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For it before he was against it


 

An odd footnote to the gun registry debate that was pointed out to me last night: though he voted against it on third and final reading, when the Firearms Act was offered for second reading in the House 14 years ago, a young and idealistic Reform MP by the name of Stephen Harper voted in favour.

The Canadian Press dispatch on that vote is below, the relevant portion in bold.

Canadian Press Newswire
Wed Apr 5 1995, 8:05pm ET
Section: National General News
Byline: By Jim Bronskill
Dateline: OTTAWA

OTTAWA (CP) – Three Liberal MPs broke party ranks and voted against federal gun-control legislation Wednesday.

Several others didn’t show up or abstained from voting, but the controversial bill easily passed second reading – approval in principle – and headed to committee for study.

Ontario Liberals Rex Crawford, Benoit Serre and Paul Steckle voted against the proposed legislation.

The cracks in party unity were evidence of pressure on rural Liberal MPs from constituents who oppose the bill’s tough registration provisions.

Under the legislation, a gun owner who does not register his firearm could be charged with a criminal offence and face up to 10 years in prison.

Many farmers and hunters say the bill takes aim at law-abiding citizens instead of criminals.

Bob Speller, chairman of the Liberal rural caucus, had advised members troubled by the bill to skip the vote.

But three put their opposition on the record along with Reform MPs, a handful of New Democrats and Tory Elsie Wayne.

Two other Liberals – Rose-Marie Ur of Ontario and David Iftody of Manitoba – formally abstained from voting.

“I’m not going to hide behind a curtain, or my office walls,” Ur said before the vote.

The tally was 173 in favor, 53 against.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien said he was disappointed three MPs broke ranks, but looked on the bright side.

“I’m very happy there was great support for this bill,” he said during a visit to Dallas.

In a surprise move, Calgary Reform MP Stephen Harper voted for the bill – the lone member of his party to do so – because a clear majority of his constituents favor gun control.

“I felt I was obliged to support their position.”

Harper said he had discussed his vote with party leader Preston Manning, who urged him to support his constituents’ wishes.

Bloc Quebecois MPs voted in favor, but want the gun registry – to be phased in over several years – sooner.

Most Liberal MPs support the gun-control package, which also includes stiffer penalties for criminal use of firearms and measures to combat weapon smuggling.

A number of Liberals with concerns agreed to vote in favor now in hopes of getting changes before it becomes law.

Manning accused the Liberals of ramming the bill through the House by limiting second-reading debate. He said the government is rushing the process because it knows support is weakening.

Justice Minister Allan Rock said it was time to move on.

“We have a number of other issues we have to deal with, not only in Justice, but on the government agenda generally.”

Liberal Joe Fontana of London, Ont., said opposition within government ranks has waned since Rock recently promised to consider a change so gun owners who don’t register weapons aren’t treated as criminals on a first-time offence.

 


 

For it before he was against it

  1. No one can accuse Aaron Wherry of angling for a Senate appointment, that's for sure.

  2. "Harper said he had discussed his vote with party leader Preston Manning, who urged him to support his constituents' wishes."

    Wow. That really was, like, a different era.

    • It was one of the things they needed to jettison to form government.

  3. The King of the flip flops.

  4. Voting as per the wishes of his constituents? Monster.

    • So what is he doing now? Or have the people of Calgary SW suddenly changed their views?

  5. Why is that? Are you not at all curious about who "pointed out to me last night" an article that is fifteen years old and not online? I think this is dumb meme but if Coyne is supposedly angling for a Con Senate seat than Wherry is certainly going to Senate if Libs ever return to power.

    "Harper said he had discussed his vote with party leader Preston Manning, who urged him to support his constituents' wishes."

    I wish we could bring back those crazy times when MPs considered their constituents wishes. Has Harper changed ridings or do his constituents wishes no longer matter?

    • "Are you not at all curious about who "pointed out to me last night" an article that is fifteen years old and not online?"

      Doubtless a Liberal mole with access to some sophisticated technology that retrieves documents.

  6. You have to respect MP Stephen Harper supporting his constituents – and kudos to Preston Manning as leader.

    How do you think Stephen Harper as leader, would reply to an idealistic young MP who approached him about breaking party ranks in order to support their constituents?

    • How did the wishes of his constituents change from the 2nd to the final reading?

  7. We could ask Bill Casey.

  8. “In a surprise move, Calgary Reform MP Stephen Harper voted for the bill – the lone member of his party to do so – because a clear majority of his constituents favor gun control.

    “I felt I was obliged to support their position.”

    Harper said he had discussed his vote with party leader Preston Manning, who urged him to support his constituents’ wishes.’

    Oh my ears and whiskers. Wonder what would happen to a con MP who chose to listen to the wishes of the constituents from say, a city riding where the constituents didn’t support recinding this bill? Luckily for SH that Preston was a democrat, and not a hypocritical control freak!

    • I think Preston Manning was the greatest Canadian politician of the last decade of the 20th century.

      But he also never formed government.

      • And forming govt is everything is it? Manning was very effective, as were reform, in influencing the liberals to tackle debt reduction. T. Douglas was far more effective as part of the opposition than he would likely have been as PM. Both me were largely able to remain true to their core beliefs. What are SH’s core beliefs anymore? Looks like a centre right liberal to me.

        • I look back on the Reform Party with a great deal of fondness. With Harper stifling abortion debate in his party in favour of the status quo, running up a huge deficit, and the naked buying off of Ontario and Quebec votes with taxpayer funds… I'm definitely wishing I can go back to those days again. After all, by the time I got to vote it was already the Canadian Alliance.

    • I think the parties have pretty clear positions on the long gun registry today. I don't think that could necessarily be argued back in 1995 (although as others said Harper did change his vote). The only thing that was clear yesterday is that the Liberals and the NDP clearly don't support the registry enough to save it which they could have easily done by whipping the vote (who cares if it was government legislation or a private member's bill if you believe in the policy?). I'd argue that it wouldn't have even been anti-democratic since people who voted Liberal or NDP did it with the knowledge that the party supports the registry (and would presumably whip any vote to try and save it) while Conservative voters voted Conservative knowing that the Conservatives oppose the registry and would likely act similarly in any attempt to kill it.

  9. I heard about it yesterday or perhaps the day before.

    I think it was Scott Reid on P&P, but I could be mistaken as I was multitasking.

  10. Let's not get too teary-eyed about the idealistic young man that Harper was, before he was transformed -like Gollum – into the twisted, bitter misanthrope you see before you today.

    It was second reading and he turned around and represented the views of hisownself when it really counted on third and final reading.

  11. Yeah, I thought that was weird too. That it was all about representing the views of his constituents, until it was time to actually vote for whether or not to actually make the bill a law. Did his constituents change their minds between the second and final readings?

  12. Yeah, pretty much an empty gesture. I wonder if he rose from his deathbed to make his symbolic stand like that brave Bloc MP of yesterday.

    There was a man to rival Don Quixote.

  13. They heard the details of how the plan would work out…

    • Thanks. Good thing you were there and were able to talk to all of them.

  14. To put it bluntly, yes. Party interests have to trump constituents interests in our system for a variety of reasons. Wells and Coyne talked about it a few weeks ago.

  15. Alas that party interests are so often synonymous with special interests' interests.

    • That's true too.

  16. just a old buch of reform party hacks with new name. And most of us swallowed it.

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