Canada’s gun registry isn’t gone after all.
Despite a clear vote in Parliament to destroy it, despite a Supreme Court ruling that it could be destroyed and despite assurances from politicians and top bureaucrats – including a senior Mountie – that the data was all destroyed, it turns out there are two copies left of the Quebec portion of the registry.
Questions about the existence of backup copies of the registry surfaced last week after Liberal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale tabled a bill that would give the Quebec government all the records that existed from the registry on April 3, 2015. The bill would also allow the Information Commissioner to review the records in order to settle an outstanding claim.
Goodale refused to answer questions about where the data was being sourced considering the data was supposed to have been destroyed. Rumours of backup copies have long persisted among Canada’s gun owners but never been confirmed, until now.
Goodale’s press secretary, Scott Bardsley, confirmed to me via email that two copies of the registry still exist all thanks to Harper era Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney.
“Under the previous administration, a complete copy of Canadian Firearms Information System (CFIS) from April 3, 2015 was maintained by the RCMP in a secure location due to an investigation by the Information Commissioner into an Access to Information request received in March 2012,” Bardsley said.
Another copy, this one just containing the Quebec gun registry records requested by the Information Commissioner is kept under seal by the court while the case is being heard.
Yes, that’s right, there are still copies of parts of the gun registry and it is thanks to the Conservatives and not the Liberals.
What is significant about the date of April 3, 2015 is that it is exactly one week prior to the date the RCMP claims they began destruction of all the Quebec registry records. Testifying before a Commons committee on June 4, 2015, Deputy Commissioner Peter Henschel told MPs the Quebec records had been destroyed, just like the records for the rest of Canada.
“The RCMP deleted the remaining Quebec records from the Canadian Firearms Information System between April 10 to April 12, 2015,” Henschel said.
Turns out, that testimony wasn’t true and now the hard drive copy the Mounties have will be turned over to Quebec, after the passage of bill C-52, to allow the province to start their own gun registry.
Groups representing gun owners are furious.
Canada’s National Firearms Association, which is suing to block a Quebec registry, said this goes against a law passed by Parliament.
“It is disturbing that the records of the Quebec portion of the firearms registry have remained intact despite the clear will of Parliament to have them destroyed,” president Sheldon Clare of the NFA said.
“It is outrageous that this type of behaviour by the RCMP is tolerated in a modern democracy,” said Tony Bernardo of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association.
“Is there no one that has the courage to deal with the out-of-control RCMP brass?”
Bernardo has a point. Why would Deputy Commissioner Henschel testify before Parliament that the registry records had been destroyed when his department was sitting on a hard drive with the data he claimed was deleted?
The public was lied to by politicians and the Mounties, now they are owed some honest answers.
- May 5, 2012 – C-19, the Ending the Long-gun Registry Act, receives Royal Assent and becomes law
- October 26-31, 2012 – all of the long-gun registry data outside of Quebec is deleted by the RCMP
- March 27, 2015 – The Supreme Court rules that Quebec has no legal right to the registry data and Parliament can have it deleted
- April 3, 2015 – RCMP make a full backup of all data in the Canadian Firearms Information System including the Quebec portion of the registry
- April 10-12, 2015 – RCMP deletes the Quebec portion of the registry but not backup they have placed on a hard drive
- October 19, 2015 – Justin Trudeau and the Liberals replace Stephen Harper and the Conservatives after winning the election
- June 9, 2017 – Liberal introduce bill C-52 offering Quebec the registry data, despite their election promise not to start a new gun registry