It isn’t Jack Layton’s Finest Hour


THUNDER BAY – Jack Layton is stating that he has secured the support of enough NDP MPs to assure the survival of the long gun registry. That support does not include Bruce Hyer, or apparently John Rafferty. Hyer and Rafferty are standing their ground and doing the right thing on this hyper expensive and mostly useless program.

In taking first a position that the NDP would seek a compromise, Layton has now moved to outright opposition. Layton has laid bare the idea that he sought compromise in the first place.

Long term political observers will perhaps remember that only a few years ago, Layton set his sights on the Prime Minister’s job. Now, Layton is taking an issue that could have, should the NDP leader have thought through his compromise position, he could have won the day on this issue.

He could have appeared Prime Ministerial. Instead Layton has demonstrated that his idea of rural Canada is a Toronto suburb.  He has demonstrated that he won’t take new paths or new ideas and he is content in his rhetoric.

The problem with gun crime in Toronto is not going to be solved by the gun registry; if anything it diverts resources from efforts that could really solve the problem with crime.

Layton’s problem is that his ideology gets the better of him on many issues, and even when he has the chance to widen the NDP’s appeal he twists the wrists of his MPs to follow his urban mentality.

Jack as several MPs have relayed in conversation has never learned to listen, he prefers the sound of his own voice.

Some of the NDP MPs who have switched their vote are doing so in reaction to the Conservative’s ad campaign that they see as unfairly targeting them. In other words, instead of doing what they know is right, they are letting their personal ego rule their parliamentary duties.

Sad isn’t it?

From those MPs, Claude Gravelle, is one MP who has announced a switch in his position. It is possible he sees himself as a future leader and has to figure out how to appease the NDP’s Toronto voters. The problem is that from Kenora riding in Northwestern Ontario all the way across to Vancouver the NDP position is one likely to assure no political support or MPs outside of a couple here and there.

The gun issue and the failed Liberal approach that the NDP is endorsing has made the Liberals a virtually extinct species across the west.

Other MPs, like Charlie Angus is likely politically safe in his riding. Charlie’s vote is weighed not counted. His vote on the registry is hard to figure as the impact on many of the people in his riding has been basically to simply ignore the law. Charlie likely knows that he should vote down this failed program, but out of spite and anger he is going to vote for it.

Does the issue matter? If anything, based on readership, the issue matters. Thousands of readers from across Canada have followed this issue on The opportunity was there for Jack Layton and the NDP.

For Layton, it was possible that the NDP leader could have risen to the occasion. He has done it before. His best days in Parliament were in working with Prime Minister Harper on the Residential School issue and apology.

It is likely however despite the self-congratulatory mood exuded by Layton on the registry; this is certainly not his finest hour. Layton decided to support rhetoric and a failed system because it plays better politically.

He could have moved to solve the problem by refocusing the registry away from the law-abiding and toward criminals and violent people who pose a real threat to society. Instead the NDP leader and those NDP MPs who are switching their vote have chosen the easy way, and in effect lost the opportunity to stand for something important and worthwhile.

For many of those MPs all their flip-flopping means is that Canadians once again have another reason not to bother paying attention to them, or respecting them.

James Murray

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