by Brian Lilley, Toronto Sun, May 2, 2021
When criminal defence lawyer Ed Burlew was sifting through the documents sent over by a Crown prosecutor regarding his client, one jumped out. It was proof that the RCMP had kept a copy of the gun registry despite Parliament ordering it destroyed in 2012.
The long-gun registry was brought into being in 1995 with Bill C-68 but was done away with after the passage of Bill C-19 in 2012.
Yet, here was Burlew looking at a document from 2019 with information that could only have come from the registry.
“I was shocked and disgusted,” Burlew told me. “They kept it, it’s a secret file.”
“This shows that there is someone within the RCMP who has deliberately lied to Parliament and the courts.”
The document that Burlew uncovered was prepared by the Registrar of Firearms, part of the RCMP, and sent to the OPP for a case they were working on.
That document contains not only the serial number of each firearm seized but also the Firearm Identification Number, a number that would not exist or be attached to the rifles and shotguns seized without a copy of the registry existing.
Burlew’s client, who is presumed innocent unless convicted when he has his day in court, purchased the guns legally years ago while the registry was still in place.
Speaking with lawyers and others active in this area of the criminal justice system, I hear time and again that people are not shocked that the RCMP has kept information that was ordered destroyed by Parliament.
One security expert who works with both police and defence lawyers on sensitive files, and asked not to be identified, said that he believes most major police forces in Canada kept a copy of the registry in one way or another and use it regularly.
Defence lawyer William Jaska said that these types of documents were showing up in cases shortly after the registry was ordered abolished, but he hasn’t seen this in years.
What bothers him, though, is that the RCMP, OPP and the Crown prosecutor’s office all handled this document before handing it over to Burlew during disclosure.
“This has gone through three levels of filters and is still being disseminated,” Jaska said. “The problem is that in 2019, this information should not be there.”
Tony Bernardo, executive director of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association — an organization that speaks out for Canada’s more than two million legal gun owners — said he’s also disturbed that police services in Canada are passing around information Parliament ordered destroyed nine years ago.
“I was outraged that a federal Crown agency would disobey their political masters,” Bernardo said when asked about the document.
“The keeping of these records was calculated, and a premeditated act designed to contravene the will of Parliament.”
The RCMP did not respond to requests for comment via phone or email.
This isn’t the first time that gun advocates have suspected that police were using what really amounts to illegal gun registry data. During the 2013 floods in High River, Alta., RCMP officers went house to house seizing guns from locked but evacuated homes.
They smashed down doors to seize the firearms and there was clear evidence of coordination and targeting homes they knew belonged to gun owners, but no clear evidence was produced.
The federal government should immediately order all copies and all records related to the registry destroyed as per the will of Parliament, writes Brian Lilley.
Now that this document has been submitted as part of a court case no less, we have the evidence.
The federal government should immediately order all copies and all records related to the registry destroyed as per the will of Parliament.
Given that neither Prime Minister Justin Trudeau nor Public Safety Minister Bill Blair are at all concerned with the rights of law-abiding gun owners, that’s unlikely to happen.
Yet, regardless of your position on guns, every Canadian should be concerned when a police force actively subverts the laws they are sworn to uphold.
Blaine Calkins MP Video – 4:45 min.