Robert Silver

NDP using gun registry as Western Canadian strategy?

The Globe and Mail

NDP Leader Jack Layton speaks to reporters in Ottawa on Aug. 11, 2010. (The Canadian Press)

For most of the recent gun registry debate, Jack Layton and the NDP have tried to have it both ways on the upcoming vote. On the one hand, of course Jack Layton is in favour of the gun registry. I mean, white ribbon campaign? Downtown Toronto? Come-on guys - of course Jack is in favour of the gun registry!

Story continues below ad

But here in Toronto, his message has also largely been it`s a free vote, not much Jack can do about it and hopefully his caucus will come around and save the darn thing - because Jack is a big supporter of the registry, please believe him!

I call bullshit. The NDP are using their dismantling of the registry as a cynical political sword. This isn't an accident but a planned strategy that they are rolling out step-by-step. Consider the following quotes from Brad Lavigne this morning:

"Far too often, Eastern-based reporters say it's the Liberals and the Tories who are neck-and-neck and fighting it out for government," Lavigne said from Regina Sunday. "In fact, in Western Canada and now we believe with the gun registry, it's the NDP not the Liberals who are the competition in out here.

"We¹re going to be working in the next six months to bring together under our banner those non-conservative voters because we are the competition to Stephen Harper here in the West."

So Lavigne feels that in Western Canada "with the gun registry," the NDP are the main competition to the Conservatives. You see, the thinking goes, Westerners are united in their opposition to the registry. Lavigne now believes "with the gun registry" - meaning the NDP`s role in killing it - that the NDP are poised to reap the political benefit.

I'm not sure how you read that statement other than "those dastardly Liberals support the registry, not us New Democrats - we are the party that is dismantling it and now that our opposition to the registry is clear, we are poised to take on the Conservatives in Western Canada."

That's of course the NDP's right. If they want to use their role in killing the gun registry for cheap political benefit that's up to people like Tom Mulcair, Olivia Chow and their party president Peggy Nash to make that decision. I just hope all of their members are ready to defend the strategy in the next election campaign.