As anyone interested in the subject knows, Bill C-391, Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner’s private members bill to scrap the long gun registry, went down in flames on September 22nd to a 153 to 151 vote. Although it had passed at 1st and 2nd readings, it never even got a chance to go to 3rd reading as the vote to scuttle the bill came from a motion tabled by Liberal MP Mark Holland.
The scene was set for the failure of Bill C-391 when Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff set a precedent by whipping his caucus’ vote rather than allowing the traditional free vote for private members’ bills.
That brought into line all of the Liberal MPs who had previously voted in favour of scrapping the long gun registry through its 1st and 2nd readings.
NDP leader Jack Layton chose not to whip his caucus’ vote and had his MPs who had supported the bill on the previous votes stayed true to their principles we would have seen an end to the registry.
But having made the choice to let his MP’s supposedly vote their beliefs, Layton then applied serious moral suasion to coerce them to change their vote this time around.
I assume that it will never be known what promises were given, what threats were made or what pressure was applied, but in the end 6 of the 12 New Democrats who swore that they opposed the registry flip-flopped on their vote when the crunch came.
Probably the most egregious turnabout was made by NDP MP Peter Stoffer who had almost to the end stated his unwavering opposition to the long gun registry and promised that he would continue to vote for its demise.
Then the rumours started to fly that Stoffer was about to switch and two days before the vote Stoffer confirmed that the rumour was true.
This was a stunning turnaround in the eyes of many, as Mr. Stoffer was on record in the House of Commons as telling the House that…
“All I ever asked for in my 12 1/2 years was bring a bill that was very clear; end the long gun registry and I will personally stand up and support that.”
Well, his opportunity came to the floor of the House in the form Candice Hoeppner’s private member’s bill, C-391, and Peter Stoffer, for whatever reasons, folded like a cheap suit.
If you ever needed a moment to contemplate on how cynical and sleazy politics can be, this was one to remember.
Unfortunately, all of the blame for the defeat of Bill C-391 doesn’t lie with the Liberal’s undemocratic whipping of their vote, nor with the desertion from their publicly stated values by the NDP MPs.
The Conservatives, instead of quietly encouraging those opposition members who opposed the registry and working with them beneath the radar chose instead to use the moment as an opportunity to make political points, taking out attack ads even in the ridings of those MPs who had initially voted in favour of C-391.
This lost them considerable amounts of goodwill and was used by a number of those who switched their vote as part of their rationale for why they had changed their minds.
In the end, the real losers were all of the firearm owners across Canada: The hunters, ranchers, farmers, recreational shooters, collectors, etc.
Will we get another chance to rid ourselves of the registry?
Sure as hell not if we see the Liberal party back in power. Ignatieff, true to his ilk, while saying he wants to ‘fix’ the registry has already spoken of a ban on all handguns in the country. As has NDP leader Jack Layton.
So Mr. Ignatieff’s concept of a ‘fix’ is to make the firearm ownership laws more restrictive and confiscate what we already legally own.
Aren’t we regularly accused of being totally paranoid when we speak of the fact that registration precedes confiscation? How did the media miss this?