Goodale’s Office Comments on RCMP Backup of Quebec Gun Registry

Following are comments by Canada’s Ministry of Public Safety about records kept by the RCMP from the so-called “Long-gun Registry,” which the police has said repeatedly it finished deleting more than two years ago.

Concern among gun owners about what data were retained was revived last week after the government proposed a new law, Bill C-52. The law directs the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to give Quebec the records it has on “Non-restricted” firearms held by licensed gun owners across Canada.

Questions centre on an RCMP backup of deleted gun-registration records of residents of Quebec. The previous government had ordered the information to be deleted. The existence of the saved data has been public for almost two years.

TheGunBlog.ca contacted the RCMP and former Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney to request clarification. Blaney’s office didn’t respond. Scott Bardsley, a spokesman for the current Minister of Public Safety, Ralph Goodale, who oversees the RCMP, responded today by e-mail (link in original):

The changes proposed in Bill C-52 would allow the Government of Canada to destroy, when feasible, the remaining non-restricted firearm registration records.

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. While records of non-restricted firearms unrelated to Quebec were destroyed before this copy was created, Quebec-related records were preserved at the time as a result of litigation by the province. Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney informed the Information Commissioner that the copy had been created. The Quebec-related portion of these remaining records could, if requested within a limited time period, be shared with the province of Quebec under Bill C-52.

Amendments to the Ending the Long-gun Registry Act (ELRA), made under the Economic Action Plan Act of 2015, retroactively exempted the long-gun registration records from Access to Information and Privacy legislation. This led to a constitutional challenge by the Information Commissioner. As a result of an injunction temporarily prohibiting the destruction of the records, a hard drive containing records identified as responsive to the Information Commissioner’s request is kept under seal by the court.

Between April 10-12, the RCMP permanently destroyed the Quebec records in the Canadian Firearms Information System. The Canadian Firearms Information System continues to store data for restricted and prohibited firearms, which must be registered. However, as I note below:

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.

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