Alberta Politics
MLA Michaela Glasgo, chair of Alberta’s unbalanced new Firearms Advisory Committee, at yesterday’s news conference with Premier Jason Kenney and Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer (Photo: Screenshot of Government of Alberta video).

No need to lose much sleep over yesterday’s firearms ownership announcement by the UCP

Posted on June 04, 2020, 12:59 am
11 mins

If you’re worried by the announcement Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is seeking ways of “respecting law-abiding Albertans’ long history of responsible firearms ownership,” there’s no need to lose much sleep just yet.

The premier’s press conference and news release about how he’s setting up a panel of firearms enthusiasts to look after the interests of firearms enthusiasts is a fairly typical exercise in the kind of political grandstanding, right-wing virtue signalling and mindless Ottawa bashing our United Conservative Government loves to indulge in.

Alberta Premier Kenney, demonstrating that while he may have no cattle, he does have a big hat (Photo: Twitter).

Standing up for Alberta’s “law-abiding gun owners” — a phrase repeated numerous times during the news conference — presumably beats trying to keep the promise to be totally focused on jobs when the UCP’s performance was less than stellar even before COVID-19 and the Saudi-Russian oil price war came along.

If you’re thinking it might be appropriate to have someone who supports controls on assault rifles on a panel charged with the important job of advising on gun ownership policy, you can forget about it. The majority of Albertans who support controls on the ownership of firearms like those recently imposed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government are clearly not welcome on this panel.

The premier’s statement, carefully composed for use as a pull quote in the government’s press release, is notable even by UCP standards for hyperbole and flimflam.

“The federal government has introduced hasty and ill-thought-out measures that penalize law-abiding gun owners while doing little to stop criminals who traffic or use illegal firearms,” Mr. Kenney said. “The vast sums of money Ottawa will spend would be far better used to pursue the smugglers and drug gangs that plague our society. In Alberta, we will take action to protect Albertans, prosecute criminals and deter illegal gun crime and trafficking rather than persecuting law-abiding citizens.”

Just to touch on a few points, the new federal regulations are certainly not hasty. They have been strongly advocated in this country at least since Dec. 6, 1989. Nor are they ill thought out, although a strong case can be made that despite the constant yammering of the gun lobby to which Canada’s Conservatives are clearly beholden they don’t go nearly far enough.

Neither is Ottawa doing little to stop crime, although someone can always argue it’s not doing enough. And there is no evidence the federal government will spend vast sums of money, or any more money than it does now, on controlling firearms. It probably should.

While gun smuggling is a real problem and drugs certainly plague society, drug gangs are the largely creation of our counterproductive approach drug prohibition, a fact Mr. Kenney like most Conservative politicians will never acknowledge.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his 21-second moment of silence contemplating the awfulness of U.S. Donald Trump (Photo: Screenshot of CNN news clip).

The claim gun regulations “persecute law abiding citizens” is as preposterous as it would be to argue having to register your automobile amounts to persecution.

As for the tautological argument law-abiding gun owners never break the law, that of course is true. After all, the instant the urge to spray a neighbourhood school or a house of worship with gunfire overcomes a law-abiding gun owner, they are by definition no longer abiding by the law, are they?

And that’s just one paragraph in the news release. I’d sure like to see the statistics backing up the premier’s claim that “hundreds of thousands of Albertans use firearms as part of everyday life.” Seriously?

The 12-member panel includes half a dozen people who earn money selling firearms, teaching how use them, providing a places to shoot them, or representing groups of people who like to. It also has three backbench UCP MLAs, obviously in need of some purpose in life. Plus, there’s a former police chief who ought to know better than take part in this kind of embarrassing charade.

There are no alternative voices, unless former Calgary police chief Rick Hanson is prepared to speak up on behalf of Albertans with common-sense views on gun control. Back in the day when I wrote for the Calgary Herald, Mr. Hanson always struck me as a pretty levelheaded guy. Since then, he’s advised a legal-cannabis company and run as a Conservative candidate, make of that what you will.

Michaela Glasgo, MLA for Brooks-Medicine Hat, was named the chair of the committee.

“We need firearms policies that recognize and support the ability of Albertans to own and possess firearms in a lawful and responsible manner,” she said in her canned pull quote. Parse that phrase carefully and tell me it’s not mildly disturbing we have a provincial government that thinks its job is to support Albertans in accumulating weapons!

Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer during yesterday’s news conference (Photo: Screenshot of Government of Alberta video).

As for developing policies that reflect the values of Albertans, as she pledged to do in the release, that is absolutely not what this government as in mind. According to a national poll last month by Ipsos, 77 per cent of Albertans support the federal government’s new ban on “assault-style” weapons, which seemed to be the UCP’s main beef with the feds yesterday.

Ms. Glasgo’s commentary took on a darker, proto-separatist tone in the news conference. Referring to the new federal regulations as a “gun grab” — a classic NRA-style screeching point — she went on to claim that “many Albertans have expressed a deep desire for more autonomy from Ottawa. I hear about it regularly.”

Well, I suppose you’ve got to throw a bone to the rural base — especially when you’ve just chased their doctors out of town — to make sure they don’t move over to the Wexiteers. It’s still troubling.

For those in Edmonton and Calgary who wonder how the UCP really prioritizes urban issues, there was this: “To add insult to injury, Ottawa is also entertaining the idea of allowing municipalities to ban handguns,” Ms. Glasgo said. “Municipalities are under the direct purview of the provinces and, frankly, Alberta has had enough of Ottawa’s meddling. This is overreach to the nth degree.”

Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer, also at the newser, characterized the idea of letting cities develop policies that are in the interests of their citizens as “a no-fly zone in Alberta.”

His role was to announce that Alberta will set up “a firearms examination unit,” which he promised will test guns more quickly than the RCMP’s National Forensic Laboratory in Ottawa.

This on its own is probably no bad thing, although, as we have come to expect from the UCP, there is far less to this announcement that the press release suggests.

First of all, the Calgary Police Service already has its own testing facility in that city, and the Edmonton Police Service is in the process of setting one up. Various Alberta police departments and the RCMP, the news release said in the fine print at the bottom, will “establish a team and protocols for conducting firearms testing at the existing lab in Calgary and the forthcoming facility in Edmonton.”

Mr. Schweitzer admitted in response to a question that while the Ottawa lab now does about 600 tests a year for Alberta police forces, the provincial initiative will raise that number to … “about 750.”

So what do you want to bet that once the new lab is open the time it takes to get a test done in Edmonton or Calgary will be similar to what it now takes to have it done in Ottawa? Maybe longer.

In other words, as usual, our tough talking premier is all hat and no cows.

23 Comments to: No need to lose much sleep over yesterday’s firearms ownership announcement by the UCP

  1. Jim

    June 4th, 2020

    Seems to be another issue that is blurred because of the overwhelming amount of American media being consumed by Canadians and particularly Albertans. You can’t really own a gun for self defense in Canada, we don’t really have any right to defend our family and property anyway. Criminals will always have access to guns to commit their crimes no matter what the government does. The popular talking point that they are making the population safer by banning so called assault rifles is a cheap way to score political points. In the same way Kenney saying he is standing up gun owners is just a talking point. Politicians on both sides of this issue certainly don’t want citizens to be able to defend themselves from government overreach. God forbid we should mention the pharmaceuticals most mass shooters are on, now theres an issue we know both sides will never touch.

  2. Dave

    June 4th, 2020

    Excessive pandering to the base was one of the main things that led to the Harper government’s downfall, that and excessive ideological rigidity. I suppose they sort of go hand in hand. Our Premier Kenney ought to know all this, he was there and had a front row seat. It makes me think that our supposedly politically astute Premier has in fact learned nothing and forgot nothing since then.

    Gun enthusiasts seem to be a reliable go to fundraising source for Conservatives. I assume they also volunteer and get out and vote. I suppose their demographic skews towards the already safer Conservative seats and already traditional Conservative voters, somewhat rural so I am not sure there is much to be gained by this initiative.

    In fact the risk is this sort of thing could alienate many urban voters and all those concerned about gun violence, who are apparently a majority even in Alberta. Who knew? Well apparently not the UCP!

    Actually giving cities the leeway to have more restrictions on gun use might be a good idea, which is probably partly why the UCP is so against it. It would allow rural areas to have less restrictions, while addressing the concerns of more urban Albertans about gun violence.

  3. Sam Gunsch

    June 4th, 2020

    regarding Kenny’s claim: ‘I’d sure like to see the statistics backing up the premier’s claim that “hundreds of thousands of Albertans use firearms as part of everyday life.” Seriously?’

    Kenney is BullShitting again… no surprise… in 2019 just under 120,000 ABn’s bought hunting licenses… and it’s in decline… here: ‘’

    How many gun owners are there in AB, beyond hunters? Grant Kenney another 80K hand gun and shooting range gun owners? If so, that would make 200K gun/rifle owners… technically a plural ‘hundreds of thousands’ that Kenney claims… TWO! and I’ve got a bridge in Florida I can sell you. Kenney is such a BS asshat.

  4. Bill Malcolm

    June 4th, 2020

    I’m upgrading the UCP government from Wonderland to Through the Looking Glass status.

    Lemme see. Ah yes,

    1. Screw the old folks who live longer then average, they live too long anyway so may the Covid be with them.
    2. Hundreds of thousands of god-fearing Albertans each day unleash a fusillade of shots just for the sport of it, and Trudeau is trying to stop it because he’s a leftist crybaby.
    3. Your money is my money, abject provincial employees, and we will use it to build an Empire on the Athabaska!
    4. By law, nobody can congregate anywhere to object to #3 by order Alberta Critical Infrastructure Defence Act.
    5. Trump is jest a good ole Alberta boy at heart. He knows how to carry a bible ouside an appropriated Anglican church backdrop and order the wage-slaves of all races to obey. Or else.
    6. There were too many teachers anyway. so we got rid of 26,000 for you. The rest got a pay cut to keep ’em honest on teaching creationism.
    7. Tarsands dilbit production is so clean, no environmental monitoring is needed.
    8. Ottawa and Canada in general are antithetical to the Alberta Way of Life, so they must be brought to heel. If they prove recalcitrant, then extort billions from them and then leave as any self-respecting oil company does.
    9. Europe is full of eco-weenies attempting to destroy good Albertan thinking which is why the War Room exists to counter socialist propaganda and climate change waffle.
    10. Rich people lead better lives which is why they got tax cuts as a reward.
    11. Doctors? Who needs them to order the UCP experts around on public health matters? Paid too much anyway.
    12. Any UCP member is automatically an expert on anything even if they struggled with Grade 7 due to lousy liberal agenda courses and bleeding heart instructors. All anyone needs to know is how to use a shovel on bitumen to feed the hopper.
    13. Squawk, squawk, Alberta, squawk, SQUAWK, shining light, Squawk,squawk, squawk, God will anoint, squawk, Squawk, thundering din Super SQUAWK, Emperor Jason 1.

    • Code Clements

      August 12th, 2020

      Well said

  5. Bob Raynard

    June 4th, 2020

    Meanwhile, didn’t our suddenly tough on crime premier also withdrawal funding for the provincial forensics lab, so local police forces will have to pay for the forensic work they need in order to investigate crimes?

    • Brittany

      June 4th, 2020

      They sure did.

  6. Derek

    June 4th, 2020

    The Liberals are putting Canadians out of work with their gun grab for votes OIC.

    A new report commissioned by the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association (CSAAA) found that in 2018 alone, Canadians spent eight and a half billion dollars on gun sports, such as hunting and target shooting.

    Canada had 4,495 firearm and ammunition businesses at the end of 2016, employing an estimated 25,000 people. Most are independent small businesses.

    More Canadian adults have a firearm licence than play golf, hockey soccer or baseball.

    In 2010, 1.5 million adults participated in golf (the most-popular sport), and 1.85 million had gun licences.

    The Canadian government could use that money to track the 459,538 Canadians that have court-ordered prohibitions on possessing guns. Which the government doesn’t do.

    The Liberals should spend the billions this gun grab for votes OIC will cost on protecting Canadians from gun crimes by preventing illegal guns from entering Canada. But this is harder than attacking Canada’s legal firearm owners.

    • Rocky

      June 4th, 2020

      You’re full of it. Back in 2006, Ipsos said “5.95 million Canadians currently play golf — representing a national golf participation rate of 21.5%, among the highest golf participation rate of any country in the world.” Who should we believe, a reputable polling firm or a gun nut with that crowd’s well-known propensity for believing made up statistics?

    • Athabascan

      June 5th, 2020

      Fun with numbers eh, Matt? Your gun lobby buddies would be proud. You can cash in their cheque now.

      More people die of starvation in the world than get killed by firearms in Canada. See how easy that is?

      Your NRA talking points are irrelevant. Canadians don’t need guns, much less assault weapons. Ban them all.

  7. Bob Raynard

    June 4th, 2020

    Will people who own soon to be banned guns continue to call themselves ‘law abiding’ if they keep their guns after the ban takes effect?

  8. Brent Andressen

    June 4th, 2020

    Having read the firearms prohibition announcement letter from the RCMP, I found it informative rather than threatening. But then again, I feel no great need to hunt widgeons with a half inch Browning.

  9. Athabascan

    June 4th, 2020

    Is this a good time to remind Albertans that Kenney and his UPC gang have no voice outside the province?

    No one in the rest of Canada pays much attention to anything Kenney says or does. He only speaks to less than half the population of Alberta mostly made up of white males over 60 years of age.

    As for those over 80 years of age – Kenney is abandoning them to deal with COVID-19.

    He’s like a yappy small neutered dog who annoys a handful of neighbours, but not the entire street or neighbourhood. Outside Alberta, that yappy dog is non-existent, and therefore inconsequential. Canada will proceed regardless of his nonsense.

    • tom in ontario

      June 4th, 2020

      “No one in the rest of Canada pays much attention to anything Kenney says or does.”
      The bigwigs in the Conservative Party of Canada likely do. No way they’ll ever let him near the leadership. More’s the pity.

      • Athabascan

        June 5th, 2020

        You are right Tom, but don’t forget the CPC is but a regional party made up almost entirely of MPs representing only 2 1/2 provinces – AB, MB & Sask. So, the UPC matters (kind of) to a regional party. That’s still not the rest of Canada.

  10. Abs

    June 4th, 2020

    This seems to be a way of getting gun enthusiasts to donate generously to the UCP coffers. Rile them up into a mouth-foaming frenzy so they reach into those wallets. Isn’t that how the Republicans manipulate the NRA? Taking federal pandemic wage relief money to pay for UCP staff can’t last forever.

    If Jason Kenney massages this enough, he might even be able to encourage the gun enthusiasts to storm the legislature, as happened in Michigan recently. Stir in a bit of peaceful but now-illegal protest, and a provincial police force responsive to the politicos, and you have the perfect recipe for a Kenney clampdown. Thus the need for a retired police chief on the committee of gun enthusiasts. As an urban, law-abiding non-gun owner (not a rural duck hunter, his phrase-du-jour the other day) in the majority, I want none of this pot-stirring Americanized call to guns that Kenney obviously enjoys so much. What is to be gained in recreating the perfect conditions for the north-of-49 George Floyd tragedy, aside from an authoritarian crackdown and consolidation of power? The premier is playing with fire, a point that some of the Canadian protestors likely understand. We don’t want to become the sad dumpster fire that the U.S. has become. But this seems to be Jason Kenney’s vision for us, clubbed like seals by riot police every night. Did he not get enough of this when he lived in the U.S. before he was expelled from bible college? Perhaps he yearns to relive those too-brief glory days tormenting same-sex couples in San Francisco during the AIDs epidemic. Maybe he is welcome there. But I doubt it.

    • Code Clements

      August 12th, 2020

      Kenney is Canada’s most conservative neoliberal. It is a scary path we are on using neoliberalism, which has failed economically as well as politically.

  11. Hana Razga

    June 4th, 2020

    Listened yesterday to an interview with Michaela Glasgo on Radio Active and it was all just Justin Trudeau and the Liberal bashing on behalf of the law abiding citizens…..

    I wish Jason Kenney and his UCP cabal cared as much for our kids, women, older people, our teachers, doctors, nurses and other essential workers as he cares about “law-abiding-citizens”.

  12. Murphy

    June 4th, 2020

    It is very unforunate to see the adoption of right-wing populist “language loading”, to use Robert Lifton’s term. Li’l Magus created this opportunity for Tailgunner Jay and the Used Car Peddlers by pretending that there was a crisis that required a legislative response. In terms of logic and efficacy there is little to differentitate the supply-side nonsense of gun control with the supply-side nonsense of drug prohibition.
    Between 2014 and 2017 homicides in Canada rose by 27%. In some years stabbing was the most prevalent method, and in other years it was shooting. Handguns are the weapon of choice in firearms killings, accounting for about three times as many cases as rifles and shotguns. Automatic weapons were used in less than 2% of murders.
    Although the data is not clear, it would appear that at least 20% of homicides are the result of domestic violence. So Li’l Magus has stirred the pot to possibly mitigate nothing. Rifles are still available legally, and the scarce information about handguns used in crimes indicates that they are generally illegal firearms. Beatings and stabbings account for more murders than handguns, so there is no reason to think that the legislation brought in this spring will mitigate the resulting number of homicide victims by any significant degree.
    Rather than dealing with the demand side in our homicide problem, the “progressive” stance is to copy the unsound and superstitious model of the right-wing drug war.
    What we get is a beautiful pas de deux between pandering “progressive” politicians and pandering “conservative” politicians in both instances that does nothing to address the real social problems that are producing widespread drug abuse and violence.

  13. Just Me

    June 5th, 2020

    The UCP’s pandering to the gun-rights lobby is no different than ye olde Reform and Canadian Alliance parties.

    There were allegations that the National Firearms Association was not only in the pocket the NRA, it was also accepting money from the organization and transferring it to Reform and CA candidates in the form of donations by private individuals. I recall something of a firestorm (AKA bozo blow-up) when NFA founder, the late David A. Tomlinson, admitted to the media that not only was there vocal support from US-based firearms owners advocates, but there was also considerable financial support. Since everyone knew that the NFA was contributing funds to the campaigns of candidates it favoured, one didn’t have to go very far to accept the notion that NRA funds had found their way into the NFA’s coffers. So, by Tomlinson’s pompous word-salad of the day, the NFA was a dark money-laundering operation for the gun nuts in the Reform/CA parties.

    I have no doubt that the cash-strapped UCP has made itself available to receive dark money from the likes of the NRA — through the NFA, of course.

  14. Murphy

    June 5th, 2020

    Somehow I doubt that the UCP is ever “cash-strapped” as long as it serves the interests of it’s owners.

    “According to an affidavit filed by ATB Financial, there was another high-profile name listed as a director of Forent Energy when it went belly-up: W. Brett Wilson, a celebrity millionaire best known from the hit CBC TV show “Dragon’s Den” and his role as co-owner of the NHL’s Nashville Predators.”

    “Celebrity millionaire W. Brett Wilson, a former Dragon’s Den star and co-owner of the NHL’s Nashville Predators, is at the centre of another controversy, this time accusing Calgary’s mayor of playing “the race card” to win the last election.”

    Never mind that the Kons ran a guy who could reasonably be called a “deadbeat” against Nenshi.

    The group of far-right refugees from Saskatchewan who moved into the upper echelons of the Great Calgarians in the last forty years remind me of Miami Cubans.

  15. jerrymacgp

    June 6th, 2020

    The Liberals chickened out on the handgun issue. They should have just brought in a comprehensive ban on private citizen ownership & possession of handguns. They’d only lose votes from the very few gun nuts that haven’t already abandoned them anyway. Cities don’t have the ability to enforce a gun ban, not having border services agents at city limits.

    There is irrefutable epidemiological evidence of a strong association between the prevalence of gun ownership in a country and the rates of gun-related deaths from all causes — homicides, suicides, & accidents: the more guns there are, the more gun deaths. Fundamentally, truly effective gun control is a public health measure, just as “physical distancing” is for a viral pandemic. And for those that protest that there have been homicides, suicides, public-space massacres, etc. using edged weapons like knives, swords, machetes, etc., yes this is true … but they are far more rare, and in many cases these events produce more survivable injuries than with a firearm.

  16. Darren

    October 19th, 2021

    You do not know anything about guns and gun owners. Gun owners follow all strict laws. Criminals do not. There are no assault rifles in Canada available to the public since 1977. You are all very misinformed.


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