The Alberta government will introduce legislation later this month to stop federal government employees from trespassing on private land.
On Wednesday, Government House Leader Joseph Schow announced trespassing legislation will be one of three bills the United Conservative Party government will introduce in the next session.
“We are seeing federal employees trespassing onto private land in Alberta, and as a result of that, we don’t think that that’s appropriate, so we’re making that an offence in this province — especially with the water testing,” he said.
“Should federal employees decide to trespass on private land, they will be charged.”
Last summer, a Saskatchewan landowner accused federal inspectors of taking water samples from a dugout on private land without consent.
The province responded in August by amending its provincial trespassing act to change the definition of a “person” to include “the Crown, in the right of Canada.” The new regulation came into effect on Jan. 1.
Pressed for the details on instances of federal workers trespassing, Schow said “it’s happening,” but declined to get into specifics.
“Now you’re asking me to get in greater detail with the bill,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “I’m gonna leave that to the Minister of Justice (Tyler Shandro).”
Shandro’s spokesman, Ethan Lecavalier-Kidney, told Global News there have been no confirmed cases of trespass by federal government employees in Alberta.
“Concerns were raised by landowners following events that transpired in Saskatchewan in 2022 when a property owner identified trespassing occurring without permission.”
NDP leader Rachel Notley said the bills are pointless political distractions.
“We haven’t seen the bill, so we don’t know exactly what solution this is seeking,” she told reporters in Calgary.
“It seems to be part of a longer pattern to distract Albertans from key priorities that really matter to them and to pick fights with Ottawa.”
The fourth session of the 30th legislature is expected to last until the end of March. The writ for the general election is expected to drop in early May.
The UCP government also plans to table firearms regulations to protect gun owners from the federal firearms confiscation program.
Schow said a number of Albertans have reached out to him and his colleagues to say they feel federal legislation to confiscate legally purchased firearms is “overreaching.”
“As a province, we’re taking action within our abilities to protect firearms owners,” he said.
“We’re enacting this bill because it’s important that we’re defending Albertans, we’re defending firearm owners in this province and making sure that everyone feels that the government has their back.”