visit in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Sept. 3, 2021. REUTERS / Jennifer Gauthier

By David Ljunggren

VANCOUVER (Reuters) – The leader of the opposition Conservative Party of Canada, who has a chance to beat Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in an election, stood back on Saturday against allegations he plans to weaken gun controls, an issue that is emerging could prove costly.

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole was repeatedly pressured this week over his campaign promise to lift in 2020 a gun ban such as the AR-15 that an armed man used to kill 26 adults and children in the 2012 US Sandy Hook massacre killed.

O & # 39; Toole declined to answer the questions directly, noting that he would like to maintain a separate ban on assault rifles for 1977.

"Erin O & # 39; Toole is ready to say anything to Canadians in order to be elected. He lied to Canadians about his plans to lift the liberal ban on assault weapons," the Liberals said in a statement on Saturday.

Gun control is a sensitive issue in Canada, especially after a series of high profile murders. In April 2020, a man killed 22 people in a rampage Fire-at-their-houses-police-say-idUSKCN22A3K6 in the province of Nova Scotia and shoot 13 of them.

Liberal governments have tightened gun control laws over the years, which are stricter than those in the United States. Some conservatives complain that the measures are too restrictive and unnecessarily punish farmers and hunters.

"It is very annoying to see Mr. Trudeau trying to import American-style policies, particularly on public safety," O 'Toole told reporters in Vancouver, saying a big problem was arms smuggling from the United States States.

O'Toole also promises a review of how guns are classified as dangerous in Canada.

The 2020 affected 11 categories of assault rifles and others Guns, including the Ruger Mini-14 rifle used in a 1989 mass shooting in Montreal that killed 14 women.

Trudeau called the September 20 early elections two years ahead of schedule on the grounds that he needed public approval for his plans to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. But amidst the dissatisfaction with the call and voter fatigue, he slips.

An Ekos poll on Saturday found that the Conservatives received 35% of public support, the Liberals 28.8% and the left-wing New Democrats 19.6%, enough to give O & # 39; Toole a minority rule and six-year rule to finish by Trudeau.

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