by Clive Edwards
The Olympics is an opportunity for fluff and spectacle to dominate the public psyche. Nearly every reporter in every medium is writing with an Olympic Games angle. Many worthwhile stories are not being told because there is no Olympic Games angle. One such story is the Crown versus Bruce Montague.
Bruce Montague will be in the Ontario Court of Appeals in Toronto on February 18. On the surface this is a firearms case. Montague, a Dryden area gunsmith, decided to test the constitutionality of the Firearms Act and related statutes the only way anyone can: by getting arrested and charged with an offence. He was convicted of possessing firearms without a license.
Montague’s case is like an iceberg. The firearms aspect is what is visible. The importance of the case is submerged from public view. Our right to own and possess property will be impacted greatly one way or another depending upon the outcome of this case. Just as importantly, our right to possess tools that allow us to effectively defend ourselves, our loved ones and our neighbors will be determined.
Everyone knows that specific guarantees regarding the right to property were left out of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. A cursory reading of the Charter would seem to confirm that. A more focused reading would refer us to previous documents that are included, or at least not abrogated, by the Charter. The Canadian Bill of Rights was folded in to the Charter, and the Bill of Rights safeguards our property.
Unfortunately various levels of government play a shell game with our property rights. Now we see them, now we don’t. Government gets away with this because most people read the Charter, don’t see property rights specifically listed, and assume they don’t exist. Pronouncements from the government generally and the courts specifically keep us guessing.
Montague contends that if you buy something, thereby possessing it as property, but are then required to license that property or forfeit it to the government then the property really belongs to the government and you are allowed to borrow the government’s property as long as you are licensed.
Please don’t bring up the bogus examples of “we license cars and dogs” because you may possess an unregistered, unlicensed car as long as it stays in your driveway or you use a tow truck to move it. License and registration are only for use in public spaces.
Likewise, dogs only need to be licensed according to local bylaws and should you breech such bylaws you do not have your house trashed, computer and anything pet related seized and find yourself in jail. If you want to avoid such problems you can move to a rural area where bylaws regarding pets and large vehicles parked off street are not an issue.
Self defense is defined and allowable under the Criminal Code. At the moment of need, any tool available is legal to use. Depending upon one’s circumstances the type of tool required can vary. Obviously the elderly, the handicapped and many women who lack strength, swiftness or dexterity will need some sort of a tool. The documented safest and most effective personal protection tool is precisely the type of small handguns that were specifically made illegal to acquire, possess or use by the same laws Montague is challenging.
A cell phone is no replacement for a firearm. At best a cell phone enables the user to call for the assistance of someone with a gun. At worst is expressed in the words, “when seconds count, help is only minutes away”.
Montague is not fighting for a law to require everyone to possess a firearm. He is fighting for our right to choose. We cannot allow government to make that choice for us.
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