THUNDER BAY – Today I am off to the first day of the new session of Parliament in Ottawa. It responsibility I do not take lightly, as I am honoured to work on behalf of the people of Thunder Bay-Superior North in our nation’s capital.
As you know, I and other Members of Parliament are facing some difficult votes on the long gun registry. It is a heavy responsibility on a tough issue … one that has too often been used to divide and polarize Canadians, making it more difficult to come to any agreement.
Each Member must consider the facts and the wishes of their own constituents when casting their vote, and no matter what choice is made, or what the outcome, some will be disappointed.
Over the past months I have held many public meetings and polled my constituents. I have met with many concerned individuals and groups on both sides of this contentious and emotional issue. I greatly value each of their opinions and my door will always remain open to them, regardless of the outcome.
I do not take this vote lightly. Over seven years and three elections I have consulted the constituents of Thunder Bay-Superior North on this issue.
On the doorstep, in letters, in over a thousand emails, and in meeting-halls across the riding, their overwhelming desire to end the long gun registry has been made abundantly clear.
For many years I have made a commitment to them to end the long gun registry.
I have also studied the issue and I believe that the P.A.L. (the Possession & Acquisition Licence) that requires the testing and licensing of all legal firearms owners, along with safe storage and transportation regulations, are the truly effective parts of our firearms legislation.
I have thought long and hard over this, and I would never cast a vote that I thought reduced the safety of Canadians in any way. The guns that are especially problematic in our society, the prohibited and restricted ones like handguns, will still be registered.
After all this debate and study, unless new developments arise or an acceptable compromise is reached, I intend to cast my vote to end the long gun registry on future votes.
I remain hopeful that parties in the House of Commons will be willing and able to work towards a compromise solution that ensures our safety, while respecting the cultural and economic needs of families and communities across rural Canada. I will be working in Parliament towards that, right up until the final vote.
I commend Jack Layton for allowing a free vote. While other parties are dictating what their MPs will do, Jack has used reason – instead of the whip – to convince people of his position in the best traditions of democracy.
Instead of taking the easy way out, he has put forward a constructive compromise that I hope others will see as a launching point for discussions towards a real solution.
This is especially important because I feel we must solve this, and move on. The issue is being used to divide Canadians, and it takes up much of the attention that could be paid to tackling other important issues I want to see addressed, and my constituents want to see addressed. Issues like pay equity, the pensions crisis, child care, global climate change, and creating good jobs for our region, amongst others.
Above all, I will keep the interests of my constituents foremost in my mind in any negotiations or votes in Parliament. I want to be crystal clear with them, since they deserve to know where I stand on issues they care about.
Bruce Hyer, MP
Thunder Bay-Superior North