By Janet Gibson
for The Enterprise
September 25, 2004
Dryden gunsmith William Bruce Montague is a free man. His next court appearance is Nov. 15 in Dryden.
After spending 11 days in jail, Montague, 45, was released late Tuesday afternoon after a brief appearance in Sioux Lookout provincial court.
On Saturday, Sept. 11, stunned onlookers saw Montague whisked away from a gun show in Dryden by plainclothes OPP officers.
After searching his rural log house for 36 hours, the OPP charged him with unauthorized possession of a firearm, careless storage of a firearm, unauthorized possession of explosives and careless storage of explosives.
They seized 50 firearms, five tubs of ammunition, a small amount of .50 calibre ammunition and gun parts.
As well, they charged Montague’s wife Donna with unauthorized possession of a firearm and unsafe storage. She was released from custody and told to appear in court, Oct. 25.
On Sept. 11, Donna was at home baking manicotti when she got a call from a friend at the gun show. Donna’s daughter, 12, was alone at the show, the friend said, because Bruce had been arrested.
Donna called Saskatoon resident Jack Wilson, treasurer of Canadian Unregistered Firearms Owners Association (CUFOA).
“My husband’s been arrested,” she said. “Get over here.”
As it turns out, Bruce is no stranger to the gun control issue and Bill C-68, the federal government’s controversial firearms legislation. In addition to being a gunsmith, he’s also Ontario director for CUFOA.
“This is the day we’ve been waiting for,” Wilson said Monday, after Montague appeared in Kenora court.
The association of 450 will fight Montague’s charges all the way to the Supreme Court in a bid to overturn Bill C-68, The Firearms Act.
The Act requires Canadians to apply for a licence before purchasing a gun and to register their guns.
Association secretary Ed Hudson said he has no doubt they’ll win.
“The Firearms Act says the government will decide when we can defend ourselves,” Hudson said. “How can any government presume to have the authority to tell a citizen when they can defend themselves. It defies basic logic.”
Meanwhile, the Crown means business.
On Sept. 20, the day of Montague’s release hearing in Kenora, four OPP detectives and Crown attorney Peter Keen holed up in an office outside the courtroom for hours as they hammered out a deal with defence lawyer Edward Burlew.
It was a tough negotiation, Hudson said, referring to Burlew as their “pitbull.”
Montague was released only after telling police the location of a hidden room in his house.
Dryden OPP report that a second search of the Montague home led police to the concealed entrance of the hidden room off the basement. Inside the room police discovered and seized an undisclosed number of firearms and some explosives.
Montague lives by conditions Hudson described as “fairly stringent and overly burdensome.”
He can have no contact with firearms, firearm parts, ammunition, ammunition parts or explosives.
He must stay in Northwestern Ontario and is prohibited from applying for a passport.
Hudson predicts the OPP will lay more charges.
Montague, who stopped eating for three days when he landed in jail, was “very tired” after his release, Hudson said.
But with his livelihood taken away, how will he provide for his family?
“He’s very resourceful,” Hudson said.
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