The province is responding to criticism from the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) about the plan to arm conservation officers with semi-automatic rifles.
Environment Minister Dustin Duncan said Tuesday he hasn’t had discussions with the FSIN about this decision, describing it as an operational decision by the ministry.
“If it’s implied that adding this new firearm to conservation officers somehow will lead to deaths of any member of any community in this province, I reject that absolutely,” Duncan said.
He explained the decision is a direct response to a provincial court recommendation in New Brunswick that all frontline officers should be equipped with carbines following the shooting deaths of three RCMP officers in 2014.
Duncan said Saskatchewan’s conservation officers respond to situations mostly in remote areas, they mainly deal with individuals that are armed and they often don’t have backup support available to respond to help them in a timely fashion.
“We’re concerned about the safety of all members of the public. We’re concerned about the safety of our conservation officers,” Duncan said.
Conservation officers were tasked with taking a more active role in combatting rural crime since they were added to the Protection and Response Team in the summer of 2017.