Tory MP Wades Into Spat Between Public Safety Minister and Alberta Over Gun Confiscation Program

Tory MP Wades Into Spat Between Public Safety Minister and Alberta Over Gun Confiscation Program
Conservative MP Dan Albas rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on June 16, 2022. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)
Isaac Teo

A Conservative MP is criticizing federal public safety minister Marco Mendicino over his comments that the government of Alberta is “reckless” and performing a “political stunt” in pushing back Liberals’ gun confiscation program.

In a Twitter post on Oct. 2, Dan Albas waded into the firearm confiscation feud between Mendicino and Alberta after the minister accused the province’s justice minister and solicitor general Tyler Shandro of “insinuating that the RCMP will not be enforcing federal law.”

“This is the same Minister who claimed law enforcement requested the invoking of the Emergency Act (sic) despite all evidence establishing no such requests were ever made,” said Albas, who represents the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola in British Columbia.

Albas was responding to an earlier tweet by CTV Question Period the same day featuring a video segment of Mendicino being asked about what his response was in regards to Shandro’s refusal to enforce the proposed firearms buyback program by the Liberal government.
Mendicino and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have repeatedly claimed that the Emergencies Act, invoked to quash the Freedom Convoy protest against federal COVID-19 mandates and restrictions, was declared after conferring with law enforcement and heads of organizations that had a security role during the demonstrations.
The RCMP commissioner and the current and former Ottawa police chiefs have all testified that they didn’t advise for or request the use of the act. In June, Larry Brookson, chief operations officer of the Parliamentary Protective Service, also testified that he did not request the act be invoked.

‘Political Stunt’

In his interview on CTV’s Question Period program, Mendicino said Shandro’s attempt to challenge the constitutionality of the federal firearms prohibition does not hold water. Shandro had said in a Sept. 26 statement that his government will launch a formal dispute under the Provincial Police Service Agreement if Ottawa goes ahead.

“It’s a political stunt. [Shandro] knows full well that the regulatory powers, when it relates to firearms, fall squarely within the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government,” Mendicino told host Evan Solomon.

The minister added that the Supreme Court of Canada has “very firmly and has reaffirmed on a number of occasions” that the federal government is responsible for regulating firearms.

“It is reckless for the Alberta solicitor general to be insinuating that the RCMP will not be enforcing federal law. That’s reckless because if he wants to protect communities in Alberta, we need to get assault-style rifles out of [the province].”

On Sept. 28, Shandro alleged that the RCMP division in his province is also not supportive of the Liberals’ buyback program.
“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,” he said in a statement posted on Twitter.

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

Saskatchewan and Manitoba have also voiced their opposition to Ottawa’s plan.
In a letter on Sept. 27, Christine Tell, Saskatchewan’s minister of corrections, policing, and public safety, told RCMP Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore that the provincial 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.”
In a Facebook post on Sept. 28, Manitoba’s justice minister and attorney general Kelvin Goertzen said he wrote a letter to Mendicino on Sept. 13, informing the federal minister that the confiscation program would “erode” policing resources in the province.

“We feel many aspects of the federal approach to gun crimes unnecessarily target lawful gun owners while having little impact on criminals, who are unlikely to follow gun regulations in any event,” Goertzen’s letter said.

“In Manitoba’s view, any buy-back program cannot further erode precious provincial police resources, already suffering from large vacancy rates, from focusing on investigation of violent crime.”

Noé Chartier and Peter Wilson contributed to this report.