March 26, 2003                                                                                                          For Immediate Release


“Charter challenges will drive costs up and provide many more reasons for repealing why Bill C-68.”


Ottawa – Today, Garry Breitkreuz, Official Opposition Critic for Firearms and Property Rights, with the help of Professor Ted Morton, Canadian Alliance Senator-in-Waiting, fired another big salvo at the Liberal’s failing Firearms Act.  “Like the Auditor General’s report in December, Professor Morton’s research paper will open many eyes.  He has done a great service for Parliament and for every Canadian who values their fundamental rights and freedoms,” said Breitkreuz.  “The gun registry is useless and the waste of billion dollars is outrageous; but the parts of the Firearms Act that violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms are another big reason why we need to repeal Bill C-68.”


During the summer of 2002, Dr. Ted Morton, Professor of Political Science at the University of Calgary, prepared a paper titled: HOW THE FIREARMS ACT (BILL C-68) VIOLATES THE CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS.  Professor Morton documented the following Charter violations:  Right to liberty, Right to security of the person, Right to procedural fairness, Right against unreasonable search and seizure, Right to privacy, Right to be presumed innocent, Right against arbitrary detention, Right to freedom of expression, Right to bear arms, Right to counsel upon arrest or detention, Right to property, and Equality rights.


Dr. Morton’s paper goes on to explain: “To the extent that the Firearms Act restricts any of the rights listed above, the burden of proof shifts to the government to prove that such restrictions are “reasonable”.  To do this, the Supreme Court has developed the “Oakes test”, which requires the government to demonstrate that the Act: serves an important public policy objective; is rationally connected to that objective; impairs the right in issue as little as possible; and does more good than harm (proportionality). While the purpose of the Firearms Act - the reduction of illegal use of firearm violence - easily qualifies as an important public policy objective, the means used to achieve this objective utterly fail the last three rules of the Oakes test.”


The federal Statutory Instruments Act requires that every regulation be examined by the Clerk of the Privy Council, in consultation with the Deputy Minister of Justice, to determine that: “it does not trespass unduly on existing rights and freedoms and is not, in any case, inconsistent with the purposes and provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights.”  Prompting Breitkreuz to ask,  “How can the government pass 43 Orders in Council with more than 200 pages of Firearms Act regulations and not find any of them in violation of the Charter?  All Canadians should be very concerned about this legislation because it’s not just firearms owners that are being seriously affected.  When one person loses his or her rights, we all lose."


“The billion-dollar estimate of enforcement costs didn’t include the cost of a dozen or more Charter challenges,” pointed out Breitkreuz.  The Liberals could save taxpayers a lot of money by sending an immediate reference to the Supreme Court on the most obvious Charter challenges described in Professor Morton’s paper.  If the federal government fails to do their duty, then each of the provinces and territories should take this initiative,” concluded Breitkreuz.


NOTE: Here is the link to a 6-page Executive Summary of Professor Morton’s research paper: