As the federal government moves to fulfill its election promise to scrap the long gun registry, Skeena New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen has a problem with a curve the Conservatives have thrown – to destroy the registry records.
Cullen pointed out this was not included in the original Bill it introduced prior to the last election.
“For the life of me I cannot figure out why they would do this,” he said, pointing out the RCMP had said it wanted to keep the information gathered even if the registry was scrapped.
“Now we’re hearing from Quebec and other provinces (that) they paid for this data once already and they would like access to it as well.”
Cullen said the NDP would be moving amendments at the committee stage that would remove “this most odious of provisions.”
The Northern Sentinel put it to Cullen that if government collects information from an individual under a law that requires that individual to provide it, and then that law is overturned, it seemed logical that individual should be able to ask government to destroy the information collected.
Cullen responded, “We have a number of laws in Canada that say you’re not actually able to destroy a record once collected from Canadians.”
Therefore, he pointed out, the Conservatives had to include in Bill C-19 the power to “overstep” those laws in order to be able to destroy the records.
If taxpayers in Quebec had voted for a government that wants to have a gun registry, he asked, “Why would the [federal] government, out of spite, say to those folks…you’ve got to start again, you have to pay the money twice over.”
He also couldn’t understand why a government that portrays itself as supporting the police would not agree to the police request to retain the registry records.
Cullen was asked why a government philosophically opposed to a long gun registry would assist any other jurisdiction in instituting one?
He replied that a government might come into power that was philosophically opposed to the way someone was punished for a crime by a previous government. “But to come in and burn any of those records…because they don’t agree with the law that was in existence at that time is not something you’re legally able to do.”
That’s why governments around the world – “except the most nefarious” – don’t destroy records, even ones they philosophically oppose.
Cullen maintained the precedent was a dangerous one.
“For people in Northwest BC, if the city of Vancouver or Montreal wants to have greater restrictions or access to registry data for their citizens, I don’t see the problem in allowing them. And I don’t think hunters and farmers up North care if people in Quebec still exist with a form of registry,” he said.
Pointing out that would be legal under Canadian law, Cullen added, “It’s the way they choose to live.” Plus the records of people outside of Quebec would not be handed over to Quebec, “and that’s as it should be.”