Constitutional ruling to come before November court date
By Garett Williams
Friday October 26, 2007
Arguments wrapped up in Bruce Montague’s constitutional challenge of the federal Firearms Act Thursday in Kenora Superior Court.
Crown attorney Peter Keen finished his arguments that the right to possess a firearm in Canada has always been subject to parliamentary supremacy and the registry promotes public safety by keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people.
He cited that between 1998 and 2006, 20,000 licenses were refused or revoked as an example the registry is meeting its goal.
“It certainly establishes that you are denying the people guns, but that doesn’t prove it’s doing it responsibly,” Justice John Wright said.
“Because it does (restrict ownership) on a basis of public safety only, I say it does,” Keen replied.
Keen addressed remedies put forward by Montague’s lawyer, Doug Christie, by saying if the legislation is struck down, anyone could store and carry firearms anywhere they wish. Adding a provision the restrictions only apply outside one’s home doesn’t make sense, he said, saying if something is illegal outside ones home, it is still illegal inside.
Christie concluded his arguments by reiterating his claim that the right to possess firearms in Canada has roots in the British Bill of Rights of 1689, carried over through the British North America Act and guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“All rights are subject to some limitation,” he conceded. “But they are not to be regulated out of existence.”
Montague, from Eton Rugby, near Dryden, is scheduled in a Kenora courtroom in November to face 53 counts of weapons-related offences under the Firearms Act, including the unauthorized possession and careless storage of non-restricted firearms, explosives and restricted firearms.
His wife, Donna Montague, is facing three charges the unauthorized possession of a firearm and two counts of careless storage of a firearm.
Wright will make a decision on the Constitutional challenge before Montague’s Nov. 13 appearance on the firearms charges.
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