In a special report issued last week, federal Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault revealed that, in March, she recommended charges be laid against the RCMP for the withholding and destroying of long-gun registry data that was part of an active access-to- information request.
It seems, in a move that Ms. Legault warned sets a "perilous precedent," the Conservative government responded to her recommendation by rewriting the law so that the offence didn't exist at the time it may or may not have been committed.
The new legislation is backdated to when the Ending the Long-gun Registry Act was introduced in Parliament in October, 2011, long before it actually received royal assent. How's that for audacity?
This resulting amendment, which retroactively and sweepingly exempts the long-gun registry from any "request, complaint, investigation, application, judicial review, appeal or other proceeding under the Access to Information Act or the Privacy Act," is now nestled deep inside Bill C-59 – the Economic Action Plan 2015 Act.
It's quite securely nestled, I'd say, as omnibus Bill C-59 is 167 pages long, has the word "action" in its title (who doesn't like action?) and will be reviewed by the finance committee during just four meetings, for which a total of eight hours has been allotted.
These massive omnibus bills are huge and fast, and now the Conservatives seem to believe that they can travel through time.
"Time travel?" I hear you cry. "But that's not possible!"
I don't think it is, either, but everything suggests that, rebuffed by the Supreme Court on many issues including mandatory minimum sentencing, assisted suicide, the appointment of Justice Marc Nadon, time-served sentencing and, most recently, whether Omar Khadr was a young offender just because he was a young offender, the Conservatives have grown frustrated in their attempts to flout the conventions of the law – and are now attempting to flout the laws of physics.
Welcome to the age of aspirational time-travelling Tories, an era in which Stephen Harper tries to convince us that he's the new Doctor complete with an omnibus TARDIS.
No wonder this government wants to muzzle all the scientists. Scientists are real downers about this break-in-the-space-time-continuum stuff.
I can report (because it seems anything goes in this country) that I have heard from scientists brought in to consult with the Conservative Committee of Temporal Reconfiguration that, for months, the party had interns in a room deep in the bowels of Parliament Hill holding pieces of legislation over their heads and running backward really fast for hours on end.
"It was doubly odd," said my scientist source, "because I mostly study fish populations."
"But I can't talk about my fish research with the media," he added nervously, "it's apparently more secret than the time-travel thing. The only scientist they really want to hear from is Dr. Doom."
Word is, this running-backward approach was deemed too sophisticated by Justice Minister Peter MacKay, who recommended that, instead, the committee draft absolution legislation and then backdate it by rubbing the document with a wet tea bag and singeing the edges with a match.
Prime Minister Harper does not like Mr. MacKay to have matches and was in favour of simply drawing up a Ye Olde Ignoreth the Canadian Constitution Action Act. "We could date the act to 1790 – which is the year Omar Khadr was born, just trust me on this," he is reported to have said. "Also, can we amend the Canada National Parks Act to make it so I played with the Beatles?"
The Conservatives have, of course, been experimenting with achronological marketing techniques for some time now – they lead the field in advertising job programs that don't yet exist.
They're always somewhere else in time; it's like legislative Fantasy Island over there. The Harper government is, of course, fixated on the long-gun registry – killing it and the long-form census were token gestures toward preserving the privacy of Canadians, something they have relentlessly attempted to infringe upon in other ways: The Conservatives only want to know if you have a gun or an extra powder room if you mention it in an e-mail.
However, should they be allowed to rewrite history rather than investigate complaints in regard to the long-gun registry, broad new horizons would certainly open up to them and future Canadian governments.
What's a little "election fraud" when you can simply write up and predate the Money Spent Opposing People Who Stubbornly Refuse To See the Value of a Strong Stable Majority is Technically "Invested" and Not Spent And So It Totally Doesn't Count Act.
Such an act would certainly put a stop to pesky inquiries from any of the independent watchdogs who are entrusted to keep an eye on these things for Canadians – until our parliamentary mad scientists are ready to begin testing their Canadian Economic Action Death Ray.