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'Cynical' Tory tactics prompt third NDP MP to back gun registry

NDP Leader Jack Layton smiles alongside then-candidate Claude Gravelle in Sudbury on April 23, 2005.


A third New Democrat MP says he's changed his mind and will vote against a bill to do away with the long-gun registry.

Claude Gravelle, the member for Nickel Belt, says he wants the registry fixed, not killed.

He was among 12 New Democrats and eight Liberals from rural and northern ridings who voted in support of a Tory private member's bill on the registry last fall.

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MP Candice Hoeppner's bill comes up for another vital vote later this month and needs at least some NDP votes to survive.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says he'll have his whole caucus vote against the bill this time; the Bloc is solidly opposed.

Mr. Gravelle joins colleagues Charlie Angus and Glenn Thibeault in backtracking on the legislation. He says the Conservatives' hard-ball approach to the issue finally turned him around.

"The mounting rhetoric and divisive debate egged on by Conservative MPs has convinced me that I needed to make a decision sooner, rather than later," Mr. Gravelle said.

He said he was frustrated by the Tory refusal to even consider modifications to the registry.

"There are problems with the long-gun registry which could easily be fixed to address the concerns of hunters, farmers and First Nations communities," he said.

"Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Conservatives had no interest in working collaboratively with other parliamentarians because they had intended all along to use this bill as a fundraising tool, and as a cynical way of dividing rural and urban Canadians."

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NDP Leader Jack Layton has refused to break a long-standing party tradition that allows MPs to vote as they will on private member's bills.

He's tried hard, though, to persuade his mavericks to switch their votes.

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