The Conservatives have several NDP members of Parliament in their sights, saying they say should listen to their rural constituents and vote with the government to kill the long-gun registry.
Bill C-19, which will scrap the contentious program, is up for a third and final vote in the House of Commons Wednesday evening, where it is sure to pass under a Conservative majority.
At a morning news conference Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, his parliamentary secretary Manitoba MP Candice Hoeppner, and Minister of State for Small Business Maxime Bernier renewed their pitch for Opposition support.
Ms. Hoeppner said New Democrats such as Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton and Nathan Cullen turned their back on their rural constituents who want the registry scrapped.
The bill was narrowly defeated previously under a minority Tory government. The Liberals whipped their MPs to vote as a block against it and some New Democrats who had opposed the registry previously changed their votes to help keep it alive.
“These members of Parliament will and should be held accountable for what they do tonight,” Ms. Hoeppner said. “They told their constituents they would do something, then they didn’t do it but they can do it today.”
The New Democrats were unmoved.
“Our party is really clear. We’ll vote against this motion,” Interim NDP Leader Nycole Turmel said at a news conference, adding there will be “consequences” for MPs who don’t follow the party line. “We’ll see after the vote.”
Mr. Bernier said MPs and gun-rights advocates will celebrate together Parliament Hill after the vote – a decision that Ms. Turmel called arrogant and a slap in the face of victims of the Montreal Massacre, when a gunman shot and killed 14 women with a rifle in 1989. Soon after, the Liberal government brought in the country’s first mandatory long-gun registry in 1995.
The bill still has to make its way through a vote in the Senate and receive royal assent before the program is scrapped, along with all the data collected since its inception.
Gun licences for individuals will still be required under the new bill, and the registry for restricted and prohibited firearms such as handguns will be maintained.
But Mr. Toews dodged questions on how long it might take to fully eliminate the long-gun registry. “As soon as possible” is all he would say.
The government of Quebec, meanwhile, intends take legal action to keep the provincial portion of the long-gun registry data so it can establish its own registry – a move the Conservatives vigorously oppose.
To emphasize their point Wednesday, the Tories painted a picture of nostalgic rural way of life at their news conference.
“That looks like my riding,” Mr. Toews said under a backdrop of a father and sun on a hunting trip.
The picture, however, is not of the minister’s Manitoba constituency. It is a stock photo with copyright credited to Stevenson Photography, a photo agency in Tempe, Arizona.