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City Council resolves to save long-gun data
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 1er décembre 2011

Montreal City Council adopted a resolution at its Nov. 21- 22 session backing the provincial government’s intention to transfer long-gun data to Quebec if the Conservative government abolishes the long-gun registry as planned.

Council Majority Leader Marvin Rotrand said “We are hopeful that if it decides to proceed with Bill C-19, the government of Canada will at least agree to conserve and transfer to the provinces the very valuable information that has been so painstakingly accumulated in the registry since 1995 and which police forces across Canada indicate is such an important tool in solving crimes.”

Time is running out. Public Security Minister Robert Dutil has only a matter of days to plead Quebec’s case at the House of Commons committee hearings before the bill goes to third reading and adoption.

“Our first goal is maintaining the registry,” Dutil said in response to a question from the Parti Québécois in the National Assembly. He said that while the ultimate priority is to get the Harper government to back down, the contingency plan is to recover the data.

In the last few weeks, the National Assembly has adopted six unanimous resolutions calling for the long-gun registry to remain intact. However, in the likely event that Parliament votes to scrap it, the Quebec government has signalled its intention to do everything legally possible to preserve its own firearms data.

Rotrand said that “there’s a huge consensus among Montrealers that guns should be controlled. The city wants to support Quebec’s request to Ottawa.”

Montrealers have long memories when it comes to gun violence. On Sept. 13, 2006 Kimveer Gill fatally wounded Anastasia De Sousa and injured several other students in a shooting rampage at Dawson College, before turning his gun on himself after police shot him in the arm.

Former professor Valery Fabrikant opened fire on unsuspecting colleagues at Concordia University in 1992, killing four people in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department. These tragic incidents followed on the heels of the mass murder of 14 women at the École Polytechnique de Montréal on December 6, 1989 by Marc Lépine, who also committed suicide.

Former city councillor and leader of the Montreal Citizens Movement Thérèse Daviau, now deceased, lost her daughter in the “Montreal Massacre,” as it has come to be known.

So, it is fitting that Montreal City Council would wade into the debate as the anniversary of the shooting spree at École Polytechnique approaches and Canadians coast to coast plan to commemorate it in a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

While support for gun registration is generally high in Quebec, opponents, particularly those in rural areas, take a different view. They feel that law-abiding gun-owners are being maligned by a campaign that insidiously equates gun ownership with criminality. They say that permits for gun-owners are sufficient to control firearms, and argue that the gun registry is a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Projet Montréal councillor Peter McQueen is glad that Montreal City Council passed the Union Montréal administration’s resolution. The second opposition had initially put forward its own three-part resolution, calling for the equivalent of a gun-registry on Montreal soil, then later withdrew it, after reconsideration.

He said that before Montreal’s police officers can make use of the long-gun registry’s data, Quebec will have to pass its own bill, subject to public hearings. So, any plans for Montreal to have its own database are premature.

McQueen, the father of two young daughters, said that every year around this time, he can’t help but remember that fateful day. “Like all fathers in Montreal, I always think about what can happen. I want to make sure that this never happens again.”

[ Deborah Rankin ]

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