A Toronto city councillor will bring forward a motion next week that, if passed, will call on Ontario to join forces with Quebec in fighting against the deletion of data in the federal long-gun registry.
Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam will introduce the motion at the next city council meeting.
A text of the planned motion was not immediately available on Tuesday evening, but Ms. Wong-Tam said it would call on the province to do everything in its power to try to maintain the data in the long-gun registry and allow police across the province to access it.
It would also call for the city’s lawyers to look into ways to intervene.
The federal government passed legislation to end the long-gun registry, which received royal assent last month. It has always said that the bill necessarily involves deleting all of the data the registry contains.
Quebec is fighting the decision in the courts.
“We’re trying to make it pretty clear, as the council in Mississauga just did unanimously and as the Quebec provincial assembly has done, that we think [the registry]is extraordinarily important to create a safe environment,” said Councillor Adam Vaughan, who will second the motion.
He acknowledged that police wouldn’t be able to compel people to report gun ownership themselves, but hoped they could still access the database and even update it on an ad-hoc basis.
“It’s so we don’t purge the data,” Mr. Vaughan said. “So we have enough data that we could preserve it [and]update it as much as we wanted to. And then if we ever have the need in the country to re-establish a gun registry – if we get a government that was interested in public safety from a preventative perspective – we could then resuscitate it fairly easily.”
Since Prime Minister Stephen Harper was first elected in 2006, he has repeatedly said he would end the long-gun registry, which he and his ministers have called a waste of money. They argue that it does nothing to prevent crime and makes law-abiding hunters and farmers feel like criminals.
But the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police says its officers access the registry on a regular basis and have called it an essential law-enforcement tool.
“To water down gun safety because somebody may have a problem with gophers on a farm somewhere when we clearly have a problem with gun violence in the city is just not, to me, responsible or a rational thing to do,” Mr. Vaughan said.