QUEBEC - Stephen Harper's government has slammed the door on Quebec's request to let it keep data from the doomed federal long-gun registry.
The Conservative government's blunt response came after two provincial cabinet ministers made a formal appeal this week in a letter to Ottawa.
But the Tories appear poised to stand their ground on the matter, even if it angers Quebec — a province that has long been a vocal opponent of the federal government's attempts to kill the registry.
"It's no," Christian Paradis, the Tories' Quebec lieutenant, told The Canadian Press in an interview Friday.
"We won't do something indirectly that we don't want to do directly. That's the answer, so basically it's a no."
Paradis, who is also industry minister, said the Privacy Act forbids Ottawa from collecting personal data for one purpose and then transferring it to be used for another purpose.
He instead invited the province to start its own registry from scratch.
The Conservatives tabled a long-promised bill this week to scrap the registration of rifles and shotguns and to permanently delete more than seven million files on gun ownership.
Politicians from all parties in Quebec's legislature later passed a unanimous motion calling for the gun registry to be saved and for all records from Quebec citizens to be retained.
But Paradis said political pressure from Quebec City will not change Ottawa's mind.
"Just because a motion is passed unanimously in the national assembly doesn't mean that reflects what we're hearing from the population — that I can guarantee you," he said, adding that a group of Quebec hunters has been calling for the end of the registry.
The province has said it wouldn't rule out the possibility of taking legal action if Ottawa turned down its request.
Quebec had already announced months ago it wanted to keep using some kind of long-gun registry if the Harper government destroyed the federal version, as expected.
The registry was created at a cost of more than $1 billion in the wake of Montreal's Polytechnique massacre in 1989.
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