Liberal bill not designed to restore long-gun registry: public safety minister

A rifle owner checks the sight of his rifle at a hunting camp property in rural Ontario west of Ottawa, Sept. 15, 2010.
A rifle owner checks the sight of his rifle at a hunting camp property in rural Ontario west of Ottawa, Sept. 15, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct when and where Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale made his comments about the incoming long-gun registry bill, as well as when he is expected to table the bill. 

The Canadian government says it doesn’t intend to reinstate the federal long-gun registry, even though it’s poised to introduce a bill to “amend” the law that ultimately dismantled the registry.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale is expected to table the bill on Friday.

But speaking to reporters on Thursday, Goodale denied that the Liberals are working towards recreating the registry, which was scrapped by the Conservative government in 2012.

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“We made it very clear we would not re-establish the federal gun registry and that commitment is absolutely solid,” Goodale said during on his way into question period.

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He said the bill is instead designed to satisfy concerns raised by information commissioner Suzanne Legault, who alleged that the RCMP knowingly destroyed gun registry records after an Access to Information request was filed for the data  days before the Conservative bill ending the registry was to take effect.

“This measure relates to sorting out that mess,” Goodale said.

The Harper government cleared the Mounties and effectively quashed an investigation into their activities by the Ontario Provincial Police by passing a retroactive law just before Parliament was dissolved in 2015.

WATCH: RCMP accused of destroying long-gun registry records

Goodale also said the bill had nothing to do with helping the Quebec government gain access to registry data.

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Quebec fought the former Conservative government all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to obtain the data related to long-gun owners in the province but lost.

“The government of Quebec has asked for Canada’s cooperation for their own provincial purposes and I indicated some time ago that we would examine all of the means by which we could be helpful and comply with the request from Quebec but that’s a provincial matter and we’re trying to work it out with them,” Goodale said.

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Canadian law classifies guns under three categories. Restricted guns such as handguns, and prohibited guns such as automatics must be registered with the RCMP.

The third category comprises those long guns (rifles and shotguns) that don’t fall under the restricted and prohibited categories. These guns are mainly used for hunting and sport-shooting, and haven’t needed to be registered since the Harper Conservatives abolished the registry .

– With files from the Canadian Press

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