Whipping the Gun Vote Demonstrates Ignatieff’s Problem

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Michael Ignatieff MPTHUNDER BAY – The House of Commons resumes this week. One of the first items of business will be a vote on a private members bill on the federal long gun registry. Over the past months Jack Layton and Michael Ignatieff have taken different approaches to the situation.

Ignatieff has whipped his caucus and demanded that they all vote against the bill. Layton is allowing a free vote but spent time this summer trying to convince his MPs to vote to keep the registry.

Both Thunder Bay MPs, Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay Superior North) and John Rafferty (Thunder Bay Rainy River) are stating that they will stand their ground and vote as their constituents have told them. They will vote to kill this divisive and misdirected program first imposed by the Liberals.

Ignatieff’s two Liberal candidates have been completely silent on the issue. Yves Fricot and Ken Boshcoff have not issued any statements on how they would vote on this issue which has dominated headlines for weeks.

Ignatieff’s decision is likely going to cost him MPs.

Albina Guarnieri, a Liberal MP from Mississauga has announced that she will not seek re-election. Guarnieri was once tasked by the Liberals to look at the gun program and came away with a report that offered solutions. The Party never adopted those common sense solutions.

Although the veteran MP’s decision to step down is related to health issues, the loss of such a solid and common sense MP won’t bode well for Ignatieff. Losing good MPs who can think clearly is never a good thing for a party leader.

For the Liberals the move to whip the MPs to force them to vote as Ignatieff demands may well cost them their last Northern Ontario MP Tony Rota. The Nipissing-Timiskaming MP has voted to kill the measure in the past, but faces a dilemma.

If he supports his leader then Ignatieff will win. If he does, it is likely in the next election then Rota may lose. Of course so too will Ignatieff. One would think having at least one seat in Northern Ontario would be something Ignatieff would want.

Heck, one might think if his Liberal Express had reached out past hard-core Liberal supporters this summer, Ignatieff might even have thought of engaging Western Canada.

After all, leaving North Bay and heading west, it is a 1782 km drive before one arrives in the riding of another Liberal MP. Leaving Winnipeg, it takes another 600 km drive before arriving in Ralph Goodale’s Regina riding where the lone Saskatchewan Liberal MP lives. Leaving Regina, one must then travel another 1800 km before arriving in Vancouver where there are three Liberal MPs.

While there were once three Liberal MPs in Northwestern Ontario, ham-fisted decisions by the Liberals over the last six years have led to political change put in place by the voters.

Ignatieff could have used this vote to put the two billion dollar gun registry boondoggle behind him.

Putting the scandals of the past behind the Liberals would likely be a great way of moving the party forward. Instead, Ignatieff is clinging to the past. By demanding his entire MPs bow down to his will,  he is setting the stage for what growing numbers of Canadians already understand. Ignatieff will likely never make it as Prime Minister.

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