Quebec (Attorney General) v Canada (Attorney General)

2015 SCC 14

In 1995 the federal government enacted the Firearms Act, which put in place a system for the registration of all firearms including long guns, and criminalized the possession of unregistered firearms. The pith and substance of the legislation was characterized in the Reference re Firearms Act (Can.), 2000 SCC 31 as having public safety as its objective and falling under the federal criminal law power. In 2012 the federal government enacted the Ending the Long-gun Registry Act (“ELRA”), which repealed the registration requirement for long guns and de-criminalized possession of unregistered long guns. In order to create its own provincial long gun registry, Quebec requested all data from the federal registry connected to Quebec, which the federal government refused to hand over. The federal government further indicated it intended to destroy the relevant data.

Quebec challenged the ELRA as being ultra vires and claimed that it had a legal right to obtain the data. The majority of the Supreme Court refused, finding that both the Firearms Act and the ELRA fell under the criminal law power and reflected federal policy choices that Parliament was entitled to make. The fact that the legislation had a significant impact on Quebec and would make it more difficult for the province to build its own registry did not alter the powers of Parliament, and cooperative federalism was found not to require cooperation where unilateral action was constitutionally possible.

SCC Reasons for Judgment


Date Document
2014/04/17 Appellant – Quebec (Attorney General)
2014/07/16 Respondent – Canada (Attorney General)
2014/07/29 Intervener – Coalition pour le contrôle des armes
2014/07/29 Intervener – Canada’s National Firearm Association (Vol. I)
2014/07/29 Intervener – Canada’s National Firearm Association (Vol. II)