The Inuit of northern Quebec are once again saying they should be exempt from Quebec’s newly implemented long gun registry, that is hunting rifles and shotguns.
They say they have distinct hunting rights under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and should therefore not be subject to the new provincial law.
In 2012, the then Conservative federal government scrapped a highly controversial national long gun registry.
The original claim for instituting the “LGR” was that it would prevent crimes and be a useful tool to help police track firearms used in crimes.
Those were hotly disputed claims from the outset, and as costs to register hunting rifles and shotguns rose to some $2 billion dollars and with no proof that any crimes were prevented, it was scrapped. An Ontario Superior court ruling against a women’s group challenging the scrapping of the LGR, also ruled there was no evidence the registry provided any additional security to women or others as the group had argued..
Nevertheless the scrapping of the LGR became as controversial as the implementation had been years earlier in 1998.
One year after the mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque in which six people were killed, the Quebec provincial government voted in 2016 to create their own provincial long gun registry which came into effect earlier this year on January 29, 2018. Quebeckers have one year to register long guns or face stiff penalties of between $500 to $5,000.
Makivik is the organisation which represents the interests of the Inuit in far northern Quebec in the semi-autonomous region known as Nunavik.
At their March annual general meeting, the Inuit passed a resolution which repeated their earlier concerns that they were not adequately consulted on the legislation, nor did it include their previously requested exemption, nor propose accommodation measures for them to reflect particular territorial, traditional, cultural [or] linguistic context.
Quoted by the CBC, Makivik Corp. executive vice-president Adamie Delisle Alaku said “They’re coming forth with the French act, so people that have difficulties just in mere English — it would have been difficult for them to understand this.”
The provincial government, has said there will be no exemption, but has said it will help Inuit register their guns in the native language Inuktitut.
Since the registry launched, a total of 50, 574 new guns have been registered across Quebec, while another 29,649 applications have yet to be processed. When proposing the registry, Quebec officials estimated costs at $20 million.
Quebec’s approximately 20,000 Cree have also objected to the registry on similar grounds.