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Tories draw a bead on pro-registry opposition MPs Add to ...

1. Reading, aim, fire. Stephen Harper's Conservatives launched an aggressive campaign, including radio ads and billboards, Monday to pressure the 20 opposition MPs who voted with the government to scrap the registry not to reverse their votes.

This is a last-ditch effort by the Tories to ensure the registry dies. It comes on the eve of a crucial vote on the controversial program's future scheduled for next Wednesday in the House of Commons.

The ads - available at scraptheregistry.ca - are tailored to each, individual MP:

"Hey honey," says a woman's voice at the beginning of the radio spot. "So, it's almost gone."

Asks her male partner: "What is?"

"The wasteful long-gun registry," she replies.

He says he's not so sure about that.

"The vote is going to be really, really close," he says. "But get this, our MP Wayne Easter is being told to vote to keep the long-gun registry by his Ottawa boss."

Says the woman: "I'm worried he'll listen to Michael Ignatieff instead of to us."

Replies her partner: "I sure hope Wayne Easter know who he's supposed to be working for."

Mr. Easter, a Liberal MP from PEI, voted last November for Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner's bill to scrap the registry. He has since said he will vote with his leader, Michael Ignatieff, to save it.

In fact, all eight Liberals are to vote with Mr. Ignatieff after he announced a compromise position on the registry this summer. He has whipped the vote, meaning any Liberal who does not toe the party line will be punished.

The NDP's position is different. Leader Jack Layton is not whipping his caucus, instead allowing his MPs, 12 of whom sided with the government last time around, to vote their conscience.

Still, he has offered a compromise position as well, and has managed in the last week to convince at least three MPs to change their minds.

"To turn their backs on their constituents now would be a major betrayal," Ms. Hoeppner is quoted as saying in a Conservative Party memo circulated to supporters and MPs Sunday afternoon.

The memo notes there is to be a billboard campaign in opposition-held communities and constituents will also be asked to call their MPs to "encourage" them not to change their vote.

"These MPs need to be reminded who they work for and to vote to scrap the registry," Ms. Hoeppner says in the memo.

The battle over the registry's future is intensifying and causing divisions not only within caucuses but among opposition parties. This weekend, Mr. Ignatieff turned up the pressure on Mr. Layton, calling on him to choose to either save the registry or let it die.

"The NDP is saying two things," Mr. Ignatieff said, according to a Sun Media report. "What they are saying in Northern Ontario is not what they are saying in other parts of the country. We want [Leader]Jack Layton to stand up with the police and defend the gun registry [bill to abolish it]..."

"It's time for Jack Layton to choose," he said.

2. Easy target. Calling Sun readers "illiterate" has consequences - just ask Ian Davey.

Sun editorialists and reporters are on the attack after Mr. Davey, the former chief of staff to Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, described the Toronto Sun as "a newspaper for people who can't read."

He made the remark on CTV's Question Period yesterday, responding to a report that Liberal MP Bob Rae (at times Mr. Ignatieff's nemesis) is supportive of the controversial issue of federal funding of a new arena in Quebec City.

"Bob Rae has told Liberal Party members he backs federal funding for a new arena in Quebec City as long as it's not the only initiative in the country," according to the Sun report.

"I'm a hockey fan, so naturally I see a team in Quebec," the Liberal MP said Friday at a fundraiser dinner in Montreal.

Mr. Davey, meanwhile, is not supportive of spending millions of taxpayer dollars on an arena. He thinks it's a mistake "whether you're a Liberal or you're a Conservative or a New Democrat. I don't think it works."

But his " cheap shot" remark about the Sun drew blood-red ink.

"Ian Davey is an idiot, but we thank him for being he idiot that he is," Sun editorialist Mark Bonokoski writes. "He just let the Liberal scat out the bag."

The editorial was posted online Sunday afternoon, hours after Mr. Davey's comment aired.

"Perhaps the former chief-of-staff to Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, and son of storied Liberal strategist Keith (The Rainmaker) Davey, does not have the capacity to appreciate what a $#*! storm he has created."

The editorial continues to insult Mr. Davey and Liberals, in general.

"To the Liberal elite, you are the underclass," it says. "To the Liberal elite, you are worthy only of insults. You are nothing but an illiterate. But even illiterates know how to make an X on an election ballot. And that is the definitive upside."

In the end, however, it seems that Mr. Rae's remarks may have been misrepresented.

Liberal blogger Jeff Jedras noticed some differences in the Sun interpretation of Mr. Rae's remarks to that of a CTV story.

And so he contacted Mr. Rae:

"I sent Bob a message on Facebook and asked him, did you support funding the Quebec arena as the Sun reported, or urge caution as CTV reported? He replied quite quickly to clear things up:

I urged caution. I never spoke to Sun media. I said Harper needed to understand that this is not a "one off" decision. You can't just dole out money to a commercial arena in Quebec without understanding the implications for the rest of the country.

So it would seem the Sun completely distorted Rae's position, and he did not say let's fund all of them. He said you need to be cautious setting that kind of precedent."

Follow on Twitter: @janetaber1

 

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