Harper on gun registry: then and now
Found this 14-year-old story in the dusty archives this morning. Note the last paragraph. I seem to remember this Reform MP saying that it was his townhall meeting, and the vitriol from the gun lobby, that swayed him to vote the way he did. Of course, that was a long time ago.
** Update.. Aaron Wherry over at Macleans has posted yet another helpful reminder, by way of a story (by Joan Bryden, then at Southam), recounting how a young(er) Stephen Harper received threats after his support of the gun registry.
3 Liberals from rural Ontario buck party on gun bill
By Tim Harper
OTTAWA - Three Liberal MPs bucked their party by voting against government gun control legislation last night, while many more sent a message by refusing to vote or staying away from the House of Commons.
A trio of rural Ontario MPs - Rex Crawford (Kent), Benoit Serre (Timiskaming-French River) and Paul Steckle (Huron-Bruce) - broke with the party, even after Prime Minister Jean Chretien warned his caucus to think of the gravity of voting against a government bill.
All three have been staunch opponents of the bill since its introduction, but 49 other Liberals either sat in their seats for the vote or stayed away from the Commons. Some were making a statement by their absence, as counselled by the chair of their rural caucus. But others were simply away and some cabinet ministers were on government business.
The bill would create a central gun registry, provide harsher sentences for those using guns in crimes, crack down on smuggling of weapons and prohibit others, such as military and paramilitary weapons, including AK-47s.
Many rural MPs are upset about the gun registration requirement because they say anyone who fails to register their legally obtained guns will be treated as a criminal.
The bill easily moved a step closer to law when the Commons voted 173-53 to approve it in principle and refer it to a parliamentary committee.
The Liberals hope to have the bill stamped with final approval by early June, before the summer Commons break.
Last night, Chretien said from Dallas, where he is to address the American Society of Newspaper Editors today, that he was "disappointed" three Liberal MPs voted against the bill.
But he told reporters he is happy the bill carried with overwhelming support, including some from the Reform party and the NDP, The Star's Derek Ferguson reports.
At a caucus meeting earlier yesterday, Chretien told the MPs it was "serious business" to vote against a government bill, sources said.
He also told would-be dissidents that taking the heat in their riding from constituents over how they voted came with the territory for MPs.
So many rural MPs decided to abstain - even though there is no formal parliamentary procedure for abstention.
Two Liberals - David Iftody (Provencher) and Rose-Marie Ur (Lambton-Middlesex) - tried to be recognized as abstainers.
Reform MP Stephen Harper (Calgary West), touted by some as a future Reform party leader, bucked his caucus and voted with the government, as did the Bloc Quebecois.