Ottawa

The opposition bench: as we were saying...

So a Quebec Superior Court judge has ruled that the federal government must hand over data from the long-gun registry to the Quebec government. The decision, which I will now read, is here, in French.

I am reminded that last month our Andrew Stobo Sniderman wrote a story (perhaps at my suggestion) pointing out that the biggest political debates, leading most frequently to political defeats for the Harper government, have been happening in court — Insite, securities regulator, minimum sentences, and more. Now the long-gun registry too.

There is a substantial body of Conservative lore to the effect that of course this sort of thing would happen, as the courts and an elaborate extra-judicial apparatus are out to get Conservatives. Here’s some reading on that topic. Stephen Harper himself described a similar worldview when he saidafter an Ontario judge’s ruling on same-sex marriage in 2003, “They wanted to introduce this through back channels. They didn’t want to go to the Canadian people and be honest that this is what they wanted. They had the courts do it for them. They put the judges in they wanted, and then they failed to appeal, failed to fight the case in court.”

One way to fix this sort of thing would be to appoint friendlier judges. And here comes Vic Toews now. An excerpt from the public safety minister’s statement on today’s ruling: “I am disappointed with today’s ruling and will thoroughly review the decision… We do not want any form of a wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry.”

But it’s a tricky thing. The judge in today’s Quebec gun-registry decision was appointed by the Harper government in 2007, as were two of the Supreme Court justices who have joined in unanimous decisions that made trouble for the government.