March 27, 2015

Supreme Court: Gun registry data can be destroyed

Brian LilleyArchive

The federal government has been given the green light to destroy what remains of the long-gun registry.

In a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court dismissed the Province of Quebec’s bid to save registry data related to residents of that province. The Quebec government had argued that destroying the data, which Quebec wanted to use to start its own gun registry, was unconstitutional.

While the court was split, the majority found Quebec’s case lacking.

“The principle of cooperative federalism does not constrain federal legislative competence in this case, Quebec has no legal right to the data,,” the majority said.

The long-gun registry has been a delicate political issue for years, a fact acknowledged by the court but a fact the majority said was not at issue for them.

“As has been said many times, the courts are not to question the wisdom of legislation but only to rule on its legality.  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,” the decision reads.

Part of Quebec’s argument had been that it played a role in collecting registry data. While Quebec’s Chief Firearms Officer is a member of the provincial police force the position is based on federal law and funded by the federal government.

The court ruled that Quebec’s participation in collecting the data was not enough to grant it the right to retain data Parliament had ordered destroyed.

“The Firearms Act did not empower this officer to modify or contribute to the registration certificate data compiled and maintained by the Registrar, nor did the CFO act in her capacity as a provincial official in maintaining the licensing registry,” the majority found.

All three justices from Quebec sided with the dissenting view that destroying the data without first offering it to Quebec and any other province that wanted it was unconstitutional.

The ruling was almost a forgone conclusion given the case Reference re Firearms Act, a 2000 case that challenged the establishment of the registry. In that case the court ruled that Parliament could use its authority, through the criminal law powers, to establish the registry.

The majority stated that if those powers could be used to establish a registry, they could be used to dismantle it.

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commented 2015-03-29 21:21:05 -0400
Good result but the split vote shows how ideological and otherwise biased the Supreme Court is in its decisions. All three Quebec judges and arguably the most left-leaning judge of the lot (Ontario’s Rosalie Abella) dissented in what should have been a straight-forward, near unanimous decision. It doesn’t leave one with a whole lot of confidence in the SC. Not much wonder that the Harper government so often finds itself at odds with the Court.
commented 2015-03-28 21:59:41 -0400
I still think judges should be elected, not appointed.
commented 2015-03-28 12:16:25 -0400
As far as illegally existing copies of the registry go; perhaps some phony ones could be seeded out on the internet or e-mailed to known liberal bureaucrats who would be happy to keep them and share them.
commented 2015-03-28 11:59:04 -0400
It’s interesting to note that on the rare occasions when the Social engineering court of Canada decides in conservatives favor the majority is always slim (1 vote). This contrasts to when they vote in liberals favor. Then the decisions are often unanimous.
The courts are political animals and like animals their first instinct is self preservation. They know, and reluctantly acknowledge that unless they throw the conservatives a small bone once in a while then their carefully maintained and pompously maintained mirage of political neutrality will evaporate (as it has done long ago with the press).
commented 2015-03-27 20:44:23 -0400
Speaking as a former government employee from what I have experienced with matters of ATTIP (Access to information and Privacy Protection) and being acquainted with colleagues who worked on the RCMP mobile computer system…..the data of the database stored at the registry in New Brunswick has been destroyed and the RCMP can no longer bring it up in their stations or in their cars. Hard copy downloads made before the edict to do so are illegal to possess and would result in heads rolling if any federal employee…including the RCMP were found in possession of them. That certain RCMP managers consider themselves above this and but an election away from being vindicated and celebrated as heroes for stashing a copy is something you should be concerned about….but the computers on board the RCMP cruisers now only report licensing data.

As for provincial and local departments…they too may decide to keep hard copy downloads but they are subject to penalty including dismissal if they are found out….do police forces flagrantly violate the law on the blind side of justice?….that varies greatly from force to force.

If the future holds a Liberal or NDP victory and they use illegally obtained data for the basis of their revived gun registry…..Tony Merchant and his law firm will have a feeding frenzy which everyone on that registry will get class action compensation from …which the CBC will of course try to keep under raps.
commented 2015-03-27 18:35:36 -0400
What happened to Wendy C , she looks like she swallowed an ice cream factory.
commented 2015-03-27 17:16:49 -0400
I have lived and worked in both city and country. In the city police are just around the corner and just down the street. Minutes away.
In some parts of the country people just disappear and remains not found till after someone reports that absence which could be a very long time.
I’m just saying that people have a right to live in peace and some have equipment to make sure peace reigns on their property. City dwellers have the police. Both work. The nanny prisons don’t work. Career criminals and nut bars rule the streets. Deny that. Saving them because they “might” change their criminals ways or become “enlightened” and don’t forget the repeat criminals 3-100 times before the courts. Every crime has a victim. Every criminal has a lawyer and a judge to help them.
commented 2015-03-27 15:12:50 -0400
Individual rights has been strengthened by this decision. If Quebec keeps the present data, it would seem logical the an individual or a class-action group, would now have litigation basis on which to force the Quebec government to remove their names from the registry.
commented 2015-03-27 14:50:54 -0400
No doubt Quebec will keep the data regardless of the decision.
commented 2015-03-27 13:43:38 -0400
Eileen McRae. Barely!
commented 2015-03-27 13:42:09 -0400
I would never trust a Government that didn’t trust it’s law abiding, tax paying citizens. Long live the Magna Carta.
commented 2015-03-27 12:57:23 -0400
Gee. Guess the old PQ bureaucracy was negligent in the field of redundancy, eh? I mean, this is probably one of the few things that the feds did that PQ hadn’t thought of mirroring in their quest for nation status. Bet they won’t make that mistake again!

Any bets on whether there will soon be an announcement that they are going to start their own mandatory long-gun registry?

And, Stephen Harris – my thoughts exactly.
commented 2015-03-27 12:56:18 -0400
It has been my experience of late that purchases of used guns that are not under warranty are cash and a handshake and no paper trail.

It was Canada’s dirty little secret that tens of thousands of people had grand-dads shotgun up in the attic with no registry papers. Not to mention the tens of thousands of households which have pre-gun registry CROSMAN 760 pump action air rifles who even now need a PAL and proper storage.

Rhetoric comparing this to car registry is non-sense…the car registry is not a prelude to a mass confiscation of guns which was the agenda of Alan Rock’s policies.
commented 2015-03-27 12:33:57 -0400
I don’t know the correct legal position of the following – anybody?
Given the spurious way the original long gun registry was forced onto Canadians by Allan Rock and his dictatorial anti-gun cohorts, and given the fact of the rescinding of the legislation by the Conservatives, recently, we all know that given an election win – God forbid – the Liberals or the NDP get in, they will surely try and bring it back, if not worse.
So, as stupid as it would be to try and bring it back, can they?
As for Quebec’s law abiding, responsible firearms owners, who may object to the creation of a special Quebec long gun registry, I suggest you don’t register! And given the precedent set by the ‘Ending the Long Gun Registry Act’, what could they do to all the people who wouldn’t comply, really?
commented 2015-03-27 12:22:34 -0400
A split decision (ONE VOTE) that says that kewbek doesn’t control Federal Government property is a total joke.
The real question is that who are these FKG COMMUNISTS on the SCOC???

And that kewbek trying to steal from the Federal Government is backed by the Canadian constitution is another fkg joke. progressives, socialists, communists wrote this POS constitution – so no surprises here and those nazi’s in kewbek are happy to quote the constitution but still haven’t signed it.
commented 2015-03-27 11:36:48 -0400
Now we have to make sure that the police actually destroy the data. We should also save money by not funding the positions of all of the “chief firearms officers”.
commented 2015-03-27 11:34:17 -0400
Brian they have a constitutional guarantee. We need a new constitution OR we need to behave like those Liberal judges and say to hell with the law and do what WE want.
The first time they show bias in ruling should be the last time they sit at that bench. Period.
commented 2015-03-27 11:08:03 -0400
Why does Quebec have 3 of the 9 judges on the panel??
commented 2015-03-27 11:04:58 -0400
Get rid of those Quebec judges and the Liberal. Crooks. Arrogant crooks.
commented 2015-03-27 11:00:14 -0400
Marjorie, my contacts in police say they never completely destroy any records. They may remove the data from a public server but I do not believe for a second that Quebec will destroy the gun registry data. They think they are right and their opinion is all that matters as they don’t consider Ottawa a legitimate government.
commented 2015-03-27 10:52:27 -0400
Dave. That is the relevant question. It goes to provincial corruption in police, Crown and other civil servant roles who ignore legislation and enforce for their own best profit interests.

Like the three Quebec justices didn’t make a partisan (i.e., biased) ruling.

Sick to the back teeth of provinces ignoring federal legislation.
commented 2015-03-27 10:36:48 -0400
I was just over at the CBC site, collecting liberal tears to use for gun oil.
commented 2015-03-27 10:25:01 -0400
But will Quebec honour this ruling? We have already seen evidence that the RCMP in Alberta was using a copy of the registry in High River.
commented 2015-03-27 10:24:04 -0400
Have any of the data been destroyed? I ask because in 2013 I received a notice from the RCMP sent to my late husband demanding payment to re-register his old shotgun. I had destroyed the gun—it was old and useless—in 2012 when it was announced that the gun registry was closed. I was certainly very afraid that I had committed a major crime. The matter was not pursued but it was a stressful time. I don’t think I am alone in this situation.
commented 2015-03-27 10:10:49 -0400
Finally, a common-sense decision from the Supreme Court!