CALGARY — The Alberta government is taking steps to oppose federal firearms prohibition legislation and the potential seizure of thousands of assault-style weapons.
Since May 2020, Ottawa has prohibited more than 1,500 different models of assault-style firearms from being used or sold in Canada.
It has committed to establishing a buyback program to remove those firearms from communities.
Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandro said he received a letter from the federal minister of public safety asking for police resources to begin confiscating firearms beginning this fall.
Shandro said the federal government is "fearmongering" by labelling the guns as "assault style," which Shandro called a move to scare Canadians unfamiliar with firearms.
Shandro said at a news conference Monday that many of the weapons do not pose unusual danger or possess any additional mechanical capability.
"This is politically motivated confiscation, pure and simple," he said. "And so I responded to (Public Safety) Minister (Marco) Mendicino by telling him no. Alberta will not assist the federal government in this or any federal effort to strip lawfully obtained personal property from our residents."
Shandro said Alberta will not agree to having RCMP officers act as "confiscation agents" and will protest any such move under the provincial-federal agreement that governs policing.
"Despite taking this step, the federal government may still direct the RCMP to serve as confiscation agents," Shandro said. "To prevent this from happening, Alberta will formally dispute any attempt to do so by invoking Article 23 of that agreement."
Alberta also plans to seek intervener status in six ongoing judicial review applications challenging the constitutionality of the legislation.
Mendicino's office said in an email that the buyback program will ensure deadly firearms are taken off the streets.
"It's very disappointing that Alberta has put out their statement before seeing the full plan," said press secretary Audrey Champoux.
Shandro's position is supported by Alberta's chief firearms officer.
"I have previously expressed strong opposition to the federal government's plans to prohibit and confiscate some 30,000 lawfully acquired firearms from Albertans," said Teri Bryant.
"The planned confiscations represent a fatal approach to reducing violence in Canadian society and are unwarranted and unacceptable infringements on the property rights and personal freedoms of Albertans."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2022.
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press