The RCMP are being taken to court for failing to disclose information they had previously been ordered to give.
The incident started when an anonymous person filed a request for the FRT (Firearms Reference Table). This database lays out how the RCMP reclassify firearms.
The RCMP refused to show it to them.
The person appealed to the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) for help, and the Commissioner ordered the RCMP to comply with the request.
The OIC is a non-partisan government body designed to protect the rights of Canadians looking to get information from government institutions.
The RCMP refused again. This time with someone higher up of their side.
Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness, who oversees the RCMP, sided with them in this dispute.
Now the case is going to court on the recommendation of the Information Commissioner.
According to the Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights (CCFR), The RCMP originally claimed that The RCMP may refuse requests that require the sharing of “trade secrets or financial, commercial, scientific or technical information that belongs to the Government of Canada.”
Now they are saying they can’t respect the request as it would involve disclosing the serial numbers of firearms, which they consider to be “personal information”.
The OIC disagrees with this defense.
The CCFR also claims that this particular document has been shared with foreign governments and organizations at least 10000 times, putting doubt on the credibility of this argument.
The court ruling will have major implications to the extent that the RCMP can stop public inquiries into their practices.
This isn’t the first time the RCMP have had issues with transparency.
In 2016 an employee at RCMP has faked a response to an Access to Information request made by the journalist. Minister Goodale at the time called the incident “unacceptable.”
Journalists have had to deal with poor practices from the RCMP for many years, including having to wait ridiculous amounts of time for mundane information.
The Office of the Information Commissioner has slammed the RCMP for it’s poor handling of Access to Information requests for years, made even more crucial by this government’s promise to improve and relax the process for requesting information.
TPM reach out to Minister Goodale, and his office said that “the question of whether the serial number of property constitutes personal information has arisen from time to time in various government departments and each situation is unique depending on the circumstances.”
They added that “there is an imminent judicial hearing related to a separate Access to Information request that also involves the serial numbers of firearms and whether those should be considered private information.”