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.