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Alberta granted permission to intervene in gun lawsuits

Alberta to intervene against federal gun legislation banning 1,500 firearms models
Alberta has been granted intervenor status in half a dozen against new federal gun legislation. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The Alberta government will take on Ottawa as an intervenor in a half a dozen gun lawsuits against federal legislation that bans more than 1,500 models of firearms.

The Federal Court has granted Alberta’s application to intervene in the lawsuits, said a news release from Justice Minister and Solicitor General Tyler Shandro earlier this week.

Last September, the justice minister would seek to advance legal arguments in six ongoing lawsuits concerning constitutional and non-constitutional legal issues related to the federal firearms ban.

On Wednesday, the Federal Court granted Alberta the ability to intervene on the non-constitutional issues. The Federal government advised the Federal Court they would not oppose Alberta’s application the day their opposition to the intervention was required by the court.

“The federal firearms ban criminalizes hundreds of thousands of law-abiding Canadians who are in possession of firearms that the federal government has arbitrarily banned – simply because the ‘style’ of the firearm was deemed to be aesthetically displeasing by bureaucrats in Public Safety Canada,” said Shandro in a statement on Thursday.

“I am pleased that Alberta has been granted an opportunity to defend the tens of thousands of Albertans who are personally affected by this ban in a court of law.”

Provinces have the automatic right to intervene on constitutional matters. On non-constitutional issues, provinces must seek the permission of the court.

The Alberta government says the lawsuits raise questions of significant public interest respecting the lawful ownership of firearms in Canada, the proper interpretation of the Criminal Code, and the scope of the regulatory making powers granted to Canada’s Governor in Council.

By intervening, the province says it will be able to argue that the federal government’s legislation is an overreach of its jurisdiction and will infringe on the rights of the province’s law-abiding firearms community.

There are about 340,000 firearms possession/acquisition licence holders in Alberta.

Albertans own the second-highest number of firearms classified as restricted or prohibited by the federal government. The province says the federal firearms ban targets an estimated 30,000 firearms for confiscation in Alberta.

“The federal government’s legislative amendments would result in responsible firearms owners losing their property without improving public safety,” said Alberta’s chief firearms officer TeriBryant in a statement.

“I have urged the federal government to reconsider these amendments, and will continue to advocate for laws that protect both public safety and property rights.”

Alberta will submit its written argument to the federal court in early February. The lawsuits are scheduled to be heard April 11 to 20, 2023.