Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandro and the province’s Chief Firearms Officer, Teri Bryant (Photo: Twitter/Tyler Shandro).

The Criminal Code may come under federal jurisdiction, but the Kenney Government wants the substantial number of “law-abiding gun owners” in its base to know every now and then that it still cares about them.

Federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino (Photo: Parliament of Canada).

Now would be one of those times, what with some if not all recent polls showing the United Conservative Party trailing the Opposition NDP and Premier Jason Kenney himself facing considerable opposition within the ranks of his own party, which is populated by more than a few LAGOs.

So on Thursday, when mass media were focused on wars abroad and sexier local issues, the government sent out a not-so-subtle dog-whistle to the party’s many firearms fanatics, in the form of a news release announcing that Alberta’s “chief firearms officer” had sent a letter to Canada’s public safety minister complaining about federal regulations passed back in 2000.

Arguably, the press release wasn’t really intended to generate a lot of normal media coverage – it was one of seven on a variety of topics sent out by the government the same day. But you can be confident more targeted communications about it will be sent directly to members of the audience it is intended to reach. 

Now, even some of the LAGO crowd seemed to think a mere letter to Marco Mendicino from Teri Bryant, gun collector and University of Calgary business professor, was pretty lame, although I don’t know what else they thought she should do, seeing as the Criminal Code is pretty clearly federal jurisdiction no matter how much that annoys the Alberta right. 

The letter calls on Ottawa to drop the prohibition on M16s, AR-15s and about 1,500 other “assault style” rifles, large-bore firearms and other weapons enacted in May 2020. 

NDP Opposition Energy Critic Kathleen Ganley (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

The news hook for the letter may be that a two-year amnesty on ownership of these weapons included in the federal law was due to expire at the end of the month. It has been extended to Oct. 30, 2023, but not every gun owner, law abiding or otherwise, may know that.
One would have thought, then, that a more appropriate time for Ms. Bryant to fire off her epistle might have been much earlier, but that would miss the point that this is mainly right-wing virtue signalling with a dash of Mr. Kenney’s desire to keep his job thrown in.

The letter begins amusingly with an effort to horn in on federal Criminal Code jurisdiction, then moves on to the usual folderol for such efforts – a claim such bans aren’t effective, a call for harsher penalties for not-so-law-abiding gun owners, ritual mentions of rural crime and property rights, and the inevitable boilerplate tribute to law-abiding folks “singled out by such unjust and undeserved actions.” 

In her letter, Ms. Bryant also asks Mr. Mendicino to extend the amnesty for an additional three years (if I read it correctly, its wording being slightly ambiguous on this point), which would provide an opportunity for the federal wing of the Alberta conservative party to fund-raise off the issue before the next federal election. 

The missive will be duly read, acknowledged, and ignored by the minister, mindful of his party’s own electoral base.

“Since becoming Alberta’s first provincially appointed chief firearms officer under the Firearms Act, Albertans have been consistently telling me the 2020 federal firearm ban is unrealistic, unworkable and unhelpful,” Ms. Bryant was quoted saying in the Alberta government’s press release, evidence that she only talks to people who agree with her.

For his part, Justice Minister Tyler Shadro helpfully explained in the news release that “we established the chief firearms office to assert our provincial jurisdiction and ensure the rights of Albertans.” 

Of course, when a government is feeling the heat from the Opposition and members of its own party, many of whom are voting right now in a referendum on Mr. Kenney’s suitability to keep his job, there are also things that must be made public that are nevertheless best released as quietly as possible. 

And that’s what Thursday afternoons before a four-day holiday weekend are made for. 

So – happy Easter weekend, fellow Albertans! – that is why the government also picked Thursday to oh-so-discreetly publish a report that shows Albertans are now paying hundreds of millions of dollars more to insure their vehicles thanks to the UCP’s removal of the previous NDP government’s cap on auto insurance. 

While the report was published, the only news release on the topic came from the Opposition NDP. 

“Yesterday afternoon, when many Albertans were getting in their cars to leave town for the long weekend, the UCP quietly dropped a report that shows why the insurance on those cars has gotten so much more expensive,” said Opposition Energy Critic Kathleen Ganley in the rare Good Friday release. 

“It’s because insurance companies are shamelessly generating massive profits on the backs of Alberta drivers and they are doing it with the UCP’s help,” she explained.

According to the 2020 annual report of the Superintendent of Insurance, the NDP news release said, the car insurance industry charged Alberta drivers $385 million more in premiums in 2020 than they did in 2019, boosting profits and revenue.

Last month, the NDP accused the Kenney Government of trying to suppress the report, which shows that while the industry collected $1.151 billion more in premiums than it paid out in claims in 2019, in 2020 that ratio grew to $1.324 billion more than it paid out.

Rather than writing a letter to someone, however, Ms. Ganley had a more practical solution. “My message to Alberta drivers is this: an NDP government will restore the rate cap that protected you from these predatory increases because an NDP government will work for you, not UCP insider lobbyists.”

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to note that the amnesty on ownership of the weapons declared illegal has been extended to 2023. Thanks as always to readers for pointing this out.

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  1. So, the donors picked the right horse (in the last race).

    But honkers paying high insurance prices, high petrol prices, and waiting years to get another rig…well they are new force to reckon with, not to mention the high fecal samplers with long term covid. Kenney’s long covid crowd are a dangerous lot.

    Even the car dealers in plaid suits and empty lots are grumbling. Maybe he should stay atop his manure pile for awhile longer. Maybe the RCMP will finally get their man?

  2. Crazy notion of the day…

    Wouldn’t it be interesting in a completely disoriented act of desperation Kenney decides that Alberta should evoke the Notwithstanding Clause to protect gun owners. Follow me and see.

    So, Kenney says gun owners are a persecuted group, who are constantly attacked and their freeDUMB is constantly being interfered with by PMJT’s endless war on gun owners. In the interest of equality and fairness, Kenney charges Shandro to craft a piece of legislation called the “Alberta Gun Owners’ Bill of Rights for Freedom and Safety”. The legislation will include a lot of nice things about gun owners, equality, freeDUMB, and safety. Among the many, many nice things will a line item that declares that Alberta maintains the right of gun owners to provide for the “common defense of Alberta”. So, just in case Russia (or PMJT) comes rolling over the border, Alberta’s gun owners will be the last line of defense against tyranny. From there, a whole list of “responsibilities” will be presribed for gun owners, including the right to keep and bear arms, to provide for this so called common defense. Among these responsibilities will be a list of allowable firearms, which will pretty much include every single firearm and form of ammunition known to exist. And just make sure Ottawa stays out, there will be a line to invoke the Notwithstanding Clause if these rights should be impinged on by Ottawa’s gun control legislation.

    Since Shandro (Kenney) will consider that gun owners are an “identifiable and persecuted minority”, the Notwithstanding Clause will be used to protect their right to association and be gun owners.

    And there you have…today’s craziest notion.

    1. Just: The Notwithstanding Clause protects specific freedoms named in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and not all freedoms named there. It could not be used to interfere with the national government’s jurisdiction, as much as the UC would dearly love to do just that. DJC

      1. My reply would be that depends and who gives the leverage to make it work.

        I suppose there’s some level of crazy that truly believes that gun owners’ rights are infringed upon because … to own a firearm is an act of free speech. To own a gun is to follow certain values and ritual beliefs that all gun owners follow. Check.

        As to association, gun owners are an identifiable group because they associate with people and places that support and promote their group identity and beliefs. So it could be argued that gun owners are a kind of religion; because everyone knows if Jesus were around, he’d be packing a piece.

        Another thing, there is a rationale that exists that claims that the Notwithstanding Clause is there to be used, and as Christy Clark declared, used often.

        Lenin said give them enough rope and they will hang themselves. There’s another side to that claim: give them enough rope and they will run out of people to hang.

        Btw, when it comes to faith in humanity, that faith is likely running on fumes right now.

  3. This is absurdity at its finest. You can’t expect anything sensible to come from the UCP. Farmers and ranchers in Alberta are struggling, and the UCP is doing something that has no real benefit to them. As someone who does have an agricultural background, I would expect the government to do realistic things, such as make oil companies look after any damages they leave behind, and to pay their fair share of corporate, or property taxes, and not leaving Alberta devoid of millions, and billions of dollars. I’ve seen this situation before, and that was under premier Ralph Klein. I do remember how Ralph Klein deprived Alberta farmers and ranchers of of a few hundred dollars of assistance money, during the mad cow crisis, and let two American owned meat processing plants get the money. Also, it was Ralph Klein who made big problems with the insurance system in Alberta, and the UCP are doing the same, via higher insurance costs, with less than quality services. The head honcho of the UCP was in the CPC, and they thought it was okay to sell the CWB (Canadian Wheat Board) to Saudi Arabia. Why these rural Albertans continue to be fooled by these pretend conservatives and Reformers is beyond me. I hope everyone has a happy Easter.

  4. Bumbles and the UCP government continue their destructive march toward GOP- and Trump-inspired lunacy and seem intent on turning AB into a living hell.

    In the gun-crazed US, where radicalized supreme court justices deliberately and hypocritically misinterpret the 2nd amendment of their own constitution and big money from gun lobbies play an outsized and powerful role in promoting ownership of all kinds of firearms, including fast-firing automatic military grade weapons, you are something like 25 to 30 times more likely to be killed by a firearm. The US also is a world leader in suicide by firearm as well.

    These statistics are deplorable and should serve as a warning. Instead, the gun nuts in the UCP would like nothing better than to rush headlong into a similar legislative environment that could lead to similar outcomes. And, if they can’t change the law for the exceptionally good reason that it is a federal matter, they will install a provincial police force that will cherry pick the federal laws that it sees fit to enforce.

    It is no surprise that the UCP places the supposed “freedumbs” of a gun-crazed fringe that would like to own dangerous, military grade weapons, such as assault rifles, over the lives of others. Look at their past and present approach to Covid. Many Omicron sub-variants that are present worldwide, including here in Canada, have a pernicious L452 mutation that renders the virus antibody resistant and first appeared in the Delta strain. This is particularly worrying, in particular because these mutations appear at the same site independently in the different sub-variants, and yet we hear nothing from the government — the pandemic is over; just move along folks and don’t look to the government for any measures to help mitigate the destructive effects of Covid on your long-term health.

    The UCP also shares with the GOP and other conservative political parties, such as the CPC, that have been captured by lunatics and manipulative illiberal libertarians a desire to favor corporate greed over the financial wellbeing of their own citizens. The increased profits being raked in by the insurance companies resulting from the removal of the insurance rate caps is outrageous.

    The UCP policies are clearly and directly making vehicle ownership more expensive. Yet, they tell bald-faced lies, with the cooperation of the National Post, about non-existent plans by the Trudeau government to tax truck ownership. This is a classic example of something the GOP and Trump excel at and that the UCP has adopted as a key strategy: accusing your opponent of the very thing you are doing. In this case, the UCP is screwing Albertans with higher insurance premiums that increase the cost of vehicle ownership. The UCP claims, however, that the Trudeau government is the sole villain that is responsible for higher vehicle ownership costs.

    The UCP and its spiritual masters south of the border will continue to lie and cheat and do whatever it takes, however unethical or destructive to the province or its citizens, to remain in power.

    1. How much of a coincidence is it that the IDU (run by Stephen Harper) has amongst its membership, both the CPC and trumplican GOP? I would ask the same question, this time as to why a certain Stephen Harper is in the ‘employ’ of the Alberta government as an ‘advisor’ (not going to mention the role Harper Jr. plays here-oops!)?

  5. While we watch a lot more of our fellow seniors being treated like morons and loving it these Reformers just keep on feeding them the lies and they keep believing them, proving just how stupid they are.

    My senior friends and family are furious that Pierre Poilievre would get a standing ovation in front of an audience of about 5,000 in Spruce Meadows made up of mainly seniors for promising to destroy the lives and careers of thousand of young Canadians by scaping the highly respected CBC. While his pal Jason Kenney promises to destroy the careers of 11,000 young health care workers and these senior idiots don’t care. Too dumb to realize what it could do to their medical lives.
    This is the same Pierre Poilievre who had nothing but praise for the truckers creating the horrific mess in Ottawa that has cost taxpayers $36 million and he doesn’t care. I’m betting the oil executives will be thrilled that he plans to scrape the carbon tax they wanted implemented to show the world that they do care about global warming to make it easier to sell their product.

    l am reminded once again about what the former MLAs from the Lougheed government taught me. Reformers don’t create jobs they destroy them and show no compassion or respect to anyone other than themselves. Gaining power is all they care about and they will destroy your Public Health Care System.

    1. Alan K. Spiller: You precisely nailed it. These seniors then brainwash the younger generations to support these pretend conservatives and Reformers. This doesn’t make us any better off. Where’s the sense in that?

  6. I just so happened to be watching — well, re-watching — an episode of ‘The West Wing’ yesterday, and the episode I watched was ‘Take Out the Trash Day’, (Season 1, episode 13, first aired 06 Jan 2000). I decided this episode must be “required viewing” for all UCP Government communications staff, since they do this so often.

  7. This press release re gun control highlights why we must oppose the transfer of RCMP services to a provincial force. Sure, gun control falls under federal jurisdiction but a provincial government could turn a blind eye to enforcement by appointing a compliant “commissioner” or via budgetary prioritization. Happy Easter!

  8. From the web:

    “Alberta’s Chief Firearms Office
    The office administers federal firearms legislation, advocates for Alberta’s lawful firearms owners and promotes safety.”

    No, that’s not a misprint. It’s a Chief Firearms Office that Alberta possesses. A chief office, glory be. Now what is that when it’s at work?

    “Nova Scotia Provincial Firearms Office
    The Nova Scotia Provincial Firearms Office administers the federal Firearms Act, on behalf of the Canada Firearms Centre, part of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.”

    So in Alberta, you have a “Chief Office” which advocates for lawful firearms owners, whatever the hell that is really supposed to mean — it is totally nebulous. Are there not enough lawful firearms owners, so the CFO advocates for more? Or are there not enough lawful firearms? Enquiring minds need to know.

    I read Bryant’s letter to Mendocini which she signs as Chief Firearms Officer, the extra “r” appearing out of the blue. Well, shall we say, I struggled to wade through the quagmire of bad English with its dangling participles and misplaced modifiers, nonsense, opinions and suggestions for reducing crime in rural Alberta, and was thoroughly unimpressed. In general, it’s the same old, same old tired crap we’ve been subjected to before for decades and which has been rejected by the country at large. That horse left the barn and the NRA crowd lost. Plus, Mrs. Teri Jane Bryant, MBA, Ph.D. has the temerity to advise the federal minster how to do his job. You know, as one public servant to another:

    “As public servants, it is our responsibility to continually re-orient policies to ensure they meet Canadians’ justifiably high expectations with respect to efficacy, fairness and value for the precious resources taxpayers have entrusted to us.”

    Waffle, waffle, blah, blah.

    It is, in fact, a grossly impertinent screed.

    To have some unelected semi-literate write in their official provincial government capacity the following to a Federal Minister really takes the cake:

    “Such alternative measures would include better identification, tracking and prosecution of firearms
    traffickers, providing effective deterrence to those who misuse firearms, offering alternatives to the destructive gang lifestyle, and addressing the drug addiction that is
    destroying so many young lives.”

    Yes indeed, among her other qualities, Bryant pretends to be a social scientist. This is not a letter from a public servant but a political rant written in very poor English. But then kenney co-opts wackos to do things beyond their purview all the time, it seems to me. The White Hat man couldn’t find environmental groups slagging Alberta while repairing his US home; some dessicated prune rewrote the elementary school curriculum to praise the white man liberating the West, and various ministers seem to be unaware of ethics conflicts and expected behaviour of high officeholders.

    Mendicino’s response should be only to acknowledge receipt of Bryant’s letter, if he wishes to maintain control of his blood pressure. Bryant’s job is to do exactly what the Firearms Act requires, as in NS. If she wishes to bay at the moon, she should do it on her own personal time. Taking some remedial lessons in English grammar and composition wouldn’t hurt either.

  9. What a “ freak show” this Provincial Firearms official position has become (should we be surprised?) A “position established by the UCP, to ensure the rights of Albertans.” Which Albertans is this and Ya sure ! After all Albertans want to pack around M16s, AR-15s and other “assault style” rifles ! Reading this nonsense which always comes at the eleventh hour, 2023 can’t come soon enough to get rid of this dysfunctional corrupt government whose only purpose is for their own power, and absolutely no regard for Albertans.

  10. At its worst, this is how fake populism works. Distract people with a shiny issue like gun control, while quietly large insurance companies rake in the dough because the government has made it easier for them to do so.

    I really don’t understand why Alberta even has a chief firearms officer as the legislation related to guns is Federal, but perhaps this is another example of the UCP wasting money on something ineffective to try drum up a fight with the Feds, which they feel may somehow benefit them politically. I suppose they can write letters to whomever they want, although I suspect that will be a waste of time.

    For those on far right side of politics who criticize Kenney for not being effective in fighting with the Feds, I can actually totally understand their frustration. Kenney is very good in coming up with things that sound sort of good politically and give the appearance of action, but actually accomplish nothing other than wasting the provincial government’s time and money. Kenney is not a real populist and he is also not very bright in tactics in dealing with the Feds, hence the waste of time and money.

  11. I’m not entirely convinced that banning certain guns will reduce gun crime, to the best of my knowledge most LAGOs don’t supply guns knowingly to bad guys. However I realize that gun ownership is a privilege not a right and if parliament decides that I’m not allowed to play with my toys then they can revoke that privilege. I wouldn’t be happy about it and I might just write my MP expressing my disappointment in the law but I would abide by it as required

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