QUEBEC - With the clock ticking down on the federal long-gun registry, the Quebec government has taken legal action to save its data.
The province announced Tuesday that it has filed a motion in Quebec Superior Court to block the federal government from destroying the registry information.
The Quebec government says it wants to maintain its own registry with its share of the records — but can't do it if the feds destroy the data, as promised, once its anti-registry bill becomes law.
Time is running out. The legislation is on the verge of being adopted in the Senate. So Quebec, as expected, is heading to court.
"The federal government turned a deaf ear to the repeated demands of Quebec with respect to the full preservation of the firearms registry," Quebec Justice Minister Jean-Marc Fournier said in a statement.
"It then refused to heed our request to transfer to Quebec the records ... for its citizens. We therefore have no other choice but to resort to the courts."
Quebec argues that the destruction of records is unconstitutional. It says that, in a federation, one level of government does not have the right to intentionally undermine the public policy choices of another.
The issue is particularly emotional in Quebec. The registry was the result of an intense lobbying campaign in the wake of the Polytechnique massacre, where 14 female students were gunned down in 1989 with a hunting rifle.
But detractors of the registry have long called it wasteful, and useless as a deterrent to crime.
The federal government has offered a variety of explanations for why it can't transfer the Quebec data to the provincial government.
It has cited concerns about the accuracy of what it calls out-of-date records. Finally, the Harper Tories have said they simply don't want a future federal government to use the records to revive the registry and described their refusal as a matter of principle.