Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wayne Easter, his constituents and their guns

It will be interesting to see how MP Wayne Easter (Liberal - Malpeque) votes when the Conservative private member's bill that would abolish the gun registry comes back to the House for a final reading.

Here's Wayne's history with the gun registry. Remember that he was Canada's Solicitor General in 2002 - 2003 under the Chretien government. As Solicitor General, he was responsible for implementation of the registry. It is also important to note that his riding is primarily rural with most of the economy of the Malpeque riding centering around fishing and farming.

In 1993, when Bill C-68 was introduced, Wayne voted in favour of compelling all Canadians to register all of their firearms.

While Wayne was Solicitor General in 2002 - 2003, if you wrote him a letter regarding the wasteful expense (only $629 million at that time) that the Liberal government had incurred to set up the registry, he would send you back a colourful little brochure that strongly proclaimed the advantages and necessity of the registry. He was obviously pro-registry at that time.

In November 2009, Wayne voted for Bill C-391, Candice Hoeppner's private member's bill which would abolish the firearm registry and destroy its records, after its second reading in the House. It has now gone to a House committee for further study.

Here are two quotes from Wayne after the free vote where he finally voted against his own Party and leader:

"I favour a gun-control system, but I do not favour a gun-control system that makes criminals out of farmers and hunters."

"There is a very substantial difference between hunters and farmers who have guns for either hunting, or pest and prey that may be a problem in terms of their operation, than there is for other types of guns or long guns that may be even in cities."

Funny how Wayne hasn't seen things this way before. This time, he claimed that he was voting for what the constituents in his riding wanted. What changed? His constituents were always against the registry. The riding is still rural, the same as it was in 1993. The only thing that has changed is that Wayne has finally decided to vote for the way that the people of his riding have wanted all along. What, you say, voting on an issue based on what your constituents want rather than along Party lines? Unheard of in Canada's House of Commons!

It is also interesting (and coincidental?) to note that the Conservative Party of Canada targeted Wayne's home riding (and 7 other ridings) with radio ads encouraging people to contact Wayne and tell him that they want him to vote to abolish the long-gun registry. Wayne claims that the ads nearly forced him to vote against the bill because he doesn't like being threatened.

Here's the webpage from the Conservative Party website:

It will be interesting to see if Wayne Easter has the same convictions when Bill C-391 comes back to the House for a third reading. Will Michael Ignatieff's threat to make the vote whipped result in Wayne voting as his constituency wants a one-time event?

This just in: the Conservative Party of Canada has just released a new series of radio ads targeting selected ridings, Wayne Easter's among them. The CPC is even kind enough to supply me with his constituency office telephone number just in case I can't open and read a telephone book. I wonder if Canadian taxpayers paid for these radio ads just like we paid for "10 percenters"?

The new CPC radio ad webpage is here:


Wayne Easter Votes to Scrap Long Gun Registry - November 2009

Conservative Private Member's Bill C-391 to Scrap the Gun Registry

History of Canada's Gun Registry

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