An amazing thing occurred in Parliament last Tuesday

A truly amazing event took place in Ottawa this past Tuesday.

Manitoba MP Candice Hoeppner‘s private members bill C-391 to eliminate the federal long-gun registry, passed on second reading by a vote of 164 to 137. This was amazing on several different levels.

Firstly, it was a private members bill which rarely get passed, unless it deals with some innocuous, motherhood issue. But this was a controversial piece of legislation, that had anti-gun groups frothing at the mouth in frustration and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) pumping out misinformation in a desperate attempt to garner support to defeat the bill. But that didn’t happen.

Secondly, the Conservative government, after having torpedoed Garry Breitkreuz‘ Bill C-301 ,which would have killed the registry as well as clearing up several other inequities, and then engineering a Senate bill (S-5) which they said would eliminate the registry, but in reality would have simply taken the long-gun registry out of the federal government’s purview and passed in on down to the provinces, backed Ms. Hoeppner’s bill so enthusiastically they ran the risk of alienating even the opposition MPs that were already in favour of scuttling the registry. I’ll park my paranoia on that one.

Thirdly, the leaders of two of the three opposition parties, Jack Layton for the NDP and Michael Ignatieff for the Liberals stayed with the normal practice of giving their members a free vote on a private members bill.

So despite the wailing of the anti-gunners, who did their best to convince all and sundry that the loss of the registry would mean bodies piling up in the streets, and the CACP  who were in turn predicting a complete breakdown in law and order should the registry disappear, 12 NDP and 4 Liberal MPs voted with the Conservative minority to take it through 2nd reading. The Bloc of course, having their own agenda, voted solidly against the bill.

What was also interesting was the amount of media commentary that was in favour of getting rid of the long-gun registry. We saw numerous columns , articles and editorials in the newspapers supporting the Hoeppner bill – a long time coming, but encouraging to see.

So is it a fait accompli that the registry is on its way out?

Not by a long shot. There is a process.

From here it goes to to committee, in this case the Public Safety Committee, for modification or approval and already opposition members are bragging that they will gut the bill at this level. The Public Safety committee is made up of 12 members, one of which functions as the chair. Looking at the names on the committee it is apparent that it is evenly split between those who voted for Bill C-391 and those who voted against it. But, the chair -in this case Yorkton-Melville MP Garry Breitkreuz who has fought against the federal firearms legislation since its inception – only votes in the case of a tie which actually gives the opponents of the bill a voting majority.

If the bill survives this stage it goes back to Parliament for 3rd reading and provided that the opposition MPs stay true to their 2nd reading vote, and the vote is once again a majority in favour, it then goes to the Senate for for review and approval.

At which point the registry would disappear from our lives.

At least from some of our lives, as Quebec is already making noises about setting up a provincial registry, which is something they have wanted for some time.

Will Bill C-391 make it to the finish line? Good question.

The vice-chair of the Public Safety Committee is Ontario MP Mark Holland who has been the Liberal party’s stalking horse on this issue promoting the Liberal’s pro-gun control position at every opportunity, which bodes no good for the committee process.

On the other hand, the bill is very simple and straight forward. It get rid of the long-gun registry. No more and no less. If, as I understand, the committee in its deliberations cannot materially change the intent of the legislation there may not be much that they can do to corrupt Hoeppner’s bill.

At this point only time will tell.

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One Response to “An amazing thing occurred in Parliament last Tuesday”

  1. Gary Mauser Says:

    The only way bill C-391 will get out of committee and pass third reading in the House is if PM Harper is willing to make it a confidence vote.

    If the CPC can win the west by just voting for C-391 on second reading, and stop there before frightening off voters in Ontario and Quebec, they will do just that.

    I’d recommend that people who want to dump the registry write Harper or their MP [or both] to ask [politely] that they to honour their campaign promise to dump the registry. Voting on second reading is not enough, we want it passed into law.

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