Saskatchewan Joins Alberta in Opposing Ottawa’s Gun Buyback Program

Saskatchewan Joins Alberta in Opposing Ottawa’s Gun Buyback Program
Christine Tell, Saskatchewan's minister of corrections, policing, and public safety, speaks to media at the Legislative Building in Regina on Oct. 27, 2021. (Michael Bell/The Canadian Press)
Peter Wilson

The Saskatchewan government has told the RCMP that it will not financially aid Ottawa in its efforts within the province to implement a federal firearms buyback program.

Christine Tell, the province’s minister of corrections, policing, and public safety, wrote a letter to RCMP Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore saying that no government money committed to the RCMP would be used to seize and buy back the firearms of Saskatchewan residents, according to the province’s Chief Firearms Officer Robert Freberg.

Speaking on the “John Gormley Show” radio program on Sept. 28, Freberg said Tell’s letter, which was delivered Sept. 27, informs the RCMP that the Saskatchewan government “fully supports anti crime initiatives that truly focus on the issues related to the criminal use of firearms,” but does not support “initiatives that will impact law-abiding, RCMP-vetted hunters, sport shooters, ranchers, farmers, and others who use firearms for lawful and good purposes.”

“That said, we will not authorize the use of provincially-funded resources of any type for the federal government’s buyback, and I would like to correct that and say ‘confiscation program,’” Freberg told radio host John Gormley.

The federal government in 2020 introduced legislation to ban more than 1,500 models of what it termed as “assault-style” firearms, including AR-15s.

Ottawa has stated that its firearms buyback program “will be mandatory” and will require any Canadian owning guns banned by the new legislation to sell them to the government at prices determined by the feds, or else have them “lawfully disposed.”

Saskatchewan’s action against the buyback program comes after the Alberta government previously informed Ottawa that it would not assist the federal government in its efforts to seize and buy back any illegal Albertan firearms.

“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 the province’s Justice Minister Tyler Shandro in a press conference on Sept. 26.

Freberg said the Saskatchewan RCMP receives over $200 million annually from the provincial government and added that carrying out the buyback program “isn’t a priority” for taxpayer dollars.

Freberg also said the province’s RCMP is “significantly understaffed.”

“To bring in people to go out and grab guns at people’s doors, I mean, I just don’t see that would be a priority for the RCMP,” Freberg said.

Asked by Gormley if Tell’s letter is “the end” of this issue for Saskatchewan, Freberg replied, “No, this is only the beginning.”

He added that the Saskatchewan government cabinet “will be coming out with a pretty significant announcement” regarding the buyback program “later in the fall.”

“Stay tuned,” Freberg said.