By Laurie Papineau
After trying for the past 20 months to get himself arrested, Drydenite Bruce Montague got his wish at a gun show in Dryden on Sept. 11.
According to witnesses, Montague, a local gunsmith and provincial representative of the Canadian Unregistered Firearms Owners Association (CUFOA), was removed from the event shortly before it opened by at least half a dozen OPP officers, not in uniform.
Since early 2003, the CUFOA member has traveled across the country with others who oppose Bill C-68, demonstrating and challenging the government to have them arrested for refusing to register their firearms - without ever being charged with unauthorized possession of a firearm.
Witnesses at the gun show were surprised that, after all the opportunity Montague has afforded police, they chose the Dryden show, and a time when the family man was alone with his 12-year-old daughter to take him into custody.
"Oh, they definitely knew who they were looking for," noted one displayer at the show who chooses not to be identified. "They knew specifically who they were looking for and had this planned for a long time. I don't think they should have done it here in front of his daughter though."
Donna Montague, Bruce's wife, was also arrested when she was later called to the show to collect their daughter.
Dryden OPP have released a statement indicating that following a joint investigation conducted by members of the OPP Provincial Weapons Enforcement Unit, the Northwest Crime Unit, the regional firearms officer and members of the local detachment, Bruce Montague was charged with two counts of unauthorized possession of firearms contrary to the Criminal Code; careless storage of a firearm; failure to use reasonable care with an explosive and unlawful possession of an explosive.
Donna Montague was charged with unauthorized possession of firearms and careless storage of firearms.
While Donna was released on an undertaking within an hour of being arrested, she says her husband was held in custody for four days pending a show cause hearing in Dryden on Sept. 15. She also notes that she and her children were refused entry to their own home for 36 hours while a search warrant was being executed on the property.
CUFOA members Ed Hudson and Jack Wilson arrived from Saskatchewan the day after the arrests to assist the Montagues in every way they can - and, they say, to see that justice is done.
"This man was on the steps of Parliament in Ottawa with a firearm and a note to our Prime Minister - and they didn't arrest him," says Hudson. "Six months later, he's in Toronto at the legislature in a demonstration. We turned over affidavits saying we owned unregistered firearms without licences, to a security guard - and they didn't arrest him."
He says the manner in which the Montagues were arrested in Dryden has come as a complete shock.
"This is nothing but cowardly and blatant intimidation," he continues. "In Dryden they're attempting to use the local gunsmith and his wife to intimidate people into obeying a useless law. We're going to fight this every step of the way."
Donna Montague knew that her husband's decision to take a stand against Bill C-68 might eventually lead to his arrest, but says she honestly does not believe they are criminals or should be treated as such.
"What a waste of taxpayers' money," she says. "How can they actually justify this?"
What CUFOA says they want to stress is that this is not a firearms issue - it's a rights and freedoms issue that affects every Canadian citizen.
"A mere anonymous tip concerning suspicion of a firearm in your home, and this could happen to you," says Hudson.
A number of residents have called the Dryden Observer with comment or to find out where to make donations to assist the Montagues with legal costs. CUFOA members say that information will be made public pending Bruce Montague's hearing on Sept. 15.
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