Goodale, RCMP heading to court for violating Access to Information Act
The CCFR has been following the saga of a Canadian citizen who is in a battle for information with the RCMP. That battle is heading to federal court, on advice from the OIC (Office of the Information Commissioner) after Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness Minister Ralph Goodale refused to comply with the request and findings of the Information Commissioner.
This 4.5 year battle began with a simple request by a Canadian citizen for a copy of the FRT (Firearms Reference Table), an RCMP database of firearms and their classifications. This same document has been shared and sold over 10 000 times with foreign governments and private companies, yet the RCMP are refusing to hand it over – in spite of a decision by the Information Commissioner that they must do so.
When the RCMP fail to comply with a decision from on high, who answers for that? Minister Goodale of course.
Only problem is he is also failing to comply and has refused to order the RCMP to follow the law.
The Minister of Public Safety and the RCMP will have to answer for this mess in court.
Read the OIC’s findings here: GRC – RCMP – RDC – ROF – 3214-00952 – A-2014-05797
What’s really interesting in this case, is the RCMP jockeying their reasoning for holding back the information, regardless of their legal duty to provide it. At first they claimed they would not comply under section 18 (a) and (b) of the Information ACT which states;
“18 The head of a government institution may refuse to disclose any record requested under this Act that contains
(a) trade secrets or financial, commercial, scientific or technical information that belongs to the Government of Canada or a government institution and has substantial value or is reasonably likely to have substantial value;
(b) information the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to prejudice the competitive position of a government institution or to interfere with contractual or other negotiations of a government institution;”
They have now changed their tune and defend their defiance citing subsection 19(1) which refers to “personal information”, claiming that the FRT contains some serial numbers which are personal information. The Commissioner reviewed this and disagrees – A firearm’s serial number constitutes information “about” a firearm that is “assigned to” the firearm itself; it is not information about an identifiable individual.
Ralph Goodale has refused to comply with the order of the Information Commissioner to provide the information legally requested, which the complainant is entitled to, and has been awarded a decision stating that.
The Information Commissioner is now prepared to take Goodale, and the RCMP to court and force them to follow the law.
Read the consent for the court application here: GRC – RCMP – 3214-00952 – A-2014-05797 – Consent Form
Imagine … our highest officials completely ignoring the law, the information commissioner’s decision and the rights of Canadians.
Read section 41 of the Information Act here: Section 41
The CCFR stands by this Canadian, in search of the truth and supports the Information Commissioner in holding both Minister Goodale and the RCMP to account to uphold the laws of Canada, and comply with them.
Stay tuned for more updates as they become available.