Firearms officer in plans

Saskatchewan will appoint its own chief firearms officer as it moves to exert more provincial autonomy, Premier Scott Moe said last week.

He announced the decision at the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities annual convention, saying a provincial appointee would better understand how potential new federal gun control would affect the province’s gun owners.

“We think and we truly believe that a provincially appointed chief firearms officer will have a much better understanding of our communities, our people in this province, and will be better positioned to build stronger relationships with gun owners in this province,” Moe said, although he didn’t say the current federal appointee was doing a poor job.

“What we are looking for, quite frankly, is prudent, reasonable and a sensible interpretation of federal firearms legislation in the province of Saskatchewan and we think we’ll get it from a provincially appointed nominee.”

Currently, Saskatchewan is one of eight provinces with federally appointed chief firearms officers. However, the law does allow provinces to appoint their own.

Moe has recently pushed for more autonomy, such as establishing provincial trade offices, and said this is just another step.

The federal Liberal government promised during the last campaign to ban some semi-automatic rifles and allow cities to ban handguns.

Amendments passed in the last Parliament, which included more stringent background checks for potential gun owners before they get licences, have not yet come into force.

Moe also highlighted what farmers and rural residents could expect in the scheduled March 18 budget, including more money to expand irrigation and the largest infrastructure budget in the province’s history.

He said the global uncertainty caused by COVID-19 is concerning but there is always volatility in a natural resources-based economy and that’s why the province moved three years ago to reduce its dependence on those revenues.

That dependence peaked at 32 percent, he said.

“This past year we’ve dropped that down to 11 percent. When it comes to energy and oil in particular we’re down under five percent reliance,” Moe said.

The opposition NDP has said the government should open up the budget, which was set at the end of February, and make changes considering what’s happening in the world stock markets and economies.

But Moe said he would not respond “in a panicky or knee-jerk fashion by cutting programs and services.”

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