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Editorial: An outrageous act of contempt

While the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has done many things to show contempt of democratic processes over the years, it has outdone itself with outrageous provisions related to the long-gun registry in its budget implementation bill.

The government had every right to end the long-gun registry in 2012 and, given the years of discord between rural and urban Canadians over the issue, it was probably better to let it go. But the government has gone too far with the insertion of changes to the Ending the Long-gun Registry Act to oust the application of the Access to Information Act retroactive to Oct. 25, 2011, into bill C-59 that implements the 2015 budget.

Information commissioner Suzanne Legault has sounded the alarm about the bill C-59 provisions in light of a long-running investigation into the RCMP’s actions in response to a request under the Access to Information Act for records from the long-gun registry. The request dates to March 27, 2012, just before the Ending the Long-gun Registry Act came into force the following month. While the RCMP did turn over some records, Legault found it didn’t disclose all of the information it should have. But in the meantime, the police force destroyed all electronic records of non-restricted firearms — with the exception of those belonging to Quebec residents — in October 2012. In doing so, the RCMP violated the requester’s right of access under the Access to Information Act, Legault found.

After years of wrangling over the issue, Legault referred the matter to the federal attorney general on March 26, 2015, for possible obstruction of the right of access under the Access to Information Act. While she received no response, the government went ahead with bill C-59 that provides for the retroactive changes to when it first introduced the Ending the Long-gun Registry Act to Parliament in October 2011. The bill also bars any

proceedings against the Crown for the destruction of the records on or after April 5, 2012.

In effect, the government is attempting to go back in time to erase the legal obligations that existed at the time of the information request. Its actions are an outrage that Canadians should hold it accountable for when the election campaign begins later this year.

Glenn Kauth

  • Dave Warren
    The intent of the legislation was to right a wrong done by Allan Rock and his associates (for purely political reasons, fanning the flames of the Ecole Polytechnique tragedy)to law abiding Canadians. Harper may butt heads with the Supremes, but he keeps his election promises. Allan Rock had his associates physically escorted me out of a public meeting in Kingston, when I questioned his motives in advocating a long gun registry. I voted for Harper.
  • Greg R
    Nonsense. This is a non-issue. The ridiculous request for those records; forcing an already expensive boondoggle into being essentially copied and replicated into the hands of a private citizen, was an end run (nothing more than a loophole) that ought to have been, and, as it should be, will be closed. Get the government out of the business of keeping records on law-abiding citizens; perhaps a little more freedom and a little less big brother is in order.
  • Simon Potter
    Right wing, left or centre, these are issues and questions which deserve airing. This retroactive erasure of law is all the more troubling since it obviously attempts to paper over what was, when it was done, a clear violation of a statutory obligation, if not actually a crime. Further, it seeks to hamper anyone's inquiry into what actually did happen when. This is the State saying we shouldn't care and we mustn't even know or even try to find out what actually did happen. It is not right wing or left to be worried about that.
  • Fariborz H.Jou
    Thank you Mr. Kauth for bringing this information to the attention of the members of the Bar. I am certain a through research will expose many more of Mr. Harper and his government's contempt for not only the democratic process, but for the Canada in general.
  • Leonard D. Fast LLB
    I am extremely great full that we have someone like Stephen Harper looking after the common folk and not individuals such as yourself. We seem to have an epidemic of lib left lawyers running our legal profession which I believe is also ruining our profession.

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