The Associated Press
OTTAWA- Canada's homicide rate rose for the second straight year in 2005, fueled in part by an increase in gang-related violence, according to government statistics released Wednesday.
Police reported 658 homicides last year, 34 more than in 2004. The government said 222 people were killed with firearms last year, a marked increase from 173 the year before.
Most of the increase was driven by a jump in gang-related homicides, particularly in the provinces of Ontario and Alberta, the federal agency Statistics Canada said in a report.
Police reported 107 homicides were gang-related in 2005, 35 more than in 2004.
But it's still far lower than in mid-1970s, when the national homicide rate peaked at 3.03 homicides per 100,000 people. It has generally dropped since then, reaching a low of 1.73 in 2003. The 2005 rate was 2.04 homicides per 100,000 population.
Justice Minister Vic Toews said the increase shows a need for the Conservative government's proposed bill to impose mandatory minimum sentences for gun and gang-related offenses.
Statistics Canada: http://www.statcan.ca