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When a government doesn't believe in its own laws

By Christopher di Armani
web posted May 17, 2004

What happens when the government doesn't believe its own laws?

Ask Ed Hudson of the Canadian Unregistered Firearms Owners Association, and he'll tell you.

"They're afraid to charge us for fear of what will happen once this hits the courts," says Hudson.

What exactly does that mean?

Senator-in-Waiting Ted Morton describes in his research paper "How the Firearms Act (Bill C-68) Violates The Charter of Rights and Freedoms":

"Bill C-68 (the Firearms Act) contains as many as 28 distinct Charter violations. If the Supreme Court applies the same Charter rules to law-abiding firearm owners as it has to drunk-drivers, drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps, single parent welfare recipients, abortion providers, murderers, refugee claimants and owners of child pornography, that is if it applies the law of the land with an even hand then it will be forced by its own precedents to declare Bill-68 unconstitutional and thus of no force or effect."

Ed Hudson agrees. "The government knows the Firearms Act cannot withstand a constitutional challenge. That's why they refuse to charge us. We traveled to every provincial capital, and to Ottawa twice protesting this law. We've given every Provincial Attorney General evidence that we've broken this law. We gave them videotaped evidence of illegal firearm transfers. We've given the same evidence to the Prime Minister. Nobody will charge us under the Firearms Act."

Bruce Montague is furious about the government's refusal to prosecute them.

"The only right of redress we have is the courts. The government knows this. So they arrest us, confiscate our firearms, give us an appearance notice, then drop all charges when we show up," says Montague.

"This is supposed to be a democracy. We have the right to challenge bad law. The government knows they can't win a case under C-68 (the Firearms Act), so they refuse to give us the only avenue we have for redress our grievances. They refuse to charge us under the Firearms Act."

During their cross-Canada protest rally, the CUFOA members ended up in Solicitor General Wayne Easter's home riding. On a whim they telephoned his office to see if he was available. Not only was he in available, he agreed to meet with the group.

During that meeting, which was tape-recorded by the group, Wayne Easter told them why they would never be arrested:

"You guys are not a threat."

"It's a joke," fumed Bruce Montague. "If I don't have to get a license, why should you? If I am not a threat, then how can any other law-abiding firearm owner be a threat? This law has to be repealed."

The Liberal government announced recently it wants to make some changes, including reducing or eliminating user fees, extending the renewal period to register guns to 10 years, and handing over management of the registry to the RCMP.

How short the memory of a politician is. Until the Firearms Act came into force, the RCMP had been in charge of registering firearms since 1934. That responsibility was taken away from the RCMP in 1995.

Anne McLellan (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness), recently stated in the Commons, "a significant part of the cost overruns in this program is due to the enormous problems with the information technology (IT) component, which was supposed to make this efficient and workable in a reasonable way."

Conservative MP Garry Breitkreuz isn't buying it.

"There's only one way to save money with this billion-dollar boondoggle and that's to scrap it altogether, and redirect the money saved to real policing priorities."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Christopher di Armani is a freelance writer based in Lytton, BC. He can be contacted at christopher@diArmani.com.

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