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Justice Minister calls C-71 a “Potential” Threat to Your Charter Rights

On March 22, 2018, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould tabled her Charter Statement on Bill C-71, The Firearm Owners Harassment Act, in the House of Commons. A Charter Statement is prepared by the Minister to point out any potential flaws with legislation that may violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

From her Charter Statement on Bill C-71, under the heading Right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure (section 8) :

“New subsection 58.1(1) requires the collection and retention of certain personal information in order to preserve access for possible future criminal investigations, and therefore has the potential to engage s. 8 of the Charter.

The following considerations support the consistency of new subsection 58.1(1) with section 8 of the Charter. The information that must be retained relates to activities within a very highly regulated sphere of commercial activity where any privacy interests are diminished. The information that must be retained is also limited to basic information about a transaction: the reference number issued by the Registrar; the day on which the reference number was issued; the  transferee’s licence number; and the firearm’s make, model, type and serial number .”

Bill C-71, in the proposed subsection 58.1(1), violates our  Charter rights under Section 8.

The Justice Minister reiterates the gun registration component embedded in Bill C-71; a glaring contradiction to statements made by both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

Why does the Minister of Justice flatly state the purpose of Bill C-71 is to record the reference number issued by the Registrar; the day on which the reference number was issued; the transferee’s licence number; and the firearm’s make, model, type and serial number, if this is NOT a gun registry?

The Justice Minister ends her appraisal of Bill C-71 with this statement:

“In reviewing the relevant provisions, the Minister has not identified any potential inconsistencies with the principles of fundamental justice.”

This reference to Section 1 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms explains why the Minister is unconcerned by Bill C-71’s potential violation of our fundamental right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. 

Section 1.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

Section 1 of the Charter is a free pass for government, any government, to violate our rights any time they want.

What is the point of enumerating the alleged rights and freedoms of all Canadians when, by hiding behind Section 1, the government can violate any or all of those rights at will?

It’s not about protecting the rights of Canadians, but of doing what they want, when they want, and to whom they want. And law-abiding gun owners are squarely in the government’s cross-hairs, not violent criminals.

 

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