Quebec says it will fight Harper government on registry

October 27, 2011
Oct 26 2011 QUEBEC - The Harper government's plan to not only kill the long-gun registry but subsequently bury its data has run into resistance in Quebec, which wants to bring the controversial program back from the dead. The provincial government says it intends to keep using the gun registry on its territory and will fiercely oppose plans to destroy the data.

Oct 26 2011 QUEBEC - The Harper government's plan to not only kill the long-gun registry but subsequently bury its data has run into resistance in Quebec, which wants to bring the controversial program back from the dead.

The provincial government says it intends to keep using the gun registry on its territory and will fiercely oppose plans to destroy the data.

Speaking at a news conference in Quebec City, Public Security Minister Robert Dutil refused Wednesday to rule out legal action among his options.

A spokesman later explained that the province's Plan A is to maintain a repectful dialogue with Ottawa and negotiate a mechanism to save the records. If that fails, Plan B options will be weighed.

Quebec had already announced months ago it wanted to keep using some kind of long-gun registry if the Harper government killed the federal version, as expected.

But this week Ottawa made it clear that, in addition to destroying the registry, it would also eliminate the data compiled over the past decade.

"We know that the federal government, in the last (Conservative) election campaign, said it would abolish the registry,'' Dutil said.

"We don't agree with that but we learned about it during the election campaign. But they never said they were going to destroy the records.

"We are formally, ferociously opposed to that.''

The announcement from Quebec came amid a flurry of reaction in the wake of the federal announcement.

Supporters of the Harper government have been waiting for years to celebrate the end of a gun-control measure they consider intrusive, expensive and ineffective.

A spokesman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews offered a brief and adamant response to the Quebec announcement: "The long-gun registry data is under federal control. Our legislation will destroy this data.''

Earlier Wednesday, Toews told the Commons the registry had done nothing to keep weapons away from criminals. He said the government intended to destroy the records in order to protect the privacy of law-abiding gun owners.

''What we will do is abolish the long-gun registry once and for all."

A spokesperson for federal Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault said she intends to examine the bill - specifically to see whether it is legal under Sec. 67 of the Access to Information Act, which says, "No person shall ... destroy, mutilate or alter a record,'' in order to circumvent the law.

While the Quebec government has expressed its shock at the latest federal move, the Harper government actually signalled in July that any province seeking to create its own registry would have to start from scratch.

The Harper government has suggested that sharing details from the database would violate the Privacy Act.

Dutil conceded Wednesday that destroying the records would make it difficult to keep a registry in Quebec.

"If we don't have the data, the costs (of creating a new registry) would be prohibitive,'' he said.

The province's intergovernmental affairs minister said Quebec taxpayers helped pay for that registry - and they don't want to lose it.

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