The Harper government moved to retroactively rewrite Canada’s access to information law in order to prevent possible criminal charges against the RCMP, The Canadian Press has learned.
An unheralded change buried in last week’s 167-page omnibus budget bill exempted all records from the defunct long-gun registry, and also any “request, complaint, investigation, application, judicial review, appeal or other proceeding under the Access to Information Act or the Privacy Act,” related to those old records.
The unprecedented, retroactive changes — access to information experts liken them to erasing the national memory — are even more odd because they are backdated to the day the Conservatives introduced legislation to kill the gun registry, not to when the bill received royal assent.
The date effectively alters history to make an old government bill come into force months before it was actually passed by Parliament.
A source familiar with the complaint, speaking on condition of anonymity due to its sensitivity, said the government moved out of concern Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault is poised to recommend charges against the Mounties for withholding — and later destroying — gun registry documents while the legislation was still being debated.