Vancouver stabbing ups pressure on governments to address random attacks

In the wake of a stabbing in downtown Vancouver that claimed the life of a father on Sunday, pressure is mounting on both the B.C. and federal governments to take action when it comes to random attacks in the city.

In Ottawa and Victoria, Paul Schmidt’s killing has been referenced.

On Tuesday, federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre mentioned the stabbing and others during question period while demanding the Trudeau Liberals change their approach.

“A moment ago, I listed four stabbing deaths that have happened in the last three days, including a police officer. And the prime minister glibly got up and said, well he’s going to ban hunting rifles. Stabbings happen with knives, not hunting rifles,” the Poilievre said, questioning whether gun control would actually address “knife crime in big cities.”

He’s accusing the Liberal government of creating the conditions for what he describes as a wave of violent crime in Canada.

“Why won’t he look at the evidence which has demonstrated that our streets have now turned into war zones after eight years of his policy? And will he replace bail with jail for repeat violent offenders?” the Tory leader asked of the prime minister.

Related articles: 

Justin Trudeau says his government is always working to keep Canadians safe. He turned the focus to gun control Tuesday when he said in the House that his party has been trying to repair the damage caused by the loosening of such laws under the previous Conservative government.

“But if the member opposite was really serious about moving forward on keeping communities safe, he’d back our upcoming Bill 21 at third reading to make sure that we’re keeping assault weapons out of the hands of people across this country, that we’re strengthening gun control,” Trudeau said.

Federal Justice Minister David Lametti responded to the Conservative’s claims by saying changes are on the way.

“We appreciate that there is a concern out there amongst Canadians, there is a desire to be safe, there’s a desire to feel safe,” he said.

“We have been working together on bail reform to address repeat offenders, to address violent crime, crime with knives, crimes with guns, Mr. Speaker. We’re moving ahead with that plan, as we have stated in the joint communique, but Mr. Speaker this is a problem that will be solved working together.”

Random attacks have been a major focus in the Vancouver area over the past several months. That’s especially true for Mayor Ken Sim, who made the issue and crime in the city in general a key platform in the last municipal election.

BC Liberals: ‘What they are doing isn’t working’

While action on random attacks was raised at the federal level, it was also a topic in the B.C. legislature Tuesday.

The BC Liberals hammered the NDP government while referencing the Schmidt stabbing, pressing the province to do more.

“I think with the greatest respect, Mr. Speaker, what people are looking for from the government, from the premier, is acknowledgement that what they are doing isn’t working,” MLA Mike de Jong said. “In fact, what they’re doing, in many instances, has made the situation worse.”

Attorney General Niki Sharma responded to the opposition, saying “everybody knows here, we’ve been taking action to improve the safety in our communities.”

“That does include issuing a directive to Crown counsel. That directive was set under the laws that we currently have. But at the same time, we were advocating for changes to that law at the federal level,” she said.

“Minister (Mike) Farnworth and I met with Minister Lametti and Minister (Marco) Mendicino in Ottawa, who joined ministers from across this country that were there to seek changes to the bail laws, the unintended consequences that we’ve seen when it comes to people committing acts of violence being released on our streets. I’m happy to hear that they have made commitments to those changes, to make those changes as early as the spring. We’ll be watching to make sure those changes are made.”

Liberal MLA Todd Stone also pressed the NDP for action, saying “random attacks … have sadly become all too common, almost to the point of being normalized” in B.C.

“How many more lives must be shattered by this abhorrent, senseless violence before we see an end to these horrific random attacks?” he asked.

On Sunday, Vancouver police say Schmidt, 37, was stabbed after a “brief altercation” outside the Starbucks in the area of West Pender and Granville streets.

Investigators have said the “circumstances that led up to” the incident remain under investigation, though they note they “do not believe the victim and suspect knew each other.”

The suspect in this incident does not appear to have any past run ins with police.

The violence was captured on video and shared online, with reports saying the victim’s wife and young daughter were standing nearby during the horrifying moments.

CityNews has chosen not to share the video.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today