OTTAWA – Over the last several weeks my offices throughout the riding and in Ottawa have fielded many calls from constituents on the issue of the Long Gun Registry and Bill C-391. These calls and recent national and local media coverage on the issue have compelled me to issue this statement today.
The issues of firearms control, public safety, and Bill C-391 have proven to be contentious ones. I have been saddened and disappointed by the behaviour and antics of individuals and groups on both sides of the debate in recent weeks.
Instead of showing leadership and choosing to bring Canadians together, Stephen Harper has chosen to use his considerable political influence to further divide Canadians on this issue in pursuit of his own narrow political interests and a majority government that no one wants him to have.
Michael Ignatieff has chosen to disrespect the role of Members of Parliament and muzzle and whip his caucus to vote along a party line that many do no support. He has callously chosen to politicize this issue and to pursue electoral gains in our large urban centres by simply abandoning rural Canadians.
Jack Layton has again proven himself to be the only federal leader that truly understands the issues that face all Canadians today, and who is actively working to bridge the gap that exists between rural and urban Canadians on this issue.
I completely reject the strong arm tactics and the uncompromising positions that have been taken by Mr. Harper, Mr. Ignatieff, and many of the groups and individuals who have chosen to speak out publicly on this issue in recent weeks. As your elected Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay – Rainy River I want you to know that I refuse to be bullied by any group or individual – on either side of this debate – into taking a position that I know is contrary to the interests, wishes, and basic beliefs of the vast majority of my constituents.
After holding more than a dozen townhall meetings over the past two years, conducting a comprehensive riding-wide survey on this bill, and maintaining an ongoing and intensive dialogue with hundreds of local groups and individuals from all walks of life, the will of the people that I represent has been made clear.
There could be two votes on Bill C-391 in the coming weeks. The first vote is scheduled for September 22nd and it will be on a motion from the Public Safety Committee to
effectively defeat C-391 and preserve the Long Gun Registry. If that motion is defeated on September 22nd and the legislative process continues, then a second and final vote will occur on C-391 in the coming weeks.
I will be voting against that motion from the Public Safety Committee on September 22nd and in favour of the continuation of the legislative process for Bill C-391.
If in fact this motion from the Public Safety Committee is defeated and a final vote on C-391 is scheduled then I will again cast a vote to abolish the Long Gun Registry as per the wishes of the vast majority my constituents.
Whether C-391 passes or fails I believe that this must serve as a starting point for a national dialogue to develop a new firearm control policy in this country that enhances public safety and respects the rights, culture, and traditions of all Canadians.