Saturday, November 21, 2009

Before You Lambast Jack Layton Remember This is a Democracy

While I often find myself angry with Mr. Layton, I don't think it's fair to attack him over the gun registry, because 1/3 of his caucus broke ranks. Nor is it fair to attack Michael Ignatieff because a small number of his caucus did the same.

Michael Den Tandt wrote several months ago that he thought Stephen Harper would set a trap for Michael Ignatieff over the gun registry:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, clever fellow, has baited a trap for Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff in the form of yet another bid to scrap the federal gun registry. Ignatieff's handling of it will be the first major test of his leadership. Is he serious about moving the Grits back to the centre? And does he want his party to have a decent shot at winning seats in rural Ontario and in the West? We are about to find out.

I am one of the most vocal supporters of the gun registry, but I am also one of the most vocal supporters of democracy, and there several factors that many people are overlooking.

1. The Reformers deliberately made it a private member's bill, which traditionally means a 'free vote'.

2. Opposition MPs were being blackmailed with threats of attack ads if they didn't vote Harper's way.

3. MPs must listen to their constituents and if their constituents are against the gun registry, they can't break ranks with them.

4. Peter Van Loan sat on an RCMP report until AFTER the vote.

I was also surprised that so many in the NDP voted in favour, but who am I to judge? However, Mr. Ignatieff has said that it's not over and they are looking at amendments, and as Jack Layton indicated, the NDP will be more vocal in committee. However, if this really is an urban/rural issue, why did the Ref-Cons from urban areas still vote to scrap it?

Layton betrays the faithful
Gerald Caplan
Special to The Globe and Mail
November 20, 2009

The bitter divisions over the long-gun registry are by no means over. When the House supported the bill to abolish the registry, it left significant numbers of Canadians feeling betrayed and wondering how to vote in the next election. Many of us lobbied publicly and privately against passage of this bill. The Liberals and New Democrats in Ottawa heard in no uncertain terms from a large, spontaneous alliance of their own political supporters and potential supporters. Trade unions, feminist organizations, NGOs, ordinary women, social activists of all kinds, women like Suzanne Laplante-Edwards whose daughter had been murdered by Marc Lepine in the MontrĂ©al massacre – all pleaded with both parties to stand united to defeat the bill. It did no good.

That the Conservatives voted unanimously for the motion was hardly a surprise; everyone knew it was really a Harper government initiative from the get-go. But the government couldn't pass the bill without the support of some opposition MPs; that's why they made it a private member's bill. It worked, even more successfully than they expected. Everyone expected a squeaker. But thanks to 18 Liberals and New Democrats, the bill sailed through by a comfortable 164 to 137 votes ....

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