March 28, 1995 For Immediate Release
ROCK'S GUN CONTROL BILL INVADES AREAS OF PROVINCIAL JURISDICTION
"Liberals will lose a constitutional challenge unless they can prove registration of all firearms
is the most cost-effective way to reduce violent crime, improve public safety and save the most lives."
Ottawa - Last Thursday in the House of Commons, Garry Breitkreuz, MP for Yorkton-Melville, challenged Justice Minister Allan Rock to turn the regulation of firearms in Saskatchewan over to the province. "In order to win a constitutional challenge the Liberal government has to prove that gun control actually reduces crime, improves public safety and saves lives. Rock can't provide the evidence to prove it so I think any province that wants to could make a good case for establishing their own system for regulating firearms and then fight the federal government in court," Breitkreuz suggested.
Breitkreuz claims, "We are not lawyers, but it appears from our reading of case law quoted in a number of court decisions over the years, that the judges all presume that gun control equals public safety, when statistics and research show this not to be the case. It appears to us that the judges are basing their decisions on their own personal bias or misunderstanding, not on any factual evidence regarding the effectiveness of specific gun control measures."
He asked, "If a person is not performing an intentional, reckless or negligent act with a firearm, where is the crime? The peaceful possession and ordinary use of firearms is not more of a crime than is the peaceful possession and ordinary use of a motor vehicle. A number of constitutional lawyers have argued that the regulation of firearms is properly within provincial jurisdiction."
Peter W. Hogg writes in Section 44.11 of his Constitutional Law of Canada that in order to distinguish a "true crime" from a "regulatory offence" it must be "inherently wrongful conduct". Breitkreuz explained, "It is obvious, the federal government can properly provide criminal penalties for true crimes that are intentionally and recklessly committed involving any number of weapons. But it's the provinces that have the constitutional right to administer justice, regulate private property, issue licences and assess user fees. Rock's bill will also force provinces to implement a federal education course and will impose costs which will likely result in an increase in provincial income taxes and municipal property taxes. This legislation goes way beyond the Federal Government's authority and needs to be challenged in a court of law," recommended Breitkreuz.
Note: See Backgrounder attached
If you need more information please call:
Yorkton: (306) 782-3309
Ottawa: (613) 992-4394
REGULATION OF FIREARMS IS A PROVINCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
by Garry Breitkreuz, MP
Licensing Fees are a Provincial Responsibility
"Section 92(9) of the British North America(BNA) Act assigns provincial legislatures exclusive jurisdiction over licensing fees. The fees for the current Firearm Acquisition Certificate and Firearms Business Permits, the proposed Firearm Possession Certificate and the fees to be levied to register each rifle and shotgun, are licensing fees as defined in the Constitution."
Education is a Provincial Responsibility
"Section 93 of the BNA Act assigns provincial legislatures exclusive jurisdiction over education. Bill C-68 would force every province to use the Canadian Firearms Safety Course even when some provincial courses such as the one used in Saskatchewan, are superior to the federal version."
Administration of Justice is a Provincial Responsibility
"Section 92(14) of the Constitution gives provinces responsibility for the Administration of Justice in the province. Section 109 of the new Firearms Act would give the Federal government the authority to enforce the provisions of the Firearms Act even if the provincial government opposes such a move. Provincial governments when faced with this inevitability will have two choices: (1) Challenge Section 109 of Bill C-68 in court, or (2) Refuse to enforce any federal gun control provisions. Refusal would force the federal government to incur the full costs of implementing the registration system. Voter outrage would then be directed entirely at the federal government as they tried to implement their costly, ineffective, totalitarian plan to register all rifles and shotguns in Canada. Remember criminals will still operate outside the law, especially gun control laws."
Property Rights are a Provincial Responsibility
Section 92(13) of the Constitution stipulates that provincial governments have exclusive jurisdiction for property rights and civil rights. Firearms are private property. Blackstone's Commentaries says, "The Third Absolute Right is that of property: which consists of the free use, enjoyment, and disposal of all his acquisitions, without any control or diminution, save only by the laws of the land." During the debate of the Charlottetown Accord, the Reform Party campaigned to have property rights enshrined in the Constitution. "As a Reform MP, I want to entrench property rights in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and also in Provincial Human Rights Acts. This would protect each citizens' right to use and enjoy private property, and not to be deprived thereof except by due process of law, with just and timely compensation, and provided the property is either intended for public use or will provide some tangible public benefit."
Registration Will Increase Provincial Income Taxes and Municipal Property Taxes
"The Federal government is responsible for reimbursing the provinces and municipalities for any costs incurred in implementing gun control regulations. Currently, the Federal government only reimburses approximately 50% of the actual costs of implementation. This means that provincial governments are required to increase income taxes and/or impose user fees and municipal governments have to raise property taxes to pay for Kim Campbell's and Allan Rock's flawed gun control laws."