Charter challenge delayed
By Dan Gauthier
Kenora Daily Miner and News
Tuesday October 17, 2006
Excited anticipation quickly turned to anxiety for firearms advocate Bruce Montague and his wife Donna as their constitutional challenge of the Firearms Act was delayed once again Monday.
In Kenora Superior Court, Justice John Wright remanded Montague’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms application until the week of March 12, 2007 to allow evidence to be recorded via written affidavits from the two witnesses for the defence.
The judge’s decision led to a heated discussion between Montague and his lawyer, Calvin Martin, during a break in the proceedings, as the former gunsmith from west of Dryden expressed his disappointment at further delays.
“You get a little frustrated with everything when things don’t quite go as planned,” Montague explained outside the courtroom, after his hearing was adjourned until next spring.
About 20 family members, friends and supporters were in the courtroom to witness Montague take his first step in what could be a long legal battle. A criminal trial by jury is expected to take place once the Charter hearing is dealt with.
The Charter hearing had been scheduled for the entire week (Oct. 16-20), but neither the Crown attorneys – Peter Keen and Robert Young – nor Martin were prepared to proceed.
At issue for the Crown was proper notification from Martin of the evidence to be presented at the hearing, as well as the qualifications of the witnesses.
Keen told the court the Crown would need to interview and examine all of the witnesses before they could proceed with the Charter hearing.
While Martin had one of the witnesses ready to testify Monday, his second witness, from B.C., was unavailable this week.
As a result, Wright ordered that evidence from both Montague’s witnesses be submitted by written affidavit and delivered to the Crown by Nov. 8.
The judge also ordered Crown examinations of the witnesses – which counsel agreed would take place in Thunder Bay – be completed by Jan. 12, 2007, and all transcripts of these proceedings be provided to him by March 1.
“We need to move along so the next time we meet, it will be solely for arguments,” said Wright.
Prior to the decision to delay the hearing, the judge also imposed a publication ban on all evidence pertaining to the charges or allegations against Montague, until the conclusion of his criminal trial proceedings.
Montague lamented at the delays outside the courtroom following Monday’s proceedings. He called the move yet another “stalling tactic” by the Crown in his legal challenge that is now more than two years old.
“What are they doing?” Montague questioned as he left the Kenora Courthouse. “Are they going to wait until I grow old and die?”
Montague claimed the Crown has been aware of their witnesses, whose theories are the basis of their constitutional arguments, since shortly after he was arrested Sept. 11, 2004 at a Dryden gun show.
He is facing 53 criminal charges for a variety of weapons-related offences including the unauthorized possession and careless storage of non-restricted firearms, explosives and restricted firearms.
Donna Montague is facing three charges – the unauthorized possession of a firearm and two counts of careless storage of a firearm.
Their application aims to have the Firearms Act declared unconstitutional or contrary to the provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, thereby dismissing all charges laid in accordance to the Act.
The challenge relies on 13 sections of Charter, which Montague claims the Firearms Act violates. These include: the right to life, liberty and security of person; unreasonable search and seizure; arbitrary detention or imprisonment; bringing the administration of justice into disrepute; presumption of innocence; as well as the freedom of thought, belief, opinions and expressions.Montague hearing put over to March
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