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Editorial cartoon by Brian Gable (The Globe and Mail)
Editorial cartoon by Brian Gable (The Globe and Mail)

War of Words

Change in gun-registry tune <br/>puts NDP MP on firing line Add to ...

The latest salvo in the long-gun registry battle is a Tory attack on an NDP MP who decided Tuesday to switch his vote.

But there's more - a new Liberal campaign aimed at embarrassing the New Democrats for weak leadership on the issue and a new poll that shows public opinion in Canada is moving against the Tories and toward the opposition in favour of saving the registry.

The crucial third-reading vote on the registry's future is scheduled to take place in the House of Commons on Sept. 22. MP Glenn Thibeault now says he is on board to support the registry and the compromise position of his leader, Jack Layton.

The Sudbury MP was one of the 12 New Democrats who had voted with the Harper government to scrap the controversial registry. His reversal did not sit well with the Conservatives.

"If Thibeault were listening to his voters rather than his out of touch leader from downtown Toronto he would vote to end the registry not save it," Conservative strategists say in a memo to supporters. "On September 22 voters will see if Glenn Thibeault is a true representative for Sudbury or just another out of touch Ottawa NDP MP."

The Tories were not the only ones attacking the NDP. The Liberals also launched a new fundraising initiative, complete with a website identifying the NDP MPs who supported the Tories on the registry bill.

The Liberals list the names and phone numbers of six senior NDP MPs, including leader Jack Layton and deputy leader Thomas Mulcair, encouraging registry supporters to call them. They also provide a pointed script: "I want you to know that I will hold the NDP responsible for weakening the public safety of my community and my loved ones if the Bill passes."

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has ordered his MPs to support the registry or face punishment after eight of his MPs voted to scrap the registry on second reading. Mr. Layton, however, has refused to whip his caucus, drawing criticism from the Liberals that his leadership is lacking.

A new Harris-Decima poll, meanwhile, shows that 48 per cent of Canadians believe it would be a "bad idea" to kill the registry. The survey, conducted for The Canadian Press in late August, shows support for the program up from April, when 42 per cent of Canadians thought killing it was a bad idea. According to the poll, the shift in support came from women, Ontarians and high wage earners.

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