Alberta won't participate in federal efforts to seize prohibited weapons, Shandro says
Provincial justice minister says Alberta will not agree to having RCMP officers act as confiscation agents
The Alberta government is taking steps to oppose federal firearms prohibition legislation and the potential seizure of thousands of assault-style weapons.
Since May of 2020, Ottawa has prohibited more than 1,500 different models of assault-style firearms from being used or sold in Canada.
It has committed to establishing a buyback program to remove those firearms from communities.
Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandro says he received a letter from the minister of public safety asking for police resources to begin confiscating firearms starting this fall.
He says Alberta will not agree to having RCMP officers act as confiscation agents and will protest any such move under the provincial-federal agreement that governs policing.
"Alberta taxpayers pay over $750 million per year for the RCMP and we will not tolerate taking officers off the streets in order to confiscate the property of law-abiding firearms owners," said Shandro, speaking at a news conference in Calgary.
Doug King, a professor of justice studies at Mount Royal University in Calgary, pushed back against Shandro's portrayal of the buyback program.
While officers might seize weapons in the course of their duties, no one should worry "that, in rural Alberta, that the RCMP are going to be busting down their doors looking for illegal firearms," he said.
"That's not going to happen," King said. "I mean, let's be real."
As for telling the RCMP not to enforce a federal law, King said that would be "extraordinarily unusual," and not likely very effective.
Alberta also plans to seek intervener status in six ongoing judicial review applications challenging the constitutionality of the legislation.
The office of Marco Mendicino. Canada's minister of public safety, said in an email statement that the buyback program will ensure deadly firearms are taken off the streets.
"It's very disappointing that Alberta has put out their statement before seeing the full plan," said press secretary Audrey Champoux.
But Shandro's position is supported by Alberta's chief firearms officer.
"I have previously expressed strong opposition to the federal government's plans to prohibit and confiscate some 30,000 lawfully acquired firearms from Albertans," said Teri Bryant.
"The planned confiscations represent a fatal approach to reducing violence in Canadian society and are unwarranted and unacceptable infringements on the property rights and personal freedoms of Albertans."
With files from Paula Duhatschek/CBC News