Monday, August 30, 2010

Jack's Latest Feint

Mr. Layton is in a difficult spot: 12 of his MPs from rural ridings have told their constituents that they will oppose the registry. The votes of those 12 MP, when added to those of the 144 members of the Conservative caucus plus the two independents who normally vote along Conservative lines, would spell the failure of the motion to kill Ms. Hoeppner’s bill.

But Mr. Layton, who represents a downtown Toronto riding, personally supports the registry, as do other members of his caucus from urban constituencies. So he is proposing to introduce his own legislation – possibly in the form of a private-member’s bill – to address rural concerns.

You're kidding? A new bill wouldn't come up for a vote until the registry was dead and gone, so its useless. A private member's bill might never come up, so is less than useless. And, please, can we dispense with this silly argument about how Jack's being "brave" in allowing his back-benchers to "vote their conscience"? What a load of BS; the NDP knows how to march in lock step as well as any party in the Western word. Pretending that they've suddenly discovered the principle of local democracy is just too rich.

Update: Its to be a private member's bill. I've no idea how this is supposed to "stave off" a final vote on Bill C-391, and presumably neither does Jack or anyone else. Is the vote on C-391 supposed to be postponed until Jack's private member's bill slowly rises to the top of the parliamentary queue?

Update 2: Here's how:

Layton was pressed by reporters on how he expects this bill to become a reality, when Hoeppner's bill is lined up for a vote so soon after Parliament resumes. He suggested that if all parties come onside, they could use the bill as a basis to reach a solution — presumably meaning that Hoeppner's bill would either be amended or would die.

So Jack's compromise would require the Tories to *cough cough* dump bill C-391.

21 comments:

Constant Vigilance said...

Allowing the bill to die as much of an "out" for the Conservatives as it is for the NDP. This would allow them to continue to use the long gun registry as a fund raising prod for their cattle-like supporters.

This raises another question. Is the NDP taking strategic guidance from the PMO?

doconnor said...

The NDP comes up with good ideas all the time that aren't implemented because of Conservative and/or Liberal intransigence. This will probably be another one on the pile.

Perhaps if the Liberals and the Bloc agree to support the NDP bill, some of the NDP members might be convinced to support the registry.

william said...

Doconnor,
The proposals that Layton "put forward" are the exact same ones that Ignatieff presented back in the Spring. If the NDP wants to be original in finding a way to save the LGR, fine, but this is blatantly dishonest and unoriginal. It's a weak back-down on Layton's part.

RuralSandi said...

Doconnor? Where ya been? The Liberals proposed this last April.

Layton's having problems with his caucus and he's scared.

Ted Betts said...

Doconnor:

As others have pointed out, Iggy proposed this last summer.

But regardless of "credit", here's the thing: with his proposed changes to the registry, Iggy convinced his anti-gun registry MPs to vote against the bill and save the gun registry and for those not convinced, he thinks it is enough of a compromise to whip his caucus on this important issue.

Layton doesn't think it is important enough to whip or that his changes go far enough to reach a sufficient and satisfactory compromise even within his own caucus, let alone with the Conservatives.

No wonder the press was laughing and confused at Layton's presser.

doconnor said...

"Layton doesn't think it is important enough to whip"

Why is the Gun Registry so important to the Liberals, but extending Employment Insurance, cut backs to CIDA or climate change, all of which arguably involve saving more lives then the gun registry, aren't worth fighting the government over.

(Wedge issue!)

RuralSandi said...

doconnor - all the things you mentioned can be changed - when the long gun registry is gone, it's gone.

doconnor said...

"all the things you mentioned can be changed - when the long gun registry is gone, it's gone."

I disagree.

The long gun registry could be recreated as easily as it was created (hopefully a lot easier).

Extending Employment Insurance is only supposed to be during the recession, which hopefully will be over soon.

Restoring the cuts to CIDA won't bring back the people who could have been saved without the cuts.

Delaying reducing carbon dioxide emissions increases the risk there will be runaway warming.

RuralSandi said...

DUHconnor - do you not realize how expensive it would be to set the registry up again? Good grief.

...sigh

sharonapple88 said...

Why is the Gun Registry so important to the Liberals, but extending Employment Insurance, cut backs to CIDA or climate change, all of which arguably involve saving more lives then the gun registry, aren't worth fighting the government over.

Well, they wouldn't have to fight the "government" on this bill. It's a private member's bill, which makes not taking a stand against it silly.

As for saving lives... EI and Climate change is important, but it's not an either/or proposition. No one's asking anyone to make the choice between the two.

Anyway, the point on the EI comment that should be examined a bit further. The point was made on the blog that "Ignatieff only wants to amend the budget to add a few progress reports, despite a long list of concerns he has with it. Clearly, he doesn’t want to defeat the government and lead a replacement. He is only asking for this small favour so it doesn’t look like he is doing nothing at all."

Okay, fine, but what happened last fall when the NDP supported the Conservatives for "a bone" or "crumbs?" Same sort of thing or something completely different?

Ted Betts said...

Another difference is that those were matters of confidence and the specific issue (EI) was not a single issue being voted upon. There was more things at stake than just one issue. The country was very strongly opposed to having an election at that time and that matters.

Here no confidence is at stake, no election. You either vote for and support the gun registry or it is gone. Once it is gone, a motion from the NDP to amend the gun registry laws would be ruled out of order since there would be no gun registry law to amend.

The gun registry will survive but for the NDP votes opposing it. That is why the rhetoric is building up: there is no second chance/do-over on this.

doconnor said...

"It's a private member's bill, which makes not taking a stand against it silly."

The NDP has this radical philosophy that it respects its MPs enough that it allows them to take their own stands. Feel free to lobby and cajole the individual MPs who may vote against the registry. Layton is just allowing some real democracy for a change.

Believing in democracy means accepting it when votes don't go they way you want.

"Okay, fine, but what happened last fall when the NDP supported the Conservatives for "a bone" or "crumbs?" Same sort of thing or something completely different?"

It is legitimate to question whether the NDP got enough for its support, but it was one or two billion dollars worth of support for Canadians, which is dramatically different then quarterly reports.

"The country was very strongly opposed to having an election at that time and that matters."

The country is always opposed to having an election. The 2008 election was called was the most cyclical in history. No one believed the reasons the Conservatives gave and it deified their own election law, but people got over it.

"Here no confidence is at stake, no election."

With so little at stake, suddenly the Liberals get so uncompromising.

Ted Betts said...

Uncompromising?

Just the opposite. Ignatieff worked pretty hard with his caucus a long time ago to find a compromise that was satsifactory to his caucus so that they would be united on this.

Where was Layton in the spring? or all summer long? Why this last minute work? Even his own MPs are not buying it and seem more than a little ticked with his approach: "[Jim Maloway] also said Layton’s proposal is too little too late. ”This bill just went through committee last spring,” said Maloway. “Where were all these amendments at the committee?”

So don't give me this crap about uncompromising.

To the extent Ignatieff is holding a hard line on his compromise solution now, it is for the one and simple reason that if he doesn't - if Layton doesn't - the gun registry is gone. Gone.

There is no second chance on this. There will be no appetite in the public or even in the opposition parties to spend another billion dollars just to set it up.

That's what is so frustrating about Layton's position and his last minute faux/face saving attempt to find a solution... but only after the problem has been removed.

It's like trying to debate different treatment options for a heart condition after someone's died of a heart attack.

As for the silly notion that this is private member's bill: it really really isn't.

The same sex marriage bill that Harper introduced was a free vote, but Layton whipped his caucus on that, as well as others. So he isn't even being consistent here. More importantly, if the principle is members should be allowed to vote as they think their constituents want, then that principle should apply to all bills and most especially government bills since those are more significant.

It's a lame hogwash excuse. Which is why even the media were incredulous and laughing at Layton the other day.

Ted Betts said...

Still trying to confirm for certain if the vote was whipped - it appears to have been - but NDP MP Lynn McDonald succeeded in getting her private member's bill, the "Non-smokers' Health Act" (aka Bill C-204), passed in 1986 with every NDP member in support and the government cabinet opposed.

doconnor said...

"Uncompromising?"

I was trying to suggest that on other issues the Liberals compromise too much (or rather surrender completely without even trying).

"Where were all these amendments at the committee?"

I'm pretty sure these amendments couldn't be made to this private members bill because they would violate the spirit of the bill (which can't be changed after it has passed 2nd reading).

If the Liberals came up with these ideas back in the spring, where is their private members bill?

"The same sex marriage bill that Harper introduced was a free vote, but Layton whipped his caucus on that"

The same sex marriage issue is unique because the NDP policy passed at convention specifically requires MPs to support it. Didn't all NDP MPs support it, anyway?

"Still trying to confirm for certain if the vote was whipped - it appears to have been"

I'm sure it is not unusual for NDP MPs to all vote the same without being whipped.

Ted Betts said...

"I'm pretty sure these amendments couldn't be made to this private members bill because they would violate the spirit of the bill (which can't be changed after it has passed 2nd reading).

If the Liberals came up with these ideas back in the spring, where is their private members bill?"


The NDP member's point is: why are you trying to deal with this only now? What the Liberals did was to work out a compromise with the anti-gun control caucus members to get them onside so that they could vote against the bill. Introducing a second PMB doesn't matter if the bill passes and the gun registry is gone.

"The same sex marriage issue is unique because the NDP policy passed at convention specifically requires MPs to support it."

How is this different? That's a serious question not a sarcastic one because I don't know precisely in what way the pro-ssm policy and the pro-gun registry policy were passed by the NDP. Clearly the official NDP policy is both pro-SSM and pro-registry. So I just don't see how they are different.

"Didn't all NDP MPs support it, anyway?"

No. The vote was whipped, at least one member voted against SSM, and was booted from caucus.

doconnor said...

"How is this different? That's a serious question not a sarcastic one because I don't know precisely in what way the pro-ssm policy and the pro-gun registry policy were passed by the NDP. Clearly the official NDP policy is both pro-SSM and pro-registry. So I just don't see how they are different. "

The SSM policy passed at the 1999 NDP Federal convention is:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the NDP fully supports same-sex marriage, as well as equality, full access and mutual respect for all Canadians; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that an NDP federal government would, within its first mandate, introduce legislation, without a free vote, to make same-sex marriage legal; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that an NDP federal government would, within its first mandate, remove any distinctions, without free votes, in terms of any rights or benefits between all forms of marriage, including same-sex marriage; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that should the issue come before the House, members of the NDP caucus shall vote in favour of same-sex marriage and in favour of removing discrimination between all opposite-sex and samesex relationships.

I don't think any other policy directs how caucus members must vote. I'm not aware that any gun registry policy has been passed by an NDP convention.

No. The vote was whipped, at least one member voted against SSM, and was booted from caucus.

Yes, that did happen, but it was during the vote on the Liberal government bill to formally legalize SSM, not during the Conservative vote to repeal it. Bev Desjarlais was stripped of her critic responsibilities, but was not booted from caucus. She quit the caucus a few months later when she lost her nomination for her riding.

Ted Betts said...

"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that should the issue come before the House, members of the NDP caucus shall vote in favour of same-sex marriage and in favour of removing discrimination between all opposite-sex and samesex relationships."

See, this is what I don't get. If the NDP are so fervent in their belief in voting as constituents would want them to, why does that principle only apply to private members bills and why would they then turn around and dictate so specifically not just the party position on equal marriage but precisely what each member MUST vote for?

I thought Bev had been kicked out altogether but I stand corrected on that part.

(By the way, Harper did not hold a vote to repeal equal marriage. Our sneaky snake-like never show leadership on tough issues only introduced a motion asking MPs whether they wanted to bring the issue back to a vote in the House again. This allowed him to avoid taking a real position that would have cost him votes and his desired image of being middle ground, while also avoiding directly saying no to his base. We should have known then what he was really like.)

Ted Betts said...

It would be interesting to compare that resolution with the gun registry resolution, though.

doconnor said...

"why does that principle only apply to private members bills"

I'm not sure it does. I don't think the NDP has strict rules on when to whip votes. I know they have the tradition to avoid whipping votes as much as possible.

I suspect its not as unusual as people think for some MPs vote differently then the rest of their party. It's just that it doesn't usually make the news when it happens because it doesn't put the result in doubt.

"and why would they then turn around and dictate so specifically not just the party position on equal marriage but precisely what each member MUST vote for?"

Because it is a human rights issue.

Also remember "they" the convention who set the SSM policy is different from "they" the caucus who are deciding the Gun Registry policy.

Ted Betts said...

All fair comments.

But doesn't change the issue: because of 9 NDP votes, and Layton's decision not to enforce party discipline on this party policy, the gun registry will be dead.