On May 14, 2015, the Information Commissioner filed an application for judicial review against the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness pursuant to section 42 of the Access to Information Act (Act) in relation to the investigation into an access to information request for the Long-gun Registry. This application is made with the consent of the complainant.
The investigation by the Office of the Information Commissioner determined that the institution’s response to the request for the records contained in the Long-gun Registry was incomplete. The Information Commissioner recommended to:
- process the information relating to the registration of non-restricted firearms in the province of Quebec (64 fields identified in the course of the Commissioner’s investigation) and include this information, subject to applicable exemptions, in a new response to the requester.
- process all images of the registration and transfer applications that still exist within the Canadian Firearm Information System (CFIS) pertaining to non-restricted firearms and include this information in a new response, subject to applicable exemptions, to the requester; and
- preserve these records until the conclusion of the Commissioner’s investigation and any related proceedings.
The Minister of Public Safety refused to implement the first two recommendations. As such, the Commissioner brought the matter before the Federal Court.
On June 3, 2015, the Information Commissioner also filed a motion to obtain a preservation order in this case to prevent the destruction of the records in question in the ongoing matter. The order is to require the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to either deliver the records in question to the Registry of the Federal Court or to prohibit the Minister from destroying the records.
On June 26, 2015, Justice Martineau of the Federal Court issued reasons for its order of June 22, 2015 (T-785-15) which ordered that the virtual copy of the remaining data of the Long-gun Registry be preserved and that the hard drive be delivered to the court by 10 a.m. on June 23, 2015. In its reasons, Justice Martineau endorsed his Federal Court colleague that the “Information Commissioner is one of the custodians of our democracy” (see Bronskill v. Canadian Heritage). He also stated that “the public interest flowing from the exercise of any such rights of access and intervention by the Information Commissioner to enforce government accountability outweighs any public interest invoked by the Minister to pre-emptively destroy the records at issue before the matter is heard by the Court.”
The Information Commissioner issued a statement regarding the preservation order where she stated that "This order is an essential milestone to protect the rights conferred by the Access to Information Act until the end of the proceedings."
The Information Commissioner also filed an application challenging the constitutionality of the Ending the Long-gun Registry Act as amended by Bill C-59.
For more information on the Information Commissioner's investigation, please consult the Commissioner's report Investigation into an Access to Information Request for the Long-gun Registry.