Quebec Public Security Minister Robert Dutil has confirmed the province will take legal action against the federal government to save data from the soon-to-be-abolished long-gun registry.
However, legal action cannot be launched until Bill C-19 to abolish the registry becomes law, likely in January.
Flanked by police officials and crime victim groups, Dutil told reporters assembled in Quebec City on Tuesday that legislation to abolish the registry and destroy its data goes against the wishes of most Quebecers.
The Conservatives have been working to get rid of the registry for years, saying it is ineffective and a waste of money.
Bill C-19 is making its way through Parliament and is expected to be passed without a hitch.
Quebec has been fighting to hang on to the data, but the federal government has refused to agree to the request.
Dutil said Quebec will take the federal government to court once the legislation has been passed and becomes law, but he refused to specify what kind of legal action that would be.
He said if Quebec wins and is able to get the data from the federal registry, a bill would be introduced in the national assembly to create Quebec's own registry.
"The federal government's registry data is crucial to the creation of a registry in Quebec," Dutil said, saying building one from scratch would be very expensive.
"We think we have a chance to win in court," said Dutil. "But [it's] up to the judge." The public security minister added he would prefer if Ottawa handed over the data voluntarily.
Once legal action is launched, the federal government would not be able to scrap its registry until the courts render a decision.
Abolishing the long-gun registry is a sore point in Quebec, since it was created to respond to public pressure following the 1989 shooting at Montreal's École Polytechnique that resulted in the death of 14 women.