Constitutionality of Section 29 of Ending the Long Gun Registry Act, 2012 upheld

Supreme Court of Canada: Dismissing a challenge to the validity of Section 29 of Ending the Long Gun Registry Act, 2012 ELRA, the Court with a ratio of 5:4, upheld the constitutionality of the impugned provision and held that the province of Quebec does not have a legal right to obtain the Federal long gun registration data connected to Quebec from the Canadian Firearms Registry (CFR), as the decision to dismantle the long-gun registry and destroy the data that it contains is a policy choice that Parliament was constitutionally entitled to make.

Section 29 of ELRA decriminalizes the possession of long- guns and requires the destruction of records related to the registry of long- guns; however Quebec refused to terminate the records and instead sought to create its own long- gun registry data, therefore resulting in the present appeal. The stand put forth by Quebec was that, cooperative federalism prevents Canada from legislating in a way that would hinder the cooperation between governments of the provinces and of Canada.

According to the majority decision by McLachlin, C.J., it was observed that the principle of cooperative federalism does not constrain federal legislative competence. The judges in favour of the constitutionality of the impugned provision, observed that division of powers being one of the important tenets of the constitutional framework, however the same cannot be used as the principle of cooperative federalism to limit the scope of the legislative authority to facilitate cooperation where the constitutional scheme prescribes unilateral action.

Giving the dissenting opinion LeBel, J., observed that the impugned section is unconstitutional as it requires that the data in question be destroyed without providing for a possibility of their first being transferred to the provincial partners, which prevents the provinces from using them in the exercise of their powers. Also it was observed by them that the present view of federalism is more holds flexible conception of the principle of division of powers so as to facilitate intergovernmental co-operation in law and in politics.   Quebec v. Canada, 2015 SCC 14, decided on 27.03.2015

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