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Amendments and the ‘chamber of sober second thought’ still await Bill C-391.

Bill C-391 is of course the “private members bill” to scrap the long-gun registry that passed 2nd reading last night in the House. I will reiterate that I never believed this to be a true “private members bill” to begin with (I’ve read from news reports that the PMO was handing out talking points to every Conservative MP on Wednesday – when was the last time with a private member’s bill that a Prime Minister’s Office was issuing standard talking points to its MP’s on it? Never, I would assert), and that Ignatieff and Layton on the opposition side should have recognized that and whipped their caucus on this vote. I was furious last night at how many opposition MP’s decided to cave and enable one of the Conservatives holy grail policies, particularly as the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre of 14 women at L’ecole Polytechnique approaches, which is what spurred the creation of the gun registry in the first place. But, I’ve calmed down a bit this AM, and here’s why.

The vote is over, and this bill now goes to committee. The committee that examines this cannot “kill” it – it can offer amendments however, and I’m hopeful that some ideas that Ignatieff mentioned yesterday will actually be presented at this committee:

Ignatieff said his caucus supports the “principle of gun control,” and he personally believes it should include long guns. But he said the issue has divided urban and rural Canadians, and faces “resistance” in rural Canada. He said his caucus is working on proposals to bridge that gap. In French, he suggested it could include “decriminalizing” the registration system for long guns…Ignatieff said changes would start with a “simple principle: we are for a firearms registration system that includes all firearms, but there is a problem of resistance in rural areas. It could be possible to decriminalize but to maintain a firearms registration system for long guns.”

I’m not up on the rules and nuances of the committee process at this stage, but I’ll be interested to see if any of these amendments – if they are deemed valid to propose – would capture the support of the NDP/Liberal members on that committee, and then a majority of the 20 Liberal/NDP members that voted with the Conservatives last night. If so, and if these amendments passed – ie. Iggy’s idea of keeping the long gun registry in place but de-criminalizing it – it might cause the amusing scenario of the Conservatives voting against their own bill, because they objected to an amended bill keeping the registry in place.

If that is a no-go, the bill still has to pass the Senate. If my memory serves me right, there is precedent in the Senate for voting down private members bills or free votes that have passed in the House of Commons. If I’m correct, it did so during Brian Mulroney’s era as prime minister voting against a new proposed abortion bill that the H of C passed in response to the Supreme Court of Canada ruling that Canada’s then-abortion laws were unconstitutional. The Senate voted that proposed new bill down, and the issue was not revived by Mulroney.

If the current Conservative government tries to get Bill C-391 passed in the current sitting of this Parliament, the Liberals currently are in the majority in the Senate and are until January 2010, where Liberal retirements and such allow Harper to appoint Conservative senators to take their place. It is possible that a vote taken at this time would vote the private bill down (and if they combine it with the official government bill up there in the Senate on killing the registry, the Liberals will surely whip that vote).

Even after January 2010, when Harper gains more Conservative Senators in the Red Chamber then Liberals, there will only be a plurality of Conservative Senators (51-49 I believe); there are 6 Senators that are not affiliated with either main party (ie. Progressive Conservative Senator and Progressive Blogger member Elaine Mccoy as an example) who will potentially hold the key votes. So, there still is a way to go before this bill gets passed, and it can still be amended/defeated.

If nothing else came out of this vote, maybe as Impolitical suggested yesterday this vote might wake up some Canadian’s eyes – particularly in urban and semi-urban areas, to some of the Conservative’s agenda that many of us politically active folks have been warning against if they were to gain a majority. I’ll be very interested for example to see poll numbers over the next month – particularly in urban parts of Canada over this vote. Combine that with the government’s bungling on H1N1 pandemic flu preparation, and the pork-barrel partisanship being displayed over the doling out of stimulus funds, and one would think the Conservatives should start to lose some of the poll momentum they’ve gained the past couple of months (a hint of that might be seen in today’s Ekos poll). We’ll see.

UPDATE: CalgaryGrit goes further into the Committee side of things – the “NO” votes to Bill C-391 actually have a majority on this committee… so the votes would be there to pass amendments with a united opposition front. We’ll see if they can propose some amendments and can pass them to help keep the registry intact.


10 comments to Amendments and the ‘chamber of sober second thought’ still await Bill C-391.

  • I’m glad the vote went the way it did. I grew up around guns and was well trained by my grandfather in their safe use. No registry can possibly stop a criminal using an illegal handgun to commit a crime. That’s where efforts need to be applied. One hopes that some sensible amendments will appear which remove the access to firearms of people guilty of violent crimes.

    The long gun registry has always been a headache. It penalized the majority.

  • Big Winnie

    DaveC: I’ve yet to hear how law abiding, gun owning, citizens are being harrassed. From what I know, once you register, there is nothing else to do. Your argument is pretty lame at best and the report released by the RCMP and the CAPC proves that the registry works.

  • DaveC

    Oh FFS Scott and Winnie, do you really expect the registry workers to admit the registry is useless?

    The police use the registry every time they run ID. It does nothing to prevent crime, any more than registering a car prevents anyone from doing something criminal, stupid, or negligent when behind the wheel.

    You want a registry? Register criminals. Leave the law-abiding alone.

  • Big Winnie

    Gotta love CON talking points! Never let facts get in the way of their fiction.

    As Susan Delacourt reported:

    “Less than 24 hours after the Commons voted in principle to scrap the long-gun registry, here’s the newly released performance report on the Canadian Firearms Centre. It’s spending less, attracting more registrants and police are using the registry more — almost 4,000 times last year. Yep, that’s an argument to kill it”

    Kinda changes things doesn’t it. As for Van Loan’s response, if he wasn’t trying to suppress the report until after the vote, why didn’t he release it on Tues?

  • Jim

    It does seem strange to me that the Liberals have been willing to piss off a voting block of 2 million firearms owners, more if you consider the folks who never registered their arms. My guess would be closer to 4 or 5 million citizens.

    Funny too is the out and out lies from the Libs to defend their misguided registry. Prior to it’s implimentation, a study was done to try and determine the number of firearms in Canada…that number was pegged at between 14 and 19 million.

    Yet the Libs claimed close to 98% compliance with a shade over 7 million firearms in the system.


    The Libs also lied and cooked the books to hide cost overruns.

    Nope, the registry has been a sham from the get go. I can hardly wait for the day that the Auditor General gets to do a forensic audit of the whole mess.

    Smart Liberals would be wise to let this thing die and get the monkey off their back.

    But, if you want to keep creeching about what a great injustice it’s demise is, perhaps we can get the AG in there for that audit a little sooner…it outta make AdScam look like lunch money.

  • DJ

    I am proud of Iggy. He is ignoring the left-nutbar wing of the party. The registry needed to be tossed years ago, but you people (Bob Rae apologists) were controlling the Liberal party. Perhaps moving to the centre will finally give us some votes in rural and western Canada.

  • Gary

    If the Liberal Party ever wants to gain any reasonable traction in the 92 and increasing in number seats in the West, they had better respond to the concerns of honest gun owners. The long gun registry is an affront to many many people here. It is an expensive, ineffective boondoggle and deserves to die forthwith. Defending this affront simply cements that miserable last place position the Liberal party holds here. Maybe you can get enough seats in Quebec to win an election but I doubt it. Particularly with the balance of power moving westward.

  • billg

    Its funny to watch and listen to the panic that is the Gun Registry. The LPC finally does something to help the party, Ignatief takes a big step in getting the party back to the main stream and for some reason the left blogs are in full nutty mode. 163 MP’s voted against a bill that treats law abiding gun owners as criminals and some Libs are pissed? This bill will be amended, Ignatief will have a hand in re-writing it and when its done it will be a fair register to every Canadian, and, the LPC will be seen as a party that understands that in a lot of homes a gun is kept for safety and hunting reasons. It was a bad piece of knee jerk legislation that’s cost the LPC votes and trust. Iggy did good. Baby steps.

  • Annonymous

    Interesting point of view from the police chief association:

    Let’s keep the gun registry. It saves lives!

    • CADGO


      The Police Chief association receives hundreds of thousands in funding from the computer company that is in charge of the gun registry. Do you really trust their opinion? A recent survey of 900 street cops show that 868 wanted the long gun registry scrapped. I shoot with police at the range and they have never had anything good to say about the long gun registry.

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