Update to RCMP statement on interview guide being used at the Quebec border

November 27, 2017
Ottawa, Ontario

Statement

On October 13, 2017, the RCMP issued a statement on the use of an interview guide at the Quebec border. The guide contained some questions about religious beliefs and practices. When RCMP Headquarters became of aware of the guide, the use of the questions was immediately stopped. The RCMP conducted a thorough review of the interview guide and the data that was collected and stored.

A new guide has been developed. The new guide adheres to the RCMP's bias-free policing policy, which is based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination, as well as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Act, the RCMP Act, and the RCMP's mission, vision and values.

The following questions and answers provide information about the interview guide and the status of the data that was obtained from the impugned questions.

How was this interview guide developed?

The original interview guide, which included some questions specific to religious beliefs and practices, was developed by the RCMP in Quebec to ensure consistency and knowledge among first responders. Their intent was to provide a reference guide for those members responding to individuals crossing the border between ports of entry.

The original interview guide was developed for use in Québec in October 2016.

How was information relating to the interview guide collected and stored?

Interviews with migrants were initially audio recorded, and became exclusively paper-based in July 2017.

Completed interview guides were uploaded to the RCMP's Police Reporting and Occurrence System (PROS), as were members' summaries of the information from the interviews. Audio is not stored in PROS but is retained on DVD.

How many files contained information about the interview guide?

In total, 5,438 files contained the uploaded interview guide and/or references to the guide and the information contained therein.

What did the RCMP do when concerns about the interview guide came to light?

When the interview guide came to the attention of RCMP National Headquarters, any members who had worked at the border were directed to cease using the guide and to destroy any copies in their possession. Members had to confirm either that they had done so or that they did not have any copies of the guide.

New national standard operating procedures and an interview guide were completed in mid-October and have been shared with first responders for use with individuals crossing the border between ports of entry.

How will the information collected be treated?

In order to respect its obligations pursuant to access to information and privacy legislation, the RCMP will retain the personal information collected for two years after its last use for an administrative purpose, following which it will be destroyed.

To ensure that no information relating to the improper questions can be accessed or used for operational purposes during this retention period, the RCMP is taking the following steps:

  • Original interview guides contained within operational files as well as any audio recordings on DVD will be sequestered in sealed envelopes.
  • The impugned questions and the information collected in relation to them will be permanently redacted from the electronic database.
How was information collected through the interview guide used and shared?

No investigations were launched as a result of the information collected through the interview guides.

The RCMP shared interview information with the Canada Border Services Agency, but did not share any information from the interview guide with foreign counterparts or other government departments.

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