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Submitted by MP Jay Hill

Two announcements, exactly one month apart. In the first, our Conservative Government stated we will once again extend the amnesty for law-abiding gun owners so that, until we can scrap it in Parliament, they do not run afoul of the ineffective and wasteful long-gun registry. In the second, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff announced his intention to “whip” his MPs into voting to KEEP the registry.

A Private Members Bill by my Conservative colleague, MP Candace Hoeppner proposes straightforward legislation that reflects our Government’s long-standing position to repeal the long-gun registry.

Private Members legislation is traditionally subject to a ‘free vote’ by MPs, meaning they vote according to their own conscience or constituents’ wishes rather than along partisan lines. Heeding the voice of their constituents who want the long-gun registry scrapped, a group of Liberal MPs, known as the “Liberal Eight”, voted to support Ms. Hoeppner’s Bill C-391 so that it could advance to Committee Stage.

Last week however, their own leader gave notice that he will no longer tolerate these MPs carrying out their constituents’ wishes. The next time THIS private members bill, C-391, comes to a vote, Mr. Ignatieff will order or ‘whip’ all Liberal MPs into keeping the long-gun registry.

Mr. Ignatieff tried to soften the blow with some suggested “tinkering” to firearms laws. Perhaps, he mused, farmers and hunters could be let off with a fine the first time they violate the long-gun registry.

Are rural Canadians, farmers, hunters and fisherman supposed to thank Mr. Ignatieff for this so-called “compromise” because he will only consider them criminals when they contravene the long-gun registry a second time?!!

Interestingly, the next day Liberal MP Martha Hall Finley admitted “we really didn’t, when this [the long-gun registry] was brought in, ask the hunters and the farmers for their advice.”

Well as one MP who was there when the Liberals rammed this firearms legislation through Parliament in 1995, I can tell you that my fellow Reform MPs and I asked hunters, farmers, fisherman and every other law-abiding gun owner across the nation! They told us the registry was a bad idea. We told Parliament. The Liberals and the NDP simply weren’t listening.

Fifteen years later they still aren’t listening. Following Mr. Ignatieff’s edict, the Liberals and their Coalition partners on the Public Safety Committee attempted to hijack all debate on the issue by fixing the witness list for Bill C-391 so that out of the 33 witnesses to appear, 28 were known to be in favour of keeping the long-gun registry.

Mr. Ignatieff hopes by proposing “first offence fines” in the long-gun registry that he will score political points with rural Canadians, as well as urban Canadians who have been mislead into believing that the long-gun registry will somehow minimize gun fights in their streets by handgun-toting gangs.

In fact, I predict the Liberals will further alienate both rural and urban Canadians by steadfastly refusing to admit that the long-gun registry is a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money that was a failure from the start and does absolutely nothing to keep Canadians safe!

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