By Jerry Grozelle
It's easy enough to be critical of legislation one feels is unjust,
ineffective and obscenely expensive. But few would be willing to make the
personal sacrifices necessary to defy the laws and challenge such
legislation in court, knowing that failure could result in some serious
Failure isn't in Bruce Montague's vocabulary when it comes to his belief
that he can change the Firearms Act - Bill C-68, through civil disobedience.
Bruce Montague is a gunsmith by trade. After a 12-year career in computer
engineering, his hobby of fixing guns turned into a full-time occupation. He
found it more satisfying than the computer field and he moved his family to
Dryden, Ontario to set up shop. That was 13 years ago. And in the past
bakers dozen years Montague has built up a very good business. His regular
customers included the local constabulary, both RCMP and OPP. At least one
Crown Prosecutor has availed himself of Montague's services to work on his
own personal firearm.
He purposely and overtly chose to not register his firearms or to obtain a
Possession Acquisition License when his Firearms Acquisition Certificate
expired. He attended a rally in Ottawa at which he openly defied the law,
announcing that he was in possession of unregistered firearms.
"I tried for two years to get arrested for committing a paper crime," he
told an audience of about 75 people on March 15 at the Haliburton Highlands
Outdoors Association's resource centre, which is part of the hatchery
facility on Haliburton County Road 1. He finally got his wish on September
11 of last year. He was helping a friend set up a booth at a gun show in
Dryden when he was arrested and carted off to the OPP station in Dryden. He
had been in the process of buying a saddle for his 12 year-old daughter
Katie's horse when officers forcibly removed him in handcuffs, leaving his
daughter in tears. The friend called Montague's wife Donna and suggested she
come and get her daughter. She and one of their two sons, Michael, attended
the show. Donna was asked to go to the OPP station. She believed her husband
would be charged and they would go home together. When she arrived, she was
After a couple of hours Donna was released, but Bruce would spend the next
11 days locked in a cell at the Dryden OPP station.
Police officers searched the Montague residence, which also housed his
gunsmithing business. They were unable to find his firearms and he finally
had to tell them where the guns were. With all the guns confiscated, along
with tools and computer equipment, he was released.
And so started what is destined to be a long and expensive process of
mounting a legal challenge of the constitutionality of the legislation.
Montague admitted to the people assembled at the HHOA resource centre that
he began to wonder what he had got himself into after spending several days
behind bars. But rather than instill doubts, the experience has bolstered
his resolve to bring down Bill C-68.
The stop in Haliburton was one of many in his cross-country tour. He started
on the west coast and is working his way to the opposite side of the
country. People from all walks of life have attended his presentations,
offering encouragement and financial support.
The estimated cost of Montague's C-68 challenge is $300,000. It is an
expense well beyond his personal means, especially since he is not permitted
to run his gunsmithing business. He has become a full-time volunteer in the
crusade to "Scrap Bill C-68." In the meantime, Donna is the breadwinner of
the family, working to keep the bills paid and help their older son Steven
through university while Bruce spends much of his time on the road doing
presentations and drumming up financial support to pay his legal bills and
"I'm just an average, mundane, typical Canadian who has been charged for
doing nothing," he said. He explained that the Firearms Act has made
criminals of everyone who refuses or neglects to obtain the "required"
paperwork to become compliant with the law.
"It's not about guns," he said. "It's about our God-given fundamental
rights. It's about our right to life and the tools we need to feed, clothe
and defend ourselves.
"Studies have proven conclusively that the Firearms Act doesn't increase
public safety," he explained. "We've had a handgun registry since 1934 and
handguns are still the weapons of choice of career criminals."
Supporters of the long gun registry often say that cars are registered so
why not rifles and shotguns. "Failure to register your car does not make you
a criminal," he counters. "With the Firearms Act you can become a criminal
for doing nothing." He also noted that you don't have to register your car
if you don't drive it on a public road. "You can drive a car on your own
property all you want without a license or registration," he said.
"We are all in this legislative mess together," he said. "Somebody has got
to stick their neck out."
Although the Canadian Constitution does not have a specific section such as
the United States' Second Amendment to its Constitution which "guarantees
the right to bear arms" Montague insists our Constitution does guarantee
Canadian citizens the right to own firearms.
"The Constitution is the law of Canada and that, in a nutshell is what our
challenge is all about," he told the audience. "I'm no Hollywood hero," he
said. "I just want the same things as everybody else."
Asking for a show of hands, Montague asked the question: "How many of you
believe if your life was threatened that a police officer would be there to
save you?" The response was as he anticipated. Not a soul in the crowd
raised his or her hand. "So, what do you do if someone breaks into your home
at 3 a.m.? You call someone with a gun (a police officer) and pray they get
there on time."
"The Liberals are trying to disarm the public. They want you to believe the
more helpless you are, the safer you are," he said. "Criminals like gun
control. It makes their jobs safer."
Montague said a change in political will, meaning a change in government,
would help. But he doesn't believe that is enough. Even with the
Conservative Party of Canada in power he said, "we will have to hold their
feet to the fire" to make sure they don't lose sight of their commitment to
scrap C-68 and replace it with legislation aimed at the criminal misuse of
firearms while respecting the rights of law abiding, responsible gun owners.
Montague said there are many good politicians, even within the ranks of the
Liberal Party. "They have empathy for police officers, but they are
political pawns," Montague said. "Liberals are required to vote the party
line, regardless of how they personally feel about the issue."
After his 10-minute video presentation and another 15 to 20 minutes of
explaining why he is so committed to this fight, Montague opened the floor to
questions. The audience was very supportive, offering suggestions regarding
which organizations should be approached for financial support and offering
encouragement. Those in attendance also provided some financial support,
collecting a total of $1,307. The money was counted and a receipt was
provided to HHOA President Keith Hodgson. All of the money is accounted for
and deposited to a trust fund which was established while Montague was still
in jail last September.
Montague's next court date is April 25 in Dryden, at which his trial date is
expected to be set. He expects his court battle to take three to five years
to reach the Supreme Court of Canada.
Montague noted that there will be a federal election before his case reaches
the country's highest court. He encouraged everyone in attendance to support
the local candidate who supports the movement to "scrap C-68."
Barry Devolin, the MP for Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes, Brock attended the
meeting. He acted as Master of Ceremonies and reiterated the Conservative
Party of Canada's intention to repeal the Firearms Act and replace it with
cost effective, efficient legislation that targets criminals instead of
responsible firearms owners.
A web site has been established with information about Bruce Montage's C-68
challenge and how concerned citizens can help with his battle. It can be
found at: http://www.brucemontague.ca.
DISCLAIMER: BruceMontague.ca is maintained by friends and
supporters of Bruce Montague.
It is NOT an official mouth-piece for Bruce
Montague's legal defense.