The NDP took the hard road

I know many people are upset that Jack Layton did not whip the NDP vote on bill C-391. Jack Layton is a founding member of the white ribbon campaign and organization. Layton is one of the strongest advocates of the gun registry. I seriously doubt anyone can say otherwise without a partisan smirk on their face, such as was displayed by Liberal MP Mark Holland tonight during the debate of the Liberal motion to kill Bill C-391 before third reading.

It has turned out to be a good political move on the one hand by the Liberals. They have everyone drinking the kool-aid. The Liberals had to whip the vote because they could not be sure they would have enough votes otherwise.

Layton could have violated parliamentary tradition by whipping his vote. Instead he took a much harder route, one that was honest and bent on building bridges. Layton and his caucus spent a good deal of effort persuading MP's to vote to keep the gun registry. In the process they have come to some agreements on how to address concerns of rural, aboriginal and northern Canadians have with the registry.

Sometimes democracy is hard work, but that work is never unrewarded. The NDP have persuaded enough NDP MP's to ensure Bill C-391 is defeated.

Its popular to label those that support doing away with the registry as gun-toting dinosaurs. Nothing could be further from the truth. I lived in small town BC and worked with many people of all political stripes. Its fair to say that a sizable percentage of NDP and Liberal supporters in the community did not support the gun registry. Largely due to the cost and then the criminal aspect to it.

Its not surprising then that the NDP had such a large percentage of MPs from rural areas that supported ending the registry. If you look at the Liberal caucus right now you will see the NDP have more MPs in rural communities. You can bet that if the Liberals had more than a few rural MP's they would be in the same NDP boat right now and whipped vote or not would not save them without serious discussions occurring.

Had Jack Layton decided to whip his vote I am sure he would have got all his MPs to vote as he wished. The next election would have seen Conservatives pick up some of those NDP whipped votes, perhaps giving the Conservatives enough pick-ups to form a majority government. You can bet on how long the gun registry lasts after a majority Conservative Government comes to power.

The case also suggests that some "whipped" Liberals could then feel safer about defying their leader and voting to kill the Gun registry with little cost to themselves and likely holding onto their seats.

The NDP position actually helps ensure there will be enough votes to save the gun registry in the end. The NDP, Liberal and BLOC all want to save the registry. Its too bad the Liberals and BLOC have decided to blame the NDP, before an actual vote.

I support the registry. I have from the beginning. I have many friends that do not. I disagree with them but I certainly do not think less of them because of it.

The NDP have paid a political price as the latest polls have shown. Sometimes democracy is hard work and often its not appreciated in a world of tweets and 15 second TV clips.


Anonymous said...

I just do not trust Jack Layton's motives; he seems mostly concerned with screwing over the Liberal Party, even if it means going along with Harper. See The Walrus "Fake Left, Go Right" about Layton. I've always lived in rural areas, or worked in them - including Labrador, and small-town Nova Scotia; my father/grandfather were hunters - and I see no problem with filling out a register. Harper has turned it into a partisan issue, dividing Canadians - and at the bottom of it, it's scheming so that he can get a majority.

If he gets a majority, Layton has a lot to answer for.

Rick Barnes said...

Boy are you barking up the wrong tree. I support the registry, have registered my gun, paid the fees etc. I am not opposed to it.

If Harper gets a majority it will have a lot more to do with the Liberals and of course Canadian voters.

He is more likely to succeed because Canadians see no alternative in Iggy.

As leftdog stated in a comment in the post below, all hell breaks loose tomorrow if a Liberal MP stays away!

CfSR said...

The only reason that we can discuss the possibility that the gun registry debate ends tomorrow is that Michael Ignatieff whipped the Liberal vote after the embarassment of second reading and put vulnerable Canadians first.

There may be more important principles than protecting vulnerable Canadians at play here for not whipping. Damned if I know what they are. Charlie Angus effectively debunked the this Bill is not really a private members bill talking point on The House last weekend..

And I have no doubt that if the smart people around Layton had listen to advice they were offered and whipped the vote before Ignatieff, they would have kicked the crap out of the Liberals on the gun registry.

The rest is just crocodile tears.

Rick Barnes said...

@CfSR: And the registry might have been saved. This way I think we have a chance.

Anonymous said...

Good post Rick - fully agree. The fear now is whether some constituent MPs feel more strongly about scrapping this registry than they do about saving their leaders' and their parties' hides. Although Layton didn't whip his caucus, I worry he stands to lose as much authority as Ignatieff if his persuasive approach somehow doesn't pull everyone onside in the end.

Rick Barnes said...

I expect that at least 6 NDP members will switch and maybe more. Its a tough call but if all the Libs vote we have saved the registry