Feds get deadline to hand over Quebec gun registry data
Published Monday, September 10, 2012 11:24AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, September 10, 2012 5:55PM EDT
A Quebec court has given the federal government 30 days to hand over the province’s data from the federal long-gun registry, in a decision likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court.
In his ruling issued Monday, Quebec Superior Court Justice Marc-Andre Blanchard said Quebec has the right to its data from the registry, which the federal government scrapped to fulfill a long-standing campaign promise.
In his 42-page ruling, Blanchard noted the registry was created with guidelines governing how the information would be gathered. The judge said the data cannot be considered the exclusive property of the federal government.
The registry weaves federal, provincial and municipal data, “which meant that it could not exist without the close and constant co-operation of everyone,” Blanchard wrote in his decision.
"The implementation of the firearms registry -- although under the federal power to legislate criminal law -- creates a partnership with Quebec, particularly with regard to the data contained in the registry."
In his ruling, Blanchard quotes Prime Minister Stephen Harper as saying he would not help another level of government create its own long-gun registry. However, the judge said Canadian constitutional law calls for lawmakers to work more collaboratively with their provincial and territorial counterparts.
Federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has yet to announce whether the federal government will appeal the decision. However, a statement released to CTV News suggests an appeal is likely.
“I am disappointed with today's ruling and will thoroughly review the decision. The will of Parliament and Canadians has been clear. We do not want any form of a wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry,” Toews said, while accusing the NDP of wanting to use the data to target hunters, farmers and sport shooters.
The ruling only applies to Quebec.
However, one gun control advocate said she hopes it encourages other provinces to seek their portions of the registry data.
“We’re also hoping that what we did and the results that we got are going to give the other provinces that were maybe even just toying with the idea that extra push to get their own data back, because it belongs to them,” Meaghan Hennegan, who survived the deadly shooting at Dawson College in Quebec in 2006, told CTV News Channel.
“And the more governments that do that, the harder it is for the Harper government to deny that the registry is useful.”
On CTV’s Power Play Monday evening, Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre defended the government’s decision to scrap the registry by dismissing the data as “unreliable,” citing an auditor general’s report from 2006.
However, Liberal public safety critic Francis Scarpaleggia called the ruling “a soberly delivered decision that said that the evidence that the registry saves lives is unchallenged.”
The bill to end the long-gun registry received royal assent on April 5.
Quebec strongly opposed the move, and has signalled its intent to create its own registry. While the province argues it has a right to data it paid for, the federal government disagrees, and wants to destroy all the data.
With files from The Canadian Press