Destruction of the long-gun registry: RCMP hid million-dollar price tag, documents show

A rifle owner checks the sight of his rifle at a hunting camp west of Ottawa, Sept. 15, 2010.
A rifle owner checks the sight of his rifle at a hunting camp west of Ottawa, Sept. 15, 2010. Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – The RCMP repeatedly stonewalled media inquiries for months about the price tag for destroying the federal long gun registry data, even though it had a full cost estimate in hand.

The federal police force had a detailed breakdown more than a year ago that showed fulfilling the long-time Conservative promise to kill the registry would cost about $1 million.

A PowerPoint presentation laying out the plan and its costs was provided to The Canadian Press under an Access to Information request following an 11-month delay.

In the meantime, the Mounties refused to answer direct questions about whether any such costing had been done, saying only that any costs related to the registry’s destruction would come out of the RCMP’s budget.

NDP justice critic Francoise Boivin says the RCMP’s handling of the file calls into question whether its communications can be trusted on bigger issues – including the current Senate investigation.

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The Mounties did not respond to a request for comment but a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney says taxpayers did not foot the bill for the data destruction.

Worried about damaging data, RCMP rehearsed registry’s destruction for months

RCMP documents released under access-to-information laws and obtained by Global News indicate planning and testing of the long gun registry’s destruction took about seven months, between June and November of last year.

Officials were concerned that deletion of the long-gun data outside Quebec would damage data on restricted and prohibited firearms such as handguns.

After several rehearsals, the destruction took place over a four-day period in late October, followed by the destruction of the system backup tapes and files. Fourteen tapes were reclaimed from Library and Archives Canada and destroyed.

In 64 cases, documents show, records of applications to transfer firearms slated to be refused were deleted, instead.

At the end of the process, RCMP deleted registration records for just over 800,000 firearms, along with 916,000 images of firearms licence applications.
Registration records for about 1.9 million long guns owned in Quebec are still in the registry, but, the documents said, records of long guns owned by people who move out of Quebec are deleted daily.

Officials doing quality-checks of the data found 477 of restricted and prohibited firearms misclassified as non-restricted, findings similar to a Global News investigation last year.


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