Jul 13th, 2020
CALGARY: The Justice Centre today announced that it will apply to intervene in the Federal Court legal action commenced by the Canadian Coalition of Firearm Rights (CCFR), which challenges the constitutionality of Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet Order confiscating legally acquired property from law-abiding Canadians.
On May 1, 2020, and under the cover of the coronavirus pandemic, the federal cabinet issued Order-in-Council PC 2020-298 [“the OIC”] amending Regulations under the Criminal Code. This OIC arbitrarily reclassified approximately 1,500 previously-legal firearms and “variants” as “prohibited,” thereby making it suddenly illegal to own them. Trudeau’s Cabinet also issued an amnesty order, allowing current owners a two-year amnesty period ending in April 30, 2022. This OIC results in a massive and arbitrary confiscation of private property from law-abiding Canadians.
Since COVID-19 lockdowns were imposed in March, Trudeau’s government has done its utmost to avoid checks and balances, by suspending Parliament and by its unsuccessful attempt to shield federal government spending from Parliamentary scrutiny through to the end of 2021. Trudeau has sequestered himself away in Rideau Cottage, where he speaks only to selected media.
Trudeau’s arbitrary confiscation of private property from Canadians was also not effected via Parliament. No public consultation, debate, or study occurred in advance of this mass confiscation. Very little explanation has been given by Trudeau’s Cabinet to explain how or why it selected the firearms that it is now confiscating from law-abiding citizens.
Soon after the May 1 OIC, the RCMP began amending the Firearms Reference Table [“FRT”], changing the classification of more than 200 additional firearms to “prohibited,” some based on the RCMP’s interpretation of the word “variant,” which is undefined in the OIC. This arbitrary reclassification effort is ongoing, and is taking place entirely behind closed doors. The RCMP have unilaterally banned rifles and shotguns that are no different from firearms that are not banned, including at least one .22 caliber plinking rifle, and several shotguns.
On May 26, 2020, the CCFR filed a Notice of Application asking the Federal Court to strike down the new Regulations (as amended by the OIC) on the grounds that:
1. The Regulations as amended are invalid, unlawful, and outside of the scope of powers the Criminal Code could have delegated to the Governor in Council;
2. The Regulations and the means by which they were created and amended is unconstitutional;
3. The Regulations and its effects breach the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Bill of Rights, and section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982;
4. The exercise of the regulation-making power by the Governor in Council was and is irrational, and contrary to clear fact and all available evidence; and
5. The firearms purported to be banned by the OIC are suitable for hunting and sporting purposes and redefining such firearms as “prohibited” is expressly illegal pursuant to section 117.15 of the Criminal Code.
The CCFR is also seeking a declaration from the court that the RCMP’s “bans by FRT” are of no force or effect, because the RCMP are effectively legislating, which they have no power to do.
The Justice Centre’s intervention application will focus on the Constitution’s allocation of legislative power to Parliament, and the Constitution’s inherent safeguards which are intended to prevent the tyranny of a government that operates independently of democratically-elected representatives. The Justice Centre is preparing its intervention application and will release further details in the days ahead.
“The arbitrary and opportunistic confiscation of property from Canadians by a Federal Cabinet operating behind closed doors, with no transparency and without accountability to an independent Parliament, is little better than theft,” states Jay Cameron, Litigation Manager with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.
“Canada is a democracy, but Trudeau’s Cabinet passed this Order-in-Council during a pandemic and during a Parliamentary shut down when this Order-in-Council has nothing to do with COVID-19. This looks like an effort to avoid the scrutiny of the representatives of Canadians in Parliament. Our position is that the Order-in-Council is outside the bounds of the rule of law and the Constitution.”