MONTREAL – The father of a slain Quebec police officer wants to see the federal government tighten restrictions on who can have access to firearms.
Michel LeRoux said he wrote Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale this week about his son Thierry, who was shot to death in February 2016.
The rookie officer had been on the job for just six months with the Lac-Simon police department serving the Algonquin community near Val-d’Or, about 500 kilometres northwest of Montreal.
Michel LeRoux said in an interview from Baie-Comeau on Tuesday that authorities told him the man who killed his son had his weapons taken away when he was hospitalized months before the shooting.
He claims they were subsequently ordered returned — delivered by Thierry Leroux himself — despite the man having a history of suicidal behaviour.
“The authorities should never have allowed our son’s killer to own weapons,” he said in the letter to Goodale and other lawmakers. “Without guns, the situation would have been completely different, and both Thierry and the murderer would likely be alive today.”
LeRoux said he was disappointed by the coroner’s findings, which made no recommendations to that effect.
The report, 19 months in the making, found that his son didn’t follow procedure and acted with “excessive confidence” the night he was shot twice in the back.
That’s what triggered Michel LeRoux’s call for tighter controls.
“Specifically, what I want is to tighten the law and tighten the restrictions,” LeRoux said.
Since the letter becoming public, LeRoux has drawn the ire of the pro-gun lobby.
But the soon-to-be-retired engineer says he has nothing against hunters or guns. He points out he was born and raised in Abitibi-Temiscamingue and lives in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, two outlying regions known for hunting and fishing.
“What I’m concerned about is accessibility to weapons in the hands of people who are psychologically incapable of having them — that’s what I want to address,” he said.
In his letter to Goodale, which was copied to Quebec Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux, he asks for tougher controls to prevent those with violent, threatening or suicidal tendencies from having access to weapons.
He said he also supports tougher rules regarding military-style weapons which the federal Liberals promised to address in 2015.
Heidi Rathjen, a gun-control advocate with the group PolyseSouvient, says Goodale has committed to tabling legislation by year’s end.
“Here’s another voice of someone who has lived a terrible tragedy because someone who shouldn’t have had guns was legally allowed to keep them,” Rathjen said of LeRoux. “It underscores that we need to tighten controls.”
LeRoux says he wants something positive to come from the profound loss his family has suffered.
“We supported him, we were proud of him, we still are,” LeRoux said, fighting back tears. “We want to make sure that Thierry didn’t die for nothing.”