August 4, 2021
Ottawa has said no to Alberta’s request for women to be allowed to carry pepper spray in self-defence.
Alberta Justice Minister Kaycee Madu had written to his counterparts in Ottawa last week asking for the law to be changed after attacks against several marginalized women over the last several weeks.
Federal Justice Minister David Lametti and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair responded in a joint statement, saying no.
“We have to be mindful that all weapons that are prohibited have been prohibited for a reason, as they are extremely dangerous when they fall into the wrong hands. When confronted with a problem, the solution cannot simply be to increase accessibility to prohibited weapons. This can actually lead to further violence,” the statement read.
“Rather, we need to address complex issues such as mental health and addictions as just one through a continuum such as prevention, and when appropriate, enforcement.”
The refusal is the latest slap in the face to the government of Alberta. Last week, the Justin Trudeau government appointed a senator despite the fact Alberta is having an election for one in October.
“I suggest consideration be given to allowing individuals, including vulnerable persons, to carry capsaicin spray, commonly known as ‘pepper spray,’ for self-defence,” Madu said in his letter.
“As you are aware, pepper spray is currently a prohibited weapon. It is sadly ironic that a vulnerable person carrying pepper spray for self-defence could quite possibly receive a longer sentence than her attacker.”
Madu cited an “increase of drug-fuelled attacks” and an increase in hate-motivated crimes as a reason for the request.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Madu is “absolutely right” to ask the feds.
He said there have been a “terrible spate” of racist attacks in Alberta, including ones at transit and LRT stops. He called the carrying of pepper spray a “small tool” for people to try and protect themselves.
Pepper spray has been a restricted weapon in Canada since 1995. It renders attackers basically blind and in extreme agony. It’s still allowed for self-defence against animal attacks.
Both men also called for the Liberals to introduce mandatory-minimum jail terms for hate crimes.
“Similar to the first proposal, this one could have unintended consequences. We know that the use of mandatory minimum penalties have resulted in the over incarceration of Indigenous peoples, Black and marginalized Canadians, groups that are disproportionately victimized by hate crimes,” the federal statement read.
The Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police also expressed concern about the pepper spray proposal.