Top court splits 5-4 on gun registry issue

The Supreme Court’s refusal to compel Ottawa to preserve and transfer long gun registry data to Quebec doesn’t mean the principle of “co-operative federalism” is dead for future litigation arising out of intergovernmental endeavours, says Université de Montréal law professor Paul Daly.

The top court, in Quebec (Attorney General) v. Canada (Attorney General) [2015] S.C.J. No. 14, split 5-4 to green-light the government’s plan to destroy data from Quebec that is stored in the federal long gun registry abolished by Ottawa in 2012.

The Supreme Court’s majority on March 27 dismissed the province’s appeal from a 2013 Quebec Court of Appeal ruling that s. 29 of the Ending the Long-gun Registry Act (ELRA) is constitutional. Section 29 provides for the destruction, as soon as feasible, of all data compiled since 1998 with respect to the registration of long guns in Canada. Quebec wanted to use the data to save millions of dollars in creating its own registry.

The majority held that the principle of co-operative federalism does not bar the federal government from destroying the data. The registry was a unilateral federal initiative, created and abolished pursuant to Ottawa’s exclusive jurisdiction over criminal law.


This content has been updated on April 24, 2015 at 08:38.