Politics Briefing: Alberta to take control of prosecutions for banned firearms from Ottawa, provincial justice minister says


Alberta is pushing back at federal gun-control efforts.

Saying “Albertans have had enough,” provincial Justice Minister Tyler Shandro announced Thursday his government is intent on protecting firearms owners from what he described as “an increasingly hostile federal government.”

He said Ottawa’s approach to firearms management will criminalize many Canadians, mostly in Western Canada.

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that the federal Liberal government is pursuing a strategy to ban all legal firearms ownership,” Mr. Shandro told a news conference in Edmonton.

“Their actions are targeting western Canadians for a reason. This is about shoring up their own political support.”

At issue are amendments to Bill C-21, the federal gun-control legislation, that would make many firearms commonly used by hunters illegal. The amendments include a legal definition of assault-style weapons that would be automatically banned. Critics say the proposed definition catches many guns used for hunting.

Mr. Shandro said that, as of Jan. 1, the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service, and not federal prosecutors, will deal with charges related to the federal Firearms Act.

He also said a new protocol has been issued to Crown prosecutors outlining how to handle charges related to the federal firearms ban that provides guidance on evaluating the public interest on whether to pursue charges.

The actions come as Alberta’s United Conservative Party government has passed a sovereignty act, which says the government can act in responding to what it designates as federal overreach into provincial areas of authority. There’s an explainer here on the act.

In Ottawa, Justice Minister David Lametti said Thursday afternoon that he had not seen Mr. Shandro’s comments.

But, when leaving the weekly cabinet meeting, Mr. Lametti said it was legitimate for provinces to challenge federal jurisdiction when they think the federal government has gone too far.

“We certainly do the same thing with provinces,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong in and of itself for both the federal government and the provinces to assert their jurisdiction or to test the parameters of assertions of the other levels of government on jurisdiction.”

As senior political reporter Marieke Walsh and reporter Marsha McLeod report here, the federal government said Wednesday it is open to fine-tuning the bill.

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PUBLIC SERVANTS BEING CALLED BACK TO WORK – Ottawa is mandating that federal public servants return to the office at least two to three days in a week, or 40 to 60 per cent of the time they spend working, in an attempt to bring more uniformity to a hybrid work setup that has varied widely across different federal departments since September. Story here.

MUSLIM ORGANIZATION TARGETED BY FORGERIES – Canada’s largest Muslim community organization has been rocked by meticulous forgeries of RCMP and Canada Revenue Agency records, which weave an elaborate fiction about federal investigators using paid informants to build a terrorist-funding case against the charity. Story here.

PM DEFENDS TRADE MINISTER – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended his Trade Minister on Wednesday after the Ethics Commissioner ruled that Mary Ng broke federal laws in awarding two media training contracts to a close friend. Story here.

ANTI-ORGAN TRAFFICKING BILL PASSED – MPs have passed legislation that would block foreigners from entering Canada if they were involved in organ trafficking – an accusation levelled at China by United Nations experts in 2021 – and adopted a motion urging Beijing to grant Tibet more autonomy. Story here.

CANADA FALTERS IN TRADE WITH AFRICA – Senators are warning Trade Minister Mary Ng that Ottawa may be falling behind its peers in establishing deeper trade ties with Africa. Story here.

NEW APOLOGY FOR SMITH – Premier Danielle Smith says she is sorry if anyone misinterpreted her remarks this week to conclude she was equating Ottawa’s treatment of Alberta to the systemic and horrific abuse of Canada’s First Nations. Story here.

MONTREAL POLICE OFFICERS AFOUL OF BILL 21 – Montreal police have asked officers to stop wearing religious symbols while on the job as the provincial law, Bill 21, prohibits the wearing of religious symbols by representatives of the state in a position of authority. Story here from CBC.

MP MACKENZIE STEPPING DOWN – Dave MacKenzie, the long-time Conservative MP for the southwestern Ontario riding of Oxford, has announced he is stepping down. Story here from the Strathroy Age Dispatch.

ENGLISH SAFE IN QUEBEC: LEGAULT – English is not the language in peril in Quebec, Premier François Legault said Wednesday, calling on Ottawa to do more than just talk when it comes to protecting French. Story here from The Montreal Gazette.

FINANCIAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY FINDS TROUBLE – Efforts by Canada’s financial intelligence agency over the last three years uncovered activity related to homegrown terrorism, the bankrolling of international terrorist groups and attempts by Canadians to take part in extremism abroad. Story here.


HOUSE ON A BREAK – The House of Commons is on a break until Jan. 30.

TRUDEAU AT CHRISTMAS PARTY – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in a Christmas spirit on Wednesday night, extending holiday cheer to Conservatives. “Let us remember. Conservative Canadians are not our enemies. They are their neighbours, our uncles and cousins and our co-workers. We need to listen to them,” Mr. Trudeau told more than 2,000 people attending the party’s national Christmas party in Ottawa.

But the Liberal leader did not hold back in shots at Pierre Poilievre, the Conservative leader, taking issue with his rhetorical claim that Canada is broken. “That’s where we draw the line,” he said. “I don’t accept Canadians and politicians that talk down our country. Let me be very clear for the record: Canada is not broken.”

Mr. Poilievre responded to Mr. Trudeau, on Thursday, with a video posted to Twitter that featured a quote from the Liberal leader, before he was prime minister, saying a leader takes responsibility when things go wrong. The 90-second video used clips from media reports to cite challenges raised by such issues as inflation, shortages of children’s fever medication, crime and increasing overdose deaths.

He also took issue with Mr. Poilievre not campaigning in the Mississauga-Lakeshore by-election that the Liberals won with former Ontario finance minister Charles Sousa as their candidate. “As Liberals, we show up,” said Mr. Trudeau. “We showed up for the people of Mississauga. Charles Sousa showed up for the people of Mississauga. And they showed up for us.”

Mr. Trudeau also called on the audience to stand for a moment of silence in honour of former federal cabinet minister Jim Carr, who died this week. “He would have loved to be here tonight. He would have loved to see this room full of Liberals,” said Mr. Trudeau.

Friday’s Christmas gathering was the latest in a series of Christmas parties held by the national parties. The NDP, Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois have already held their gatherings, which come as the House of Commons wrapped up the fall sitting on Wednesday. Members will be back on Jan. 30.

NOTLEY SPEAKING – Former Alberta premier Rachel Notley, now Official Opposition leader, was scheduled to participate in a keynote address and conversation on Thursday organized, in Calgary, by the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in Ottawa, held private meetings, chaired the cabinet meeting and was scheduled to meet with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. Mr. Trudeau was also scheduled to attend a Liberal Party of Canada fundraising event in Gatineau, Que.


NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Montreal, was scheduled to meet with representatives of the Alliance of professional and technical personnel of health and social services to talk about health care-issues, and take media questions afterwards. He was also scheduled to attend the COP15 UN conference on biodiversity, meet with Quebec union leaders, meet with representatives of Nature Canada and attend the World Wildlife Foundation-Canada COP15 reception.

No schedules provided for other party leaders.


On Thursday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, technology reporter, Temur Durrani, talks about issues around Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, who was arrested in the Bahamas on Monday. U.S. prosecutors charged Bankman-Fried with eight counts of fraud and conspiracy. He’s now in a Bahamian prison and could be extradited to the U.S. The company was founded in 2019 and went from being worth US$32-billion to bankrupt in mid-November. Along the way, FTX built up a lot of hype and attracted a lot of investments worldwide. Mr. Durrani talks about what he learned about how the fear of missing out got so many to buy in. The Decibel is here.


The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on a prescription to ease the emergency in Canada’s ERs: “Complicated knots always look difficult, if not impossible, to unsnarl. The messy state of the health care system – with hours-long waits in emergency rooms the most obvious symptom – fits that description. New data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information show that people admitted to hospitals in 2021 spent more time waiting in the ER than ever before. There are, however, answers to ease Canada’s health care crisis, ones that won’t take years to implement.”

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on how it took a lot for the Liberals to screw up a gun bill this badly: “You don’t have to look at opinion polls too long to see wide support for gun restrictions among Canadians. It should be hard for the Liberals to make a major political mistake with gun control. Yet here they are standing atop a dumpster fire of a gun bill. More than 80 per cent of Canadians supported a ban on “military assault-style” weapons, according to an Ipsos poll conducted in 2020. Another Ipsos poll from 2020 found that a slim majority in cities supported banning all guns. All of them. Polls are polls, but clearly gun control offered Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals smooth sailing down a wide river of political opportunity. Somehow with Bill C-21, they careened into the banks.”

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on whether support for Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has already peaked: “It is true that voters’ appetite for change might trump everything else in the next federal election, especially if the economy continues to go south. Still, voters in Mississauga-Lakeshore had a chance to buy the shiny object in the window in Mr. Poilievre’s first by-election as leader. And most of them said “nah.”

Jawed Haqmal (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how his family escaped hell in Afghanistan and now they are in purgatory: “It is four o’clock in the morning in Germany as I write this, and my little girls are sleeping around me. My eldest daughter Marwa is dealing with a serious cough from the winter cold. Every few minutes, she wakes up, and sometimes, she asks: Dad, when will you take me to the doctor? When will you buy me a winter coat? Please sleep now, is all I can say. There will be relief soon. That word again: soon. I don’t know what it means any more. I look at my children and think about their dark and unknown future, and tears roll down my face. It feels like we have been physically saved – but emotionally destroyed by a bureaucracy that does not seem to care about us.”

Lisa Young and Loleen Berdahl (Policy Options) on standing up to Ottawa, with western alienation shifting into Prairie constitutional challenges: “Saskatchewan and Alberta are provincial twins, created by the federal government on the same day in 1905. In the ensuing 117 years, there has been a persistent sense of alienation from the federal government and Central Canada. The latest twist in this long story of western alienation is evident in recently introduced legislation in each province. The bills have constitutional implications and the rest of Canada should be paying attention.”

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