You might have seen Jack Layton’s press conference yesterday, where he hemmed and hawed on what his party was going to do on the upcoming gun registry vote – or more accurately, how they would vote on the Liberal motion to kill Bill C-391, and if that failed to pass, the actual vote to pass C-391, which kills the long-gun registry (or at least, would then pass it in the House and have it move to the Senate, but chances are it would pass there). It was probably the worst press conference I’ve ever seen Jack hold. The media didn’t buy what Jack was trying to sell them for talking points on this.
That said, Jack did offer up something of substance – a private members bill to “reform” the long gun registry. I’ll leave my puzzlement as to the strategy of this to others who do a good job of pointing out the curious strategy being employed, because I want to be reasonable here and see if there can be a meeting of the progressive minds on this.
Jacks says he wants to save the long-gun registry and believes his private members bill is the way to go in doing so. He thinks it’s a better way to go about it, and some of his supporters claims it addresses reforms far better.
So, here’s a set of points I’d be proposing (or counter-proposing) to the NDP and Jack Layton if I’m a Liberal strategist or in the Liberal leadership:
1) Let’s see the 12 NDP MP’s who supported Bill C-391 last time come out publicly and support Jack’s proposed Private Members Bill and say, ‘yes, we support Jack’s compromises/reforms, and that we can live with the gun registry in that new format, rather then kill it outright’. If they don’t or won’t come out and say that they support Jack’s initiative, this proposed Private Member’s Bill is useless; it shows that this proposed reform long-gun registry bill from Jack is nothing more then an attempt on Jack’s part to stop the mounting pressure and criticism of his party’s waffling on Bill C-391, because if these 12 NDP MP’s won’t support his Private Member’s Bill regardless of its reforms, it’s no different then them voting right now to support Bill C-391 and kill the Registry.
2) If enough of those C-391 supporters in the NDP caucus come out and publicly support their leader’s long-gun registry reforms in a hypothetical private members bill, then in a further sign of showing they’re serious, those NDP MP’s (and the rest of the NDP caucus) must vote to support the Liberal motion to kill Bill C-391.
That leads to proposal #3: if Bill C-391 is killed, the Liberals would commit to support Jack’s private members bill to amend the long gun registry with his reforms (copied from Iggy, in my opinion, but again, I’m being magnanimous here) when he brings it forth, because there will still be a long gun registry at this point to reform.
If thats what it takes to save the long gun registry, then I as a Liberal can live with Jack trying to pretend he singlehandedly saved the long-gun registry if this strategy were to play out; saving the registry is what counts, and I don’t really care how it’s saved. But, as Liberals, we also need to see some actions that shows the NDP caucus is all united (or enough of them are) behind Jack’s proposals and his PMB to indicate this is indeed a serious measure, and not just a ploy on Jack and his strategists part to get people to lay off of them.
So to recap: let’s see the 12 NDP MP dissenters/supports come out publicly and support Layton’s ideas/reforms behind his proposed Private Members bill on the long-gun registry, 2) The NDP must vote in support of the Liberal motion to kill Bill C-391, and then 3) if C-391 is defeated with united NDP help, the Liberals will pledge to support the NDP and Jack Layton’s PMB to amend the Long gun registry with their reforms.
I don’t have any particular influence with the Liberal strategists/policy makers or leadership, but that’s what I’d be doing to see if Jack and the NDP are serious, and Jack’s proposal is a credible way forward in helping save the long-gun registry, or on the other hand, to smoke them out on this and expose this announcement as a way to try and avoid being squeezed on their party’s/MP’s crucial vote on this.
UPDATE @ 9:44 am: And already, 1 NDP hardliner on the gun registry says Jack’s proposed changes are too late, and anyhow, nothing he sees there will change his mind. How many of the rest of the 12 NDP MP’s are of the same mind? That’s the key, because if its a large # of them, then this has been a pointless attempt at PR by Layton to try to slough of blame on his party for potentially killing the long-gun registry. That needs to be found out (see point #1 above).