Michael Ignatieff plans to whip his caucus to vote against a controversial Conservative bill to abolish the long-gun registry. MPs who do not vote with him will be punished.
Usually, MPs are allowed to vote their conscience on private member’s bills but this one is different – it has caused much consternation and embarrassment for the Liberals.
“Let me be perfectly clear: the Liberal Party opposes the Conservatives’ effort to scrap the gun registry altogether and we will vote against the Hoeppner bill a third reading in the House of Commons,” the Liberal Leader told the Canadian Police Association today at their annual general meeting in Ottawa.
It's a sad state, when individual MP's vote with their constituents in mind, and yet that expression reflects poorly on the leader, but that's the reality at the moment. I've argued for more free votes, and defended recent dissent, but there is a cumultative effect taking hold here that risks hurting the Liberals chances, and more succinctly, weakening the leader. You like to look at things on a case by case basis in politics, and in this case, strong resolve from Ignatieff is required to blunt a worrying trendline. One almost every recent vote, whether overtly or the "whispers", Ignatieff seems to have a perceived problem keeping his caucus together. This is being perceived as dissatisfaction or lack of compelling leadership, and because of this perception, he best nip it straight off.
The Liberal policy is to support the gun registry, and Ignatieff has offered some mostly toothless amendments to appease detractors. If these MP's vote against, then the gun registry dies and Ignatieff will face another round of questionings. The last polling I saw, showed solid overall support for abolishing, and support wasn't exactly strong, even with Liberal supporters. However, at this date and time, the arguments are irrelevant, if the braintrust upholds this policy, people have to fall in line, on the "greater good" front.
I hate the whip, but given the obvious backlash that will come, I say giver a good crack this one time Michael.