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Canada Murray Mandryk: Guns debate shows why politics and policing don't mix

17:10  01 october  2022
17:10  01 october  2022 Source:   leaderpost.com

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Repeatedly asked about taking responsibility for Legislative Building security away from the neutral sergeant-at-arms and transferring it to a security force answerable to her ministry, Corrections, Policing and Public Safety Minister Christine Tell consistently dismissed any concerns over political interference.

Politicians dictating policing matters would be untenable, she consistently explained. It’s not what her Saskatchewan Party government does.

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Tuesday, Tell wrote to Saskatchewan Assistant RCMP Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore to tell her it would be “counterintuitive” for the federal police force to use its resources to carry out the federal government’s gun buyback program.

“As the federal government continues to plan for their confiscation program, it is important to make clear to you, the Commanding Officer of our provincial police service, that the Government of Saskatchewan does not support and will not authorize the use of provincially funded resources for any process that is connected to the federal government’s proposed ‘buy back’ of these firearms,” Tell wrote in her letter to Blackmore.

It should be noted that the United Conservative Party government in Alberta has told the RCMP the exact same thing.

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Provinces do have the right to challenge federal government authority by legitimate means. And one supposes this approach — or better yet, through the courts — is more legitimate than UCP leadership contender Danielle Smith’s Alberta Sovereignty Act designed to ignore or skirt federal laws.

But that still doesn’t justify politicians telling police how they should police.

Now, you might not support Ottawa’s “buyback” (somewhat different than Tell’s loaded word “confiscate”) that affects some 1,500 models and variants of so-called assault-style weapons.

You might rightly argue this won’t keep gangs in cities from getting handguns from the U.S. or that it’s unfair to law-abiding gun owners.

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You might be annoyed by disturbing suggestions that the Prime Minister Justice Trudeau’s office might have been politicizing the Nova Scotia shooting to sell its own gun policies. No politician should be doing this.

But let’s stop for a moment and think about the message being sent out and how it might be interpreted.

What happens the next time the RCMP or any other police officers encounter some less-than-stable individual that’s a threat to themselves or others, but are cognizant enough to feel empowered by a provincial government telling them the RCMP has no right to take their guns?

Haven’t recent arrests clearly demonstrated that maybe politicians need to start thinking about what happens when you lather up a mob for your political gain?

The worry goes well beyond the blatant ridiculousness of any provincial official writing to any federal officials and telling them how to do their jobs.

Politicians should specifically not be telling police how to do their jobs; it’s not the first time the Sask. Party government has been caught doing this.

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Beyond the suspicious motivations for replacing the sergeant-at-arms — a position held, in recent memory, by all former RCMP officers — with another policing authority, there have been ample other examples of this Sask. Party government thinking it’s OK to be meddling in police work.

Most notably, there was the request by this government and its Provincial Capital Commission to Regina Police Chief Evan Bray to arrest Justice for Our Stolen Children teepee protesters for park bylaw violations.

What now makes the handling of the teepee protest more bothersome is how it blatantly contradicts the tacit support we saw from Premier Scott Moe and others for the Freedom Convoy and other protesters .

Those protesters weren’t just breaking local bylaws in Ottawa. We are now talking about charges for serious Criminal Code offences.

But rather than condemn this, what we’ve often got from politicians is pure politicking.

By now, Tell and her Sask. Party government should know policing and politics don’t mix.

Mandryk is the political columnist for the Regina Leader-Post and the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.

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