MP Hoeppner pitches gun-registry bill in Yukon

The Conservative MP behind a bill to scrap the long-gun registry is going to Whitehorse this week to urge Yukon Liberal MP Larry Bagnell to vote against his party on the issue.

The Conservative MP behind a bill to scrap the long-gun registry is going to Whitehorse to urge Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, a Liberal, to vote against his party on the controversial issue.

Manitoba Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner is scheduled to arrive in the Yukon capital on Tuesday, just a couple of weeks before MPs are expected to vote on whether her private member's bill should proceed to a third reading.

Hoeppner is urging Yukoners to put pressure on Bagnell to support her bill, which calls for the long-gun registry to be abolished.

Bagnell, who has long opposed the firearms registry, has said he must follow the orders of Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, who wants to keep the registry.

"Is [Bagnell] going to fold and succumb to the orders of Mr. Ignatieff?" Hoeppner asked in an interview with CBC News. "Or is he going to say, 'No, Mr. Ignatieff. With all due respect, sir, I'm going to represent my riding?'"

Whipped vote on registry bill

Ignatieff has said the Liberals' vote on Hoeppner's bill will be a whipped vote, meaning Bagnell must vote with the party's position or face discipline.

"The Conservative Party's against the registry, and the Liberal Party is voting for [it], is my understanding," Bagnell said in a recent interview.

"I was never in favour of having as many whipped votes in Parliament as we do, but that's the system that all the party leaders use."

Bagnell recently expressed support for changes Ignatieff has proposed to the long-gun registry, such as eliminating fees for new licences, renewals and upgrades.

But Hoeppner said she does not accept Bagnell's reasons for switching his position on the issue.

Hoeppner said Ignatieff has put Bagnell in an awkward position but added it's no excuse for Bagnell to vote against the wishes of his constituents, the majority of whom want the long-gun registry scrapped.

"I don't think the people of the Yukon have to answer to what Mr. Ignatieff wants, but I think this is the time when a member of Parliament stands up and he's counted," she said.

'Face the music,' group says

While in Whitehorse, Hoeppner is scheduled to meet with the public Tuesday and Wednesday and take part in a town hall meeting Wednesday night.

The town hall meeting is being organized by the Yukon Fish and Game Association, which argues the long-gun registry attacks a way of life that many northern and rural Canadians want to preserve.

"We'd like to see Larry follow his constituents and face the music from his party and vote what his constituents want on this," said John Carney, the association president.

"If he doesn't, well, we'll see what happens after that with the vote."

Hoeppner's bill is up for debate in the House of Commons on Sept. 21. It is scheduled to be voted on the following day.

Carney said Bagnell's vote could make a big difference, one way or another.