Thursday, August 26, 2010

A friendly reminder...

...for those trying to pretend that whether the Cons frame gun registry legislation as a private members' bill or a government bill should make a lick of difference in how the NDP handles it.

The NDP's position on the gun registry has always been to allow free votes - including on the Libs' government bill that implemented it in the first place. So merely saying that C-391 is effectively a government bill doesn't change anything in how the NDP approaches the issue.

In turn, in keeping with that long-time party policy allowing for free MP choice, a number of the NDP's MPs have been elected based on explicit promises to vote down the registry. And while it's easy for the Libs to say that MPs from other parties should match their own willingness to break promises on orders from their leader, I'd much rather see the NDP hold itself to a higher standard of trust between MPs and constituents.

Now, none of the above should be taken as approving of the Cons' slimy tactics in seeking to get the bill passed. And it's worth noting that the Cons may well refuse to take "yes" for an answer - as I remain highly skeptical that they'll let C-391 pass in the Senate if it means losing one of their most productive cash cows for the next election.

But history and principle are both on the side of the NDP allowing its MPs to decide how to vote on an issue where both the Libs and the Cons have done their utmost to leave no good options. And if the Libs want to convince anybody to vote to keep the registry, they'll need to try to appeal to the NDP's MPs on the merits rather than demanding that Jack Layton eliminate their ability to think for themselves.

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