MANITOULIN—Last week the Harper government’s controversial bill to end the long-gun registry passed in the House of Commons by a vote of 159-130, with Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes one of 130 MPs who voted in favour of keeping the registry.
“I voted the same way I did the last time this came to a vote, to maintain the long-gun registry,” Ms. Hughes told the Recorder in an interview last week. “As I have indicated before, after a lot of discussion, testimony and feedback I found that people in this riding were divided on this issue, and a lot of the issues that have been forwarded to my office on the registry have been based more on administration issues rather than the registry itself.”
Ms. Hughes said, “the NDP had suggested a practical solution to fix the registry, with a private member’s bill last year, but other party MPs didn’t support it. I had requested that it be moved to committee to allow for further discussion and investigation as to either keeping it or getting rid of it.”
However, “the Conservatives have a majority and have now voted in favour of it being scrapped, and now it will go to the Senate,” said Ms. Hughes. “Here we have a government that talks about the need to protect law abiding people and then they put in place the access to the Internet bill, so that the privacy of all Canadians is infringed upon. Government wants to get rid of the long-gun registry because of its affect on law abiding people, but they will go after people using the technology (computers) just about everyone uses. It doesn’t make sense.”
“What is clear is that government is not standing up for the victims of (and potential victims,) of gun crimes despite warnings from police,” continued Ms. Hughes.
The vote in the House took place on February 15, with the House of Commons packed with staunch supporters and die-hard opponents of the gun registry.
Almost all opposition MPs voted against the legislation, except for New Democrats Bruce Hyer and John Rafferty.
The Senate hearings are expected to take several weeks before the bill is passed into law this spring. Once that happens, RCMP officers will begin deleting information in a massive database that provides details to police on what type of firearms gun owners possess.
The bill to abolish the gun registry, which dates back to the mid-1990s, has been a longstanding goal of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative party. The Tories tried to kill the registry with a private member’s bill which was defeated in October 2010.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews was quoted as saying the government’s actions to cancel the gun registry are long overdue. He said the registry does nothing to help put an end to gun crimes and hasn’t saved one Canadian life. He said the bill was designed simply as an attempt to make people feel safe, rather than doing something substantive in criminal law.