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A gun owner checks the sight of his rifle at a hunting camp west of Ottawa on Sept. 15, 2010.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Last week, MP Carol Hughes became the fifth member of NDP originally opposed to the gun registry to announce that she had changed her mind. The Globe's Siri Agrell spoke with her about the reaction in her northern Ontario riding of Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, the issue of "Toronto elites"and whatever happened to her husband's gun.

Why the change of heart?

I haven't changed my vote. I voted to move it to committee so there could be a review. The people who have approached me since the bill has been tabled have all indicated their concerns about the registry. I felt it was finally time we had an open discussion about the registry and whether it should be scrapped or whether it should be fixed.

Who's been approaching you?

I've heard from people within my riding, I've heard from people across Canada, I've heard from the police association and the nurses association, women's groups, the labour movement. I read reports, as well as written testimony. I had to take everything into consideration. From the beginning I've basically been impartial.

Did NDP leader Jack Layton ask you directly to support the registry?

Within our caucus there's always discussions about the issues. Certainly across the board Jack and some of the other members have indicated their support for the gun registry and asked us to consider that in our deliberations.

Do you own a gun?

I come from Northern Ontario and my family has certainly hunted. I don't really hunt. My husband used to but when the registry came into place initially he decided that because he only hunted partridge, he couldn't be bothered going through all the rigmarole. He gave the gun to my brother.

And did your brother register it?

As far as I know.

As a northern MP, what do you think of Conservative House Leader John Baird's suggestion that this issue is being pushed by the "Toronto elite"?

I was born and raised in the Sudbury area and lived in Elliot Lake for 27 years. The divide is not between urban and rural. That's what the Conservatives have continued to push. Even within my own riding, people are divided on this. I walked into a restaurant here today in Wawa and a hunter walked up to me and said he appreciated the way I voted. I had another guy this morning who didn't.

What did that guy say?

His line of thinking was that by police knowing his gun was registered, eventually the state would come and take it from him.

And how do you alleviate that concern?

Well, we try and talk through it. I can tell you I didn't lose that vote. He's a staunch NDP supporter. One of the other issues people have is that they're issued a card for every gun, plus their hunting licence. So when they go hunting, especially trappers, they have a pretty thick wallet. There are paperwork requirements that could be much easier to handle.

So what do you think should happen with the registry?

After all the deliberations and research I've done, I continue to believe that we can fix this and bridge the concerns that people have. I firmly believe that the changes the party has put forth are the proper ones.

Is your position that there has just been too much money spent on the registry to get rid of it now?

If you build a house and go over budget do you tear it down? No, you fix it. There's issues here that we can certainly fix. The emotional part of it we won't be able to fix because for some people this is just a really big passion and this anger has built up over the years. And there's no doubt the registry cost too much money at the beginning.

How often do long gun issues come up in your constituency?

In the three years that I've been elected, we've had three cases and one of them came up two days ago. Of all of those three, only one really involved the registry. The woman's husband had died and the registry is not very clear about how long you have to change the name over. Compared to the thousands of cases we get on Canada Revenue issues or EI or immigration and passports, three in three years is nothing.

Are you worried about a backlash in your constituency?

I just met with a constituent who is terminally ill and just became a Canadian citizen. That was much more important for me than the gun issue. When people get up in the morning it's not the first thing they think about. I also recently participated in the Take Back the Night event, to end violence against women. Considering that in the past ten years, 71 per cent of spousal homicides using firearms have involved shotguns and rifles, I slept well last night.

Did you know that when you Google your name and "gun registry," an advertisement comes up paid for by the Conservative Party?

It's unfortunate that the Conservatives continue to build wedges between Canadians. Instead of dividing them they should be uniting them. That's what a good leader does and a good party does. This has been a money grab for donations and preparations for election after election.

Does it make you nervous getting involved in a debate that involves guns?

Am I worried that people are coming to my office armed? No. But I worked for probation and parole for years, so you always exercise caution.