POLITICS

Key dates in the controversy over gun registry and Canada's access-to-info law

05/14/2015 06:21 EDT | Updated 05/14/2016 05:59 EDT
OTTAWA - Information watchdog Suzanne Legault says the federal government is proposing to retroactively change the access-to-information law in order to absolve the RCMP of illegally withholding and destroying long-gun registry records. Here is a chronology of events that led to her stunning accusation:

Oct. 25, 2011: Harper government introduces the Ending the Long-gun Registry Act (ELRA).

March 27, 2012: The RCMP receives a request for all records in the Canadian Firearms Registry related to the registration of non-restricted firearms.

April 5, 2012: the ELRA receives royal assent.

April 13, 2012: Legault writes the public safety minister, Vic Toews, reminding him that registry records cannot be destroyed if they were the subject of an access-to-information request prior to the ELRA coming into force on April 5.

May 2, 2012: Toews assures Legault that "the RCMP will abide" by the access-to-information law.

Oct. 25-29, 2012: the RCMP destroys all electronic records of non-restricted firearms, except for those involving Quebec gun owners because that province had launched court action to retain those records.

Jan. 11, 2013: The RCMP responds to the access request, providing only partial information. The Mounties do not supply records related to serial number, firearm identification number and registration certificate number. Requester complains; information commissioner starts investigation.

March 26, 2015: Legault informs the attorney general at the time, Peter MacKay, that she believes there are grounds to lay charges against the RCMP under the Access to Information Act.

She simultaneously informs Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney that the complaint is well-founded. She recommends all gun registry records, including those involving Quebec gun owners, be preserved until her investigation is complete.

April 10-13, 2015: RCMP destroys records related to Quebec gun owners following a Supreme Court of Canada ruling against the province's attempt to preserve gun registry records involving Quebecers.

May 7, 2015: The government introduces Bill C-59, an omnibus budget implementation bill. It includes a proposed measure to retroactively exempt all gun registry records from the Access to Information Act and to nullify any requests, complaints, investigations, judicial reviews or appeals launched under the access act. The measure would be retroactive to the day the ELRA was introduced, Oct. 25, 2011.