OTTAWA, O.N. — Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP Bob Zimmer said that he’s concerned about the federal government’s plans for the data from the defunct federal long-gun registry.
Zimmer explained that last Wednesday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale tabled a bill in the Commons titled: “An Act to amend the Ending the Long-gun Registry Act.” He said that after the bill was pulled from the registry, that it was reintroduced on Monday as Bill C-52: “An Act to amend Chapter 6 of the Statutes of Canada, 2012.”
Goodale said that the government introduced the bill to satisfy concerns raised by information commissioner Suzanne Legault. The story began in 2012 when Bill Clennett, who is best known for his 1996 confrontation with then-prime minister Jean Chretien, filed an Access to Information request for long-gun registry data, days before the Conservative bill ending the registry was to take effect. Legault would later allege the RCMP knowingly destroyed registry records in violation of the access law.
In 2012, the former Harper government cleared the Mounties of involvement and effectively quashed an investigation into their activities by the Ontario Provincial Police by passing a retroactive law just before Parliament was dissolved in 2015.
The omnibus budget bill exempted any “request, complaint, investigation, application, judicial review, appeal or other proceeding under the Access to Information Act or the Privacy Act” related to the old long-gun registry records.
Zimmer questioned Goodale in the House of Commons on Monday and Tuesday, specifically about the details of the Bill, which says that any data from the long-gun registry is only to be destroyed after Quebec’s Public Safety Minister requests a copy of the data, within 120 days the Commissioner of Firearms providing notice that those records will be destroyed. Zimmer told the Commons that RCMP Deputy Commissioner Peter Henschel confirmed to the Commons Finance Committee in 2012 that all of the registry’s data with the exception of Quebec’s was destroyed. Quebec fought the federal government all the way to the Supreme Court to obtain registry data on its own long-gun owners but lost the fight in March 2015, which is when that province’s registry data was destroyed.
When asked by Zimmer why the government was offering registry data to Quebec that either doesn’t exist, or if it does exists, exists illegally, Goodale responded that the legislation is intended to sort out the “constitutional mess” that has arisen after Legault filed suit against the Minister of Public Safety.