Did RCMP Deputy Commissioner Peter Henschel Lie? Part 2

First, my thanks to Nicolas Johnson from TheGunBlog.ca for his collaboration so we could get to the bottom of this issue. See his angle on it here.



Yesterday I asked the question, “Did RCMP Deputy Commissioner Peter Henschel Lie to Committee?

The answer, it turns out, is both yes and no. It took a while to follow the breadcrumbs to sort out why, and here they are.

Nicolas Johnson from TheGunBlog.ca discovered a document, in French, on the website of anti-gun activist group PolySeSouvient that referenced an RCMP hard drive. The Google Translation of paragraph three of that document says:

The Quebec data for the federal long-gun registry has been updated until March 2015 due to an injunction related to Québec’s request, granted in order to protect the integrity and accuracy of the data in awaiting the outcome of the case before the courts. The destruction of Quebec data was a Supreme Court ruling, but a hard disk containing a copy of them persisted because of a litigation initiated by the Information Commissioner in connection with a request for access to information.

That statement not quite accurate, as you’ll see from the timeline of events.

First, where did this mysterious hard drive come from?

Knowing I was searching for references to a hard drive, I discovered a Canadian Press article published in the National Post on June 23, 2015. That article, titled, “Federal Court orders government and RCMP to hand over all Quebec gun registry data for safekeeping,” revealed the name of the judge who issued the order to produce the mysterious hard drive.  From that article:

A Federal Court judge has ordered that Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney and the RCMP commissioner immediately hand over an external hard drive containing a copy of all Quebec gun registry data.

Judge Luc Martineau gave the government until 10 a.m. Tuesday morning to deliver the hard drive to the court — effectively issuing a vote of non-confidence in government assurances that all the remaining long-gun registry records would be preserved while court challenges continue.

Here’s the trouble.

RCMP Deputy Commissioner Peter Henschel testified the RCMP deleted all Quebec gun registry data on April 10-12, 2015, nine weeks prior to the June 23, 2015, deadline to hand over the mysterious hard drive.

Despite that testimony, the RCMP did indeed hand over an external hard drive containing all the Quebec gun registry records, precisely as Judge Martineau ordered.

Armed with the judge’s name, a search of court decisions on CANLII.ORG revealed the court decision Canada (Information Commissioner) v. Canada (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness), 2015 FC 80. In that ruling, The Honourable Mr. Justice Martineau, the same judge who gave Minister Blaney and the RCMP the 10am deadline, wrote this:

[12]           On March 27, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an appeal by the Attorney General of Quebec with respect to the constitutionality of section 29 of the ELRA and in a split decision (5-4), concluded that the province of Quebec had no legal right to obtain the data of the long-gun registry concerning Quebec residents (Quebec (Attorney General) v Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 14 (CanLII) [Quebec (Attorney General) (SCC)]). On April 3, 2015, the RCMP expired 1.6 million non-restricted firearm registration records for residents of Quebec. Between April 10 and April 12, 2015, the RCMP permanently destroyed the 1.6 million Quebec non-restricted firearm registration records in CFIS. However, this time, a back-up copy of the deleted information was kept [the records at issue].

[13]           Prior to the expiration of the Quebec registration records for non-restricted firearms, two steps were taken by the institution to retain the records that had not been already destroyed between October 25 and October 29, 2012:

1.   First, the RCMP made a complete copy of CFIS as it existed on April 3, 2015; the same resides currently on a virtual server within the RCMP Data Centre [final back-up];

2.   Second, the RCMP created a copy of the Quebec registration records for non-restricted firearms, selecting any data that may have been associated to the 64 fields identified by the Information Commissioner as relevant to registration records. This data, in a delimited text file, resides on an external hard drive [hard drive].

As you can see, RCMP Deputy Commissioner Peter Henschel did not tell the whole truth. Or you could say he told a version of the truth. Here’s the exact wording Henschel used in his testimony before committee:

When that decision was rendered on March 27, 2015, the RCMP deleted the remaining Quebec records from the Canadian firearms information system between April 10 to April 12, 2015, again consistent with the government-approved implementation plan.

He said all Quebec records were deleted from the Canadian firearms information system. He did NOT say all Quebec records were deleted from all RCMP databases and hard drives, or explain that a backup was placed on an external hard drive.

Big difference.

RCMP Deputy Commissioner Peter Henschel did not tell the whole truth when he failed to disclose to the committee the RCMP made a backup of that Quebec data and placed it on an external hard drive.

Did he lie?

He told the committee what it wanted to hear.

The bigger problem is the RCMP defied the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to destroy the Quebec gun registry data. The RCMP then thwarted the express will of Parliament by secretly creating a backup of Quebec’s data months before a preservation order was issued.

“The will of Parliament has been clear on multiple occasions; all copies of the registry are to be destroyed,” Blaney’s spokesman Jeremy Laurin said in an email. “We will continue to stand up for this position in court.”

Despite the Supreme Court of Canada decision that the Quebec government has no right to the gun registry data, the RCMP’s subterfuge means our Liberal government will now give Quebec the very data denied them by both Parliament and the Supreme Court.

The only saving grace is the data contained on this external hard drive is hopelessly out of date.


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