Liberals Step Up Gun Registry Pressure – for Sep. 16, 2010

With the Commons heading toward a Sept. 22 shootout over Conservative plans to scrap the long-gun registry, the Liberals are stepping up the pressure to reform it instead.

Liberal MP Frank Valeriote of Guelph, one of the party’s leading MPs on the Commons agriculture committee, didn’t mince words objecting to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s unbending opposition to the registry or NDP Leader Jack Layton’s stance during a Sept. 7 news conference.

MPs are scheduled to vote Sept. 22 on Manitoba Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner’s private member’s bill to scrap the registry. If passed, it would still have to pass the Senate.

Valeriote, a lawyer by profession, is one of the founders of the Parliamentary compassionate care caucus. It advocates for better care and understanding

for people contemplating suicide or euthanasia because of a crippling disease or end-of-life condition.

He’s considered a small-c conservative Liberal who backs a registry that’s less punitive and aggravating toward gun owners.

During a Sept. 7 news conference, Valeriote announced an online campaign to deliver a message in support of the registry to the government and the NDP.

“Layton’s refusal to support the gun registry stands in stark

contrast to Michael Ignatieff’s principled leadership stand to save it,” he said. “He had a choice – to side with police officers and victims of gun crimes, or stand with Harper – and he chose to play into Harper’s ideological campaign against the life-saving gun registry.

“Front-line police officers, police chiefs, paramedics, doctors, women’s groups and a strong majority of everyday Canadians know that the long-gun registry is an essential tool that helps keep all Canadians safe – and we want Layton to know just how costly it will be if he chooses to ignore them.”

In response, Layton’s office accused the Liberals of playing political games with the serious issue of the gun registry. The Liberals singled out six NDP MPs as wavering in their support of the registry, although the NDP say they all voted for the registry in the past.

“What do the six have in common? All are urban ridings where the Liberals finished second in the last election.”

Layton has also proposed changes to the gun registry to lessen public opposition to it.

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“Layton’s refusal to support the gun registry stands in stark contrast to Michael Ignatieff’s principled leadership stand to save it.”

– FRANK VALERIOTE

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