OTTAWA — The federal information commissioner has filed a preservation order with the Federal Court in an effort to keep the Conservative government from destroying more contested gun registry records.
Suzanne Legault wants Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney to either hand over the remaining long-gun registry data from Quebec to the Federal Court or have the court prohibit its destruction.
It’s all part of Legault’s bid to have a judicial review of the Harper government’s actions in relation to the destruction of millions of long-gun registry records for the rest of Canada.
And it ups the ante in yet another nasty brawl between the Conservatives and an independent officer of Parliament.
At issue is the application of the Access to Information Act — over which Legault has jurisdiction — to government records.
The latest Conservative omnibus budget bill includes measures to retroactively rewrite the application of that access law in an effort to erase the RCMP’s mishandling of records from the now defunct registry back in 2012.
Legault recommended two months ago that charges be laid against the Mounties for their role in withholding and destroying registry records, which were subject to an active access-to-information request, before Parliament had passed the law ending the long-gun registry in April 2012.
But instead of Justice Minister Peter MacKay moving on the recommendation to lay charges, the Harper government rewrote the law and backdated the changes to the day legislation proposing to end the registry was first tabled in Parliament in 2011.
The Ontario Provincial Police have since begun an investigation of the RCMP actions after receiving the file from the Office of the Public Prosecutor.
In a special report to Parliament late last month, Legault called the government’s move a “perilous precedent” that sets the stage for retroactive cover-ups of more serious government wrongdoing, including electoral fraud and spending scandals.
The government has responded with derision, insisting that Parliament is supreme and that there’s nothing wrong with rewriting the law retroactively to absolve the RCMP of an alleged crime.
Blaney has repeatedly described the amendments as technical, saying they simply close a “bureaucratic loophole” in the original law to end the gun registry.
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Bruce Cheadle, The Canadian Press