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Alberta Justice Minister says Feds planning to use RCMP to confiscate firearms starting in PEI


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Federal confiscation program: Minister Shandro

Minister of Justice Tyler Shandro issued the following statement on the federal firearms confiscation program:

“Last week, Minister Mendicino admitted that the federal government has still not figured out how to implement their firearms confiscation program.

“This admission comes shortly after the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police called on the federal government to not to use police services to confiscate firearms.

“Now, media reports have drawn attention to a federal government memo that outlines Minister Mendicino’s plans to confiscate firearms across Canada.

“The memo admits that efforts to find private sector companies to implement the federal firearms confiscation program failed this summer.

“With no private sector companies willing to participate, the memo outlines how the RCMP will first be deployed to Prince Edward Island (PEI), which has been deemed to be an easy ‘low-risk’ target.

“The federal government is treating PEI as a ‘pilot’ that will help them learn on the job as they implement their confiscation plan through trial and error.

“This ‘program’ is expected to cost a billion dollars or more and has supposedly been in the works for three years.

“Despite a mountain of money and years worth of lead time, Ottawa appears to be lost – especially given their latest attack on hunting rifles and shotguns – at minimum, they should proactively extend the amnesty that is currently scheduled to end in October 2023.

“Such a decision, however, would involve showing Canadian firearms owners a measure of decency, something that Minister Mendicino and this federal government is seemingly incapable of.”


Public Safety Canada’s Buyback Program


The Government of Canada committed to implementing a mandatory buyback program so that the assault-style firearms that became prohibited on May 1, 2020 are safely removed from our communities. Public Services and Procurement Canada’s role is to provide procurement services to Public Safety Canada (PS) to support their implementation of the buyback program.


As of May 1, 2020, the Government of Canada has prohibited over 1,500 models of assault-style firearms (ASFs) and certain components of some newly-prohibited firearms. New maximum thresholds for muzzle energy and bore diameter are also in place. Any firearm that exceeds these is now prohibited. A Criminal Code amnesty period is currently in effect to October 30, 2023. The amnesty is designed to protect individuals or businesses who, at the time the prohibition came into force, were in lawful possession of a newly prohibited firearm from criminal liability while they take steps to comply with the law.

The primary intent of the buyback program would be to safely buyback these now prohibited firearms from society, while offering fair compensation to businesses and lawful owners impacted by the prohibition. PSPC is currently examining options for implementation of the buyback program, including the potential of contracting out specific activities.

Key activities

The program approach currently being considered by PS senior management envisages 2 phases, with a pilot in the first phase that would inform the national roll-out of the program:

  • phase 1: commence in December 2022 and conclude at the end of the amnesty period. Primarily led by Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) with support from PS and other government departments. Prince Edward Island (PE) will be used as a pilot and will be the first point of collection based on the smaller number of firearms. As a result, lessons learned, gaps analysis and risk assessment would inform the phase 2 national roll-out
  • phase 2: national roll-out is planned for spring 2023 once an information management/information technology (IM/IT) case management system is in place. It will be implemented in collaboration with other government departments, provincial, municipal and territorial governments and potential Industry partners

Public Services and Procurement posted a request for information on July 14, 2022 seeking feedback from industry on potential capacities to support delivery of the buyback program. It closed on August 31, 2022 and with very limited interest from the industry.

Partners and stakeholders

The program owner is Public Safety Canada. They are responsible for the buyback planning and oversight.

Public Services and Procurement Canada has been supporting PS with the buyback program since August 2021 supporting the development of procurement strategies for the delivery of the various potential requirements such as:

  • collection and transportation
  • professional services
  • tracking
  • storage solutions
  • package inspection
  • destruction
  • post-destruction recycling

Shared Services Canada will assist with procurement of information technology (IT) solutions and other required IT support, based on its mandate.

The RCMP will start collection of ASFs in December 2022. They are also supporting the buyback program by providing a high level process map or written description of the programmatic phases.

Employment and Social Development Canada may support the buyback program with call-centres and payment solutions for the compensation.

Provincial, municipal and territorial governments are also being engaged to support the implementation and program delivery.

Key considerations

The prohibition applies to all current and future firearm variants that meet the criteria—now, over 1,800 firearms. These firearms can no longer be legally used, sold, or imported.

Currently owners have the option to dispose of their firearm by surrendering it to police, deactivating through an approved business or exporting the firearm with a valid export permit, all without government compensation. The buyback program aims to offer fair compensation to affected owners and businesses.

Work at the officials level is ongoing to develop, design and engage on the program. This includes public consultations on the government’s price list, which was posted on July 28, 2022 on Public Safety’s website and would be used to establish compensation levels for affected firearms.


Alberta Sheriffs receiving additional officers and more powers with new funding

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Mike Ellis shakes hands with Alberta Premier Danielle Smith after being sworn into cabinet as minister of public safety in Edmonton, Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. Alberta sheriffs will have expanded powers and play a bigger role in combating rural crime with new funding, the provincial government said Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

St. Paul, Alberta

The Alberta Sheriffs Branch will have expanded powers and play a bigger role in combating rural crime with new funding, the provincial government said Friday.

Public Safety Minister Mike Ellis said $27.3 million will go to new positions and for rural crime initiatives, including two plain clothes teams that will help RCMP with criminal surveillance.

The announcement comes as Alberta continues to mull over whether to create a provincial police service to replace the RCMP.

“There has been some misleading commentary about this investment in the Alberta sheriffs, namely that it’s the way of laying the groundwork for establishing a provincial police service by some other means,” Ellis said Friday in St. Paul, Alta., 200 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.

“I’d like to remind people that the provincial government hasn’t made any decision about an Alberta police service.”

Ellis said although the RCMP has its own surveillance teams, most of the efforts are focused on major investigations. He said the new sheriff teams will fill a gap by helping the RCMP detachments with local investigations.

“I’ve heard countless stories about home invasions being committed by prolific offenders or thefts from farms. Every property owner has the right to feel safe in their home and the right not to wake up and find their equipment gone or fuel siphoned from vehicles,” he said.

“These really are the type of cases that keep Albertans up at night.”

The sheriffs will also get funding to add 20 investigators to the Safer Communities and Neighbourhood unit, which uses civil enforcement to target problem properties where illegal activities take place.

There is also money for the Sheriff Highway Patrol to train and equip its members to help RCMP with emergencies and high-priority calls.

“We will provide all members of the Alberta sheriffs with full powers to arrest under the Criminal Code,” Ellis said.

“Some members of the sheriffs already have Criminal Code authorities, but we believe the public will be better served with consistency throughout this province.”

The head of the Alberta RCMP said he welcomes the additional help from the sheriffs.

“These additional resources for the Alberta Sheriffs will improve our combined ability to suppress criminal activity in rural Alberta,” said Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki in a statement.

Farooq Sheikh, the chief of Alberta Sheriffs, called it a proud day.

“While our members have a visible presence in many functions they perform such as highway patrol, fish and wildlife enforcement, security in our provincial courts … the sheriffs perform a lot of important work to keep communities safe that’s outside of the public eye.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2023.

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Finance Minister Travis Toews, Environment Minister Sonya Savage say won’t run again

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Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews delivers the budget, in Edmonton, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. Toews says he will not run in the upcoming provincial election. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

By Dean Bennett in Edmonton

Two Alberta government cabinet ministers announced Friday that they will not be seeking re-election.

Travis Toews, the province’s finance minister and the runner-up to Premier Danielle Smith in last fall’s United Conservative Party leadership race, is exiting politics. Environment Minister Sonya Savage also said she will not run in the expected May 29 provincial vote.

Toews, the legislature member for Grande Prairie-Wapiti in northwestern Alberta, ended months of speculation with his announcement. He said it was a recent decision and a difficult one for him and his wife, Kim.

“(There were) personal considerations, certainly family considerations and some business considerations,” Toews said in an interview. “When we added all of them up this seemed like the right decision for us. That was the impetus for it.”

He dismissed suggestions the decision was tied to his loss to Smith or to the party’s further shift to the right under her leadership.

“We have a big tent party. This United Conservative Party has a lot of diversity. All groups are very important,” he said.

“I’m fully committed to the party, to the movement, committed to the premier and committed to an election win this May.”

Toews was elected in 2019 for the UCP and was finance minister for all but a few months when he ran to replace former premier Jason Kenney as party leader, coming in second to Smith.

Savage, the member for Calgary North-West, announced her decision to quit provincial politics with a statement on Twitter, saying she wants to spend more time with her family. She said she looks forward to remaining a party member and wished the premier and her UCP colleagues success in the upcoming election.

In a statement, Smith said Toews has been “one of the strongest finance ministers in Alberta’s history and leaves a legacy of strong fiscal management that I will continue to uphold as premier.”

“I greatly respect his decision to spend more time on the ranch and with his family,” Smith said. “There will be big boots to fill in Grande Prairie-Wapiti, and I wish him, Kim and the family nothing but the very best.”

Smith said Savage will be greatly missed.

“Minister Sonya Savage’s dedication and commitment to furthering Alberta’s energy interests and developing a Made-in-Alberta approach to responsible environmental stewardship of our natural resources will benefit Albertans for decades,” she said in a statement.

Toews had refused to discuss his future in recent weeks, saying he was focused on passing the budget, which featured a projected $2.4-billion surplus along with increased spending across the board.

The decision comes a little over a month from when the writ is expected to drop.

Smith said that given the short window, she will work with the party and the local constituency association to appoint a candidate “so that the new candidate can hit the ground running and ensure a UCP victory in this constituency.”

Toews was the early favourite to replace Kenney as leader last year – with half of the caucus members supporting him — but fell short in the end as Smith galvanized party anger with the federal government and COVID-19 health restrictions.

He locked horns with Smith during the campaign. He criticized her for past advocacy of a provincial sales tax and said her proposed — and since passed — sovereignty act would scare off investment with its promise to ignore federal laws in areas of perceived provincial jurisdiction.

As finance minister, the rancher and accountant oversaw the best and worst of Alberta’s turbulent oil-and-gas-powered economy, with massive deficits, negative oil prices and eye-popping surpluses.

He looked born to the parts of outdoorsman and number cruncher: close-cropped hair, eyeglasses and well-worn cowboy boots with a trademark monotone speaking style occasionally punctuated by high-decibel, finger-pointing attacks on the NDP Opposition during question period.

He stickhandled many controversial files, including de-indexing personal income tax, arguing for wage cuts to nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic and lifting the rate cap on auto insurance.

He was also the point person on long-running deliberations to pull Alberta out of the Canada Pension Plan in favour of a provincial one. The government has yet to release research on the merits and drawbacks of such a plan, despite promising two years ago that the release of a report was imminent.

Toews was also among those who were surreptitiously photographed in 2021 at a drinks-and-dinner get-together with Kenney on a rooftop patio on the legislature grounds in contravention of COVID-19 gathering rules.

In a statement, Opposition NDP finance critic Shannon Phillips said she admires Toew’s record.

“He conducts himself with decency and is mostly grounded in reality, unlike the new crop of Smith candidates.”

Toews said his proudest achievement is leaving the province in a better place financially than when he found it, noting the new budget also includes commitments to keeping spending under control while repaying debt and investing in long-term savings.

“We’re leading the nation in job creation,” Toews said.

“All of that tied together certainly brings some satisfaction to these last four years, which have certainly been a bit of a roller-coaster.”

He said the difficult part was long nights of no-win decisions during the COVID-19 crisis, balancing public health with personal freedoms with no clear cut black-and-white answers.

“Those were some of the hardest hours of my life serving on that COVID cabinet committee,” he said.

“(They were) impossible decisions, and knowing those decisions were going to impact Albertans directly. We certainly didn’t get it all right.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2023.

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