Alberta Justice Minister Says RCMP in Province Not Supportive of Firearms Buyback Enforcement

Alberta Justice Minister Says RCMP in Province Not Supportive of Firearms Buyback Enforcement
Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandro answers questions at a news conference in Calgary on Sept. 3, 2021. (The Canadian Press/Todd Korol)
Noé Chartier

After Alberta announced this week it would not cooperate with Ottawa over the buyback enforcement of “assault-style” firearms, its justice minister alleged on Sept. 28 that the RCMP division in the province is also not supportive.

“Alberta has been informally advised that the Commanding Officer of Alberta’s RCMP does not support the use of provincial resources to administer the federal government’s confiscation program,” said minister Tyler Shandro in a statement posted on social media.

“If this is the case, neither the province or Alberta’s RCMP, want police resources taken off the street in order to confiscate firearms.”

Alberta announced in a Sept. 26 statement it would not support the federal buyback of “assault-style” firearms, having received a request for assistance from Ottawa in August.

According to the statement, the province advised the RCMP division in Alberta that it should not be deployed to confiscate 30,000 firearms, saying it’s a waste of resources that will not increase public safety.

Shandro said the province will seek to intervene in ongoing judicial reviews challenging the constitutionality of the federal firearms prohibition and that it would launch a formal dispute under the Provincial Police Service Agreement if Ottawa goes ahead.

Alberta doesn’t have a provincial police force and the RCMP has jurisdiction to enforce provincial and municipal laws in many areas of the province.

RCMP spokesperson Robin Percival did not offer a comment on Shandro’s claim about the RCMP’s stance in Alberta and deferred to Public Safety Canada on the buyback issue.

Shandro’s statement was in reaction to comments made by Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino on Sept. 27.

“Weapons of war have no place in our communities ... and our buyback program will get them off our streets for good,” says a Mendicino statement provided by his press secretary Audrey Champoux.

“This announcement by Alberta is not only reckless, it’s an abdication of that vital responsibility.”

Mendicino added that courts have ruled the federal government is responsible for regulating firearms.

“Albertans expect their federal and provincial governments to work together to protect their communities, not pull dangerous stunts,” he said.

‘Political Purpose’

Shandro escalated the war of words with Ottawa by saying the Liberals are politicizing the RCMP and made a link to a recent controversy.

“We expect the Federal Liberals will again use the RCMP for their own political purposes,” he said in his statement. “Just as they did when they politicized the mass shooting in Nova Scotia in order to bolster their case for the same pending firearms ban.”

Shandro’s mention of Nova Scotia relates to allegations of political interference in the mass shooting investigation.

The Liberals chose to announce their ban of what they call “assault-style” firearms shortly after the late April mass shooting around Portapique, NS, which left 22 dead.
The weapons used by the killer were illegally acquired, with some coming from the U.S.
Several RCMP staffers have testified that RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki had tied publicly releasing information on the firearms used in the tragedy to pending gun legislation. RCMP H Division in Nova Scotia did not want to release that information to prevent jeopardizing the investigation.
Last year, the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated the buyback price tag at over $750 million without administrative costs.
Public Safety Canada released its proposed pricing for the buyback earlier this month, with separate categories such as “AR Platform” and “M14 Rifle.”  Proposed compensation for the AR Platform is $1,337 and $2,612 for the M14.
Saskatchewan announced on Sept. 28 it would also be pushing back against the planned firearms confiscations.