Federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino is calling Alberta Justice Minister and Solicitor General Tyler Shandro's plan to direct RCMP in the province not to enforce confiscations of prohibited firearms "reckless," and is amounting it to "a political stunt" that won't hold up.

On Sept. 26, Shandro made headlines when he announced he had advised the head of the RCMP in Alberta not to take officers off the streets for this purpose, citing a dispute clause in the Provincial Police Service Agreement— saying the "confiscation program" was not a priority. 

In an interview on CTV's Question Period airing on Sunday, Mendicino spoke plainly when asked about Shandro's comments.

"He's wrong about all of that, and let's take a step back. Assault-style rifles were designed for one purpose, and one purpose only. And that is to kill people, and they have in Canada," Mendicino said. "It's a political stunt. He knows full well that the regulatory powers when it relates to firearms falls squarely within the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government."

In May 2020, the federal government implemented a ban on 1,500 models and variants of assault-style firearms from being bought, sold, transported, imported or used in Canada.

This summer the Liberals unveiled how much they are planning to pay gun owners for the banned firearms they turn over as part of the mandatory buyback program, though final compensation amounts or confiscation plans have yet to be announced.

The Liberals have already implemented an amnesty period until Oct. 20, 2023 allowing lawful owners of these prohibited firearms to be protected from criminal liability while they take the steps required to comply.

Mendicino said it was "reckless" for Shandro "to be insinuating that the RCMP will not be enforcing federal law," because he does not speak for the RCMP, and it is up to the police to determine how offences are to be handled.

"Applying federal laws, whether it relates to firearms or whether it relates to any offence under the Criminal Code is not an a-la- carte menu. You don't get to opt out and tell the RCMP which laws they're going to enforce or not, that actually undermines public safety," Mendicino said.

Alberta has also indicated it intends to intervene in ongoing judicial review applications challenging the constitutionality of the federal firearms prohibition legislation. Speaking to this, the Liberal public safety minister pointed to a decades-old reference question Alberta brought to the Supreme Court of Canada that reaffirmed Parliament's authority.