Quebec to appeal long-gun registry destruction to the Supreme Court

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Quebec Justice Minister Bertrand St-Arnaud announced on Thursday that it would appeal the Quebec Court of Appeal's 5–0 decision to allow long-gun registry records relevant to the province to be destroyed by the federal government.

After Ottawa passed Bill C-19 allowing the federal government to abolish and destroy the federal long-gun registry last April, the provincial government in Quebec announced that it would create its own long-gun registry by reusing the data from the federal one. The federal government refused to hand over the data relevant to the province to its government as what has so far been a successful attempt to discourage and delay the creation of a gun registry.

The registry was originally created in the aftermath of the 1989 Polytechnique massacre in Montreal, but there had been opposition to it ever since, namely because of concerns that it may have cost several billion dollars in total.

In September, Justice Marc-André Blanchard of the Quebec Superior Court declared the section of C-19 that mandated the destruction of the registry unconstitutional and ruled that Ottawa's refusal to hand over the province's registry records was contrary to the judicially recognized principle of cooperative federalism.

However, Ottawa appealed the decision and the Quebec Court of Appeal unanimously overturned it, saying that the law abolishing the registry is within federal jurisdiction.

Justice Minister Bernard St-Arnaud reacted swiftly yesterday, saying in a statement that "there is a consensus in Quebec regarding the registration of firearms" and that "all parties in the National Assembly defend this position unanimously and are firmly opposed to the decision by the federal government to abolish the firearms registry."

Quebec's Bill 20, which would create a provincial gun registry, would depend on the reuse of data from the federal one, which is much cheaper than the creation of one from scratch.