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This article was published 30/8/2010 (2545 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA -- NDP Leader Jack Layton has promised a private member's bill to amend penalties and fees on the long-gun registry in a last-ditch attempt to save both the registry and the unity of his caucus.
It comes just three weeks before a crucial vote on a private member's bill seeking to scrap the gun registry for non-restricted long guns and at least one anti-gun registry NDP MP says Layton's offer is far too late in the game to change anything.
The NDP bill would eliminate criminal fines for initial charges of not registering a gun, eliminate the fee for registration and implement protections for aboriginal treaty rights and the privacy rights of gun owners.
Layton said the proposal is a compromise between pro- and anti-gun registry groups. He accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper of a divide-and-conquer, winner-takes-all attitude that is un-Canadian.
"That might be fine in sports... but that's not how we should govern a country for heaven's sake," Layton said Monday.
Layton's proposal is similar to one offered by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff last spring. Ignatieff, however, also plans to whip the vote on the gun registry, requiring all his Liberal MPs to vote to keep the registry.
That vote, scheduled for Sept. 22, is on a motion to kill the bill introduced by Manitoba Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner. The bill, C-391, passed in November 2009 with the support of all the Conservative MPs, eight Liberals and 12 NDP MPs.
Hoeppner said Layton's proposal is the same thing the Liberals offered up and just proves the NDP wants to keep the registry.
"We've been clear we think the long-gun registry should end," said Hoeppner.
She is in the midst of a tour to ridings of Liberal and NDP MPs who backed her bill last fall, lobbying them not to change their votes.
While the Conservatives are looking to blast the Liberals for scrapping the registry, the Liberals are looking to gain support from NDP voters. For several weeks now the Liberals have said if the gun registry dies it will be because Layton refused to show the same kind of leadership as Ignatieff and whip his caucus's vote.
But Layton said Monday whipping a vote is not the NDP way.
"We are continuing to work within the caucus," said Layton.
Manitoba NDP MP Jim Maloway said he was not consulted by Layton or anyone else on the proposed bill.
"I got a heads-up on Saturday that there would be announcement by the leader Monday morning on the gun registry," said Maloway.
Regardless, said Maloway, he still plans to vote with Hoeppner.
"Nothing there changes my view on the long-gun registry," said Maloway.
He also said Layton's proposal is too little too late.
"This bill just went through committee last spring," said Maloway. "Where were all these amendments at the committee?"