Con­ser­va­tive law chal­lenged

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA -

OT­TAWA — A retroac­tive Con­ser­va­tive law buried in last spring’s om­nibus bud­get bill fun­da­men­tally un­der­mines the rule of law and gov­ern­ment ac­cess-to-in­for­ma­tion sys­tems across Canada, ac­cord­ing to court sub­mis­sions in a paused con­sti­tu­tional chal­lenge. Twelve of Canada’s 13 provin­cial and ter­ri­to­rial in­for­ma­tion com­mis­sion­ers, as well as the Crim­i­nal Lawyers’ As­so­ci­a­tion, are seek­ing in­ter­vener sta­tus in the case, which chal­lenges the for­mer gov­ern­ment’s un­prece­dented re­write of an old law to get the RCMP and any other gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial off the hook for il­le­gally de­stroy­ing long gun registry records. The case, brought by fed­eral in­for­ma­tion com­mis­sioner Suzanne Legault on be­half of in­di­vid­ual Bill Clen­nett, is one of the messier le­gal chal­lenges the new Lib­eral gov­ern­ment will have to mop up in 2016. The ret­ro­spec­tive Con­ser­va­tive changes, back­dated all the way to Oc­to­ber 2011, served to short-cir­cuit an ac­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the On­tario Provin­cial Po­lice into the gov­ern­ment-backed ac­tions of the RCMP. Re­peal­ing the changes, which be­came law last June, would pre­sum­ably put the Moun­ties back un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion. “Should this leg­is­la­tion with­stand this chal­lenge, it would have far­reach­ing im­pli­ca­tions for crim­i­nal law prin­ci­ples,” the Crim­i­nal Lawyers’ As­so­ci­a­tion says in its sub­mis­sion to the On­tario Su­pe­rior Court of Jus­tice, call­ing the retroac­tive le­gal re­write ground­break­ing.

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