Firearms Owners Association
Sunday, 23 November 2014
The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C.
Chief Justice of Canada,
"Each person possesses an inviolability founded on justice that
Dear Madam Justice McLachlin,
Re: 36022 William Bruce Montague and Donna Jeanne Montague v. Her Majesty the Queen (Ont.) (Criminal) (By Leave)
I was very disappointed to read that you and your fellow justices have refused to hear the appeal from Bruce and Donna Montague to save their family inheritance.
Bruce and Donna were convicted for their participation in a preplanned, organized act of peaceful, civil disobedience against the licencing mandate of the Firearms Act. In 2003 Bruce was the 'point man' for our CUFOA demonstration on Parliament Hill on New Year's Day. After coordinating our activities with the Capitol Hill RCMP and the Ottawa City Police, Bruce took our petition all the way to the very doors of Parliament - all in a very respectful, peaceful, dignified manner.(1)
Everyone is our demonstration were ready to be arrested that day for our refusal to obtain a licence merely to possess our firearms - firearms that we had responsibly owned most of our lives. But rather than charge us with a legitimate offense, the RCMP broke up our demonstration by arresting us on the bogus charge of "taking a weapon to a public meeting" - charges that the police dropped nine months later.(1)
In the summer of 2003 Bruce was an integral part of our Sea-to-Sea campaign. We traveled to every provincial capital - and returned to Ottawa - presenting all ten provincial legislatures and the Prime Minister's office with our legal affidavits that proclaimed loudly that we possessed our firearms without a licence.(2)
Throughout the fall of 2003 we continued our demonstrations with the intent to be charged under the Firearms Act. On seven occasions the RCMP in Saskatchewan "attended" to our peaceful, non-violent demonstrations and confiscated our firearms. But the RCMP never charged us under the Criminal Code provisions that we openly violated. The RCMP obtained court orders to destroy our confiscated property without ever charging us with a crime.(3)
When we renewed our civil disobedience campaign in 2004, Bruce and Donna readily joined us in our activities. In September Bruce was arrested at a gun show in his hometown of Dryden, Ontario. Bruce had a .22 rifle over his back with a sign that declared that he had no licence. After arresting Bruce, the Ontario police abandoned his ten-year-old daughter at the gun show. And when Donna was called to come get her, Donna was also arrested.(4)
In Saskatchewan my colleagues and I were treated as a mild irritant to be disposed of quietly. In Nova Scotia the police ignored Al Muir each time he openly announced that he was hunting deer without a licence to possess his hunting rifle. In British Columbia Willie Floyd could not get himself arrested even after his Member of Parliament attended his publically announced skeet shoot where Willy openly declared that he had no federal licence to possess his shotguns.
But in Ontario the police subjected Bruce and Donna to vilely harsh treatment as if they were the evil precursors to Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the Ottawa terrorist who killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo at the War Memorial and forcefully invaded Parliament.
Bruce and Donna were able to accomplish what the rest of us could not do. In their open, honest act of civil disobedience in their hometown, Bruce and Donna were able to have themselves arrested for not having a licence to possess their firearms. And with that arrest, and a charge under Criminal Code s. 92(1), they secured the opportunity to challenge the unjust Firearms Act in court.
In Reference re Firearms Act (Can.), 2000, you issued us an invitation:
But Madam Justice, you then refused to hear Bruce and Donna's appeal.(6) In doing so, you deeply insulted several thousand responsible unlicenced firearms owners who had donated nearly three hundred thousand dollars to their Charter challenge.
This subsequent refusal to even review the confiscation of their firearms - firearms that
If your intent is to intimidate us into submitting to an unjust law, you have failed. Our firm belief in our Right of armed self-defence is:
Our campaign of peaceful, non-violent civil disobedience was not the rash actions of malcontents. Rather we funded our actions solidity on John Rawls' A Theory of Justice.
I say openly and honestly to you Madam Justice McLachlin, I own - without a licence - a rifle for the armed defense of my self, my family, and my property.
If you truly believe Bruce and Donna deserve the sordid treatment that you have twice visited upon them, then you should order the arrest of those of us who now still openly defy the licencing mandate of the Firearms Act.
Edward B. Hudson DVM, MS
Canadian Unlicensed Firearms Owners Association
1. Protecting Our Liberty: What We Have Done, News Letter, April 2003
2. Sea-to-Sea Liberty Rally After Action Report 02August 2003
3. Court orders firearm destruction, In the Matter of Dr. Edward B. Hudson an of an Application Against Him Pursuant to Section 117.03 of the Criminal Code
4. Bruce Montague Arrested, 11 September 2004
5. Reference re Firearms Act (Can.), 2000 SCC 31,  1 S.C.R. 783
6. Montague, Notice of Application for Leave to Appeal, File Number: 33623
7. John Rawls, Civil Disobedience, A Theory of Justice, Belknap Press Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1971
Justice is the first virtue of social institutions … A theory however elegant and economical must be rejected or revised if it is untrue; likewise laws and institutions no matter how efficient and well-arranged must be reformed or abolished if they are unjust. p.3
Each person possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override. p.3
This way of regarding the principle of justice I shall call Justice as Fairness. p. 11
55. The Definition of Civil Disobedience p.363
Civil disobedience arises only within more or less democratic states for those citizens who recognize and accept the legitimacy of the constitution. At what point does the duty to comply with the laws enacted by a legislative majority cease to be binding in view of the right to defend one’s liberties and the duty to oppose injustice? This question involves the nature and limits of majority rule. For this reason the problem of civil disobedience is a crucial test for any theory of the moral basis of democracy. p. 363
Civil disobedience (is) a public, nonviolent, conscientious yet political act contrary to law usually done with the aim of bringing about a change in the law or policies of the government. p. 364
By acting in this way one addresses the sense of justice of the majority of the community and declares that in one’s considered opinion the principles of societal cooperation among free and equal men are not being respected. p. 364
The civically disobedient act is indeed thought to be contrary to law, at least in the sense that those engaged in it are not simply presenting a test case for a constitutional decision; they are prepared to oppose the statute even if should be upheld. p. 365
Those who use civil disobedience to protest unjust laws are not prepared to desist should the courts eventually disagree with them … . p. 365
Civil disobedience is a political act not only in the sense that is addressed to the majority that holds political power, but also because it is an act guided and justified by political principles, that is, by the principles of justice which regulates the constitution and social institutions generally. P. 365
In justifying civil disobedience one does not appeal to principles of personal morality or to religious doctrines, though these may coincide with and support one’s claims … Instead one invokes the commonly shared conception of justice that underlies the political order. P. 365
The persistent and deliberate violation of the basic principles of this conception over any extended period of time, especially the infringement of the fundamental equal liberties, invites either submission or resistance. pp. 365/6
By engaging in civil disobedience a minority forces the majority to consider whether it wishes to have its actions construed in this way, or whether, in view of the common sense of justice, it wishes to acknowledge the legitimate claims of the minority. p. 366
Civil disobedience is a public act. Not only is it addressed to public principles, it is done in public. It is engaged in openly with fair notice; it is not covert or secretive. One may compare it to public speech, and being a form of address, an expression of profound and conscientious political conviction, it takes place in the public forum. p. 366
Civil disobedience is giving voice to conscientious and deeply held convictions; while it may warn and admonish, it is not itself a threat. p. 366
Civil disobedience expresses disobedience to the law within the limits of fidelity to law, although it is at the outer edge thereof. The law is broken, but fidelity to law is expressed by the public and nonviolent nature of the act, by the willingness to accept the legal consequences of one’s conduct. This fidelity to law helps to establish to the majority that the act is indeed politically conscientious and sincere. To be completely open and nonviolent is to give bond to one’s sincerely. p. 366/7
We must (be willing) to pay a certain price to convince others that our actions have, in our carefully considered view, a sufficient moral basis in the political convictions of the community. p. 367
Civil disobedience is clearly distinct from militant action and obstruction; it is far removed from organized forcible resistance. … the militant may try to evade the penalty, since he is not prepared to accept the legal consequences of his violation of the law … militant action is not within the bounds of fidelity to law … . p. 367
The principles of justice are the principles of willing cooperation among equals. To deny justice to another is either to refuse to recognize him as an equal … or to manifest a willingness to exploit the contingences of natural fortune and happenstance for our own advantage. In either case deliberate injustice invites submission or resistance. Submission arouses the contempt of those who perpetuate injustice and confirms their intention … . p. 384
Civil disobedience (is) a way of setting up, within the limits of fidelity to law, a final device to maintain the stability of a just constitution. Although this mode of action is strictly speaking contrary to law, it is nevertheless a morally correct way of maintaining a constitutional regime. p. 384
Being an appeal to the moral basis of civic life, civil disobedience is a political and not a religious act. It relies upon common sense principles of justice that man can require one another to follow and not upon affirmations of religious faith and love which they cannot demand that everyone accept … it is … the principles of justice, the fundamental terms of social cooperation between free and equal persons, that underlie the constitution. Civil disobedience … is derived from the public conception of justice that characterizes a democratic society. Civil disobedience is part of the theory of a free government. p. 385
Civil disobedience attempts to formulate the grounds upon which legitimate democratic authority may be dissented from in ways that while admittedly contrary to law nevertheless express a fidelity to law and appeal to the fundamental political principles of a democratic regime. pp. 385/6
In a democratic society then, it is recognized that each citizen is responsible for his interpretation of the principles of justice and for his conduct in the light of them. There can be no legal or socially approved rendering of these principles that we are always morally bound to accept, not even when it is given by a superior court or legislature. Indeed each constitutional agency, the legislature, the executive, and the courts, puts forward its interpretation of the constitution and the political ideals that inform it. Although the court may have the last say in settling any particular case, it is not immune from powerful political influences that may force a revision of its reading of the constitution. p. 390
The final court of appeal is not the court, nor the executive, not the legislature, but the electorate as a whole. The civilly disobedient appeal in a special way to this body. There is no danger of anarchy so long as there is a sufficient working agreement in citizens’ conception of justice and the conditions for resorting to civil disobedience are respected. p. 390
There is no way that one can avoid entirely the danger of divisive stifle, any more than one can rule out the possibility of profound scientific controversy. Yet if justified civil disobedience seems to threatened civic concord, the responsibility falls not upon those who protest but upon those whose abuse of authority and power justifies such opposition. For to employ the coercive apparatus of the state in order to maintain manifestly unjust institutions is itself a form of illegitimate force that men in due course have a right to resist. pp. 390/1
John Rawls, Civil Disobedience, A Theory of Justice, Belknap Press Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1971