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LILLEY: Trudeau’s fight with Alberta is all because he doesn’t know how to collect guns he banned

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a news conference about the federal government's response to Hurricane Fiona, later downgraded to post-tropical storm, in Ottawa, on Sept. 26, 2022.
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a news conference about the federal government's response to Hurricane Fiona, later downgraded to post-tropical storm, in Ottawa, on Sept. 26, 2022. Photo by BLAIR GABLE /REUTERS

The latest political fight between the federal government and Alberta shows just how poorly thought out the gun ban and “buyback” program really is. The Trudeau Liberals are now asking provinces and cities to offer up police resources to take guns from licenced gun owners and they are getting some pushback.

If you haven’t heard, there’s a lot of concern being raised about Alberta, and now Saskatchewan, opting out of federal laws. That’s the argument being put forward by Trudeau’s public safety minister Marco Mendicino.

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“It’s an abdication of responsibility. It’s an abdication, because it suggests that any province has the ability to opt out of a federal law when it relates to firearms,” Mendicino said on Wednesday.

He was responding to Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandro, who announced on Monday that his province will not make provincial resources available for the gun “buyback” or confiscation program.

“It’s important to remember that 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,” Shandro said.

He made it clear that he doesn’t see taking firearms from legal, licenced gun owners as a priority when the province has other policing and crime issues to deal with. While Mendicino portrays that as Alberta trying to “opt out of a federal law” it’s actually Alberta following the contract they have with the federal government for the Mounties.

Section 6.1 of the Provincial Police Services Agreement states that, “The Provincial Minister will set the objectives, priorities and goals of the Provincial Police Service.” Meanwhile section 6.4 of the agreement states, “Nothing in this Agreement will be interpreted as limiting in any way the jurisdiction of Alberta in respect of the administration of justice and law enforcement in the Province.”

Trudeau trying to offload responsibility

What the federal government is trying to do is to get provincial and local police services to do their work for them and Alberta, now joined by Saskatchewan, are saying no. It would be the equivalent of the federal government telling the Surete du Quebec or the Ontario Provincial Police what their priorities would be and then getting upset if Ontario or Quebec disagreed.

The real problem here isn’t that provincial governments are pushing back on bad policy, it’s that the Trudeau government announced their policy without having any real way of implementing it.

At the national level, the RCMP doesn’t have the resources to carry out this gun collection program they want to launch by the end of the year. The Mounties have told the government they don’t have the resources.

Canada Post was also considered as a potential partner in the collection of firearms, and they too have told the Trudeau government they are not able to handle the volume of firearms being returned.

  1. A restricted gun licence holder holds a AR-15 at his home in Langley, B.C. on May 1, 2020.

    LILLEY: After two years, Liberals still trying to design gun buyback program

  2. The substantial costs of the federal government’s buyback program for more than 1,500 gun models would be better spent on efforts to secure the Canada-U.S. border against handgun smuggling.

    EDITORIAL: Feds' gun buyback scheme off target

So now, the federal government has written to the provinces, and some cities, asking them to divert precious police resources to running their program to take guns away from people not breaking the law. Most jurisdictions don’t have enough resources to deal with those breaking the law.

While Alberta and Saskatchewan are outright saying they won’t help with the new program, even Ontario is urging the feds to focus on smuggled guns coming across the border.

“Ultimately, we encourage the federal government to focus on the measures needed to stop the root causes of gun violence, like stopping illegal guns from crossing the border and reducing the chances for repeat offenders to commit further crimes,” said Michael Harrison, spokesperson for the province’s solicitor general.

That’s the kind of hard work the Trudeau government has refused to do. They also didn’t have a plan for how to carry out this ban and “buyback” before they announced it.