On December 15, 2022, Alberta enforced its constitutional right to prosecute all criminal offences in its jurisdiction.[i]
“Provinces have the Constitutional jurisdiction to handle federal criminal law charges, including charges under the Firearms Act,” said Tyler Shandro.
“As Alberta’s Attorney General, I have directed that the Alberta Crown prosecution service take over the handling of charges involving the Firearms Act, starting January 1st, 2023.”
Shandro also sent a letter to his federal counterpart advising him that Alberta is taking this jurisdiction back.[ii]
Minister Shandro’s announcement comes the same day that the “Alberta Sovereignty within a United Canada Act”[iii] passed, and 12 days after Premier Danielle Smith said Alberta will introduce an Alberta Firearms Act in early 2023.[iv]
Premier Smith’s statement came in response to the question, “Will Alberta follow Saskatchewan in writing a provincial firearms act to protect the firearms owners of Alberta?”
“Yes. Absolutely,” Premier Smith said. “Justice Minister Tyler Shandro is already well underway with that. We’ve got a fantastic Chief Firearms Officer in Teri Bryant, who proposed that. And this is the important part – understanding what is available to us under the Constitution.”
“The steps our province is taking,” said Teri Bryant, Alberta’s Chief Firearms Officer, “around providing guidance for Crown prosecutors will ensure public safety is taken into consideration when assessing whether charges against otherwise law-abiding citizens are appropriate.”
The new Alberta prosecution protocol states that it will not be in the public interest to proceed with prosecuting a charge of a possession of a banned firearm when:[v]
- The accused lawfully obtained the firearm or prohibited device prior to May 1, 2020.
- The firearm or prohibited device was reclassified as prohibited on May 1, 2020.
- The accused has not been charged with any other offences related to the possession or use of that firearm.
Premier Danielle Smith’s Full Response:
Question: Will Alberta follow Saskatchewan in writing a provincial firearms act to protect the firearms owners of Alberta?
Premier Danielle Smith: Yes, absolutely. I know that Justice Minister Tyler Shandro is already well underway with that. We’ve got a fantastic Chief Firearms Officer and Terry Bryant who proposed that.
And this is the important part about understanding what is available to us under the Constitution. The Constitution gives us powers of property and civil rights regulating how people use their property is totally within our jurisdiction.
Policing, and the administration of justice is in provincial jurisdiction. In our policing contract with the RCMP, we get to decide what our policing priorities are, and so I think that Justice Minister Tyler Shandro already made that very clear.
Saskatchewan and Manitoba are following suit. We’ve got New Brunswick and the Yukon who have also agreed that the federal government has gone too far. So that’s on our agenda. I don’t know if we’ll get to it this legislative session because it’s short, but it’s something that we would be bringing in in the spring.