Federal police agencies are warning MPs that policing services across Canada will suffer if officers are redirected to collect firearms as part of the Trudeau Liberal gun grab scheme.
Police witnesses testified on Thursday to the House of Commons Public Safety Committee, which is studying Bill C-21, the proposed legislation to further restrict access to handguns in Canada.
Brian Sauvé, President of the National Police Federation, said police services in Canada, including the RCMP, are operating at minimal levels already.
“We’re having challenges recruiting, we’re having challenges with retaining, we’re having challenges attracting to the law enforcement profession. So every time that we increase the mandate of police officers on the street, there has to be something that gives,” Sauvé said.
“And is that going to mean that we don’t respond to that mental health call (or) the person in crisis in the middle of the street because police officers are now tied up going to pick up guns that are no longer legal to possess?”
In May 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced he was banning more than 1,500 models of firearms, including guns explicitly used for sport shooting and hunting. The Parliamentary Budget Officer said the program will cost $750 million. Those costs could balloon to $1 billion once administrative fees are taken into account.
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino then wrote to the provinces and requested help through their police.
In late September, Alberta Minister of Justice Tyler Shandro announced he would obstruct the gun grab by any means necessary. He also said he wrote to the RCMP to inform them the confiscation scheme is not a provincial priority, and, as such, it was seen as an inappropriate use of RCMP resources.
Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick have since followed Alberta’s lead.
Co-chair of the Special Purpose Committee on Firearms for the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) Evan Bray said certain provinces have expressed concerns about the federal government’s request to use provincial policing resources as confiscation agents.
“This early part of the buyback program is essentially an administrative process, it’s not a policing issue,” he said.
“As a result, such a program could be managed by entities other than police services thereby allowing police resources to be focused on those who refuse to follow new law, and more importantly, on addressing border integrity smuggling and trafficking.”
Bray said the process must be diverted somewhere else, rather than using police resources. It will be a massive amount of work, and frontline officers across Canada are “strapped,” he said.
“They’re being overstretched. Their community’s expectations are much higher than what our officers are able to deliver,” he said.
“And sadly, we are delivering that work, but it’s at the expense of our officers because of the drain on them and their mental health.”