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Alberta looks to arm legislature security guards as part of justice amendments

The view of the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton on Friday, March 28, 2014. on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Alberta’s justice minister has introduced legislation that would arm security officers at the legislature, make it easier to enforce spousal and child support in other jurisdictions and increase the limit on civil claims at the provincial court level.

Tyler Shandro, the minister of justice and attorney general, introduced the Justice Statutes Amendment Act on Tuesday.

The sergeant-at-arms and the speaker of the legislative assembly reviewed security after the shooting on Parliament Hill in 2014 and a suicide at the Alberta legislature in 2019.

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The review concluded that members of the Legislative Assembly Security Service should be allowed to carry firearms in the legislature building and surrounding area.

“This is something that has been studied going back to 2014. This is a long time coming, I think. It’s been studied to death,” Shandro said in an interview with The Canadian Press last month.

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“I think that’s one of the concerns that the speaker has and the sergeant-at-arms. I am aware that they do have concerns and have been looking for these changes for many years.”

Shandro said there are already armed sheriffs at the legislature, but most of the security officials have law enforcement experience that would give another level of protection.

“Providing these officers with the tools they need, including firearms, (would) protect all of those who occupy this building.”

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An amendment to the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act would also make it easier for people to collect child and spousal support from ex-partners and spouses who live across the country.

It would allow the electronic exchange of certified documents to support interjurisdictional support orders.

British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia have made similar legislative changes.

“Given Legal Aid Alberta assists individuals who have partners and parents in many other areas of the country, this amendment will help enhance the ability of our clients to collect critical child and spousal support payments in a more timely and efficient manner, putting money in the hands who need it most,” John Panusa, president and CEO of Legal Aid Alberta, said in a statement.

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An update to the Provincial Court Act would allow more civil claims to be dealt with at the provincial court level. The process at the lower court level is simpler and more cost-effective, but the limit is $50,000 and was last updated in 2014.

Amendments would allow government to adjust the limit up to $200,000.

“This increase in jurisdictional limits will enhance the court’s ability to fulfil its mission to provide fair, accessible and timely justice for Albertans,” said Provincial Court of Alberta Chief Judge Derek Redman.

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