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Yukon MP torn over long-gun registry

Yukon Liberal MP Larry Bagnell says he does not want to support the long-gun registry but he might be forced to do so by his own boss, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.

Yukon Liberal MP Larry Bagnell says he does not want to support the long-gun registry but he might be forced to do so by his own boss, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.

This week, Ignatieff said the next parliamentary vote to scrap the long-gun registry will be a whipped vote, meaning all Liberal MPs will have to vote for the party's position or face discipline.

That is putting pressure on Bagnell, who has long opposed the firearms registry but said he may have no choice when the matter next comes to a vote.

"This has always been a hot issue. It was here when I first got elected," Bagnell told CBC News on Tuesday.

"I may not have a choice, but I'm certainly going to continue to try and see what my options are up to the day of the vote."

Changes proposed

A private member's bill to abolish the long-gun registry, put forward by Manitoba Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner, is expected to come before the Public Safety Committee early next month.

During the last session of Parliament, Hoeppner's bill passed second reading 164-137 in a Commons vote with support from 18 Liberals and New Democrats, including Bagnell and other MPs from northern and rural ridings.

On Monday, Ignatieff proposed amendments to the registry that would address critics' concerns.

"The disagreement in the heart of our caucus was never about the gun registry," Ignatieff told reporters in Ottawa.

"It's just how it operates and we've made specific changes that we think will deal with that problem."

Ignatieff proposed that a first-time failure to register a firearm would be a non-criminal ticketing offence, while fees for new licences, renewals and upgrades would be eliminated.

Tories launch campaign

Hoeppner and the Conservatives have launched a radio ad campaign urging Yukoners to phone or email Bagnell and tell him to keep voting against the long-gun registry.

"Larry Bagnell did the right thing in supporting my bill at second reading," Hoeppner stated in a release Wednesday.

"But he will have to decide whether he will continue to listen to his constituents, or listen to Michael Ignatieff."

In the Yukon legislature, Yukon Party MLA Steve Nordick called on fellow MLAs to remind Bagnell to base his vote on what his constituents want.

"This house urges Yukon's member of Parliament to support the wishes of a vast majority of his constituents — in other words, repeal the long-gun registry," Nordick said this week.

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