Skip to main content
parliament resumes

Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner, whose private member's bill would scrap the controversial gun registry, arrives on Parliament Hill on Sept. 20, 2010.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner is still hoping she can sway enough MPs to salvage her effort to end the controversial gun registry.

Ms. Hoeppner arrived at Parliament Hill on Monday in an SUV trimmed with signs that said "Scrap the Long-Gun Registry." She has spent the past several weeks driving into opposition ridings in an effort to secure support for her private-member's bill.

Three hours earlier, NDP Peter Stoffer, a long-time opponent of the registry, said he has changed his mind and will vote Wednesday to save the program - a move that gives supporters of the registry the numbers they need to defeat Ms. Hoeppner's bill.

The Manitoba Tory was not happy. "Right now I am focused on this vote. I still do have two days left," she told reporters. "I have been trying to reach Peter Stoffer since Wednesday. He hadn't called me back. Now I know why."

Ms. Hoeppner said that if Mr. Stoffer's decision "wasn't so sad, it would be laughable."

Mr. Stoffer said in a statement that, although he personally opposes the registry and has spoken against it for 15 years, his constituents overwhelmingly urged him to vote to keep it.

NDP Leader Jack Layton, whose caucus is divided between urban and rural MPs, has said they will be free to vote as they choose on Wednesday. But he has been urging them to support the registry and several NDP MPs who oppose the registry now say that they will vote to kill Ms. Hoeppner's bill.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has whipped his caucus on the issue. But all eyes Wednesday will be on the Liberal section of the House of Commons to see who shows up. Party officials say all of their members will be in their seats and all will vote to end Ms. Hoeppner's bill.

When asked about the gun-registry bill at a news conference Monday to mark the return to Parliament after a summer in which he travelled the country, Mr. Ignatieff said he did not believe his MPs would pay a price in the next election for their vote to keep the registry.

"What Canadians understand, what my caucus understands, is that we need gun control in this country as a matter of public safety and then we need to make that system work for all Canadians," Mr. Ignatieff said.

The Liberal Leader has proposed a series of changes aimed at satisfying the large numbers of Canadians who are vehemently opposed to the registry, as has Mr. Layton.

But Prime Minister Stephen Harper has indicated no willingness to compromise on this issue. He and three cabinet ministers will fly back to Ottawa from New York - between speeches on Tuesday and Thursday at the United Nations - so they can vote against the gun registry.

Meanwhile, an Angus Reid online poll suggests that more than 38 per cent of Canadians believe that the long-gun registry has been unsuccessful in preventing crime in Canada, while 31 per cent think it has had no effect on crime and just 16 per cent believe it has been successful.

Roughly 46 per cent of the respondents to the poll said the registry should be scrapped. Not surprisingly, that view was expressed most often in the Prairie provinces. On the other hand, 40 per cent said they would keep the registry, including 59 per cent of those polled in Quebec.