North's MPs react to gun registry vote

Nunavut and Yukon MPs Leona Aglukkaq and Ryan Leef celebrated bill's passing.

Nunavut and Yukon MPs Leona Aglukkaq and Ryan Leef celebrate bill's passing

Nunavut's Conservative MP Leona Aglukkaq is calling Wednesday’s vote to kill the long-gun registry an important day for northerners.

The bill to kill the long-gun registry passed third reading in the House of Commons late yesterday afternoon.

Nunavut MP and Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq holds a news conference in Ottawa in January 2011. Aglukkaq says she is disappointed Western Arctic NDP MP Dennis Bevington did not vote to scrap the gun registry. (The Canadian Press)

The vote was 159 to 130, but the outcome was never in doubt because of the Conservative majority.

In a news release, Aglukkaq said the registry treated northern hunters like criminals for far too long.

She also said she was disappointed that Western Arctic NDP MP Dennis Bevington did not vote to scrap the registry. Bevington was not in Ottawa at the time of the vote – he was returning to Canada from a meeting in Sweden.

Conservative Yukon MP Ryan Leef said before the vote, "I'm pleased to tell Yukon citizens, trappers, hunters, athletes sports shooters and First Nations who rely on long guns to protect their heritage, culture and  traditional way of life that the long gun registry as promised by our government is finally coming to its rightful end."

Gord Zealand, president of the Yukon Fish and Game Association, said he is happy the Harper government  fulfilled an election promise. 

"We've lobbied, pleaded, done everything we could to try and get common sense to prevail," he said.

"And to me, at the end of it, this abolition is just that — it’s an exercise in common sense. I mean, what are you trying to achieve? If it’s to get guns out of the hands of criminals to reduce crime, the long gun registry doesn't do that. It just doesn't."

Barbara McInerney, executive director of Kaushee's Place — a transitional home in Whitehorse for women fleeing abuse, says women have the most to lose now that the Conservatives have abolished the gun registry. 

She said Yukon women experience a higher rate of violence and sexualized violence than their southern counterparts, and MPs who voted to kill the registry are not representing those women.

"They don't represent those who are silenced out of fear, out of retaliation, out of shame, out of the level of violence and repression they are experiencing," she said.

"Those MPs don't represent them. These women are not safe to speak publicly, and that is why it is up to us to speak out, or the women that are most in danger are that much more silenced."

McInerney said in some cases the gun registry gave the RCMP information to prevent violent crimes.

The bill now goes to Senate, where the Conservative majority there is also expected to pass it. Then it goes to the Governor General for Royal Assent.

The Conservatives have been opposed to the registry since it became law in 1995.