Alberta’s justice minister says he believes the federal government’s newly-tabled firerarms legislation “is more interested in targeting law-abiding Canadians rather than the criminals who recklessly endanger public safety.”
In a statement issued Tuesday evening, Kaycee Madu offered his reaction to the proposed gun legislation that would let municipalities effectively ban handguns through bylaws that restrict their possession, storage and transportation.
“The federal government seems to be obsessively focused on duly-licensed Canadian firearms owners,” Madu said. “Hundreds of thousands of Canadians purchased their property legally, and have used that property legally and safely for many years.
“These citizens should not be treated like criminals by their own federal government.”
Madu added that his government is “bewildered by the supposed provision for municipal bylaw gun bans” and said “the Constitution is clear that municipalities fall under the jurisdiction of the provinces.”
“Albertans are smart enough to know that made-in-Toronto calls for city gun bans are futile, since criminals flagrantly using guns won’t follow such a bylaw anyways,” he said.
“In addition, a patchwork approach of policy varying by invisible municipal boundaries would create obvious confusion in enforcement, and the federal government clearly knows that.”
The mayor of Calgary told reporters Tuesday that the city has yet to determine what it may or may not do should the federal legislation be passed.
Nenshi added that even though he broadly likes the idea of municipalities having more powers, he prefers “one law for the country.”
“I’ve never been in favour of this approach,” he said. “That said, Calgary certainly has a problem with gun violence and it’s something that we’re addressing through a number of formats, including our public safety task force.
“So I’ll wait to hear the recommendations of that task force before determining whether or not to test council’s will on whether we should take advantage of that or not.”
Nenshi said he expects the task force to provide its recommendations within the next month or two.
Madu said that although the federal legislation “may include some useful measures,” his government plans to “vigilantly defend its jurisdiction” should it be passed into law.
“I’d also note that MLA Michaela Glasgo has introduced private member’s Bill 211, which would limit municipalities’ ability to pass bylaws on these matters,” he said.
“The government of Alberta will expedite that bill, and remains on track to appoint Alberta’s chief firearms officer.”
The federal government said it plans to back up its legislation with serious penalties to help municipalities enforce related bylaws. Bill C-21 also proposes an optional buyback program for guns that Ottawa now considers to be assault-style weapons.
Among the other measures the legislation includes are provisions that would allow friends or relatives of gun owners to apply to courts for the removal of a person’s guns, increasing penalties for the trafficking and smuggling of firearms and bringing in tougher restrictions on the importation of ammunition.
–With files from The Canadian Press’ Jim Bronskill
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