News Analysis

CERB cheques were used by street gangs to buy illegal handguns from the US

"Dozens" of gang members used their cheques to buy illegal weapons from the United States, a source said.

Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal, QC
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The Trudeau Liberals' CERB program, designed to help Canadians through the pandemic with a monthly $2,000 cheque, was abused by gang members to buy illegal handguns, the Toronto Sun reports.

"Dozens" of gang members used their cheques to buy illegal weapons from the United States, a source said.

"We have learned of dozens across the GTA who are doing this. This enables them to buy more handguns, 'dirty weapons' (previously used in crimes) for between $400 and $800, and new Glocks, which are reliable and have strong stopping power, for $3,000," the source told The Sun. "You’ll have four guys in a car, all of them bringing 10 to 20 rounds, showing off their firepower against their rivals, to keep them at bay."

The source said that this was the result of a "shoot first" mentality, wherein gang members see vehicles of other gangs and "immediately" start shooting, assuming that the other side is armed.

As of Saturday, October 17, there have been 409 shooting and firearm discharge incidents, with 193 people being either injured or killed, according to the Toronto Police Service Public Safety Portal.

One decade ago, the total number of shootings sat at 259, with 70 being injured or killed. A dramatic jump came from 2015 to 2016, when shootings increased from 288 to 407. 2019 saw 492 shootings.

"There used to be rules between gangsters, shooting was restricted within the community and between rivals," the source said. "There are no rules now. There are no safe spots. Shootings that can occur anywhere and at any time."

With largely committed with illegal weapons, Toronto Mayor John Tory went on record saying that a city-wide handgun ban would suffice in reducing crime.

"If they just did it in Toronto I'd be happy with that," said Tory in August 2019.

Tory would later backpedal, recognizing "that the vast majority of guns being seized are illegal guns from the U.S."

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