Long-Gun Registry: Judge Extends Quebec Injunction

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A Quebec judge has extended the injunction that prevents long-gun registry data from being destroyed. | alamy

MONTREAL - A judge has extended a temporary injunction that will keep the long-gun registry alive in Quebec — for now.

Justice Marc-Andre Blanchard's ruling on Friday gives him more time to deliberate on the issue of a new injunction sought by Quebec that would allow for information to continue to be collected.

A written decision is expected sometime next week and until then the registry will continue to operate in Quebec.

The request for a new injunction is opposed by lawyers for the federal government, which doesn't want to maintain a system Parliament has voted to destroy.

It argues the provincial government should pick up the slack and collect its own data if it wants up-to-date records. But the province says that causes financial harm when a registry already exists and is operational.

Quebec wants to start its own registry using the federal data. It says it is entitled to information it helped gather, but Ottawa is refusing to hand over the information.

The federal government sent orders to its legal team to fight Quebec on the request for a new injunction.

The emergency order handed down last week after a request by the Quebec government safeguards the Quebec data and obliges people in the province to keep registering their weapons.

Blanchard wrote that given that serious legal questions remained unanswered, it was best to keep the status quo and maintain the registry as is.

He called the situation unique in Canadian law, as "each of the parties is claiming to be acting in the public interest."

"Maintaining the status quo permits the court to render a judgment without causing unreasonably prejudicing the rights of the two parties," Blanchard wrote.

He is expected to rule on another short-term injunction next week.

"Certainly, it's good news, it is the status quo for the time being," said Quebec lawyer Eric Dufour.

Federal lawyers declined to comment.

Earlier this week, a spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said the government remains committed to ensuring the long-gun registry is scrapped for good.

"This injunction is temporary and doesn’t diminish our commitment to ending the long-gun registry once and for all," said Julie Carmichael.

"We are disappointed to see that contrary to the will of Canadians and of Parliament, the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry is still alive."

Meanwhile, lawyers are preparing to argue the actual merits of the case over three days, beginning June 11.

The bill to end the federal long-gun registry, C-19, received royal assent on April 5, fulfilling a long-standing promise by the Harper government to decriminalize long-gun registration and eliminate the data.

Quebec is the only jurisdiction that has sought information from the registry.

Gun control is a major issue in Quebec.

The Ecole polytechnique massacre in 1989, where a gunman shot and killed 14 women, led the federal government to toughen gun laws.

And a mass shooting at Montreal's Dawson College in 2006 that left one girl dead prompted Quebec to be bring in new rules.

The mother of Anastasia De Sousa, who was killed during the Dawson shootout, said she's happy Quebec is battling for the information.

"The (federal) government should have just taken the law, made some amendments to it and make everybody happy while keeping the safety of all Canadians," said Louise De Sousa.

In 2008, Quebec introduced a law named after the slain De Sousa. It bans the possession of firearms in schools and daycare centres and on public and school transport.

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