Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed starting Monday, Minister of Health Tyler Shandro announced Thursday. (Photo by Paul Taillon/Office of the Premier)

Editorial: Why Alberta is set to challenge federal firearms program

Last month, the federal minister responsible for the RCMP wrote to me to request that Alberta provide resources starting this fall to begin confiscating an estimated 30,000 legally acquired firearms from Albertans. We have rejected their request and will not offer any resources.

The firearms that they are seeking to confiscate were part of a list of over 1500 models that were banned by the federal Liberals in 2020. An amnesty is currently in effect until October 2023, after which time they will be prohibited to possess.

The list of banned models were all previously non-restricted and restricted firearms, including hunting rifles and shotguns as well as historical artifacts almost a hundred years old. Why ban these firearms? A committee of federal bureaucrats decided that these firearms look scary – which is why they describe them as “assault-style.” In reality, we know these firearms, no matter how they may be styled, are in no way materially different from more familiar looking rifles and shotguns.

To challenge this ban, Alberta will apply to intervene in six ongoing lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the prohibition.

I have also been advised that the Commanding Officer of K Division does not support using provincial police resources to administer the federal government’s confiscation program. Despite this, we have been told that the Federal Liberals intend to conscript provincial RCMP officers into acting as confiscation agents.

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.

To take action, I have used the authorities that we have as a province to identify the confiscation program as an activity that is not appropriate for the RCMP to be used for. Should the federal government proceed with their plan, I will launch a formal dispute under the Provincial Police Service Agreement.

However, because the RCMP is a federal entity, we believe that the Federal Liberals will again interfere in police operations – 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 – and order that the RCMP act as confiscation agents.

If this happens, we will consider all options at our disposal to protect Albertans and the property rights that they are entitled to.

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General