Court to decide fate of gunsmith Bruce Montague's life savings
Toronto, Ont.—On Tuesday, June 3, at 10:30 a.m., the Court of Appeal for Ontario will release its decision in R v. Montague, the criminal forfeiture case in which the federal government is seeking to force Ontario couple Bruce and Donna Montague to forfeit ownership of all the firearms they own, including Bruce’s business inventory and several family heirlooms. The value of these assets exceeds $100,000.
A talented gunsmith and principled opponent of the complex licensing and gun registration laws that came into effect in Canada in 1995, Bruce purposely let his firearms business licence and firearms acquisition certificate expire as an act of protest. He then carried on his business and for years publicly (though peaceably) challenged the constitutionality of the gun laws until he was finally charged and put behind bars – sentenced to 18 months in jail and 90 days community imprisonment, followed by a year of probation.
Bruce did his time without complaint, quietly tutoring fellow inmates, studiously avoiding the gangs and violence that are an everyday part of life behind bars, and saving up his own commissary allowances to provide anonymous treats for others in the jail at Christmas. But needless to say, Bruce’s incarceration was hard on the Montague family, especially the Montagues’ daughter, who at the age of 12 watched six OPP officers haul her father away. And though he doesn’t like to admit it, it was hard on Bruce. Donna says he came home from jail a different person.
Bruce is home from jail now, but the government is trying to take away everything he has left. The federal government wants to take all his valuable firearms and sell them for cash. And in a separate civil proceeding, the Ontario government is trying to take Bruce and Donna's home itself away from the couple too, under the Civil Remedies Act.
Bruce is represented by the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF), a non-profit legal charity that litigates to preserve Canadians' individual liberties.
"Seizing Bruce's life savings is an unfair and disproportionate punishment for Bruce’s victimless crime," said Marni Soupcoff, executive director of the CCF. "Forfeiture laws are supposed to be about preventing criminals from profiting from their wrongdoing. Bruce has not profited a cent from his offense. But if it has its way, the government will."