Alberta Revives Its Long-Running Campaign Against Federal Gun Controls

A perennial theme in Canadian politics has been that the government of Alberta is hostile to the federal government over gun laws. This week, as the federal government moves toward initiating a program to buy back “military-style offensive weapons,” the dispute has returned, if there is a new twist.

Tyler Shandro, Attorney General and Attorney General for the province, said that he has instructed Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki, head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Alberta, to “refuse to participate” in the scheme, which does will require the owners of more than 1,500 models of rifles that are currently being turned over to the police as illegal.

Christine Tell, Saskatchewan’s minister of public safety, shortly thereafter sent a similar letter to the head of the Mounties in her province expressing the government’s opposition to police involvement in the incident. New gun control program.

[Read from May: Canada Plans to Ban Handgun Sales and Possession of Assault Weapons]

While the Mounties are, of course, a federal police force, Mr. Shandro said he has the authority to issue the directive because the force, as is the case in most provinces, also acts as Alberta’s provincial police. under contract with Alberta.

“Alberta taxpayers pay more than $750 million a year to the RCMP, and we have zero tolerance for taking officers to the streets to seize the property of law-abiding gun owners,” he said. Shandro said at a press conference.

The Alberta government said in a news release that the guidance is part of a contract with Mounties that allows the province to establish the “goals, priorities and goals” of police officers attached to the border. his world. Mr. Shandro suggested that if the Mounties didn’t heed the provincial government, it would challenge the force through a dispute resolution system also outlined in the contract.

The federal government immediately rejected the idea that either provincial government could order the Mounties to circumvent federal gun laws it opposes.

“Weapons of war have no place in our communities, which is why our government bans these guns and our buyback program takes them off our streets. ,” wrote Alexander Cohen, a spokesman for Marco Mendicino, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety, in an email. “Courts have repeatedly confirmed that gun regulation falls under federal jurisdiction. Albertans and Saskatchewanians expect their federal and provincial governments to work together to protect their communities, not to pull off stunts.”

I asked the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which is stuck in the middle of all this, for their response to the two provinces, but I received no response.

Eric Adams, who teaches constitutional law at the University of Alberta, told me that if Alberta and Saskatchewan succeed, they will likely create problems for their residents.

“You can set them up to commit an illegal crime,” he said, referring to owners of banned rifles that were left with no way to turn them in. are they violating the Penal Code when those guns are listed? It makes no sense to me.”

Professor Adams said it would be a bit fuzzy in this case the control the provinces exercised over the Mounties they had hired for policing. He added that it raises some of the same issues that came after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s insides pressured the justice minister to cut a deal rather than criminally prosecute engineering firm SNC- Lavalin on corruption charges.

“We go against the line between the political direction dictated by the proceedings – which you don’t want and is not a healthy feature of any democracy – and the Alberta government setting goals policy goals and directing their forces when they have to do what can be done,” said Professor Adams.

All of this comes as Danielle Smith appears poised to succeed Jason Kenney as leader of the United Conservative Party, which will also make her prime minister of Alberta next week. During her election campaign, Ms. Smith promised to introduce a bill on Alberta’s sovereignty that, as she said, would allow the province to be “a nation within a nation”. She said such legislation would essentially allow Alberta to ignore federal laws within its borders if it believes they violate provincial jurisdiction or violate Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Opponents of Mr. Kenney and Ms. Smith’s leadership have denounced the plan as unconstitutional. Many legal scholars, including Professor Adams, have pointed out that provinces always have the option of asking the courts to review the constitutionality of federal law.

Alberta followed that path in the late 1990s when it went to court to oppose a 1995 federal law requiring owners of rifles and handguns, or shotguns, to register them. It argues that guns are property and therefore under the jurisdiction of the province. The Supreme Court of Canada in 2000 rejected that view and found that the laws surrounding guns Entirely federal governmentauthority of.

Prof Adams said that any attempt by a province to circumvent federal gun regulations or set its own regulations would have to be subject to a court ruling.

“Alberta persisted in making this argument on legal grounds,” he said. “I think there’s no ledge to stand on, constitutionally speaking.”

  • Catherine Porter, before moving to her new position at The Times office in Paris, gave a brief introduction to Coutts, Alberta, the village where the border between Canada and the United States was initially blocked by protesters. this year after a police raid. Create a cache of weapons. She has found a community where conspiracy theories are common and residents vaccinations are scarce.

  • The federal government has brought a end its remaining coronavirus entry restrictions, including inspection and quarantine requirements, as well as the mandatory wearing of masks on intercity planes and trains, Remy Tumin reported.

  • In Science, Elizabeth Landau writes about Apple’s Biodiversity Collection in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, described by its founders as the “United Nations of Apples”.

  • Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees forces Roger Maris’s a record of 61 home runs for a single season in a game in Toronto this week. Specially marked ball landed at the Blue Jays’ barn, where it was spotted by Toronto’s male dog trainer, Matt Buschmann. Scott Miller wrote about the amount that has been generated by many people running from home.

A native of Windsor, Ontario, Ian Austen was educated in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has covered Canada for The New York Times for the past 16 years. Follow him on Twitter at @ianrausten.

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