Quebec to go it alone after Supreme Court orders end to gun-registry data

Quebec will forge ahead with its own gun registry after losing out in a Supreme Court decision that could have future political consequences in the province.

OTTAWA — Quebec will forge ahead with its own gun registry after losing out in a Supreme Court decision that could have future political consequences in the province.

The high court ruled Friday that the federal government has the right to order the destruction of gun-registry data that Quebec has coveted for years.

The issue sparked rare consensus among Quebec political parties as well as in broad swaths of the province — a unity that was reflected in the three Supreme Court justices from Quebec all being part of the dissenting minority.

While Prime Minister Stephen Harper welcomed the 5-4 ruling, it remains to be seen what impact it might have on his Conservatives’ goal of winning more seats in Quebec in this year’s federal election.

“The decision to destroy the data is not acceptable in terms of managing public funds or in terms of co-operative federalism,” said Quebec Public Security Minister Lise Theriault.

“There will be a Quebec registry. We will proceed step by step so we respect the ability of Quebecers to pay. We are convinced that the use of such a tool on a daily basis is necessary to facilitate investigations and police interventions and to comply with court orders prohibiting the possession of weapons.”

She estimated the cost of creating a registry at $30 million — a figure she acknowledged could fluctuate depending on its scope.

The Supreme Court ruled that destroying the data was a lawful exercise of Parliament’s legislative power to make criminal law under the Constitution, firmly upholding the notion the government is free to enact policies it deems appropriate as long as it operates within the law.

“In our view, the decision to dismantle the long-gun registry and destroy the data that it contains is a policy choice that Parliament was constitutionally entitled to make,” wrote Thomas Cromwell and Andromache Karakastanis for the majority, a group that included Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin.

Speaking near Quebec City, where he was making an unrelated announcement, Harper reiterated his long-held view the gun registry was obsolete.

“Yes, we have abolished one registry,” he said in Saint-Apollinaire. “But what we have in Canada already is permitting. In other words, we have registration of all gun owners, already. We have registration of all handguns, already. We have registration of all restricted weapons, already.

“Our view —and I think it’s been borne out by the facts — is that we simply don’t need another very expensive and not effective registry.

“What we have needed are severe, strong and more effective penalties for people who commit criminal acts using guns, and that’s what we’ve done.”

A spokesman for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said in an email “the data will be deleted in the very near future.”

The Liberal government created the gun registry in 1998 in response to the murder of 14 women at Montreal’s Ecole polytechnique in 1989. They were targeted by a gunman because of their gender.

The Harper government abolished the registry for long guns in 2011 as part of a long-standing campaign promise — a controversial political move that also emphasized Canada’s rural-urban divide.

Liberal MP Stephane Dion, the party’s intergovernmental affairs critic, chastised the Conservatives for not allowing Quebec to keep the data.

“From a political perspective, I would agree that it’s very bad federalism to not co-operate with the province in giving the data,” he said. “It would not have been difficult for the Conservative government to do so.”

Francoise Boivin, the New Democrats’ justice critic, said it showed Harper and the Conservatives were not serious when they promised Quebec “a new kind of federalism” in 2006.

Wendy Cukier founded the Coalition for Gun Control after the 1989 Montreal massacre and became a leading firearms registration crusader.

Standing in the vast marble foyer of the Supreme Court, Cukier said she was “terribly disappointed” that a “punitive” government policy had cleared its last legal hurdle.

“The Supreme Court has made it clear that the decision to destroy the data is a political decision,” she said.

“You can track a package you’re sending from here to anywhere in the world, and yet we will not have information on who owns guns in the province of Quebec.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Advocate file photo
Red Deer County approves winery

Winery proposed for rural property northwest of Innisfail

Sharis Carr, a nurse at the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Service Center in Clarksdale, Miss., holds a vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine that was administered to seniors, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. A second COVID-19 vaccine is being investigated for possible links to blood clots, though the syndrome appears to be extremely rare. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Rogelio V. Solis
Canada receives report of blood clot linked to AstraZeneca

OTTAWA — A Quebec woman is the first in Canada to develop… Continue reading

Premier Jason Kenney struck back at unruly protesters who chanted ‘lock her up’ in relation to Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Monday. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Alberta Premier calls for ‘unhinged conspiracy theorists’ to stop threatening the chief medical officer

Spreading misinformation, making threats is ‘beyond the pale,’ said Kenney

An internal investigation by AHS revealed 3,224 patients had their electronic health records accessed improperly by two clerical employees in the diagnostic imaging department at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Employees access 3K patients’ records in privacy breach at Red Deer hospital

3,224 patients had their electronic health records accessed improperly

The Red Deer Boxing Club will be moving to a larger space, in North Red Deer. The programs need more room to grow, says founder Robert Carswell. (Photo by LANA MICHELIn/Advocate staff).
Red Deer Boxing Club is moving to north industrial site

The property was rezoned to accommodate recreational uses

An emergency response worker carries an air monitoring device at the site of a crude oil spill at a Trans Mountain Pipeline pump station in Abbotsford, on Sunday, June 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Failed fitting caused 190,000-litre spill at Trans Mountain site in B.C.: TSB

VANCOUVER — A Transportation Safety Board report says the failure of a… Continue reading

Ottawa
Indigenous leaders, experts urge Ottawa to quickly pass UNDRIP bill before election

OTTAWA — Indigenous leaders and legal experts are pushing federal lawmakers to… Continue reading

Visitors to a roadside memorial pay their respects in Portapique, N.S., on Friday, April 24, 2020. The Canadian Red Cross confirmed today it has collected $6.2 million in donations to help the families in rural Nova Scotia affected by the mass shooting last spring that claimed 22 lives. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Red Cross collects $6.2 million for families affected by Nova Scotia mass shooting

HALIFAX — Canadians and people from around the world donated $6.2 million… Continue reading

Hindu devotees wearing face masks as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus stand in a queue to offer prayers inside a temple dedicated to goddess Kali in Jammu, India, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. New infections have surged in the past month and India has now reported over 13.6 million cases — pushing its toll past Brazil, and making it second only to the United States. In the past 24 hours, over 160,000 new infections have been detected and experts fear that the worst is yet to come. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)
Johnson & Johnson delays shot rollout in Europe

BERLIN — Johnson & Johnson says it is delaying the rollout of… Continue reading

Restaurant workers and restaurant delivery workers wait in line to sign up for Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccine site, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the Sunset Park neighborhood of New York. The mobile vaccination effort includes two buses equipped with four to six vaccinators each, delivering the COVID-19 vaccine directly to communities most in need. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
US recommends ‘pause’ for J&J vaccine over clot reports

WASHINGTON — The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose… Continue reading

FILE-Team Canada’s Meaghan Mikkelson fights for control of the puck with U.S.A.’s Hayley Scamurra during third period of Women’s Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver, Wednesday, February 5, 2020. Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada’s director of women’s national teams, hopes a Rivalry Series against the United States can happen this winter.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Dwyer
Canadian women’s hockey team to open selection camp in Nova Scotia

Six goaltenders, 15 defenders and 26 forwards will vie for spots on Canada’s 23-player roster

FILE - Rhian Wilkinson, left, and Melissa Tancredi of Canada’s women’s soccer team attend a news conference in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 to announce their retirement from the team. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Former Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson now part of England coaching setup

Wilkinson left Canada Soccer in January to join interim England head coach Hege Riise as an assistant

Canadian actor/producer/director Jay Baruchel is photographed at the 5 Drive-In Theatre in Oakville, Ont., ahead of the premier of Baruchel’s movie Random Acts of Violence, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Jay Baruchel to host Amazon Prime Video’s ‘LOL: Last One Laughing Canada’

Final comedian left standing wins a grand prize for a charity of their choice

Most Read