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An Ottawa gun shop owner adjusts a scope on a rifle in December of 2002. (DAVE CHAN/Dave Chan/The Globe and Mail)
An Ottawa gun shop owner adjusts a scope on a rifle in December of 2002. (DAVE CHAN/Dave Chan/The Globe and Mail)

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Tory bagmen come out with long guns blazing Add to ...

Stephen Harper's Conservatives have launched a new fundraising campaign aimed at filling their war chest on the back of Michael Ignatieff's vow to whip his caucus into voting to preserve the long-gun registry.

A fundraising letter from Irving Gerstein, the chair of Conservative Fund Canada, pleading for donations of between $100 and $200, was sent late yesterday. It follows the party's radio ad campaign targeting the ridings of the eight Liberal MPs who voted with the government to scrap the controversial program.

Mr. Gerstein, who was appointed to the Senate by the Prime Minister last year, names the eight Grit rebels in his letter, urging supporters to donate now to help "hold these Liberal MPs to their previous commitment."

"They need to understand the political consequences of going back on their word. Of voting against their constituents. Of choosing Michael Ignatieff over their friends and neighbours back home."

Mr. Ignatieff, the Liberal Leader, reignited the debate over scrapping the long-gun registry this week in a speech to police. He said his caucus would not support a Conservative private member's bill to abolish the registry.

The bill, by Manitoba MP Candice Hoeppner, is expected to return to the House for third reading in either May or June. Last November, eight of Mr. Ignatieff's MPs, mainly from rural ridings, voted for the Tory legislation despite the fact the long-gun registry was created by the Jean Chrétien's Liberals - at great political cost.

"These MPs have now been told that they MUST support Michael Ignatieff," Mr. Gerstein writes. "They must vote to protect and preserve the failed long-gun registry. They must choose their leader over their constituents. They must do what they have been told."

The Harper Tories are successful at raising money, knowing which buttons to push (anti-CBC fundraising works well, apparently) to bring in cash to help pay for their anti-Liberal ad campaigns and other pre-writ strategy spending.

But the Conservative zeal to scrap the registry has also created headaches and embarrassment for the Prime Minister. An aggressively-worded press release, saying police chiefs are part of a cult for supporting the registry and suggesting Liberal MPs should beat their leader " black and blue" for his registry support, was sent out this week from the office of anti-long gun registry MP Garry Breitkreuz.

The Saskatchewan MP apologized, saying he didn't write the letter. And yesterday, in Question Period, Mr. Harper said the staffer who wrote the release had resigned.

Mr. Gerstein, meanwhile, says donations will "ensure that every long-gun owner, every citizen and every voter in these eight Liberal ridings will be fully aware of the choice they must make."

"Working together we can scrap the failed Liberal long-gun registry," he writes. "If Michael Ignatieff succeeds, the failed long-gun registry will continue to threaten law-abiding farmers, hunters and sport-shooting competitors - while doing nothing to reduce gun crime in our major cities."

The full text of the Conservative fundraising letter follows:

(Urgent) Stop Michael Ignatieff from preserving the failed long-gun registry

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Earlier this week, Michael Ignatieff turned his back on rural Canadians by renewing his vow to protect and preserve the failed long-gun registry. And this time around, he's promised to whip his rural MPs into protecting and preserving this costly Liberal legacy.

If Michael Ignatieff succeeds, the failed long-gun registry will continue to threaten law-abiding farmers, hunters and sport-shooting competitors - while doing nothing to reduce gun crime in our major cities.

We need your support now to prevent that from happening. Please make a contribution of $200 or $100 by following this link right now.

During the last session of Parliament, eight Liberal MPs stood with their constituents and voted with the Conservative Government to scrap the long-gun registry.

Liberal MP Todd Russell was clear:

"I've been clear about my position and I will be consistent with that particular position, and I will vote subsequently to scrap the long-gun registry," (The Labradorian, Dec. 29, 2009).

So was Liberal MP Anthony Rota. He went so far as to call the long-gun registry "disgusting" (North Bay Nugget, June 18, 2004).

Russell and Rota were joined by six other Liberal MPs in voting against the long-gun registry: Scott Andrews, Larry Bagnell, Jean-Claude D'Amours, Wayne Easter, Keith Martin and Scott Simms.

These MPs have now been told that they MUST support Michael Ignatieff. They must vote to protect and preserve the failed long-gun registry. They must choose their leader over their constituents. They must do what they have been told.

We need your help today to hold these Liberal MPs to their previous commitment. They need to understand the political consequences of going back on their word. Of voting against their constituents. Of choosing Michael Ignatieff over their friends and neighbours back home.

The Conservative Party is launching a campaign to do just that. Please make a contribution of $200 or $100 right now by following this link in support of this campaign. We will ensure that every long-gun owner, every citizen and every voter in these eight Liberal ridings will be fully aware of the choice they must make.

Their choice will be clear: SCRAP the failed long-gun registry or KEEP it. It's as simple as that. No shifting, no sliding.

We need your help today to keep these Liberal MPs to their word. Make a contribution of $200 or $100 right now by following this link.

Working together we can scrap the failed Liberal long-gun registry. Support our campaign today.

Sincerely,

Irving R. Gerstein, C.M., O.Ont.

Chair, Conservative Fund Canada

PS - Remember that you'll receive a tax receipt for any contribution you make. This can make the actual cost of your contribution as low as 25% of your overall giving this year. Please, follow this link right now and make a contribution of $200 or $100.

Follow on Twitter: @janetaber1

 

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