Conservative law challenged
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.